Art Presentations by Wendy Evans


Prepared presentations***

Talks Focusing on Particular Artists

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 together 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.

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.

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 Italian painter Caravaggio, the Dutch master painter and printmaker Rembrandt van Rijn andthe Italian sculptor-architect Gianlorenzo Bernini.  

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

Manet to Picasso

This richly illustrated talk presents artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries who changed the course of western art.  

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."

American Impressionism

American artists studying academic art in Paris in the late 19th century were exposed to Impressionism. At first most excoriated it as their teachers did - "It was worse than a chamber of horrors" wrote J. Alden Weir after visiting the 3rd Impressionist show.

Mary Cassatt was the only American to exhibit with the French Impressionists.  By the late 1880s other Americans were experimenting with the style and bringing it back to America.

The Ten American Painters made it the most loved style in America in the first decades of the 20th century.  Find out why it was so pleasing. 

Paul Gauguin: Dreaming amid Nature

Art is abstraction when you dream amid nature

We can tell many stories about the Post-Impressionist artist Paul Gauguin:

*  How he turned from banker to impoverished artist.

*  How he escaped from the "artificial and conventional" Paris to seek the primitive.

*  How he fought with Vincent van Gogh over what art should be.

*  How he went from husband and father of five to seek love on tropical islands.

We'll touch on all these but focus on Gauguin's emergence from a mediocre impressionist to a strong original artist who left a legacy that influenced 20th century artists.

Ben Shahn: Artist and Activist

Ben Shahn was a socially aware artist famous for mixing politics with his paint.  This presentation looks at a variety of his work in a range of media including photographs taken during the Depression, paintings in the DIA, frescos he painted or proposed for public buildings and images for books or magazines like the Saga of the Lucky Dragon. Along the way we'll explore how his art reflects the ideals forged from his experiences as a young child in Russia, as an immigrant on Manhattan's Lower East Side, and traveling round the US south during the Great Depression.

Marc Chagall: Fairy Tales, Passion, and Wonder

Pablo Picasso said Marc Chagall must have an angel in his head. Chagall traveled far from the log cabin of his youth in Russia to make a name for himself in Paris, the art center of the world. He carried his early experiences with him. They helped shape his art.

This illustrated presentation explores Chagall's early life, the peak of his career, and his later life and work in many different media.

(The Chagall talks can be adapted as a two part series)

Marc Chagall and the Jewish School of Paris

Early in the 1900s several Jewish artists, mostly from Central and Eastern Europe, lived and worked in the Montparnasse district of Paris. They came to be known as the Jewish School of Paris. 

This presentation looks at art by Marc Chagall and by other key figures in the group, among them Sonia Delaunay, Amedeo Modigliani, Fernand Léger and Chaim Soutine.

(The Chagall talks can be adapted as a two part series)

Georgia O'Keeffe

O'Keeffe was one of the first artists to experiment with abstraction in America.  Her large paintings of flowers were designed to make even busy New Yorkers want to stop and examine them.  We'll follow her long career from her early drawings to the paintings of her beloved New Mexico.  Her obituary in the New York Times declared "Her colors dazzled, her erotic implications provoked and stimulated, her subjects astonished and amused." 

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.

Diego Rivera and his Murals
(single talk or 2-part series)

The greatest of the Mexican muralists called the fresco cycle he painted in the Detroit Institute of Arts his "finest work."  

We'll look in depth at the Detroit Industry murals but also at other work by Diego Rivera as we explore his style, his life, and his ideas using detailed illustrations.

Above Rubies:
Jewish Women Artists

This talk will range from artists like Rachel Olivetti who embroidered a Torah Ark curtain in 1620 to women like Eva Hesse and Helen Frankenthalerwho helped push the boundaries of art in the later 20th century. Many talented women artists, like Judy Chicago, were moved more by feminism than Judaism, but that should not prevent celebration of their unique achievements. Others like Elaine de Kooning and Lee Krasner worked in the shadow of more famous husbands but deserve to be better known. (Frida Kahlo gets her own talk.)

An Introduction to Jewish Artists

This richly illustrated talk will cover works by a variety of Jewish artists. The title includes the Jewish toast "To Life!" as, although some of the artists we will be celebrating had lives that ended tragically, they live on in their works. 

We'll discuss many artists who are internationally famous, like Marc Chagall, Frank Gehry, Mark Rothko and Maurice Sendak but will also explore less well-known artists whose work is well worth discovering. The women get their own talk.

Triumph and Tragedy:
The Art and Relationship of Auguste Rodin
and Camille Claudel

Claudel was a young sculptor when she met the great master Rodin.  He recognized her ability.  She became his muse and his mistress and they sculpted together for the next 10 years.  This talk will examine her influence on Rodin and his on her by looking at works inspired by the passion of their relationship.  

Annie Leibovitz:  Capturing Celebrity

Photographer Annie Leibovitz has produced some of the most iconic and memorable images of the last 40 years.  We'll explore a rich variety of images from the career of this celebrated artist including her most famous covers for Rolling Stone and several photos from her book Women.

Revisit Rembrandt

In this tribute, we'll explore the rich art world of 17th century Holland from which Rembrandt emerged, and look not only at his uniquely sensitive paintings but also at revolutionary prints and drawings created by this master draftsman.  Along the way we'll tell the story of Rembrandt's life, his eclipse and the rediscovery of this very human artist.  

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.

Manet to Picasso

This richly illustrated talk presents artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries who changed the course of western art.  

Artist Couples:  Life, Art, and Passion
(separate talks or 3-part series)

We'll explore the intense passions and stormy relationships of these couples while looking at and discussing the magnificent art they created.  

There are also individual talks available on each of these artists separately.

  Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin

Camille Claudel was a 19-year-old sculptor when she met the great master Rodin.  He was captivated by her talent and strong will to become recognized as an artist.  Claudel became Rodin's muse and his mistress.  They sculpted together for the next 10 years.   The richly illustrated lecture examines how each artist's work was influenced by the passion of their relationship.

  Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz

Georgia O'Keeffe was a young art student when she met the already internationally-famous photographer Alfred Stieglitz. Their love affair and later marriage led to a major series of photos of her by Stieglitz which in turn impacted how her art was viewed. His darkroom techniques influenced her art.

  Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera

Theirs is a story of strong passions and incredible art. This presentation explores their stormy relationship while looking at the art they created throughout their careers.  Diego Rivera was famous for large public political murals. Frida Kahlo is celebrated for small intimate personal works. But we'll find common characteristics in their art. 


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




Treat a work of art like a prince, let it speak to you first


Arthur Schopenhauer