"Las Meninas" by Diego Velazquez, 1656 (Prado Museum)
From the 16th century to the late 20th century, Spaniards have made extraordinary contributions to the history of Western art. In a lavishly illustrated seminar, art historian Nancy G. Heller focuses on a quartet of Spain’s most significant painters—unearthing their sources, analyzing their principal works, discussing the critical receptions of their pictures, and demonstrating their influences on later generations of visual artists, both within and beyond the borders of Spain. She also considers the stylistic and philosophical “Spanishness” that may, or may not, link these four very different men.
SEPT 20 The Mystical Canvases of El Greco
This Cretan artist (1541–1614) moved to Italy, then became a successful and controversial master painter in Toledo, Spain. His characteristically elongated figures appear in mythological scenes such as Laocoon [Laocöon] (1614), powerful portraits and Christian religious images including The Burial of Count Orgaz (1588), and strangely evocative landscapes.
SEPT 21 Diego Velázquez: Court Painter of Spain’s Golden Age
The Spanish baroque artist Velázquez (1599–1660), a master at creating religious, historical, and mythological subjects, was especially well-known for his portraits, such as the lively study of Juan de Pareja (1650) and his celebrated Las Meninas (1656).
SEPT 22 Francisco Goya: Romantic Realist
Goya (1746–1820) produced an extraordinarily rich range of works, from his charming tapestry cartoons to memorable aristocratic and royal portraits such as that of the Duchess of Alba (1797), hard-hitting anti-war prints and canvases including The Third of May, 1808 (1814), and the nightmarish “black paintings.”
SEPT 23 Joan Miró: Humor and Horror in Modernist Works
The work of this prolific Catalan artist combines childlike playfulness and vivid color with elements of surrealism, political commentary, eroticism, and ethnic/regional pride, often with whimsical or poetic titles: Harlequin’s Carnival (1925), Woman Surrounded by a Flight of Birds in the Night (1968). Miro (1893–1993) made distinctive, largely abstract objects in a myriad of materials and techniques, including mosaics and theatrical costumes.
Heller is professor emerita of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1 credit*
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