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4.2 out of 5 stars
EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY
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79 of 84 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
These 8 episodes of "Every Picture Tells a Story" peer deeply into masterpiece art works in a fresh way. Superior to anything I (and my wife) have seen. My M.S. & B.S. art degrees and over 2 decades of art teaching helps me grant this new Athena DVD set 5 colorful stars. This DVD set also rates "2 paint brushes UP-WAY UP."

THE PRESENTER, Waldemar Januszczak, U.K., is an art critic who never learned to be sophisticatedly boring, dull, & lifeless. He will even make you laugh by finding a lighter side to masterpieces of art. He provides his opinion alongside the findings of other authorities, so you can decide for yourself. He does this in a manner somewhat similar to a European travelogue. Enjoyable. Scenic.

Individual episodes are less than 25 minutes, a perfect length for classroom use at universities and High Schools. 1 or 2 episodes touch on language and/or sexual topics that might want to be previewed and opted upon by "conservative" schools. Probably just a PG rating if it were to be rated, however.

INTERDISCIPLINARY TEACHING: Each painting episode touches not only on the art itself, but on history, geography, and literature related to the piece. This is true educational integration, highly sought by state-of-the-art school curriculum.

WHAT DOES IT INCLUDE?
"Mr and Mrs Andrews", Gainsborough, England. A mystery of the unfinished masterpiece.
"The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp", Rembrandt, Dutch. The artist's haunting of death. Painting is compared to TVs "E.R."
"The Tempest", Giorgione, Venice. Giorgione means 'Big George'. This is a mysterious painter of even more mysterious art. Is Homer's "Odyssey" a clue?
"The Birth of Venus", Botticelli, Florence. Venus' voluptuous vulnerability vexing the virile. Not birth, so where does this painting's meaning spring from?
"Boy Bitten by a Lizard", Caravaggio, Rome. Finding the why from a lizard bite which was painted by a Roman artist and murderer.
"Mona Lisa", Leonardo da Vinci, Paris. Don't bother with "The Di Vinci Code" book. Episode is about solving the real Leonardo mystery.
"Le dejeuner sur l'herbe", Manet, France. The naughty, naked, picnic lady leaves behind illegal, immoral, impressionism--immortally.
"The Arnlfini Marriage", Jan van Eyck, Bruges, Belgium. A 15th century mystery in oil on an oak panel.

WHAT IS BONUS/extra?
For each episode: "The Rest of the Story"
For each episode: "Artist Biographies"
For each episode: SDH subtitles
A viewer's guide booklet with:
Featured painting reproduction
Questions to consider (individually or in a classroom)
List of other artistic work featured on each episode
Bibliography of 4 options for additional learning related to each episode's painting

This DVD 2-disc set truly brings masterpiece wonder to the masses.
Every High School, College, and Public Library should own this.
8 very affordable lesson plans for art teachers and professors.
Hours of enjoyment for the art lover. YES, a perfect gift.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2010
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This collection of famous paintings is a series of fascinating lessons by Waldemar Januszczak who has a marvelous sense of humor. Without being pompous, he discusses each painting as well as the painter's life, and shows us things we may never have otherwise seen on our own. I love art dvds and have purchased many, just for pleasure, and this is one of my favorites. I wish there were more in the series as 8 is only a glimpse into the whole art world. The dvd quality is very clear, audio and video. Highly recommended if you enjoy art in small doses.
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23 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2009
Format: DVD
About the only thing I'm confused about is did Simon Schama do "Simon Schama's Power of Art" before or after Januszczak's "Every Picture Tells A Story"? Did Schama attempt to copycat Januszczack's work or was Januszczack's work a how-to to Schama?

In the end, they are both good but Januszack 'Every Picture Tells a Story' is masterful and leaves Simon (never met a simile I didn't like) Schama in the dust.

Insightful and compelling.

I'd like to see a lot more from Mr. Januszczack.

[...]
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2013
Format: DVD
This series was a disappointment, so I'm writing a review to provide some balance in contrast with glowing reviews from other viewers. Waldemar Januszczak is not an eloquent speaker; he has a coarse manner of over-emphasizing every second word he says, and this is very grating after a few minutes. Furthermore, I found his manner of providing explanations and theorizing quite arrogant (he often says things like, "art historians have been pondering this for centuries, but I KNOW what it means"). That said, I did learn interesting tidbits of information about the origins of the works in question and the artists' lives, so the series is not entirely without merit.

Production values are rather low -- there is jittery camera-work throughout. During one scene in particular, featuring Titian's Concert Champêtre, the camera actually bobs up and down!

In lieu of this series, I would heartily recommend Civilisation (Kenneth Clark), The Shock of the New (Robert Hughes), Power of Art (Simon Schama), and The Private Life of a Masterpiece. All of these documentary series on art history are brilliant and blow Every Picture Tells a Story out of the water.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2012
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Waldemar Januszczak goes far beyond the typical art critic's analysis of paintings and brings both them and the artists to life in a way that you will remember. I have seen many art history DVDs and they are too often dry and dull. Too often, the art historian or critic will point out the obvious features of a painting (pyramidal composition, light/shadow, formation of geometric shapes within, etc,) with minimal references to meanings and ignore the real story of the painting. This series shows the depth of understaning that Januszczak brings to the field and is able to impart to the viewer. I didn't find his presentation at all egotistical, but if so, he deserves to feel that way because he backs it up.
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on August 2, 2014
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Worth the price - Just for the analysis of " The Arnolfini Wedding," by Van Eyck. Love is one of the most elusive concepts...and its depiction is actually quite rare in art...The narrator explains why this picture is one of the great love stories of all time. Romance, seduction, eroticism, the kiss, beauty, virility, touch, excitement, desire...those we have seen again and again from ancient times to today. But this oil painting tells a different story...and the clear explanation by this educated critic is convincing ...to me. [I won't spoil the experience by revealing the secrets]

Other DVD's created by Waldemar Januszczak that are particularly worthwhile are his analysis of The Dark Ages, Picasso, and my favorite...on Gauguin.
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on June 3, 2014
Format: DVD
The art here is fantastic but this series is hard to watch and listen to. The narrator has an abrasive, almost condescending tone, and he does little more than spin gossip and speculate on the meaning of famous paintings. The resolution on the images is not bad but the camera work is very bad. For example, the motion, as the camera rocks, while Januszczak walks down an alley in Rome for the Caravaggio episode, is nothing short of nauseating. In other places the shots of the paintings are not steady or the images are shot from the next gallery (literally) or the lighting is poor. So, while the catalog of images shown is very good, the presentation gets in the way of the art.
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on February 10, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
Waldemar Januszczak is an insiteful and engaging commentator. He puts famous works of art into the context of the period in which they were painted. This is a perspective I never got in art history class.
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on January 3, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
Amazingly interesting. Great way to learn about art. My girl friend got hooked on art history because if this series.
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on November 17, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
The narrator is REALLY annoying, projecting his biases on the women in the paintings. I gave up after three episodes.
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