Art III: Modern 1800–2000, with Rick Steves

Art III: Modern 1800–2000, with Rick Steves


Hello. Thank you. Oh, very good, you are
ready for the revolution. Okay, okay, you all get A’s, that’s good. Thank you so much for
joining us, we are ripping through European
History and Art for Travelers this is the third hour of a
three-part series. We’ve gone from the Middle
Ages, through the Gothic Age, that was 900 years in an hour,
and then we went from 1400 to 1800, that was the Renaissance and the
Baroque Age in an hour, and now we’re kicking off the
tumultuous last two centuries of European history and art for our travel
needs. It is so important when we travel to understand what we’re looking at, and
boy, in the last 200 years in Europe there’s been lots going on. So thank you
very much for joining us, and right now we’re gonna take about an
hour to go from the French Revolution, the late 1700s, up until our generation.
And I want to remind you once again, of the ridiculousness of covering
this much ground in 60 minutes, so I’m going to be sweeping over things, I’m
going to make gross generalizations, I’m going to rough up and ballpark things,
but what I want to do fundamentally is give you a handle on the most important
aspects of European culture, so that when you travel you can check them out.
All the details are in our guidebook, “Europe 101: History and
Art for Travelers” — and right now we’re going to talk
about how Europe made this very, very complicated and painful
change from the Middle Ages into the modern world.
From the age of the divine monarch into the
age when people are “liberty, equality, and fraternity,” this
notion that we are our own masters. That was quite a change, and it
took a big revolution. these two paintings kind of sum it up,
you’ve got this notion of divine monarchs, and you’ve got
Napoleon on a horse taking the ideals of the revolution
into a viable future. We’ve got a huge generation gap when we
think of the people of the divine monarch age and the Baroque age,
and their children in this new age of reason, the Enlightenment,
where everything is subjected to the
test of reason. When we think about the revolution, we’re
talking about a society that really was stepping into a brave new future and
challenging this guy, Louis XVI. Louie the XIV, the King of France, was the
embodiment of the old regime notion that some people are born to
be rulers and the rest of us just need to
follow the rules, okay. This was sort of the huge gap between
rich and poor that Europe put up with, and the elites, and the royalty, and the
people that supported them, were able to pull this off using art as propaganda,
having the church on their side, and keeping people unable to get their hands
on information. It was a very impressive lock on power,
and it took a lot to tear it down. When you have that divine monarch you have to
impress upon your people that God really is ordaining you to rule without
question, and you can’t do that without a fancy house. and Louis had the ultimate
palace in Europe, Versailles. This was sort of the textbook example of
a Baroque king, a divine monarch king’s house, and other kings emulated him. Now
as this elite society got more and more fabulously powerful and rich, they
retreated more and more from reality. And as you get this divide between fewer
and fewer people getting richer and richer, and more and more
people getting poorer and poorer, you’re going to get
rumblings in the street. The king’s didn’t even want to hang out
at Versailles, that was where all of their, you know, elites would party. They
moved into the park, into the garden, and Marie Antoinette, you know, and Louis
would go further and further away, until the palace retreat of the palace retreat
of the palace retreat was buried deep into their fantasy land, and that was
Marie Antoinette’s “petit hameau,” the little hamlet. Where the queen would
tend her perfumed sheep and her manicured gardens, and her people would tell her
everything’s okay. They’d tell her, “the people are hungry in
Paris,” she’d say, “let them eat cake.” “Let them eat cake”
didn’t mean — I was always confused by that — didn’t
mean like a piece of cake. It meant the throw away stuff,
the crust in the bakery. When they’re eating that — when they’ve eaten
that if they’re still hungry, then let ’em come to me to help ’em out. It was that disdain for the people that
was just too much. And in the streets of Paris they rumbled, and they gathered, and
they charged onto Versailles and they literally took the king and queen under
house arrest into the city, and eventually cut off their heads. This was the physical, sort of symbolic
ending of the old regime, and that was the great revolution, the liberal
revolution, the French Revolution, 1789, around there. When you think of the revolution, I want
to review the different elements of the pie and how re-slicing the pie leads to
this violent revolution. Throughout the Feudal Ages, you’ve got three parts in
the pie. And to me there’s a fixed pie tin all that stuff in there has to be
divided up with the people. How you do that, shape society,
and when you re-slice the pie, that is
what causes history. And not much happened,
relatively speaking, in lots of the
Middle Ages, because everybody was stuck with, or satisfied
with, their slice of the pie. You had three slices, the nobility and
the landowners, you had the clergy and the church that controlled the religious
power and the intellectual power, and you had everybody else who were the
peasantry, the landless peasants. When the city folk came along, they put them into
that third estate. And that’s what caused the ruckus, because now the third
estate was more than just a bunch of uneducated, illiterate, superstitious, you
know, unwashed peasants. Now you had smart people, you had
educated rich people, that demanded respect, and they demanded a chance to
re-slice that pie, and they got it. They got it and it was violent, and that was
the French Revolution. Now when that was all said and done, you made room for the
city folks, and then later on you had the peasantry of the city, the
proletariat, and you sliced that pie again, and that was the social revolution
of the Bolsheviks, and our modern age. And today we have a
situation which is much different than what they came with out of the French
Revolution. Thinking about the French Revolution, we go to Paris, we see so many
sights that relate to that. And we can imagine what it was like with the king
and the queen being held hostage, and then eventually paraded
up the street and made what they call, “a foot
shorter at the top.” Meeting the “National Razor.” Now this was
a brave new age when they cut off the head of the king and the queen, and what
came out of that was a very stark, cerebral, revolutionary, enlightened
society. Everything was subjected to the test
of reason. For the first time, respected elements were standing up and
not just saying, “the church is wrong,” they were saying,
“religion doesn’t make sense at all.” Everything had to be logical.
During the French Revolution, churches were turned into
temples of reason. During the French Revolution they said,
“365 days in the year except when there’s a leap year, and 30 days
has so and so, and 31, and February has 28 or
29, it’s all silly. We need 12 30-day months. And then
there’s five or four days at the end of the year where everybody will not do
anything except help the state. And each of those 30-day months has three 10-day
weeks,” now that’s logical. And that’s what they had in the French
Revolution. Everything was that kind of, “we’re going to start over and we’re
going to do it smart,” nothing was immune. And it was really an
amazing time. The art of this period was Neoclassical.
