art history
kathryn klauber


The live lectures listed below reflect ones that have resonated with my academic, professional, institutional, and public audiences.  They do not reflect my entire body of
work -- although presentations are constantly modified and updated as new information comes to light.  Thematic series lectures may be presented independently (stand
alone) or as part of the listed series.  Please contact for inquiries on other, or related, themes.  
Categories are as follows:

ART HISTORY OVERVIEW  (1 presentation)



COLLECTORS, COLLECTIONS, AND VIEWING SPACES  (3 series or 18 presentations)

SUBJECTS IN ART HISTORY  (19 presentations)

SPECIAL TOPICS  (1 presentation)

Please scroll down to find each category below with individual presentation overviews...                                                                                                                          

ART HISTORY OVERVIEW  (1 presentation)                           

Presentation---Art History Overview: Why Visual History Matters
Art and the Human Spirit:  This is both an aesthetic and inquisitive introduction to the world of art with an emphasis on its historic applications.  We will take a look at style, materials, and
technique – as well as how art reflects its time, place, and culture.  I also address art as visual language, discuss our need for self-expression, our emotive reaction to art, and touch upon
color theory and its development.   This lecture is particularly beneficial to classroom teachers and the general public -- as it culminates with a philosophical and visual prompt asking a
question pertinent to all interests and fields of study:  “So where does the modern world go from here?”  


Presentation—Evolution of the Art Museum and Viewing
“The Show”:  Although the desire to protect and preserve artifacts has been documented since the Sumerians, it was in fact during the European Renaissance that the Greek word,
mouseion, resurfaced and began to evolve into our modern museum.  From the Greeks to the present-day, from cabinets of curiosities to the modern gallery space, we will follow the
evolution of the art museum into our world of designer museums, cultural diversity, and societal responsibility.  We will ask the questions:  Who decides what art means?  How do, or how
should, we view it?  Who decides what we view?  And who decides when and where we view it?


Presentation---History of Paper and Print-making   
Making its Mark on the Fine Arts:  While some have dismissed print-making as a well-honed craft, in point of fact it demands a
well-earned position among the greatest of the fine arts.  This lecture takes a unique look at the advent and history of paper and its evolution,
along with a multiplicity of print-making styles and principal historic techniques – relief, intaglio, planography, and stencil.  Touching on the
archival and fragile works of Durer, Goya, Hokusai, Gericault, Cassatt, Picasso, and Stella, we will examine a brilliant field of obsessively
refined print-makers whose contributions have added mightily to the genre.  This presentation can also be modified to act as a springboard
to discussions of specific artists, collections, or exhibitions with a more distinct focus.   From Helen Frankenthaler: “You have to know how to
use the accident, how to recognize it, how to control it, and ways to eliminate it so that the whole surface looks felt and born all at once.”


SERIES:  5 Presentations—Treasured Art Museums of Amsterdam -- Bilbao -- Madrid
Millions travel to Europe every year to visit the great art museums, a model Europeans have perfected over the last several centuries.  
During this series, we will investigate the development of public viewing spaces, the history and evolution of art museums, the eccentric lives of
collectors and their aesthetic obsessions, and -- with a concentration on Spain and the Netherlands -- develop an appreciation of some of the richest
cultural repositories of art in the world along with their works by Rembrandt, van Gogh, Velasquez, Goya, and Picasso.  

Lecture 1:  The Show (see "The Show" above)
Lecture 2:  The Collectors
Lecture 3:  Amsterdam, Rembrandt, and van Gogh
Lecture 4:  Madrid, Velasquez, Goya, and Picasso
Lecture 5:  Bilbao and the Future of Viewing Spaces

SERIES:  8 Presentations---Treasured Art Museums of London and Paris
London and Paris have long been known for their unique art museums -- large, small and exquisite.  As travelers, we all too
often overlook their singular stories.  Where did this astonishing collection come from?  Who amassed these works?  How did these
pieces come to be housed in, for example, a 12c fortress, a royal greenhouse, a 19c railway terminus or an eclectic architect's
townhouse?  This course for art lovers searching for 'circumstance' will uncover some of the most noteworthy art museums in these
two great European capitals -- including familiar favorites as well as those often overlooked by the harried traveler.  Participants will
hear the stories of these art venues and their masterworks, master artists and benefactors.

