Art History

Ancient Egyptian and Greek Art (2006)

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The National Gallery of Art strives to present exhibitions of art from times and cultures beyond its own collections. This DVD comprises four video programs made in conjunction with special exhibitions on the art and cultures of ancient Egypt and Greece.

Grade Level: 
High
Length: 
01:23
Ancient Egyptian and Greek Art

Art Through Time: The Body

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From painting to sculpture, body art to performance art, the body has figured prominently in the creative expression of nearly all cultures from the beginning of civilization. Through art, the body becomes a site for defining individual identity, constructing sex and gender ideals, negotiating power, and experimenting with the nature of representation itself.

Art Through Time: Conflict and Resistance

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Throughout history, groups and individuals have sought not only to maintain control over their own lives, but also to assert their power over the lives of others. Visual art has played an important role in documenting such conflict and resistance. It also has served as a means for expressing personal views on politics, war, social inequities, and the human condition.

Art Through Time: The Urban Experience

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For thousands of years cities have been hubs of activity, centers of industry, and places from which new aesthetic trends originate, evolve, and spread. The creative visions of planners, painters, architects, and sculptors have shaped the development of cities around the world. In turn, the urban experience has inspired the creation of artwork depicting aspects of city life.

Art Through Time: Portraits

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Throughout history and across cultures, people have shown a fascination with faces, and in turn, with portrait representation. The depiction of an individual likeness is about identification, but more than that, it is a record of an interaction between an artist and a sitter, both of whom contribute to the portrait’s form and content. Far from being mirror reflections, portraits are complex constructions of identity that serve a range of functions from expressing power and declaring status to making larger statements about society at a given point in history.

Art Through Time: Writing

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Images and words are symbols that both denote actual things, like people, objects, and places, and connote more abstract ideas, feelings, concepts, and theories. Given this shared function, it makes sense that the boundaries between words and images often overlap and that the two are so frequently juxtaposed. Since the dawn of civilization the relationship between written words and pictures has been manipulated to communicate ideas.

Art Through Time: Domestic Life

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From furniture and tapestries to bowls and baskets, art has figured prominently in domestic life for thousands of years. Within the space of the home—be it a palace or a hut—aesthetically and culturally significant objects have fulfilled purposes both mundane (e.g., storage and service) and transcendent (e.g., the facilitation of prayer). Moreover, the activities and events taking place within these domestic spaces have been the inspiration for countless artists.

Art Through Time: Death

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Death is one of the few experiences common to all people and all societies. But how different people have conceived of death and how those conceptions have shaped their behaviors and practices has varied over time and across cultures. Through art, people have expressed attitudes toward death that are in some respects universal, while in others personally and culturally specific. They have, moreover, used a wide range of objects, images, and structures to negotiate the processes of aging and dying, grieving, and commemorating.

Art Through Time: Cosmology and Belief

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In all cultures, people strive to understand their reason for being and their place in the universe. Art can be an instrument for not only recording spiritual beliefs, but also for creating myths, defining the realms of mortal and immortal, communing with ancestors, channeling forces of good, and repelling those of evil.

Art Through Time: History and Memory

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Art has been a medium through which people have not only documented, but also shaped history—both past and future. Periodically, individuals, groups, and societies have also drawn on or appropriated artistic forms of the past to make statements in and about the present. Art can commemorate existence, achievements, and failures, and it can be used to record and create communal as well as personal memories.

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