Art in Paris: Get Inspired by the City of Light this Summer

By Matt Gulizia, ISA Paris Site Specialist

Paris has been a global epicenter of art and culture for centuries, so what better place to become artistically inspired and influenced than the “City of Light”? Inhabitants of Paris are surrounded by beauty at every turn; rustic cobbled streets, architectural elegance and intricately designed gardens can often be found in the most unlikely of places throughout the city.  Even the light itself has captured the attention of prominent artists throughout history, giving Paris its nickname of “la Ville Lumière” (the City of Light).

Through ISA’s Summer 1 and Summer 2 Paris programs, students have the opportunity to take French language courses, as well as courses in a variety of genres of art.  During each art course, the City of Light will be your classroom, as daily classes are held at many of the most significant points of interest throughout the city!

City of Light and “Liasons Dangereuses”: Art History in Paris

Students in this course meet the instructor at pre-assigned points throughout Paris and embark on walking tours of world-renowned monuments, awe-inspiring palaces, museums, boulevards, quartiers (neighborhoods), churches and a Gothic necropolis-museum.  Topics of the course include art history’s most defining movements and innovations within a social-historic context, with particular focus on the spectacular affaire de coeur between Paris, France, and art and architecture. Every class has a theme that affords students the ability to draw connections between and derive their own inspiration from Parisian, French, and global art and culture.

Contemporary French Cinema

This course allows students to explore three distinct strands of contemporary French cinema (auterism, biopic, and comedy), while analyzing the trends and filmmakers that have returned France back to the forefront of world cinema.  This course also gives students an overview of how these new filmmakers retain links with the tradition of French cinematic history and how they each exploit their chosen genre to illuminate the social landscape of today’s France.  Students are asked to consider the importance of the use of location while putting a special emphasis on Paris and how its streets have influenced French cinema, culminating in an outing to the Latin Quarter’s famous cinema district.

Fashion in France: History, Style and Influence

Students enrolled in this course have the opportunity to explore the history of French fashion in one of the world’s most important capitals of style. Through daily visits to museums, exhibits and important fashion districts, students will discover the way in which fashion is woven into Paris’ history and culture. The journey begins with the origins of the luxury fashion industry during the 18th century and continues to today’s Haute Couture.

Painting Paris in Plein Air (Summer 1 only)

In this course, students discover Paris by painting in “plein air”, literally meaning “in the open air.” Each week students will explore and interpret a different vista through painting. One of the many fascinating qualities and challenges of plein air painting is that instead of looking at the subject (as in still-life, figure painting), students are surrounded by the subject. The summer is an amazing time of the year to be in Paris and there are an infinite number of perspectives by which to be inspired!

Painting Through the Art Movements of Paris (Summer 2 only)

Some of the most revolutionary and exciting ideas about painting were developed in Paris from 1860-1930. In this phase of early Modernism, one art movement after another was born whose influence and legacy we are still living with in contemporary art and design today. This course chronologically explores four crucial art movements from the perspective of artists with the aim of creating your own work: Impressionism/Post Impressionism, Fauvism, Cubism and Surrealism. In the beginning of each of these sections, students will view first-hand the pivotal paintings from each movement in the Orsay, Orangerie, Pompidou, and Picasso museums.  Then, students go out into the city together and create their own landscape paintings in the spirit and style of each movement.

Tick Tock by Miranda Huston
Photo by ISA Student Miranda Huston

Photography in Paris: Documenting the City of Light

France is the birthplace of photography and Paris has played a fundamental role in the development of photography over the past 180 years.  With the age of smart phones and social media, we have all become photo-reporters in a sense, documenting our own lives each day.  This growing passion for observing, photographing, and sharing images, as well as viewing and commenting on a bewildering stream of pictures from the world at large, makes visual literacy an essential asset in contemporary society.  Students will capture the city on camera, visit museums and galleries, and will simultaneously be encouraged to begin developing their own photographic vision.  By the end of the course, students will have the tools and foundation necessary to begin observing and interpreting the world around them, to express creative ideas, tell stories, and respond to social, political, and cultural issues through photography.

*Courses are subject to change

For more information on a summer abroad program in Paris, contact Matt Gulizia, ISA’s Site Specialist for Paris and visit the ISA Paris programs page.


Author: International Studies Abroad (ISA)

Since 1987, International Studies Abroad (ISA) has provided college students in the United States and Canada the opportunity to explore the world. ISA offers a wide variety of study abroad programs at accredited schools and universities in 73 program locations throughout the world.

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