Art History Classes

VMFA Art History Classes provide adult audiences with the opportunity to investigate the history of art through dynamic and interactive lectures, gallery visits and discussions. For ages 16 and over.

Cancellation Policy: No refunds unless VMFA cancels a class. VMFA will cancel a class if 12 students are not enrolled one week before the start date.


Kehinde Wiley "101" [52]

Jun 21 & 28, 1 – 2:30 pm, or Jun 23 & 30, 6:30 – 8 pm  (2 sessions) | Reynolds Lecture Hall
Karen Getty, Docent and Tour Coordinator, VMFA
This class provides an introduction to Kehinde Wiley, a contemporary artist known for his monumental and highly naturalistic paintings that show contemporary models in classical poses and settings. Cost includes admission to the special exhibition Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic

$45 (VMFA members $35)


A Question of Styles: the Arts in France [53]

Wednesdays, Jun 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 & Jul 6, 2 – 3 pm (6 sessions) | Pauley Center Parlor
Dr. Donald Schrader, Adjunct Professor of Art History
When the term “Interior Design” was coined in the early 19th century, the idea already had a long and distinguished history in France. Through the works of great artists from Poussin to Fragonard to Picasso, this class will explore decorative arts in France from the late Gothic period in the 15th century and the Renaissance of François I, to the noble classicism of Louis XIV and the brilliant Rococo age of his successors, to the muscular nationalism of Napoleon’s Empire style and the historical revivals of the Republic and Second Empire to the fantasy of Art Nouveau at the century’s end and the “modern” styles of the 20th century.  

$90 (VMFA members $75)


The Art of Portraiture [54]

Tuesdays, Jul 5, 12, 19 & 26, 1 – 2:30 pm (4 sessions) | Conference Suite & Galleries
Brian Piper, PhD candidate, College of William & Mary
Inspired by the special exhibition Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic, this introductory course explores the history of European and American portraiture during the 18th and 19th centuries. Focusing on the VMFA's permanent collection, lectures and gallery talks will consider how portraiture conveys a sitter's character and sense of self, while also embodying the painter's own artistic identity. Students will discover the influence of artists such as Francisco Goya, Elisabeth Louise Vigée-LeBrun, John Singleton Copley, John Singer Sargent, and Mary Cassatt on modern masters of the genre such as Kehinde Wiley.

$90 (VMFA members $75)


Art for Social Change: A History of Documentary Photography [55]

Wed, Jul 27, 1 – 2:30 pm, or Thu, Jul 28, 6:30 – 8 pm (1 session) | Conference Suite & Galleries
Jeffrey Allison, Paul Mellon Collection Educator & Manager of Statewide Programs, VMFA
From the late nineteenth century when journalist Jacob Riis used photographs to support his arguments about the need to reform living conditions in the slums, photography has been a powerful tool for social change. Learn about Riis and photographers featured in VMFA’s permanent collection including Lewis Hine, Danny Lyon, and Gordon Parks. This class will conclude with an instructor-led talk in the special exhibition Gordon Parks: Back to Fort Scott

$15 (VMFA members $12)