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History of Art with R. Becker

Thursday, January 27, 2000


We will do a history of western art. There is a lot of material from other cultures, but
there isn’t enough time. We will focus on the European and American tradition. We will
begin with the 15th century Italy. The assigned readings are to the textbook. It has been
around since the 60’s and is used in many colleges. There is a great deal of material
intended as an overview of schools and artists. There will be a lot of reading and looking
at paintings. We will see slides of art that we will discuss. For the most part, we will
stay more or less to the illustrations in the text. The art will mostly be in the textbook.
However, there will be instances in which we will see pictures or sculptures not in the
text. They might be better examples. We will be responsible for these pieces of art as
well. We are responsible for everything in the readings and in class.
The grades will be determined by the midterm and the final. Both exams will be
weighted equally. For the exams, we will have ten examples of works of art we studied
or were assigned. We will have 5 to seven minutes to identify the work of art and write
an essay of what the art is about, in addition to its special attributes and its culture.
Before each exam we will have a review session and look at a large number of works of
art that might be on the exam. For the most part, we should think about the works of art
and see what they are about and the mind that made them and the circ umstances. We
should at least be able to make an intelligent guess. There will be no make-ups for
exams. In terms of office numbers, she is never there.
We communicate in a common language. Our method of expressing our ideas is in a
language we understand. The artist does the same thing in his own language. His
language includes lines. His language is color, shape, the arrangement of the shapes. It
is our job to read these things and make sense of them and how the artist communicates
them. There is a glosery in back of the textbook. They define specific terms in art. We
will have to look these terms up, since they will be used in class and are used in the
textbook. The textbook is divided into parts three and four. Part three covers the
fifteenth century until the Baroque period. In the back are primary sources of the artists
or from critics around at the time. All of these are short. For example, there are excerpts
of de Vinci. They will give us a window into the artists’ minds. There is also a timeline,
a listing of the events that occurred in those time periods.
The most important thing we will learn is an approach in looking at works of art. At the
beginning most works will be paintings and sculptures. We should also be aware that in
the 20th century we have new forms of art that would not have been considered art before,
like photography. Another aspect of the course is that we will look how the traditions
progressed. Artists learn conventions. We will learn which artists accept the conventions
and which don’t. We will approach works of art as individual works coming in the
context of their time and place.
Defining art is a long going debate. Some people will not accept things as works of art.
We may maintain personal standards of what is a work of art. It is something that can be
argued about, and critics will accept various definitions. We have to establish a bottom
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line standard for deciding what will be a work of art. This definition is that it must be the
work of a human being. It must have to do with human activity on some level.
We will now start off with the first picture in the text. It is made up of a bicycle seat and
handlebars. It is refreshing to see such things created in such a way. We want to be able
to art like we would to a human being when we meet him. We will not find it profound,
but we may enjoy it for its shape or imagination. Works of art operate on different levels.
The art was done by Picasso. He was a major figure of the twentieth century. Picasso
was Spanish by birth. By 1904, he launched on his career. He made many visits to Paris.
He established himself on the left bank. If we know that he was Spanish, we will know
that the bull has a certain place in that culture. The bull is an important figure for them.
The use of a bull for a Spaniard would be different than if we used it. For Picasso, the
bull is a part of his life. If we knew his life’s work, we would see that he uses the bull in
a variety of ways. Very often, he uses it as a powerful and brutal force. Very often, the
bull stands for a feeling of brutality or distance. For Picasso, the bull is an important sign
that he can use in many ways. We know understand why he chose a bull rather than
another animal. In 1943 he was living in Paris during the war period. He had made
many statements against fascism. He did not hide these feelings. We should think about
how Paris looked in terms of traffic. Bicycles then and after were a means of
transportation. He saw bicycles as part of his life. Now, this work takes on a meaning
that it didn’t have before. We should try to understand how the works come out of a
particular vision in a particular context.
For next time, do the readings.

Tuesday, February 1, 2000

The professor’s e- mail address is arthistoryRRB@aol.co m .

We will take a brief look at medieval art. Renaissance art dates from 1400. One of its
characteristics was that they looked back on the Greco-Roman era. There was feeling
that the period was the apogee of human achievement. For us to understand the
Renaissance, we must understand what they were turning from. We should therefore
study medieval art. It is most important to understand the medieval aesthetic. The period
lasted around a millenium. There are therefore many different periods. However, we can
have a general idea of what medieval art looks like, using it as background for the
Renaissance. The Limbourg brothers, Jan van Eyck, and Master of Flehalle are important
medieval artists, which we should know even if we don’t cover them in class. The
middle ages are dated from the fall of the Roman empire in 476 until around 1400. There
are few situations in which we can date things exactly. But these are general raw periods.
The first type of art is Byzantene art. It grew out of the Roman world. There was still a
very important empire. One of the big differences from the Roman empire is the
establishment of Christianity in that Christianity was the o fficial religion of the Byzantine
empire. Byzantine was thus a theocratic state. Yet, it was the only place that had a
remembrance of Greco-Roman art.
There is also Romanesque. It grew around Italy around 1080. It is usually applied to
architecture rather than art. Finally, there was the Gothic period. It emanated in Paris
before 1200. It arrives as an architectural style but it expanded.
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Art works in the medieval era was almost exclusively in the service of Christianity and
the Church. The people in power determine what the great works of art will be and what
the great painters will do. In general, the art were not intended to look like things that we
experience in our daily lives. They thought that this world had no significance. More
important was the next world, which was the true reality. Art was intended not to express
physical truth or the senses but to express the higher reality that cannot otherwise be
articulated. It focused on symbolic and spiritual ideas.
The first painting is a Roman landscape in a patrician landscape from and upper class
house. It was supposed to be decorative. It is a good example of Roman art. The
Renaissance wants to revive its ideas. It is a garden, an outdoor scene. Notice how
naturalistic it is. There is a sense of air and atmosphere, and an idea that there is depth.
There is a feeling of nature. The birds are out singing. This is how it feels to our senses
when we walk in a garden. It transmits a sense of how we feel in that situation.
Next is one of the few instances of medieval art not for religious purposes. It is a page
from a manuscript. A manuscript was precious. It dates from the 13 th century. There
were no printing presses in those days, so all books were done by hand. It contains a love
poem called the Carmina Borana, a love poem from Southern France. It is a copy of this
poetry with pictures. Since love is associated with nature and spring, the artist has done a
spring landscape. However, we should notice how far the landscape is removed from our
senses. It is a visual text and is more symbolic. The trees don’t look like any real trees.
Yet, it does speak to the notion of a tree. It is very stylized. The artist doesn’t examine
what trees look like. He has lots of leaves on the trees, which are in the shape of spades.
They have their own beauty. It is a tightly packed composition. One of the
characteristics of medieval art are the strengths of its color. We should also notice that
the artist has many animals, like birds and horses and lions. The animals are very
organized, just as a text is very organized. On the lower right hand side there is a lion. In
the modern era, this abstraction from nature is what people prefer. If you go to a zoo,
you will never see lions like that. The shapes are very attractive. The world is bursting
with nature, but the work is not naturalistic, as with the Romans. We now see a
difference between before and during the middle ages.
We will now look at other examples of medieval art.
The next piece of art is a mosaic. It is a series of small tiles rich in color attached to a
wall. It is from Romena, the western capital of the Roman empire. It was done in 547 of
the common era. It depicts Justinian and his servants. Certain aspects of nature are
remembered but not transmitted. The figures are stiff. They are individualized, but they
are abstracted. The feet step on top of each other. The true physicality has disappeared,
and there is only a memory of it. In the Byzantine world, the emperor was seen as being
close to divine. He is portrayed as both the emperor and a representative of god. His
ministers are also representatives of the church. The people in the army have the Greek
letters that stand for “Christ.” The soldiers are part of the army of Christ. There is thus a
mixture of Church and state. The Byzantine empire was rich and lavish. The image
looks more like jewels than paintings. We see a good example of Byzantine art.
Now we have another Byzantine image. It is an image of Madonna and child. The
background is gold and very shiny. The halo surrounding her head seems 3-D. They
used many jewels in the painting. The image here seems like an icon. Icons were
thought to contain the essence of the saint or spirit portrayed in the image. It was
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intended to be Mary and the child in a transubstantiated way. The figure is frontal. The
child has a halo with a cross. The two look out rather than connecting in a human way.
It is not a human image. Mary has an oval face, large eyes that are almond shape, since
eyes are an entry to the soul. The nose is slim. They made her as perfect from their point
of view as they could. It is not a human image, nonetheless. They are not presenting the
physical Mary and child, but their spiritual essences. The artist was seen as a craftsman.
The artist wasn’t thought of as being creative. It dates to the 12 th century.
Now are works of art from the west. The west was barbaric and started their civilization
from scratch. The art depicted is from a manuscript from a gospel book. Each gospel is
preceded by a decorative page. We should know that the background is gold, making it
shiny, typical of presentation of saints. It is not naturalistic, yet it beautifully presents its
image. Look at his knees. There is no connection between his body and the pillow,
making him float. The drapery on his knees have folds, but the folds have nothing to do
with the body, and are just a decorative pattern. The designs seem to come from nat ure.
But there are also round areas with different aspects of the story. We have an eagle,
which is the sign of saint John. Anyone looking at it would have known these things.
Notice that we have on circle of a saint dipping his pen, about to write the story we are
about to read. Notice how flat the scene is. There is no gravitational pull. Also notice
the gird, representing the holy spirit. The story goes from the holy spirit into the pen of
the saint.
We are now in the Gothic period. There was a development of Gothic architecture. This
is an example of the Gothic style. The only painting done then was on stained glass
windows. Mostly the art is in the form of architecture. Louis IX was cannonized and
known as St. Louis. This was his private chapel. It is in Paris. The cathedrals were
supposed to reach up to heaven. They were supposed to be a piece of heaven here on
earth. The churches were therefore very, very tall. The new system allowed the walls to
be thin, made of glass. As the light comes through the glass, it becomes a very different
type of light. It evokes a spiritual type of light.
Next is an example of what stained glass is like. It is a ceiling of a Church at Shot. Some
of the windows tell the story of Christ. Some of them were donated by guilds and they
retold the stories of what they did. The cathedral was supposed to tell the complete story
of the divine plan. There are rich colors. It uses colored glass held together by lead
strips. Occaisionally, there are details, but mostly the story is depicted in pictures in
stained glass. There is nothing three dimensional. The pictures do not depict physical
qualities but spiritual essences.
Next is another manuscript picture. It is the first letter for James. It looks like a stained
glass paintings. There are sharp black lines. The saint does not look out, but is inward
and ethereal.
Finally is sculpture. It depicts the virgin and child. One of the things we see is that the
image of the Madonna are different from that of Byzantine. It is the humanization of the
godhead. Mary is presented as a queen of heaven. This is in keeping of the ideas of
French royalty. Her body is very small. There is no sense of real body. The draperies do
not fall in relation to what is underneath them. This has to do with removing her from the
physical realm. The only thing that makes her like human experience is her relation to
the child. She looks at the child and seems to have human love toward it. Here we see
some concern toward it as a issue, but not as much as there is in the Renaissance.
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Next is a painting from Italy, from Duccio. Italy had some features of the Renaissance.
For the first time, we see an architectural setting in which the figure sits amongst the
image, as opposed to at the front of the scene. It depicts the annunciation. Notice that it
happens with an Italian rather than a northerner.
Around 1400 in the north (France, Flanders), there is a lot of great paintings. We will
first look at the Lambourg brothers. It is a manuscript they made for the duke of Bary. It
was a book of prayers. At the beginning of the manuscript was a calendar. We are
looking at the page for the month of January. We have the zodiac telling us which month
it is. They were very precious items. It is an event that might have occurred in January.
It is a banquet. Most northern artists seem to have a great delight in giving a lot of
details. WE have a dog and a servant looking at the dog. The duke is set apart from
everyone else. The only way to heat the castles were fire strains. It sets the duke off. He
is also surrounded by a Courtier. The figures are graceful and elongated. The
composition is packed. In the back are tapestries in the background. In this case the
tapestries recount the battles of the duke.
Next painting depicts February, of the peasant and the winter. It is the first snow
landscape. It must have been a challenge to depict an all white landscape, since there are
many subtleties.

