About the Program
The MA in Contemporary Art is the longest running specialized Master’s program of its kind in the world. Established in 1991, it focuses on art in the period from 1968 to the present, with strands on art history, curatorial studies and critical theory and a strong emphasis throughout on professional career development. We have a longstanding, proven track record of academic excellence and high-level graduate employment worldwide.
Numerous guest lectures by influential speakers help familiarize students with the many professional options available in the international art world.
Recent speakers have included:
Alfredo Jaar, artist, New York
Iwona Blazwick, OBE, Director, Whitechapel Gallery, London
William Kentridge, artist, Johannesburg
Victoria Miro, Victoria Miro Gallery, London
Yinka Shonibare MBE, artist, London
Emma Baker, Specialist and Head of Research, Sotheby's Auction House, London
Jonathan Watkins, Director, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham
Martin Creed, artist, London
In addition, the full-time Master’s Program in Contemporary Art is comprised of:
- An intensive program of lectures by faculty members of international standing, giving students a solid grounding in the history of art since 1968. The program covers developments in contemporary art from around the world, concentrating on the most recent practices and on changing institutional structures in an increasingly global art world;
- Small group seminars, workshops and individual presentations focusing on key issues and debates, which help students gain confidence in speaking and reflecting on all forms of contemporary art, from painting and sculpture to video and installation as well as the most recent web-based, collaborative and multidisciplinary practices;
- One-to-one supervision by personal tutors who offer regular feedback on program assignments (written and oral) and provide clear guidance tailored to the student’s own strengths, interests and career ambitions;
- Guided visits to major London venues including Tate Modern and the Frieze Art Fair as well as to smaller alternative galleries, which encourage students to observe art directly, assess artworks knowledgeably and examine their curatorial presentation;
- Organized travel to key European art centers where visits to studios, galleries, museums and biennials offer in situ learning opportunities and enhance each student’s first-hand understanding of contemporary art.
- Collaborations with a range of London-based institutions, including Chelsea College of Art and Design, SOAS (University of London), and Camden Arts Centre. These collaborations offer opportunities for dialogue with students working in related fields.
About Our MA Students
The MA in Contemporary Art program welcomes prospective students who have an interest in gaining a strong understanding of historical developments, critical debates and institutional networks in the world of contemporary art. Students graduate from this intensive year-long program with the in-depth knowledge and professional preparation to work in any area of the expanding contemporary art world. Our graduates are subsequently employed in private galleries, auction houses, museums and foundations, private and public collecting, art publishing, art investing and consulting, visual archives, charities and not-for-profits, art services and e-commerce, and academia.
Navigating the Art World
All of the MA programs are enhanced by a shared core curriculum, Navigating the Art World, which introduces students to the global art world and provides them with a comprehensive knowledge of art business principles and professional skills as well as critical understanding to mobilize at the completion of their degrees.
The program runs from September to September. Following the institute-wide shared core curriculum, students move on to the specialist study of contemporary art, focusing on the period between 1968 and 1990 in Semester 1. The first semester also includes regular gallery visits and extended study visits to Paris and Northern Germany. In Semester 2 we look at the period between 1990 and the present, concentrating on a small number of topical issues and debates. The second semester includes an extended study visit to the Venice Biennale or to Holland and Belgium, and studio visits.
Students also choose two elective units, either pursuing further specialization in contemporary art or undertaking options that will broaden their understanding of other areas of study, such as fine and decorative arts and design, modern and contemporary Asian art, or art business.
In Semester 3, students prepare and write their dissertations under the supervision of their tutors.
Build Your Concentration
The flexible structure of the Master’s program allows students to concentrate their studies on a chosen field by selecting 2 elective units. Specialist subject areas in which Sotheby’s Institute of Art - London faculty have high level of expertise include Contemporary Design, Photography, East Asian Art and Curating.