And we see that when we go to Paris, great structures that
feel old, but really feel new, they’re just
two hundred years old. You’ve got the Arc de Triomphe. You’ve got
all sorts of great, classically inspired buildings, that came
in the early 1800s. You’ve got statuary that is
pure and ideal — this is Canova. Or the great Danish sculptor, Thorvaldsen.
Beautiful Neoclassical statues. You’ve got Neoclassical themes
that celebrate great, you know, ancient stories, like here’s the
Death of Socrates. When you think of Napoleon coming out of
the French Revolution, this crazy revolution got so wild that, you know, it
got more and more extreme, and finally they cut off the head of
Robespierre. I mean it went — you could — it’s like there’s a
window of political conceivability, there’s only so much wit that a society
can handle. And as it moves left or right, what used to be loony
becomes fringe, what used to be fringe
becomes that side, what used to be that side becomes the middle, what used to be loony here becomes
inconceivable. It moves that way. And then people that weren’t heard are now heard.
And they wave their flags and they say, “cut off their heads,” and it goes further.
And those loonies, they wave your flag, “cut off their heads,”
and these people are — anybody suspected of showing
insufficient patriotism. That was grounds enough
to cut off your head — if you are suspected of showing
insufficient patriotism. It was called The Terror. And this was —
took over France. All the nobles and the old regime people fled to other
countries, and then all those countries declared war on France, and out of that
came the Napoleonic Wars, and so on. It was just an amazing time. Well the
revolution got going so far, it went so wild, they actually cut off
the head of Robespierre, and then there were people starting to rethink it. And the king was out here, and he’s
saying I want back — the king’s heir was over here, he says, “I want back on the
throne, and when I get back on the throne, heads are really going to roll.” What an amazing time. So the
revolutionary people realized, “we’re gonna lose this thing, we got to either
go back to the king or give it to the military.” And they said, “is there a
charismatic leader of the military? A hero of the revolution? A short guy that keeps
his hand in his and his coat like this?” Napoleon, perfect guy. So Napoleon was
given reins of the government, and Napoleon now has, you know, the most
populous most powerful country in Europe, unbridled with the old
privilege, and the idea that rich kids get the
positions of power. Now it is talent, and it is for a cause, it is liberty, equality, fraternity, this is the brave new world, and France is
leading Europe into that. I’m a sucker for that, when you see
“Les Misérables” and so on, it’s just amazing to think of the
courage of these young intellectuals, in a lot of cases, that helped
bring the rest of the world — the rest of the Western
world, into the modern age. I want to stress, it’s not just
the revolution of 1789, there were several after that. It took a
long time, and there’s a lot of craziness, and finally it all came out, and the
result of it all, was a compromise. It was a constitutional monarch who went
to work every day, not in leotards and a wig, but with a briefcase. And that’s
what came out of the revolution, all that chaos, something that was modern, and
viable, and reasonable. When we think of Napoleon, he was crowned Emperor,
he wanted to be king. He wanted to be the king of France, but
you couldn’t do that because that was unrevolutionary, but what was
revolutionary is being the Emperor. So Napoleon was Emperor. And he got crowned
where the French kings got crowned, but he didn’t want to be in a Gothic church
because that was medieval, and that’s what they’re trying to get beyond, he
masked the medieval columns with Roman style pilasters. And he crowned himself
Emperor, not King. So he’s powerful, but it is this new notion of power that
came out of the Reformation. You can see this canvas of
Napoleon’s coronation. It’s the biggest canvas in the Louvre
and it’s something you don’t want to miss. Remember, all across Europe now you
have this Neoclassical art. In England there’s a lot of Neoclassical art, but
it’s called Georgian art, named after the king who was on the throne then, easy to
remember because it was King George that the Americans were fighting, and the art
of that age in England is called Georgian. Here we have the British Museum
in London, a beautiful example of a Georgian facade. Here in the town of Bath,
two hours west of London, you have a Georgian condominium complex. And this is
where the elite of that society would buy beautiful homes, and they all got
this beautiful Georgian uniform purity, this Neoclassical elegance. Coming out of
the Age of Revolution and the Neoclassical art, that got so extreme
that people wanted to let their hearts off their leash, and they wanted a
response to that, and there’s this pendulum that swings back to the
romantic side. And the next movement is called Romanticism. it’s very interesting
the pendulum, when you think about it, so often it goes from cerebral
to emotional. Think about it. In European history it
doesn’t go cerebral, cerebral, emotional, emotional, it always swings
back and forth. For instance, Gothic is quite
emotional, and then Renaissance is quite cerebral. And after
Renaissance you’ve got Baroque which is intentionally emotional,
and then after that, after so much of Rococo and
all that kind of stuff, you’ve got the Enlightenment and the
French Revolution and Neoclassicism. And then after that and
turning churches into temples of reason and all that, the pendulum swings back and we’ve got
the Romantic Age. Now people just are tired of all this
cerebral business, and they want to underline their medieval and their
Christian heritage, and they want to do things in a neo-Gothic way. It’s amazing, this back and forth that
you see in your travels. When we think of Romantic art and
romantic — romanticism really is the “ism” of the 1800s romantic art is
not kissy, mushy, flirtatious art like we would think in the modern sense of
romantic. Romantic is just emotional. A good example of that is the Raft of
the Medusa by Gericault. Now the Raft of the Medusa is a
intentionally emotional romantic theme. It was a
terrible event, a ship went down, there was cannibalism, it was a
terrible thing, the survivors on the raft. And here they
are in despair. People dead, people giving up. And it works up to this powerful
pyramid of hope, and there’s a man waving a rag up on the top of all these people,
and in the distance, tiny, tiny on the horizon, is the mast of
a ship that may or may not rescue them. What a romantic painting. And that would
be a great example of the spirit of Romanticism. A wonderful romantic
painter is Goya. Goya, who painted in Spain, and you’ll see
a lot of his art in Madrid. Goya started off a pretty
light, romantic painter, but he was a painter
with a political edge. He painted the royal family, ’cause that
was his bread and butter, and he painted them looking kind of
goonie, because they were kinda goonie, and he got
away with it somehow. Goya witnessed the first modern armies
and the consequences of that. The army of the Napoleonic Age was the Levée en Masse.
