Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Modern Decorative Arts

LEVEL 02 - Years 2, 3 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Art and Art History

DESCRIPTION This study-unit seeks to discuss and highlight the main developments in the decorative arts in Europe and the United States of America from the pioneering achievements of the Arts and Crafts Movement up to Minimalism. The unit analyses the evolution from the Arts and Crafts, the Aesthetic Movement, the Glasgow School of Art, and Art Nouveau, evolving toward Art Deco, the Bauhaus and De Stijl, the cutting-edge post-World War II American contribution, developing onto the pop culture of the 1960s and Minimalism.

The lectures place this tremendously important development of design and decorative arts within the context of a rapidly-changing society, also considering parallel, related issues in architecture and industrial design.

The unit highlights issues of style, invention and innovation including those laid down by major designers such as Morris, Horta, Ruhlmann, Gropius, Saarinen, Eames, Ponti, Mollino, and Jensen among others. Lectures will take into consideration the variegated production of silver and metalwork, furniture and the interior, ceramics, glass, textiles and jewellery.

Study-Unit Aims:

This study-unit aims at:
- Assisting students in appreciating the decorative arts in a period of revolutionary artistic innovation.
- Assisting students in the understanding of design and decorative ideas in Western society from the late 19th to the late 20th centuries.
- Providing the student with the necessary aesthetic and contextual material for the fuller understanding of the contribution of Europe and the United States in art, design and decoration in the Modern period.
- Making the student aware of the fundamental concepts in design and decoration through the works of the main practitioners in this rich field of study.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Engage with the appreciation of the development of the decorative arts and design in Modern Western society.
- Understand stylistic and contextual material relating to the principal developments in the decorative arts and design in Europe and the United States between the late 19th century and the late 20th century.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Better appreciate the stylistic evolution of the decorative arts in a period of revolutionary innovation, from the pioneering efforts in the second half of the 19th century to the avant-garde of the 20th century.
- Demonstrate an extensive insight into the concepts, ideas and innovation that were manifested in the decorative arts in Europe and the United States in the 20th century.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Nikolaus Pevsner, Pioneers of Modern Design, Palazzo Editions Ltd, United Kingdom, reprinted 2011.

Philippe Garner, The Contemporary Decorative Arts from 1940 to the present day, Phaidon Press Ltd, Oxford, 1980.

Stephen Bayley, Philippe Garner, Deyan Sudjic, Twentieth-Century Style & Design, Thames and Hudson Ltd, London, 1986.


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM2 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Mark Sagona

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
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Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.