The language of art history

"Today we see the art of the past as nobody saw it before. We actually perceive it in a different way." (John Berger)

videos + essays

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Naturalism, realism, abstraction and idealization
Naturalism, realism, abstraction and idealization

Naturalism is resemblance to the “real world,” as we see it around us.

Atmospheric perspective explained
Atmospheric perspective explained

As we look into the distance, we lose visual clarity. The specificity of color also decreases.

Foreshortening explained
Foreshortening explained

Renaissance artists relied upon this strategy to render the natural world. Get a tutorial at the School of Athens.

Contrapposto explained
Contrapposto explained

Don’t stand so straight! Relax. Shift your weight. Bend a knee. Just respond to the world, like this spear-bearer.

Classical orders of architecture explained
Classical orders of architecture explained

These decorative systems once adorned Greek temples. It’s an ancient language, but we still speak it today.

Linear perspective explained
Linear perspective explained

No Photoshop! Just a vanishing point, a horizon line, and some orthogonals—that’s the magic formula for reality.

Chiaroscuro explained
Chiaroscuro explained

This technique captures transitions from light to dark. As Titian knew, it creates the illusion of volume and mass.