It was all hands on deck, everything was for the state, and the
French created this biggest ever assembled army, and it was able to go and
mow down patriots in other countries, with all the compassion of a lawn mower. Look at those soldiers there in lockstep,
intentionally faceless, as there’s a whole line of patriots that are going to
be shoved in front of the firing squad and killed one after another. This is The
Third of May by Goya, and you see these Patriots meeting their death, and
ending up a rumpled heap on the ground. That’s Romanticism. And remember,
Romanticism has a natural affinity for the patriotic underdogs, the ethnic
Cinderella stories, gypsies, Indians, any sort of national
cause that’s against a big Emperor, that’s going to have a romantic sort of
a partnership. Goya finished his life just sort of crazed in a depressed gloom
in his house, literally painting on his walls, kind of finger-painting with his
own blood in a sense, and these are his dark stage paintings. And you’ll see
mankind slamming away at each other, as he has seen these modern armies
that are unprecedented. And then there’s a very famous painting
by Goya called “Saturn Devouring His Son,” which is symbolic
of time eating us all. Again very, very emotional, very Romantic
in that way. Another dimension of Romanticism, which I
think is quite powerful, is this love of nature. When we think
about Romanticism in the 19th century, in a lot of ways it’s losing yourself in
the awesomeness of nature. And this is a
first in art history. Now we have artists being inspired by
the wilds. A part of the daily academic diet of every scholar at
Oxford and Cambridge was to walk in the woods and
commune with nature. Now when people made a pilgrimage to
cultural big shots, they weren’t into some fancy salon in Paris, they were
going up to the Cumbrian Lakes District in the north of England and walking in
the woods with the great poet Wordsworth. Turner is a great romantic landscape
artist, and he would paint seascapes, and he would paint landscapes, that really
pull you in to the wonder of nature. When you go to
the Lake District in northern England, that’s where you find the power of
nature in such a beautiful way. You’ll find more youth hostels per square mile
in the Cumbrian Lakes District than anywhere else in Europe, and they
need every one of them, because the English people love to go up there and
commune with nature. This is the backyard of Wordsworth, the
great poem — poet, and you can see his home there, you can read his poetry there, and
you can be inspired by the Romantic movement, and how that involved nature.
Along with nature, remember Romanticism is the natural
partner of patriotic spirit when it comes to nationalism. Romanticism and
nationalism, they’re together. And in the 1800s, the other “ism,” along
with Romanticism, was nationalism. Should there be a German state?
Should there be an Italian country? Should Norway be part of Sweden? Should the Bulgarians be free
from the Ottomans? All of these were Romantic causes,
warmed up intellectually in Romantic circles, intellectual circles,
and then becoming politically reality. Robert Burns was a great Romantic poet
and novelist who popularized the notion that Scotland should be a proud group, a
proud nation. And he did a lot to reawaken the spirit of the Scottish
people. Our notion of Scotland today, pretty much created by Robert Burns in
the 1800s, even though we think it’s much older than that. When we
go to Norway, for instance, I love to go to the National Gallery in Oslo before
going into the wilds of the fjords, because in the National Gallery,
I can see how great Norwegian painters painted
their natural wonder in an over-the-top romantic style, how
connected it is with the soul of Norway. When we go to any country
in Europe, if you go to the National Gallery, look at
the 19th century paintings, and there we get this romanticized
notion of those people. I was just in Berlin filming in the old
National Gallery where they have all of the Romantic paintings that show the
Germans idealizing their country before it was made into a country, to sort of
legitimize it. These paintings to me really are
powerful comments on the folk culture, and how powerful and legitimate that is. It’s no coincidence that in the
1860’s the United States was fighting our Civil War, struggling over the notion,
“should we be one nation indivisible or should we be two nations?” And we went
to war wondering what we are, and we decided we are one nation.
At the same time, Italy was struggling to become one
nation. In the same decade, Germany was going against everybody’s wishes and
forging that nation. At the same time, Norway was distinguishing itself from
the Swedes, Bulgarians, gypsies. Everybody was making their move, it was
an exciting time. The musicians of the age championed the
romantic causes. I just love it. When you go to Norway you
go to the fjords and you can hear the music of Edvard Grieg. And then you go to
Troldhaugen, where Grieg lived, and you go to the little hut where
he had his piano, and he was inspired by the
view out the window. You see how that the soul of Norway’s in
the fjords, and it shows through in the music of Edvard Grieg. I had the great
privilege and creative challenge and delight of producing a one-hour TV show
called “Europe: A Symphonic Journey,” right here in this room. And we had
our local symphony right here, and a lot of travelers out here, and we
chose seven different countries in Europe, and we celebrated their national emotional,
anthems. Not a national anthem in the Pledge of Allegiance sort of sense,
but a national anthem in a sense of, “Aaron Copland makes me feel
great as an American, Smetana feels — makes me
feel great as a Czech, Wagner makes me feel great as
a German, and, you know, Strauss makes me feel really good as an
Austrian. Grieg makes me feel Norwegian.” All of those were celebrated,
we played the great hit, and then we cut in all sorts of beautiful
images from those countries, and put it together in a very tight hour. It’s a
beautiful hour with our symphony, and with all the archive of images we have from
our TV show, beautifully edited by my crew, and you
can watch it anytime for free at ricksteves.com. So if you want just an
appreciation of Romanticism as a champion of nationalism with music in
the late 1800s, go to ricksteves.com, and listen to
“Europe: A Symphonic Journey.” I just love going to the
Czech Republic and seeing the work of Mucha — the “Slav Epic.”
And there you got a classic example of the triumph
of the Czech people. Imagine surviving as
a little tiny nation between Germany and Russia
over the centuries. How do they do it? It’s quite a, quite
a triumph, and you see that in the Romantic art. Now during the middle of
the 1800s, again we have no Germany, we have no
Italy, and we have Europe pretty much run by big families. Eventually, at the
end of WWI, all of the big families are going to be gone, no more
ottoman sultans, no more Romanovs, no more Habsburgs, and so on. All of those
big families are going to be history, and we’re going to end of that concept of
the divine monarch. But it’s going to take still a little while. When we think
about Italy uniting, none of the existing powers wanted a new power, but Italians
knew that there was the case to be made for one nation, where everybody who speaks
Italian is together, and they made it. It’s a fascinating story.
