Masterpieces of Art that Changed All the Rules

Columbia University

Denise Budd teaches in the Core Curriculum program at Columbia University and has also taught a wide range of Renaissance art history classes at Rutgers University. She has published several articles on Leonardo da Vinci based on her studies of the artist and his documentary evidence. Following this interest in archival work, her current research has extended to the history of collecting Renaissance art in Gilded Age America, with a focus on the tapestry collector and dealer Charles Mather Ffoulke.


Art That Has Changed The World

We often think of art of bygone centuries as a means of recording the past – creating long-lasting records of people, places and cultures – offering us the means to help understand history and our own relationship to it. In this way, a walk through a museum can be a fascinating journey through time. Yet some of the greatest and most revolutionary works of art do so much more than document the world; rather, they change how we see it.

This class will examine a small number of extraordinary objects drawn from the Western tradition, including paintings, sculpture and architecture, originating from different countries and spanning more than two millennia. Considering monuments as varied as the Parthenon of ancient Greece and the French sculptor Auguste Rodin’s Burghers of Calais, from Masaccio’s Holy Trinity to Diego Velázquez’s Las Meninas, we will focus on works that, in many ways, are as much about the experience of the viewer as they are about the subjects they represent.

Learn more about our history by checking out other great videos at OneDayU, including ‘An Evening With Leonardo Da Vinci‘, The Psychology of Courage & Taking Action’ & ‘The Presidents Book Club’ all on-demand now.



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Sumire Sugimoto


Understanding so much more about these pieces is very satisfying. Professor Budd brings her love and energy of art to unveil things about the works in a clever and fun way. Hard not to pay attention to every phrase and slide!

11 months ago

Creative, Insightful, humorous

Prof. Budd offers a very insightful look into masterpieces in architecture, art, and sculpture through centuries that don’t seem connected at all at first, but she connects the dots in very creative ways. You learn a lot that you didn’t know before about these works and what makes them revolutionary. And she does it in a real, humorous, personal way that is engaging. Well done!

11 months ago
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