All-day seminar, with Parisian-inspired Lunch, Saturday, September 23, 2017.
Why, Oh Why, Do We Love Paris?: The Timeless Charm of the City of Light
It’s hard to identify the je ne sais quoi that gives Paris its powerful appeal. What has set it apart over the centuries? Does it come from the great Gothic cathedral of Notre Dame or the delicate Sainte-Chapelle, alight with stunning stained glass windows? Perhaps it’s the art nouveau entrances that frame the Paris Metro and the Pompidou Centre. Perhaps it’s the city’s propensity to transform itself: For example, the Louvre—a medieval fortress, then royal residence, then world-class museum—most recently remade itself with I.M. Pei’s controversial pyramid-shaped entrance.
1. Medieval and Renaissance Paris: Learn how Roman Lutetia became Paris. It was among Europe’s largest cities until its population was decimated by bubonic plague and ravaged by the Hundred Years War (1337-1453). The University of Paris was founded ca. 1150, making it one of Europe’s oldest. The Gothic style of art and architecture was developed here, complemented by stained glass windows. The original Louvre was built as a fortress to protect the royal family.
2. Baroque, Rococo, and Neoclassicism: During the reign of Louis XIII (1610-43), Paris solidified its reputation as Europe’s cultural capital. Luxurious Luxembourg Palace and gardens were created, along with the Place de La Concorde, Les Invalides, and Place Vendome. Parisian artists included Charles Le Brun, Rococo favorite Honoré Fragonard, and Jacques-Louis David, who painted scenes of the French Revolution. Political and cultural power, which had been moved to Versailles by Louis XIV, was returned to Paris as the revolution began. The Emperor Napoleon commissions the Arc de Triomphe in 1806.
Lunch: A Parisian-inspired gourmet box lunch is provided.
3. Romanticism, Realism, Impressionism, and Post-Impressionism: Emperor Napoleon III chose Georges-Eugene Haussmann in 1853 to carry out a massive modernization program of boulevards, parks, and public works in Paris, and a spectacular transformation began. Narrow medieval streets gave way to broad boulevards lined with monumental buildings such as the grand Baroque Revival opera house Palais Garnier (where Edgar Degas’s painted ballerinas might have danced). Engineer Gustave Eiffel, built the tower that became France’s enduring symbol. Montmartre became the artists’ mecca; the Moulin Rouge’s risqué nightlife inspired paintings by Toulouse Lautrec. Cartoonist Honoré Daumier depicted daily life while Monet, Renoir, and other impressionist painters moved outdoors for inspiration.
Brief Interlude: Break for a glass of wine and a Parisian-inspired snack.
4. The 20th Century: Art nouveau entrances adorn the Paris Metro. Famous artists made Paris home, including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall, Georges Rouault, Constantin Brancusi, Fernand Leger, Marcel Duchamp, Alberto Giacometti, Victor Vasarely, Mary Cassatt. The Pompidou Centre—a cultural center built inside out—opened in 1977 and broke the rules of architectural design. Frank Gehry's futuristic translucent Foundation Louis Vuitton opened in 2014.
All-day seminar, Saturday, May 20, 2017
Home Is Where the Art Is: Connecting Creativity and Place
Where did some of the most important and creative visual artists actually live and work? Sneak a peek into the private homes (and personal lives) of famous painters, sculptors, and architects. Dr. Benton compares their environments to their masterpieces. Did the artists' homes, including the surrounding gardens, influence their art? Or did the artists create homes to accommodate their image of an ideal domestic environment? And what was the life style enjoyed in these homes (and with whom was it shared)?
1. Italy: Fra Angelico, a pious Dominican monk frescoed the walls and monks' cells at San Marco monastery in Florence, where he lived, and depicted the Annunciation occurring in the architecture of his monastery, newly built by Michelozzo. Mantegna's mathematical interests appear in the home he designed entirely himself in Mantua, based on a circle within a square. Raphael's childhood home in Urbino provides an example of a typical 15th-century home. Leonardo da Vinci began his life in rural, rustic Vinci, but concluded it in his own château, the Clos Lucé in Amboise, as the guest of King Francois Ier of France. The great biographer, Giorgio Vasari, painted his homes in Arezzo and Florence to elevate his social status.
2. Northern Europe: Albrecht Dürer, whose scientific interests equal those of Leonardo da Vinci, lived in a large half-timber home in Nuremberg. Peter Paul Rubens made a fortune and displayed it in his home/studio in Antwerp as well as his château, Het Steen. Rembrandt, a brilliant painter, lacking Rubens's financial skill, was forced to declare bankruptcy and lost his fine brick home in Amsterdam.
