Smarthistory: Training the Gaze

Flavorpill one of the sources that keeps me in the know, recently shared a new website called Smarthistory, a website that describes itself as ” a free multi-media web-book designed as a dynamic enhancement (or even substitute) for the traditional art history textbook. Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker began smARThistory in 2005 by creating a blogfeaturing free audio guides in the form of podcasts for use in The Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.” It’s great! It has tutorials, information about art, links and a blog….

It would be nice if Smarthistory expanded to include more African, African-American, and non-European focused art, in the meantime, it’s a really helpful resource for looking and learning about art, thinking about the gaze, and beginning to understand and contextualize how Western art has evolved and how it uses (and socializes) looking at and appreciating art.

 Of particular interest to me was the tutorial of  Édouard Manet’s, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, completed in 1882 (Courtauld Gallery, London). It’s informative and raises some interesting questions, while providing some information about the social history of the era. I think I’ll revisit this – particularly as I discuss the meaning and representation of whiteness in posts next week.

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