Course Reviews




The history of artistic expression is a dramatic visual record of fundamental historical change. Art across the ages embodies the important, core ideas that shape and define whole cultures, and an exploration of art history is a powerful and memorable means to understand human history.

This course provides an overview of the history of painting and sculpture dating from Paleolithic Europe to the fall of Ancient Rome -- c. 30,000 B.C. to 410 A.D. Students examine significant works of art from across this period, and explore the philosophical significance of these works. Observations are also made of related developments in architecture and the applied arts.

ART HISTORY I progresses chronologically, from man's first artistic efforts through to the collapse of western civilization at the onslaught of the Dark Ages. This progression enables students to see how the arts change in tandem with fundamental cultural changes, as well as helps students build a foundation of knowledge of the arts of the ancient world. This material also offers a profound, philosophical overview of the story of man's rise out of the cave to the heights of Athen's Acropolis, and the tragic failure that led to man's abandonment of this grand achievement.

Class demonstrations include:

  • Analysis of sample art works from the major art epochs
  • Comparative analysis of art works from different eras and cultures
  • Drawing demonstrations analyzing structure and visual elements of art works (example below)

This course is based on Sandra Shaw's lessons designed for LePort Schools, enhanced for an adult audience, and broadened by the perspective offered by philosophy.

Students familiar with Ms. Shaw's conference lectures on the history of sculpture will gain from the wider scope of this course. This course includes the evolution of sculpture, painting, drawing, architecture, and applied arts. The full two-semester schedule offers in-depth treatment of subjects and extensive opportunities for students to explore material in class.

This is not a course for credit. Course content has not been presented before, and includes "cutting room floor" research material originally generated for Ms. Shaw's conference courses, as well as new insights into the philosophical and psychological nature of the arts.


MP3 Files (1 CD-ROM)
CD's (1CD per Lecture)
Art History I, Sem 1 (15 Lectures + Opening Remarks)



Art History I, Sem 2 (12 Lectures)



Art History I, Sems 1 & 2 Discount



All prices incl. shipping

Student rate: 50% off full prices for full-time students
Please mail a copy of your student ID with your check.

If you are paying by check, please make checks payable to Sandra Shaw
and mail to the address below. Please notify us by e-mail when you send a check:

Sandra J. Shaw
P.O. Box 1311
Culver City, CA 90232-1311

For more information and student rate enrollment, write to:

(the above is an image, not a link -- to protect this address from SPAM robots)

Course Reviews

"From Ms. Shaw's previous work, I knew this new course would be excellent. But now that I am well into the first semester, I have discovered that it is eye-opening in ways that exceeded my expectations.

At this point, I have listened to the first five lectures (in a digital audio format, accompanied by images available on the course website). We have just finished looking at the art of the early Mesopotamian civilization of Sumeria. Most of the art we have discussed up to now is from prehistoric peoples. Because the pre-Sumerian peoples left no written records--no indication of their ideas, their religion, their rituals, their social organization--these are people whose mental life and development is almost completely obscure to us. But they did leave art--and Ms. Shaw shows that this is a powerful record of the intellectual development of pre-civilized man. The value of her lectures is best expressed in a seeming oxymoron: Sandra Shaw provides an intellectual history of pre-historic man.

I do not want to give away the details of her discussion, nor could I do justice to the material; the reader is best off discovering the lectures for himself. But I want to make this point for the benefit of those who might have looked at the initial description of these lectures, and perhaps seen some images of the artworks she refers to. If you have been turned off because these early examples seem so hopelessly crude and primitive as to be utterly uninspiring--think again. By the time Ms. Shaw's lectures are done, you will see these crude figures as man's first, crucial steps toward a concept of success, happiness, and human efficacy; as man's first steps in developing his power of abstraction; as man's first projections of a heroic ideal.

Sandra Shaw is able to achieve this because she has a unique combination of abilities as a lecturer on art.

My general experience is that most discussion of early art falls into the "armchair" school of art history. These historians are able to discuss in often excruciating detail the historical, economic, and social context within which a given work of art was produced--but there is usually something too abstract and general about their comments on the art itself. The best of these historians are able to notice the broadest artistic developments--the use of shading or foreshortening, for example, to imply the representation of objects in three dimensions--but there is a lack of detail in their understanding of the choices the artist makes. They view art as a scholar views it, not as an artist does.

Sandra Shaw looks at art with an artist's eye--or to put it more precisely, she understands art from the perspective of an artist's psycho-epistemology. That is, she sees art in terms of the mental processes the artist must have been going through--the precision of his habits of observation, the degree to which he is attempting to draw abstractions from concretes, the exact techniques of modeling the figure, the specific choices of what to emphasize. I have what I think is a better than average education in the history of art (which is not making too great a claim in today's context), but I am not an artist, and I have been constantly struck by the fine subtlety of detail Ms. Shaw is able to draw to her listener's attention. Her lectures are unique, in my experience, in their ability to analyze and explain the artist's mind, and I think this is because Sandra Shaw is herself an artist who has clearly devoted a lot of effort to understanding the process by which she creates her own works.