Thursday, February 3, 2000

Our subject today is the Quattrocento, meaning four hundred. It refers to the 1400’s.
Before we look at the Italian artists, we will finish the medieval works of art. We will see
a couple of examples of the master of Flamboul and Jann van Eyck. What distinguished
their work was that they were in Flanders, in the north, which is northern France. This is
far away from Italy. For these reasons, the art made their differed from the south. Many
of the cultural changes going on were happening everywhere. It produced many different
art forms. In the text, we are assigned the section on Flanders. In the text, this section is
placed at the end of the works we will look at today. Even Janson places the work of
these Italian artists in a hard to define place. We saw medieval works. These works have
a medieval sensibility. They still feel medieval. Yet, they happen when the Renaissance
started and were influenced by it. The whole system of feudalism was breaking down at
that time. This system breaks up and we see the beginnings of trade and commerce, the
beginnings of capitalism and cities. These works of art are influenced by the extreme
religiosity of the middle ages but also by the new developments.
Some people call these works of art late Gothic, some just call it northern Flanders.
Some call it 15th century Flanders. There will be a lecture on some of the aspects that
occurred in that period.
We will look at the Merove Alterpiece. We don’t know the identity of medieval artists
because there was no emphasis on the individual’s acheivements. It was the corporate
structure that counts. It was painted in 1425. It has a quiet religious aesthetic. It is a
very Christian and religious work. It was intended to be placed above an altar. It was
there to decorate the altar and inspire the viewer at the alter to think about religious ideas.
The central panel was the center of attention. The viewers understood the events
represented in the paintings. It is a three paneled work. There are hinges to fold the sides
over the center to close it off. Most alterpieces have three panels, called a triptych. Most
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take this form. But there are plenty of others called the polyptych, which have more than
three panels. The scene depicts the Annunciation. The other Annunciation scene we saw
depicted the figures inside the room. In this painting we see the humble Mary and the
angel at the table. Mary is sitting on the floor showing her humility. The angel makes
the statement at the moment of the incarnation. It is a still and quiet image. There is a
holistic feeling, making it medieval. However, the artist paints the scene in a
contemporary setting in 15th century Flanders. It also was carefully observed. That is,
unlike the medievals who don’t try to depict nature, the artist here looked at the real life
objects, depicting them accurately in the painting. There is interest in empirical reality
and observation. Yet, the dominant beliefs remain that our world is passing and evil.
There is thus some tension between the human interest in the world and otherworldliness.
The artist has convincingly given us the impression that we are seeing into a space. He is
carefully defining every object in the room. Look at the table. No table is tilted upward
in this way. The objects on the table should slide down. The answer is that there is a
technique called foreshortening. He hasn’t yet learned how to depict a real table into
space, but it isn’t completely natural. The table is foreshortened in the extreme. Yet, he
does have a sense of space. On the left-hand panel, we see two kneeling figures looking
into the door at the sacred scene. They are the donors who have commisioned the work.
The artist makes them as individual as possible but he doesn’t seem to worry about
proportion. If they stood up, they would tower over the wall they are standing next to, so
things aren’t completely proportioned. The panel on the right is part of the story. Artists
were concerned with the iconography, the meaning of the objects present in the picture.
These artists have objects one can name. There is a vase of flowers on the table. The
flowers are lilies, and the candle has just gone out. The Bible is open to Isaiah which
predicts the virgin birth. Notice the extreme detail the artist has paid to the objects. He
picks up the reflection of the light on the candlestick, different from reflections on the
flowers. This attention to reflection was common in Flanders. The lilies are also
symbolic of Mary’s purity. The vase is a vase but also a reference to her purity. On the
right hand side we have the work shop of a carpenter at work. If we look at the
background we see a square that would have been seen in the 15 th century. The square
contributes to the sense of distance. The carpenter is Joseph, who was a carpenter. He is
making mouse traps. During the Middle ages it was thought that the devil came in the
form of a mouse. It was the divine plan that Jesus, the messiah, would catch the devil.
Joseph helping to catch the cosmic mouse, the devil. From our point of view, we look at
it as a work of art. Hidden symbolism is very significant. The artist is observing the
word yet he is also introducing a strong sense of what is religious.
Now we see the work of Jann van Eyck. There is a large and impressive altarpiece in our
text that he worked on, the Ghent altarpiece. It is in the text on 509. This painting is
called the Arnolfini wedding portrait in 1434. One of the inventions of that time used
regularly in the north is the invention of oil painting. Until this time, oil was not used.
The most common type used was tempora. Oil is a more viscous type and allows greater
detail and dries longer, allowing changes. It is used here in the north and spreads to the
south. While most of the invention happen in the south, it wasn’t just a one way street.
The painting is another case of a work strong in hidden symbolism, but is an image not
terribly startling. The room makes a convincing space, and the figures seem to be
standing. It is a room filled with wonderful details. Arnolfini and his bride were
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examples of Italians who lived in Flanders. There were several Italian colonies in
Flanders for those doing business there. There was a marriage amo ng this group. In
1434, marriages would not take place in a Church. The rites were elaborate. The vows
were private however. In the wedding portrait. We are in a bedroom, not in a living
room that we would think was a natural place. In the Church, ma rriage is a sacrament,
whose purpose was procreation. The bride is not pregnant, but she is holding up her
dress in a way that would indicate pregnancy. We are also in a bedroom. We can see
carvings on the bedpost. All of these things are ordinary objects, but they also have other
meanings. The little carving is a statute of St. Margaret, the patron saint of women in
labor. There are many quiet references that have to do with reproduction, which marriage
is all about. The dog is a part of the scene, the family dog. The other side of it is that the
dog is a sign of faithfulness and fidelity, like marriage is associated with fidelity. The
scene is supposed to be holy. The groom is somber and serious. It is a very serious and
religious ritual. The groom’s hands are held up in a gesture in a conventional way of
conveying a blessing. We must suspend our literal expectations. She is not actually
pregnant; it is just a symbol of what marriage is about. We should be aware of how
realistic the dog looks. This is new to the Renaissance. In the mirror in the back, there is
a convex mirror and we see the backs of the bride and the groom, van Eyck himself and
above he has signed, “Jann van Eyck was here, 1434.” He is thus a witness to the
marriage. The fourth figure is uncertain. The wiskbroom has to do with wisking away
evil spirits. The rosemary is used for contemplation. Around the mirror are roundells.
The roundells have everything to do with the life of Christ. It is a very religious painting
from their point of view. It conveys extreme medieval religiosity. Yet it also conveys a
concern with the here and now. One possibility for the green is that it is associated with
spring and fertility. Green may have been the color for brides at the time.
What we will do now is discuss the Quattrocento and Florence. We will have
background for the work of various artists. The first thing we will do is look at the
introductory section again. It is in Florence that is the center of the Renaissance. We
should be aware that Italy was not unified until 1850, so places in Italy until them were
separate states and there was constant fighting between them. The Dominicis were a
powerful family in Italy and so Florence was a republic. It was a time of intellectual
activity. There was emphasis on individual achievement, which becomes significant for
the first time. These are new ideas and aspirations. The challenge of culture was to bring
these aspirations with their spiritual concerns. There is a constant tension in this area.
There is energy used to resolve these conflicts. The goal of the artist was to create a
believible picture of the universe. To do this, the artist used new things. One was
empirical observation. They also used mathematical formulas to depict space. They
looked to ancient models since they believed that the greatest achievements were made in
the Greco-Roman era. One other point is an elargement of subject matter.

