Archive for the Videos Category

Thomas Cole and the Hudson River School [VIDEO]

Posted in Art, Romantic, Videos with tags , on February 25, 2012 by Nell

 Guide: Thomas Cole’s “The Course of Empire”

Thomas Cole (1801-1848) was an English-born American painter and founder of the Hudson River School—a group of artists in the mid-19th century known for their paintings depicting American scenery and allegorical landscapes. These artists formed an American artistic identity that was connected to, yet distinct from, the European tradition.

The Course of Empire (1834-36) is arguably Cole’s magnum opus and most well-known work. Visit The Course of Empire: Narrative and Context to get an overview of the historical and intellectual currents running through this suite of paintings, then examine each of the five paintings in detail at The Course of Empire: The Paintings.

The Hudson River Valley

Cole and his contemporaries were inspired by the Hudson River Valley region and the scenery they found in the Catskill Mountains; an area that was popular amongst tourists in New York for hiking and sightseeing. Paintings of scenery in this region form a large part of the output of the Hudson River School.

Learn More:

Please note that the below links will take you outside of this website.

  • The Hudson River School: Nature and the American Vision, by Linda S. Ferber (interviewed in the above videos). A survey of the artists of the Hudson River School, including Cole, and with a focus on the works in the outstanding collection of the New-York Historical Society.
  • Explore Thomas Cole. An online gallery with interactive curated guides to Cole’s paintings, including The Course of Empire.
  • The Thomas Cole National Historic Site. A guide to visiting Thomas Cole’s former home in Catskill, NY, and sites in the area of interest to the Hudson River School painters.

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The Course of Empire: Narrative and Context [VIDEO]

Posted in Art, Romantic, Videos with tags , , on February 25, 2012 by Nell

 Guide: Thomas Cole’s “The Course of Empire”

Scroll below to explore the larger contexts behind Cole’s artistry and the story in The Course of Empire, then examine each of the five paintings in detail.

The Landscape

Thomas Cole is considered one of the first great American landscape painters, and these five paintings are a virtuosic display. His work was strongly influenced by the Romantic ideal of the Sublime wilderness, as well as older European painters such as Claude Lorraine and Nicolas Poussin.

Landscape and its artistic representation was important for America’s national identity in the 19th century, and the fate of the wilderness had spiritual and political resonance for Cole and like-minded artists and intellectuals.

The Story

The five paintings are set in the same place during progressive times of day, each with different moods and weather conditions (the first painting depicts a tumultous cloudscape at dawn; the final painting is tranquil twilight). Cole imbues each view of this landscape with its own emotional state.

Cole’s imaginary civilization looks and acts like an ancient Greek or Roman society, from the wise philosopher sketching geometric diagrams in the dirt in The Pastoral State to the monumental statue of a discus-throwing gladiator in Destruction.

The Allegory

There is the moral of all human tales;
‘Tis but the same rehearsal of the past.
First freedom and then Glory – when that fails,
Wealth, vice, corruption – barbarism at last.
And History, with all her volumes vast,
Hath but one page…

Lord Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (1812-1818)

Empire depicts the complete life cycle of a civilization. In this, Cole was influenced by cyclical theories of history well known to intellectuals in Cole’s time, as well as global and national current events.

The generic Classical setting of Cole’s story lends it a sense of timelessness. The paintings are a universal parable that can be applied to any civilization, and it was seen in the light of current events and trends in Cole’s own time. It can be understood just as easily, and be as powerful, today.


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The Course of Empire: The Paintings [VIDEO]

Posted in Art, Romantic, Videos with tags , , on February 25, 2012 by Nell

 Guide: Thomas Cole’s “The Course of Empire”

Linda S. Ferber, Vice President and Senior Art Historian at the New-York Historical Society, acts as a guide through Cole’s suite of five paintings in the videos below.

The Savage State (1834)

The Pastoral State (1834)

The Consummation of Empire (1836)

The Destruction of Empire(1836)

Desolation (1836)

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The Faraway Nearby: Georgia O’Keeffe and the New Mexico Landscape [VIDEO]

Posted in Art, Modern, Music, Videos with tags , , , on February 12, 2012 by Nell

 Guide: Music Inspired by Art

I believe that painter Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) achieved an important artistic ideal: to create new meanings, previously unrealized connections, and heightened ways of perceiving the world and filtering experience. I seek to do the same with my music video piece, The Faraway Nearby: to offer new insight and new ways of experiencing the paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe and her source material—to bring you into her world as I imagine it.