By 1870, Italy was essentially the Italy
we know today, okay. They had said, famously, “now we’ve made
Italy, our next step is to make Italians,” it was really tough to get
people to relate to Italy, because they have such a
strong regional loyalties. But you have that beautiful country of
Italy, created only in 1870. The same thing in Germany. Germany was
not existing nor was Italy in 1850, there was 15 or 20
different states there. Remember, when we do our sightseeing,
we’re looking at the crown jewels, and the palaces, and the
White Houses, and so on, of countries that don’t —
do no longer exist. Bavaria was a moderate power, ruled
for 600 years by the Wittelsbach family. Today that’s long gone,
as Germany has been united. Of course when
Germany was united, all of a sudden you’ve got a new player
in the game. And with Germany united, you’ve got a superpower, and everybody
else has carved up the world from a colony point of view, and Germany’s
scrappy “get out there, whatever colonies they can”, that created attention. People
didn’t want that, they worked against it. I think in Germany they had a, sort of an
inferiority complex, and a lot of the art during the German Unification movement
was art that delves deep into the mythical past, to make Germany legitimate.
Just like we had Paul Bunyan, and just like England had King Arthur, Germany
would have these characters from their mythic past that said, “yes there should
be a Germany,” there may not be a political unit called Germany today but
it’s the truth, and the truth will prevail. In 1870 they put
together Germany. Now some of the Romantic
are we see in Germany is for instance,
Neuschwanstein Castle. When you look at Neuschwanstein, it
looks medieval, but it is neo-medieval. Remember, half of all the most pointy
medieval stuff that you see, it’s probably done in over-the-top
neo-medieval style, in the late 1800s. For years
I went to this castle, this famous “Disney” castle in
southern Germany, and I thought it was medieval, it’s pointy.
And then I learned what Romanticism is. I
learned about Mad King Ludwig, that’s his popular name for
tourists, Mad — he’s King Ludwig II of Bavaria, and I learned that his best
buddies were opera composers, like Wagner, Entire rooms in his castle were modeled
after Wagnerian opera themes. When you look at the wallpaper in these places,
you’re going to find all sorts of knights in shining armor. It was just this nostalgic, fanciful look
back at the medieval past. That’s Romanticism. And in a way justifies
Germany in this case. Remember, when your sightseeing around
Europe, when you see something very pointy, like Mad Ludwig’s castle, like the
castle here in Segovia outside of Madrid, like the skyline in Bruges, or like the
pointy church in Prague, or like the Halls of Parliament and Big Ben in London, this is very likely Romantic, done in the
middle or late 1800s, in an over-the-top, full medieval-style. it
would be neo-Gothic or neo-Romanesque. There’s a whole art stage here called
historicism, which is “neo-everything” in the late 1800s.
Neo-Renaissance, neo-Baroque, neo-Gothic, it’s all this late 1800s building
that goes back to their heritage. Here’s the cathedral in
Berlin made in the late 1800s, looking pretty old to me, but done in an over-the-top style.
During this period we also have the Industrial Age, and with the Industrial
Age we got the train lines of Europe being laid, we’ve got all sorts of
iron and steel happening. This is the very first iron bridge.
This was built in 1776 in England, it’s the Ironbridge Gorge,
considered the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.
When we think of the Industrial Revolution,
what comes out of that is Industrial Age art,
like the Eiffel Tower. When you look at the
Eiffel Tower, that was a hundred years after the
French Revolution, built to celebrate the French Revolution, 1879. And all over
Europe you’ll find similar kind of buildings that look Eiffel-esque.
Here’s a mini, stubby Eiffel Tower in the resort town of Blackpool
in England. That was just — they had an
Erector Set, and they wanted to use it. They built a lot of these things
intending to take them down. They built the Eiffel Tower, fully
expecting to build it on a schedule, celebrate that it was there, and then
take it down on a schedule. They got it all the way built and
they decided, “you know, let’s just leave it up,” and the
radio was just coming along, and it was handy for Marconi at the time,
and today it’s a great site in Paris. But like the Crystal Palace in
London, it was just a way to show off in the Industrial Age, and they fully
intended to make it temporary. During this period, with the Industrial
Revolution, you’ve got all sorts of trade. And there
was a little window of time before the trains took hold, that the Industrial Age
canals, like the Erie Canal in the United States, were really important.
Today, much of Europe is laced with
Industrial Age canals, but they had that little window when
they were of any value from an industrial point of view, and then the
ship’s got too big, and the train lines came, and it became more economic to go
by train, and these canals were just abandoned, and today they provide Europe
with a wonderful recreational sort of network, and you can
take a canal boat from Amsterdam all the way
to the Black Sea, if you wanted to, with canals, and rivers,
and lochs, going over the continental divide, and then down and connecting with
another river and carrying out. You could take a canal from the Atlantic coast of
France, over the continental divide, to the Mediterranean coast of France. And
it’s just a beautiful opportunity now when you’re traveling, to hike or bike
along those canals, or — and those are towpaths that used to, in the very early
days, Volga boat song kind of pulling the boats
up and down the canals. And you can also vacation
in a canal boat, in many countries in Europe.
With the Industrial Age, we have all of these train tracks laid,
and we have train stations that are just celebrating this new way to get around,
and the centerpiece of a great train station facade would be
a big clock, because this is the first time
that clocks mattered. People weren’t really used to looking at
the minute hand, but here, with the train, you knew that quarter after, that train’s
leaving and it’s going to be in London. And they would celebrate that by having
a big clock up there, this is the triumph of the age, the Industrial Age. They would
build all sorts of steel and glass, iron and glass buildings like Kew Gardens,
like the great galleries that you find. This is the Victor Emmanuel monument in
Milano, named for the first Italian king, part of this 1870 celebration of Italian
unity. You’ve also got glass and steel
galleries, oh in most cities. This is Brussels here, you see similar galleries
that are wonderful, elegant, the turn-of-the-century kind of shopping
malls in Paris and in London. The art of this period is very conformist. It’s the salon, sort of accepted
romantic art, and there was a movement against this saccharine sweet romantic
stuff, and it was called Realism. And when you go to Paris especially, you’ll see
both of these art style side by side. This would be the pro-status-quo,
mainstream, no ruffled feathers, conservative art from the salon.