Lecture 1:  A Brief History of Museums...& London's National Portrait Gallery
Lecture 2:  The Courtauld, Royal Academy, John Soane's Museum, and Dulwich Picture Gallery
Lecture 3:  London's National Gallery
Lecture 4:  The Tates:  Modern & Britain
Lecture 5:  Paris: Louvre
Lecture 6:  Musee Rodin, Musee de l'Orangerie
Lecture 7:  Centre Pompidou
Lecture 8:  Musee d'Orsay

SERIES:  5 Presentations---Great American Art Collectors:  Eccentric Lives, Eminent Collections
Gardner.  Frick.  Huntington.  Guggenheim.  Barnes.  There are many tangents and idiosyncratic sub-texts in the stories of these
five great American art collectors and their obsessions...  But, as a group, they all had a grand vision of art, a burning fever to amass,
protect, and bequeath prized collections to posterity, and the financial means with which to pull it off.  This is the story of art, money,
obsession, and legacy.  Although each collector would enjoy great wealth derived from 19-20c American industrial expansionism, some
would inherit (Gardner, for example), some made their own fortunes (Frick and Barnes), and two in particular (Huntington and Guggenheim)
would do both.  And each of our five collectors would build an eponymous museum in which to house their very personal, and carefully
accumulated, objects.

Lecture 1:  Isabella Stewart Gardner
Lecture 2:  Henry Clay Frick
Lecture 3:  Henry Huntington
Lecture 4:  Solomon Guggenheim
Lecture 5:  Albert Barnes

SUBJECTS IN ART HISTORY  (19 presentations)

Mannerism to Late Baroque

Presentation---The Golden Age of Spain...and Into the 19th Century
El Greco, Velazquez, and Goya:  Defending Creative Integrity Under the Dominion of Monarchs:  How do artists navigate the conflict between professional survival and
creative integrity?  How do they survive when they are caught up in the power plays, politics, and economics of an era's secular and religious demands?  The great masters of what we have
come to call the "Spanish School,"  El Greco, Velazquez, and Goya, were three brilliant talents in a vibrant artistic continuum.  Each worked under highly restrictive conditions, his success
ultimately dependent upon pleasing the Spanish monarchs and Church.  This lecture investigates their compelling stories as it illustrates a timeless dilemma:  how do we survive in an
uncertain world?

Presentation---The Grand Manner's Great Artistic Rivalry  
Reynolds, Gainsborough, and the Battle for Legacy:  Sir Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough
were two of the most spectacular stars of 18th century British painting.  Upon a cursory glance of their
monumental society portraits, viewers might imagine these two powerhouses of talent, born just four years
apart, to have much in common.  This could not have been farther from the truth.  And this lecture begs the
dual questions:  Why do we choose one path over another?  And, just how far will we go to achieve success?  
While spotlighting these two principal players in the drama of the era's burgeoning Industrial Revolution, this
lecture also includes the overarching contextual themes of environment, choice, power, influence, and

Early Modern

Rationalists and Provocateurs:  It was Gustave Courbet who first used the word, "Realisme", in an 1855 manifesto that accompanied an exhibition of his paintings.  The French had
participated in over eight major military events between 1775 and 1870; and had arguably come to see themselves as rationalists and survivors.  In this presentation we will investigate four
of Realism's greatest talents and provocateurs -- Daumier, Millet, Courbet, and Manet -- who all attempted to create objective representations through impartial observation,especially of the
working poor.  In the inimitable words of Courbet, "Show me an angel and I'll paint one".

A World Spinning Faster:  Because of the revolution in seeing and recording time that photography brought by the late 1850s, as well as a world seemingly spinning faster and faster with
new railroad lines, boulevards, and money, the French Impressionists saw the present as a single, fleeting moment in time.  By their first show in 1874, the task, as they saw it, was to
represent that fleeting moment with brush strokes and dabs of paint that would acknowledge both medium and surface, and turn light into color.  With members no more than fifteen years
apart in age, the Impressionists naturally gravitated towards Paris -- where many sold their works to one another, only achieving universal success decades later.  This is the story of that
large, energetic, caring, and squabbling 'family' that called itself collectively the Impressionists.

