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What work of art inspired you?

Special thanks to Susana Sosa, Rachel Barron Duncan, Nicole Gherry, Kim Richter, and Rachel Miller whose voices and insights are featured here. This video was made possible thanks to the Macaulay Family Foundation. Created by Smarthistory.

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  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user william.mcguire
    The piece of art that I have always been inspired by has either been one of the cabin landscape scenes by Bob Ross or "The Fallen Angel" by Alexandre Cabanel, that in which depicts the devil, and the feelings that he had as he was cast out of heaven as depicted in John Milton's poem "Paradise Lost" which in my opinion it is just one of a kind, if you haven't seen it then look it up, it perfectly depicts the emotions of such depicted in the poem.
    (3 votes)
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Video transcript

(jazzy music) - [Host] Was there a work of art that inspired or moved you or changed your life? - [Commentator] An artwork that really stopped me in my tracks is Mary Cassatt's "Lydia in a Loge." It is an interesting composition, the fact that it was done by a woman artist made one explore the idea of gender in art and it made me actually go to Paris and go to the Opera and sit in a loge box and experience a performance there. - [Commentator] I thought I really understood Chartres Cathedral. When I saw slides it really looked like a cathedral on a hill where there was open air all around it. It was a complete myth, this photograph that I learned from. I was lucky enough to be able to go to Chartres and it was completely surrounded by a city and I realized how integral the cathedral was to the community because the entire city was really built around this central plaza. I think any time I've ever seen a work of art in person that I learned first as a slide I learned something new and I'm just bowled over. - [Commentator] Albrecht Durer, his "Self Portrait" where he kind of looks like Jesus, it really blew my mind that anybody would think so highly of themselves as to put themselves in that position, but at the same time it's such a gorgeous painting and you see his expertise. You almost think, well, maybe he is right. Maybe he should put himself on that pedestal. It is humorous, it's elegant, and that's the one that really made me look at work in a different way. - [Commentator] When I was 13, this is a few years after the wall came down in Berlin, and we book a trip and saw Nefertiti. I was totally awestruck, she is utterly beautiful and imperfect. She is human and yet she's thousands of years old and so to have this vivid image of a powerful woman from the past was something that I think put me on the trajectory of becoming an art historian. - [Commentator] A work of art that has changed the way I've thought about the past is when I was a freshman undergraduate I was taught of Hans Holbein's "The Ambassadors" as being this portrait of a European Renaissance man and then later on I learned to pay attention to the globe that is on the shelf and I learned to pay attention to the navigation instruments and realized through that work of art the past was an interconnected place in a way that is not exactly the same as our globally connected, 21st-century lives but similar. (jazzy music)