In this five-part lecture series, learn how to read and critique abstract art while studying the works and histories of the 20th-century women artists who shaped the movement.
Have you ever felt that looking at abstract art is like trying to decrypt a coded message? Or that sometimes you just don’t get what makes a great painting? You’re not alone, but Abstract Expressionism (AbEx), is not as impenetrable as it can often seem. In this five-week series with artist and lecturer Regina Mamou, we’ll learn to unpack, demystify, and learn about AbEx—stepping past the dude-circle of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning and focusing on the women artists who shaped the movement in the mid-20th century. After building foundational techniques and vocabulary to understand and talk about visual art, we’ll use these skills to delve into the history of abstract expressionism, explore the biographies of early women artists pioneering the movement, and trace the effects AbEx has had on contemporary art. During our final session, students will have the opportunity to present a work of their choosing and practice talking about art in front of a group. By the end of our time together, you’ll come away with the confidence to talk about artwork as well as strategies for sharing knowledge with friends and family and through public speaking.
This course serves as a perfect foundation or beginner’s level course to Abstract Expressionism, and no background in art is required.
Syllabus At A Glance
This course includes five total sessions, each lasting 1.5 hours on five consecutive Thursdays beginning August 25.
Session 1 (Thursday, 8/25, 7–8:30 PM ET)| What Is Abstract Art?: Setting the stage for reading nonrepresentational art
Session 2 (Thursday, 9/1, 7–8:30 PM ET)| What Are the Origins of Abstract Art?: The beginnings and radical nature of this work, and how AbEx came to dominate the art scene
Session 3 (Thursday, 9/8, 7–8:30 PM ET)| The Pioneering Women of AbEx: Groundbreakers of the movement
Session 4 (Thursday, 9/15, 7–8:30 PM ET)| Tracing Abstraction to Today: Women Abstract Expressionists of the late 20th century and contemporary artists
Session 5 (Thursday, 9/22, 7–8:30 PM ET)| Student Presentations: Sharing what we’ve learned about an Abstract Expressionist and her work
Students will be encouraged to attend a museum and/or gallery exhibition once a week—a field trip of sorts that will be essential to practicing self-guided learning outside of class. Following the third session, students will be asked to select one artwork, put together a five-minute presentation about it, and share it with the class during our final session together. Students will also be given short readings and/or videos to deepen their understanding of material covered in class.
Students will receive an (optional) book list and can decide whether they would like to purchase these supplementary materials or not. The cost of admission to museums or galleries (outside of class) will vary depending on the area and discounts students may be eligible to receive, but will likely range from $0–$25 per week. Many galleries are free to attend.
This course is available at three ticket prices. This tiered pricing model is designed to increase access for a wider range of students as well as to support our instructors. In addition to tiered tickets, we offer a limited number of no-pay spots for students who would not otherwise be able to take this course. No-pay spots are selected via a randomized drawing two weeks before each section begins. For more information and to apply for a no-pay spot, please click here. To learn more about our pricing model and randomized selection process for no-pay spots, please visit our FAQ page.
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Atlas Obscura Online Courses
Our online courses offer opportunities for participants to emerge with new skills, knowledge, connections, and perspectives through multi-session classes designed and taught by expert instructors. Courses can take one of two forms: Seminars are intimate, interactive classes—capped at nine to 25 students—exploring topics and crafts through discussion, workshops, assignments, and in-class activities. We also offer lecture series that can be attended live, or viewed via a recording that will be shared within 72 hours after each session airs. Class recordings for lecture series will be available with a temporary password for up to two weeks following the final session of the course.
To learn more about our current course offerings, please visit www.atlasobscura.com/online-courses.
For answers to commonly asked questions, check out our FAQ page here.
Once registered, you’ll receive a confirmation email from Eventbrite that will provide access to each class meeting. Please save the confirmation email as you’ll use it to access all sessions of your course via Zoom.
Regina Mamou is a Los Angeles-based visual artist and art lecturer with a specialization in photography and contemporary art. She holds an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, and is the recipient of a Fulbright fellowship to Jordan. Regina is a first-generation Iraqi American and a third-generation Polish American. Her background has informed much of her artwork. She is currently the first artist-in-residence at The Wende Museum of the Cold War, where she is working on a project about the relationship between the Middle East and the Soviet Union. Regina has been an art educator and lecturer since 2006. She started her work in museum education at The Art Institute of Chicago, lecturing on a wide variety of art topics and special exhibitions. She also held the role of study leader, a position where she was responsible for extensive research in the arts for The Art Institute of Chicago’s travel programs to Cuba, Morocco, and Poland. In 2014, Regina joined the team of Art Muse Los Angeles, where she currently works. Art Muse LA is a community of art historians, artists, and educators who offer virtual and in-person tours in museums and galleries throughout the area.
Mary Lovelace O'Neal. Untitled, 1977–1978. Glitter, masking tape, and pastel on canvas, 84 x 144 in. (Collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA.)
Ethel Schwabacher. Antigone I, 1958. Oil on canvas, 51 x 85 in. (Collection of Christopher C. Schwabacher and Brenda S. Webster.)
Perle Fine. Polyphonic, 1945. Oil on canvas, 39 x 44 in. (Collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY.)
Sonia Gechtoff. The Beginning, 1960. Oil on canvas, 69 x 83 in. (Collection of the Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO.)
Janet Sobel. Milky Way, 1945. Enamel on canvas, 44 7/8 x 29 7/8 in. (Collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY.)
Howardena Pindell. Untitled, 1972–1973. Acrylic on canvas, 90 1/4 x 87 3/4 in. (Collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA.)
This lecture series is designed so students can participate live or watch a recording of each session, after it airs, at a time that is convenient for them. Sessions will take place live over Zoom, with dedicated Q&A segments for students to ask questions via video or chat. Within 72 hours after each session meets, students will receive access to a recording of the live session, which they can watch for up to two weeks after the course concludes.
Instructors may use Google Classroom to communicate with students outside of class. While students aren’t required to use Google Classroom, instructors may use this platform to post resources, discussion questions, or assignments. This platform also offers a space for students to connect with one another about course material between sessions.
We provide closed captioning for all of our courses and can share transcripts upon request. Please reach out to us at email@example.com if you have any questions, requests, or accessibility needs.
Thu, Aug 25, 20227:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m.$80