Presentation--Manet and Morisot                                                                                                                 
Painters of Modern Life:  For much of the latter part of the 19th century Paris was awash in political turmoil,
social upheaval, and economic polarity.  Both Edouard Manet and Berthe Morisot were from families of the haute bourgeoisie -- simultaneously enjoying its advantages and suffering its
restrictions.  Sophisticated, sensitive, artistic and high-strung, they found themselves immersed in the life of that city of great contradictions.  This was also the period in which the French
Academy, an institution which had codified artistic correctness for over two hundred years, finally lost its judicial stranglehold over the lives and works of young artists.  Close friends, like-
minded painters, and sympathetic intellectuals, Manet and Morisot found themselves at the forefront of a revolutionary artistic movement, Impressionism -- one that broke the historic rules of
how to apply paint to canvas and how to illustrate their new world.

Presentation—Photography & Japonisme
Have Camera, Will Travel:   Although photography seemed to come bursting forth in 1838 from nowhere,
the scientific developments of the Enlightenment in fact set the stage for the invention of the camera.  And it
would be a mistake to thinkthat all painters of that period detested the camera – many found it an intoxicating
answer to the pressures of representing their subjects.  And when Commodore Perry opened Japan to trade
in 1854, the ensuing exchange of art and ideas between East and West found new markets.  From the earliest
days of photography, to portable dark rooms and faster production methods at the turn of the century, we will
discuss the extraordinary evolution of the camera, its era, and its artists.

Presentation--Japonisme and Its Influence on Western Culture    
Enchanting Simplicity:  The influence of Japanese art on that of the West has been widely acknowledged
since the opening of Euro-Japanese trade in 1853.  In particular, from the 1860s onward, Japanese wood-block
prints became an inspiration for many artists in the European Impressionist, Art Nouveau, and Cubist
movements.  While still emphasizing Western subjects, Whistler, Monet, Degas, Cassatt, Tissot, Lautrec,
Bonnard, and van Gogh, some early adherents, were deeply affected by the new lack of perspective,
un-modeled areas of strong color, lack of shadows, and off-center placement of Japanese subjects.  Coined
by Philippe Burty in the late 1870s, Japonisme – and, in particular, its ukiyo-e woodcuts, fans, kimonos, lacquers,
and silks -- helped to transform Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art by illustrating that simple everyday
subjects could be presented in fundamentally new and enchanting ways.  This is the story of Japonisme and its
profound influence on Western culture.

Presentation---Mary Cassatt:  Tireless Student, Unequaled Aesthete    
Sophisticated Serentiy:  Recognition of the uniquely talented early American modernist, Mary Cassatt, has been largely based on her paintings of everyday domestic life shown with the
French Impressionists in the late 19th century.  However, Cassatt was a formidably talented printmaker as well -- one whose works illustrate a refined, fresh, and immediate sense of time,
place, and aesthetic.  Strong external influences would come from a convergence of her studies of Japanese prints (wildly popular in France after the opening of trade in 1853) and the
printmaking techniques of her mentor, Edgar Degas.  But she clearly possessed an idiosyncratic and sophisticated sense of color, line, precision, and domestic serenity that became the
hallmark of her printed works.  In this presentation, we will examine the life, times, and works of Mary Cassatt.  And, in addition to her well-known works on canvas, we will also investigate
Cassatt’s printed and drawn works on paper – principally etchings and pastels – for a more in-depth understanding of her unequaled place in the pantheon of late 19th century art.  
Presentation—Post-Impressionism’s Vincent van Gogh
The Roots of Expressionism:  The Post-Impressionist movement was made up of individuals who struggled to build new
theories and personal aesthetics by rejecting Impressionism’s collective way of seeing.  Vincent van Gogh believed in the
value, intensity, and expressiveness of color; and this solitary, troubled individual has come to be regarded as the linch-pin
of this avant garde group .  With a unique vision – and brushes heavy with luminous paint – he developed a correspondingly
passionate style that has thrived well beyond the ten short years he dedicated to its evolution.  In this presentation we will
delve into the difficult – but sensitive and spiritual – life and works of Vincent van Gogh.

