Art across the Ages

Course No. 7150
Professor Ori Z. Soltes, Ph.D.
Georgetown University
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Course No. 7150
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Course Overview

Have you ever regretted not having the time to take an art appreciation or survey course in college and wished you could somehow gain the knowledge you missed? Or found yourself wondering, even if you did take that course when you were younger, how much more your years of experience and maturity would have added to your appreciation of art's creative wonders? Or have you simply wished to indulge yourself in a feast for the eyes and mind, enjoying more than 800 images of the Western world's glorious heritage of painting, sculpture, architecture, and other examples of art's constantly evolving definition?

In Art across the Ages, Professor Ori Z. Soltes has crafted a course in Western visual art that serves as both a mind-broadening survey and an essential introduction. It is designed to give anyone interested in Western art a firm familiarity with its basics, acquainting you with major artists and styles in various media and providing a broad foundation for deeper exploration.

By giving you a ready grasp of the substance and significance of a vast range of artists and their work, along with a solid knowledge of how those artists and their work fit within art's continuum, this course will add immeasurably to your next visit to a museum or exhibition or simply enhance your pleasure in the art you encounter in your life.

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48 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    Continuity and Transformation—What Is Art?
    This lecture considers two sides of a fundamental issue in examining what art is, observing how art reflects on its own forms across history in a constantly changing dialogue involving style, form, and symbol. x
  • 2
    Art as the Offspring of Religion
    We turn to a second discussion of what art is and does, drawing on two Latin terms—sacer: the unknown, death, divinity, and profanus: life, the familiar, the human—to help us understand how visual art has served religion since as far back as both can be traced. x
  • 3
    Preclassical Greek Art
    Having arrived in the previous lecture at a discussion of how the Greeks absorbed, emulated, and developed long-held architectural ideas, we turn to some of the specifics of early Greek statuary and vase painting. x
  • 4
    Toward the Classical Athenian Moment
    Stepping between vase painting and sculpture to the beginnings of the Classical period, this lecture discusses some of the important characteristics encountered in the development of Classical Greek art, including ethos, symmetria, and pathos. x
  • 5
    Beyond the Borders of Classical Greek Art
    Beginning with a discussion of the brevity of Athenian supremacy and the visual reflection of this by Athenian artists and the contrasts and tensions that show up in their work, we arrive at a depiction of Alexander the Great and consider briefly how Indian art may have been influenced by the Greeks. x
  • 6
    The Birth of the New—Hellenistic Art
    We consider the period after Alexander's death when the Greek sense of the world expanded and the modes and media of visual expression further diversified. Ultimately, we explore the question of where to draw the line between Hellenistic and Roman art. x
  • 7
    Hellenistic, Etruscan, and Early Roman Art
    An exploration of the relationship between Roman and Greek art leads to the question of the relationship between Roman and Etruscan art and culture, ultimately bringing us to a focus on the evolution of a distinctly Roman imprint in art, from portraiture and political propaganda to architectural innovation. x
  • 8
    Roman and Judaean Art
    Just as Roman art and architecture were influenced by the Greeks, Etruscans, and Egyptians, so were Judaean art and architecture influenced by the Hellenistic and Roman worlds. In this lecture, a detail of the Arch of Titus leads us to a discussion of the building of the Second Temple in Jerusalem and other Judaean structures followed by a study of Roman wall painting and finally a look at innovations in Roman architecture and equestrian portraiture. x
  • 9
    Early Christian Art and Its Progeny
    In exploring the evolution of Christian art, moving both backward and forward in time, we arrive at a familiar point transformed: the relationship among art, religion, and politics, as the last image offers a Christian political leader, Otto II, in a representation that evokes Christ's enthroned image. x
  • 10
    The Beginnings of Jewish Art
    The transformation of Western art into distinctly Christian art evokes, among other questions, that of "Jewish" art: Where does it fit in, and how is it to be understood—as an art of style, symbols, content, and purpose, made by or for Jews? x
  • 11
    Christian Medieval Art and Architecture
    In expanding on earlier issues, we discuss the post-Roman evolution of the dome and the arch; the post-synagogue evolution of the Torah niche as church apse; and the expanding use of the cross as a symbol, concluding with a look at the idea of and relationship between the cross and other symbols of life. x
