Great Courses: A History of European Art
Thursdays & Fridays | 9:30am | No Charge
Nov 3, 4, 17, 18; Dec. 1,2, 8, 9, 15, 16; Jan. 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, 27; Feb. 2, 3, 9, 10; Mar, 2,3
Course Facilitator: Karen Zarse
Pre-Registration Required | Capacity: 20
The development of the arts in Europe from the Middle Ages to the modern era is an astonishing record of cultural achievement, from the breathtaking architecture of Gothic cathedrals to the daring visual experiments of the Cubist painters.
We all have our favorite artists, periods, or styles from this immensely rich tradition, but how many of us truly know the full sweep of European art? How many of us can connect the dots of influences and inspiration that link the Renaissance with Mannerism, or that tie the paintings of the creator of modern art, Edouard Manet, to masterpieces from centuries earlier?
A History of European Art is your gateway to this visually stunning story. In 48 beautifully illustrated lectures you will encounter all the landmarks you would expect to find in a comprehensive survey of Western art since the Middle Ages. Works such as Giotto’s Arena Chapel, Van Eyck’s Ghent Altarpiece, Leonardo’s The Last Supper, Michelangelo’s David, Vermeer’s View of Delft, Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, Picasso’s Guernica, and hundreds more.
You will also find works that are completely new to you. Plus, you’ll be introduced to lesser-known artists—perhaps names you’ve heard but never connected to specific works—and you’ll understand why they deserve to be classed among the great masters.
An Unrivalled Collection of Masterpieces
Your guide to this unrivalled collection of paintings, sculptures, architecture, drawings, and other media, created over a span of more than a thousand years, is Professor William Kloss, an independent art historian long connected with the seminar and tour programs of the Smithsonian Associates at the Smithsonian Institution.
What You Will Learn
You begin by exploring the artistic riches of the Middle Ages, from the early architectural monuments of the Carolingian Empire to the massive cathedrals and exquisite sculpture of the French Gothic style. Then you move into the Renaissance by examining Giotto’s approach to the illusionistic creation of space and tracing this accomplishment through the works of some of the greatest artists in history, from Masaccio and Donatello to the geniuses of the High Renaissance, including Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, Bellini, and Titian. You also study the magnificent architecture of the period, and you address the Renaissance in the north through the art of Jan van Eyck, Dürer, Bosch, and Bruegel, among others.
Next, you investigate the evolution of Baroque style in the works of Caravaggio and the Bolognese Carracci family. You focus in particular on the Baroque sculptor and architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini. You continue beyond Italy to Velázquez in Spain, to Rubens and Rembrandt in the Netherlands, and to Versailles and the court of Louis XIV in France. Then you cover reactions to the Baroque in the Rococo style of Watteau, Boucher, and Fragonard.
In the last section of the course, you examine the beginnings of modern European art with the work of David, which defined the Neoclassical style. Then you explore the paintings of the great Romantic artists Goya, Géricault, and Delacroix. These styles gave way to the Realism of Courbet and Manet, which in turn, led to the Impressionist achievements of Degas and Monet. You study the reactions to Impressionism in the work of Gauguin, Van Gogh, and Seurat, and trace the influential contributions of Cézanne and Rodin. You conclude with a consideration of the early movements of the 20th century, including Fauvism, Cubism, German Expressionism, Dada, and Surrealism, and the pivotal role of the two towering geniuses of early modern art, Picasso and Matisse.
A Guide to Looking
Professor Kloss wants you to learn to see deeply into a work of art. To achieve this goal, he has designed the course to be more than a recitation of masterpieces and their makers, dates, materials, and history. He has created a guide to looking—an engaging demonstration of how you can view art with understanding and pleasure.
How should you look at art? Professor Kloss recommends that you focus on five elements:
Above all, you must give a work of art time. Savor it. Study it. Try to see it with fresh eyes. You will learn more than you imagine. Professor Kloss’s gift for pulling you into an artistic work to show you what makes it function at different levels will make you want to give this course more of your own time through repeated viewings. And you will find yourself looking at all art with new appreciation.