History Of A Painting Short Films

3-star rating
Art, Education, Free, Short Films
Comfortable, Stationary

The History Of A Painting is a series of animated virtual reality stories, each depicting an artist and their most regarded of works. The production's website describes the goal of the series to be "engaging young adults in art by creating accessible and relatable experiences focused on the human stories behind some of the world's most iconic art." To date there have been two episodes published on the Meta App Lab - the first in March 2021 and the second exactly a year later.

The first episode introduces the story of Georges Seurat and the development of a pontillism technique that culminated in the 1884 painting "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte". The written and narrated story is entertaining but lacking in detail and feels like it's aimed at a young teen audience at best. Furthermore, the simplicity in the art-style of the ten minute animated sequence echoes this lack of detail, even if the texture of the animation objects cleverly mimic the poinillism style.

Ironically, the pointillism technique of using tiny dots of various pure colors to produce vivid images probably isn't the best subject to begin a virtual reality series on paintings. The painter's pointed brush-strikes clash with the limited pixels of the digital VR screen, producing a strobing effect that makes it difficult to appreciate the painting the way it was intended.

Episode 1: Georges Surat's pontilism.

The second episode is a much more polished production, illustrating the life and works of Artemisia Gentileschi and her 1617 painting "Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria". The script's narrative is engaging and does a great job of describing the struggles in her life and how they shaped the subjects of her paintings. Also in the first episode we missed parts of some scenes, as it wasn't clear where to look, but this time a bird flutters between the scenes, tweeting at you and ruffling feathers to grab your attention.

It's clear that a lot of work has gone into the History Of A Painting series so far, and it's also pleasing to see the progression of quality that's already occurred in the two episodes currently available. We do fail to see however what virtual reality has to offer here. Surely these same stories could have been shown just as successfully as flatscreen presentations? And if the goal is to engage young adults, then it must be easier to do it on a large flat screen or projection in a classroom than it is on a one-by-one basis through the lenses of a virtual reality headset. Also, afterwards we sought out further understanding of these subjects with the Great Art Explained channel on YouTube, and found that we learned much more in around the same amount of time.

Episode 2: Focuses on Artemisia Gentileschi life and works.

✅ Good scripts suitable for young teens.
❌ Unremarkable graphical presentation.
❌ Virtual reality doesn't seem necessary for these stories.

• Languages: English
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