Art Presentations by Wendy Evans


Prepared presentations***

Art of Particular Time Periods

The Art and Ideas of the Ancient World
4 part series or any individual class

Explore the ideas underpinning the art and architecture of the ancient cultures of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and Rome. The region had such a huge influence on western art it was labeled the Birthplace of Civilization, but perhaps is now becoming its graveyard.

Cradle of Civilization

The Iraq war, rise of ISIS, and other conflicts in the Middle East are causing terrible human tragedies. There is also a wealth of history that is under threat of loss or destruction as Iraq, Syria and other countries in the region are full of world heritage sites, museums, and archaeolical areas yet to be fully explored.
This illustrated talk will explore the ideas, inventions, and that led Mesopotamia to be dubbed the birthplace of civilization. We'll look at the archaeological discoveries that excited Europe in the 1920s and discuss the challenges the art and architecture face in the region today.

Continuity Forever:
The Art of Ancient Egypt

This talk will bring 3000 years of ancient Egypt to life in all its glory.  We'll resurrect a people who loved life and worked to ensure they could continue to live life to its fullest even after death. As Tjaiemhotep urged "Cease not to drink, to get drunk, to enjoy making love, to make the day joyful, to follow your inclination day and night, do not allow grief to enter your heart."  

Devotion, Detail and Discovery:
The Mesmerizing Art of Northern Europe

Masters of the 1400s   In Flanders the development of oil paint by artists like Jan van Eyck led to paintings with microscopic details of tremendous beauty to encourage viewers to lose themselves in contemplation of an image as if they were present at the scene able to touch the objects and share the emotions of the people depicted.

German art of the 1500s  The great master Albrecht Durer who brought the Italian Renaissance to Germany but with a northern European twist.  We'll focus on his work but also explore the landscapes of Albrecht Aldorfer, the powerful religious paintings of Matthias Grunewald and the brilliance of Hans Holbein the Younger.

The Art of the Netherlands, France and Spain  Netherlandish artists like Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel the Elder brought imagination to the northern tradition of meticulous detail, while artists in France and Spain (like El Greco) began to adopt the distortions of Italian mannerism.



British Accents

A richly-illustrated survey of art in Britain from the 1550s when Tudor monarchs hired painters from Europe to the work of contemporary artists like Banksy. (Can be single session, or fuller 2 or 3-week series)

16th though 18th centuries  Covering many forms of art, such as portraits by Hans Holbein the Younger and Thomas Gainsborough, satirical prints by William Hogarth, porcelain by Josiah Wedgwood and neoclassical architecture by Robert Adam.

19th century  A rich period for British art.  Landscape painting flourished as did the precisely-detailed art of the Pre_raphaelite Brotherhood.  Whistler advocated art for art's sake while the Arts and Crafts Movement sought to improve design.

20th century on  The modernist ort of Europe and the horrors of the Woirld Wars impacted British art.  Pop art started in England.  The Young British Artists championed by Charles Saatchi gained exposure and created controversy while Andy Goldsworthy and others sought beauty in nature.

Sensuous Poetry: The Art of 16th Century Venice

Bellini, Giorgione, Tiziano – even their names are poetic.  Their art was no less so.  Venetian artists revel in the sensuality of color and the glory of the female form.  Compared to the Venetians, contemporary Renaissance Italians painted only prose.

Titans of the Italian Renaissance
(single talk or 3-part series)

The High Renaissance was a brief - 30 year - tranquil period at the end of the 15th and start of the 16th centuries when the technical mastery to produce illusionistic art and the desire to make classically- inspired art came togther in the hands of profound thinkers.  

We'll look at a rich variety of images by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael while exploring their personal stories and the times in which they lived as well as their contributions to art.  

Celebrities, courted by princes and popes, these men produced some of the most influential works of western art.

Art of the Italian Renaissance
(single talk or 3-part series)

This talk or series looks at the changes in art as thinkers and artists moved from focusing on the soul and the spiritual world to an interest in people and the physical world. That led in turn to interest in the ideas and ideals of ancient Greece and Rome. We'll explore reasons for these changes and look in depth at the artists who made the developments that remain at the core of Western art for centuries. 