Tuesday, February 8, 2000

We should be familiar with many parts of Janson. We have seen samples of 3d space. In
Italy, there is a system of visualizing such that one is looking through a window of the
real event. What they also do is develop mathematical proportions. Theoretically, one
should be able to determine proportions of space. Janson talks about this in great detail.
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We don’t have to know this, but we should be familiar with the radical nature of this
innovation. Most of us have come to expect this in paintings. We should read about
linear perspective and we should look at “The Trinity” by Massacio.
Among the 15th century innovations was a strong personal style on the part of the artists.
Some characteristics are more specific to the region, but there are individual ways of
perceiving and rendering things. Artists’ names are recognized. In the middle ages, the
individual was not important, but it became important in the 15 th century, since everyone
was to fulfil their human potential.
We will look at strong individuals, like Donatello’s sculptures. Donatello was the most
talented of the 15th century sculptures. In his works we see linear perspective utilize. We
look at his work because he is a great artist. His perspective is very individual.
Donatello is also aiming at a realistic image. He has a particular style. There are several
examples that we won’t cover in class that are in the book. We should look at St. Marx
on 411 and St. George on 412-413.
We will begin with a medieval sculpture. It is Romanesque, a figure of a Biblical prophet
from Southern France on a Church. There were also strange beasts on Churches. We
should know that it is very medieval in feeling. The conventional presentation of a
prophet is as an old man with a flowing beard and long flowing hair. It is elongated,
characteristic of medieval art. The folds are delicate and decorative. The figure is
unrealistic, since it cannot stand on its own two feet. It is supported by the filler from
which it was carved. It is a bar relief sculpture, which is still attached to the block from
which it was carved. The medieval world was unconcerned with the physical reality,
since the spiritual reality was considered more important. This is an example of a
medieval work.
Now is a sculpture by Donatello. It is his conceptio n of a prophet. It looks and feels very
different. It is more concerned with reality. It looks more realistic, more like physical
reality. It is called Zuccone, which means “pumpkinhead.” It is called such because of
the shape of the head. The form of rendering a prophet has changed. He is vigorous, and
is not attached to the wall, but stands in a niche like we would stand. It is not hard to see
him stepping forward. He doesn’t need the wall but stands on his own. The Greeks and
Romans did this but the middle ages abandoned this. It is in the Renaissance that they
begin to think of how the human figure actually operates. The aim is physical reality. It
is when zoology and anatomy are studied disciplines. This notion is radical given what
came before. There is a relationship between the draperies and the figure itself. In the
medieval sculpture the draperies are just decorative, not indicative of the figure
underneath. With Donatello, he begins with a model of a nude form. The artist draws
and studies the human figure and then makes the form. He first makes a nude human
form in a position and then makes them into position. He then dips cloth in slips of clay
and drapes it over the figure. Where the folds fall have everything to do with where the
body is. This is how it is for us as well. It is a realistic investigation of physical
relationships. Donatello also did modeling, taking wax to shape the forms in bronze. In
either case, it is comparatory studies of the body before the artist makes the sculpture.
Also, the figure is strong and authoritative. It is also his conception of what a prophet
would be like. It is a fresh conception of the notion of a prophet. Janson says that he
thought of Roman orators, Romans who spoke to their pub lic. From this he reconceives
the notion of the prophet. Anyway, artists look to antique models to refresh their ideas.
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Now is a Roman statue of an ancestor from the Roman world. If we look at this, there is
a strong realism and no idealization. In the Roman portrait, the Romans had values of
seriousness and authority and sternness, in addition to realism. This is the type of source
Donatello is looking for. Another Roman example is the orator. Donatello gives the
prophet the Roman toga. It comes from a time that is timeless. Above all is the
individual vision. No one else would do an image of a prophet like this.
Next is “The Feast of Herod,” also by Donatello. What we are looking out is a
compression in time of several events. It is only 2 by 2 square feet. It was used as
decoration for a baptismal fount. It is the first time we see linear perspective. In the
north we saw convincing 3D space, but the Italians make everything measurable space.
For the first time, we see floor tiles that receive one after the other in space to lead the
eye back. Everything gets proportionately smaller, a scientific approach. It is the first
example of the use of this system. It is a relief; all of the figures stick out and are
attached. Important is his conception of the story. In the story, Herod, the ruler (on the
left hand corner) has a feast. He has a step daughter named Salamay, to the right of the
table. St. John comes and predicts the messiah. Herod feels that John is a seer of the
future, and doesn’t want to harm him, so he imprisons John. Salamay loves John but he
rejects her. She is angry. Herod wants her to dance for him and she agrees only if she
grants his wish afterwards, and she wants the head of St. John. We first encounter the
whole story compressed into a single image. There are different aspects of time in a
single image. We have Salamay still dancing or finishing her dance. She must have had
time to make her request. The figure kneeling on our side of the table is holding a tray.
On that tray is the head of St. John. We see the horror on the part of the guests and
Herod himself. We have a dramatic rendering of the scene. We see gestures used to
convey emotion. Important things used to be put in the center. Here, nothing happens in
the center and the real display occurs on both sides. We have groups of people on each
side. The compositional idea he comes up with is to have a pull left and right with
nothing in the center in order to create a sense of tension that echoes the horror of the
scene. He also uses perspective in that everything begins to get smaller as we go back.
The building is based on Roman forms. The room beyond the arches sees objective
figures, the musicians, who are uninvolved with the action of the foreground. As the eye
goes back, the figures get smaller and smaller. One of the big projects in Florence was a
campaign to decorate the whole city and make a new dome for the cathederal. Brunaleski
makes plans to build a new dome. This is the first time people make a dome since
Roman times. He goes to Rome to study their buildings. He takes Donatello with him.
Brunaleski takes this back to Florence and Donatello uses it.
We will now see the work of another artist, not as radical as Donatello. This is Lorenzo
Ghiberti. There was a contest for the decoration for the doors to the baptistry. They
wanted modern doors. Ghiberti won with the first set of doors. Ghiberti was asked again
to design other doors, which is what we are looking at. They are known as “The gates of
paradise.” They are in bronze depicting 10 scenes from Genesis. They are very famous
doors. The scene we will look at is Jacob and Esau. Ghiberti uses perspective. It is in
the Brunilesquian style. He creates a space in which everything recedes to the
background. We see differences in individual style with Donatello. The work is far more
old fashioned than Donatello’s, since he uses a continuous narrative. Every episode
operates at different points of time. The panel has several points of time. On the left
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hand side we have women, representing the birth of Esau and Jacob. In the center we
have Isaac dressed in prophet’s clothes sending Esau out to hunt. On the right we have
Isaac giving the blessing to Jacob with Rebecca looking on to make sure Esau didn’t get
back yet. There is a lot of open space and a lot of elegance, which is absent from
Donatello’s. Beauty was not the aim of Donatello. Ghiberti has more elegance and
beauty.
Next we will see other paintings in the 15th century. This is the first painter that uses
perspective. We were asked to read about Massacio on 423-424. Massacio was a special
artist who died before the age of 30. He was commissioned to participate in the
decoration in a private chapel in a church by a noble family. Noble families usually had
private chapels in cathedrals. Massacio was asked to work on a fresco cycle, a painting
on a wall made of pigment put into we plaster so the picture is embedded in the wall.
Fresco cycles were popular then. In the north they develop oil painting. In Florence, the
major works were done in fresco. Frescoes usually depicted the lives of saints or Jesus.
One is to bear witness to the miracles that occurred. This fresco depicts the life of St.
Peter. All of the walls were decorated with pictures. On the top left we see Adam and
Eve expelled from the Garden of Eden and then the life of St. Peter. All of the frescos
usually began with Adam and Eve tempted, since the original sin made Christ necessary.
Here we see the tribute money. We see a photograph of the fresco before it was cleaned.
We see 3 scenes in the life of St. Peter, the middle of which was the main one. In the
center is Christ who points and is surrounded by his disciples. A second figure, St. Peter,
imitates him pointing. He is older and has a rounder head. He is bearded. Each of the
saints are rendered like this. The Roman tax collector, wearing a short tunic has come to
ask for the tax money. The people are poor and don’t have the money. Christ tells Peter
to go to the lake and take money out to give to the tax collector. We should look at what
Janson has to say about the painting.