  • 12
    The Language of Romanesque and Gothic Art
    This lecture picks up with the last theme in the previous lecture: the symbolism of the cross. Against the backdrop of traumatic events in medieval Christian history, the discussion moves from architectural symbolism in its various aspects, concluding with a look at the expansive vocabulary of figurative representation in Christian art. x
  • 13
    Islamic Art from Abstract to Figurative
    We explore some of Islamic art's major forms of expression—including the free-standing dome, mosque niche, the prayer rug, mosque lamps, and calligraphy—before moving to figurative imagery in Muslim art and to Muslim contact with Christian Renaissance art. x
  • 14
    Jewish Medieval Art and Architecture
    The thread of Jewish art is further unraveled in this lecture, interwoven with aspects of connection to Muslim and Christian art. We learn about the complicated positioning of various elements within the interior of a number of famous European synagogues, and we come to understand why Torah scrolls, which must be free of adornment, still glorify God with their beauty. x
  • 15
    Early Renaissance Painting in Central Italy
    We return to our discussion of Christian art, including the evolution in the styles of depicting key Christian symbols: the cross as variously styled crucifixions; an ethereal Virgin and Child as a flesh-and-blood mother and her infant son; and Christ's presentation as one of us, with less emphasis on his divine aspect. x
  • 16
    15th-Century Italian Renaissance Painting
    This lecture defines the word Renaissance as it carries us fully into the Italian Renaissance of the Florence-dominated 15th century, following the new dynamic tension between a harsh, almost ugly manner of depiction and a poetic sweetness. All this is intertwined with an intensified focus on landscape and dramatic perspective. x
  • 17
    Renaissance Painting beyond the Alps
    We move our attention to northern Europe and the countries associated with the Northern Renaissance. The range of subjects, both secular and religious, is as rich and varied as the range of emotions and moods conveyed. In addition, we find an emphasis on carefully articulated details, jewel-like tones, and, linear surfaces. x
  • 18
    Renaissance Sculpture—Toward Florence
    This lecture backtracks chronologically to accompany sculpture on a path that parallels the chronology and the conceptual developments encompassed by the previous three lectures on painting. Among the trends we observe are a slow stylistic shift between Gothic and reborn Classical styles, a move in sculptural aesthetics toward a humanistic fleshiness, and the beginning of a growing dynamism. x
  • 19
    Toward High Renaissance in Central Italy
    This lecture continues to follow the extraordinary role of Florence in producing and attracting artists—both painters and sculptors—in the second half of the 15th century, beginning with the poetic sensibilities of Botticelli and concluding with the beginning of the career of Leonardo. x
  • 20
    High Renaissance in Central Italy
    Our look at the High Renaissance—beginning with Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo—includes a close examination of Leonardo's Last Supper, which is said to have brought the High Renaissance era into full focus. To better appreciate Leonardo's innovations with this fresco, we compare it with renderings of the same subject by Ghirlandaio and Castagno. x
  • 21
    The Rebirth of Classical Dynamism
    Our discussion of a work by Perugino— Raphael's teacher in Umbria—and a similar work by Raphael himself leads us to a focus on architecture, including Brunelleschi's famous dome in Florence, until we arrive at Michelangelo and his own architecture, sculpture, and painting—including his Sistine Chapel frescoes. x
  • 22
    The Light of the Veneto
    This lecture shifts north to the great Venetian painters of the late 15th through late 16th centuries. The preoccupation with light is of particular note for these artists, in part a result of the unusual effect of light on water and the reflection of both on the majestic city of Venice. x
  • 23
    16th-Century Northern European Painting
    This lecture returns to the Northern Renaissance and its intense and varied productivity in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, examining significant works by giants such as Dürer, Bosch, Cranach the Elder, and Van Leyden. Circling back to Dürer's remarkable self-portrait, we arrive on new ground: the artistic preoccupation with self that will lead toward modernity. x
  • 24
    Transformation of People, Objects, Ideas
    This lecture continues where the previous lecture left off, moving deeper into the 16th century in Northern painting—and artists such as Altdorfer, Holbein the Younger, and Bruegel the Elder—noting that world's growing interest in studies of common people and everyday objects in diverse landscapes and settings. x
  • 25
