How do we understand the seemingly senseless destruction of monuments during World War I? How does art history dovetail with military history? In this episode, Thomas Gaehtgens’ explores these questions through the lens of Reims Cathedral. He traces the history and symbolism of this iconic gothic building through the war and after, investigating the roles of culture, scholarship, and media in shaping our understanding of WWI and its legacy. Gaehtgens is Director Emeritus of the Getty Research Institute and his new book from Getty Publications is titled Reims on Fire: War and Reconciliation between France and Germany.
Tom Weiss, a specialist on humanitarian intervention and the United Nations, believes we are at a watershed moment for international cooperation on the protection of cultural heritage. In this episode, Weiss uses the ongoing civil war in Syria as a springboard to address the preservation of monuments and cultural heritage during times of humanitarian crisis and armed conflict. He traces the evolution of thinking and action on this issue, considering the role of the UN, useful legal frameworks, and how approaches to safeguarding cultural heritage might mirror approaches to protecting human rights and lives. Weiss is Presidential Professor of Political Science at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York and the author of the occasional paper Cultural Cleansing and Mass Atrocities: Protecting Cultural Heritage in Armed Conflict Zones, available for free at getty.edu.
The early Baroque artist Caravaggio painted bold compositions with dramatic lighting that emphasized the physical and emotional humanity of his subjects. In this episode, we listen as two curators, Davide Gasparotto and Keith Christiansen, visit the Getty Museum’s exhibition “Caravaggio: Masterpieces from the Galleria Borghese” to talk about the paintings on view.
Gasparotto is senior curator of paintings at the J. Paul Getty Museum and Christiansen is the John Pope-Hennessy Chairman of the Department of European Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is recommended to view images of the paintings online while listening.