MoMA’s Education Department prides itself on crafting personal experiences with works of art for our visitors. In exploring new ways to enhance these experiences, we were surprised to find that video has a remarkable ability to help us focus our gaze in a way that is often very difficult to do in the galleries. It might seem like a strange concept—that looking at a work of art on your computer screen would help you to look and think about art more deeply—but this is precisely what we discovered as we developed two online courses over the last year. Both courses (a survey course titled Modern Art, 1880–1945, and a studio course called Materials and Techniques of Postwar Abstract Painting) contain the usual short written lectures, readings, and discussion forums, but both rely heavily on video of the teachers shot on location in MoMA galleries, with plenty of close details of the works of art.
When we screened the footage, we were amazed to find ourselves seeing things in these familiar paintings and sculptures that we had never noticed before. The studio course introduces students to the techniques of some of the great artists of the twentieth century in two ways: by visually unwinding how some of the masterpieces in MoMA’s collection were created, and by actually demonstrating these studio techniques. Once you see the complexities of how some of these artists prepared their paints and the execution of their work, you gain a much fuller understanding and appreciation of these paintings. The survey course is like having your own private tour, up close and personal, of MoMA’s galleries, with each week focusing on a different style in art history: Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, Surrealism, and more.
We’re excited about these new educational opportunities, and we hope you are too! If you’d like more information about the courses, visit MoMA.org/courses.