Thursday, February 10, 2000

We were looking at examples of Donatello and Massacio. We will look at Botacelli’s
“Birth of Venus.” It is an example of reviving pagan mythological subjects. He paints
her in a position in such a way that he is looking at ancient models. He is not only
painting a Greek goddess, but he is also painting her in the position and style of the
ancient world. This signaled a rebirth of the ancient world. They touch on subjects and
forms that are taboo to the ancient world. Yet, people are interested in pagan subjects
like fame, fortune and pleasure. The people try to find a way to explain why they are
painting such anti-Christian subjects. To this purpose they find a way of handling it.
This comes in the form of philosophy, of neo-Platonism, based on ancient philosophy.
From our point of view, the basic idea is that the universe existed and all the prophecies
that exist are part of a continuum that rises and descends and rises and descends. To take
Venus is akin to the virgin Mary. When he paints Venus he can interpret it as the same
idea as Mary. In order to justify themselves to examine these ideas as Christians, they
came up with these things. 433-444 discusses neo-Platonism. We should be aware that it
is now ok to do pagan subjects. Although the Church is uncomfortable with this, they
allow it. Today we will move from the 15th century to the High Renaissance. It lasted
from 1495 to 1520. In this period we have the famous art figures. They create the
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archetype of high art. The artists involved are people like de Vinci and Michaelangalo.
This period is referred to as the Cinquecentro.
The 14th century may have looked at the individual, but their chief concern was creating
an ordered and intellectual and convincing view of the world. They carefully studied
nature. They don’t work from books but from models. They study nature and study
flowers and buds and try to represent them. Nature is a new but very important aspect of
how the artists work. Also important is antiquity. There are ancient models of Venus
that look like Botocello’s painting. More than anything, they want to be realistic.
The great artists we will deal with now go beyond this. Everyone knows one point
perspective. It is now a technique available to everyone. Therefore, their challenge was
no longer to be accurate. They wanted to make things more grand, subjective and grand
than real life. They created classical art. It therefore measured up to the art of the ancient
Greeks.
De Vinci was the first of these artists. There are also Northern Renaissance artists who
we will not deal with. We might see their works as comparisons later on. The last group
are Mannerists. They work past the Renaissance period. They develop an anti-classic
style. Raphael’s death is the end of the high Renaissance. He was the most archetypal of
the high Renaissance artists.
One of the central neo-Platonic concepts was to see the artist as a divinely inspired
genius. We start to see artists equals of poets. Before they were seen as handworkers.
Now they are people of thought. They are now looked at as people capable of genius.
Unlike the others, da Vinci bridges the Quatrocentro and Cinquecentro styles. He
himself had a great interest in things other than art. He was characteristic of the
Renaissance man, someone who was a master of many disciplines. He looked at the
universe and determined the laws of nature to determine what makes things tick. He
worked in many projects. He studied botany and anatomy. He tried to define the
underlying laws of nature and of the new disciplines.
This is an illustration in his notebook. This is just one of his illustrations. It is a picture
of the fetus in the womb. He depicts the motions of the heavens. There is a lot of writing
and he uses this material in his works of art. He applied for a job in Milan, a powerful
duchy. Leonardo applied for the job of a military engineer. He was skilled enough to
apply for the job. He got the job on condition that he could be an artist as well. We have
a lot of documentation in which he plans many projects like diverting the course of rivers
and architecture. He was asked in the mid 1490’s to paint in a Church in Milan.
This is the mural. It is “The last supper.” It is by no means the first time this subject has
been painted. This is because it has to do with the Christian story. What makes this
different are other things. It appears in a Church in Milan. It is in the refectory, the
dining room of the Church. In the Renaissance things must fit together. The last supper
is the perfect subject of this spot. The idea is that when you come into this space the
mural is supposed to look like the mural disappears and one sees the disciples
communicating. There is no wall but one sees the scene happening before one’s eyes.
Leonardo didn’t use the usual fresco technique. The fresco technique was more
permanent. Fifteen years after the painting was done it started to decay. It has never
adhered. But the concepts are all there even though it was never really finished. What
we have is the first high Renaissance work. It is a perfectly balanced composition. We
have two groups of three figures on one side and two groups of three figures on the other
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side. The groups balance out the picture. Christ is in the center. If we look at his shape,
it is in the form of a perfect triangle. The triangle is a very balanced form. It holds
firmly without toppling. At this point, people know how to use perspective. It is in the
form of one point perspective, but the relation of space is different. The figures are
behind the table as a separate part of the composition. He is working with something that
is convincing to nature. None of the figures has a halo. It is a more subtle rendering of
the idea that they are holy people. We have a convincingly rendered landscape. It also
serves the light that comes in. It also illuminates the head of Christ, a natural stand in for
the halo. Also notice the ornamental architecture above Christ. It is typical Renaissance
architecture. He takes certain expectations and uses them in a more subtle way. Also,
the colors are evenly distributed. The warm and cool hues are evenly distributed. The
lighting is very even. There are no obscure corners. It is absolutely clear and rational,
making it more intellectual, it is more serene and quiet. It is the ideal of life. This is
nature in its most perfect and ideal form, following Platonic ideals. When the subject is
done, usually Judas is identified as the future traitor. Notice that there is bread on the
table, even though it is on Passover. There is bread and wine, because in the Catholic
mass, there is the Eucharist, when the priest gives wine and bread to drink and eat Christ
himself. This is what the painters are painting. Christ actually does this ritual. Judas
stands for the epitome of evil, as he betrayed their god. For Leonardo, he chooses to
paint the same scene dealing with the psychology and inner life of the apostles. He
depicts the scene after which Christ says that one of them will betray him. No one knows
if he will be the one to betray Christ. Leonardo shows us the inner lives of these figures
and reveals them by gestures. We know that he spend a long time looking at the wall and
thinking what he will do. Nothing here tells us directly who the betrayer is. We cannot
really tell which one is Judas. The figure with the white beard and bald head is Peter,
depicted conventionally. The lighting on Judas is not as clear as the lighting on the other
figures. Judas is on Jesus’ right hand side. His hand reaches into a plate at the time when
one dips at the Passover table. He is also shown in profile. It is usually a contrast
between good (full face) and evil (profile). Leonardo uses these conventions in a more
subtle way. The disciples ask themselves if it will be them, and no one other than Judas
knows who it is. It reveals the character and inner life of the characters. There is a kind
of rhythm of the intertwining of the characters. There is a feel that one figure leads into
an other up until Christ. Connection is a Renaissance technique. It renders the world as a
complete unit, the result of a rational mind, who conceives of the world in all its part.
Next is a 15th century last supper by Castagno. It has very ordered space. There are
ordered tiles that measure the space. There is room for all of the figures. One’s eyes are
led by the tiles. One can walk into the picture into the back wall. All space is carefully
arranged. All of the disciples have halos, but they don’t connect with each other. There
is no psychology, as Judas is clearly identified by his dark hair and dark beard. He is
contrasted with Christ. The artist contrasts ultimate good and ultimate evil. But in real
life, one doesn’t know who the good and bad guys are by looking. Judas is on our side of
the table. The artist here gives us twelve individuals with a direct revelation of who they
are. The artist uses the architecture of Brunileski. He decorates the wall with marble
panels, like that of Renaissance buildings. There is one pattern that attracts our attention,
and it is above Christ.
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Next is another rendering of the Last supper by Tintoretto. By the 1590’s when the
painting was made, many things changed. The Reformation threatened the powers of the
Church. Several countries operated separately from the Church. The Church had to find
different ways to regain its position. The sense of an ordered and rational world begins to
change. By Tintoretto there is the counter reformation. It appealed to people on levels
that had nothing to do with reason, but with faith and its mystery. In Leonardo’s
painting, everything is understandable. Here, nothing is clear or legible. The light is
strange, and erie. One must understand the scene on faith. We no longer look at the
psychology of the figures but at the beginnings of the ritual of the Eucharist. It looks
more like a tavern. The table is no longer parallel to the picture. There are no halos, but
there is strange light around the heads of the figures, similar to the halos. The largest
light surrounds Christ.

