The Course / The Decorative Arts of Europe (1500-2000) Introduction 1/8

January 10, 2019 @ 10:45 am – 12:45 pm
The Course at The University Womens Club
2 Audley Square
Mayfair, London W1K
Mary Bromley
020 7266 7815

Established in 1994, The Course offers exciting Art History, Literature and Music lectures.

In this 8 part series, we will see how in the European tradition, the status of “fine art” tends to be much higher than that of the “decorative arts” though the beauty and virtuosity of the latter can be spell-binding. This is why we have a “temple” to fine art in the centre of London – the National Gallery – while “everything else” is in the Victoria and Albert Museum – which was on the fringes of London when it was built. The difference is also reflected in the huge gap between the market prices of the two arts. Why are the decorative arts undervalued in this way and what are their virtues? This series of lectures explores this intriguing subject.

Introduction to the Decorative Arts

The word “decorative” is usually associated with functional objects like tea pots; but if such objects are functional, how can they be purely “decorative”? Is not a painting, which has no other function than to decorate a room, more “decorative” than an object that is used? The first lecture in this series will look at the background to the development of the notions of “fine”, “decorative” and “applied” art.