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Seeing Through Photographs

Taking, sharing, and viewing photographs has become second nature for many of us. Given our near-constant engagement with images this course will help you di...
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Platform: Coursera
Video: 2h 59m
Language: English

Table of contents


Taking, sharing, and viewing photographs has become second nature for many of us. Given our near-constant engagement with images this course will help you dig into the meaning of pictures and reconsider photography’s role in our visual culture. This course aims to address the gap between seeing and truly understanding photographs by introducing a diversity of ideas, approaches, and technologies that inform their making.

In this course you will look closely at 100 photographs from the collection of The Museum of Modern Art, going behind the scenes of the Museum and into artist studios through original films and audio interviews. You will hear a variety of perspectives on the ways photography has been used throughout its 180-year history: as a means of artistic expression, a tool for science and exploration, an instrument of documentation, a way to tell stories and record histories, and a mode of communication and critique. Short texts and readings from MoMA publications provide enhanced context for the works in the course.

By enrolling in this course, you’ll join a community of international learners in discussion forums, receive invitations to live and virtual events from our lead instructor Sarah Meister, and gain exclusive access to MoMA resources.

We’ve been listening to your feedback! In September 2020, we launched new content in Seeing Through Photographs, including audio interviews with additional contemporary artists from around the world, videos of Sarah introducing key ideas, and almost doubling the number of photographs from the collection. We’ve also added opportunities for you to share and receive feedback on your photographs in the discussion forums.

You will learn

✓ Understand artists’ processes and the choices that inform a photograph’s making, including experimentation and responses to technological innovation.
✓ Learn how context influences the production, circulation, and reception of photographic images.
✓ Understand the relationship between a photograph’s subject and meaning, and the differences between photographs as objects and photographic images.
✓ Gain confidence in looking at and talking about photography, and find inspiration from photographs all around you.


There is no prerequisite, anyone can begin this course.. This course is also great for beginners without any Music and Art knowledge.

This course is for

This course is suitable for beginners.
Department of Photography
Museum of Modern Art
Sarah Meister became a Curator at The Museum of Modern Art in 2009, having joined the Department of Photography in 1997. Her recent exhibitions include From Bauhaus to Buenos Aires: Grete Stern and Horacio Coppola (2015; co-curator), Modern Photographs from the Thomas Walther Collection, 1909–1949 (2014-15; co-curator), Nicholas Nixon: Forty Years of The Brown Sisters (2014); Walker Evans American Photographs, 75th anniversary (2013-14), Bill Brandt: Shadow and Light (2013) and Eugène Atget: “Documents pour artistes” (2012). Meister contributes to and edits a variety of Museum and external publications including most recently Photography at MoMA: 1960 to Now (2015) and two collaborations with Maira Kalman and Daniel Handler, Hurry Up and Wait (2015) and Girls Standing on Lawns (2014). Many of her favorite MoMA photographs are featured in this course including (but not limited to!) work by Diane Arbus, Iñaki Bonillas, Lee Friedlander, Katy Grannan, Zoe Leonard, Susan Meiselas, Vik Muniz, Nicholas Nixon, Martha Rosler, Cindy Sherman, Hank Willis Thomas, Carleton Watkins, and snapshots given by Peter J. Cohen. She holds an AB in Art History from Princeton University, with honors, and is a recipient of the Lee Tenenbaum Award for outstanding research and scholarship. Sarah Meister ?2009?????????????????1997??????? ????????????????????????From Bauhaus to Buenos Aires???Grete Stern ? Horacio Coppola??2015; ????????Thomas Walther ??????1909–1949??2014-15; ????????Nicholas Nixon?????????????Forty Years of The Brown Sisters? (2014)??Walker Evans ????????75????? (2013-14)??Bill Brandt?? ????? (2013) ? ?Eugène Atget???????????(2012)? Meister ???????????????????????????????????????????1960 ??? (2015)???? Maira Kalman ? Daniel Handler ??????????????2015???????????? (2014) ? ??????MoMA?????????????????????????? Diane Arbus?Iñaki Bonillas?Lee Friedlander?Katy Grannan?Zoe Leonard?Susan Meiselas?Vik Muniz?Nicholas Nixon?Martha Rosler?Cindy Sherman?Hank Willis Thomas?Carleton Watkins ?????? Peter J. Cohen ?????? ?????????????????????????????????????Lee Tenenbaum??
Platform: Coursera
Video: 2h 59m
Language: English

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