The subjects and vocabulary of art history



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  • HONORS ART HISTORY
  • INTRODUCTION
  • STYLE
  • ICONOGRAPHY
  • COLOR WHEEL
  • SCULPTURE
  • MUSEUM VISIT
  • Introduction:
  • Art Appreciation does not require knowledge of the historical context of an art work or building, art history does.
  • The central aim of art historians is to determine the original context of artworks. They seek to achieve a full understanding not only of why these “persisting events” of human history look the way they do, but also why the artistic “events” happened at all.
  • What unique set of circumstances gave rise to the erection of a particular building or led a specific patron to commission an individual artist to fashion a single artwork for a certain place?
  • Art objects and buildings are historical documents that can shed light on the peoples who made them and on the times of their creation in a way other historical documents cannot.
  • The history of art and architecture is inseparable form the study of history, although the two disciplines are not the same.
  • THE SUBJECTS AND VOCABULARY OF ART HISTORY
  • Introduction: The categories of Art History
  • THE SUBJECTS AND VOCABULARY OF ART HISTORY
  • Architecture
  • Sculpture
  • Performance Arts
  • Conceptual Arts
  • Pictorial Arts ( painting, drawing, printmaking, and photography)
  • Craft Arts ( ceramic vessels, metal wares, textiles, jewelry, and accessories of ordinary living.)
  • Introduction: Questions to ask when studying an art object or idea.
  • How old is it?
  • Chronology- the dating of art objects and buildings.
  • Physical Evidence often reliably indicates an objects age. The material used for a statue or painting- bronze, plastic or oil-based pigment,may not have been invented before a certain time, indicating the earliest possible date someone could have fashioned the work.
  • Documentary Evidence also can pinpoint the date of an object or building when dated written documentation mentions the work. For example, official records may note when church officials commissioned a new altarpiece- and how much they paid to which artist.
  • Visual Evidence is also very important. The analysis of style is the art historians special sphere, but often the most unreliable chronological criterion.
  • THE SUBJECTS AND VOCABULARY OF ART HISTORY
  • Introduction: Questions to ask when studying an art object or idea.
  • What is Style?
  • Periodic Style refers to the characteristic artistic manner of a specific time, usually within a distinct culture. (ex. “Archaic Greek” , “Republican Roman” , or “Early Italian Renaissance”)
  • Regional Style is the term art historians use to describe variations in style tied to geography. Like an object’s date, its provenance or place of origin, can significantly determine its character. Often two artworks from the same place made centuries apart are more similar than contemporaneous works from two different regions.
  • Personal Style the distinctive manner of individual artists or architects, often decisively explains stylistic discrepancies among monuments of the same time and place.
  • THE SUBJECTS AND VOCABULARY OF ART HISTORY
  • Introduction: Questions to ask when studying an art object or idea.
  • What is its Subject?
  • Another major concern of art historians is the subject matter encompassing the story, or narrative ( the scene presented; the action’s time and place; the persons involved; and the environment and its details).
  • Categories of pictorial subjects:
  • Religious
  • Historical
  • Mythological
  • Genre (daily life)
  • Portraiture
  • Landscape
  • Non-Objective
  • Other important questions to be asked are:
  • Who made it?
  • Who paid for it?
  • THE SUBJECTS AND VOCABULARY OF ART HISTORY
  • Monet Question
  • What do you see here? With your partner, make a detailed list of what you see in this image. Do not concern yourself with interpreting its content, but rather give a detailed description of the work.
  • [ 5 minutes ]
  • STYLE:
  • The visual apparatus which allows the art historian to group works into categories and allows for the explanations or possible explanations for change
  • In their attempts to explain why art objects look the way they do, art historians have developed various theories.
  • Theory 1:
  • Every art style is aimed at the faithful reproduction of nature and nothing else. Each cultural group had its own mode of apprehending nature.
  • Human beings create abstract art when they feel ill at ease with the world around them, and more naturalistic art when they are more comfortable with their world.
  • THE SUBJECTS AND VOCABULARY OF ART HISTORY
  • The Classical Period
  • Ancient Greece
  • This sculpture is the embodiment of Polykleitos’s vision of the ideal statue of a nude male athlete and warrior. It epitomizes the intellectual rigor of Classical statuary design.
  • The supporting leg’s function is echoed by the straight-hanging arm to provide the figure’s right side with columnar stability needed to anchor the left side’s dramatically flexed limbs. The tense and relaxed limbs also oppose each other diagonally. The head turns to the right and the hips slightly to the left, depicting motion without movement.
  • This sculpture gives a new animation to the body, as the Archaic smile is no longer needed and the expression is now more serious.