And in the same decade you would have this,
Realism by Manet. This is Proto-Impressionism. This is
realism in the sense that, “we’re not gonna make it gauzy,
or make anything more polite and pleasant
than it really is.” In this painting of Venus by Manet, we see the harsh reality of a courtesan,
or a prostitute, and she’s kind of hardened, and she’s been
there and done that, and she’s looking at
you saying, “next.” It’s just pretty harsh painting, and that
would have been too much for the fancy people of the age in Paris, but that was
the unconventional art, and that led to the Impressionist movement. Impressionism is the biggest break in
the flow of art since the Renaissance, when they combined art and science to
give us believable three-dimensionality. Now they’ve mastered
three-dimensionality, they’ve mastered realism, and with the Impressionist
movement, they’re leaving reality, physical reality,
like what we think. Impressionism is not looking at the
physical thing, that’s just the rack upon which the color, and the shadows, and the
glimmers hangs. For instance, you could take — you could stand on the balcony of
your hotel, like Monet, and you could paint the cathedral from your angle at two
different times of day, and it would be two different paintings,
as different as a painting of a house and a car, in his mind, because he doesn’t
care about the physical substance, he carries about — he cares about the
light and the shadow, Impressionism. A good way to illustrate that would be
take Monet, the textbook Impressionist, and Leonardo, textbook Realist. Leonardo’s driving down the street,
he sees a glimmer in the asphalt ahead of you, he says, “well there’s a glimmer
there but it’s not there, I know I’m gonna drive right through it, that’s hard as
rock, it’s black.” He’d paint it that way. Monet would slam the
brakes, he’d jump out, he’d set up his canvas,
and he’d capture the glimmer on the asphalt, because
he’s looking for the impression of the light and the shadow at that particular
moment. The rallying cry of the Impressionist was, “out of the studio and
into nature.” They wanted to get out, and set up their canvas, and capture that
moment. Impressionism was named as an insult,
just a scant impression, but I think that suited them well. It was not pausing long
enough to get the actual number of leaves, and so on, that didn’t matter.
We’re catching the ambiance of that beautiful moment, with
the dappled light, as the sun is shining
through the willows. Monet, the great Impressionist, actually
dedicated a good part of his life to making this wonderful garden outside of
Paris at Giverny. And when you go to Giverny today, you wander through the
lily pads, and under the weeping willows, and over the little Japanese bridge, and
you see all of these beautiful, inspirational scenes,
and then you go to the gallery, and you see how
it just inspired Monet. It’s an amazing thing. And
Impressionism, remember, it happened to coincide with the
popularization of the camera. I think it’s a little
simplistic to say the camera could do reality
so painters left it, but having the camera there didn’t encourage
painters to labor over reality, I think they were inspired to go beyond
reality. They’re kind of freed now to get into that wonderful catch-the-moment. Impressionists do not mix the
painting on the palate, they dab the colors side by side, knowing
it will mix as it comes to your eyes. And that gives it a special kind of
vibrancy. The key about Impressionism, of course,
is not to get up too close. you don’t want to stand really close and
say, “aren’t those messy brushstrokes,” you want
to step back and let the moment, the ambiance, the
conviviality, turn you on. This is Renoir, and this is a garden
party in Paris. And here we have that “swirling, romantic, everybody’s
had two glasses of wine, and there’s wonderful music and we’re getting
along just fine” moment. It’s a beautiful painting, and thank
goodness it’s not bogged down to details. You’re caught up in the impression of it.
The greatest Impressionism is in Paris, you’ll find it in the Orsay Gallery.
Remember, the art until about 1850 is all in the Louvre. And then
after the Louvre, you’ve got the collection of all the other galleries
in Paris, gathered together in the Orsay Gallery. A former train station,
almost met the wrecking ball, today it is one
of the most delightful artistic experiences you
can have in Europe. Don’t miss the Orsay Gallery for the
post-Louvre paintings and statues in Paris. Now with the Impressionist movement,
that’s the last time artists were all held together.
From this point, it just goes crazy. And I have a real hard
time with 20th-century art, making sense of a lot of the
different movements, and we’ll just talk a little bit about some strange through
the 20th century. When we look at the 19 — the 18th century and the 19th century,
so far what we’ve talked about is in the 1900s — or in the 1800s,
we got nationalism as a driving force. This is opened up when you start —
remember when you have the Habsburgs, their ruling people that speak all
different languages, regardless of what their language is, they’re just ruling it
because so-and-so married so-and-so, and now they inherited that realm,
and there’s no togetherness. The modern idea is you have a
national movement that rules itself. That’s nationalism “big time” in the 19th
century. We’ve got the Industrial Revolution, and along
with that, Industrial Age architecture, that whole
“erector set” stuff. In a moment we’re going to see Art
Nouveau, which is organic, leafy, curvy, intentionally swoopy, kind of art that is
a reaction against the Industrial Age art. Too much Eiffel Tower, too much T-square,
give me a little Art Nouveau. We got Romanticism,
leading to Realism, which leads to Impressionism, and then we get
into the 20th century. The Victorian Era — when we think of
the word “Victorian” Era, that’s just the time of Queen Victoria
in England who ruled for, I think 60 or 70 years. I mean it was a very long reign,
and that was most of the 19th century, and the Nationalist, and Romanticism,
and so on. Okay, into the modern age
post-Impressionism. Van Gogh is one of the most important painters you’ll find.
Van Gogh was from the Netherlands. Van Gogh — this is a self
portrait — was a very spiritual painter. As a young man he
even wanted to be a pastor. He worked with poor people, and he
painted poor people with a special affinity. Here, “The Potato Eaters,” you
feel that Van Gogh has an empathy for these salt-of-the-earth peasants
and farmers, it shows in his beautiful art. When you
look at the explosion of life, and color, and everything breathing together, in a
Van Gogh painting, you understand his spiritual look at the
world. It’s all one, it’s all kind of God in our face, and it’s a beautiful,
powerful, sort of thing. He moved down to the south of France, he
had an explosion of creative activity, he couldn’t handle it all. And you
probably — you know about Van Gogh’s life and his tragic end, he ended up killing
himself in a wheat field. This is one of his last paintings, and we
see ominous crows taking flight in a wheat field, and that was right at the
end of Van Gogh’s life. I mentioned Art Nouveau.
Art Nouveau, around the turn of the 19 — about the year 1900,
Art Nouveau is organic, it is slinky, it is an
intentional reaction against this stern, “erector set” art
of the Industrial Age. I love Art Nouveau, it’s just so easy to
like Art Nouveau. It’s really in vogue in Europe now, and you’ll find
Art Nouveau all over Europe when you know where to look.
