Enroll in Seven Free Courses From the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA): “Modern Art & Ideas,” “Seeing Through Photographs” & “Fashion as Design” Start Today

If you would like to know more about modern art, but have difficulty wrapping your head around the Futurists, Neo-Impressionists, Abstract Expressionists, and the myriad other -ists and -isms  of this vast subject, perhaps you should untether yourself from timelines.

Modern Art & Ideas, a free online course from the Museum of Modern Art (aka MoMA), shifts the focus away from period and movement, instead grouping works according to four themes: Places & Spaces, Art & Identity, Transforming Everyday Objects, and Art & Society.

It’s an approach that’s worked well for MoMA’s Education Department. (Another upcoming online class, Art & Ideas: Teaching with Themes, is recommended for professional educators looking to develop the pedagogical skills the department employs to get visitors to engage with the art.)

The course, which begins today, is taught by Lisa Mazzola, Assistant Director of the museum’s School and Teacher Programs and a veteran of their previous forays into Massive Open Online Courses.

An early lesson on how artists capture environments considers three works: Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night (1889), Piet Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie (1942-43), and Gordon Matta-Clark’s Bingo. Vintage photos and footage conspire with period music to whisk students to the settings that inspired these works—a bucolic French mental hospital, New York City’s bustling, WWII-era Times Square, and a derelict house in down on its luck Niagara Falls.

Regular readers of Open Culture are likely to have a handle on some of the ways art stars Frida Kahlo and Andy Warhol explored identity, the course's third week theme, but what about Glenn Ligon, a living African American conceptual artist?

Ligon may not have the renown or tote bag appeal of his lessonmates, but his 1993 series, Runaways, is powerful enough to hold its own against Kahlo’s Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair and Warhol’s Gold Marilyn Monroe.

In fact, teachers looking to expand their Black History Month curriculum could spark some lively discussions by showing students the extremely accurate facsimiles of 19th-century runaway slave ads featuring physical descriptions of Ligon, solicited from friends who'd been told they were supplying details for a hypothetical Missing Person poster.

Ligon’s series is also a good starting place for discussing conceptual art with a friend who thinks  conceptual art is best defined as White Cow in a Snowstorm.

Offered on Coursera, the 5-week course requires approximately 2 hours of study and one quiz per week. Enroll here, or browse MoMAs other current offerings also on Coursera:

Note: Open Culture has a partnership with Coursera. If readers enroll in certain Coursera courses, it helps support Open Culture.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

265 MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) Getting Started in June: Enroll Free Today

FYI: This month, 265 MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) will be getting underway, giving you the chance to take courses from top flight universities, at no cost. With the help of Class Central, we've pulled together a complete list of June MOOCS. Below, find a few courses that piqued our interest, or rummage through the list and find your own:

The video featured above is the trailer for the course, Justice with Harvard's Michael Sandel.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

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The MoMA Teaches You How to Paint Like Pollock, Rothko, de Kooning & Other Abstract Painters

Some may find her insufferable, but most readers adore her: the insouciant little pig Olivia—New Yorker, art lover, and Caldecott Medal winner—has forever embedded herself in children’s literary culture as an archetype of childhood curiosity and self-confidence, especially in scenes like that of the first book of the series, in which the fearless piglet produces her own drip painting on the wall of the family’s Upper East Side apartment after puzzling over Jackson Pollock’s work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. (Olivia also admires Degas, aspires to the ballet, and dreams of being Maria Callas.)

Olivia’s headstrong challenge to Pollock is infectious, and enacts a notion common among amateur viewers of Abstract Expressionism---“I could do that.” Her “Jackson Piglet Wall Painting” features in a book that gives children their own set of instructions for making a pseudo-Pollock (on paper, of course). As you will see, however, in the video above---a guide for grown-ups who may wish to do the same---Pollock’s process is not so easily duplicated, and cannot be done on the wall. As the Ed Harris-starring biopic dramatized, Pollock made his huge canvasses on the floor—drawing the lines and gestural figures in the air rather than on the canvas.




In these videos from the Museum of Modern Art's upcoming free online course on Postwar painting, educator and independent conservator Corey D’Augustine demonstrates that, we can, with some degree of stamina and athleticism, approximate Pollock’s technique. We cannot, however, recreate his temperament and emotional state. And, as viewers of the film based on his life will know, we would not want to. Pollock was a violently abusive, depressive alcoholic, and while there may be no necessary relation to creativity and suffering, New York Abstract Expressionists seemed to wrest the intensity of their work from wells of personal pain.

It is no wonder that the longest video in D’Augustine’s series covers the methods of Agnes Martin. The enigmatic Martin used her work as a discipline that took her beyond despair and defeat. Like Gertrude Stein or Samuel Beckett, she insisted that art, though a form of self-expression, must emerge impersonally, such that the artist “can take no credit for its sudden appearance.” On the other side of failure---she told her audience in a poignant and powerful 1973 speech called “On the Perfection Underlying Life”---“we still go on without hope or desire or dreams or anything. Just going on with almost no memory of having done anything.”

The attitude, Martin said, is a discipline, the discipline of art---one that saw her through a lifelong struggle with schizophrenia. Inspired by Taoism and Zen Buddhism, Martin’s “luminous, silent” paintings are studies in patience and deliberation. We see a very different technique in the gestural painting of Willem de Kooning—another Abstract Expressionist with a serious drinking problem. Do these biographical issues matter? While it may do Martin’s work a disservice to reduce it to “the products of a person compelled by mental illness,” as Zoe Pilger writes at The Independent, de Kooning's eventual sobriety led to a “dramatic shift,” Susan Cheever notes, “in the way he saw and painted the world in his last decade or so.”