3. France: Claude Monet lived in a home painted in vivid colors, with an extensive garden he designed, including the lily pond that appears in his paintngs, in Giverny. After achieving financial success, Pierre-Auguste Renoir built a home with an extensive garden at Les Collettes in idyllic Cagnes-sur-Mer in the south of France. Auguste Rodin lived in his Villa des Brillants in Meudon, outside Paris, where he had his sculpture studio, and also had a Paris address. Vincent van Gogh had 38 addresses in 37 years of life; we follow him in Mons, Paris, Arles, St-Rémy, and Auvers where his troubled life ended tragically.
4. North America: Frida Kahlo chronicled the difficulties of her life in her intimately personal paintings; she was born and died at the Blue House in Mexico City. Georgia O'Keeffe found the solitude and open space she craved at Ghost Ranch and Abiquiú in New Mexico. Frank Lloyd Wright created his own distinctive homes at Taliesin East and West in Wisconsin and Arizona. Philip Johnson built his iconic Glass House in Connecticut
As the Smithsonian Expert on the following trips, I present several formal lectures on each, as well as many informal talks.
1. "Essence of London," July 12-20 2017. For information: http://www.smithsonianjourneys.org/tours/london-stay/expert/
2. "Saint Petersburg and the Baltics," August 15-28, 2017. For information: http://www.smithsonianjourneys.org/tours/stpetersburg-baltics/itinerary/
1) Highlights of Italy, May 21-June 5, 2018. For information: http://www.smithsonianjourneys.org/tours/italy/itinerary/
2) Great European Journey, June 12-22, 2018. For information: http://www.smithsonianjourneys.org/tours/europe-train-cruise/itinerary/
3) London: One-Week Stay in England , July 5-13, 2018. For information: http://www.smithsonianjourneys.org/tours/london-stay/itinerary/
Institute for Medieval Studies, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM,
The State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia,
Janetta Rebold Benton is Distinguished Professor of Art History at Pace University, NY. She is the recipient of a Fulbright Senior Scholar Award, 2012-13, as Visiting Professor at the Graduate School of Art History, European University, Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Dr. Benton presents subscription lecture series at the Schimmel Center for the Arts, NYC, and subscription seminars at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. She presented subscription lecture series at the Metropolitan Museum of Art every season 1988-2011, and has also lectured at The Cloisters, NYC; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Boston Museum of Fine Arts; Society of the Four Arts, Palm Beach; and elsewhere in America and abroad, including the Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia and the Louvre, Paris, France. She is a lecturer on Smithsonian and Metropolitan Museum of Art trips throughout the world. A former resident of Paris, she taught courses in art history there as the Art Historian at the American Embassy.
The author of eight books, her latest, HANDBOOK FOR THE HUMANITIES (Robert DiYanni co-author, Pearson, Upper Saddle River, NJ, 2014), is published in paperback and as an E-book. ARTS AND CULTURE: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE HUMANITIES (Robert DiYanni co-author, Pearson/Prentice Hall, two volumes and combined volume, fourth edition, 2012) is also published in Chinese (2011). MATERIALS, METHODS, AND MASTERPIECES OF MEDIEVAL ART (Praeger Series on the Middle Ages, ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara, CA, 2009) is available in hardcover and as an E-book. MEDIEVAL MISCHIEF: WIT AND HUMOUR IN THE ART OF THE MIDDLE AGES (The History Press, Sutton Publishing, Stroud, Gloucestershire, 2004) studies an engaging aspect of medieval art. ART OF THE MIDDLE AGES (Thames & Hudson, London, 2002) is published in the acclaimed World of Art series. HOLY TERRORS: GARGOYLES ON MEDIEVAL BUILDINGS (Abbeville Press, NY, 1997) is also published in French as SAINTES TERREURS: LES GARGOUILLES DANS L'ARCHITECTURE MÉDIÉVALE (2000). Dr. Benton was the guest curator and catalog author for the 1995 exhibition MEDIEVAL MONSTERS: DRAGONS AND FANTASTIC CREATURES at the Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah, NY. Her book, THE MEDIEVAL MENAGERIE: ANIMALS IN THE ART OF THE MIDDLE AGES (Abbeville Press, NY, 1992), a Book of the Month Club selection, is also published in French as BESTIAIRE MÉDIÉVAL: LES ANIMAUX DANS L'ART DU MOYEN AGE (1992). Articles by Dr. Benton appear in the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF HUMOR STUDIES, Sage Reference, Los Angeles, CA, 2014; the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibition catalog, SET IN STONE: THE FACE IN MEDIEVAL SCULPTURE, 2007; as well as in scholarly journals including Cahiers de Civilisation Médiévale, Poitiers, 1998; Arte Medievale, Rome, 1993; Artibus et Historiae, Vienna, 1989; and Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, Munich, 1985.
Dr. Benton was educated at Harvard University, Graduate School of Education, MDP diploma; earned her Ph.D. in Art History at Brown University; Master of Arts degree in Art History from George Washington University; and Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Cornell University.