Art Historian Provides Hilarious & Surprisingly Efficient Art History Lessons on TikTok

@_theiconoclassIf youse come at me again for my Aus¬≠tralian pro¬≠nun¬≠ci¬≠a¬≠tion I swear ūüėā #arthis¬≠to¬≠ry #arthis¬≠to¬≠ry¬≠tik¬≠tok #baroque‚ô¨ orig¬≠i¬≠nal sound ‚ÄĒ AyseD¬≠eniz

Art His¬≠to¬≠ri¬≠an Mary McGillivray believes art appre¬≠ci¬≠a¬≠tion is an acquired skill. Her Tik¬≠Tok project, The Icon¬≠o¬≠class, is bring¬≠ing those lack¬≠ing for¬≠mal art his¬≠to¬≠ry edu¬≠ca¬≠tion up to speed.

The 25-year-old Aus­tralian’s pithy obser­va­tions dou­ble as sur­pris­ing­ly stur­dy mnemon­ics, use­ful for nav­i­gat­ing world class col­lec­tions both live and online.

Some high¬≠lights from her whirl¬≠wind guide to the Baroque peri¬≠od, above:

If it looks like the chaos after black¬≠out where every¬≠one is stum¬≠bling around in the dark under one soli¬≠tary emer¬≠gency light, it‚Äôs a Car¬≠avag¬≠gio.

If there‚Äôs at least one per¬≠son look¬≠ing to the cam¬≠era like they‚Äôre on The Office, it‚Äôs a Vel√°zquez.

If there‚Äôs a room with some nice fur¬≠ni¬≠ture, a win¬≠dow, and some women just going about their every¬≠day busi¬≠ness, it‚Äôs a Ver¬≠meer.

Rather than the tra­di­tion­al chrono­log­i­cal pro­gres­sion, McGillivray mix­es and match­es, often in response to com­ments and Patre­on requests.

When a com¬≠menter on the Baroque Tik¬≠Tok took umbrage that she referred to Artemisia Gen¬≠tileschi by first name only, McGillivray fol¬≠lowed up with an edu¬≠ca¬≠tion¬≠al video explain¬≠ing the con¬≠ven¬≠tion from the 17th-cen¬≠tu¬≠ry per¬≠spec¬≠tive.

@_theiconoclassReply to @rajendzzz her dad was hot, com¬≠ment if you agree #baroque #artemisia #arthis¬≠to¬≠ryclass‚ô¨ Guilty Love ‚ÄĒ Lady¬≠hawke & Broods

At the urg¬≠ing of a Patre¬≠on sub¬≠scriber, she leaps across four cen¬≠turies to dis¬≠cov¬≠er an unex¬≠pect¬≠ed kin¬≠ship between Cubism and Renais¬≠sance painters, using George Braque‚Äôs Man with a Gui¬≠tar and San¬≠dro Botticelli‚Äôs Four Scenes from the Ear¬≠ly Life of Saint Zeno¬≠bius. One is attempt¬≠ing to escape the shack¬≠les of per¬≠spec¬≠tive by show¬≠ing sur¬≠faces not vis¬≠i¬≠ble when regard¬≠ing a sub¬≠ject from a sin¬≠gle point. The oth¬≠er is using a sin¬≠gle space to depict mul¬≠ti¬≠ple moments in a subject‚Äôs life simul¬≠ta¬≠ne¬≠ous¬≠ly.

@_theiconoclass#arthis¬≠to¬≠ry #arthis¬≠to¬≠ry¬≠tik¬≠tok #renais¬≠sance #cubism #medievaltik¬≠tok‚ô¨ orig¬≠i¬≠nal sound ‚ÄĒ Fin¬≠ian Hack¬≠ett

McGillivray is will¬≠ing to be seen learn¬≠ing along with her fol¬≠low¬≠ers. She‚Äôs open about the fact that she prefers Giot¬≠to and Fra Angeli¬≠co to con¬≠tem¬≠po¬≠rary art (as per¬≠haps befits an art his¬≠to¬≠ri¬≠an whose face is more 1305 than 2021). Artist Dominic White‚Äôs wear¬≠able, envi¬≠ron¬≠men¬≠tal sculp¬≠ture Hood¬≠ie Empa¬≠thy Suit does¬≠n‚Äôt do much for her until a con¬≠ver¬≠sa¬≠tion with the exhibit¬≠ing gallery‚Äôs direc¬≠tor helps ori¬≠ent her to White‚Äôs objec¬≠tives.

@_theiconoclassWant to see me tack¬≠le more con¬≠tem¬≠po¬≠rary art? Big thanks to @mprg_vic ‚̧ԳŹūü™∂#arthis¬≠to¬≠ry¬≠tik¬≠tok #arthis¬≠to¬≠ry #con¬≠tem¬≠po¬≠rar¬≠yart #art¬≠gallery‚ô¨ orig¬≠i¬≠nal sound ‚ÄĒ Mary McGillivray

She tips her hand in an inter¬≠view with Pedes¬≠tri¬≠an TV:

I‚Äôm not very inter¬≠est¬≠ed in decid¬≠ing what is art and what isn‚Äôt. The whole ‚Äúwhat is art‚ÄĚ ques¬≠tion has nev¬≠er been very impor¬≠tant to me. The ques¬≠tions I pre¬≠fer to ask are: Why was this image made?

She rec¬≠om¬≠mends art crit¬≠ic John Berg¬≠er‚Äôs 1972 four-part series Ways of See¬≠ing to fans eager to expand beyond the Icon¬≠o¬≠class:

It‚Äôs got all the things you would expect from a 1970s BBC pro¬≠duc¬≠tion ‚Äď wide col¬≠lared shirts, long hair, smok¬≠ing on tele¬≠vi¬≠sion ‚Äď plus some of the most influ¬≠en¬≠tial insights into how we look at art and also how we look at the world around us.

Watch Mary McGillivray‚Äôs The Icon¬≠o¬≠class here. Sup¬≠port her Patre¬≠on here.

@_theiconoclassWant a part two? ūüėŹūüėė #arthis¬≠to¬≠ry¬≠tik¬≠tok #arthis¬≠to¬≠ry¬≠ma¬≠jor #learnon¬≠tik¬≠tok‚ô¨ Rasputin (Sin¬≠gle Ver¬≠sion) ‚ÄĒ Boney M.

via Bored Pan­da

Relat¬≠ed Con¬≠tent: 

Free Art & Art His­to­ry Cours­es

One Minute Art His­to­ry: Cen­turies of Artis­tic Styles Get Packed Into a Short Exper­i­men­tal Ani­ma­tion

An Intro­duc­tion to 100 Impor­tant Paint­ings with Videos Cre­at­ed by Smarthis­to­ry

Steve Mar­tin on How to Look at Abstract Art

Ayun Hal¬≠l¬≠i¬≠day is an author, illus¬≠tra¬≠tor, the¬≠ater mak¬≠er and Chief Pri¬≠ma¬≠tol¬≠o¬≠gist of the East Vil¬≠lage Inky zine.  Join her June 7 for a Necro¬≠mancers of the Pub¬≠lic Domain: The Peri¬≠od¬≠i¬≠cal Cica¬≠da, a free vir¬≠tu¬≠al vari¬≠ety hon¬≠or¬≠ing the 17-Year Cicadas of Brood X. Fol¬≠low her @AyunHalliday.

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