This is a very rare thing to discover. Most artistic types tend to be relatively inarticulate when expressing themselves in words. I mean this without censure; the ability to express oneself clearly is a skill that has to be learned and developed, and the development of an artist's skill in one medium--in paint, say, or bronze--is often pursued at the expense of his skill in the medium of words. Frank Lloyd Wright once began a lecture by saying that he felt more comfortable expressing himself "with a hod of mortar and some bricks"--and given what he accomplished in bricks and mortar, who can blame him? So it is rare to find an artist who is able to explain art in clear, precise, philosophical terms.

Sandra Shaw is that rarity. She looks at art from the artist's perspective, but she draws deeply from the scholar's erudition, introducing each era with an essentialized overview of what we know about man's development in technology, religion, and all other areas of his life, giving us important clues that explain the intellectual development we see in his art.

The result really has been an eye-opening series of lectures that have left me feeling, not only that I understand prehistoric art for the first time, but that I truly understand prehistoric *man* for the first time.

For those tempted to skip the first semester and start at the exalted pinnacle of Greek art, I recommend listening to both series of lectures. Your appreciation of Classical art will only be heightened by seeing how far man had to climb, over how many millennia, and through what chain of earlier discoveries and achievements, to reach that summit."

Robert Tracinski
Editor, The Intellectual Activist

"I've taken countless art and architectural history classes, and I believe I've attended all or nearly all of the lectures on art that Sandra Shaw has given. Of all of these lectures and courses, Ms. Shaw's have consistently offered a deeper understanding of the artworks she discusses and a unique perspective on the history of art than I have found anywhere else.

Sandra Shaw's course offers a very different alternative [to other art history courses available today]. Her course properly links fundamental changes in art with the culture's fundamental philosophic changes. Unlike a politically correct art history course, Ms. Shaw's course will powerfully bring to life a full and exacting judgment of the real consequence of bad ideas. And Ms. Shaw understands art from the perspective of an experienced and talented artist, allowing her to draw out important details that others might miss."

Sherri Tracinski
The Intellectual Activist

"Attending Ms. Shaw's Art History I course has been a tremendously enriching experience. Ms. Shaw expertly analyzes each work with the eye of an artist and the mind of a philosopher. Her lectures are both educational and entertaining. Ms. Shaw has a highly polished delivery and striking visuals to facilitate learning.

I am thrilled with the knowledge and skills I have gained through Ms. Shaw's course. I have become familiar with the most important works of art from ancient history. I have developed my ability to truly see a work of art, to analyze its features, and to identify its theme. Moreover, I now understand what these key artistic works reveal about each culture's fundamental ideas and values. Ms. Shaw's course has not only advanced my understanding of man's history, but also increased my personal enjoyment of art. I will cherish the many heroic, inspiring pieces featured in her class. To Ms. Shaw, I offer a heartfelt thank-you, to future students, I urge you to sieze the opportunity to take this course!"

Lindsay Joseph
Executive Director, LePort Schools

"Ms. Shaw’s Art History course is a profound, penetrating analysis of the role of art in human life. Beginning with prehistoric man, the course traces the development of art and artistic methods through the first human civilizations. Employing an array of visual images, Ms. Shaw explains the deep connection between a culture’s artworks and its philosophical values. She makes powerful connections between art and history, art and psychology, art and philosophy. Each class demonstrates, in a novel manner, that the story of art is the story of man.

The material is properly complemented by Ms. Shaw’s presentation style. Speaking clearly, confidently, and knowledgeably, her voice conveys the solemnity with which she approaches her subject. Ms. Shaw’s enthusiasm for art and philosophy, combined with the powerful visual component of the course, gives her presentations that sublime, inspiring quality possessed by great works of art.

I cannot recommend this course enough. Week after week after week, Ms. Shaw's presentations have left me amazed and dazzled."

Ray Girn
Instructor, LePort Schools

"Your Art History class was one of the most enriching and enjoyable educational experiences I have had in my life. The depth and extent to which you were able to reveal the relationship between art and the dominant philosophy of a culture was extraordinary. You did an excellent job tying historical facts about ancient cultures and societies with their views about life and man's potential. Because art deals in concrete expressions of abstract metaphysical ideas, listening to your lectures has given me the heightened ability to both understand philosophy and experience art as inextricably joined. I also think you did a wonderful job of showing the most beautiful and impressive art objects of all of the ancient cultures.

Thank you very much. You can count me in as a student in any future lectures that you choose to put on."
Brad Bereznak
Burgess & Bereznak, LLP

"I've read some of the great comments about your class and there's not much I can add except to say that the lectures aren't coming often enough. When you've been driving  a delapidated, rusty piece of junk and get a chance to drive a Porsche,  it's only natural that you want to drive it everyday and not just every week or two.

This course has taught me how to see what before I only stared at but never noticed. Many thanks."

Bert Joly

"Having listened to two lectures by now, I dare say that this is an excellent course both in terms of content and presentation. It is also a tremendous value for the money.

This course is highly recommended for all lovers of art."

Christian Wernstedt

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