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The Art of Science and The Science of Art

8 February 2022 - 15 March 2022

Tuesdays 10:45 - 12:45

£63.00 – £312.00

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Coffee, tea and biscuits are included on arrival and during half-time break


This series of lectures will look at art in relation to science. Although the two subjects are often pitted against each other, on account of their apparent subjectivity and objectivity, they are joined at the hip. We will explain how the two stories – both epic in their own way – developed together.

“I had no idea when I signed up for this course that Andrew’s lectures would be so multi-faceted and would inform and guide us across the vast sweep of human history - in a digestible way!”

Course Outline

8 Feb 2022 – Art and Botany

How naturalism in painting initiated an interest in the natural world and how the development of museum classification systems originated with plants. Who painted plants, and why? From medieval herbals to art made of grass.

15 Feb 2022 – Art and Zoology

In the Middle Ages, animals were understood in relation to their religious significance and were discussed in bestiaries. In the Renaissance, people took a more technical approach to the animal kingdom. With regard to Noah’s Ark, for instance, was there not a danger that the lions might eat the zebras? This lecture addresses changing attitudes towards animals and representation.

22 Feb 2022 – Art and Optics

Art of course revolves around visual experience but to what extent does the technology of optics contribute to the practice and experience? This aspect of the subject is often ignored. To what extent do changing understandings of ‘seeing’ influence the kind of art that is produced?

01 Mar 2022 – Art and Psychology 1

What is the relationship between creativity and human psychology? This is the first of three lectures which focuses on the way people have understood ‘artistic experience’ over the years – covering antique ‘inspiration’, medieval notions of vision, revelation and tradition, and the origin of the notion of artistic genius.

08 Mar 2022 – Art and Psychology 2

Here we will develop on the previous session, addressing the full flowering of the notion of artistic genius in the 18th and 19th centuries, encountering the experimental sciences of ‘mesmerism’ and ‘phrenology’ on the way.

15 Mar 2022 – Art and Technology

To what extent has art been determined by the development of technology, from the development of blast furnaces in the Middle Ages, to perspective during the Renaissance years, colour printing in the 19th century and computers in our own age?


8 February 2022
15 March 2022
£63.00 – £312.00
Course Category:


Andrew Spira
Our Lecturers


The University Women’s Club
2 Audley Square
London, London W1K 1DB United Kingdom
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