Centre for Continuing Education

French Conversation Course III: Art History

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If you want to learn to speak French, our French classes are ideal for adult learners to enjoy a practical and social experience while you learn French language and culture. Learn French the smart way with French courses at CCE, the University of Sydney.

Designed for intermediate students who are wishing to practice by exploring and discussing Art masterpieces in a relaxed atmosphere. We will be reviewing European renowned artists and their paintings, using technical terms and structural device to describe the art work as well as discussing the context in which it was created. Developed to enhance both listening and speaking skills.


Develop the participant’s understanding and fluency as well as acquiring knowledge on Art History by reviewing key artists and their relevant artworks.


Upon successful completion of this coure, participants should be able to:

  1. Understand Art History by exploring key artists and their relevant works of art.
  2. Enrich their vocabulary by describing representational paintings, participating in impromptus dialogues and sharing their point of view.
  3. Use their knowledge in a more artistic and cultural approach.


Class 1: Marcel Duchamp

By challenging the very notion of what is art, his first ready-mades sent shock waves across the art world that can still be felt today. In his insistence that art should be driven by ideas above all, He is generally considered to be the father of Conceptual art. He rejected purely visual or what he dubbed “retinal pleasure,” deeming it to be facile, in favor of more intellectual, concept-driven approaches to art-making. His refusal to follow a conventional artistic path, matched only by a horror of repetition ultimately led to his withdrawal from the art world.

Class 2: Chaim Soutine

Despite dominant trends toward abstraction, Soutine maintained a firm connection to recognizable subject matter. His innovation was in the way he chose to represent his subjects: with a thick impasto of paint covering the surface of the canvas, the palette, visible brushwork, and forms translated the artist’s inner torment.

Class 3: Diego Rivera

Rivera used the walls of universities and other public buildings throughout Mexico and the United States as his canvas, creating an extraordinary body of work that revived interest in the mural as an art form and helped reinvent the concept of public art. Mexican culture and Social Marxist history constituted the major themes and influence on Rivera’s art.

Class 4: Frida Kahlo

She was born on July 6, 1907, in Coyocoán, Mexico City, Mexico. Considered one of Mexico’s greatest artists, Frida Kahlo began painting mostly self-portrait after she was severely injured in a bus accident. Kahlo later became politically active and married fellow communist artist Diego Rivera in 1929. She exhibited her paintings in Paris and Mexico before her death in 1954 and is still admired as a feminist icon.

Class 5: The Blue Rieder

The Blue Rieder confronted feelings of alienation within an increasingly modernizing world. Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc, August Macke, Alexei Jawlensky, Paul Klee and Gabriele Münter were the main representative of this group. They shared an interest in abstracted forms and prismatic colours, which, they felt, had spiritual values that could counteract the corruption and materialism of their age.

Class 6: Wassily Kandinsky

One of the pioneers of abstract modern art, Wassily Kandinsky exploited the evocative interrelation between colour and form to create an aesthetic experience that engaged the sight, sound, and emotions of the public. Highly inspired to create art that communicated a universal sense of spirituality, he innovated a pictorial language that only loosely related to the outside world, but expressed volumes about the artist’s inner experience. Kandinsky’s art and ideas inspired many generations of artists.

Class 7: Mark Rothko

A prominent figure among the New York School painters, Mark Rothko moved through many artistic styles until reaching his signature 1950s motif of soft, rectangular forms floating on a stained field of colour. Heavily influenced by mythology and philosophy, he was insistent that his art was filled with content, and brimming with ideas.

Class 8: Jackson Pollock

An artist who to paint, would fling paint at canvases with a stick and pour and hurl it to create roiling vortexes of colour and line, would be considered one of the greatest artist of our time. Pollock’s pre-eminence among the Abstract Expressionists has endured, cemented by the legend of his alcoholism and his early death. The famous ‘drip paintings’ that he began to produce in the late 1940s represent one of the most original bodies of work of the century.

Intended Audience

Suitable for:

  1. intermediate to advanced language speakers (B1 – 210 Hours of study) who have completed up to 301, as the technical vocabulary will be discussed prior to discussion and the conversation can be done in shorter sentences without having to use complex grammatical structures.
  2. those who have previously attended French Conversation I: Art History and French Conversation II: Art History.

Delivery Style

Delivered as an interactive tutorial where student participation is encouraged.


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Small class sizes
  • Free, expert advice
  • Student materials – yours to keep
  • Statement of completion

What others say.

  • The course was truly wonderful, especially thanks to the teacher.