Art in the Time of COVID-19: Part 2 – Rachel Levin, Art Lecturer

Rachel Levin, a popular art lecturer who often lectures at the Bernard Betel Centre for our weekly Tuesday Lifelong Learning Lectures, has provided a lovely write-up for the Bernard Betel Centre community on art in the time of COVID-19. Enjoy!


The Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine has used famous artworks to promote responsible behaviour in order to fight the spread of COVID-19 virus, adding some humor to these “appropriation of art” posters.

Appropriation of art” means the use of pre-existing objects or images with little transformation applied to them, which means to properly adopt, borrow or recycle aspects of human-made visual culture.


Wear a Face MaskCover your mouth and nose avoid touching mask once it’s on.

The Son of Man (Le fils de l’homme) was painted in 1964 by the Belgian surrealist René Magritte (1898 –1967). It is part of a private collection. This is perhaps the most well-known artwork of the artist. This is Magritte’s self-portrait; it depicts a man in an overcoat wearing a bowler hat standing in front of a low wall, in the background cloudy sky and sea. The man’s face is largely obscured by a green apple. However, part of the man’s eyes can be seen peeking over the edge of the apple.


Pay with a Card – using card payments instead of cash may significantly reduce the spread of the infection.

Mrs. Worrell (c.1775–8) painted by the American painter Benjamin West (1738-1820) is part of the of Tate Gallery collection in London. This is a portrait of Mrs. Catherine Worrell who was married to the wealthy Barbadian landowner Jonathan Worrell who commissioned the portrait. Catherine Worrell is presented in the appearance of the Roman mythological character Hebe, goddess of youth; she was the daughter of Zeus and Hera (Juno).


Use Hand Sanitizer – use sanitizers to keep your hands and personal accessories clean.

The Creation of Adam (c. 1512) by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564) is a fresco part of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling, painted c. 1508–1512. The Fresco illustrates the Biblical creation narrative from the Book of Genesis in which G-d gives life to Adam, the first man. The fresco is part of a complex iconographic scheme, chronologically depicting episodes from Genesis. The image of the near-touching hands of G-d and Adam has become iconic of humanity. The painting has been reproduced in countless imitations and parodies.


Use deliveryusing delivery services reduces the number of contacts and minimizes risks of infection.

The depiction of Napoleon Crossing the Alps (1801) by the French artist Jacques-Louis David (1748–1825) located at the Château de Malmaison, Rueil-Malmaison, France. The painting looks like a photograph; capturing a movement in time, depicted by an artist who later became Napoleon’s official artist.


Social Distancing – staying at home and keeping social distance is the most effective way to stop the spread of the virus.

The mural Last Supper (1490’s) by Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) was painted on the wall in the refectory of the Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. Leonardo used an experimental technique- applying tempera paint and mixed media directly to the stone wall. This technique contributed to the severe deterioration that occurred to the painting within da Vinci’s own lifetime. The work was nevertheless, highly admired and there were many attempts made to restore it throughout the centuries.

In 1943, a bomb fell on the church, but the iron framework of the refectory protected the wall from destruction. From 1978 to 1999, a major restoration project took on to stabilize the painting and reverse the damage caused by dirt and pollution. This restoration took 21 years! On 28 May, 1999 the refectory was open for viewing.


Keep the Distance – being in public places, keep the distance of 2 meters from other people.

In his painting Orpheus and Eurydice (1864) the English painter Fredrick Leighton (1830–1896) depicts an ancient Roman legend. The painting is part of the of Leighton House Museum collection, London. Orpheus and Eurydice were married. Orpheus was a musician so talented that he could charm just about anyone with his playing on his lyre (seen in the painting behind Orpheus). Eurydice was a beautiful nymph who died from a viper bite on her foot on the same day of her wedding. Stricken with grief, Orpheus played a melody so beautiful that it even softened the hearts of the underworld Gods. They said he could retrieve Eurydice as long as he didn’t look at her on their way back to earth. Unfortunately Orpheus couldn’t resist a worried glimpse, and he lost his wife forever.


Make Supplies – Stocking up on supplies lets you remain home for longer time minimize the potential risk of infection.

Lady with an Ermine (1489–1490) by the Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) part of the National Museum of Kraków ‘s collection; this painting is one of Poland’s national treasures. The portrait is of Cecilia Gallerani, was painted during the time she was the mistress of Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan and Leonardo was in the Duke’s service. It is one of only four portraits of women painted by Leonardo, the others being the Mona Lisa, the portrait of Ginevra de’ Benci, and La belle ferronnière.


Wash Your HandsFrequently wash your hands with soap to kill virus that may be on them.

Portrait of a young man in Red (1505) painted by Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio) (1483 – 1520) is part of the collection of The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. The identity of the man is unknown; in the background beautiful cared landscapes that include a residence – it might be his own. His fine clothes, direct gaze, and proud domineer is a characteristic Renaissance emphasis on individualism. The three-quarter turn of the body, with his arm forming the base of the triangular composition, became a popular pose in that era.


Use Gloveswear disposable gloves to avoid contact with potentially infected surfaces.

Praying Madonna (1670) by the Italian Baroque painter Giovanni Battista Salvi (1609-1685). Giovanni Battista Salvi was an accomplished portraitist, and specialized in paintings of a devotional nature, usually representing the Madonna alone or with the Christ Child. This composition is known in at least six other versions, this one is located in Monsarat Museum, Monsarat, Spain.

2 thoughts on “Art in the Time of COVID-19: Part 2 – Rachel Levin, Art Lecturer”

  1. Hello…I so enjoyed this lecture. My one comment is this; While the submission is lovely, I would much prefer that it be referred to as well researched, thought provoking, enlightening, etc. You get the idea! Thanks for listening…

    Like

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