You got to know the local word you know, it’s “Jugendstil” in German,
and it’s “Modernismo” in Spain, and in Czech Republic you look for the
work of Alphonse Mucha. This is Mucha in Czech Republic,
beautiful Art Nouveau window in the cathedral by Mucha.
In Scotland, you go to Glasgow and you look for the
work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Very trendy, very exciting
to see his work and other artists from this
period in Glasgow. When you go to Catalonia you’ll find a
lot of Art Nouveau. Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia,
and here the most enjoyable Art Nouveau artist is probably Antoni Gaudí. Gaudí
is famous for his Sagrada Familia church. You know, in the
Middle Ages they would take two centuries
to build a church, well beyond the lifespan of any of the
people working on it at the start when it was finally finished. In a way that’s
the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. It’s been going for 100 years, and
it’s getting there now, I’ve been visiting it for 30 years, and it’s so
exciting to see the process. If there’s one building I’d like to see finished in
Europe — if there’s one building I’d like to see in Europe, it’s the Sagrada
Familia finished in Barcelona. Here we can see this organic church, and
you pay a steep admission to go there, but that’s contributing to the ongoing
construction costs, so it feels good to pay the admission, and now the church
is actually consecrated, it’s got a roof over its head. I remember
filming there with hard hats on, and now you can go to Mass, right in that church,
under this beautiful organic roof. When you think about Art Nouveau,
look at the columns here. That is organic. These
remind you of bamboo shoots. Gaudí is inspired by nature to
have this canopy over the top of that beautiful church, and
you can visit that today. A classic example of Art Nouveau
architecture in Barcelona. At the dawn of WWI we see Europe here,
and here we have the Austro-Hungarian Empire
and German Empire, we’ve got Serbia in the southern part of
the Austro-Hungarian Empire, we’ve got the Ottoman Empire,
the “old man of Europe,” it’s called, we’ve got Russia ready
for revolution, Italy is united, France and Germans have
really never even met each other yet, there has not been much travel, so they
can go to war — battle on the Western Front and end up
slaughtering each other. You’ve got in 1914, the Archduke going
from Vienna down to Sarajevo to let it be known that the Habsburgs are going to
keep a strict rule down here, “we’re gonna have like military exercises next week,
and we want you guys to toe the line even though we don’t speak your language,
don’t really care about you guys, you’re part of this Empire,” and then one
of their radicals, you can call him a terrorist, you could
call him an anarchist, you could call him a patriot, I don’t know, but he
killed the Archduke because he wanted to Serbia to be free. And what happened
after that, was there was a whole conflicting, complicated,
pile of treaties that were misunderstood, and
that were inconsistent, that were overlapping. And when Serbia
assassinated the heir to the throne of the Habsburgs, Russia supported Serbia,
because they’re both Slavs. Germany supported Austria because they had a
blank check of support. When Germany supported Austria against
Serbia and Russia, France jumped in because it was tied in with Russia, and
Germany decided to invade France. All of that happened, just b-b-b-b, like a
chain reaction after Princip killed Ferdinand in Sarajevo, of all
godforsaken places. I mean it’s amazing
that that isolated incident would cause
Germany to invade France. That was the first thing that happened,
Germany invaded France. By the end of it, untold slaughter, all the royal families
were gone, and Europe was into a brave new world. It was amazing how much
slaughter happened. The military leaders of the First World
War were the heroes of wars back in the late 1800s, who had no understanding
of the power of the new weapons. The machine gun was brand new. They
called it the “peace maker” back then in 1914, because it was so
overwhelming and brutal that nobody could ever send their troops into it. It
would guarantee peace. But the leaders of the previous war had
no idea of the power of that, they’d wave
their shoulders — swords, and boys would climb out of the
trenches into the machine gun fire. By the end of WWI, half of all
the men in France between 15 and 30 were casualties.
Half of all the men. It’s amazing, It’s amazing
the more you read about it, and you can visit sights
about that in your travels. This obviously shook up the whole
cultural scene, and you’ve got Expressionist art coming out of this
harsh new modern age. Munch’s work is a good example of
Expressionism. But this is art that’s just been shaken
up from a society that’s just been shaken up, and nothing is like it was in
the old days. It’s an amazing new age in the 20th
century. Picasso is one of the great painters of our — the last century, he was there in many many styles, and I
like Picasso’s early art, because in Picasso’s early art, you can see an
abstract artist that is classically trained. And this is a very important
reminder that the abstract artists that confuse a lot of us are classically
trained. Picasso did this as a little teenager, and from that he
would evolve into Cubism, and Picasso helped establish
the whole genre of Cubism. Cubism is — the best way I could
understand Cubism is, you take something that you can understand, here is a vase,
and you break it, and you then glue all of the shards onto a wall. And there
you can see all the sides of it in different arrangement, and you play with
your perspective. Cubism lets you play with your
perspective in an unconventional way. Picasso also did “Guernica,” which is
sort of the national piece of art in Europe in a lot of ways,
which is a Cubist collage. And this is to me a powerful
statement for peace, a powerful statement about the humanity
of “collateral damage.” When France- -when Spain was having its Civil War.
