Five Favorite Works of Art with Jon Cozart | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios

Five Favorite Works of Art with Jon Cozart | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios

NARRATOR: This is Jon Cozart. Hey there. NARRATOR: This is Jon’s
workspace, featuring his hyper organized,
minimalist bulletin board, but it’s a multipurpose room. It doubles as where I sleep
and also where I work and cry. NARRATOR: He may look familiar
to you from his Disney parodies, progressive
Christmas carols, history of classical music, or
brutal takedown of YouTube culture that he shared through
his YouTube channel Paint, but he hasn’t been
posting there lately. Now I’m leaning into
long form narrative stuff like television,
movies, and maybe musicals. Who knows? I have an existential
crisis about it every day. NARRATOR: We’re not worried. Jon is a super
talented musician who has many irons in
the proverbial fire, but to the matter at hand. Here are five of my
favorite works of art. The musical “Spring Awakening.” NARRATOR: “Spring
Awakening” is a rock musical with book and lyrics by
Steven Sater and music by Duncan Sheik. It debuted on Broadway
in 2006, was a huge hit, and has given rise to
productions around the world. “Spring Awakening”
is this musical about these kids who are
coming of age in the 1800s. NARRATOR: It’s based on
a play by Frank Wedekind, completed in 1891, confronting
the realities of teenagers growing up in the very religious
and sexually repressive environment of late
19th century Germany. It was hugely controversial and
rarely performed at the time. Sorry, Jon. Back to you. I don’t want to say
I was in 1800s Germany or wherever the
hell it’s set, but I was in the Bible
Belt in the south, and there were things about my
life that I couldn’t express. Being an adolescent, it feels
like nobody understands me, like I’m experiencing
something that literally no one on the planet
has ever experienced. And then to have
this musical reflect my reality was shocking. It was shocking to me. Mozart’s Requiem in D Minor. If you listen to Mozart’s music
compared to Bach, or Beethoven, or the other greats, he just
sounds a lot more silly, I guess, or like he’s more
of a theatrical presence. NARRATOR: So then,
why the Requiem? Requiem is my
favorite work by Mozart because he was facing
death when he wrote it, and so it’s look at
the silly man who has spent his entire career
being sort of a rapscallion, and then he has to write this
requiem, which is like a death march or a funeral march. NARRATOR: Indeed, Mozart began
composing the mass in 1791, but it was unfinished when
he died that same year. Composer Franz Sussmayr
completed it in 1792 based on Mozart’s notes. While the work was
actually commissioned by Franz von Walsegg to
memorialize the count’s wife’s recent passing,
Mozart told his wife he felt he was writing
it for his own funeral. And there’s something so
dramatic and so theatrical about that. And then if you
look at the music itself compared to other
requiems, it’s beautiful. I don’t– I– I don’t know. No work is more affecting to me. NARRATOR: Should I
just, like, download it on iTunes or something? If you have an
opportunity to see any piece of classical music
live, you should go and see it, especially Mozart’s
Requiem because it’s a choir of just a ton of people,
and there are four soloists, and there’s this giant
group of instruments, and everybody is like– they have their game
face because it’s the quintessential dramatic
piece that people play. The movie “The Lord of the
Rings the Return of the King.” This is the movie that taught me
what storytelling epically was. NARRATOR: How would
you explain the plot to, say, your grandmother? JON COZART: It’s a
journey of a hobbit trying to destroy the ultimate
embodiment of evil. It’s easy. There you go, grandma. NARRATOR: OK, but why
do you like it so much? I mean, there’s no doubt it’s
one of the most gorgeous movies ever made, and certainly it
was pushing the boundaries of visual effects at the time. It was inventing all
this new technology to make battles more epic. NARRATOR: Released in 2003,
“The Return of the King” swept the 76th Academy Awards,
winning best visual effects, best art direction,