Renaissance and Baroque Art
(single talk or 3-part series)

About 500 years ago Europe went through a period of exciting change as people awoke to the wonders of our world and to the ideas and ideals of ancient Greece and Rome.  We will trace the changes in art brought about by this Renaissance, then go on to explore the social, religious, and economic reasons causing art to move from classical calm to the dramatic sensationalism of the Baroque.  We'll try to capture some of the fervor sixteenth and seventeenth century audiences would have felt confronting the masterpieces created during this era.

Art in Times of Conflict
(single talk or 3-part series)

Today is not the first time art has been destroyed because of beliefs nor is it the first time art has been employed to promote political or religious ideas. This series of presentations explores the role of art in three historical periods.  

Art during the Reformation and Counterreformation  Protestants destroyed art as  distracting at best, idolatrous at worst. The Catholic Church used art to encourage faith.
 Art and World War I   Artists had official roles in World War I to create recruitment posters and camouflage, and to spread propaganda, but others used art to expose the horrors of modern warfare.
 Art in the Third Reich   Nazis encourage artists to create art to celebrate the strength and beauty of Aryans and Germany but they also used the art they denigrated to promote their ideology. We'll explore how they used both kinds of art as propaganda.

Stars of the Seventeenth Century
Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Bernini
(single talk or 3-part series)

This series looks in depth at the life and work of three great European artists, the Dutch master painter and printmaker Rembrandt van Rijn plus two of his Italian contemporaries, the painter Caravaggio and sculptor-architect Gianlorenzo Bernini. 

All three were immensely skillful and innovative artists whose lives, like their artworks, were full of drama and emotion.

The Sensational Seventeenth Century

Art in the 17th century moved from the classical calm of the Renaissance to an art of dramatic sensationalism.

Looking at paintings and sculpture by great masters such as Peter Paul Rubens and Bernini, this talk discusses why Italian and Flemish art became so exciting and sensuous. 

The Netherlands had its own special style during the 17th century "Golden Age" of Dutch painting so we'll explore that also.

Along the way we'll detail the social, religious, and economic reasons behind these styles.

You don't like Baroque art?  I challenge you to look with me before you make up your mind.  This is art at its most accomplished and most moving.

The Golden Age of Dutch Art
(single talk or 3-part series)

Visitors to the Netherlands in thew 1600s were amazed at the number of paintings in Dutch homes and businesses. As a wealthy maritime power the Dutch had the highest per capita income in Europe. Painting served as a way to fashion Dutch identity. With artists like Rembrandt, Frans Hals, Rachel Ruysch, Gerhard ter Borch, Judith Leyster and Jan Vermeer, this class or classes will be rich in visual delights. 

The French Revolution:
Art and Ideas

(single talk or 3-part series)

Changes in ideas and in society are always reflected in art, but during this period of intellectual ferment as well as revolution, it also went the other way around.  Art and discussion about art impacted history.  

We'll see how the seeds of revolution sown in the courts of Louis XIV and Louis XV and watered by the ideas of Voltaire, the writings of Diderot, and the paintings of Jacques-Louis David.  Our story continues through the 1789 revolution, the rise of Napoleon, to the final triumph of republicanism in France.

Century of Change:
The Art
and Ideas of 18th Century France

This covers the amazing journey from the art of the French aristocracy at the start of the century, through the changing ideas about art resulting from the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, the French Revolution, and the growing art market.  


Vive la France!  Vive la Revolution!

A fully illustrated look at the revolution in art that took place in France in the second half of the 19th century.  This features artists like Gustave Courbet and Edouard Manet who were the first to challenge academic traditions, then the younger revolutionaries like Claude Monet and the Impressionists, and on through rebels, like Vincent Van Gogh, who followed them.

Impressionism:  The Art of Seeing
(single talk or 2- or 3-part series)

The Impressionist paintings which are so loved today began in the rebellion of a few young artists in Paris against the formalism and sentimentality of academic art in the late 1800s.  We’ll explore the roots of this transformation, look at works by the artists, like Monet, who are most closely identified as Impressionist, continuing to artists who fell under the Impressionist spell.

The Art of Late 19th Century France
(single talk or 2- or 3-part series)

Impressionists introduced a new way of painting in bright colors to try to capture the brilliance of outdoor light.  Artists after them tended to retain the vivid colors but reject the idea that art should quickly and spontaneously just depict the world as it is.  Some, like Gauguin and Van Gogh, wanted a more emotional approach; others like Cezanne and Seurat, wanted more structure.  This series of three classes will explore the work and ideas of these and other Post Impressionist artists.

