Myth and Modernism: Picasso to Bacon

Online course

+44 (0)20 7942 2000

Classical myth and modernist art are seen in opposition. However, artists such as Picasso, Dali, Rothko, and Bacon, frequently drew on mythology – the Minotaur, Narcissus, Ariadne, and much more besides. This history of art course looks at modern meanings of classical myth in painting, sculpture, and the graphic arts in European and American art.

Learn from our world-class experts wherever you are, whenever suits you: watch lectures live or view the recording later in your own time. You can experience the full breadth and depth of the V&A's collections with 12 hours of study over 6 weeks. Learn at your own pace: lecture recordings and study materials, lecture notes, copies of the presentations, and additional study materials are available in our secure Microsoft Teams environment for 6 weeks after the course ends, so you'll never miss a thing. And finally, join the conversation: share your perspective with your fellow students, and support each other in your further enquiries outside of class time.

Read more
course photo
Portrait of Course Director Richard Humphreys

Course Director
Richard Humphreys

Richard Humphreys is a curator, writer and lecturer who was formerly Head of Education at Tate Britain and a founding member of the post-graduate programme The London Consortium. His exhibition and publication topics include Futurism, Wyndham Lewis, Ezra Pound, British Landscape and John Constable.

Thank you for a fascinating and stimulating course! Previous V&A Academy Online Course Attendee

Course overview

This art history course looks at modern meanings of classical myth in painting, sculpture, and the graphic arts in European and American art. Beginning with a consideration of changing ideas of myth since the Victorian period in writers such as J.G Frazer, we also look at the Pre-Raphaelite and Symbolist re-interpretations of myth in the work of Rossetti, Rodin and other major figures. We will consider the wider visual culture of design, film, and political propaganda, as well as significant literary work by writers such as Rilke, Joyce and Eliot. What emerges is a fascinating story of the reinvention of ancient culture for radically uncertain new times.


V&A Academy Online. A learning environment you can trust.

V&A Academy Online courses are built using the latest Microsoft software. Tune in to expert lectures live, or catch up later on demand. Download handouts and presentations. Join the discussion in a secure, closed class environment, wherever you are.

Enrol now

Online course: Myth and Modernism: Picasso to Bacon

2 November 2023 - 7 December 2023


Call to book +44 (0)20 7942 2000

Need help enrolling? Talk to the admissions team:

+44 (0)20 7942 2000

Open 10.00 - 13.00, Monday to Sunday (closed 24-26 December)