Presentation—Paul Gauguin & Primitivism
The Quest for Unadorned Clarity:  Paul Gauguin, who shared van Gogh’s dislike for late 19th century industrialized society,
yearned for an ideal alternative.  Turning his back on standard Greco-Roman forms and a burdensome life, Gauguin
responded instead to principles of
 primitivism and spirituality.  And through his use of simplified and flattened spaces on
painted surfaces, he ultimately achieved a purity of form seldom seen.  This presentation will concentrate on the life and
times of a man who despaired of family, France, and all of society -- and came to represent the ‘ultimate escapist’.

Presentation—George Seurat’s Obsessions
Pointillism & Classical Esthetics:  Combining the color theories of Sir Isaak Newton as interpreted by Michel-Eugene Chevreul – especially Chevreul’s laws of "simultaneous contrast” and
"retinal persistence"  – with the study of classical esthetics, Georges Seurat created dynamic works in a style he called Divisionism.  His paintings, in a technique the modern world calls
Pointillism, were calculated, formal, and restrained; yet they were powerful and emboldened with those seemingly inexhaustible dots.  This is the story of an isolated and contemplative genius
who predetermined every square inch of his canvasses through diligent, exacting study -- an investigation into the life, works, and oeuvre of Georges Seurat.

Presentation—The Ordered World of Paul Cezanne
Cubes, Cones, & Constructions:  Through the methodical application of color and form, Paul Cezanne’s aim was to make his paintings unified patterned “constructions”.  A Neo-impressionist
artist who deliberately disregarded traditional perspective, Cezanne created complex landscapes and still lifes from multiple focal points.  (Wasn’t this the essence of Cubism?)   Through his
art, Cezanne was determined to create a new, systematic way of interpreting his natural surroundings.  As he would say, "We live in  a rainbow of chaos."  We will examine both Cezanne's
life and the schematic painted works he created – works which continue to wield tremendous influence across the globe.


Presentation---Kandinsky and the Color of Music
Synesthesia and the Early 20th Century:   Artist, theorist, synesthete, symbolist, spiritualist...  Wassily Kandinsky used a broad and radiant palette to create works of extraordinary
energy and ground-breaking invention.  A gifted teacher, dedicated wanderer, prolific writer and intellectual, Kandinsky's influence eventually permeated both European and American
culture.  One who would come to believe that the "inner sound" of art should be spiritual -- and not affixed to traditional representation -- Kandinsky is considered by many to be the father of
Abstractionism.  This is an examination of Kandinsky's life and works...and the unavoidable conflicts reflected in all he created by the optimism, confusion, and despair of the new century.

Presentation---Matisse and Paradise
Of Paintings and Armchairs:  Painter, draughtsman, printmaker, and sculptor, Henri Matisse strove to use nature to
express the dynamic yet simple fluidity of color and line.  Thoughtful, pleasant, and innovative, Matisse felt that a successful
painting should be, "...something like a good armchair in which to rest from physical fatigue."  A Fauvist early on, he would
ironically become known as a painter who upheld the principles of classicism through his mastery of the medium:  And
although he primarily drew and painted from nature, time and again, he would place his figures in interiors that pulsated with
color.  "He clashed his colours together like cymbals and the effect was like a lullaby." -- John Berger

Presentation—Picasso & the Making of Modern Art  (complete)
Collision:  the Modern World, Primitivism, and Genius:
  In this individual lecture, we will look at the Making of Modern
Art, Picasso, and his influences.  Pablo Picasso was a precocious,difficult, wildly prolific genius who took ideas from history,
contemporary events, and friends (making many into enemies), and in the process helped immeasurably in developing the concept of Modernism -- a revolutionary way of looking, feeling,
and creating.  An acknowledged copyist and responder, he took the historic Western emphasis on visual realism into a new arena altogether – art as abstraction.  Love him or hate him, we
have to give him credit for changing the way we think about art.

Presentation---Picasso, Provocateur  (SERIES: 1 of 2)
Loosening the Hold of the Realistic Western Tradition:
 In this first of two in-depth presentations on the life and times of Pablo Picasso,
we will examine his role -- up until the end of Cubism's developmental phase in 1915 -- in the end of the five-hundred year-old stranglehold of the
realistic western tradition.  Precocious, difficult, and wildly prolific, Picasso took ideas from history, contemporary events, and friends (making many
of them into enemies), and in the process helped immeasurably in developing the concept of Modernism -- a revolutionary way of looking, feeling,
and creating.  An acknowledged copyist and responder, he took the historic Western emphasis on visual realism into a new arena altogether -- art
as abstraction.  

