Usually when memorizing slides for art history, I make up stupid little stories about the artists and the pieces that aren’t necessarily true (like 690 cupcakes fit inside the Dome of the Rock – it was constructed around 690 CE.) Or I use real life facts to remember the dates that do not directly relate to the piece – El Greco’s Pieta was finished in 1576, it is now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art which is just off of Interstate 76.
I would have a lot of purging to do if I were to ever teach about these pieces; my students would know them by heart, but also have heads full of nonsense.
I made up a rap about El Greco’s Prado altarpiece for Doña María de Aragón. It is supposed to sound like a cheesy rap from 90s… 1996 to be precise, because the first piece, Immaculate Conception (or Annunciation) was begun in 1596. It goes like this:
Yo yo yo,
Baptism of Christ in ’97.
17th century came down like flames,
Pentecost by El Greco, yo, you know his name.
Five years later with the Crucifixion –
Took a little break from painting Christian.
Finally finished, yeah, ya heard?
in 1614: Adoration of the Shepherds.