The Story of Art
A series of Art History Lectures headed by Dr. Michaela Watrelot exploring the highlights of different art movements, the most influential artists and their masterpieces. These lectures will provide a foundation in the knowledge of art history from the 19th Century to the present day.
You will deepen your interest and appreciation of art and learn how to confidently recognize and discuss different artistic styles, epochs and eras.
Lecture 1 | The Age of Revolution – Classicism to Realism
The times leading to the 1789 French Revolution provided artists with enormous impulse. People were living in heroic times and demanded the current events to be given the same attention than the legends of Greek and Roman history. Eugène Delacroix wanted to capture the essence of his own time – his famous Liberty Leading the People to the Barricades confirmed his legitimate place as the leader of the Romantic School. The desire to render reality as truthfully as possible culminated in the movement appropriately named Realism, embodied in art by Gustave Courbet.
While Paris became the artistic capital of Europe, exciting events were taking place in Spain and England. We will observe Francisco Goya assert his own artistic independence and follow William Turner and John Constable on their quest to innovate landscape paintings.
Lecture 2 | The power of Light – Impressionism
In the second half of the 19th Century, Edouard Manet embarked on pursuit to challenge the old-fashioned manners of the Parisian Salon and unravel the path towards more artistic innovations. A new treatment of colours and movement in the open air was developed by a group of young artists known as the Impressionists, who decided to abandon the studio altogether. Suddenly, the whole world offered fit motifs for the painter’s canvas. In this class, we will admire paintings by Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro and Edgar Degas – the headliners of this exciting new era, whom, despite continuous rejection from their contemporaries, served as inspiration for the next generations of artists to continue their fight against the prejudices and conventions of the art world.
Lecture 3 | On the path to Modern Art – Post Impressionism
The end of the 19th century brought various new movements which, nowadays, are considered the beginning of Modern Art. In this lecture, the key figures of Post-Impressionism will be introduced. Starting with Pointillism, we will explain the scientific theory of colour vision as used in the mosaic-like pictures by George Seurat. We will analyse the work of Paul Cézanne – regarded as the forefather of Modern Art – who was fascinated by the behavior of colours and used still-life to explore the relationship of forms, colours and perspective. Finally, we will dive into the fantastic world of Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh, who abandoned the need for correct representation and used their art to communicate profound emotions and symbolism.
Lecture 4 | Triumph of Experimenting – Cubism & the Birth of Abstraction
The early 20th century was an exciting time in the art world. Everything was changing rapidly and artists were becoming more innovative with each brushstroke. We will guide you through every essential artistic movements, diving deep into the world of Fauvism, embodied in the canvases by Henri Matisse, of Expressionism in the works of Edvard Munch and of Picasso’s Cubism. We will also explain the significant relationship between music and Abstract Art through the work of Wassily Kandinsky. Finally, we will make a stop in the dreamy world of Salvador Dalí’s Surrealistic paintings before attempting the challenging task of understanding the seemingly absurd ready-made objects by Marcel Duchamp.
Lecture 5 | Why your child could not have done that. – Abstract Expressionism & Pop Art
Following the Second World War, Abstract Expressionism came to prominence. While Mark Rothko surrendered his paintings entirely to the soothing power of colour, Jackson Pollock elevated the act of painting above any ulterior motive or purpose with his famous drip-paintings. During this time, artists were true rebels at heart, challenging the mystical pretensions and exclusiveness surrounding “High Art”. They believed that if popular music could conquer the masses, so could art.
We will study how Pop-Art, epitomised by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Jasper Johns, achieved that simply by using relatable and familiar images from comic books, advertising and everyday objects.
Lecture 6 | Less is more – Minimalism & Conceptual Art
From the observing minimalistic aesthetics of Donald Judd, to exploring the power of notion in Conceptualism, Land Art and Performance Art, the vibrant art scene of late 1960s and 1970s marked the official break from the brush-and-canvas centered art history, laying the groundwork for what we know today as Contemporary Art. The masterclass will showcase the iconic movements of this decade and dive into the work of artists who led this creative revolution.
Lecture 7 | Story with an open end – Contemporary Art
This final chapter of our Art Story masterclasses will showcase iconic movements from the past forty years and explore the works of the legendary artists who led us towards the creative revolution we are experiencing today. The booming economic growth of the 1980’s led to a peak of consumption in the United States and Artists responded in their own way: a new visual culture emerged, led by the so-called Picture Generation. Finally, we will analyze Post-Modernism in the works of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Cy Twombly before we move to more contemporary trends in the works of Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst.
Lecture 8 | Women in Art
Reading an art history book, walking down museum halls, one can start to wonder, where are all the women? Women artists have been systematically overlooked, underappreciated and even forgotten by Art history for centuries.
This final chapter of our Art Story masterclasses will introduce some of the most iconic and trailblazing female artists from Renaissance to Contemporary art, who have shaped the world’s visual history & left their mark on the male dominated art world.