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This course is designed for those who want to understand and appreciate contemporary art. There is an unfortunate consensus that leaves people often wondering about the work contemporary artists produce and present, believing that they are unable to understand it.

In this course, Paul Hobson, Director of Modern Art Oxford, will show how to approach an art work, the questions to ask in order to decode the intentions of the artist and some of the key topics and ideas that recur in contemporary artistic production today.


Session one | Modern Art Oxford | Wednesday 22nd April (7pm – 8.30pm)

The first session will introduce what decisions artists make when creating their work, what questions you should ask when first encountering contemporary art, and who determines the meaning of an artwork – the artist or viewer.

Session two | Modern Art Oxford | Wednesday 29th April (7pm – 8.30pm)

After introducing initial questions, the second session will focus on developing your critical approach to contemporary art and how to describe an art work as a way of understanding the intentions of the artist.

Session three | London | Saturday 16th May (2pm – 5pm)

During a guided tour of a London institution, you will explore the processes of curating a permanent collection. Discussing how artworks function aesthetically and conceptually in exhibitions and what the role of the curator is, how to ascribe meaning to artworks and how they react to one another in situ.

Session four | London | Saturday 13th June (2pm – 5pm)

Visually examining different forms of art is an important aspect in developing your appreciation of art in a range of contexts. In the fourth session, you will visit commercial galleries in London to review a selection of contemporary art exhibitions.

Session five | Modern Art Oxford | Wednesday 24th June (7pm – 8.30pm)

The final session will cover visual and verbal communications in art, discussing why they are important methods in developing an appreciation and understanding of artworks.


This course is suitable for those who have no previous experience or knowledge of modern and contemporary art, and are interested in learning how to appreciate and understand the new forms of art being made today. Each session is informal but structured with a short presentation and a discussion followed by opportunities to view the exhibitions at Modern Art Oxford out of public hours. Comprehensive notes will be provided in each session. Course price is £275 (excludes travel costs).

This is a bespoke programme and places are strictly limited. Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

To book your place or for additional information contact Hayley Raines via +44 (0) 1865 813 829 or



We are also offering a course How to Collect: An Insider’s Guide to Buying Art, for more information please click here.