The Faraway Nearby is about seeing. When I look at O’Keeffe’s paintings of New Mexico, I am reminded of that remarkable landscape in a way that feels almost more immediate and more meaningful than the reality. I see the abstract shapes, colors, and compositional ideas that informed her interpretation of the visual world around her. I see the relationship to place that was immensely important to her, which she forged while hiking for endless hours through desert badlands. This piece is my attempt to create an immersive visual and musical experience that captures these qualities.

The video and music are closely coordinated in phrasing, development, and mood, and the structure of the music dictated my visual choices and pacing, both on a moment-to-moment basis and in larger formal concerns. Repetitions of the primary thematic section (heard at the beginning, middle and end of the piece) coincide with the image of Pedernal, “her mountain”. Pedernal is seemingly ever-present in the video, much as it looms on the horizon at Ghost Ranch. Here it represents O’Keeffe’s lasting presence, and her sense of spiritual ownership of the land. The musical atmosphere suggested to me by O’Keeffe’s visual world is a personal intuitive response which, I hope, speaks for itself.

The score to this multimedia video piece, inspired by the paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe, was composed prior to the conception of this video as part of a three-movement work for chamber quintet, Into nowhere (2010). I filmed on location in New Mexico in June 2010, and edited the video over the summer, adding animations and collaging visual elements evoking O’Keeffe’s aesthetic inspirations. The video received its premiere screening, with a live ensemble performing the music, in November 2010. Beyond the Notes: Music Inspired by Art will be the second time the piece has been screened in public, and I am seeking additional screenings (with live performances or pre-recorded score) and gallery installations for this piece.

Production of The Faraway Nearby was funded in part by an Entrepreneurial Grant from New England Conservatory’s Entrepreneurial Musicianship Department.

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An Introduction to Japanese Woodblock Prints [VIDEO]

Posted in Art, Videos with tags , on February 9, 2012 by Nell

By the 1830s, woodblock printing was a well-established market in Edo, Japan (now Tokyo). Print publishers worked to finance the production of fashionable art in print form. Publishers commissioned artists, like Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858), to design prints which were then carved by professional woodblock carvers and printed by professional woodblock printers.

Hiroshige was a poor samurai who worked as a firefighter and part-time artist to make ends meet. He learned to design woodblock prints in the famous Utagawa school, which was responsible for educating other famous woodblock print designers such as Toyokuni and Kunisada. Hiroshige started creating prints during the early 1810s, but it wasn’t until he began dedicating his complete attention to art in the early 1830s that his career began to take off.

Landscapes became a viable medium for woodblock printing in the 1830s with the import of the pigment “Prussian Blue,” making it possible to create ever-more vibrant blues and greens (essential to creating effective landscape prints). The viability of landscapes, and the new pigment, was solidified after the woodblock artist Hokusai released his famous landscape series “36 Views of Mount Fuji.” The popularity of this series, and quality of Hokusai’s landscapes, encouraged Hiroshige to push head-long into focusing on landscapes as an artistic medium and challenged him to create ever-better works of art.

Text by John Resig (, edited by Nell Shaw Cohen.

Narration written by John Resig (, performed by Nell Shaw Cohen.

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An Introduction to Synesthesia [VIDEO]

Posted in Art, Music, Videos with tags on February 9, 2012 by Nell

Synesthesia, know as the “crossing of the senses”, is a neurological characteristic that can take many forms. It is not limited to artistic individuals (prominent synesthetes include physicist Richard Feynman and engineer Nikola Tesla), but synesthetic responses have fueled the work of many of artists (including Charles Burchfield).

This video produced by Beyond the Notes features an interview with renowned New York-based painter Carol Steen, co-founder of the American Synesthesia Assocation, who curates exhibits of synesthetic art and conducts innovative research into the expressions of synesthesia through visual art.

Charles Burchfield, “Glory of Spring (Radiant Spring)” (1950) [VIDEO]

Posted in Art, Modern, Videos with tags on February 9, 2012 by Nell

 Guide: Charles Burchfield (1893-1967), painter

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Charles Burchfield, “Sun and Rocks” (1918-50) [VIDEO]

Posted in Art, Modern, Videos with tags on February 9, 2012 by Nell

 Guide: Charles Burchfield (1893-1967), painter

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Charles Burchfield, “Autumnal Fantasy” (1916-44) [VIDEO]

Posted in Art, Modern, Videos with tags on February 9, 2012 by Nell

 Guide: Charles Burchfield (1893-1967), painter

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Charles Burchfield, “An April Mood” (1946-55) [VIDEO]

Posted in Art, Modern, Videos with tags on February 9, 2012 by Nell

 Guide: Charles Burchfield (1893-1967), painter

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