Western Paintings That Changed the World, a new two-part Farnsworth lecture series, will take place Wednesdays, May 29 and June 5, at 5:30 p.m. at the Strand Theatre, 345 Main St.

During these illustrated lectures, Farnsworth Director of Education and Harvard adjunct lecturer Roger Dell will explore European and American paintings that altered the course of art, and also world history. Although many paintings could be put forward as the most important or the best of an artist’s career, each of the four paintings chosen for this series had a transformational effect on the artists that came after and on events beyond the art world.

Dell will focus in detail on the creation of the paintings, as well as their formal elements, social history and influence on fellow and future artists’ work. Moreover, the place of the paintings in their broad cultural context and their impact on historical and political events in the West and around the world will be explored.

The first lecture is titled New Perspectives: Giotto’s "Life of Christ" and Leonardo’s "Last Supper." In the Arena Chapel in Padua, Italy, Giotto di Bondone covered all the walls from floor to ceiling with a series of life-like figures from the New Testament and dramatically created a paradigm shift from the medieval to the modern view of the world. Later, Leonardo’s figures in “The Last Supper” were for centuries models for the way artists portrayed the personalities and the souls of people through their outward appearances.

The second lecture is titled From Brothels to Soap Pads: Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles” to Warhol’s Brillo Boxes. Although considered today for its stylistic innovations, in its day “Les Demoiselles” was Picasso’s summation of his personal beliefs about women, Parisian society, disease and death. Warhol’s “Brillo Box” show exploded the idea of what art was or should be; threw the art world into the ongoing debate on the roles of the market, celebrity and money; and was the dividing line between the Modern and the Post-Modern periods.

The fee for the series is $26, $20 for Farnsworth members; reservations for individual lectures also may  be made. The fee for each individual lecture is $16, $12 for Farnsworth members. For more information or to reserve a seat, contact the museum’s Education Department at 596-0949 or visit farnsworthmuseum.org/education.

The programs are made possible in part by Mr. and Mrs. Louis Cabot, Mr. and Mrs. Robert J. Campbell, Cascade Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Peter F. McSpadden, Ms. Joyce Tenneson, Dr. and Mrs. Frederick E. Varricchio and anonymous donors.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115 or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.