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How much art can fit into one minute?

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“One Minute Art History” features about 55 seconds worth of beautiful art. Though short and sweet, the production of such an undertaking was far from simple. In a way, it can be compared to the 2017 fully painted feature film Loving Vincent. Both are magnificent examples of stop-motion artistic film. However, there is a major difference between the two works. And this difference lies in their styles.

The movie Loving Vincent maintained the same artistic style throughout its cinematic story: that of Vincent Van Gogh, whereas “One Minute Art History” is ever-changing. It keeps going; there’s not one dull moment. The individual, the main subject of the short film, changes. The figure changes features, nationality, dress, gender, etc. (At times, the form is like a blank canvas or a wall of solid color, a figure without a face.) And as he changes, his surroundings and times change with him.

Every single element depicted in the short film is constantly being renewed, being altered. The atmosphere and style evolve to fit the person who is always donning a new and unique look. First released in 2016 (over a year prior to that of Loving Vincent), “One Minute Art History” even employs a variety of different arts. The majority of the imagery is traditional painting or is made to look exactly like it. But if it is examined frame by frame, it is shown to display sketchings and additional digital art as well.

The figure we follow for just 55 seconds shows us the world and a little bit about the human identity. From ancient Egypt to modern times, we see this man evolve. We see him shape his home, the Earth. We see him perform bold acts as well as everyday acts of little significance. Culture and technological knowledge keep changing. Meanwhile, the production as a whole moves along rather quickly with each frame coming and going at a rapid pace, yet not so fast that the mind can not grasp it.

I think this speed is associated with many things in our present culture and life. It all happens in a flash. “One Minute Art History” personifies the speed of many modern lifestyles. A great deal of the flowing imagery is inspired by traditional Oriental art. Its creator, Cao Shu, is an artist/filmmaker and is also a lecturer at China Academy of Art. In observing the development of the main character, the viewer may be led to believe the video is actually a subtly-disguised, digital portrait of the artist himself.