Tuesday, February 15, 2000

Last time we looked at the work of the high Renaissance. These are the famous names.
We will now look at portraits. Among the new subjects covered were portraiture, since
there was more emphasis on the individual. We will look at some examples of this,
before looking at Leonardo’s Mona Lisa.
This work is not in the textbook. It is by Piero Francesca. It is a good example of the
new portraits. It is the Duke of Orbino. There was a flourishing humanist court there.
Piero painted the duke. First, it is characteristic to do the portraits in profile. The edges
are sharply outlined. In many of these paintings, the figure is high up in such a way that
we have a view of the landscape outside. There is atmospheric perspective. There is a
lot of clarity. There is a concern with accuracy. This is a real person. He hasn’t even
touched up the awkward aspects of his features. The duke has a broken nose. Yet, there
isn’t too much attention to detail. The profile view is far more characteristic than the
front view of the face. While the pose is characteristic of the 15 th century (only the
nobility has portraits painted), the duke in this case was very badly scared in battle, and
the other eye was blinded. Showing him in profile allows us to avoid the bad eye. The
landscape is of Orbino. It is very natural. The figure is also quite generalized in a
number of ways. Underlying the human aspect is usually an abstract design. His chin is
in the shape of an upside down triangle. The hat, body and neck are generalized
cylindrical forms. They are not detailed many ways. The head does individualize the
person, but there is a generalized pattern.
Next is a female generalized and idealized. It is a portrait of a young Florentine woman
by Antonio Pollaiuolo. It is typical of a 15 th century portrait. Her face is very
generalized. The portraits were used to show suitors. There is a good deal of wealth,
since there is elegance to her cloth. She is also blond with a high forehead, considered
ideal among Florentine women. Florentines were blond and light skinned. The high
forehead was also considered ideal. Women had their heads partly shaved to make her
forehead look higher. She is sitting high up, but there is no landscape in the background.
Notice the sharpness of the edges. It is very rational and ordered.
Next is a portrait by Jann van Eyck, who lived in the north. The style in the north is far
more concerned with details. It is called “a man with a red turban.” It is thought to be a
self portrait, since the eyes seem to be looking in a mirror. It is very realistic. There is
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no psychological revelation. We even see some whiskers. It is very physical. Also
notice the style of making folds of drapery, as seen with the turban. There is an
underlying pattern to the turban. The artist is designing the turban.
Next is a work not found in the text, by Leonardo, in his old style. He strattled the two
periods. It is the only existing work by him in this country. This portrait is of a young
Florentine woman named Ginevera. It comes before the Last Supper. Her name means
Juniper, a plant. Leonardo therefore places her next to a Juniper bush. The dark color
contrasts with her light skin, making her light skin stand out. Most early works were not
treated with the same regard as they are today. The original work probably had her hands
stretching down as well. Notice the sharpness of the edges of the lines. Also notice the
curls on her hair. There is strong emphasis on line.
Now is the Mona Lisa. We are quite used to the work. It is not radical anymore. We are
too used to it. However, it was always known as the example of high art. It took
Leonardo three years to work on it. The first information we have about the work is by
Bassoti. He tells us that the reaction to the work was astonishing. They were astounded
by its naturalness. He speaks of the fresh color and naturalism of the painting. The pose
is new. It establishes poses for centuries afterwards. It refers to the convention of her
sitting high up with a landscape in the background. Leonardo is trying to get at the things
that don’t directly meet the eye. His works have nature not as specifics but as the
landscape that is mysterious and unnamable. The basic shape is a large pyramid. There
is a three dimensional form. Leonardo gives us a sense that this is a figure that will turn;
it is capable of turning in space. The picture itself is quite small. It is hard to notice the
layers of color, which created a translucent, glowing surface. Another aspect to be aware
of is her smile and the look in her eyes. Leonardo gives us some sense that there is an
inner life and psychology to her. It is not just a physical image. Most artists learned how
to model. Leonardo has figures emerge from darkness. He highlights different parts of
the form as though it was emerging from chaos and darkness. Also important is the
design through which he joins the human with nature. There is an “S” curve in the
background repeated on her neck. Her hair’s form looks like the trees and cliffs in the
background. The hands are so subtley modeled that they seem like fleshy hands. It feels
very naturalistic. She appears large and grand. The conception of the figure is large. By
contrast, a mannerist portrait by Bronzino has Elenor de Toledo. She has a boy in the
picture. There is a tighter and stiffer space. The figure is not naturalistic. There is a
stiffness to it. It is elegant, but not naturalistic. Notice that while the Mona Lisa has
fleshy hands, Elenor’s hands seem flatter and far removed from Mona Lisa’s naturalistic
hands.
We now turn to a young artist named Raphael. He was very different tempermentaly. He
was social and worked for the nobility and the popes. His art is very grand. His style is
the epitomie of high Renaissance style. He is known for his beautiful Madonas. In many
compositions, Mary is shown with the son. First is a Byzantine work. The folds are not
naturalistic. The throne is like a little colluseum. There is a certain graceful type. The
baby here looks like a small sized adult. The problem was how to render him as a baby
and yet as divine. Next is a fifteenth century work by Lipolipi. There is an extreme
realism, yet she is idealized. She looks like a Florentine noblewoman. She has a high
forehead and a veil. There are also subtle halos. The baby is fat, yet he looks old. The
other kids are angels. The figure is placed in front of a landscape, so the artist can show
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his ability to paint a landscape. The sense here is quiet and elegant. She wears 15 th
century clothes. Now, with Raphael, which was painted in 1505. Raphael has eliminated
the contemporary clothes and has placed her in timeless cloaks. There is a subtle halo.
He eliminates the background. He gives us a physical type, delicate and modest features,
that is used for Madonos for the next centuries. Also important is the love between
mother and child. One of the major connections is between mother and child.
Now we see a perfect example of his work. It has mother, child, and St. John. We
recognize John by his staff and rags. The other child is Christ. Notice the clarity of light.
Everything in the picture is clear and rational. Yet the scale is grand. Notice the large,
dominant figure of Mary. She is like mother earth in a sense that the form takes in the
babies. She is graceful yet modest. She sits in a landscape, unlike Leonardo’s
mysterious nature. By contrast is a mannerist work by Parmigianino of madona with the
long neck. Raphael has an ideal nature, in contrast to this painting.
Finally is Raphael’s school of Athens. The plan was to decorate the Vatican palace. The
plan was to decorate the four walls of the room, each with a discipline. This wall is
devoted to philosophy. It was painted between 1508 and 1510. Raphael takes Plato and
Aristotle as the central figures. Aristotle is the younger student of Plato. Socrates is on
the left of Plato. Around them are placed other figures. It is the epitomie of the high
Renaissance. Each figure is athletic and physical. On the lower right hand side is Euclid,
surrounded by Ptolmey holding the orb. The features given to Euclid are those of
Bramante, who uses mathematical figures in his architecture.

Thursday, February 17, 2000

Last time we discussed Raphael. Next time we will see the Baroque period.
Now is a work by Raphael called the Galatea. It was a palace where the nobility lived.
The subject is Galatea, a nymph. She is being pursued by an ogre named Polyphemous.
She has been in love with Asis, and the ogre has killed her lover. She has turned her
lover into a river. She is in a chariot to be one with her lover, running away from
Polyphymous. The question is how he approaches the story. There is nothing delecate
about her. She is large scale, not delicate. She is muscular. It is based basically on the
male figure. The western world thought that the ideal was the ma le. Therefore,
whichever is the most perfect is more masculine. Notice her power and musclularness.
There is no sense of landscape here. His energies are displayed in the figures, so their
size, scope and scale actually create the sense of space. It is a scene with a great deal of
energy, action and movement. There are cupids above, called putti, which suggest the
notions of love. They serve to keep the eye down so that we look at Galetea and the
centaurs. It is a lively and pagan type scene, not usually characteristic of Raphael. In
Christian works of art, the dolphin represents the Christ figure.
By comparison, we see Botocelli’s birth of Venus. It is a subject done over and over
again. It is one of the examples of an antique subject wed to the forms that come out of
that world. The myth is that Venus, the goddess of love is born full form. She represents
beauty, and in neo-Platonic thinking, there is association between Venus and Mary. She
is seen as an ancient version of Mary. This is really Venus, but they want to paint these
sensuous ancient forms for these reasons. Raphael has much larger forms, even though
the subject is love and pagan in both paintings.
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We will now turn to Michaelangelo. He begins his career in Florence. Most of his
career, however, is in Rome, since the popes and cardinals commission him. They want
to turn Rome from a pagan to a Christian city. They want to make it beautiful as well.
There is building in Rome on a large scale. He began in Florence, and lives in the circle
of the Medicis. This court was concerned with neo-Platonism. He believed in beauty
through the study of nature. Also know that he was deeply religious, making him
different from de Vinci, who doesn’t have the same deep involvement in the religion. He
tends to be solitary and tortured. He thought of himself as divinely inspired. This is the
first time we see that genius is as close to divine as humanity can come. He was thought
of in society as the “divine Michaelangelo. He was thought of as a creator. Another
important part is that he believed that sculpture of the human form as the supreme vehicle
of expression. He thought of himself as a carver, not as a painter. He made the Dome of
St. Peters. Although he undertook many other grand projects, he thought of himself as a
carver. There were two options then. One could carve something or make something out
of clay. He saw his task as a sculptor to take the right marble. His feeling was that the
figure he would release from the stone was really there, and he would release it from its
stone prison. In Christian thinking, the human soul was viewed as a prisoner of the
human body, and it was imprisoned by the senses and bodily needs. He thus associates
his sculpting in a more religious sense.
“Pitta” is the first sculpture we will look at. The subject is the time after the crucifixion
when Mary is mourning her dead son. It is a picture of sorrow, but there is more serenity
and peacefulness, since the will of the divine has been done. In the past, the subject has
the male figure extended so it sticks out. The problem was how to make the full sized
male figure in the lap of a female figure without making it look strange since he is much
bigger. Mary is huge, and her draperies are spread out, but she is also very beautiful and
youthful. The Christian thinking is that she is the most perfect woman. He spreads out
her drapery so her lap is enormous. The male figure is folded over in a number of places,
the knees being the most obvious place. She does not have a huge body but she has huge
drapery, so she is able to hold him in her lap. More than anything else, is its effect in
transmitting a combination of the tragedy of the moment and the serenity of the
fulfillment of the divine will.
Next is another sculpture. Michaelengelo never completed it, but it is a very grand
subject. Many Churchmen wanted their tombs planed in advance, so they would have a
proper monument for themselves. This is a very worldly thing, and would not have
happened in prior times. Julius II hired Michaelangelo to build an elaborate tomb. This
is what is left of the tomb. The original plan was even more complex and would have 40
life sized figures and a room for the pope’s tomb, with figures from the Bib le and the NT.
In the course of carving the work, the pope ran out of money. Julius also had other things
in mind; he wanted Michaelangelo to decorate the Sistine chapel, which could be why it
was never completed. The sculpture is in St. Peters. The ce ntral figure seated on the
bottom on the middle is Moses surrounded by Rachel and Leah. Biblical figures usually
stand as prefigurations of stories in the NT. Rachel and Leah stand for the contemplative
life. Now we see Moses, originally intended to be on the second story, and was intended
to be seen from down below. Moses is huge and awe inspiring. It is 3D, so one could
walk around it. The position is like that of the ancient philosophers, so Moses is a
thinker. Also, he is an old man, manifested in his long, flowing beard. Yet, he is very
                                                                                            17


