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Kate Wojtczak 21 March 2023
min Read30 September 2022
Podcasts are a stellar tool for diversion, learning, and companionship, as great podcasts tend to have friendly and knowledgeable hosts. Check out our selection of the best art history podcasts!
If during the lockdown you’ve already watched all the movies, read all the books and want to tune into something that doesn’t require your full attention while cooking, cleaning, or walking in nature, podcasts are your friend. There are plenty of good and informative podcasts out there, but this is an art magazine, so we are talking about art-related podcasts! They will curb your boredom, entertain you and teach you a thing or two.
These are all extremely well-researched podcasts with highly respectable hosts and guests. They are also wildly entertaining! Here are some of the art/art history podcasts that we love to listen to.
Comedian host Michael Anthony proclaims he has no background in art history – which is why listening to him go down art-historical rabbit holes is so delightful. Anthony conducts painstaking research on the infamously tumultuous lives of artists and yells about it for hours. Though you may laugh at the host’s exasperation with the behaviors of certain artists (you will feel exasperated too when you find out how most of them treated women), make no mistake; you’re learning a vast amount of details about the lives and times of some of the most famous artists to have ever lived. So far, ArtHoles has covered Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, and Frida Kahlo. Episodes are very spaced out but trust the process – it’s worth the wait!
Contemporary Art Curator Jeniffer Dasal hosts this wonderful, wonder-filled podcast trying to answer art history’s biggest questions; what’s the deal with Mona Lisa? Did Van Gogh commit suicide? Was Caravaggio a murderer? What about the infamous “Amber Room”? And, did Adolf Hitler actually start out as an artist? The episodes are short and sweet, and Dasal divides the seasons thematically; past themes have included World War II, shock art, and true crime/fine art. ArtCurious is a fascinating podcast that will truly make you fall in love with art history and all of its quirky, nerdy weirdness.
Listening to this podcast is like looking at your favorite artwork; it will make you laugh, cry, and feel everything in between. Tamar Avishai’s The Lonely Palette is an experience. It promises to “return art history to the masses, one artwork at a time”, and, by all means, it delivers.
Each episode takes place at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, focusing on one exhibit. It opens with museum-goers talking about what they see and feel (the part that always gets me!), followed by Avishai’s insightful delineation of each artist’s process. Suddenly, infamously esoteric artworks make sense, from Mark Rothko’s two-tone canvases to Yoko Ono’s performance art; the host’s narration makes you have at least one mini epiphany per episode. It also helps that her voice is calming enough to make every listening session an opportunity to meditate. Just close your eyes and listen.
The premise of Art History for All is similar to The Lonely Palette in that art is approached one piece at a time, explained by art historian Allyson Healey. The premise is that the listener does not have to have any prior knowledge of art history (thus “art history for all”). However, this podcast does not confine its explorations to a specific museum. Rather, it takes you on a trip across time and space; no art movement, decade, or culture is left unexplored. From Fernando Botero’s bold depictions of bodies to the history of Hagia Sophia, Healey guides you on an art deep-dive through the ages.
Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery director Kim Sajet invites cultural pundits from within and outside the museum space to tackle a variety of topics. They discuss their favorite painting or photograph from the gallery, while addressing issues like; misconceptions about Pocahontas in pop culture, the unfair portraits of the first First Ladies, and unlikely civil rights activists.
All guests are powerful people discussing powerful historical moments. During the pandemic, Portraits was giving listeners a chance to visit the gallery virtually, while, in upcoming episodes, the museum’s art historians were guiding you through their favorite rooms.
Art historian Katy Hessel has always had the same goal; to shed light on disenfranchised women artists, from antiquity, through modernity, to now, and to share their powerful voices. This is why she began the @GreatWomenArtists Instagram account as a project, which is now a much-loved podcast. In each episode of The Great Women Artists Podcast, Hessel interviews a contemporary artist, curator, or historian about a past or present woman artist.
Personal favorites include talks on Leonora Carrington, Eileen Agar, and Charlotte Salomon, as well as interviews with artists Tschabalala Self and Shirin Neshat. It’s a must-listen for anyone who considers themselves a feminist, an art history buff, or both.
Katy Hessel, like the women she interviews, wears many hats. Aside from her own podcast, she hosts the brand new show DIOR TALKS – Feminist Art by, well, fashion powerhouse Dior. It is an interview-based podcast on contemporary women artists, where Hessel converses with the likes of Tracey Emin and Judy Chicago, providing valuable insight into the minds of influential women and the art world.
These podcasts are the perfect blend of amusing and didactic. Almost all of them are quite long-running too, so you have a lot of material to catch up on. Start listening to them now from wherever you get your favorite podcasts and enjoy!
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