A new video-content platform called HENI Talks has just been launched featuring over twenty-five short videos, each covering specific art historical themes in a style which resembles the widely popular TED Talks format. The site’s aim is to share insights about art history from leading artists, curators and academics on film, and to ultimately “open art up to the wider public”.
The videos live up to their self-proclaimed accessibility – they are beautifully shot, buttressed by edgy soundtracks, and led by lucid explanations from a myriad of art world giants. The videos cover subjects from painting, sculpture and architecture, to entire artistic movements, specific geographic artistic production, and a focus on singular artists. Collectively, they share two of the famous TED Talks' winning features: a narration style that is evocative and jargon-free, and brevity – almost all the videos are around fifteen minutes long.
Cover: The Revolution of the Black Square, Iwona Blazwick / Vimeo
Duchamp’s ‘Readymades’ and the Making of Contemporary Art, Ralph Rugoff / Vimeo
With a speaker list including artists such as Damien Hirst and Jeremy Deller, HENI Talks has not only approached the theme of accessibility on the level of theme and delivery, they've also tapped into a common art consciousness. Whilst a broader public may struggle to name any contemporary curator or art critic, the ubiquitousness of Hirst invites people on the fringes of art awareness to join in without fear of alienation.
‘It is what it is.’, Jeremy Deller / Vimeo
Highlights within the series so far include Iwona Blazwick's contextualisation of Kasimir Malevich's Black Square, first painted in 1915. Blazwick describes the genesis of the iconic painting, its seminal inclusion in the The Last Futurist Exhibition 0.10 in 1915, and its influence on Modern Art history through to Jenny Holzer's Redaction Paintings. She allows viewers to gain a bird's-eye view over the story of one painting and how it completely changed the way artists worked. In a similar vein, Ralph Rugoff's unpretentious explanation of Marcel Duchamp's Readymades as originators of contemporary art breaks down conventionally impenetrable definitions of what contemporary art actually is. Equally captivating are talks by artist Jeremy Deller on his war-themed art, Dejan Sudjic's overview of the impact and reach of Californian design, and Hal Foster's description of the artistic climate surrounding the work of Cindy Sherman.
California: Designing Freedom, Deyan Sudjic / Vimeo
HENI Talks is a welcome addition to the landscape of online art coverage. Imbued with bright, crisp imagery and unfussy language, it cleanses art appreciation of its conventional art-speaky trappings. Whilst its widespread success is yet to be seen, its content promises to fling the door to hitherto exclusive art discussions wide open, shedding light on why all audiences should and need to participate.
To watch more of the HENI Talks videos, visit their website here.