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How to Look at and Understand Great Art

Featuring masterpieces from 250+ of the world’s greatest artists, this in-depth guide to the practical skill of viewing art will help you reach new levels of appreciation.

Watch First Lecture

36 Lectures

1
Image of The Importance of First Impressions
The Importance of First Impressions
0 of 32 min
2
Image of Where Am I? Point of View and Focal Point
Where Am I? Point of View and Focal Point
0 of 30 min
3
Image of Color—Description, Symbol, and More
Color—Description, Symbol, and More
0 of 28 min
4
Image of Line—Description and Expression
Line—Description and Expression
0 of 30 min
5
Image of Space, Shape, Shade, and Shadow
Space, Shape, Shade, and Shadow
0 of 30 min
6
Image of Seeing the Big Picture—Composition
Seeing the Big Picture—Composition
0 of 29 min
7
Image of The Illusion—Getting the Right Perspective
The Illusion—Getting the Right Perspective
0 of 29 min
8
Image of Art That Moves Us—Time and Motion
Art That Moves Us—Time and Motion
0 of 29 min
9
Image of Feeling with Our Eyes—Texture and Light
Feeling with Our Eyes—Texture and Light
0 of 29 min
10
Image of Drawing—Dry, Liquid, and Modern Media
Drawing—Dry, Liquid, and Modern Media
0 of 30 min
11
Image of Printmaking—Relief and Intaglio
Printmaking—Relief and Intaglio
0 of 33 min
12
Image of Modern Printmaking—Planographic
Modern Printmaking—Planographic
0 of 28 min
13
Image of Sculpture—Salt Cellars to Monuments
Sculpture—Salt Cellars to Monuments
0 of 31 min
14
Image of Development of Painting—Tempera and Oils
Development of Painting—Tempera and Oils
0 of 28 min
15
Image of Modern Painting—Acrylics and Assemblages
Modern Painting—Acrylics and Assemblages
0 of 31 min
16
Image of Subject Matters
Subject Matters
0 of 30 min
17
Image of Signs—Symbols, Icons, and Indexes in Art
Signs—Symbols, Icons, and Indexes in Art
0 of 31 min
18
Image of Portraits—How Artists See Others
Portraits—How Artists See Others
0 of 32 min
19
Image of Self-Portraits—How Artists See Themselves
Self-Portraits—How Artists See Themselves
0 of 30 min
20
Image of Landscapes—Art of the Great Outdoors
Landscapes—Art of the Great Outdoors
0 of 31 min
21
Image of Putting It All Together
Putting It All Together
0 of 31 min
22
Image of Early Renaissance—Humanism Emergent
Early Renaissance—Humanism Emergent
0 of 28 min
23
Image of Northern Renaissance—Devil in the Details
Northern Renaissance—Devil in the Details
0 of 31 min
24
Image of High Renaissance—Humanism Perfected
High Renaissance—Humanism Perfected
0 of 30 min
25
Image of Mannerism and Baroque—Distortion and Drama
Mannerism and Baroque—Distortion and Drama
0 of 31 min
26
Image of Going Baroque—North versus South
Going Baroque—North versus South
0 of 31 min
27
Image of 18th-Century Reality and Decorative Rococo
18th-Century Reality and Decorative Rococo
0 of 29 min
28
Image of Revolutions—Neoclassicism and Romanticism
Revolutions—Neoclassicism and Romanticism
0 of 31 min
29
Image of From Realism to Impressionism
From Realism to Impressionism
0 of 31 min
30
Image of Postimpressionism—Form and Content Re-Viewed
Postimpressionism—Form and Content Re-Viewed
0 of 31 min
31
Image of Expressionism—Empathy and Emotion
Expressionism—Empathy and Emotion
0 of 32 min
32
Image of Cubism—An Experiment in Form
Cubism—An Experiment in Form
0 of 30 min
33
Image of Abstraction/Modernism—New Visual Language
Abstraction/Modernism—New Visual Language
0 of 31 min
34
Image of Dada Found Objects/Surreal Doodles and Dreams
Dada Found Objects/Surreal Doodles and Dreams
0 of 31 min
35
Image of Postmodernism—Focus on the Viewer
Postmodernism—Focus on the Viewer
0 of 28 min
36
Image of Your Next Museum Visit—Do It Yourself!
Your Next Museum Visit—Do It Yourself!
0 of 32 min

Reviews

m********m
September 7, 2019
This has been one of my family's favorite Great Courses. Professor Hirsh has a warm and engaging style and her lectures feel like an intimate discussion in a small group. The video format is a wonderful way to explore individual works of art and has sparked much discussion and further research into different pieces.

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c********m
June 5, 2019
A really excellent course, and a good companion to TGC's other Art History survey, "A History of European Art" with Prof. William Kloss. Kloss' course focuses on masterpieces, while here Prof. Sharon Latchaw Hirsh here offers a broader view of artistic movements. This course also features a decent number of women artists, while Kloss's had none. Still only Western Art, which is fine, but one does hope that a TGC course on global art history will be made at some point! The beginning of the course, in which aspects of all art, such as composition, and then media/genre, such as drawing, are looked at without reference to time period, was very engaging and felt like a fresh approach. The videos on printmaking techniques were especially interesting. I was surprised by a couple of her interpretations of some of the later art styles, and I worry that these could confuse newcomers. The contention that Seurat's paintings have a more solid sense of form and volume than Monet's is, to me at least, ridiculous, and I think most artists would agree with me that outline usually serves not to create solidity – as Hirsh contends – but rather to deny volume, to flatten. That's a pretty esoteric complaint though, I admit.

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h********m
June 1, 2019

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