Lectures For Lifelong Learners!

Carol Salus

Carol Salus

Carol Salus

Art History Lecturer

Art History

Available for in-person lectures in:

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Carol Salus is Professor Emerita at Kent State University where she taught for thirty years. She focused on American and European twentieth-century art. Her book Picasso and Celestina: The Artist’s Vision of the Procuress is a study of Picasso’s fascination with the notorious and comical madam in the Spanish novel La Celestina, which was banned by the Inquisition. She co-edited the book Out of Context: American Artists Abroad, an anthology of writings on ten American artists who sought better lives and careers overseas, and she wrote 21 articles in academic journals on topics including Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein, and Miriam Schapiro.

An experienced public speaker at conferences in the U.S., Germany and Israel, she holds a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, an MA from the University of Cincinnati, and MS from Syracuse University, and a BA from Carnegie-Mellon University.

Lectures include:

Andy Warhol: His Art and His Search for Beauty and Fame

Warhol became known for what he called his “assembly-line technique” in which he eliminated the appearance of the artist’s trained hand and mocked the sacred notion of the unique work of art. With silkscreen, he borrowed images of racism in the South. Police dogs jumped on blacks trying to register to vote and Warhol created harrowing red/white/blue news photos on one canvas. He created deeply emotional paintings of Jackie O at the time of the assassination. We will examine these and his celebrity portraits. Lastly, discussion focuses on his endless quest for beauty and fame.

Roy Lichtenstein: A Look at His Pop Works

We will explore some of his seminal key Pop works which recreated a whole new look for what defined painting in the 1960s. His sense of humor and ordered approach to painting will be explained as well as his appropriations of modern masters. We will discuss his recasting of works by Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso, and Matisse. Please note: I knew Roy Lichtenstein – he painted my portrait, so I will provide some biographical insights into his work as well.

Pop Art

In this lecture we will look at some of Warhol’s famous movie stars and what their fame and glamour meant to him. Time will be spent on Oldenburg’s colossal sculptures. For example, what do his giant French fries with ketchup reveal about consumerism and industrialization? Lastly, Lichtenstein’s recreation of works by masters such as Matisse, Picasso, Monet, and Van Gogh will be included to understand the role of mass production and commercialization in the 1960s.

Picasso: His Brilliant Work and His Women

Picasso’s artistic talent was apparent already in his childhood and developed from his persistent sense of discipline. Samples of his lesser known early works and selections from his decades of creations will be discussed. We will see Picasso’ s costumes and set design for the Ballets Russes, his sculpture made of found objects and his ceramics which reflected his wit as well as his love for animals. Above all, some of his greatest works arose when a new woman came into his life. As Picasso aged, his partners became younger and younger. We will see why Picasso remains among the greatest artists in history.

Salvador Dali: A Look at Some of His Jewish-Themed Works and His Pro-Fascist History

Dali is known for his works with their detailed, dream-like imagery. With the rise of anti-Semitism in the 1930s, the artist painted several works which show interest in Hitler. He was exiled from the Surrealists for his flirtation with Nazism. Decades later, he was selected by the State of Israel to create works for its twentieth anniversary. His works for this celebratory event are striking in their treatment of Biblical and contemporary history. During Dali’s meeting with Freud in London, the artist painted his portrait which now is in the Freud Museum in London. This talk raises the question of how to evaluate his radiant Jewish-themed works and his feelings about Jews. Can we separate the man from the art?

John Singer Sargent

Sargent spent the first two decades of his life in Europe. He was highly successful until the debut of Madame X (1884) at the Paris Salon. Forced by this scandal to leave Paris, he spent time with Monet and learned of Impressionist painting. In London he regained his stature and became the most sought-after society portraitist. We will look at some of his incredible works and focus at the end on a little mentioned, but ugly side of Sargent as seen in a late mural in the Boston Public Library.

Images by Artists and Children of the Holocaust

This is a presentation I did for 92nd Y in Manhattan.  It is comprised of Holocaust art from 3 different groups: professional artists like Marc Chagall and their responses; camp inmates and their eye-witness drawings; children in the camps.  This last group is the most powerful. The saddest are paintings and drawings children created of their homes as they hoped to be back in them.  One of the crayon drawings shows a family walking with an armed SS guard behind them.  Ahead of the family is a large rainbow. I found the innocence of these works lasting. Perhaps this would be of interest for your community?

