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Making Connections with Different Cultures and Time Periods

Making Connections with Different Cultures and Time Periods

Author: Ian McConnell
Description:

This lesson will explore the importance of art history in terms of its ability to make connections with other cultures and time periods .

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Tutorial

Connecting Art History with Different Cultures and Time Periods

Exploring the importance of art history in how it makes connections with other cultures and time periods.

Video Transcription

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Hello. I'd like to welcome you to this episode of Exploring Art History with Ian. My name is Ian McConnell. And today's lesson is about connecting art history with different cultures and time periods. As you're watching the video, feel free to pause, move forward, or rewind as many times as you feel as necessary. As soon as you're ready, we can begin.

Today's objectives or the things you're going to learn today are listed below. By the end of the lesson today, you will be able to identify and define today's key terms, explain how works of art provide a visual record of the past, explain how a work of art can create an emotional connection between it and the viewer, and explain how works of art can complement written documents.

Key terms, as always, are listed in yellow. The first key term is culture, the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual production. Religion, the organized worship of a higher power or a supreme being.

Religious values, those qualities considered to be important that are related to one's religion. Diversity, the state of having a variety of things, especially people of different ethnic backgrounds. And politics, activities related to the governance of a state or territory. The big idea or a common theme or thread that runs throughout the lesson for today is that visual arts provide another way for people to learn from and connect to the past.

Today's objectives or the things are going to learn today are listed below. By the end of the lesson today, you will be able to identify and define today's key terms, explain how works of art provide a visual record of the past, explain how a work of art can create an emotional connection between it and the viewer, and explain how works of art can complement written documents.

OK. So connecting to the past. Works of art provide a visual record of the past. And they complement written documents. Or in other words, where works of art show what happened in the past, documents tell about it. And they really work well together. They kind of complement each other.

So why do we care? Well, it allows people to make emotional connections with the past. One of the most important aspects of a work of art, at least in a historical context, is how it allows people to make those emotional connections with the past. An aesthetic experience is engaging and can be very influential, in some ways more influential than written communication, because we aren't necessarily thinking critically about what we're taking in. We're just letting it happen. Studying the visual arts can also help one in appreciating the values, aspirations, and aspects of other cultures that would otherwise be difficult or impossible with written documents alone.

Before we move any further, it's important to make a note there that one should be mindful about interpreting works of art too literally. Quite often works of art are representing an ideal, how things could be or should be, rather than simply reflecting the way things are. And I'll come back to this idea in just a moment.

All right. So works of art provide or can provide a more meaningful link to history than just written documents alone, and in some cases a more emotional link as well, as we'll see with the next piece of work, piece of art. It's one thing to read about George Washington crossing the Delaware River to confront the British during the Revolutionary War, but quite another to view a snapshot of history.

But remember, though, that artwork is often idealized. And the case is definitely true in this painting. No one was able to photograph the actual event, so it's open to some interpretation. But written documents paint, if you pardon the pun, a rather different picture than what you would see here.

Many of the soldiers were freezing or near starving. They were demoralized. And they were really in need of a victory that could swing some wavering support their way for the Continental Army. The artist that painted this took liberties to project an idealized crossing of the Delaware River as a way of commemorating the event and also recognizing George Washington's image as a national hero.

Works of art can also foster emotional connections to events in history, as I mentioned before. And this is the case with this painting by Francisco Goya, a Spanish painter. So the scene takes place during the French occupation of Spain under Napoleon and shows French soldiers executing some Spanish men. Now, notice how Goya depicts the soldiers as rigid, almost these mechanized figures, versus the chaotic mess of the bodies on the left entwined with those people that are about to be executed.

So a painting like this may bring up some questions, like how does this painting make you feel? And how is this different than just reading about this event? One of the ways I think that it's different is that it can really connect emotionally with the viewer. And the focus of this painting kind of focuses in on the figure in white whose holding his hands up with the kind of pained expression on his face. And so again, a person viewing this can make an emotional connection to that person, maybe more so than they could if they were just reading about the event.

So that brings us to near the end of our short lesson today. Let's take a look at the objectives again to see how we did. Now that you've seen the lesson, are you able to identify and define today's key terms? And I do want to make a note about the key terms. We didn't cover things like religion or religious values. But those are keywords that are important, because they're going to be coming up in later lessons.

The second objective is to explain how works of art provide a visual record of the past, explain how a work of art can create an emotional connection between it and the viewer, and explain how works of art can complement written documents. And once again, the big idea for this lesson is that the visual arts provide another way for people to learn from and connect to the past.

Well, that's it for today's lesson. I appreciate you joining me. I'll see you next time.

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Culture

    The arts and other manifestations of human intellectual production.

  • Religion

    The organized worship of a higher power or supreme being.

  • Religious Values

    Those qualities considered to be important that are related to one’s religion.

  • Diversity

    The state of having a variety of things, especially people of different ethnic backgrounds.

  • Politics

    Activities related to the governance of a state or territory