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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

Biography & Autobiography Programs

Sunday, November 8, 2020 - 3:00 p.m. ET

Memorable autobiographies are powerful evocations not just of a person, but a time and place, vividly transporting us inside the world of another to experience life as they did. Documentary filmmaker and writer Sara Lukinson looks at the remarkable life of Julia Child.

Monday, November 9, 2020 - 6:30 p.m. ET

Though Georgia O’Keefe’s visions of sun-bleached animal bones and close-ups of flowers are among the most iconic of her paintings, they tell only a part of her story as an artist. Art historian Nancy G. Heller looks at the full sweep of her life and career to create a portrait of a seminal American modernist who found expression in a wide variety of forms, styles, and subjects. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Tuesday, November 17, 2020 - 6:30 p.m. ET

Despite the often-nightmarish fantasies that filled her canvases, Frida Kahlo insisted she never painted dreams: She painted her own reality. Art historian Nancy G. Heller traces Kahlo’s brief life to examine the influences—including a tragic accident, a stormy marriage to a fellow artist, and a reverence for her Mexican heritage—that shaped the art in which that reality was reflected. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Wednesday, December 2, 2020 - 12:00 p.m.

The work of architect Frank Gehry is fascinating, imaginative, unexpected, and always fresh—as well as controversial, often-derided, and at times seen as the antithesis of good architecture. In a richly detailed program, Bill Keene, a lecturer in urban studies and architecture, examines Gehry’s life and career from his earliest buildings to works in progress. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Monday, December 7, 2020 - 6:30 p.m. ET

No one led a life, led a band, or made music like Duke Ellington. American music specialist John Edward Hasse surveys the life and career of a one-of-kind man who overcame racial, social, and musical obstacles to become one of the 20th century’s greatest musicians.

Friday, December 11, 2020 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET

The inexplicable force of nature that was Wolfgang Mozart seemed to live onstage and off simultaneously, a character in life’s tragicomedy but also outside of it, watching, studying, and gathering material for the fabric of his art. Biographer Jan Swafford examines how those dual lives converged in the creation of works that shaped classical music for all time.

Friday, December 18, 2020 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Caravaggio was a genius, a scoundrel, an outlaw, and a murderer. But above all, he was the greatest artist of his age, and remains one of the most influential and absorbing of all Italian painters. Art historian Elaine Ruffolo highlights his legacy. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Wednesday, January 6, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. ET

Over a career that spanned six decades, Sir Alfred Hitchcock’s films never failed in bringing audiences to the edge of their seats. Join playwright and screenwriter Marc Lapadula as he peels back the layers of meaning beneath this grandmaster’s bold intentions and dazzling techniques that made him one of the most influential filmmakers in the history of world cinema.

Thursday, January 7, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. ET

They were the least likely of spies—and their exploits have often remained in the shadows of WWII’s espionage lore. Brent Geary and Randy Burkett, career officers in in the CIA, share the stories of remarkable women who fought both the Nazis and gender stereotypes to help win the war and create the foundation for the modern CIA and U.S. military special forces.

Monday, January 11, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Paul Halpern, professor of physics at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, tells the little-known story of the unlikely friendship between physicist Wolfgang Pauli and renowned psychoanalyst Carl Jung and their insights about the concept of synchronicity and the nature of quantum reality.

Tuesday, January 12 to February 16, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET

Popular Smithsonian music lecturer Saul Lilienstein traces Bach’s artistic journeys as he explores the composer’s magnificent musical achievements. Lectures are highlighted by superb music recordings.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET

In a richly illustrated program, lecturer Bill Keene delves into the backstory and lesser-known aspects of the life and career of one of the most famous of American architects. He traces his formative years in rural Wisconsin, the ups and downs of both his personal and professional life, and the influences that shaped a creative philosophy from which some of the 20th century’s most remarkable and innovative structures arose.