    The Reformation and the Mannerist Crisis
    Mannerist works of art, especially paintings—with their defining attenuated or distorted physical details and often-shocking colors—seem to represent the tearing apart of Western Christendom by the Protestant Reformation. We look at several examples of the Mannerist crisis in art before coming to the more stable but equally dramatic Baroque style, represented by the Counter-Reformation-era works of Vasari and the Carracci family. x
  • 26
    Baroque Shadows—Venice to Madrid to Rome
    This lecture first continues the discussion of Venetian painting in the late 16th century, moving from late Titian to Tintoretto and then Veronese before moving to Spain and a discussion of El Greco and Velázquez, concluding in Rome for an examination of the dramatic work of Caravaggio and his unique mode of chiaroscuro called tenebrism. x
  • 27
    Shadow and Light from Rome to the Lowlands
    Caravaggio's use of light leads us into the further discussion of 17th-century Northern painting, beginning with Rembrandt. We are reminded of how much of that art, from Hals to Vermeer, is purely secular. Even in concluding with images of church interiors, we recognize that the emphasis is on light and symphonic architectural spaces, rather than on Christian spirituality. x
  • 28
    Northern Landscapes and Life Sweeps
    This lecture turns issues raised in the previous several lectures inside-out as we discuss both the growing artistic interest in representing nature as itself, as seen in the works of Van Goyen and Van Ruisdael, and in the inclusion of moral lessons in paintings of human activity, examples of which include the works of Steen and Van Dyck. We conclude with a study of the great Flemish painter, Rubens. x
  • 29
    The Counter-Reformation from Italy Outward
    This lecture begins with sculpture and architecture in continuing the discussion of the Counter-Reformation and its aftermath, including the continued shaping of St. Peter's Church by Bernini. That discussion brings us to a study of the dome as it arrives into the late 18th century and then to interior dome painting. x
  • 30
    Revolutions in Spanish and English Painting
    The intense, ongoing spirituality of 17th-century Spain is conveyed in works by a succession of painters from Zurbarán to Murillo and also by the distinct, flamboyant architectural style of the Churriguera family. By contrast, English painting in the 18th and early 19th centuries, from Hogarth to Turner, yields a range of secular moral messages, sensual landscapes, portraits, and a further interest in the role of light in reshaping the world that we see. x
  • 31
    France's Gold and Silver Ages
    The French ascension to primacy within the art world is symbolized by the rejection of Bernini's brilliant design for Louis XIV's contemplated extension of the new Louvre in favor of a more pedestrian proposal by French architects. As French architecture moves to and through lighter Rococo, Louis XV, and Neoclassical XVI styles, French painting continues to shift toward progressively lighter, love-obsessed fare, until the approaching revolution leads to nightmarish visions. x
  • 32
    Politics and Romanticism
    The degree to which the politics and the Romatic spirit of the onrushing 18th and early 19th centuries are reflected in art is made clear as we look at works by a range of artists including David, Ingres, Canova, Goya, Delacroix, Géricault, Friedrich, Daumier, and Millet. x
  • 33
    From Realism to Impressionism
    The desire to see and represent both nature and life as they are reverberates through the paintings of the Realists. But in the work of Manet and his self-proclaimed disciples—Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Degas, and Seurat—we are offered a far different—revolutionary—way to look at the world. x
  • 34
    From Paris to the East
    In France, Impressionist passion for painting outdoors had an urban manifestation in the works of Caillebotte and Toulouse-Lautrec. But the concerns of Impressionism with regard to brushstroke, light, and color also carry beyond France to Germany and Holland. And further east, in Russia, Impressionist light and Realist brushwork meet when St. Petersburg Academy students rebeled against art tied strictly to mythology and religion and turn to their own Russian landscapes and people as subjects. x
  • 35
    American Romantic Realism and Its Progeny
    This lecture brings us to America through iconic works of the late 18th through mid-19th centuries reflecting the political shaping and natural shape of the New World. In the work of a broad range of artists, from West and Homer to Whistler, Sargent, and Hartley, we see a focus on the inspiring vastness of the continent; an expression of Romantic sensibility in landscapes; as well as a fascination with Europe and its art, with Impressionism embraced by Americans even before it is accepted by the French. x
  • 36
    Fin de Siècle European Art Movements
