As audiences continue to migrate from traditional forms of media, communicators are resourcefully transitioning with them. Platforms such as TikTok have offered up an opportunity to educate and entertain millions in a more immediate format than ever before. Art History, a sometimes daunting and inaccessible area of study for many, has found its way onto the app in bite-size portions, in equal parts educative and enjoyable. Delving into this realm, Something Curated highlights five TikTok art historians you should follow.
With a focus on well edited biographical videos exploring the lives and works of contemporary Black American artists, Art History student Cassandra Rush’s TikTok, @pheauxtogenic, highlights the practices of artists such as Tschabalala Self and Diedrick Brackens, as well as earlier pioneers, including Gordon Parks. Born into segregation in Fort Scott, Kansas, Parks developed a deeply personal style of photography with a focus on race relations, civil rights and urban life. Parks left behind an exceptional body of work; a legacy that documented American culture and everyday life from the early 1940s to the 2000s, with achievements encompassing writing, composing, and filmmaking.
Working across painting and ceramics, Japanese-American content creator Dane Nakama, behind @umeboi, is a practicing artist who shares his research and discoveries along the way. Nakama unpacks historical traditions from across the globe, fascinating artworks, as well as unusual materials. Among his recent posts, @umeboi takes a look at American conceptual artist Mary Kelly’s Post-Partum Document, 1973-79, a six-year exploration of the mother-child relationship. When it was first shown at the ICA in London in 1976, the work provoked tabloid outrage because the piece incorporated stained nappy liners. Each of the six-part series concentrates on a formative moment in Kelly’s son’s mastery of language and her own sense of loss, moving between the voices of the mother, child and analytic observer.
Mary McGillivray, who earned her MPhil in History of Art and Architecture from the University of Cambridge last year, grew up watching BBC history documentaries and dreamed of becoming the next Mary Beard or John Berger. Through her popular TikTok, @_theiconoclass, McGillivray makes challenging and comedic videos about visual culture history. A particularly compelling analysis of recent pop culture sees McGillivray dissect the art history references in the music video for Lizzo and Cardi B’s Rumors, which nods to ancient Greek Muses, Classical pottery, and Hercules, among other influences.
Sara Alawadi, behind @goldendinars, is the Kuwaiti teen breaking down art history for millions on TikTok. From analysing the artwork of toddlers to her satirical portrayal of artistic stereotypes, her approach is light-hearted. A recent video by Alawadi discusses the famed land artwork of Agnes Denes. Born in Budapest, Hungary in 1931, Denes was raised in Sweden and educated in the United States. Wheatfield – A Confrontation is perhaps her best-known work. It was created during a four-month period in the spring and summer of 1982 when Denes, with the support of the Public Art Fund, planted a field of golden wheat on two acres of rubble-strewn landfill near Wall Street and the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan.
Art Historian Tatyana Kalaydjian Serraino earned her BA in Art History from the University of Cambridge, and her MA from the University of John Cabot in Rome. Serraino’s TikTok, @tatyanaaboutart, oscillates between the creator’s takes on artworks and movements, as well as collating collections of art with common themes, in posts such as “Artworks made of unusual materials” and “Paintings of women in peril.” In a video about Spanish romantic painter and printmaker Francisco Goya, Serraino traces the artist’s complex trajectory. Goya is often referred to as the last of the Old Masters and the first of the moderns. Considered the most important Spanish artist of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, his paintings, drawings, and engravings reflected then contemporary upheavals.
Feature image: Still from Lizzo featuring Cardi B, Rumors, 2021 (via YouTube)