Why is Vermeer’s “Girl with the Pearl Earring” considered a masterpiece? What’s so special about Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man? How did Michelangelo’s statue of David become an icon? If you’re curious about art history, then you’ll love these 6 TED-Ed Lessons by art historian James Earle. Watch the playlist:
On first glance, the painting “Las Meninas” (“The Maids of Honor”) might not seem terribly special, but it’s actually one of the most analyzed pieces in the history of art. Why is this painting by Diego Velazquez so captivating? James Earle and Christina Bozsik share the context and complexity behind this work of art. Watch this TED-Ed Lesson below.
Is she turning towards you or away from you? No one can agree. She’s the subject of Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl with the Pearl Earring,” a painting often referred to as the ‘Mona Lisa of the North.’ But what makes this painting so captivating? James Earle explains how this work represents the birth of a modern perspective on economics, politics, and love. Watch this TED-Ed Lesson below.
We typically experience classic works of art in a museum, stripped of their original contexts, but that serene setting can belie a tumultuous history. Take Michelangelo’s statue of David: devised as a religious symbol, adopted as a political emblem, and later iconized for its aesthetic beauty. James Earle walks us through the statue’s journey, to show how art gains layers of meaning over time. Watch this TED-Ed Lesson below.
What’s so special about Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man? With arms outstretched, the man fills the irreconcilable spaces of a circle and a square — symbolizing the Renaissance-era belief in the mutable nature of humankind. James Earle explains the geometric, religious and philosophical significance of this deceptively simple drawing. Watch this TED-Ed Lesson below.
After Rome was destroyed, people were wary of attachment to physical beauty. As Christianity gained traction, Romans instead began to focus on the metaphysical beauty of virtue, and art began to follow suit. James Earle discusses how Medieval paintings of Madonna were affected by this shift. Watch this TED-Ed Lesson below.
The scene of the three wise men offering gifts to a newborn Jesus was widely painted during the Renaissance era, so how did painter Sandro Botticelli create a version that’s still well known today? James Earle describes who and what set Botticelli’s Adoration of the Magi apart in the annals of art history. Watch this TED-Ed Lesson below.