strong and his face and young and muscular. Nature is only in its most ideal and
perfected form, not as we experience it in everyday life. Notice that his expression is
internalized expression and contemplatative. An internal life comes across, indicating an
inner tension. The horns are because of the word keren in the Bible. In old
representations of Moses, this mistake is rendered as horns and they become used to
identify Moses. Horns are not used to de-humanize Moses, but to make Moses grander.
Now we will look at the Sistine Chapel. This view is how we see it upon entering. It
took him four years to do the celing. The paintings underneath the windows are not by
Michaelangelo. They were painted before the celing. There are windows as part of the
building. Michaelangelo had to paint around the windows. The ceeling has no
architechtural parts. Everything that looks like a pillar or an architectural shape is part of
the design and part of the fresco. We will look at two scenes from the center. The
program is elaborate. Down the center, beginning at the altar are scenes from Genesis,
running from the altar to the door, running to the episode of Noah. The scene was to
include the history of the world in pre-Mosaic times. There are already scenes from
Christ and Moses. Also included in the ceeling are cybals and prophets like Jonah and
Ezekiel. Cybals are female pagans that have the power of prophecy, who prophecy the
coming of Christ. Last is that the architecture is also part of the plan. Everything above
the windows are all paint.
First we will look at one of the most famous paintings, as famous as the Mona Lisa. The
nude figures separate the different panels. They sit on marble pedestals. One gets the
sense of complexity. The scene is the creation of Adam. There are any number of ways
he could have rendered the scene. This is not a literal reading of the Bible. We must
enter the artist’s creative thinking. Adam looks Greek like, and is beautiful and perfectly
anatomic. There is very little landscape, as if we are looking at a statute. Adam lies there
like an ancient river god; he is beautiful and perfect. He is not energetic because the
scene is before the spark of life is passed to him. God has a long beard and flowing hair.
The figure of god, despite his age (signifying wisdom), is strong enough to be young and
beautiful. He is surrounded by little babies that represent unborn souls (with the
exception of the beautiful young girl who is probably Eve). We have the energetic and
powerful figure of god almost touching the flacid figure of Adam. The process is the
moment of animation and giving life. The sequel to this is that the spark will move
through the body, animating him.
Next scene is the fall of Adam. We have two scenes in one. We have the temptation and
the second scene, the exit of Adam and Eve, separated by the serpent in a human form.
This figure might be Lilith, but this possibility is far from certain. We see the rhythmic
flow between the serpent and Eve, taking the fruit. Eve is large and muscular. On the
right hand side is the expulsion. There is a tragic feel. The angel that points to the
direction is very threatening and frightening.
Next is a cybal. He alternates the cybals with the prophets of the Bible. Michaelangelo
is working from anatomical knowledge. The figure is huge and grand. It is like a piece
of sculpture, twisting and turning in space. Yet, it is serene and controlled. However, it
is impossible to take that position, yet it is still serene.
Finally is the Last Judgement. The serenity is changed here. It is the moment when the
dead arise, and there is a frightening judge (Christ). The souls are carefully observed and
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rendered. We see a hanging figure, who is St. Bartholemew, who died as a martyr. He
was flayed so he has hanging skin. The face has Michaelangelo’s own features.

Tuesday, February 22, 2000

We will have to know the “Madonna of Paysero,” even though we will not co ver it in
class. We should also look at Parmigiano, as well as El Greco.
Now about Mannerism. It is an aesthetic that arose after Raphael. It is anti-Classical in
certain ways. The Mannerists leave out the role of nature. Their subject matter is treated
in a strange and irrational way.
We now turn to Venice. Venice develops a painter tradition. We think of Titian mostly.
This is a baccenal by Titian. The subject is pagan. Bacces is the Roman god of wine and
fertility. His Greek name is Dionysis. It is a joyous occasion. It is a celebration of the
god Baccus. We see the grace and light of the atmosphere and a strong sense of nature.
This is the style of Venician art as a whole. One of the aspects of painting of this period
is the rich brushwork. There is a rich application of paint. This is called painterly. There
is a feel for the medium. It begins with the work of Titian, who remains an influence on
all sucessive painters.
Next is a portrait by Titian. After Raphael, Titian becomes the main portrait painter.
This is a famous portrait called, “The man with the glove.” On the other side we see
“Castilogne” by Raphael. The subject was a humanist, and wrote, “the courtier.” The
courtier was a manual of what the perfect nobleman would do, and how he would be
educated. The book was translated into other languages. There is a letter by Raphael in
which he speaks of his own works. Raphael’s work concentrates on a realistic image.
The pose comes right out of the Mona Lisa. It is accurately observed. The composition
is balanced, as the subject takes the form of a pyramid. He is intelligent. It is a
combination of realism and dignity. He is comfortable with who he is and he has a lot of
dignity. Titian’s work is quite different. We cannot identify the young man. The whole
feeling is different. He doesn’t look at us in a direct way. He is dreamy. There is a sense
that his concentration is not on the outside world but on the inward life. There is a
richness of the blacks and grays. There is no real color. There are just variations of black
gray and white. The fluidity of the brushwork are particular from a Venitian aesthetic.
Next is Parigino’s “Madonna with the long neck.” We see the mannerist aesthetic.
Raphael gave us an even composition. It is humanity in its absolute perfection. Nature is
the key to the aesthetic. In the mannerist work, there is nothing rational. There is no real
spatial relationship between the baby and someone in the bottom right hand corner.
There is no real space for the column. The column is not visually logical. Madonna is
graceful and elegant, but her neck shows us that she is not intended to be real. The
mannerist work is more mysterious. It is outside of time. It comes out of a world that
feels it can no longer control things.

Now for Baroque. It emerges in Rome around 1600 with Caravagio. There are a number
of different Baroque approaches. The Baroque period is from 1600 to around 1700. The
Baroque period is the 17th century. It is a style. There are certain characteristics, which
depend on where the work was made and its religious situation. However, it means
irregular, like a Baroque pearl, those that are not perfect spheres. It has a grand scale and
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largeness. It is monumental in scale and concept. It is allusionism to its most extreme. It
is grand to the most extreme. There is a dramatic quality and theatrical. They love
drama. It is gory and filled with violence. There is also movement. Along with this, the
artists love dramatic contrasts. There extreme contrasts of light and shadow. There are
extreme perspectives. There is the close up, which is invented in this period.
We will begin with Bernini. If the prime sculptor of the Renaissance was Michaelangelo,
the most important of the 17th century is Bernini. He made Rome the main city of
Catholicism. Rome is known for its fountains. Here is one example, St. Peter’s
cathedral. The rounded arms embrace people, just as the Church embraces people. There
is a notion of the Church embracing people. The king of France had him redesign the
lourve, though the French didn’t like the curves. This is an example of Bernini’s large
projects.
Next is his sculpture of David. David was a favorite subject of art. The city of Florence
took David as a symbol of itself. Here are some earlier Davids. This one is by
Donatello. It is the first life size nude figure since antiquity. It is life size and uses the
human figure like the ancients did. It takes David after he has vanquished Goliath.
David is an adolescent boy; he is beautiful and sensuous. The next David is more prosaic
by Barocchio, the teacher of Leonardo. It is much less beautiful, but he also chooses the
moment when we see the triumphant David, who is proud of himself. Finally by
comparison we see Michaelangelo’s David. Here we have a good example of the human
form. Michaelangelo’s David is not heroic. There is no head of Goliath. We just see an
idealized human figure. This was the peak of perfectio n. David is thoughtful.
Michaelangelo chose the moment before the actual battle and the outcome is known. We
have a perfectly proportioned figure. It is an expression of the most perfect aspects of
humanity. He is after the Platonic ideal. Also notice the space; the figure stands
independent of everything around it. It is controlled within a rectangular space; it doesn’t
move out of its space. It is very thoughtful. It is perfectly balanced. The head is turned
so we can only guess what he is seeing or thinking. But there is something internal going
on. There is no tension in the outer figure. We find a subtle suggestion of an inner
tension, of a psychological life. There is an ease of pose.
Bernini’s work chooses the point when David is about to release the stone that will strike
Goliath. It is a very dramatic moment. Bernini gives us the drama, making it very
Baroque. We see lips tightened and an intense expression. The whole body twists and
turns in space. The barrier is broken between the sculptor’s space and our space. He is
not self-contained, a Baroque characteristic. There is a passionate feel, making it grand.
For balance, the stone is to be thrown at our space. The stone is ready to invade the
distance between the figure and the viewer. We must imagine the placement of Goliath.
We must imagine the figure of Goliath. It involves viewer activity.
Next we see “The Ecstasy of St. Teresa.” It was for the private chapel of the Coronoro
family. We are looking at one wall of a chapel that has two perpendicular walls. There is
a balcony on each side with sculptured figures. They are the Coronoro family. We see
St. Teresa in ecstasy. We are the Coronoro family observing this moment. There are
many layers of reality operating at once. There is elaborate marble and rays of light. The
subject is Teresa of Avila. She wrote of visionary moments. Her writings led to her
canonization. The Church was trying very hard to recoup its people. The reformation
was against images. The Church was trying to regain its power. It wanted images that
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would reach the viewer and involve him. Teresa writes of a moment in her life when an
angel comes down and pierces her heart with an arrow. The pain is intense but it is the
ultimate moment of communion with the divine. The image appeals to us through our
senses. There are smooth and polished surfaces. Her head is thrown back in ecstasy in
abandon. It is a moment of spiritual perfection.
Next is a work by Bernini not in our text. By comparison is the Gattamolatta by
Donatello, a monument to a famous general. The work by Bernini is also equestrian, in
which someone is sitting on a horse. The figure on the right is Constantine in St. Peter’s
cathedral. The scale between the rider and horse is more realistic in Donatello. The
movement is suggested but there is no real moving. The general dominates by his
psychological control and his erect posture, not in a physical way. Bernini’s work has an
unrealistic scale. The dominance by Constantine is a domination by size. There is a lot
of activity. The hooves and the tail or the horse indicate action. There is also a curtain in
the background, which represents opera, hightening the drama. The curtain serves as a
relief, and is filled with movement. The folds make the feeling more dramatic.
Last we will look at Caravagio. He comes from Milan. He begins his career as a
mannerist. Then he moves to Rome and spends most of career there. This is an example
of an early Baroque work. He was commissioned to work for a family that had a Church.
This painting is called “The Calling of St. Matthew.” It is based on the NT story.
Matthew was one of the gospel writers. Here, we have an episode in which he becomes
St. Matthew. He was a Roman tax collector. The artist puts him in a contemporary
tavern and he has been drinking and gambling. Into this room comes two strangers.
There is an extreme contrast between light and shadow. One of the figures has a halo and
points to someone on the left. It is when Christ calls Matthew. Matthew points to
himself, as if to ask, “Who me?” The two figures on the right hand side are ordinary and
from the lower members of society, and have no elegance.