Presentation---Picasso, the Legend  (SERIES: 2 of 2)
Across the Threshold of Subjective Expression:  
In this second of two in-depth presentations on the life and times of Pablo Picasso, we will
examine his life and works from the end of Cubism's developmental phase in 1915 until his death in 1973.  He was a man of boundless energy,
response, innovation and output -- a difficult genius who forever changed the way we think about art.  If Kandinsky and Matisse brought art to the
threshold of subjective expression, it was Picasso who pushed it right through the door.  And (as unique as he was)  we can look at Picasso not just as
student and teacher of the chaos caused by the early 20th century's rampant industrialization and grasping imperialism but as a simile:  Picasso was
the early 20th century.   

Presentation---Rene Magritte's Surrealism   
Life of Reality and Illusion:  Derived in large part from Automatism (a form of random writing that produced unexpected imagery), Surrealism originated as a literary movement gaining
notoriety in the years just after World War I.  And through the witty, thought-provoking yet seemingly straight-forward paintings of the great Belgian Surrealist, Rene Magritte, we have come
to understand this early 20th century cultural phenomenon.  Magritte would revolutionize the fine art of placing seemingly unrelated objects together; and he felt strongly that, " be a
Surrealist means barring from your mind all remembrance of what you have seen, and being always on the lookout for what has never been."   This is the story of an artist whose works
have entered the pantheon of modern visual iconography -- by dedicating himself to the conundrum,"Why?!"  

Late Modern & Postmodern                                                                                                                                                                           
Presentation—Modernism, Post-modernism & the Cult of Personality                                                         
20th (and 21st) Century in Turmoil:
  As cultures have fixated on nationalism, war and discrimination, disenfranchisement, poverty, and new
technologies that don’t seem to solve humanity’s greatest needs, art—which always reflects its place and time—is in turmoil, too.  This is the
modern story of art as visual language, and artists attempting to find new ways to reveal its structure (its complexity, deception, manipulation and
sometimes ironic simplicity)…  Using Duchamp, Benton, Pollock, Rothko, Walker, Steinkamp, and Mueck to come to terms with art in real-time, we
will grapple with the language that doesn’t tell us where we're going, but rather who we are and what concerns us.

SPECIAL TOPICS  (1 presentation)

Presentation---Fear, Failure, and Perfection: Cezanne, Kandinsky, and Rothko    
The Quest for Creative Expression:  Paul Cezanne, Wassily Kandinsky, and Mark Rothko, theorists,
innovators, and master painters, all dealt with emotional and intellectual turmoil in their quests for artistic
perfection. By the early years of the last century, many avant-garde artists were discarding what remained of
traditional western art for a new world order with its expression in a more visionary, analytical, and personal
approach.  The part fear and failure played in the paths of these three 20th century artists seeking revolutionary
creative, colorful expression was profound:  Cezanne strove to flee his chaotic life for a highly structured world
of methodical application.  Kandinsky, torn from all security, believed strongly in the spiritual inner voice of the
artist as he struggled in an unsafe world.  And Rothko's 'multi-form' units of painterly expression possessed
forces both strikingly intimate and self-contained -- as pilgrimages to silent places.  This lecture is a discussion
of the lives and works of these three master painters and the path each took in quest of a world of perfection.


Uncredited images on this page were created by Kathryn Klauber, gifts to her from participating institutions, or outside effective copyright dates.

Top to bottom:
Paul Cezanne,
The Card Players, 1894, Musee d'Orsay, Paris
Wassily Kandinsky,
Composition IV, 1911, Guggenheim, NY
Paul Rothko,
Untitled Red, Blue and Orange, 1955, private collection
anon. photographer,
Pablo Picasso in his Studio, Paris,
unknown year
Giorgio de Chirico
Portrait of Albert C. Barnes, 1926
Barnes Foundation, Merion, PA
Francisco Goya,
"The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters"
Los Caprichos
, etching, aquatint, drypoint, 1799
Jost Amman, "Der Papierer",
Little Book of Trades
woodblock print, 1568
"Le Japon", title page of Paris Illustré
volume 4, May 1886, no. 45-46
(original image: Eisen)