  • This dynamic asymmetrical balance, this motion while at rest, and the resulting harmony of opposites are the essence of the Polyleitan style
  • Polykleitos, Doryphoros (Spear Bearer) Roman Copy of a Bronze Original
  • Pompeii, Italy, ca 450-440 BC
  • Virgin with the Dead Christ (Röttgen Pietà)
  • Rhineland, Germany ca 1300-1325
  • Gothic Art
  • Figure 18--53
  • The widespread troubles of the fourteenth-century....... war, famine, and social strife...... brought on an ever more acute awareness of suffering. This found its way readily into religious art. The Dance of Death, Christ as the Man of Sorrow, and the Seven Sorrows of the Virgin Mary became favorite themes.
  • A fevered and fearful piety sought comfort and reassurance in the reflection that Christ and the Virgin Mother shared humanity’s woes. To represent this, artists emphasized the traits of human suffering in powerful, expressive exaggeration.
  • Here, the sculptor portrayed Christ as a stunted, distorted human wreck, stiffened in death and covered with streams of blood gushing from a huge wound.
  • The Virgin Mother, who cradles him like a child in her lap, is the very image of maternal anguish, her oversized face twisted in an expression of unbearable grief.
  • This statue expresses nothing of the serenity of Romanesque and earlier Gothic depictions of Mary. Nor does it have anything in common with the aloof, iconic images of the Theotokos with the infant Jesus in her lap common in Byzantine art.
  • Grieving for an Emaciated Christ
  • Virgin with the Dead Christ (Röttgen Pietà)
  • Rhineland, Germany ca 1300-1325
  • Gothic Art
  • Figure 18--53
  • Here the artist forcefully confronts the devout with an appalling icon of agony, death, and sorrow that humanizes, tho the point of heresy, the sacred personages. The work calls out to the horrified believer, “ What is your suffering compared to this?”
  • The humanization of religious themes and religious images accelerated steadily from the twelfth century. By the fourteenth century, art addressed the private person (often in a private place) in a direct appeal to the emotions.
  • As the figures of the church portals began to “move” on their columns, then within their niches, and the became fee-standing, their details became more outwardly related to the human audience as expressions of recognizable human emotions.
  • STYLE:
  • The visual apparatus which allows the art historian to group works into categories and allows for the explanations or possible explanations for change
  • In their attempts to explain why art objects look the way they do, art historians have developed various theories.
  • Theory 2:
  • Styles change in response to social struggle.
  • Theory 3:
  • Style change can be explained only in reference to the works themselves
  • Theory 4:
  • Change in style is a manifestation of the artist responding to the visual and intellectual challenges.
  • THE SUBJECTS AND VOCABULARY OF ART HISTORY
  • The Archaic Period
  • Ancient Greece
  • Kouros
  • Greece ca. 600 BC
  • Emulation of the stance of Egyptian statues.
  • ( see Mentuemhet figure 3-40 )
  • Male figures called kouros meaning “youth” were always depicted nude.
  • This particular kouros figure was said to have a funerary purpose, as it once stood over a grave in the countryside near Athens.
  • Statues such as this replaced the Geometric vases as the preferred form of grave marking.
  • Despite the similarity with the Egyptian prototype for figurative sculpture, these kouros figures differ in many significant ways. (see next slide for a discussion)
  • Kritios Boy, From the Acropolis
  • Athens, Greece, ca. 480 BC
  • Ancient Greece
  • The youth has a slight dip to the right hip, indicating the shifting of weight onto his left leg. His right leg is bent, at ease. His head turns slightly to the right.
  • This figure depicts how an actual human being stands, not the structured stiffness of earlier sculptures.
  • The sculpture was named after Kritios, the man thought to have carved this revolutionary sculpture.
  • This is the first indication of contrapposto in Greek statuary depicting an increasing interest in naturalism.
  • This concept had disappeared and then reappeared during the Renaissance, demonstrating a renewed interest in Classical Art and ideals.
  • The Late Classical Period
  • Ancient Greece
  • Praxitiles, Hermes and the infant Dionysos (Roman Copy of an Original)
  • Olympia, Greece, ca 340 BC
  • This was once thought to have been created by the master Praxitiles, but is now generally considered a copy of the highest quality.
  • The depiction here has Hermes stopping to rest on his journey to Nysa to entrust the upbringing of Dionysos to Papposilenos and the nymphs. Hermes leans on a tree trunk and his slender body forms a sinuous , shallow S-curve that is the hallmark of many of Praxitiles’ statues
  • Here Hermes looks off dreamily into space while he dangles a bunch of grapes as a temptation for the infant who is to become the Greek god of the vine
  • Soft, subtle, and sensual are all descriptive of a Paxitelean original.
