Programme

This series of talks celebrates the European artistic avant-garde of the 19th and early 20th century, when radical painters, musicians, designers, and dancers came to Paris, the center of the art world.

The talks celebrate the rich cultural life of Paris and visit the (now) iconic places around France where painters went looking for light and inspiration, including Barbizon, Asnieres, Honfleur, Arles, Pont Aven, Vallauris, and Mougins.
The series spans 100 years of art history in France, from 1870 to 1970, and will reveal the secret lives of iconic artists who changed the world.

VAN GOGH: THE MYSTIC JOURNEY OF A GENIUS

Van Gogh was not crazy when he was painting. He was highly talented, a best-selling writer and an avant-garde painter wanting to create an artist community in Arles. Let’s celebrate the anniversary of his tragic death and understand the last years of his prolific life that changed the world of art history. From London to Paris, from Arles to Auvers-sur-Oise, we will retrace the artists’ journey.   

Image: Sunflowers, Vincent van Gogh, 1888, National Gallery, London

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PICASSO: WHO IS BEHIND GUERNICA?

Guernica is the most famous painting in the world after the Da Vinci’ Monalisa. Why is this immense black and white painting so iconic?  Painted in Paris in 1937, Guernica was immediately recognised as a masterpiece. Discover who influenced Picasso, explore the symbols in his painting, his journey around the world, and understand why it continues to convey such a strong message.   

Image: Guernica, Pablo Picasso, 1937, Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain

ANDY WAHROL: THE POPE OF THE POP

In the 60s, New York became the playground of the new pop art generation. At Factory, Andy Warhol and his disciples were transformational game changers. His sérigraphies about Marilyn and his still-life paintings of Campbell soup reflected the values of a decadent culture. In this talk discover Andy Warhol’s rocket career and explore what made the American art scene so vibrant.

Image: Self-Portrait, Andy Warhol, 1986

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PARIS: CAPITAL OF THE ART WORLD

In the French 19th century, industrialization and successive revolutions created a breeding ground for innovation. The city of Paris, transformed by Baron Haussmann, poets, painters, writers, and musicians embraced the wide-reaching romantic and naturalist movements. Artists changed their compositions with passion and drama to explore new territories. From 1830 to 1900, discover how Paris became the thriving heart of the art world.

Image: Liberty Leading the People, Eugene Delacroix, 1830, Louvre Museum

MONET: THE THRESHOLD OF MODERN ART

Despite being known as one of the giants of Impressionism Monet was an abstract painter for most of his long career. Discover Monet’s life from 1870 facing poverty in London, to Paris and then Normandie where he became famous Follow him in his retreat to Giverny and understand his obsession with waterlilies. Look again at his masterpieces and understand why his palette changed over the years.

Image: Sunrise, Claude Monet, 1872, Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris

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LEONARDO DA VINCI: THE UNIVERSAL ARTIST

Five centuries after his death, the great Italian master is considered the most humanist and visionary artist of all time. His curiosity towards nature and civilization, his quest for scientific progress, and his ongoing experiments make him a benchmark for the world. Explore why da Vinci became a legend and how he keeps inspiring us.

Image: Vitruve man, Leonardo Da Vinci, 1490

RIVALS IN VENICE: TITIEN, TINTORETTO, VERONESE

Venice is one of the most significant city-states of the Renaissance. The city had gained colossal wealth and power by trading with the Byzantine Empire. The art and the artists had to meet merchants’ expectations and ambitions.  Analyze the pictorial styles of the three giants of the Venetian school of the Cinquecento, understand their competition, and the personalities who changed the course of art history.

Image: Madonna and Child, Jacopo Robusti, (Tintoretto) 1570–1572, Legion of Honor San Francisco

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THE WEDDING FEAST AT CANA: MASTERPIECE OF THE LOUVRE

Paul Veronese painted the Wedding Feast at Cana for a Covent in Venice in 1563.  It is the largest painting in the Louvre museum. It was brought to the museum by Napoleon’s troops in 1797.  Discover the epic story of this colossal painting and its incredible journey to Paris. Learn how Veronese escaped from the dangerous plot fomented by the Inquisition and find out who are the secret 132 characters attending the Venetian banquet. 

Image: The Wedding Feast at Cana, Paolo Veronese, 1563, Louvre Museum

LES ANNEES FOLLES: CHAMPAGNE AND GLAMOUR

During the twenty years that span the two world wars, Paris was a bustling city.  Artists expressed their emotions, optimism, and despair resulting in an explosion of styles. After Dadaism and Cubism, it was the Apex of Art Deco and the decadent Années Folles. Champagne was pouring. This talk will explore the lives of many international artists who shaped the art world from 1918 to 1938.

Image: Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo in the movie "The Artist."

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HAUTE COUTURE:  FASHION STAR DESIGNERS

Paris has long been regarded as the capital of fashion. Chanel was the icon of fashion during the ‘30s.  Christian Dior became the most influential designer in the mid-20th century. Yves Saint Laurent, and prominent designers like Celine and Jean-Paul Gautier, confirmed their position of elegance and fashion. These world-famous designers were avant-gardist artists who embraced modernity and helped women embrace a new way of life. This talk will question ‘How do they dress so chic?’ by reviewing the dress code of Parisian women over the past 100 years.

Image: Courtesy of Chanel, Photography, 1960

MYTHICAL COUPLES OF THE PARISIAN NIGHTLIFE

For twelve years between WWI and WW2, Paris hosted dazzling costumed feasts. At these gatherings, fashionistas and wealthy patrons met artists and formed unexpected relationships that shaped Paris as the most vibrant city in the world. Discover the mythic couples who made the Parisian nightlife: Picasso and Dora Maar, Dali and Gala, Max Ernst and Peggy Guggenheim, Sonia and Robert Delaunay, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Simone de Beauvoir.

Image: Dali and Gala, Photography, 1952

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DANTE ALIGHIERI: THE GREATEST ITALIAN FIGURES

Dante Alighieri is indeed one of the greatest Italian figures. He is world-known for writing the Divine Comedy, an epic poem that is one of the most important works of literature and a constant source of inspiration for artists, writers and film directors of all countries and times.


The poem is divided into three sections – Hell, Purgatory and Paradise – and takes us on a mysterious afterlife journey. On the occasion of Dante’s 700th anniversary, discover why the Divine Comedy has been so influential and remains so relevant and positive in the 21st century.

Image: Pandemonium, 1825, Louvre Museum