    In Europe, the turn toward the 20th century is marked by visual ideas that look backward and forward in time, to include both an obsession with the beauty and danger of women and an anticipation of the century's coming horrors. At the same time, architecture transforms internal infrastructure into externalized beauty, and the borders between art forms begin to blur. x
  • 37
    Asia and Africa in the Western Mind
    Fascination with the Asian world as backdrop and inspiration for European visual creativity has a long history. We look at how Japanese and Chinese art influenced Western art, and then shift to a parallel focus on African art, before completing our many-pathed arrival into 20th-century European painting. x
  • 38
    They All Came to Paris
    Paris as a cyclone of early 20th-century art anchors this lecture, which begins with Cézanne and then moves to Picasso and Braque—partners in developing the style that came to be called Cubism—before moving on to works by Duchamp, Matisse, Chagall, and others. x
  • 39
    Revolutions in Early 20th-Century Painting
    We see how varied painting's directions become in the first decades of the century, encompassing the brash colors of the Blue Rider group; Duchamp's tongue-in-cheek revisioning of the most banal of objects into art; the Dadaism of Jean Arp; the Expressionism of Kirchner, Kokoschka, and Schiele; and the Surrealism exemplified by artists from De Chirico to Dalí. x
  • 40
    Figuration and Abstraction—The Struggle
    German-born painter and teacher Hans Hoffmann becomes our starting point for introducing early 20th-century aesthetic issues from Europe to America, where Modernist abstraction pushes up against figurative Representationalism. We examine works by artists from both stylistic sides, including Wood, O'Keeffe, Shahn, Lawrence, Hopper, Wyeth, Pollock, and Rothko. x
  • 41
    Developments in Sculpture—Rodin to Judd
    This lecture steps back to follow sculpture in its twists and turns from the late 19th all the way to the late 20th century. We move from the bold figurative style of Rodin to World War I-era Cubism to the various directions sculptural ideas take in the decades before and the generations after World War II. x
  • 42
    New Worlds of Architecture—Wright to Hadid
    This lecture explores developments in architecture from the beginning of the last century to the present. From Frank Lloyd Wright's originality of vision and insistence on all-encompassing control of the architectural environment, we move to an international array of architectural giants, including Philip Johnson, Mies van der Rohe, Oscar Niemeyer, Eero Saarinen, Moshe Safdie, Jorn Utzon, I. M. Pei, Frank Gehry, Richard Meier, and Zaha Hadid. x
  • 43
    The Edges of West and East
    Diverging from a simple "Western Path," we discuss Central and South American art in its early 20th-century intersections with Euro-American Modernism and the differing visions of art from different parts of the Americas. We also look to Russia and the East and the complicated pathway politics has forced on Russo-Soviet art and its aftermath. x
  • 44
    Art, Trauma, and Politics
    Although we have already studied some of the artists whose works appear in this lecture, our discussion here is unique in that it focuses on a specific, unavoidable theme: the ways so many artists have used their media to respond to a century marked by more mass torture and killing than in all of prior human history. x
  • 45
    Defining Modern Jewish Art
    In a world where, for most of the past 16 centuries, modern Western art has evolved from what is considered Christian art, where do Jewish artists find themselves? Our far-reaching discussion comprises issues of figurative and abstract style, narrative and non-narrative content, and clear and obscure symbolic language. x
  • 46
    The Problem of Categories in Modern Art
    This lecture explores art that defies traditional categorization as painting or sculpture. Beginning with Joseph Cornell and the advent of assemblages as art, we move to Op art and Pop art, examining a number of works that transform preconceived notions of painting and sculpture, "art" and "commerce," and representations of people versus the people themselves. x
  • 47
    The Explosion of Modernist Media
    We look at the long history of expanding the range of artistic media and of blurring the lines among media and between "art" and "craft." It's a narrative recognizing new forms of architecture and sculpture, decorative arts as fine arts, found objects as conceptual and visual statements, collage as painting, stasis and motion in sculpture, the advent of sculpture that blurs the line between art and industry, and the evolution of photography as an art form. x
  • 48
    Art, Politics, and Religion from Era to Era
    This last lecture interweaves two overarching themes within the course: the dynamic tension between continuity and transformation and the consistency with which visual art has variously served or responded to religion and politics. In the end we recognize how art has always been both a reflection of and an essential part of our struggle with our identities as a complex, creative species. x

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Ori Z. Soltes

About Your Professor

Ori Z. Soltes, Ph.D.