The fascist Franco was fighting against the forces for democracy,
and Hitler was allied with Franco, because they’re both fascists,
Hitler was anticipating WWII. He had airplanes that were
really clever at dropping bombs, something that was quite
innovative, and he told Franco “if you’d like, I could practice
a little bit on some of your enemies, and I’d like to
see how my bombs work anyways,” Franco said, “I am just
so disgusted with the Basques, who are helping
the enemy in my Civil War, why don’t you bomb their historic,
precious, ancestral capital, Guernica?” So Hitler sent his Luftwaffe down there, and
during market day, early in the morning when everybody was out, the airplanes
came in and just brutalized the town. It was horrific, and it was sort of
an inkling of the destructive power of WWII, which was just around
the corner. The world was just appalled at this,
Picasso stopped what he was doing, and he created Guernica, which was not allowed
in Spain until Franco was dead. And today it sets in a place of honor in Madrid,
and you gotta see when you’re in Madrid, Picasso’s masterpiece, Guernica. And
when you look at this you really are looking at the reality of aerial
bombardment and collateral damage, which humanizes that
understanding of war. Picasso finished his career in
the south of France. I like to see his early work in
Barcelona, because that’s where he grew up and his
best early work is there, and then the new Picasso museum has just reopened in
Paris, which would be his later art, and a wonderful museum filled with Picasso in
Antibes, in the south of France. In Antibes you’ve got this famous painting,
the “Joy of Life,” — “Joie de Vivre.” And this reminds me of
Picasso’s famous quote, he said, “As a child I learned to paint as an adult, and
finally as an adult I learned to paint as a child.” And when you look at the
playful love of life in Picasso’s last work, then you really understand,
I think, what Picasso’s all about. Now, a big art movement in the same period is
Surrealism. Salvador Dalí is the famous Surrealist, you’ll see Surreal art all over
Europe, it’s very trendy and popular, you see lots of galleries that like to
make money selling tickets to their Surrealistic art. The key about
Surrealism, and you’ll see it in every art gallery — modern art gallery in Europe,
is, don’t try to look for meaning. There’s no, “what did the artist
mean by this?” The artist is intentionally giving you a
dreamscape, and whatever you make of it is the — is the correct answer. This is
ring bars for your mind, just lose yourself in the surreal image that
they’ve given you, these are dreamscapes, and these are gorgeous,
and these are beautiful, and fun to and enjoy in
modern art galleries. Now when you think about abstract
art- -I have a real struggle with abstract art from a
conventional painting point of view, but I don’t have
any struggle with it in other ways. I love
to look at a sunset, I love to look at formations of clouds
blowing over the mountains, I love beautiful patterns in nature, but
when I look at a canvas I want to know, “what
am I supposed to see?” We’ve gotta free
ourselves from that if we want to appreciate abstract art from
the 20th century. We’ve got to assume the man who painted
this was classically trained. He could do a dog sitting on top of a
car, that would be easy. He’s going beyond that
now, this is — this is thoughtful going beyond
the hangup of reality. Let me give you an example of how we
might be comfortable our ears with abstract,
and we might be more comfortable with our
eyes with abstract. Audially, some of us are fine with
beautiful tones, and so on. Other of us need to be grounded in a
scale. I really like a scale. I’m tonal, just
like I am needing of reality in a visual image. Franz Liszt, a great piano
player, really had a powerful need for tonality, the sort of opposite of
abstract when it comes to music. In fact, he was so needy of tonality that
his wife knew how to wake up the great pianist and composer Franz Liszt, by
singing or playing on the piano, the first seven notes of the scale. In early in the morning she would sing,
“do, re, me, fa, so, la, ti….” Franz Liszt couldn’t handle it,
he’d get out of bed: “do!” You see, that’s tonality, I need that, I
can’t do it abstract. Other people can get beyond that. I think our need
for visual reality is similar to Franz Liszt’s need for tonality.
If we can break beyond that, then we can enjoy a painting like this,
but that’s our challenge. Can you listen to a song without having
to go back to the root chord? Can you listen to a song without having to know,
“what’s it supposed to mean?” Can you enjoy a canvas with the same
approach? A big part of your sightseeing in Europe is 20th century architecture.
And in the 20th century, architecture gets really radical, simply by “going form
follows function.” It needs to be functional. And this was really
oppressive to the status quo. As a matter of fact this very avant-garde building,
by a guy named Adolf Loos, faces the Habsburg palace in Vienna. And here we
have the epitome of the modern world. Modern, forward-looking,
nothing ornate, certainly no royalty, facing the palace of
everything that symbolized the old school. And the Habsburgs were so
angry with this building they decreed that it
must put flower boxes under the windows,
just so it would have a little bit of decor. The bold new world
didn’t need flower boxes, it didn’t need curlicues. Form follows function. Fascism
really left its mark in Europe in a lot of destructive ways, and in a few
constructive ways. Mussolini had time to leave his mark on
Rome before WWII started. And here we have Mussolini’s futuristic
planned suburb, EUR. It’s really fun to go out to EUR
and get a little look at fascism. Fascism is violent, melodramatic, neo-pagan,
extreme patriotism, everybody in lockstep, there’s no questions
asked, this is all for one and one for all,
either you’re with us or against us, that kind of stuff. And it’s
clenched fists, it’s purity, it’s the whole society in
unison, wow. You see that in Hitler’s drawings, you
see that in Hitler’s dreams, you see that in Mussolini’s remnants of
his vision in Rome. Go to EUR and see a little bit of that fascist, scary,
future. Also at the same time, you’ve got
Communism, and Bolshevickism, and the Soviet Union. And we’ve got Karl Marx,
we’ve got Engles, we’ve got Lenin, we’ve got Stalin, as sort of that
the gods of that movement. And the art of Communism is
called Socialist Realism. We all know what censorship
is, Socialist Realism takes censorship beyond
our vision of censorship. I would think censorship
is, “you can’t do that if it challenges me,” no.