and all 11 categories for which it was nominated. And it’s– it’s a populist,
entertaining, sludgefest. It just is cheesy, and stupid,
and really, really profound. It defies description. The tomorrow speech from
Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” NARRATOR: Did we tell you how
much Jon likes Shakespeare? Anyway, the tragedy of “Macbeth”
was written around 1606 and tells the story of a
Scottish general, Macbeth, who receives a
prophecy that he will become the King of Scotland. He succeeds, but only through
murder and mayhem that wracks him with guilt and
leads to his undoing, which leads us to the soliloquy. So it’s in Act V. It’s
at the end of all things. Basically this
character Macbeth– his wife has just
committed suicide, and all of his ambition
has sort of gone to rot. NARRATOR: Jon, would you do
us the honor of reading it? Sure. All right, so this is
how it goes from the top. “She should have died hereafter. There would have been a time
for such a word tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. Creeps in this petty pace from
day to day to the last syllable of recorded time, and all our
yesterdays of lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out, out brief candle. Life is but a walking
shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his
hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an
idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” The end of this monologue,
Macbeth is saying life is like a person who is
on a stage acting life. It’s just as hollow as a person
who acts it in front of people, and it’s like this huge irony
because obviously Macbeth is played by an actor. Shakespeare is a writer,
and he wrote the actor to talk about how life is
like an actor playing a part. And then after he comes
off the stage, he’s dead, and then another
actor will come on. And it’s just
cyclical and stupid, and it’s a lot of noise. It’s a lot of sound. It’s a lot of fury, and
ultimately it comes to nothing. NARRATOR: And this
is inspiring for you? When I’m feeling
depressed or things are worthless or nothing, I
can’t put that into words. I can’t put– I can’t describe
it, but this does it because Shakespeare is a genius. The fact that he could
experience depression in this way, and
also get through it, and dramatize it, and
also do it in a setting 400 years ago in a hot day at
the end of a three hour play is shocking. And it’s super inspiring,
even though it’s supposed to be depressing. Bill Wurtz’s “History of Japan.” NARRATOR: Bill Wurtz published
this video to YouTube on February 2, 2016, and it has
since been viewed more than 31 million times. In precisely nine minutes,
he animates and narrates the entire history of Japan. So it’s like a
compilation of 400 vines all having to do with
Japan and its history. It’s really weird, and if
I were to pitch that to you and you’d never seen it, you
would probably not go watch it. It sounds dumbs. NARRATOR: But it isn’t
dumb, and you should really go watch it or rewatch it. It’s so perfect that– that’s– I watch it every day. What am I supposed to– I can wake up,
browse Twitter, or I could watch “History of
Japan” for the 100th time, which, of course, I go
watch “History of Japan.” NARRATOR: Deceptively
simple, it’s much more than, in Jon’s
words, a garbage PowerPoint. It’s this piece of work that’s
distinctly internet friendly and also does something
that no other piece of art has done before. It’s a product of
its time like I don’t think most of YouTube is. NARRATOR: So if “The
History of Japan” is art, how do you define a work of art? To me, a work of art is a
baring of some person’s soul that is emotionally
affecting to the viewer. So you make something
so that someone else can feel something. That’s a work of art. NARRATOR: Thanks, Jon. No, thank you guys. This was fun. Thanks for coming
into my little house. NARRATOR: “The Art
Assignment” is funded in part by viewers like you
though, a subscription
based platform that allows you to
support creators you like in the form of
a monthly donation. Special thanks to
our grand master of the arts Indianapolis
Homes Realty. If you’d like to
support the show, check out our page at