  • The order of beauty seen here appeals more to the eye than to the mind and replaced the majestic strength and rationalizing designs of the 5th century BC
  • CEZANNE QUESTION
  • With your partner, discuss the organization of this painting by Gustave Courbet. Use the art vocabulary that you currently possess as you discuss how the artist has organized the space and how he leads our eye through the painting. Also mention the color scheme, use of space, and overall movement of the work. Take notes as you complete this activity.
  • [ 5 minutes ]
  • Realism: The Painting of Modern Life
  • Gustave Courbet
  • ”The Stone Breakers”
  • 1849
  • Even though Courbet shunned the concept of “labels”, he used the word realism when exhibiting his own work.
  • The realists argued that only the things of one’s own time, what people can see for themselves, are “real”.
  • They focused their attention on the experiences and sights of everyday contemporary life and disapproved of traditional and fictional subjects on the grounds that they were not real and visible and were not of the present world.
  • Courbet was quoted by the following in 1861:
  • To be able to translate the customs, ideas, and appearances of my own time as I see them- in a word, to create a living art- this has been my aim..... (T)he art of painting can consist only in the representation of objects visible and tangible to the painter..... (who must apply) his personal faculties to the ideas and the things of the period in which he lives.......... I hold also that painting is an essential concrete art, and can consist only of the representation of things both real and existing...... An abstract object, invisible or nonexistent, does not belong in the domain of painting..... Show me an angel, and I’ll paint one”
  • Figure 29-1
  • In this painting, Courbet presents the viewers with a glimpse into the life of a rural toiler. He has captured on his canvas, in a straightforward manner, two males. One mature, and the other very young, these workers are displayed in the act of breaking stones. This activity is traditionally the lot of the lowest in society.
  • Their menial labor is neither romanticized nor idealized but is shown with directness and accuracy
  • Realism: The Painting of Modern Life
  • The Lowest of the Low
  • Gustave Courbet
  • ”The Stone Breakers”
  • 1849
  • Courbet revealed to the viewers the drudgery of this labor. His palette’s dirty browns and grays convey the dreary and dismal nature of the task, while the angular positioning of the older stone breakers limbs suggest a mechanical monotony.
  • This interest in the laboring poor as subject matter had special meaning for the mid-nineteenth-century French audience. In 1848, workers rebelled against the bourgeois leaders of the newly formed Second Republic and against the rest of the nation, demanding better working conditions and redistribution of property.
  • Figure 29-1
  • The army quelled the revolution in three days, but not without significant loss of life and long-lasting trauma. The Revolution of 1848 thus raised the issue of labor as a national concern and placed workers on the center stage, both literally and symbolically.
  • ICONOGRAPHY:
  • Refers to what a work depicts and what it means (subject matter and symbolism),as opposed to its style
  • The term iconography literally means “writing of images”.
  • By extension, iconography also includes the study of symbols, images that stand for other images or encapsulate ideas.
  • Iconographic symbols include: The cross or balance scales in Christian Art.
  • Artists may also use attributes to identify figures in paintings or sculptures.
  • Attributive examples include:
  • Apollo (laurel wreath, bow and arrow),
  • Buddha ( urna, ushnisha, and elongated earlobes)
  • St. Peter (keys to the kingdom of Heaven)
  • THE SUBJECTS AND VOCABULARY OF ART HISTORY
  • THE SUBJECTS AND VOCABULARY OF ART HISTORY
  • Homework Assignment:
  • Read the introduction of “Art Through The Ages” and used the text to define the vocabulary words listed below. Please do not turn to the glossary for this, as there is important information in the reading that you all need to possess. Label these notes with the “The Subjects and Vocabulary of Art History” and place them in the correct section of your notebook with today’s date at the top of the page.
  • Personification- (list examples from the text)
  • Connoisseur- (of what does the text refer to this word)
  • School- (of what does the text refer to this word)
  • Patrons
  • Formal Analysis
  • Contour Line
  • Additive Light
  • Subtractive Light
  • Actual Space
  • Illusionistic Space
  • Foreshortening
  • Proportion
  • Module
  • Canon
  • Disproportion- ( Why is it used?)
  • Hierarchy of scale
  • Armature
  • Casting
  • Freestanding Sculpture
  • Plan
  • SCULPTURE:
  • Sculpture in the round
  • Bas-relief
  • High-relief (haut-relief)
  • THE SUBJECTS AND VOCABULARY OF ART HISTORY
  • Khafre, from Gizeh,
  • Egypt, Dynasty IV 2520-2494 BCE.
  • This is an example of sculpture in the round. It is meant to be viewed from all sides. Hence, “in the round”. Artists must carefully plan this particular type of sculpture, as it must be compositionally sound from 360 degrees.