Georgetown University
Dr. Ori Z. Soltes is Goldman Professorial Lecturer in Theology and Fine Arts at Georgetown University. He is the former director and curator of the B'nai B'rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum in Washington, DC. He earned his B.A. in Philosophy from Haverford College, his M.A. in Classics from Princeton, and his Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies from Union Institute and University. Professor Soltes is the author of more...
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Art across the Ages is rated 4.3 out of 5 by 52.
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Art thru the ages Presentation is too frantic and thus seems disjointed. Not as interesting as it should be
Date published: 2016-08-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Art across the Ages An excellent, interesting and well presented course
Date published: 2016-02-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it This was my favorite art course that I've purchased from The Great Courses. It covers a broad time line and shows so many different paintings. from different areas and artisits. That was the highlight, seeing a huge number of actual photos of the paintings. The other courses I've gotten show very few photos of the art work they are talking about.
Date published: 2016-01-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Inspirational! For any art lovers out there, this is a must see. His ability to share his encyclopaedic knowledge , and to do so in such a user friendly fashion, is almost phenomenal! His enthusiasm is infectious and his ability to express complex and subtle symbology is awe inspiring. I cannot recommend this course highly enough!!
Date published: 2014-11-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Exceptional Having taken well over fifty TC courses, Prof. Soltes course is one of the best, if not THE BEST course I have taken. What a beautiful blending of history and art. The material covered is extensive and he explains it all exceptionally well. Should you love or enjoy either history or art, or preferably both, you will be blown away by this course.
Date published: 2014-04-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Too much background and theory The course is described as attempting to consider "parallel and overlapping trends and developments that often require stepping back and forth in certain time frames." But there may be all too many parallels and overlaps. The lectures are filled with relentless references to prior lectures and to analogous artists, structures and movements. Much is invested in philology and technical phrases, as indicated in words like symmetria and in binary terms (sacer vs. profanos, pathos vs. ethos). Observations are based on these sorts of abstract distinctions along with a good deal of pedantic potted history. Professor Soltes (none of whose degrees are in art) hits his stride in the lectures on the Renaissance but by the time he reaches the Impressionists and later, he offers little that is insightful. The lecturer speaks quickly, rarely pausing for aesthetic contemplation. He seems all too eager to exploit artworks as examples of conceptual schemes, finding symbolism everywhere, often unconvincingly. He deals with one artist after another in dizzying rapidity, and the course would be more solid if he instead had chosen to deal with fewer artists at greater length. He is so diligent in providing historical and biographical context, often as anecdotes and banal observations, that that's almost all we end up with. The scope of the course is enormous in covering not only the major artists but many who are much less well known. One is grateful for this cultural treasury, but the course drags on for much too long.
Date published: 2014-04-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Soltes Takes It Seriously The luxury of writing a review of a course that is now several years old is to be able to peruse those already posted to ensure that I am not merely doing a rehash, and also, when necessary, to chide those who, in my view, just don't get it. Professor Soltes' course is not a walk in the park and it is not recommended for those not fully committed for thirty minutes at a time. While it is a survey, it is not Art History 101. It is multidisciplinary, and it therefore brings to bear not only visual ideas, but religious, political and social ones. It also very cleverly and frequently leaps the time barrier when comparing ideas, demonstrating works hundreds of years apart in time but knitting them together by theme. Try doing this yourself (even if you do have a Ph.D) and you will find it a challenge. This is a huge undertaking which Soltes, for the most part, carries off masterfully. His descriptions, while frequently overwrought, are never offhanded. I will even forgive his chronic inability to pronounce Velasquez properly. He also happens to be one of those rare professors who, while obviously aided by a teleprompter, comes off with an ease and a smoothness (although his use of highly refined language ultimately gives him away). Soltes may not be as truly engaged as a Kloss (still my favorite art lecturer) but he pulls off his task with a breadth that is both natural and truly valuable.
Date published: 2013-12-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enthralling Some say I talk too much, so allow me to shock them and say : Both Professor & Lectures are Simply Wonderful
Date published: 2013-05-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Art across the languages This course is delightful. The professor is informed, enthusiastic and insightful. I just don't understand how anybody who wants to teach art or music does not learn Italian pronunciation. I have heard worse, however. Professor Greenberg's (music) pronunciations are criminal. Soltes's are just mildly annoying. Why can't any of these guys pronounce the Italian O? How difficult can it be? We say goes not gozz, so why can't these professors say Giotto?Both Os are long!