Holocaust Memorials: A Look in Europe and in the US

How has the Holocaust come to be commemorated in American and European modern monuments? How can a catastrophe of stupendous proportions be commemorated? Among my selections is the huge memorial in Berlin (see attached article). I interviewed the archivist in Berlin and the architect in Manhattan). Other European monuments discussed are the tunnel-like Monument to the Martyrs of the Deportation in Paris and the Vienna Holocaust Memorial which recalls a closed library. Andy Goldsworthy’s Garden of Stones in Manhattan, The New England Holocaust Memorial, and George Segal’s figurative Holocaust in San Francisco are also examined. Open discussion considers which monuments are most effective.

Miriam Schapiro, Leader of Feminist Art: Her Accomplishments and Her Jewish Identity

Miriam Schapiro, an artist and educator, promoted the importance of women in the world of visual arts, so much so that she came to be called the Johnny Appleseed of the field. Femmage was the term she coined in the mid-1970s to identify the collaging of materials such as rickrack, embroidery, handkerchiefs, lace and other textiles which were previously considered outside the realm of serious art making. Mimi created femmages relating to her Jewish heritage. There is a work dedicated to Jewish painter/fashion designer Sonia Delaunay. Also there is a series of canvases devoted to Frida Kahlo. Schapiro was interested in her paintings as well as her "alleged" Jewish background. The presentation ends with Schapiro’s tributes to Anne Frank which contain touching vignettes of Jewish life.

Mary Cassatt, Extraordinary Impressionist Painter: Her Roots and Her Interests

Mary Cassatt, born in an affluent family, aspired to become a professional artist, a male province. In mid-nineteenth century America, Mary’s decision to study at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia before traveling to Europe seemed beyond the pale. As a woman her subject matter was restricted to the domestic sphere. Yet we will see her little-known early works in Spain in which flirtatious scenes between the sexes appear. Her success in the Impressionist shows will be discussed. Mary grew up in a family that valued education and her images of women in cultural and intellectual activities show them as independent and powerful beings.

Barbara Kruger: I Shop Therefore I Am

Barbara Kruger was listed in Time magazine in 2021 as one of the 100 most important people in the world. She creates powerful black-and-white images marked by slogans to broadcast her ideas in posters and billboards. Her critiques such as “I Shop Therefore I Am” even appear on T-shirts and show the impact of her art. She describes, “I work with pictures and words because they have the ability to determine who we are, what we want to be and what we become.” She deciphers and challenges female and male attitudes through her work. We will also look at her equally bombastic sculptures in which political issues and secrets are unveiled. Kruger deconstructs gender roles and reminds us of the power of public imagery.

Cindy Sherman: Finding Truth About How Women Are Seen in Film and Fashion

Cindy Sherman’s work, which always stars the artist transformed through makeup and costume, addresses a variety of female roles. Without titles her photos throughout her 4-decades-long career let us identify the stereotypes she constructs from movie stars, housewives, insecure eavesdropping women, and fantasy scenes. Starting with her work in black-and-white to her use of color photography, Sherman examines and questions with her staged portraits: Do we know these women or identify with them? Some of her works reflect characters out of art history as well as the posing models of the fashion industry. An early feminist, she raises unanswered questions and challenges us to consider clichéd ideas associated with femininity and status.

Helen Frankenthaler: Attaining Success in the Macho World of Painting

Helen Frankenthaler, who did not want to be labeled as a woman artist, flourished as an abstract painter in a world of male artists, dealers, and critics. She wanted to be valued as a good artist rather than be categorized. Her luscious paintings placed her in a circle of highly respected artists and galleries. The critic Clement Greenberg, with whom Frankenthaler had a serious relationship during the ’50s, saw in her work Innerlichkeit, or inner light. Her color field paintings reflect this quality of quietly looking within. We will look at her radical approach to the canvas, her themes from her love of nature as well as Biblical references in her work, and her influence on others.

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