Dereck Turner

90 thoughts on “Five Favorite Works of Art with Jon Cozart | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios

  1. Xenolilly says:

    These are so much fun. This is my new favorite section of the art assignment.

  2. Greta M says:

    Great video!

  3. lorenabpv says:

    I never knew anything about this guy besides being viral and now I wish he was my friend. this channel is my favorite super convincing but also positive thing on youtube and this series is lovely

  4. empty sky says:

    i would have been 1st but i watched the video instead cos i love art and i love jon and this is amazing

  5. Eden says:

    beautiful incredible list Big Fan

  6. Carly Smallwood says:

    That Jungle Book poster is dope!

  7. Tyra Blair says:

    Gosh I just love this segment so much

  8. Leen Violite says:

    requiem is my all time favorite piece of music πŸ’œπŸ’œ I used to love u and everything u do but now I AM IN LOVE WITH U YOU ARE THE ONE

  9. Elina Terava says:

    Oh yay, two of my favorite things, Jon and the Art Assignment! More collabs with Jon please!

  10. A K says:

    I am a big fan of his!
    can you do a case foe unfinished works of art ?

  11. Vanessa V says:

    This is one of my favourite art assignment videos ever

  12. Jack Williams says:

    Jon Cozart's Five Favorite Works of Art:

    1. Spring Awakening (0:47)
    2. Requiem in D Minor, K 626 (1:48)
    3. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (3:19)
    4. Tomorrow Soliloquy from Shakespeare's Macbeth (4:17)
    5. History of Japan (6:42)

  13. β€’ frostedjosieos says:

    I just hit my desk when the first one was SA. What I was going to say is that I'm so glad Jon really hits all the sides of YouTube.

  14. Julia Prohaska says:

    Poor Jon

    I'm worried about him
    He's always "joking" about crying and existential crises, but with a face that is absolutely screaming for help. I don't know if I read too much into it, but my heart breaks a little when he says things like this

  15. β€’ frostedjosieos says:

    Wait I love how Sarah Narrator Voice prefaced that "garbage PowerPoint" was Jon's words

  16. Philipp Leindl says:

    he had me sold at the lord of the rings, but bill wurtz just changed the game

  17. Forbiddencolours says:


  18. Forbiddencolours says:

    Now I know how Jon is such a genius. He's so artistically cultured, it's really inspiring.

  19. Rachel Augsburger says:

    It's fascinating that he chose pieces that I value almost as much but for completely different reasons. Definitely listen to the Requiem. I personally like the Neville Marriner (Academy of St. Martin in the Fields) recording. Marriner always does Mozart so well.

  20. Frankie Velasco says:

    Thumbs down.

  21. TheTrueRandomness says:

    Really enjoyed this, like all the videos here. I find it unexpectedly difficult to put into more specific words…

  22. Books Dust says:

    do american people study shakespeare through translated plays? that's so weird because I live in italy and we had to study the originals! I mean we could use translations to help us understand the words, but while studying and taking exams we had to refer and analise the original plays!
    I think that by studing, reading and playing the translations most of the meaning and the musicality is lost…but I mean that's just my opinion, you can totally disagree if you want xD


  23. irgendwelchedinge says:

    I actually really love this idea of asking "popular people" what works of art they love! furthers my secret agenda to make art cool again lmao

  24. Mia R says:

    Do this with Dan and Phil πŸ˜‰

  25. katie says:

    Spring Awakening is a good choice, although if I were to choose a musical I might go for Tick Tick Boom instead.

  26. Leandra Luna says:

    Grandma explanation of Lord of the Rings: 9 men spend 9 hours returning jewelry! πŸ˜‚

  27. Loba Γ‰toile says:

    Everytime I finish watching this show, I feel the need to rush and watch/listen/read/search for/experience/investigate every art piece portrayed in the video/s… And hopefully comment it with someone afterwards.

  28. Rafaela Freitas says:

    im huge fan of jon omg

  29. Elisa Holmes says:

    What?πŸ˜„ I just now realised that Lin Manuel Miranda took lines from Macbeth and put them into Hamilton. It's always great to notice those little "Easter eggs" πŸ’™ Thanks Jon! I will look up all your favourites and be inspired by themπŸ‘πŸΌπŸ™‚

  30. alltheloveabove 올럽 says:

    Jon!!! whatcha doing here??