Date published: 2012-07-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great Professor I've been a college prof for 40 years, and have become skeptical of the "lecture" format, with its old school premises, and obvious focus on passive listening as a learning mode. Dr. Soltes throws those reservations into the trash. Eloquent in style, universal in scope, and engaging personally, he teaches an incredible course. He does speak with the longest sentences I've ever heard, but they work. His weaving throughout of linguistic links is brilliant. Language does track changes in thought, perspective, and indeed art. He constantly establishes linkages, for example "tree of life," that links traces of thought across centuries. His incorporation of myths, and their reworking and reinterpretation, is another example. Fortunately, and I mean this, I'm glad I'm not taking his course in person, because these lectures require repeating, and that is possible with this wonderful format.
Date published: 2012-05-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Magnificent Journey in Words and Images If this course by this lecturer were presented at a major university, it would be filled within an hour of registration opening. It epitomizes the type of course Tom Rollins sought to bring to everyone outside a university when he established The Teaching Compnay. Professor Soltes has created a course, for any person willing to devote twenty-four hours to it, that fulfills all its aims. It provides a temporal, historical, aesthetic, and biographical sweep that will leave the 'student' not only satisfied with a grasp of the fundamentals of art history but eager to engage in continuing that education through more of The Teaching Company art courses or through the vast resources of the Internet. Indeed, Professor Soltes uses somewhat elevated, but thoroughly appropriate, language to convey the vast amount of information and personal reflection. This is what one should expect from a university professor. We have the luxury of pausing and/or replaying words and concepts that we may not know or may have missed on first pass. This is truly one of the most entertaining and enlightening lecturers I have come across in the more than eighty Teaching Company course I have completed. The illustrative images are exquisite. I just bought a high resolution monitor that takes full advantage of these photographs. These pan in for high detail that is not lost. There are times I paused for a minute or two just to imagine being in front of that painting in a museum. As a added bonus, the Course Guide is about as complete as I have ever found with the courses. There is a glossary, timeline, excellent biographical notes, and a complete list of all the works discussed. For those interested in building their own art library, it is a short step to find these works on line. For anyone in the least interested in art, don't miss this course.
Date published: 2012-02-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Art history ... and so much more Even though I've taken several excellent art history courses, Dr. Soltes provided info and insights that were new to me. His visuals are wonderful and he uses them very effectively to illustrate his points. I especially loved his explanations of hidden symbolism which so enriches one's enjoyment of paintings and sculpture. Of course art is the main topic on the menu, but Dr. Soltes serves up so much more - etymology, mythology, religion, and political history. This is a very rich offering. The reason I rated his presentation 'average' is that, like another reviewer, I almost gave up on the course after the first 2 lectures. I thought Dr. Soltes was pedantic, tiresome, verbose, and repetitive. I didn't stop though, and you shouldn't either. He gets much better and I ended up enjoying his style and regretting my earlier annoyance. This is a wonderful course.
Date published: 2012-01-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Pay attention! Professor Soltes certainly gives you a lot of bang for your buck! He speaks quickly and his sentences are densely packed with revelatory information especially in the connections and influences of one culture's art on another. The lectures are exhilarating but rather like a roller coaster ride. If you don't give them a fascinated concentration, a lot will just whiz by you.
Date published: 2011-12-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Serious Course This is a vividly brilliant college-level course on art history theory that will prove illuminating for the student who is really up for the challenge. This course is an inquiry into the nature of visual language and the recurring threads of mythology that are woven into the fabric of cultures throughout themes are picked up, transformed and used over and over again to give vigor and freshness to the meaning of our existence. Excellent work from Professor Soltes. Thank you, NCC
Date published: 2011-06-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from 2nd time was the charm. I purchased this course three years ago and after watching the first few lectures I admit I put back on the shelf.... Frankly I thought Dr. Soltes seemed like a stereotype of an Art History Professor one might find in Hollywood movie... Well now that I have finally gotten back to this course I must apologize to Dr. Soltes. Once I adjusted to a few idiosyncrasies I found Dr. Soltes to be engaging, informative, and effective. Of course by its nature this course has to fly though the centuries and at times I wished more time could be spent on an artist or period. That said I am pleasantly surprised about how much I learned, and I consider that to be the best kind of recommendation.
