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Virtual Art Seminar

Bazille, Young Woman Peonies Impressioni

Black Heroes of Art

Discover the Unsung Black Artists & Models who Left their Mark on Art History 


Join an intimate community for four lively discussions on the representation of black people in art. In each class, we will learn about an important black artist or model. We will study art from 1800 to the present, observing societal shifts and artistic movements and the roles played by people of African descent therein. Finally, we will examine work by contemporary black artists. Inspired by two exhibitions – Posing Modernity at Columbia University (2018) and The Black Model at Musée d’Orsay (2019) – this series integrates cutting-edge research from scholars such as Denise Murrell, Cécile Bishop, James Smalls, and Wendy Grossman. No background in art necessary. All that's required is a curious mind. 


Sessions are led by Lauren Jimerson, PhD. in partnership with MoAD.

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Live From Paris, where we go beyond the Louvre!

"Black Heroes of Art" aims to stimulate a deeper understanding and spark conversations

on the history and importance of the black figure in art with friends from the MoAD community.

Discuss cutting-edge research which has redefined art history.

Learn about the ingenuity of black artists past and present. 

Connect with others and explore art, history, and culture.

Next Series:

Sundays at 11:30 am PST, October 25-November 15

Last year, Lauren spoke on France 24 about the "Black Models" exhibition held at Musée Orsay. 

Denise Murrell's pioneering research has drawn international attention to the topic of the representation of people of color in art. 

Discover Black Models & Artists Past and Present

  • Week 1: In Search of a Painting
    When I first saw a reproduction of Marie Vassilieff’s Homme et Femme, a double-sided depiction of male and female Cubist nudes, I was determined to find the painting. This was the start of a three-year quest all over France and beyond. As we retrace my journey, we will study this lesser-known artist and the significance of her work. We will uncover her Cubist paintings, unknown to the public, which I found in private collections. We will learn what a woman artist risked a century ago by painting male nudes and challenging gender norms.
  • Week 2: The Androgynous Doll
    In 1915, Marie Vassilieff pioneered a new kind of art form – the portrait doll. They represented various personalities of interwar Paris – Picasso, Matisse, Josephine Baker, and the artist herself. Vassilieff’s dolls were not merely craft – she considered her creations as works of art. As we examine her dolls, we will consider their role as objets d’art and the breakdown of artistic hierarchies they imply. We will learn about the Dada movement and the women involved. We will discuss the signification of the doll itself – its traditional link with femininity and discover the ways in which Vassilieff upends its meaning.
  • Week 3: Defying Gender
    Travel back in time to Suzanne Valadon’s world in Montmartre. A model turned artist, Valadon devoted her career to the subject she knew best – the nude. As a lower-class woman and single mother, she must have assumed that she had nothing to lose. She audaciously exhibited male nudes at an important art Salon in Paris. Shocked, one critic called her an “old slut,” but that didn’t deter her. We will examine Valadon’s male nudes in paintings and in drawings. We will see how this artist became an active agent of her own sexuality and depicted the male body as shaped by her own desires.
  • Week 4: The Model's Gaze
    As a former model, Valadon was acutely aware of the gaze – how the body is typically displayed as an object for male viewers – but she was also perceptive to the ways class and gender shape identity and subjectivity. From her unique and embodied vantage point, which I call the model’s gaze, Valadon reclaimed woman as subject. She painted female bodies that do not conform to standard ideals of beauty. She then turned the model’s gaze on herself. Toward the end of her career, she captured her aging body with a truthful and unflattering eye in the first known old-age nude self-portrait. We will look at Valadon’s female nudes and nude self-portraits and discuss the poignant ways in which they resonate with gender theory formulated over half a century later.
  • Week 5: Painting Pleasure
    In her representations of the nude, Émilie Charmy explored female sexuality in paint. Often, she used her own body in lieu of a model’s creating daring self-portraits. Painting the female nude in a sensual manner with opulent brushwork and vivid color, she captured both a visual and tactile representation of the body. We will learn why Charmy hid some of her work from the public and where it can be found today. We will examine Charmy’s paintings up close and discover how a woman painted pleasure one century ago.

- The Experience -

Connect with friends around the world to explore art, history and culture

Gericault Joseph painting.jpg
Marie-Guillemine Benoist Portrait de Mad
Vallotton Aïcha

Join us!

Next Series:

Sundays at 11:30 am PST, October 25-November 15

  • Each webinar is limited to a maximum of 10 people to enable lively and engaging discussions.

  • A series of 4 webinars, each session is 90 minutes.

  • Only one date appears in the booking system. However, your reservation includes all 4 seminars.

  • No background in art necessary. All that's required is a curious mind. 

If you have any questions, 

please contact us!

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