JOHN IMMERWAHR: YouTube tours of the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Update: February 2022
Click here to see the YouTube thumbnails for all of my tours. Brief descriptions are below. Click on the highlights to see a particular video. Please circulate this list to anyone who might be interested. Scroll to the bottom of this list for videos on art on the campus of Villanova University. (Some of these are on Villanova’s YouTube channel, so you won’t find them on my channel).
DIFFERENT GENRES OF ART
- Landscapes: America the Beautiful. The Philadelphia Museum of Art has a wonderful collection of landscapes, painted by some of the greatest American landscape painters of the 19th century. They are breathtakingly beautiful, of course, but they also express the artists’ ideas about nature and about America itself.
- Going Dutch. A tour of a single Gallery at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (Gallery 362). This tiny room contains works by many of the most important artists from the Netherlands in the 1600s, known as the Golden Age of Dutch Art.
- Impressionism. Most people like impressionist art but it isn’t so easy to define what it is. I use an acronym, E.L.B.O.W., to give a simple working definition, illustrated by impressionist works at the museum.
- The Story of Porcelain a tour illustrating the fascinating history of this remarkable material, illustrated by beautiful examples on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Along the way you’ll hear some interesting stories and see a wide variety of stunningly beautiful pottery. Spoiler alert: the very end might be a bit shocking.
- Portraits with a Purpose. A tour of five of the most interesting portraits at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, including a Renaissance portrait by Antonella Messina, 18th century portraits by John Singleton Copley and Elizabeth Vigee-Lebrun, concluding with a portrait by Thomas Eakins and a portrait of James Baldwin by Beauford Delaney.
- Duchamp: an Introduction. A look at three of Duchamp’s most important words, Nude Descending a Stairway, Fountain and the Large Glass.
- Jasper Johns: an Introduction. A guide to the art of Jasper Johns, highlighting three major themes that run through his long career.
- Rodin in the Garden. Some of the most important and iconic Rodin sculptures at the Philadelphia Rodin Museum are outside in the museum’s beautiful garden. Visitors can see these works even when the museum is closed. (The Rodin Museum is administered by the Philadelphia Museum of Art).
- Vincent van Gogh. The Philadelphia Museum of Art has four paintings by Vincent van Gogh. I discuss how they were radical and innovative AND how they are deeply rooted in earlier traditions.
- Bronzino in the Medici Court: Cosimo as Orpheus . This painting from the Renaissance is challenging in a different way — it just seems very odd. I try to show how the strange elements of the painting actually make sense.
- Cy Twombly’s Fifty Days at Iliam. This is one of the most challenging contemporary art installations at the museum. I tried to make it accessible to people who don’t like modern art by dramatically relating the paintings to the events of the Trojan war. James Christy is the narrator and the original music is composed by Bryson Kemp.
ART ABOUT SPECIFIC SUBJECTS
- African Americans in Art (19th Century). This video reviews five of the most important 19th century works at the Philadelphia Museum of Art that are created by African Americans or that tell an important story about African American life.
- Painting the Bible. A study of the choices and challenges artist face when depicting scenes from the Bible, including Michelangelo’s David and some other examples from the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the campus of Villanova University.
- Annunciation. An interview with Kevin Hughes, Professor of Historical Theology at Villanova University. He sets several of the museum’s most interesting paintings of the Annunciation in a theological and dramatic context.
- Watch the Hands. I show how small details in how hands are portrayed can change or add meaning to a painting, using works by Winslow Homer, John Singleton Copley, Robert Campin, Rogier van der Weyden and The Master of The Tiburtine Sibyl. It is my shortest video so far and, I think, rather fun.
- At the Foot. As a companion piece to my video on Watch the Hands, I show how feet can have many different meanings in works of art. Examples are shown from Tibet, India and Europe in the 1400s.
- The Constantine Tapestries. If you have been to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, you have seen these monumental tapestries that fill the Great Stair Hall. But most people don’t realize that they tell a story about Constantine the Great, the Roman emperor from 306 to 337 C.E. This video takes you through the story and the description of the video explains a bit about how the tapestries were created and ended up at the museum. Spoiler alert: seven of the twelve tapestries were designed by Peter Paul Rubens.
- From the Medieval World to the Renaissance. One of the local universities asked me to create this video for their freshman honors humanities course. The video uses the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s collection to trace the journey of European art from the 1100s to the Renaissance. (Note: this one is 30 minutes in length, the rest are under 10 minutes, so if you are looking for something shorter, start somewhere else).
ART ON THE CAMPUS OF VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY
- Lessons for Life from St. Augustine. Recently the Alumni office of Villanova University asked me to make two videos about some of the art on campus. The first concerns the stained glass windows in the St Thomas of Villanova Church. These windows tell about some of the events in the life of St Augustine and I also draw out some lessons for our own lives.
- Art on the Campus of Villanova University. The second video looks at some of the other art on campus, including statues, contemporary stained glass and two very interesting paintings (one of which is by Thomas Eakins).
- Painting the Bible. (Also mentioned above). This study of the choices and challenges artists face when depicting scenes from the Bible focuses primarily on The Triumph of David, by an unknown artist from the 1600s, housed in the Dugan-Polk Reading room of Falvey Library.