Date published: 2011-05-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from a look beyond having read all the reviews since this course was offered only confirmed my opinion of the impatience and ignorance that stops most curious minds from approaching or reapproaching the arts. mr. soltes class is not material that can be directly shown to high school students, of course, but i would have been disappointed if that had been his intention. compared to other courses on the fine arts that the teaching company edits, this one is not pedantic, but passionate, not fun-loving but deep, well researched and thorough in its analysis and understanding of the art of the west and and the transformations and continuities that are a part of the culture we live in today. it's work, good work.
Date published: 2011-05-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from BEAUTY THROUGH ETERNITY Dr Soltes starts with some working definitions of what he intends to discuss so that we can follow each lecture with ease. Then, he delves into the origins of art before taking us on a journey of breathtaking beauty from Preclassical Greek Art to the explosion of modern media. His trenchant comments along the way help us to see all the aspects of art as the artists intended them. Although Dr Soltes deals with many long term trends in art, and includes numerous cultures, the emphasis is on European art. He ties the art to the world around the artist. Thus, we see the objects as they relate to that world as it then existed as well as the political reality surrounding the art's creation. The lecture on architecture is a useful addition. This series of lectures is an important addition to the Teaching Company coverage of art and is recommended.
Date published: 2010-09-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Art History Course I think several words could describe the course --Absolutely Brilliant!
Date published: 2010-03-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Bringing art to life Mr. Soltes--what a treat! I have watched just about all the art courses the Teaching Co has produced (well, not yet the American art), and some are quite sedate and nice, but one set, dry as dust -- never finished it. How different it would have been if Mr. Soltes had taught that course as well. I will look for whatever else he teaches. And yes, in response to one of the other reviewers, it is not strictly flashing paintings before your eyes, if that's what you seek, but ties the subject and paintings into -- everything! History of humanity, Soltes version.
Date published: 2010-01-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Useful supplement Had I been shown the first lecture as a sample, I would not have bought this course. However, in my opinion of the rest of the lectures I agree substantially with the September 14th review from Bermuda. So, while Dr. Soltes does not match the elegant and enthusiastic manner of Dr. Kloss, Art Across the Ages has provided me with another quite different perspective on the subject. I have, in fact, already recommended this course to a friend who also has A History of European Art. Even knowing that much of western art has had no other choice, historically, than to deal with Christianity, I must say that I would have enjoyed these lectures better if Dr. Saltes could have left out so much religion of any kind. He seems to me to dwell too much on matters of sacred and profane, and to keep repeating his point in English after he's already made it in another language, usually Greek. I would say that for me, this course is a useful supplement to what Dr. Kloss has to teach us, but would not recommend it as an introduction to art history. I keep finding Dr. Soltes' manner of delivery a little annoying.
Date published: 2010-01-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Idiosyncratic academic art history Professor Soltes warns us about his alternative pronounciations of "vase", but someone should tell him that even if he spells "bapistery" with an "e" it is not pronounced that way. Leaving aside his strange way of speaking, his constant and rather pretentious use of Greek, and his attempt to fit the whole Western Art into a dualist framework of sacred and profane, all of which I found annoying, there is much to learn from this course. The breadth of coverage is impressive and the images, both familiar and unfamiliar, keep the viewer's attention notwithstanding the lecturer's idiosyncracies.
Date published: 2009-09-14
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Art Across the Ages I was disappointed. My hope was that I could use it to help teach art history to high school students. It's much to "high brow". I was hoping for something with more pictures rather than so much visual of the professor at the podium. I guess I had envisioned a lot of pictures with narration about the history of art. There is no way I can use this with students. They would be bored out their minds. I can barely stand it myself and I know more about art than the average person.
Date published: 2009-07-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow! Admittedly a neophyte to the subject, this course was an exciting dive into the deep end of a very deep pool. Not to worry, Professor Solti will not let you drown, although the baud rate is so high, you cannot afford to be distracted for more than a second. This must be surely one of the best course on a value for money basis - the good professor seems intent on giving you an hour's worth of instruction in a 30 minute segment. You wonder when he takes a breath! His teaching style is elegant and erudite - and he breathes life into his subject from many diverse perspectives. An intellectual tour de force. Bravo, Professor Solti!