We need not psychologize the work of any of these artists, including that of the bipolar Mark Rothko, above, to learn from their techniques. And yet it remains the case that—even were we to duplicate Pollock, Martin, de Kooning, or Rothko on canvas, we would never be able to imbue it with their peculiar personalities, pains, and movements, with the depth and intensity each artist brought to their work. Great art does not require suffering, but many artists have poured their suffering into art that only they could make.

But mimicry is not the goal of MoMA's class. Instead “In the Studio: Postwar Abstract Painting” intends to give students “a deeper understanding of what a studio practice means and how ideas develop from close looking. They'll also "gain a sensitivity to the physical qualities of paint,” a key feature of this material and texture-obsessed group, and the course will examine the "broader cultural, intellectual, and historical context about the decades after World War II, when these artists were active."

The eight-week course covers seven artists, including those above and Ad Reinhardt, Yayoi Kusama, and Barnett Newman. Students are free to do quizzes and written assignments only, or to participate in the optional studio exercises, provided they have the space and the materials. (For those studio practitioners, D’Augustine offers brief tutorials on tools like the palette knife and materials like stains.) Watch the trailer for D’Augustine’s course above. Like the irrepressible Olivia, students will be encouraged “to experiment quite wildly” with what they might learn.

Related Content:

Jackson Pollock 51: Short Film Captures the Painter Creating Abstract Expressionist Art

How the CIA Secretly Funded Abstract Expressionism During the Cold War

MoMA Puts Pollock, Rothko & de Kooning on Your iPad

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

 

280 MOOCs Getting Started in January: Enroll Free Today

FYI: This month, 280 MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) will be getting underway, giving you the chance to take courses from top flight universities, at no cost. With the help of Class Central, we've pulled together a complete list of January MOOCS. Below, find a few courses that piqued our interest, or rummage through the list and find your own.

Note: The trailer for The Science of Happiness is featured above. View the complete list of MOOCS here.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

200 MOOCs Getting Started in November: Enroll Free Today

FYI: This month, 200 MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) will be getting underway, giving you the chance to take courses from top flight universities, at no cost. With the help of Class Central, we've pulled together a complete list of November MOOCS. Below, find a few courses that piqued our interest, or rummage through the list and find your own:

Note: The trailer for Hollywood: History, Industry, Art is featured above. View the complete list of MOOCS here.

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Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Launches Free Course on Looking at Photographs as Art

Not content with banning selfie sticks, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is bringing visual literacy to the masses via its first foray into the world of MOOCs (aka “massive open online courses”).

Curator Sarah Meister will be drawing on MoMA’s expansive photography collection for the free 6-session, self-paced Seeing Through Photographs class on Coursera.




You won’t learn how to make duck lips in a mirror, but by the course's end, you should be able to cast a critical eye, with a new appreciation for the “diverse ideas, approaches, and technologies" that inform a photograph's making.

The first week’s assignments include a video interview with Marvin Heiferman, author of Photography Changes Everything, below. Yes, there will be a quiz.

Expect assigned readings from John Szarkowski’s Introduction to The Photographer’s Eye, and MoMA’s Chief Curator of Photography, Quentin Bajac.

There’s a lot of ground to cover, obviously. Meister has lined up quite a hit parade: Ansel Adams, NASA’s moon photography, Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother,” Susan Meiselas’ “Carnival Strippers” project, Cindy Sherman’s “Untitled Film Stills,” and Nicholas Nixon’s 40-year documentation of the Brown sisters.

Prove your knowledge at the end of the six weeks with a final 30-minute project in which you’ll select an image that would be a good addition to one of the course’s themes, below:

Seeing Through Photographs

One Subject, Many Perspectives

Documentary Photography

Pictures of People

Constructing Narratives and Challenging Histories

Ocean of Images: Photography and Contemporary Culture

Enroll in this fascinating free course here.

via Petapixel

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Follow her @AyunHalliday

Take a Free Online Course on Making Comic Books, Compliments of the California College of the Arts

Gather round, children and listen to Grandma reminiscin’ ‘bout the days when studying comics meant changing out of your pajamas and showing up at the bursar’s office, check in hand.

Actually, Grandma’s full of it. Graphic novels are enjoying unprecedented popularity and educators are turning to comics to reach reluctant readers, but as of this writing, there still aren't that many programs for those interested in making a career of this art form.




The California College of the Arts is a notable exception. You can get your MFA in Comics there.

Even better, you need not enroll to sample the 5 week course, Comics: Art in Relationship, led by Comics MFA chair and Eisner Award-nominated author of The Homeless Channel, Matt Silady.

You might write the next Scott Pilgrim.

Or ink the next Fun Home.

At the very least, you’ll learn a thing or two about layout, the relationship of art to text, and using compression to denote the passage of time.

It's the sort of nitty gritty training that would benefit both veterans and newbies alike.

Ready to sign up? The free course, which starts in February, will require approximately 10 hours per week. The syllabus is below.

Session 1: Defining Comics

Identify key relationships in sample texts & demonstrate the use of various camera angles on a comics page

Session 2: Comics Relationships

Create Text-Image and Image-Image Panels

Session 3: Time And Space

One Second, One Hour, One Day Comics Challenge

Session 4: Layout And Grid Design

Apply multiple panel grids to provided script

Session 5: Thumbnails

Create thumbnail sketches of a multipage scene

Enroll here.

via io9

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In Animated Cartoon, Alison Bechdel Sees Her Life Go From Pulitizer Prize Winning Comic to Broadway Musical

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday

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