What makes a masterpiece

Course Dates: 17/05/19 - 12/07/19
Time: 10:30 - 12:40
Location: OS - Off Site
Tutor: Leslie Primo

Look at works in the Western canon and ask why we consider them to be masterpieces. What formal qualities do they all share, if any, or is our interpretation of a masterpiece largely subjective?


What is the course about?

We’ll explore the concept of the masterpiece through works in public collections, including the National Gallery, the Wallace Collection, Tate Modern and the V&A. We’ll look at various theories, such as Significant Form, to try to explore what makes a work great. Is it merely mastery of technique and form, or is there something else? How comfortable do we feel applying the word to contemporary artworks?

What previous students liked most about their course:
“Interesting, lively and fun which is the very best of learning environments.”
“Visiting the art galleries with an expert and being encouraged to think about the paintings.”
“Increased knowledge of what I am looking at in an art gallery.”


What will we cover?

- An exploration of key works from different periods that make us question what makes a Masterpiece?
- We’ll examine how form and content interact
- A comparison of different artworks exploring the same theme
- We’ll ask whether masterpieces always endure over time, or whether fashion dictates their value.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- Identify the different art historical styles of the works we’ll be looking at
- Demonstrate an appreciation of composition, form and technique and how this relates to subject
- Demonstrate familiarity with some of the key ideas that inform our appreciation of a great artwork.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This is an introductory course.

You should be able to follow simple written and verbal instructions, demonstrations, hand-outs and health and safety information, and will be invited to take part in group discussion. You should be able to use numbers and be able to do simple measurements and calculations.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

You will be taught through a series of talks and discussions. We’ll be looking first-hand at artworks in public collections in galleries.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

No, but a notebook might be handy.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

General information and advice on courses at Build is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details


Customer Reviews 4 item(s)

Write a review
Interesting and informative course taught by a knowledgeable and engaging tutor.
Course Rating
Review by Michael. / (Posted on 19/03/2019)
Excellent knowledgable tutor. Interesting debates on the selected paintings which helped me to understand the artwork so much better.
Course Rating
Review by G Smith / (Posted on 20/02/2019)
I already recommend the courses run by Leslie
Course Rating
Review by Paul Chapman / (Posted on 17/02/2019)
Do it! Excellent course
Course Rating
Review by Anonymous / (Posted on 15/02/2019)

Book your place

Course Code: VB236

Fri, day, 17 May - 12 Jul '19

Duration: 9 sessions (over 9 weeks)

Full fee: £249.00
Senior fee: £199.00
Concession: £152.00

Or call to enrol: 222-66-889-99

Download form & post

Any questions? [email protected]
or call 020 7492 2652

Please note: we offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. For more information visit our online . You can also visit the Information, Advice and Guidance drop-in service, open from 12 – 6.45, Monday to Friday.