Western Paintings that Changed the World—From Giotto to Warhol (Part I of II)

Presented by the Farnsworth Art Museum & Hosted by Roger Dell

This two-part, illustrated lecture series will explore European and American paintings that have altered the course of not only of art, but also world history. Although many paintings could be put forward as important or the best of an artist’s career, each of the four paintings chosen for this series had transformational influences on the artists that came after and on events beyond the art world, itself. Farnsworth’s Director of Education Roger Dell will focus in detail on the creation of the paintings, as well as their formal elements, social history, and influence on fellow and future artists’ work. Moreover, the place of the paintings in their broad cultural context and their impact on historical and political events in the West and around the world will be explored.

New Perspectives: Giotto’s Life of Christ and Leonardo’s Last Supper
Wednesday, May 29, 5:30 p.m.

Working on large commissions across Northern Italy in the 14th Century, the painter Giotto di Bondone created brilliant frescoes that challenged the age-old manner of depicting on a flat surface the human figure and its surrounding space. In the Arena Chapel in Padua, Giotto covered the walls with a series of life-like figures from the New Testament, creating a paradigm shift from the Medieval to the modern worldview. His breakthroughs began the movement in art to more and more realistic renditions of reality, and for the next hundred-and-fifty years other Italian artists, such as Alberti, Brunelleschi, and Masaccio took up Giotto’s cause and expanded on his innovations. During this period, scholars and cartographers borrowed the new innovations in perspective and also rediscovered the writings of the ancient Greeks about the earth’s surface, among many other things. This intellectual furor brought together art, science, and scholarship and ushered in the Renaissance and profoundly affected the Age of Discovery.
Leonardo did not want to paint The Last Supper. He had been working for years on a colossal equestrian statue for the Duke of Milan Ludovico Sforza, when in 1494 the Duke redirected the bronze for the statue to the making of cannon. Although he had no experience with fresco painting and was loathed to stop work on the statue, Leonardo was commissioned by the Duke to decorate a wall in the refectory at Santa Maria delle Grazie depicting Christ and his apostles around a long table. Paintings of the Last Supper had been created by artists since the Early Christian period, however Leonardo infused his rendition with a sense of humanism and beauty unseen before. For centuries, Leonardo’s figures in The Last Supper were the models for the way artists attempted to portray the personalities and the souls of people through their outward appearances.
Part II of the series, From Brothels to Soap Pads: Picasso’s Les Demoiselles to Warhol’s Brillo Boxes
takes place Wednesday, June 5 at 5:30 pm

Show Dates & Times:

5/29/13 - Wednesday

5:30 pm,

$16 / $12 Farnsworth members.
Series price $26 / $20 Farnsworth members.

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