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Worth Watching
  • Empires - The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance
    Empires - The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance
    A fascinating and highly entertaining look at one of the most important families of the Renaissance era--the Medici.
  • Sister Wendy - The Complete Collection (Story of Painting / Grand Tour / Odyssey / Pains of Glass)
    Sister Wendy - The Complete Collection (Story of Painting / Grand Tour / Odyssey / Pains of Glass)

    “Sister Wendy Beckett has transformed public appreciation of art through her astonishing knowledge, insight and passion for painting and painters.” This set includes Sister Wendy's Story of Painting, Sister Wendy's Odyssey, and Sister Wendy's Grand Tour. Simultaneously delightful and scholarly--this is a must have for anyone interested in art history.

  • Exit Through the Gift Shop
    Exit Through the Gift Shop
    When British stencil artist Banksy traveled to Los Angeles to work, he came across obscure French filmmaker Thierry Guetta and his badly organized collection of videotapes involving the activities of graffiti artists. Inspired, Banksy assembled them with new footage to create this talked-about documentary, and the result is a mind-boggling and odd film (so strange as to be thought a hoax by some) about outsider artists and the definition of art itself.
  • The Impressionists
    The Impressionists
    A dramatization of the Impressionist movement as seen through the eyes of Claude Monet. Highly entertaining and informative.
  • The Impressionists: The Other French Revolution
    The Impressionists: The Other French Revolution
    A very personal and revealing look at the personalities that created Impressionism.

The Epic of Gilgamesh

The Epic of Gilgamesh - Clay Tablet - 18th century BC (click photo for larger image)The original text of The Epic of Gilgamesh (a legendary ruler of Uruk, and his search for immortality) is the world’s first truly great work of literature. It was written in cuneiform on clay tablets. The first surviving version of the combined epic, known as the "Old Babylonian", dates to the 18th century BC, but there are many versions of it. Apart from being a literary masterpiece—it’s an extraordinary piece of visual art. The literary history of Gilgamesh begins with five Sumerian poems about 'Bilgamesh' (Sumerian for 'Gilgamesh'), king of Uruk. These independent stories were used as source material for a combined epic. The “Old Babylonian” is titled after its incipit, “Shūtur eli sharrī("Surpassing All Other Kings"). 


Did You Know?

The sculptor, Auguste Rodin, died of frostbite in 1917, when the French government refused him financial aid for a flat. Yet they kept his statues warmly housed in museums.


The Medieval Matisse

(LEFT) Romanesque Painter - German - Wooden ceiling (detail) - 1225-50 - (RIGHT) Henri Matisse - The Painter's Family - Oil on canvas. 143 x 194 cm - (56.3 x 76.3 in) France. 1911, State Museum of New Western Art, Moscow (click photo for larger image)This pictured featured on the left shows a section from the painted wooden ceiling of a former Benedictine monastery church. It represents the “Fall of Mankind” and is an exquisite example of the Romanesque painting style and approach. The filled space exemplifies “horror vacui”—a Latin phrase meaning “fear of open spaces”—which is used as an international art term to describe the tendency to fill up every inch of space in a work of art. This convention is characteristic of most medieval art. In Christian theology, “the fall of mankind” refers to the transition of the first man and woman from a state of innocent obedience to God to a state of guilty disobedience. It was and remains a very important theme in religious art. On the right we have a work by Henri Matisse (1869-1954). Now, Matisse—the father of Fauvism and considered to be the most important French painter of the 20th century—was among those Modern artists looking to break free from the academic standards that had been in place since the Italian Renaissance. So, he looked to pre-Renaissance art for inspiration, and you can see that he found it! He discovered a love for the bright colors, mixed patterns, and filled spaces of the medieval tradition—and similar applications of these conventions run throughout his highly influential ouevre. Matisse was inspired by the appearance of the earlier Resources work of art—not by its subject matter or its cultural significance. And many of his contemporaries and later artists followed suit. His result here can aptly be described as joyful—in part because the early days of modernism were joyful, optimistic, upbeat.


Ancient Chinese Landscape Painting

Scholar by a Waterfall, Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279), late 12th–early 13th century - Ma Yuan (Chinese, active ca. 1190–1225) - Album leaf: ink and color on silk; 9 7/8 x 10 1/4 in. (25.1 x 26 cm) Metropolitan Museum of Art, New YorkOne of the directions art culture takes involves upholding traditions—as they have been practiced for centuries. Ancient Chinese Landscape painting is one of the oldest and continuous traditions in the world—still generally regarded as the highest form of Chinese painting—and still practiced today. Ma Yuan () (Chinese, active ca. 1190–1225) is an influential Chinese landscape painter of the Song Dynasty whose work, together with that of Xia Gui, formed the basis of the Ma-Xia school of painting. Ma Yuan came from a prominent painting family. His grandfather, father, uncles, and son all served in the imperial Painting Academy. Ma occasionally painted flowers, but his genius lay in landscape painting. His technique, like that of many contemporaries, was at first inspired by Li Tang. Eventually Ma developed a personal style, with marked decorative elements such as the pine. A characteristic feature of many paintings is the so-called "one-corner" composition, in which the actual subjects of the painting are pushed to a corner or a side, leaving the other part of the painting more or less empty. Ma Yuan’s lyrical and romantic interpretation became the model for many later painters.


Quote of the Day

“Most painting in the European tradition was painting the mask. Modern art rejected all that. Our subject matter was the person behind the mask.” - Robert Motherwell