  31. Allison Holley says:

    I love this! His Bill Wurtz inclusion makes me want to do one that's exclusively internet-based. History of Japan, some Neil Cicierega, 17776, Car Boys, and some fifth thing I can't think of?

  32. Amor Sciendi says:

    Oh man, I want in on one of these

  33. Debbie Ebbiebobebbie says:

    That reading and explanation was beautiful. I cried.

  34. Jillian Drinnon says:

    I wish I wasn't a poor art student trying to afford food otherwise I would totally support you guys! Love your content and love how you spread the world of art to lots of different people. Godspeed.

  35. Duebrick says:

    more youtuber collabs please.

  36. Ellie K says:

    I think this is my favorite Art Assignment video so far! Love it!

  37. skybroke says:

    I appreciate Jon so much. I'm too tired to type out why but I love this video. Thanks to everyone involved!

  38. razzytazsmaz says:

    i saw the thumbnail before i finished reading the title and mistook Jon Cozart as the finest piece of art on the list

  39. CrumpArt says:

    Every time you make one of these I think about what my five favourites would be and it's SO HARD. There are so many.

  40. Carly says:

    Love all of these!!! Amazing picks, really cool to see this side of Jon!

  41. Henri Wiman says:

    I love these Five Favorite Works videos and I'd be happy to see more of them! They don't need to be from well-known people either imo, it's just cool to see what people pick when constrained to five works and also allowed to define the "pool" from which to draw them themsleves πŸ™‚

  42. phlwest says:

    these videos are superb.

  43. kelsey savage says:

    I loved this! Would love to see Five Favorite Works of Art with Bill Wurtz in the future!

  44. Eloisa xx says:

    i love spring awakening especially the deaf west revival, its amazing

  45. Aya Khatib says:

    Jon cozart's work is my favorite pieces of art

  46. WheezyWaiter says:

    Kudos for not making a "Coz-Art" pun. That's some restraint.

  47. EyeLean5280 says:


    Dear Art Assignment, you shouldn't have included that spoiler about Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the History of Japan video. That's one of the most powerful and terrifying moments on YouTube and you just trivialized and ruined it for anyone who hasn't seen the video.

  48. Emmy cat says:

    ''tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day''' Any other Hamilton fans have a bit of a throwback there?

  49. kaysyconundrum says:

    I love this and I love Jon's choices….and yet, I couldn't help but notice the artists that are Jon's favorites are mostly white guys. (note that I don't know Bill Wurtz and am super aware that musicals and movies take a city of artists to create, still the writers are and protagonists of those two selections are white guys) I wonder if it's because Jon is a white guy (which is not a crime, please don't pounce on me scary internet) or if it's because historically white guys got the spotlight…and often still do. Either way, I hope art continues to diversify so when folks make lists like these we see the full range of humanity reflected. Don't get me wrong – Shakespeare would definitely make my list too but also probably definitely Lin-Manuel Miranda would be there too. And probably Beyonce. But I don't know, I'd have to think more.

  50. Ali Santana says:

    thanks, jon. gonna go make something that makes someone feel something now πŸ™‚

  51. Eduardo Vargas says:

    Why is John on everyone's YouTube channel except his own.

  52. Ikram Hassan says:

    I love how he read the tomorrow Soliloquy but, I don't know, I feel like it's the lost the "umfph" Shakespeare's actual soliloquy has

  53. Bec Middleton says:

    So – what are everyone else's five favourite works of art?
    I'd go with – Alfred Lord Tennyson''s poem The Lady of Shalott, Rachmaninov's Isle of the Dead, the recent tv adaptation of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, Marilyn Manson's Holy Wood and last but not least John William Waterhouse's painting Miranda.

  54. Julia Wang says:

    I love that BB-8 is on his bookshelf!!!

  55. kate says:

    too bad jon's not so much a youtuber so much as a guy who uploads maybe once a year.

