Canal Educatif: Art History Like You've Never Seen Before!

On YouTube, if you unearth past the layers of apocalyptic cats, nyan cats, evil cats, scary cats, and sneaky cats, you’ll find content that can actually educate you! A double rainbow for erudition! We have all heard about the instructional simplicity of Khan Academy and the brilliance of Ted-Ed, but there’s an equally fantastic channel for Art History buffs that truly deserves some viral appreciation: Canal Educatif à la Demande. Canal Educatif (educational channel) is a French co-operative project. Our aim is to produce a unique series of high-quality educational videos and make them available free of charge to young people and adults.

Since 2007, Canal Educatif (CED) has produced investigative-style documentaries on Art History, Economics, and Sciences and Innovation. Tristement, only the Art History section is available in English and it includes documentaries on works by Holbein, Delacroix, Poussin, and Rodin. But it is clear that the quality of these videos far succeeds their quantity! For example, in Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People, the documentary explores why Delacroix, an aristocrat, would paint the very ideal he opposed and even feared? And why did Rodin leave his iconic sculptural gateway, The Gates of Hell, unfinished? Why was it never cast in bronze? These are just some of the questions answered in the highly informative series of documentaries produced by CED.

The organization has also explored a new avenue in the dissemination of Art History; the Google Art Project. In a YouTube series called Art Sleuth, CED has created short, detective style explorations of some of the gigapixel paintings on the Art Project. In these clever, 10 to 15 minute episodes, the nitty gritties of close observation reveal that in art too, the devil is in the details ; what seems to be a touching portrait of Marie Antoinette and her children, can emerge as thinly veiled attempt at false benevolence and humility. Coincidentally, there are some works in which there is literally (and figuratively), a Devil in the details.

To cover its production expenses, CED relies on micro-donations made to their website. So if you’d like to learn more about Manet’s A Bar at Folies Bergères, do make a contribution! Here’s hoping that Kickstarter will soon be launched in Europe because CED’s projects (Filmmaking) seem ideal for the crowdfunding platform. In the meantime, there’s a lot of content offered by CED on both YouTube and on its website. You certainly won't miss the repetitive babbling of nyan cats after having watched Manet’s In the Conservatory or Rembrandt’s The Prodigal Son. Let the sleuthing begin!