Thursday, February 24, 2000

Last time we started to look at Bernini and we began to look Caravagio. We will look at
the conversion of St. Paul together.
Now about the Baroque period. It is between 16 and 1700. It depends on the place and
on the individual artist and culture. Some of the broad characteristics shared among all of
them is largeness. This largeness includes ideas and physical size. It is the most
dramatic and the most allusionistic and the most idealistic. One of the characteristics we
will see is in its lighting. There are visions and ecstasies.
The conversion of St. Paul by Caravagio is not in the text.
This is the conversion of St. Paul. It is very dramatic. It has to do with an episode from
the NT. The story can be told from different points of view. The Baroque art takes t he
high point of the drama. The subject here is the moment in the story when the person
who had been Saul is on his way to Damascus (to persecute Christians). On his way
there is a bolt of lightening. He is thrown from his horse and hears Christ ask why he is
persecuting his followers. He then becomes St. Paul. We are concerned with the
moment that represents the miraculous moment that people can’t explain in a rational
way. We must take this moment on faith and belief. This is similar to the counter-
reformation, which tried to give the feeling that these episodes should be accepted on
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faith yet they are accessible to all people. From a formal point of view, the impact is very
moving and dramatic. The first thing to be aware of is that in the past there is a very
rational and ordered space. The space moved back into infinite space, and one gets
perspective. Here, there is no sense that space is moved into the background. Thus, we
are aware of the solidity of the forms. The painting was thought of as blasphemous since
he uses very ordinary physical types to portray his saints, which was thought of as less
than respectful. Also he saw his models before him. These are the people he made the
religious figures. Light here is not only physical here b ut also has a very metaphorical
meaning. The idea of light comes from the notion of knowledge. In this case, the horse
is not elegant or used for show but rather a workhorse. It is not a beautiful animal. The
picture was intended to be seen at an angle. It is placed in a Church in Rome
perpendicular to the scene, making us more aware of the horse’s rear and less of the
horse’s head. The colors are dark except for the highlighted areas. This staging is part of
the aesthetic. Also, the perspective is odd. The figure of Paul is foreshortened, so that he
falls out of the space of the picture and into our own space. This is like Bernini’s David.
This style involves the viewer in a way that he has never been involved before. This
blends the line between the picture’s space and our space. This also demands that the
viewer’s imagination finish the picture. Much of his aesthetic reaches Spain and
Holland. There were many artists who picked up on these characteristics. He had a
following in the establishment. However, many people found this too realistic and too
blasphemous.
Next are examples of Caravagio’s followers.
This work is not in our text. It is by Orzio Gentileschi. The work on the right was by his
daughter, Artumizia. The subject is the same for both. It is from Judith; Judith has the
head of Holifernes. Judith was a very beautiful woman who took it upon herself to entice
the Syrian general and lure him into her tent. She then beheads him and frees her people.
Part of the appeal of Baroque was a love for violent subjects. Judith is very popular in
the Baroque era. Also, we don’t have examples of great women artists. For one reason,
there were no institutions by which women could train. They didn’t have access to the
academies. Also, women were not expected to be professional in any way. Artumizia is
one of the few exceptions. She was enormously successful. She was very strong
minded; all successful women painters were daughters of artists, so they could get proper
training. Both paintings were influenced by Caravagio. There is not a lot of action
happening in this scene. The center of the composition is the head of holifernes. The
scene takes place after the fact, and the head is in the laps of the two women. The drama
here is the psychological drama of who may have heard this and what they will do next.
Both of the figures form a solid 3D shape. Judith is dressed in contemporary clothes. It
is strongly realistic. There is no terror, but there is apprehension. Everything is dark.
Yet it is also very controlled. It is holoferne’s head that is the center of the painting. We
can tell who Judith is by her clothes. She is the upright figure. The two figures are seen
seated or huddled. In the daughter’s work Judith is standing. It is after the act has taken
place, yet there is just as much dramatic tension as there would be in the act of killing
itself. Judith’s hands are still gripping the sword. In the daughter’s painting we barely
see his head at all. The real center is the activity and the stregnth of Judith who is still
gripping the sword and also listening to see who is coming. Notice the burning candle in
the room, the source of light. However, the source of light is not in proper perspective,
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suggesting that the candle is not the only source of light. The light creates the drama.
Light in Baroque compositions is always more than just physical light. Also be aware of
the curtain. Many Baroque compositions have this curtain. Also, it is the era in which
the opera develops, so there is a strong sense of the theatre. Last, while Artumizia did
conventional subjects, she also has an affinity to strong women. She also painted Esther,
a liberator of her people. She paints heroic women. This can come from the fact that she
was a woman, though another part of this could be that she once took a young man to
court for rape and won her case, so she was aware of the vulnerability of women.
Next is “Joseph the Carpenter” by a French painter LaTour. We don’t know much about
him. He was not well known until after he died. Here we have Joseph and the little child
is Jesus. Joseph is portrayed as being simple, not idealized; he is humble. It feels like a
scene from everyday life, except for the way it is handled. The lighting is strong in its
contrasts. There is no grading of the lights; there are strong oppositions that create strong
dramas. It feels as though it is happening in our space. The lighting is strong. The
simplicity causes the scene to transcend its normality.
Also realize that Caravagio and his followers were influential in all places of Europe.
The other paintings were largely involved in decorative schemes. Some Italians worked
in a more classical style. Look at a ceiling decorating by Anniba le Caarraci. Also look at
two other ceiling decorations by Reni and Guercino. Get a sense of how different these
works are from those of Caravagio.
Next is one of the most elaborate of Baroque ceiling decorations. It is by Cortona. It
dates to the 1630’s. It is the “Glorification of Urban VIII.” It was intended as a
glorification of the Barbarinis. Think of the elaborate ceiling; this work breaks all of the
constraints. The heavens seem to open up, and there are many figures from classical
myths. The vision is very grand, and the point is to make a statement about the
association between the gods and the Barbarini’s, and the timelessness of the family.
We now turn to Spain and look at the most important Spanish artist of the Baroque
period, Valasquez. At that point, Spain was very powerful. It was very wealthy and
dominant. Spain ruled many other parts of Europe as well.
Here is an early work of Valaquez. It owes a lot to Caravagio; it is called, “The water
carrier of Savile.” Portraiture was never really considered important. But after Christian
subjects, the most important subject is genre. Genre are subjects that do with the life of
ordinary people. The subject is the simple folk, and how they cook and do other things.
Valasquez worked in Savile. His early works were thought to be genre subjects. In this
painting we have a similar type of feel. The water carrier is very low position. The water
carrier is the person in the foreground, behind the round jug. He is a very humble person,
not a mythological or religious figure. There is strong realism. The repeated pattern is a
second jug on the table. There is a young boy holding the glass. There is also a third
figure in the distance. In spite of the fact that these are simple fo lk, there is a quiet
serenity. The richness and stregnth of the light gives it the sense of being larger than just
being part of ordinary life. they transcend the ordinary life. Notice the realism in the
water carrier’s face. There is fluid brushwork. We see the wrinkles and age marks, in
addition to his suffering. Also be award of the brushmarks and the richness of the light.
Although he is simple he has dignity and firmness, a sense that he is more than his
position in life. We can also see a glass that is holding water, with a fig. The fig is a fruit
that is associated with the ressurection of life. Water is a source of life. There is nothing
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in the painting of a religious nature. Also notice a mature man in the background
drinking water. We see the stages of life. We see man in his various stages of life.
Next is his most famous work, “The maids of honor.” Valazquez was appointed the court
painter. He spends the rest of his life painting the court. This scene takes place in the
kings house.

