Art History Comes Alive

I love Khan Academy and Smarthistory for their free sites which help me learn about everything I slept through in high school and college. But I especially love Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker who teach art history. I’ve spent over a hundred hours devouring everything in that subject and have only scratched the surface. Through essays, and pictures, and videos, I’ve learned about topics such as Victorian art and architecture, about baroque art, ancient Mediterranean, modernism, prehistoric, medieval art… the list goes on and on. They even have quizzes after you finish a section which make you feel good.

But the best part for me, is watching the short videos and listening to Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker—art history rock stars and smooth, articulate players deeply involved in the depth of the work.

The two of them go around the world to museums and give in-depth analysis for various pieces which are professionally filmed and brought to life—digital learning at its best. They banter reverently and gleefully, finishing one another’s thoughts without effort all the while drawing the listener in and giving us a first-class education.

And wow, I had no idea how much math is involved in art, too. They’ll drop words and terms which I can only understand in context, but which fascinate me. Curvilinear, rectilinear, strictness of the geometry, symmetry, order, breaks with the purely rectilinear, contrapposto, spirituality, interior experience, formal properties, subject matter, and historical context… I’m breathless while listening to the truth and depth of the conversation. They will draw you into learning as they deliver on the promise that history belongs to everyone.

You know, looking back, maybe I was too hard on myself in my first declarative sentence. Maybe, if I’d been exposed to the joy of digital learning at the level these two people bring to their profession, quite possibly I would have been more involved in the process. Textbooks and slides couldn’t hold a candle to what we have today.

Watch these two teachers, receive their gifts, go to the free sites. Learn about what art history can tell us about the human experience all through time. I defy you to not fall in love with the Beth and Steven show. I may just become a stalker, but at least I have really good taste.

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