Date published: 2009-06-28
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not what I wanted I have a sketchy background in art history; my spouse has read and taken courses in the subject. Both of us found this course tedious and we didn't finish it. From my vantage point, Dr. Soltes spends too much time pointing out details in the art (Mary is looking up, light is coming down) and not enough on the artist and culture of the time. Perhaps the scope is too broad for just one course, but I didn't learn much. Cultural context and artist information might have brought it to life for me.
Date published: 2009-06-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very good but a little overwhelming The scope of this course was truly enormous and it felt a little overwhelming at times. I have very little background in art and almost everything in this course was new to me. It was a fascinating look into a world that I have never experienced before. It may be my total lack of background in this area but it felt like the 48 lectures were just not enough for the course. With that said it was a very educational course and I really feel that I got a lot out of it. I feel like much less of an art ignoramus and do believe that the next time I go to an art museum I will get more out of the experience then I had in the past. That really is the reason I bought this course. I also do have a much greater appreciation for the scope of art history and how immense a field of study this is.
Date published: 2009-04-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good intro to the subject This was my first formal introduction to art history. It isn't easy, as other reviewers have said. You have to pay attention, but if you throw yourself into this very well-presented course with excellent graphics, you will not be disappointed. As is true of the best Teaching Company courses, I was sorry to see it end.
Date published: 2009-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Challenging But Insightful Course Art Across The Ages was the third art history course I have taken through the Teaching Company's excellent collection of art history courses. The fast pace, insightful ideas, and extensive references to related topics, make Art Across The Ages an excellent contrast to the other courses that I have watched by Teaching Company professor, William Kloss. Professor Kloss' courses gave me a lot of basic information, were well organized, and developed my appreciation of great art. They were equally as good as Prof. Soltes' course, but easier to understand. Since Prof. Soltes' course is much more challenging, persons new to art history might consider taking the courses by William Kloss first, before taking Art Across The Ages. These courses would provide a good foundation of knowledge to enjoy Art Across The Ages more. Thank you, Teaching Company, for these fine courses!
Date published: 2009-03-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent effort Clearly teaching the history of art is a "labor of Hercules". Where to start,where to finish and most of all what to include. At first, my conservative (midwestern sensibilities) were concerned by Dr.Soltes's. dandified good looks, GQ clothes and affected first name. I was totally wrong; he is an excellent teacher. He is extremely knowledgeable about not just art, but religion, mythology but ancient and modern history as well. He incorporates all these elements into this course. The material is quite dense, and fast paced. Most will benefit from the study guide and repeat viewing of some sections. MY least favorite section was on modern art. This is extremely hard to teach by the nature of it's great diversity. In summary an excellent course. Will be greatly enjoyed by TTC viewers who are willing to put in the time and effort.
Date published: 2009-03-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent survey course Art Through the Ages goes beyond simple art appreciation by placing artistic expressions into historical and contextual perspective. Professor Soltes has defined this course in a grand way, tracing art from the Hellenic era to modern times. He also examines the development of various media, including sculpture, painting, and architecture. He does this by following one thread to a logical pausing point (European religious painting, for example) and then circling back to pick up developments in other media. Professor Soltes's grasp of the subject matter is astounding, and this is particularly helpful in his discussion of art in the last 100 years, as it has exploded across the globe and into a variety of new media. Each lecture is packed with information about the artists and the world in which their art was produced. Two cautions: first, I am not particularly knowledgeable about art history, so I cannot evaluate the course for people who already have a strong background in this area; second, the course focuses on art from ancient Greece and Rome, and then through the Judeo-Christian-Islamic traditions, so there is a lot of art from other cultures which is not covered. Otherwise, I highly recommend this course.
Date published: 2009-02-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Extremely insightful, little African-American art I loved the series for much of the time I watched it. The professor's insights and revelations about the content, context and relationship of art to politics, the sacred, and society was outstanding. I appreciated how he recognized sometimes overlooked art by a variety of groups. However, I was very disappointed with the lack of African- American artists in the program. I know of quite a few significant African-American artists, but only (I think) 3-5 such artists may have been mentioned the entire series. This is an outstanding series. Women, Jewish, South American, Russian, and immigrant artists and are reasonably prominent in the series, as well as Europeans. However, African-American's contributions are not well represented. I recommend the series, but was very disappointed with the absence.
Date published: 2009-01-26
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