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Why do people become art historians?

Art experts explore different art periods and their impact on society. Susana studies 19th-century European art, Rachael explores surrealism's connection to fashion, Derek delves into post-Spanish Conquest art, Kim focuses on pre-Colombian and Latin American art, and Rachel researches 17th-century Jesuit mission art. They all highlight art's role in understanding and navigating cultural changes. Created by Beth Harris, Smarthistory, and Steven Zucker.

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Video transcript

(jazzy music) - [Commentator] What do you study and why do you study it? - [Susana] Specifically I study 19th-century European art. The 19th century is a history of tremendous change. I like to see how humans deal with the world visually and how they problem solve and communicate across cultures. - [Rachael] I study how surrealism connects to fashion, because what I'm interested in is how modern artists were dealing with this question of what is the role of art in a society that is increasingly devaluing art and looking instead to popular media. - [Derek] I study the art that was made after the Spanish Conquest. The conquest and colonization of the Americas was a pivotal moment in world history and thinking about the art that helped to negotiate colonial society, both on behalf of the native people who lived in the Americas and the Europeans who arrived after the conquest, helps us understand how we got where we are today. - [Kim] I'm a specialist in pre-Colombian art. Living in California, there's this deep legacy of indigenous cultures and ruins and stories of conquest. Over the years I've also become very interested in Latin American art. In today's political context, changing how we perceive our neighbors to the south would be a great benefit to society. - [Rachel] My research in in the 17th century and I study the art of the global missions of the Jesuit order because it is a way to think about how the world was becoming a little bit more interconnected and how people reacted to new cultures and new people that they sometimes had no way of understanding and art was often the way in which people were processing this new knowledge and information about places that they had never conceived of before. (jazzy music)