Questions Art Historians Ask

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The behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions and all other
products of human work and thought, especially as expressed in a
particular community or period
We are bombarded with images everyday
The conscious use of skill and creative imagination in the
production of an aesthetic object.
“Art is the lie that makes us see the truth?”
Picasso
Physical evidence: often reliably indicates an object’s age.
Material used, bronze, plastic, oil-based pigment etc.
Physical evidence: often reliably indicates an object’s age.
Material used, bronze, plastic, oil-based pigment etc.
Flag for the Moon: Die Nigger,
Faith Ringgold
Flag, Encaustic
Jasper Johns
Can you tell what year each flag was made?
‘That’s one small step for man,
one giant leap for mankind.’
Flag for the Moon: Die Nigger, 1969
Faith Ringgold
Flag, Encaustic
Jasper Johns
49-Star Flag: On January 3rd,1959 Alaska was formally granted
statehood placing the 49th star on our Flag.
Documentary evidence: a written document mentions the work
Visual evidence: an identifiable person, a kind of hairstyle, clothing, or furniture
Spirituality
Subconscious
Intellect
Emotions
•Sexuality
Period Style refers to the characteristic artistic manner of a specific time,
usually within a distinct culture, such as “archaic Greek” or “Late Byzantine.”
Regional Style is the term art historians use to describe variations in style
tie to geography. An object’s date, place of origin or provenance can
significantly determine its character.
Personal style, the distinctive manner of individual artists or architects,
often decisively explains stylistic discrepancies among monuments of the
same time and place.
Stylistic evidence: an artist’s distinctive manner of producing an object, the
way a work looks. This is subjective assessment, stylistic evidence is by far the
most unreliable chronological criterion
Personal style, the distinctive manner of individual artists
Can you match the artists
by their personal styles?
Aristotle believed that works of art should be evaluated on the basis of “imitation”
Zeuxis
Paulus
Potter, The BullParrhasios
(circa 1647),
Mark Tansey, The Innocent Eye Test, 1981
This manner of representation is called naturalism or realism
Plato
To achieve Plato’s ideal images
were to represent things
“as they ought to be”
rather than as they are,
looked beyond nature
for
a definition of art.
In his view
even the most
naturalistic painting
or sculpture
was only
an approximation of
an eternal ideal world
in which no variations
or flaws were present.
Period Style refers to the characteristic artistic manner of a specific time,
usually within a distinct culture, such as “archaic Greek” or “Late Byzantine.”
Regional Style is the term art historians use to describe variations in style
tie to geography. An object’s date, place of origin or provenance can
significantly determine its character.
Menkaure and Khamerernebty from Gizeh, Hatsheput Enthroned
1473-1458 BCE
Egypt, Dynasty IV, ca. 2490-2472 BCE
Graywacke,
approx. 4/6”
Old Kingdom
Anavysos Kouros
530 BCE Greece
Aesthetics
Today we may think of art as something
meant to be pleasing to the sight or touch.
Aesthetics is the term used to sum up
the search for beauty.
Georgia O’Keeffe
The Radiator Building 1927
Joseph Stella,
The Brooklyn Bridge. 1918
Weston argued that the quality of the image
depends not on the camera, but on the
choices made by the photographer-artist.
Abstraction-the artist transforms a
recognizable subject from nature in a
way that suggests the original but does
not record the subject in an entirely
realistic or naturalistic way.
“When you take a flower in your hand
and really look at it,
it's your world for the moment.
I want to give that world to someone else."—
Georgia O'Keeffe
Smith’s work is a good example of
nonrepresentational artart that does not depict a
recognizable subject.
Kandinsky’s work is also a good
example of nonrepresentational or
nonobjective
David Smith CUBI XIX, 1964 Stainless
Oscars 2008: Top Ten Best Dressed Women
Ever since people first made what we call art, they have been fascinated with their own
image and have used the human body to express ideas and ideals.
Beauty
&
the Idealization
of
the Human Figure
Beauty
&
the Idealization
of the
Human Figure
The Medici Venus
Roman copy of a 1st century
BCE Greek statue
Marble, height 5’
Beauty is in the EYE of the Beholder
Kitagawa Utamaro Woman At The Height Of Her Beauty
1790’s. Color woodblock print, 15 x 10”
Leone Leoni,
Charles V Triumphing Over Fury, Without Armor
1549-1555. Bronze, height to top of head 5’8”
Religious, historical, mythological, genre (daily life), portraiture,
landscape (a depiction of a place), still life (an arrangement of inanimate
objects), narrative and their numerous subdivisions and combinations.
Religion
``The first object of the painter is to make a flat plane appear as a
body in relief and projecting from that plane.''
-- Leonardo da Vinci
Marc Chagall
“I have been fascinated by the Bible since I was very young. It always seemed to me,
and it still does, that the Bible is the greatest source of poetry that has ever existed.
Since that time, I have been seeking to express this philosophy in life and art.”
Iconography- literally, the ‘writing of images’ refers both to the content or
subject of an artwork, and to the study of content in art.
Artists may depict figures with
unique attributes identifying them.
In Christian art, each of the authors
of the
New Testament Gospels,
the
Four Evangelists,
has a distinctive attribute.
Saint Matthew a winged man
Mark by a lion,
Luke by an ox,
and
John by an eagle
Four Evangelists, folio 14 verso of
the Aachen Gospels, ca. 810
Seated Buddha, 338 CE, China
Gilt bronze
Simhavaktra Kakini Lion-Headed Guardian
Tibetan, 18th Century Lacquered wood
56” Height
Politics
The use of art in politics goes back to ancient times. Today, political
propaganda is conveyed through political cartoons, critical painting
and billboard posters.
Pablo Picasso
Joan Miro
Religious, historical, mythological, genre (daily life), portraiture,
landscape (a depiction of a place), still life (an arrangement of inanimate
objects), narrative and their numerous subdivisions and combinations.
Not ALL Landscapes are horizontal & Not ALL Portraits are vertical!!!
1. What is my first response to the work of art?
2. When and where was the work made?
www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVlm9pdWd
3. Where would the work originally have been seen?
4. What purpose did the work serve?
5. In what condition has the work survived?
6. What is the title? Does it help to illuminate the work??
N = name D = date P/S = period/style A = artist or architect P = Patron
L= original location M/T = material/technique F = function C = context
DT = descriptive terms I = relevant ideas relating to art work
N: Sumerian Votive Offerings
D: c. 3000 BCE
P/S: Sumerian (1st period of Mesopotamian Art)
A: unknown craftsmen – votive maker
P: individual citizens of Ur
L:
located in a temple precinct facing an image of the
god being honored
gypsum (stone) – subtractive method
Inset eyes of lapis lazuli or shell and black limestone inlays
M/T:
F:
Surrogate for donor (figures are not deities)
offering constant prayer to deity with arms clasped
reverentially, in supplication, awe
Placed in temple precincts (‘waiting rooms’) facing
alter or statue of god
C:
DT:
Stiff, rigid, not in proportion, awe, pessimistic,
frontal, simplified, conical
Votive Figures
Statuettes of two worshipers, from
the Square Temple at Eshnuna
Ideas: appearance of figures relates to anxiety of after life(modern Tel Asmar),
proportions of figure could relate to weakness of material, technique
Iraq 2700 BCE
size of figures = importance = hierarchical
Stance/presentation
Proportion (figure)
Anatomical detail/correctness
Movement/gesture
Facial expression
Purpose/function
Meaning/content
Negative/positive space
Organic/geometric form
Context
Meaning/Content
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