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Sister Wendy's American Collection, Box Set [VHS] (2001)

 NR |  VHS Tape
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Format: Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 6
  • Studio: Wgbh Boston
  • VHS Release Date: September 25, 2001
  • Run Time: 360 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005O5N5
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #440,318 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Museums, like theaters and libraries, are a means to freedom. Here, we can move out of our personal anxieties and disappointments into the vast and stable world of human creativity. —Sister Wendy Beckett Sister Wendy Beckett comes to America for a spectacular tour that blends art, history, culture and storytelling into one delightful experience. Described as "a phenomenon" by The Washington Post and "a pop star" by The New York Times, Sister Wendy shares her contagious enthusiasm, eloquent descriptions, self-taught expertise and warm humor as she guides you through six of America’s greatest art museums.

The Art Institute of Chicago Discover intriguing facts behind Grant Wood’s classic painting American Gothic, the brilliance of a gold ceremonial knife from Peru’s lost Chimu empire, and Marc Chagall’s stained glass epic America Windows.

The Cleveland Museum of Art Explore rare Asian art and Medieval European pieces, as well as Rodin’s sculpture The Thinker, an elaborately detailed suit of armor, and Rousseau’s richly fantastic painting The Fight of a Tiger and a Buffalo.

Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas Share the museum’s carefully selected art collection, including Cézanne’s painting Man in a Blue Smock, the lacquered beauty of a Japanese wine flask, and Caravaggio’s The Cardsharps.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art Enjoy the museum’s wonderfully diverse works, including David Hockney’s painting Mulholland Drive, a colorfully woven Chinese emperor’s robe, and examples of pre-Columbian sculpture.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Tour New York’s legendary museum and its vast art collection, including Velázquez’s stunning painting Juan de Pareja and a calligraphic page from the Koran. And join Sister Wendy to experience the heavenly beauty of The Cloisters.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Marvel at such masterpieces as Gauguin’s Polynesian painting Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?, the intricate Wedgwood inlays of an antique piano, and Paul Revere’s silver Sons of Liberty Bowl.


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
73 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sister Wendy's passion for art ignites it in others January 3, 2002
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
My local PBS station had a Sister Wendy "marathon" on New Year's Day, showing the entire American Collection; I was both captivated and inspired. Had museums been open, I would have dashed to San Francisco to take in some art. Also, the program made me want to visit museums she toured.
In an interview with Bill Moyers (also available on video) that followed the American Collection, Oxford-educated Sister Wendy emphasized that her mission is to help people embrace art by making it accessible. (Even Moyers admitted to being intimidated by the thought that he might not evaluate a work of art correctly,i.e., according to how art critics see it.)
Sister Wendy mentions in the Moyers interview that she possesses an immense library of scholarly works on art. She feels her in-depth study of these books justifies her definite opinions about art.
Whether you agree or disagree with Sister Wendy's assessment of what a work of art is expressing, you won't be able to deny that her passion is inspiring.
Sister Wendy's credibility was, for me, increased when Moyers asked her what she thought of Andres Serrano's "Piss-Christ," a work in which a replica of Christ was immersed in a container of urine. She didn't dismiss the work as something created merely to shock, rather she thought the artist meant to represent the irreverence with which most people treat Christ and his teachings. She qualified her judgment by stating that she considered it a rather mediocre work because it didn't challenge the viewer: people had an immediate and visceral reaction that didn't require consideration or time to form.
Finally, in a society that seemingly hasn't moved beyond an adolescent attitude toward sex, Sister Wendy's perspective that human sexuality is a gift from God and an aspect of ourselves to be celebrated is refreshing.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank You, Sister Wendy!! August 21, 2004
Format:DVD
Sister Wendy Beckett has done for art appreciation and art history what the late Carl Sagan did for the science of astronomy: she has taken a subject that most people would like to know more about, but fear is beyond their ability to understand, and made it accessible and entertaining. She has wrested art from the hands of intellectuals and elitists and given it back to the people, to whom it has always rightfully belonged. Some people appear to resent this. The rest of us should stand up and cheer.

In this charming series, Sister Wendy visits six of the United States' most renowned art museums and shares with her viewers some of their masterpieces. Her opinions, sometimes whimsical, sometimes wistful and sometimes reverent, are delivered with great passion and enthusiasm. This open love of her subject matter is infectious and draws the viewer to her and to the art works she so clearly loves. This is what makes her so effective as a guide and teacher.

