Program Details

A Different Approach to Art Appreciation

Wes Ervin
Arts & Letters / History
Video Catch-up

Course Description

This series is all about discovering, enjoying and appreciating art in a new way. The instructor has selected four broad themes in Art History and will present a parade of artworks, drawn from different periods and cultures, that relate to each theme. Participants will be invited to have a field day comparing and contrasting. Some of the artworks are famous, others will, no doubt, be new to participants. Many of the works that will be discussed are from museums and collections in South Florida.


  1. Face-to-Face: What’s behind a self-portrait? Artists have been doing “Selfies” for centuries. This session will explore what self-portraits can tell us about an artist and their era. Participants will see an incredible range of expressions and self-revelations. Whether pompous, playful or anguished, self-portraits have much to say.
  2. Who Says Genre Painting is Boring? Many radical developments in art began with experiments on mundane subject matter. How many artists did it take to change a light bulb? (Picasso, Man Ray, Jasper Johns, Alexander Calder…).  In this session attendees will consider how artists elevate mundane reality to the realm of art. 
  3. The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same? This session looks at how artists seem to be forever re-interpreting the past. Chinese landscape painters copied ancient masterpieces as a form of paying homage. French Neoclassicists churned out knock-offs for fame and fortune. Modern artists revel in parodies and riffs on iconic works.
  4. “You Call That Art?” If you are baffled by Contemporary Art, this session is for you. The instructor will help participants engage with works that are poignant, provocative, personal, witty, mysterious, polemical, and playful. Quotes from writings and interviews with some of the leading artists will give insight into what they hope to achieve with their pieces.

About the Instructor

  • Wes Ervin, PhD, received his BA, MA, and PhD in Asian Art History from the University of Chicago. He has lectured at New York University, Harvard University, and numerous conferences in Europe over the last 25 years. After retiring in 2017, he presented a course on “Two Thousand Years of Jewish History in India” at the Osher/FAU Boca Raton. He also volunteers as a docent at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach.

Upcoming programs presented by Wes Ervin.

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