In Communism, you can’t do it unless it supports me, you
see. You can’t make that art unless it actively supports the ideology. That’s a
huge difference than you just can’t do
innocuous stuff. The great Soviet composers,
Stravinsky so on, they were hamstrung by not being able to
make beautiful music, unless it stirred the
right emotions so people would embrace the
ideology of Communism. That’s Socialist Realism. When we look
at the art of Socialist Realism, it’s supporting the latest Stalin five-year
plan. It’s easy, it’s got a slogan, it can be reprinted, it can hang in every
factory wall. In Berlin you can see some murals that are left over from Communism,
and these are all singing the joys of the Communist society, all the workers
are heroic, all the mothers are heroic, all the children are going to school and
going to embrace the ideology, it’s quite exciting art. As you travel
around the former Communist world, you can also go to museums that shows
anti-system art that was coming about during the fall of Communism,
when they were satirizing all the problems in society,
like the long lines people waited in. And also when you go to
Eastern Europe today, you can find collections of statues that
used to keep the people down. Outside of Budapest there’s a statue park where
they’ve gathered together all the Socialist Realist statues, and they’re
sort of in this bizarre little circle dance ranting and raving about
either each other in a kind of surrealistic way, instead of
on the main squares keeping the people down. But the people didn’t
melt down the statues, they brought them together in this park, and today they look
back on it with a little bit of nostalgia. Remember, much of Europe was destroyed in
WWII, Germany laid in ruins, and the big question then was, “how do you
rebuild your cities?” German cities got together in the late 1940s
and they had to decide, “do we want the Manhattan plan or do we want the
medieval plan?” You could rebuild it in your medieval style like Munich did, and
here you see parts of Munich that were bombed flat, old medieval walls and gates
that are built up in what feels like on the cheap reconstructions from the years
after the war, because that’s what it was. Or you can go to Frankfurt, and find a
city that was just as bombed out, but it was rebuilt on the Manhattan plan. Frankfurt is all skyscrapers because
they just wanted to move boldly into the future, and take this chance to rebuild
without the shackles of that cute medieval plan of its origins. You’ve got great churches that were
completely blown out, and they’ve rebuilt today in a way where they’ve gathered
once beautiful medieval windows, and put it into a modern collage, with a little
shards of their medieval heritage there, in the windows of that modern
post-WWII church. This is the great Frauenkirche in Dresden,
and for years all of Western art lovers were commun — lovers were contributing
funds to rebuild it, and today the city of Dresden, which suffered the firestorm
in WWII, is rebuilt and looking quite nice. Very interesting to
see the rebuilt cities after the war. Remember this is the main
square in Frankfurt, here you can — look at all
those uniform windows. Anytime you see uniform windows in what
looks like a medieval building, it’s not a medieval building, because you
couldn’t buy a dozen uniform windows because back then, you would have a more
higgly-piggly ad-libbed design, but here you’ve got that uniformity,
indicating that it was rebuilt after bombs in the war. All over
Europe they’re protecting the facade so we have a nice
homogeneous view from the street, but behind those facades they’re building
modern buildings. So you’ll see the old facades, but don’t
think that means there’s old buildings behind them, they just saved the facades
and rebuilt modern. Berlin has woven itself back together after terrible
destruction in the war, and then it was divided with the Cold War and it had the
Berlin Wall. A generation ago if you crossed the street, they’d shoot you,
because that was the Berlin Wall. Today there’s almost no indication of
where the Berlin Wall once stood, and the city is woven back together. Beautiful, modern governmental buildings
in Berlin, this is the new Reichstag dome that
you’ll see when you go to Berlin. All over Europe, this generation,
you’re finding cutting-edge architecture. This is the new BMW
showroom and museum in Munich, here we have the Arc of the Defense,
rather than the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. It’s a huge arch, as big as — the Notre
Dame could fit under it in Paris, and this celebrates international trade on
the edge of town. When you build a skyscraper in a place like France, a
certain percent of your construction funds has to be dedicated to modern art,
and that would be in the plaza where the people are outside, and I’m
impressed by the people friendliness of all of
these new developments. All over Europe you’ll find that
industrial waste lands that used to be the harbors, are now being renovated and
turned into thriving new zone. Remember, in the Industrial Age they used to have
big harbors right in the city, but now the huge ships can’t use those harbors,
because they are not built on a scale for the ships, so the ships have
abandoned the ports, the ports have become desolate, and dangerous, and run down, and
then in the last generation, great cities Europe have recognized,
“hey, this is where we should be building,” and they’ve invested in those areas
with great building projects like this cinema museum and cinema institute in
Amsterdam, just across from the train station, like this Guggenheim Gallery of
Modern Art in the industrial city of Bilbao, in Basque Country, and like
this opera house in Oslo. All of these done in formerly people-unfriendly
industrial waste lands, today the harbor friends are being turned into parks for
the people, and that’s something to really enjoy. This is that new opera
house in downtown Oslo. Barcelona is a good example. Barcelona
had an industrial wasteland stretching on the Mediterranean coast, today it’s
been turned into beautiful beaches, a trendy promenade, and all sorts of great
condominiums filled with life. Hamburg, the greatest sport
in Germany, one-third of the city was
depressed and desolate, now that’s all been turned into a new
zone with the centerpiece of this Philharmonic Hall, which is going to be a
collection of great concert halls, and shopping malls, and so on. An example of cities investing in
themselves. As the industrial age gets more and more rusty, cities are looking
at dinosaurs from all of that building, and renovating them, and making them fit
for society today. For instance, you’ve got Industrial Age market halls all over
Europe, and these are being turned into trendy food circuses. They used to be a market hall, people are
going to the super markets now. They’ve still got the merchants, and the farmers
selling their vegetables and their fruit, but at the same time, they’ve invited in
all sorts of trendy gourmet restaurants, for a new affluent society that wants to
go to the historic market hall, but also wants to have a nice restaurant there. This is the Mercato Centrale, the
central market in Florence, and now it’s the best place to go for
lunch in the city. All over Europe, I’ve noticed
in the last year, you’ve got these old Industrial Age
market halls, now fun food circuses. A big bull ring in in Barcelona where they
don’t have bull fights there anymore, what are you gonna do? Turn it into a shopping mall. Now you go
to the bullring to do your shopping when you’re in Barcelona. What do you do with a big wall? Turn it
into an open-air art gallery. In Berlin they’ve got their wall, it’s still up, but
this is where people go with a can of spray paint, to do a little political
artistic venting. Industrial Age cities used to be the
rest belt. We have the rust belt in the United States, in Europe there’s all
these second cities. The Antwerps, the Hamburg’s, the Liverpools, the Bilbaos,
the Glasgows, and so on. These cities are now leaping into the four, as you’ve
got trendiness, as you’ve got cutting edge cultural going on, as you’ve got great outdoor art exhibits.
This is Glasgow. When you go to Glasgow, there’s also two beautiful open air art.
I think it’s important to remember to give those second cities
— the Marseillaise, the Portos, the
Bilbaos, a hard look, because there’s a lot happening there.
When you’re in Edinburgh, it’s just a 45-minute train ride to
Glasgow, and in a lot of ways Glasgow is
more happening now then Edinburgh, believe it or not.
Europe is changing, Europe is fun, Europe is stimulating, and
art is for the people today, and when we travel through Europe, it is just so fun
to have an appetite for what went on to shape the societies we’re going to be
visiting, how can we better appreciate the art, and
how can we get the most out of every mile, minute, and dollar, in our travels.
Every country in Europe has great local artists featured, like this Carl Milles
garden in Stockholm, do your planning. Know what cities have
what sights available, and remember, the more you understand the art, whether it’s
medieval art, or Renaissance art or avant-garde art, more you understand it,
the more you know who paid for it and why, the more you know what was going on
during that period I think the more rewarding that
sightseeing will be. I hope this gives you a good sense of
modern art, and I want to wish you happy travels, and thank you very much
for joining us. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much.

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