Sister Wendy also makes a wonderfully evocative use of language, at one point, during a discussion of Grant Wood's "American Gothic" she describes the woman's hair as having been "...scraped back in a bun." This captured the woman's hairstyle with such economy and vividness that I, in my mind's eye, could see her combing her hair into a repressed little bun. Except for that one tendril, which Sister Wendy also points out to her viewers.

Like all those who view a work of art, Sister Wendy brings her own, unique perspective to each work she has chosen to discuss. Nowhere is this more powerfully shown than in her discussion of the Kinbell's "An Exiled Emperor on Okinoshima.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brillant! May 10, 2005
Format:DVD
Any half-decent or better University Art History class is sure to appreciate the perspectives Sister Wendy brings to these discs. Sister Wendy does a brillant job, as always, with the American Collection! You will be a better person for watching and understanding this collection.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Halleluyah! March 16, 2006
Format:DVD
If you can get past the habit and listen, you have a really interesting and respectful open-minded art critic who is a nun, but we all look past that part! Wendy Beckett is an art scholar and I trust her implicitly. Her views are not only psychologically and philosophically enchanting but mesmerizing as well as intriguing. Looking at her open-mindedness to art and her appreciation of fine art is absolutely delightful and entertaining!

As an art aficionado who has spent time in most of these museums, she really posits true and genuine opinions and interpretations based on her own thoughts, without imposing her own private religiousity on you!

Bravo, sister Wendy!

[...]! It is a great box set! And no, she is NOT boring as other reviewers who just don't appreciate fine art have reviewed her with one star!
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Heart Sister Wendy-- She Is Pro-Gay!!!! June 24, 2012
Format:DVD
So maybe listening to Sister Wendy's art-analysis it is not like going to the National Gallery (DC) and hearing the latest, brilliant hotshot (and hot!) art scholar they have as one of the special fellows. But Sister Wendy is charming, and knows a thing or two. And she is pro-Gay de facto. That is, she acknowledges homo-eros unflinchingly and without opprobrium as part of the background for many a great work of art. That's good enough from someone of her age, and life-style, as it were. By that I mean, to be so compassionately worldly from a cloistered convent no less is a special virtue, and certainly adds to her charm. People can recognize the amplitude of religious tolerance, which is the real sign of the work of Grace in a life, that's why they like her.. God bless Sister Wendy! She's my kind of religious gal.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Collection
I love Sister Wendy. She has the gift of bringing art to life. Her knowledge is so extensive. All of Sister Wendy's collections are excellent. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Sister Wendy in America
I didn't see these programs when they were originally on PBS TV, but this collection visits six American art museums and she chose very interesting works of art in each museum. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Bonita Bryant
5.0 out of 5 stars Sister Wendy rocks the art world!
Sister Wendy brings such fresh insight to art and a passion and joy that is completely infectious. It's like touring the world's greatest museums with a close friend.
Published 16 months ago by Michael Gruber
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for inspiration.
Sister Wendy visits 6 museums in the US and criticizes about 10 works of art in each. Rather than focusing on the most famous pieces, she chooses works that speak to her. Read more
Published on April 29, 2012 by MonsoonKing
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok but political correctness makes it worse than it should have been.
Sister Wendy's American collection box set is an interesting survey of art collected in six American museums. Read more
Published on May 1, 2006 by 77 Sunset Strip
5.0 out of 5 stars Sister Wendy's American Collection
If you love Sister Wendy then there is no need for a review on this collection. She has a wonderful persona and opens up a knew understanding of art for those who know little about... Read more
Published on October 6, 2005 by A. Kennedy
1.0 out of 5 stars Chattering Boredom
I bought this "American Collection" based on the European series which aired on PBS. The European experience I enjoyed, but this American jaunt was a journey to Tedium. Read more
Published on November 30, 2001 by Richard R. Wynn
5.0 out of 5 stars Sister Wendy is a pilar of greatness. A sublime view of art.
Sister Wendy is a fantastic resource for art. She imbues passion and depth beyond any art professor or historian I have ever seen. Read more
Published on November 15, 2001
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