  • Image gallery
  • Kafre, Gizeh, Egypt, Dynasty IV
  • Ca 2520-2495 bc
  • Made of carved of extremely hard stone called diorite which would have been brought seven hundred miles down the Nile from royal quarries in the south
  • This sculpure shows the enthroned king with the falcon of the god Horus
  • Demonstrates the artist’s cubic view of the human figure- created by drawing the front and side view of the figure on the block of stone and then working inward until the views met
  • The figure is immobile and firm- the body is impersonal but the face has some individual traits
  • Sculptures such as this would serve as home for the Ka to exist should the mummies be destroyed.
  • .
  • ANCIENT EGYPT
  • Image gallery
  • Kafre, Gizeh, Egypt, Dynasty IV
  • Ca 2520-2495 bc
  • The intertwined lotus and papyrus plants between the legs of Kafre’s throne are thought to be symbolic of the united Egypt.
  • The Falcon god Horus extends his protective wings to shelter Kafre’s head.
  • Kafre wears the royal fake beard fastened to his chin and wears the royal linen nemes ( the royal headdress worn by the pharaoh containing the uraeus cobra of kingship on the front.)
  • His proportions are idealized and are appropriate for representing majesty.
  • This sculpture is indicative of the block statue standard of Egyptian statuary.
  • .
  • ANCIENT EGYPT
  • SCULPTURE:
  • Sculpture in the round
  • Bas-relief
  • High-relief (haut-relief)
  • THE SUBJECTS AND VOCABULARY OF ART HISTORY
  • Ti watching a hippopotamus hunt
  • From the mastaba of Ti
  • Egypt, Dynasty V 2450-2350 BCE.
  • This is an example of bas-relief sculpture. This type of sculpture hints but does not clearly define the sculptural space. Bas-relief more closely resembles painting than it does sculpture in the round.
  • Image gallery
  • Tomb paintings (non-royal)- landscapes were popular
  • (background is very active)
  • Ti is much larger than others (shows importance)
  • Ti isn’t engaging in activity- he’s watching- (shows his importance in his society)
  • Action is going on after death- body does not respond, but the spirit appreciates the activity
  • Scenes depicted in funerary tombs were of everyday life. They were created as an insurance that the ka of the dead will continue in the afterlife as it did in life on earth.
  • The success of the hunt in Ancient Egypt was a metaphor for the triumph over the forces of evil.
  • ANCIENT EGYPT
  • SCULPTURE:
  • Sculpture in the round
  • Bas-relief
  • High-relief (haut-relief)
  • THE SUBJECTS AND VOCABULARY OF ART HISTORY
  • This is an example of high-relief or haut-relief sculpture. This type of sculpture is very closely related to sculpture in the round, but still maintains some of it’s two dimensional characteristics.
  • Statues Begin to Converse
  • Visitation, jamb statues of central doorway
  • Reims, France ca 1230
  • Gothic Art
  • Figure 18--24
  • At Reims the fully ripened High Gothic style also can be seen in sculpture. At first glance, the jamb statues of the west portals of Reims Cathedral appear to be completely detached from their architectural background
  • **Compare the Reims statue-columns with those of the Royal Portal of Chartes, where the background columns occupy a volume equal to the figures’ volume.**
  • The two Reims jamb statues illustrated to the right portray Saint Elizabeth visiting Virgin Mary before the birth of Jesus. They are two of a series of statues celebrating Mary’s life and are further testimony to the Virgin’s central role in Gothic iconography.
  • The sculptor of the Visitation group reveals a classicizing bent startlingly unlike anything seen since Roman times. The artist probably studied actual classical statuary in France.
  • The Reims master even incorporated the Greek contrapposto posture. The hips sway, and the legs bend as the knees press through the rippling folds of the garments. The sculptor also set the figures’ arms in motion.
  • Not only do Mary and Elizabeth turn their faces toward each other, but they converse through gestures.
  • THE SUBJECTS AND VOCABULARY OF ART HISTORY
  • COLOR:
  • Art is dependent upon the use of color. There is much more to color than most would think. Color is scientific, emotional, and rational.
  • THE SUBJECTS AND VOCABULARY OF ART HISTORY
  • THE SUBJECTS AND VOCABULARY OF ART HISTORY
  • Homework Assignment: Museum Visit and Essay Writing.
  • THE SUBJECTS AND VOCABULARY OF ART HISTORY
  • Knowing how to properly organize and write essays and museum visit papers is a necessary skill in this class.. Your homework for tonight is to outline the guidelines for writing both a successful essay and writing a successful museum visit paper. Your notes should be a simplified version of the information that is covered at the companion website and must be written by hand. Click the link below to visit the site. When you arrive at the companion website for the text, you should navigate to the bottom of the left options menu. The information that you need will be under the link with Tips: Becoming a Successful Student.
  • Writing Essays and Museum Papers Effectively


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