At the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

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videos + essays

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Freddy Rodríguez, <em>Paradise for a Tourist Brochure</em>
Freddy Rodríguez, Paradise for a Tourist Brochure

Rodríguez juxtaposes the beauty of the natural world with violent references to Rafael Trujillo's dictatorship in Paradise for a Tourist Brochure.

Henri Matisse, <em>Open Window, Collioure</em>
Henri Matisse, Open Window, Collioure

Although the style implies a rapid or even slipshod painting process, Open Window, Collioure was carefully orchestrated in every aspect.

Hiram Powers, <em>The Greek Slave</em>
Hiram Powers, The Greek Slave

Though at first glance this nude seems plucked from classical antiquity, it actually alludes to modern politics.

Helen Frankenthaler, <em>Mountains and Sea</em>
Helen Frankenthaler, Mountains and Sea

Frankenthaler doesn’t paint the landscape per se, but offers an intuitive response to Cape Breton in Nova Scotia.

Alberto Giacometti, <em>Walking Man II</em>
Alberto Giacometti, Walking Man II

Sartre described Giacometti’s figures as “halfway between nothingness and being,” but “very skinny” works too.

Giovanni Bellini and Titian,<em>The Feast of the Gods</em>
Giovanni Bellini and Titian,The Feast of the Gods

This canvas was rolled, varnished, reworked, and revised again. A classical scene, it once hung in a study.

John Constable, <em>Wivenhoe Park, Essex </em>
John Constable, Wivenhoe Park, Essex

Can you paint a portrait of place? Constable makes a case for it with this idyllic depiction of a country estate.

David, <em>The Emperor Napoleon in His Study in the Tuileries</em>
David, The Emperor Napoleon in His Study in the Tuileries

As the low candles and late hour suggest, Napoleon is short on time. David captures the twilight of his reign.

Judith Leyster, <em>Self-Portrait</em>
Judith Leyster, Self-Portrait

Professional female artists were few in the Dutch Republic. Here, Leyster cultivates confidence in her abilities.

Rembrandt, <em>Self-Portrait</em> (1659)
Rembrandt, Self-Portrait (1659)

With honesty and directness, Rembrandt paints a “selfie.” His marked face captures aging—and the painting process.

Johannes Vermeer, <em>Woman Holding a Balance</em>
Johannes Vermeer, Woman Holding a Balance

Is it a cautionary tale of vanity? A prompt for introspection? Art historians are still weighing the evidence.

Albrecht Dürer’s woodcuts and engravings
Albrecht Dürer’s woodcuts and engravings

Have print, will travel. New technologies of mechanical reproduction allowed Dürer to circulate his artistic ideas.