Session 1:  The Break with Impressionism 
  (focus on Toulouse-Lautrec and Seurat)

Session 2: Structure or Passion?  
  (Cézanne and Van Gogh)

Session 3: From Natural to Subjective
  (Gauguin and the Symbolists)

The 3 Ms who Changed French Art:
Manet, Monet and Matisse
(single talks or 3-part series)

This course offers an in-depth look at three great French artists.  Despite harsh criticism by their contemporaries, their rebellions against the strictures of academic painting succeeded in changing the course of Western art. 

Session 1:    Edouard Manet who sought to update the Old Masters with contemporary realism, never understanding why his revolutionary works were so shocking to his contemporaries.

Session 2:     Claude Monet who tried to capture the transitory nature of vision, becoming the father of Impressionism.

Session 3:      Henri Matisse who wanted to create a world of harmony and color, an art of balance, purity, and serenity.  His experiments with color pushed the boundaries of art so far that even his patron called one of his paintings "the nastiest smear of paint I have ever seen."

Expressionism: The Assertive Art

(single talk or 3-part series)

This talk or series delves into the roots of Expressionism, its flowering in the early 20th century especially in Germany, and its legacy in Europe and America.

Expressionist artists often rebelled against contemporary social values and conventions.  They rejected traditional art forms, colors, and refinement in order to communicate ideas and emotions in intense paintings, sculpture, prints and architecture.

Session 1:     Roots and Beginnings (in ancient,
                    medieval and late 19th century art)
Session 2:     Flowering and Forbidden (early 20th
                    century German Expressionists)

Session 3:     Later and Legacy (after 1914)

Opening Doors, Opening Eyes:
American Art, 1875-1955

(single talk or 3-part series)

This series explores American art from the critical period when it adapts to the contemporary world and forges modern ideas about art.  Images shown will range from the realism of Thomas Eakins to the abstraction of Jackson Pollock and from the urban life scenes of John Sloan and the Ashcan School to the regionalism of Grant Wood.  Discussion will range from the changes wrought by the Armory Show and the World Wars to the impact of the New Deal and the Cold War. 

Picturing America
(single talk or 3-part series)

America's art tells America's story - the optimism, struggles, humor and pain.  We'll explore how people from the earliest inhabitants to today have pictured the history and landscape of the country reflecting its ideas and ideals.

Images will range from realistic paintings of John Singleton Copley to modern abstractions by Jackson Pollock, from the innocent America captured by Norman Rockwell in his early work to the struggles of black Americans seen in his late paintings and those of black artists like Jacob Lawrence, and from inspiring views of unspoiled country by Thomas Cole to the lonely cities of Edward Hopper.

These artists, and others whose work we'll see, help  build our picture of America.


Unhealed Wounds:
and the First World War

WWI was welcomed by artists and intellectuals as the heroic war that would cleanse society - but it wasn't. 

It was the war to end all wars - but it didn't.  

However it was a war that still impacts us. Part of that impact comes from its art. That is the story this talk will tell by looking at paintings, posters, photographs, sculpture and cartoons from the period.

Art in the Third Reich

Nazi cultural policies were inextricably linked to their other goals.  

This presentation looks at art they approved of as well as art they denigrated to show how the National Socialists used art during the Third Reich to promote their ideology and further their racial, social, and military objectives.

Monet to Dali

This richly illustrated talk presents artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries who changed the course of western art.   It will focus on artists such as Monet, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Dali and Picasso.  

Painters of Urban Life: The Ashcan School

In the early 20th century the cities of America were expanding rapidly with immigrants from rural areas and overseas creating a lively mix of rich and poor, parks and tenements.  Artists flocked to New York to teach and to study. This talk focuses on those artists, such as John Sloan, George Bellows, and Maurice Prendergast who depicted scenes of life in city streets, parks, and bars.

New No Longer: Art of the 20th Century
(single talk or 3-part series)

It was a time of change, a time when art shocked.

We'll look at the founding of modern art in Europe early in the century by artists like Matisse and Picasso in France and the Expressionists in Germany.  

Then we'll move to New York for the flowering of an abstract approach to art, and end by examining the satirical, often politically- charged art made later in the century by artists who rejected the formalist modern approach to art-making.

General Topics

Art Topics by Time Period

Talks Focusing on Special Artists

***  Contact   
to get a new topic developed for your group.

top of page




If it isn't propaganda, it isn't art.


Diego Rivera