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Art Across the Ages by Ori Z. Soltes

Art Across the Ages

by Ori Z. Soltes

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From the earliest cave painting of hunting scenes to the spectacular architecture of ancient Greece and Rome to the startling perspectives of Postmodern paintings, art has provided us with a unique window through which to view and appreciate the soul of Western civilization.

Artists throughout Western history have represented, envisioned, and interpreted the world around them through a range of diverse media. The scope of Western art is breathtaking, not only for its creativity and visual power but—more importantly—for the way in which it echoes the human experience across the ages. To be able to understand the history and language of art is to be privy to a conversation thousands of years old—one that leads you to a better understanding of one of the proudest achievements of the West.

Art across the Ages is a mind-broadening survey of Western visual art designed to familiarize you with its basic history, acquaint you with major artists and styles, and provide you with a broad foundation for deeper exploration. In 48 insightful lectures taught by Professor Ori Z. Soltes of Georgetown University, you get a ready grasp of the substance and significance of a vast range of works, along with a solid knowledge of how they fit into the continuity of Western art.

How Has Art Echoed the Human Experience?

Western art, according to Professor Soltes, "expresses our struggle to define ourselves, to define the world around us and those perhaps beyond us, expressing our reflections on and our relationship to these worlds as we move through the millennia."

Throughout Art across the Ages, Professor Soltes draws your attention to what he calls "the ever-present tension between continuity and transformation" in Western art. By focusing on the ways that Western art has both carried forward and altered visual ideas throughout history, you come to better appreciate how art evolves over time.

The lectures are packed with enlightening stories about the repeated transformation of themes, subjects, and symbols throughout the storied history of Western art. Consider how the simple image of a woman reclining on a couch appears in various iterations throughout history, reflecting both the continuity of a single image and the way in which cultures and artists transform that image to serve different purposes.

Professor Soltes notes how we can find this image replicated

  • in a scene on Hetaerae Symposium, a vase created by the Greek sculptor Euphronios between 515 and 510 B.C.E.;
  • as the sculpted figure of Dionysus from the east pediment of the Parthenon;
  • as a Roman representation of river gods in the Villa Guilia, a mid-16th-century summer residence built by the architects Giacomo Vignola and Bartolomeo Ammanati;
  • in a detail from Marcantonio Raimondi's Judgment of Paris from around 1520; and
  • in Edouard Manet's iconic 1863 painting, Déjeuner sur l'Herbe (Picnic on the Grass), which serves as a tribute to the entire history of this reclining female form.

Stories like these teach you how to recognize symbolic language in various works of art. They also illuminate these rich themes of continuity and transformation that run throughout Western art and help create a dialogue between artists separated by the span of continents and centuries.

View Art from Numerous Perspectives

What makes Art across the Ages essential for understanding the scope of Western art history is that it considers artists, media, and movements from various perspectives. Professor Soltes covers the wide range of media that has defined Western visual art throughout history, including painting, sculpture, architecture, decorative arts, photography, drawing, mixed media, assemblage, and installation art.

You also investigate watershed aesthetic movements throughout history, each of which had its own impact on art's evolution. You gain a wealth of insights into movements and visual schools of thought, such as

  • Gothic art: The Gothic style, which flourished in the 12th through 14th centuries, evoked both the emotion of Jesus Christ's life and reflected the power and possibility of his intervention in everyday life.
  • Mannerism: This mid-16th-century movement began in Italy and was a reaction against the stability of the High Renaissance. Mannerist artists, including Jacopo Tintoretto and Parmigianino, typically used distorted bodies and shocking colors in their work.
  • Modernism: This art movement, a crucial force of early-20th-century art, involved the intense search for new, nontraditional ways of visually expressing reality. Works by artists like Picasso, Klimt, and Matisse shocked the art scene with their unorthodox interpretations of reality.

Western art is also a massive encyclopedia of conceptual, philosophical, political, aesthetic, and theological issues. Throughout the course, you explore art history within the context of various issues, including

  • the influence of religion on art, including the role of Jewish art in an artistic world focused on Christian themes
  • the impact of the horrors of war on artists and how they chose their subject matter
  • the critical importance of countries such as Asian, African, and Middle Eastern art styles to the development of Western art

Every lecture in Art across the Ages encompasses various aspects of art history and invites you to perceive the visual, intellectual, and cultural richness of art.

An Ideal Teacher with a Passion for Art

Professor Soltes is the ideal teacher for this course. With extensive training in art history, philosophy, classics, and interdisciplinary studies, he has held positions as a scholar, museum and exhibition curator, and lecturer at more than 20 universities and museums throughout the country. His knowledge about the vast scope of art and his clear passion for passing that knowledge on to others makes this an essential survey course with the power to take you to unexpected places in art history.

Challenging, provocative, and eye-opening, Art across the Ages satisfies both the novice and the expert art enthusiast. This course is a feast for both the mind and the eyes. It incorporates over 800 images of the Western world's glorious heritage of art, including masterpieces by Leonardo, Michelangelo, El Greco, Van Gogh, Picasso, and many other icons of the art world.

Simply put, Art across the Ages leads you to a better understanding of humanity's most sublime creation—its art.


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  • LearnOutLoud.com Product ID: A040494
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