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Modern Art & Ideas: Course Overview (on Coursera)

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The online course “Modern Art & Ideas” from New York’s MOMA (The Museum of Modern Art) offers detailed overviews of a variety of modern artworks. It dives into their backgrounds, as well as the techniques used, and aims to give students a deepened understanding of this art form.

How much does it cost?

Screenshot from Coursera course about modern art, which shows an image of "Starry Night" by Van Gogh
Screenshot from Modern Art & Ideas course

As is the case with most Coursera courses, the course is free. There is the added option, though, of obtaining a certificate at the end of the course (which does cost).

What does the course include?

The course is made up of 5 weeks worth of content. Each week covers a different theme, as follows:

  • Week 1: Introduction
  • Week 2: Places and Spaces
  • Week 3: Art and Identity
  • Week 4: Transforming Everyday Objects
  • Week 5: Art and Society

And what can I expect from each week?

Screenshot from Coursera course about modern art, which shows the inside of the course and the different videos it includes
Screenshot from Modern Art & Ideas course

Each week, the modules consist more or less of the following:

  • Several (around 10) videos of 1-2 minutes each, diving into the history and background of a certain artwork.
  • A selection of suggested readings.
  • A discussion board (participation is usually optional).
  • A quiz (usually 10 questions).
  • A “weekly reflection”, where the student reflects on and writes about what they learned throughout the week.

And then, in the last week of the course, there are two additional projects:

  • A peer-graded written reflection (of 150-300 words).
  • A peer-graded curated set of 5-10 images. The student is expected to select 5-10 pictures, and include a short paragraph explaining their selection (specific instructions can be found in the course).
Screenshot from Coursera course about modern art, showing closeups of Van Gogh's Starry Night
Screenshot from Modern Art & Ideas course

But what do reviewers say?

“The examples and images are in high-quality and the given perspectives are also clear and unique. Though this course is not the same as traditional art history, it still provides new ideas, which help me a lot with my understanding of contemporary art. –  Yuikiiiii

“This course is really amazing, it has opened my eyes to so many new concepts and approaches that I didn’t know about. It is also really well structured, and there are lots of complimentary (and reliable) sources to go to for extra learning.” – Milagros P. V.

“This has been an amazing course for me. It really enriched my understanding about modern art, and it introduced me to so many pieces of work and artists that I did not previously know about. I absolutely loved the videos and visuals, and the input of people who actually work [at] MoMA. … Doing this course has helped me have a multifaceted view of different kinds of art, and I am incredibly grateful for having had this opportunity. ” – Farah S.

“I absolutely loved this course. It was very well structured and at the right pace. I loved how it pulled in all the strands of different art from painting, to sculpture to installations. I found it both interesting and challenging. … The written piece at the end tested me but in a really good way. … Highly recommend to anyone and thank you MOMA/Coursera for putting this on.” – Anita B.

Will you consider trying the course? And if you’ve already taken it, what did you think?

And see more overviews of art courses.

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