Can Art Change the World Ted Talk


Can Art Change the World

The video on YouTube is about a French artist, who was awarded the TED prize for his contribution to making the world view art from a different perspective. The street artist from France is semi-anonymous and he only claims that he is called JR (Davidson 1). He has used his unique camera to show human beings about what is taking place in the real world. Furthermore, he made excellent use of the numerous favelas and whole villages, as well as his crew to take the many photos of faces.

He has posted countless photos of human being faces on quite an expansive canvas. While receiving the infamous TED prize, he makes his genuine wish concerning art known to all the people watching him (Bloomfield 1). He tells people that art can be used to turn the existing world inside out. He even went as far as saying that he has started a project known as the inside out project to inspire other artists who have the same cause and interest as him (Ted Prize 1).

Vincent Willem van Gogh

Vincent Willem van Gogh is one such artist who used art in order to change the world. His art form was oil paintings that had key subjects of scenery, cityscapes, landscapes and figures. Even though van Gogh lived on earth as much as 115 years ago, his artwork has still altered the manner, which people view style, individuality, persona, and beauty in art. His many countless art drawings and paintings had unique characteristics that people have duplicated and copied for a long time (Artble 1).

Van Gogh will be remembered for the fact that he was a self-taught artist that made an impact on Post-impressionism art. He was an artist who was mentally challenged as he suffered from depression. However, he was able to use his emotions in order to come up with art paintings that showed his impression of some of the problems that were taking place in society. Van Gogh was greatly inspired by Jean-Francois Millet who was a known missionary. Millet often worked with the people from the lower classes such as labourers and farmers. These people were often looked down upon by society, but van Gogh had compassion towards them.

He believed that they were honourable people who needed to be appreciated and thus van Gogh made attempts to include them in most of his works. He wanted people to change the mentality that they had towards people considered to be from low classes. The depictions of the countryside and peasants by Millet had a huge impact on the early offerings by van Gogh. In fact, van Gogh claimed that “Millet is father Millet…… counsellor and mentor in everything for young artists” (Van Gogh Gallery 1). It is no wonder that while at an asylum; van Gogh came up with as many as 21 copies of artwork that showed his affection towards the disadvantaged people in society.

The Potato Eaters

One of the artworks that showed the world peasants living in van Gogh’s time is known as ‘The Potato Eaters’. It shows a vivid picture of some peasants eating a meal of potatoes that they had earlier on the harvest. These people are extremely poor to the point whereby they cannot afford to eat anything else other than the potatoes. This shows the extreme poverty that people were subjected to at the time and no one seemed to care for such people.

The painting was created in the year 1885, and oil paints were used on a canvas. The image was painted on a canvas with a length of 114 cm and a height of 82 cm. Furthermore, the art painting was meant to be sold in the market place so that people from all walks of life could see it and know about the issues affecting the world (Van Gogh Gallery 1).

The ‘Shoe’

The ‘Shoe’ is another painting done by van Gogh done in the year 1888 on a canvas with a length of 55.20 cm and a height of 45.70. The painting was a still-life painting of some pair of shoes at Arles. The shoes are quite old and tattered, and they seem to have been worn by their owner for a long time. It is most likely that the owner could not afford to buy a new pair of shoes and thus wore them for a long time. This proves that van Gogh wanted to express poverty using an old pair of shoes. Anyone who views this painting up to date is informed about some of the issues that affected society at the time (Van Gogh Gallery 1).


In conclusion, it is quite evident that art has the ability to change the world. JR and van Gogh are two artists from different generations, but they were still able to use their art to inform people of some of the issues and challenges that human beings face. People view art differently and they can only make a difference in other people’s lives’ if they interpret the artwork well and help those who are in need. Indeed, more artists need to come up with artwork that will impact the world and highlight issues that need to be addressed.


Work Cited

Artble. Vincent van Gogh. Web. 25 Nov. 2013. <>

Van Gogh Gallery. Van Gogh’s Impact on Art Web. 25 Nov. 2013. <>

Ted Prize. Can ART Change the World?  YouTube, Web. 25 Nov. 2013. <>

Davidson, Lauren. Can Street Art Change the World? The Tower, Web. 25 Nov. 2013. <>

Bloomfield, Will. Can Art Change the World? Web. 25 Nov. 2013. <>



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