  56. LagiNaLangAko23 says:

    Cute boy

  57. Paula MI says:

    I would love to see Connor Franta in a video like this. he loves art and is super creative

  58. Josef Ian Bondoc says:

    this video is nicely written and produced. so concise! love it!

  59. hamlet hoe says:

    i never knew how badly i needed jon reading shakespeare until now :') beautifully read, and a wonderful video!!!!

  60. Elizadeath Tyranny says:

    I love this series! So happy there's a new one.

  61. Maille Uyehara says:

    Saw Jon Cozart and Spring Awakening. How could I not watch!?

  62. inezsera says:

    this was LOVELY thanks guys

  63. Kenterol says:

    I performed Mozart's Requiem with my university choir and volunteers during one project. It was one of the most amazing experiences I had in my life. We sang in baroque church that belongs to our university. The choir was made up of more than 300 people. Requiem was one of my favorite pieces of music since seventh grade and after the experience it became something magical. Cozart says it right: any piece of classical music is worth listening live, especially Requiem.

  64. BuckbeakSpeaks says:

    I seriously love these favorite works of art videos, keep em coming!!

  65. Andrew Pfluger says:

    Jon Cozart is my favorite work of art

  66. firewordsparkler says:

    This is my favorite little series to come out of the Art Assignment. Gotta go reread Macbeth, but maybe I'll rewatch History of Japan first. πŸ™‚

  67. Bree Lookabill says:

    Jon seems to be on everyone's youtube channel other than his own. Like im not complaining since he hasn't completely disappeared but still

  68. Rezzie Y says:


  69. Maya Marie says:

    I could scroll twitter or watch After Ever After for the hundredth time

  70. Trey Atkins says:

    Let's be honest. He likes Mozart's requiem above everyone else's, because his last name sounds like "Mozart".

  71. Amelia Whitworth says:

    My dearest Angelica
    Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day
    I trust you'll understand my reference to another amazing musical without my having to name the play

  72. le jess says:

    spring awakening helll yeaaaaa, now i have even more reasons to love jon

  73. goldfishcrayon says:

    Really enjoyed. Jon seems so sad in this though. I know a lot of his content has a dark twist to it but… πŸ™

  74. Estrella Casias says:

    How can someone be so cute???? Not just attractive but like fluff cute!

  75. LΓ©on Tr says:

    the lord of the rings!! the return of the king, such an incredible film

  76. Azza Siddiqui says:


  77. Paulo Pombal says:

    Since there are so many other artworks ( maybe ) even greater than those one knows and there is no one that can know them all, I wonder what the point is to bring someone famous to tell us what are their favorite artworks… Do we get to know them better by that when some of the works we've never came across? If so, why does him or her deserves to be known better than anyone of us ( when, in fact, they are already famous )? Do his or her reference artworks deserve more to be known that all the others?…

  78. Johannes Bowman says:

    I am so glad that Paint likes classical music.

  79. Jennifer Bolgiano says:


  80. Sincerely Dianne says:


  81. Alvin Laurentius says:

    I was viewing this on 4th of January 2018. Almost one year since I've sung the Requiem in D Minor, and I still get the chills everytime Lacrimosa starts.

  82. Moni B says:

    YES! I'll be performing Mozart's Requiem this spring with my local choir! It's a beautiful work and if you have a chance to see it, please do.

  83. Serena Li says:

    Jon is my favourite work of (coz-) art πŸ™‚

  84. cantbeleveitsnotnaru says:

    I wish there were more of these!! I love them! Seeing what other people see as art and how it affects them.

  85. Steph Levin says:

    When he read macbeth all I could think of was William faulkner

  86. Noble Lee says:

    This was wonderful to watch, really educational πŸ™‚ and of course because it's Jon lol

  87. Berna Carangan says:

    I'm back to this video and I just really always need Jon cozart talking about art he likes thanks

  88. Joe Rodriguez says:

    Progressive = Cultural Marxism

  89. Joe Rodriguez says:


  90. notnek202 says:

    It’s not a march for god sake it’s a mass for the dead.

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