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From Van Gogh to Picasso: Modern European and Dutch Art

Organizing institution
Utrecht University, Faculty of Humanities (UU)
Course code
Course fee (incl. housing)
€ 1320
Bachelor level

Throughout this course, you will discover how Dutch and European Modern artists, from architects to painters and sculptors strove for the elusive ideal of truthfulness. You will gain a deeper understanding for the different styles and approaches of modern artists, both on a European and on a Dutch level, combining general with specialist knowledge, a personal and subjective approach with a factual or technical one, by visiting cities, museums, discussions and even trying out some modern art techniques yourself in this interactive course, that is for the most part taught in front of the original artworks.

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In the 19th and 20th century there was a crisis in art. Being able to paint a convincing image of a mythical goddess leaning against a broken column was no longer a guarantee for success. It is the period of the –isms, such as Impressionism, Cubism and Expressionism. But despite the obvious differences between these movements, each of them strove for the same thing: to create an art more truthful than ever before.

Vincent van Gogh looked for the truth in hypnotically swirling brushstrokes that conveyed his true emotions, whereas legendary Dutch abstract artist Piet Mondrian found it in lines and squares that were so perfect, that it was difficult to imagine a person, not a machine, had painted them.

Many people feel at loss as to how to approach a modern artwork: it is too abstract, too strange, and they feel locked out from being able to interact with it. Dutch Modern Art made a unique contribution to the whirlpool of European Modern movements, but some artists are barely known to an international audience. This course tackles both issues: it provides you with tools to understand and experience Modern art and provides you with both a general overview of European Modern art and a specialist one of Dutch Modern art.

Upon completion, you will have seen many highlights from the 19th and 20th century, you will be able to recognise the main painters and distinguish different movements in both European and Dutch Modern art, you will have become confident in recognising, discussing and analysing a Modern artwork and sharing your ideas with your peers and ultimately have gained a deeper understanding of the idea of modern art in general.

Join us on this interactive journey, with daily excursions. Travel and entrance to museums are included in the course fee.

Tags: modern art, architecture, artworks, van gogh, picasso

» Download the day-to-day programme (PDF)

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Dr Nausikaä El-Mecky


The course is open to participants (graduates and non-graduates) from all disciplines with a keen interest in Art History.


The course gives students a broad overview of Dutch Modern Art through the exploration of culture, daily life, academic approaches, excursions and case-studies.


Approximately 40 contact hours.

The course combines many elements, from workshops to excursions, and no day is the same.

Typically, the morning part of the programme takes place in a classroom, which could be a lecture, or a seminar where you ask questions and explore the topic in the group. You may also find yourself in a panel discussion, defending a particular approach to art or painting your own masterpiece in a workshop exploring Modern or Golden Age artistic techniques.
The afternoon (and sometimes the entire day) is devoted to museum visits. Variation is ensured by going into the museum in small groups, bigger groups or on your own, sometimes with an assignment other times by spontaneous discussion.

During these excursions, we devote time to both the factual and technical aspects of the painting, as well as the more personal and subjective ones, so that by the end, you will have explored the paintings in many dynamic ways. Hidden meanings, unexpected techniques, your peers’ opinions or your own may surprise you and change and broaden your perception of the artworks again and again.


• € 1320 - Course + course materials + housing
• € 970 - Course + course materials


» Overview of all available discounts


Utrecht Summer School doesn't offer scholarships for this course.


Utrecht Summer School
+31 30 253 4400

» Contact Utrecht Summer School


Deadline for registration: 01 June 2017

Course fully booked