Tuesday, February 29, 2000

We had last discussed Valasquez. We have here his studio. He worked in Sevile. He
became well known. He was called by the king of Spain to Madrid as the court painter.
He worked on the portraits of the king and the queen. His work was as the court painter.
What we have here is one of his most famous pictures, “The maids of honor.” The
situation here is that he has been established as an important figure. What we see is the
artist himself standing in front of his eisle, causing us to speculate about what he is
painting. We is wearing a red ribbon, an award. He is holding his palate in one hand,
and his brush in the other hand. He is looking up as if they are interrupting him from his
work. The same is true for everyone else in the room. The main figure in the room is the
little princess Margolita, who is surrounded by her maids of honor. One the side is a
minister, who has been stopped. The people are responding to something, which must be
outside, on our side of the picture, causing us to wonder what they are responding to.
There are angular forms there as paintings. The canvas is at an angle. There are
windows which are also angular. Most striking is the rectangular image which seems to
be a mirror. It raises the questions of the different types of images. An artist who lived
in the time of interest between illusion and reality would care about mirrors, which turns
reality into images. Then again, it could also be a painting. Another ambiguity is its dual
nature, as to the relationship between where he stands and where the princess is. It raises
many questions without answering them. This is a typical feature of Baroque works.
Notice his brushwork, how it flows, making the image more sensuous. Also be aware of
how lively her image is. She seems to be looking at something. There is an action in her
eyes, as if she is assessing what she is seeing. There is a great sense of movement and
response. The light in the painting is a concern with the physical character of light. He is
interested in how light operates, and light is examined from that point of view. The
theme of the relationship between reality and illusion is very important in that period.
Also look at “Innocent X” by Velasquez, and comp are it with Raphael’s Leo X and
Titian’s Paul X.
Now for the Netherlands. At that time they were under the Spanish monarchy. In the
sixteenth century there was an uprising, and there was a truce established. The result was
that it remained under the Spanish monarchy. It remained Catholic, meaning that the
Church was powerful (so there were important commissions for the decorations of
Churches). Another result was that Holland became independent, affecting the art that
was made. It became Protestant and middle class. It was a series of independent states.
We should know that there were different modes of life and attitudes, hence different
modes of art. The most important artist was Rubens, who worked for all of the great
kings and queens. He came from Antwerp, a large and commercial center. He was the
Flemish painter. He did what all painters at the time did to become great, going to Italy
to study. All of this was part of his education, and was part of what any ambitious artist
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would do. He could have had a career if he stayed in Italy, but his mother got sick and he
went back to see her. At that point, he was appointed in Flanders. He developed a huge
workshop with many assistants. He was also a diplomat and an emmisary, influencing
Velasquez.
First is an oil sketch. In the 1620’s he was commissioned by the queen of France to do a
series of her life, consisting of many paintings with different episodes of her life,
beginning with her birth. This would include the courting of her husband, and her arrival
in France. In the Lourve there is a huge devoted to this cycle. This is one of many
schemes that Rubens did. This scene takes place after Mary has arrived by boat from
Italy. She is being received by an emmissary of the king. She will come to the king’s
court. First notice the different between the oil sketch and the finished painting. Marie
did not do anything spectacular, but she was queen. The arrival here does indeed seem
very grand, larger than life. Her life is supposed to be as grand as possible. The reality is
that this is not an interesting event except for the way Rubens treats it. The ship that she
comes on wouldn’t have looked like this. The ship here looks more imaginative. It is
gold and grand, on a strong angle. There are clashing diagnals. Marie is dressed in
elaborate robes. She is attended by her maids of honor. Look at who is pushing the boat.
There are huge figures. He is known for his fat women, but so are his men and his
architecture. The women pushing the boat are nymphs, out of classical memory. The
man pushing the boat is Neptune, the god of the sea. Thus, the boat is pushed by the
world of the divine and myth, not everyday reality. He does not paint reality, but rather
something larger and grander. His color has a lot of light and color. It is very Flemish in
feeling. It’s source for light and color is Titian. Spain had a lot of Titian’s works and
Rubens seems influenced by it. The painting brings all of the styles together. He is also
dealing with the biography of a real live woman, a historical figure. She is larger than
life, since the painting makes her live forever. The painting brings together history,
allegory, and other levels of reality. The covering above Marie is a figure that looks like
an angel or goddess, holding a trumpet like instrument, symbolizing fame, which
announces her arrival. The other works in the series operate the same way.
Now is a work by Rubens called “The Garden of Love.” It brings together many
traditions. Rubens is the first painter who paints children in a convincing way. He gets
down the differences between childhood and adulthood. The painting was painted
shortly after his second marriage. The theme is love, the subject goes far back in the
northern tradition, but can extend back to the Garden of Eden. The setting is classical.
The architecture is very large. It defines the space on a diagnol. All of the beautiful
people are dressed in elegant clothes. They are in a closed area with rich color, with a
strong feel for the action of the brush. Look at how closely they connect. Each figure is
firm and moves on its own axis, but they are all related to each other. For Rubens, each
figure represents several aspects of love. He creates an atmosphere in which there is a
great variety of types of love. Each of the figures are representative of this. He has cupid
figures that balance out the composition. It also includes himself and his new bride, who
are dancing on the left side. He looks out and catches our eye. He has a cupid figure
standing behind his young wife, pushing her towards her new husband. Underlying the
painting are the allegorical notions of love. The painting does not describe real life, but
the imagination.
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Next is another painting by Rubens, “Chatteu Estane.” The landscape is not a subject
that Italian painters did that much. Now we find landscapes done for its own sake. Here
he paints his own land, with a great deal of affection, making it larger than life. On the
estate are people working on it. Notice how extensive it is, and how grand it is. By
comparison we have Breugel (the elder) called “Return of the Hunter.” It is a landscape
as well. The approach here is to give us sharply edged parts together. It is part o f a series
of paintings. He is really painting a landscape. We see the contours of the figures.
There is a kind of sharpness to the edges, as if he examined each figure separately and put
them together. In the Rubens’ painting, we see the unity of all of the parts. We see the
whole before we start to look at the parts.
Next we see a work by van Dyck. He was a contemporary of Rubens. We can see that
that the style is very similar to Rubens’.
Next we see a painting by Colbine. It is the image of Henry VIII. The work by Van
Dyck is of Charles I. He is the first king to be beheaded. Van Dyck was portraitist.
Notice the differences in approach and uses in color. Van Dyck gives us a monarch with
dignity in a world that is filled with light. We can recognize the place. He has all of the
qualities of a gentleman that would make him pleasant. It is intended as a public
statement of who he is. Yet the king is also accesseble and human. The feeling of the
Colbine painting is very different. The king is supposed to be unapproachable. This is
done by bringing the image close to the surface, and the figure is brought parallel. The
king lives in his own world. He is serious and is not kind. There is no background. This
is possibly Colbine’s conception of him. Both of these are monarchs, but there is a
different image that comes across.

Thursday, March 2, 2000

Last time we covered Rubens and van Dyck. We will discuss Holland today. As a
culture, Flanders remained under the control of the Spa nish monarchy, so the art
remained Catholic. In Holland, the situation was different since it became a series of
independent provinces forming a confederation. It became commercially successful, and
was ruled by the middle class. There was no more nobility. The paintings were reduced
in size to fit into the smaller areas. Also, Holland became Protestant. They were against
the grandeur that was the case in Catholic countries. It was more strait- laced. Yet, it was
more prosperous. More popular were genre subjects, dealing with the life of ordinary
people. Landscape became popular, as well as still life. Also, in this society, the artists
worked for a free market. They didn’t have patrons. There were occaisions of patronage,
but for the most part the artists sold their works on the open market. The artists did not
wait for commissions from the nobility. Since that is the case, many of the artists become
specialists, developing expertise in certain subjects. For example, someone good with
animal paintings would focus on animal paintings. This is how Holland operated. No
other place in Europe operated this way.
We will look at a very famous Dutch painter. His name is Frans Hals. Both paintings
here are rich in brushwork and sponteniety. The o ne on the right is called the “Dolly
Toper.” The one on the left is called the Malle Baba. A toper is a drunkard, someone
who over imbibes. He gives us someone in contemporary clothes. The setting here is
obviously a tavern, since he has a glass in his hand that he is offering to us. His
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expression seems to look up as if he is aware of us. His right hand indicates that time has
stopped. The very action of the brush feels very instantaneous. There is a great sense of
connection between viewer and subject. It feels very sketchy.
On the left is a darker subject. As Hals got older, his subjects and vision became much
darker. Yet there is there is the same sense of seeing the object in an immediate way.
Movement is present here. Taverns were frequently treated in Holland. Here we have
the village idiot. He lets us know that there is a screw loose here. The owl helps give
this impression. She seems to be cackling or screaming at someone. We love Hals
because we are aware of the action of the brush.
One of the most popular forms in Holland is the group portrait. Here is a group portrait
by Hals. In the Dutch world, each malita had its own company. This work is not in the
text. Usually, everyone in the company would chip in to pay the artist a nd the artist
would do the group portrait. Every person here is individualized. Then, the portrait was
hung where they met. It would be a record of who was in the company at a given time.
It has a very lively quality. One of the conventions used here is the curtain, which serves
as a background, and as a way to push everything forward so we focus on the people in
the group. Notice the crossing diagnals here, which helps create space. It creates an
energetic and dynamic composition. Our eye takes us through 3 figures. Each company
has one flag. The eye will see a crossing design. What we have is a very lively active
sense of the immediacy. The painting was done early in his career. Everything is clear;
nothing is dark.
Now we have a work that is in our text. The group portrait here was done later in his life.
What we have here are the female regents of the old men’s home. The women here are
the board of directors, and look after the old men’s needs. The women are old, not
youthful. We see the ravages and the sadness of old age. They themselves are the result
of suffering. They don’t have the energy of young people. It is very static. It is very
balanced. The tone and color here is very dark and somber. The women are dressed in
contemporary costumes. There is a closed space with a landscape picture on the wall.
Even the landscape picture is very dark and dreary, as it depicts winter. It carries out the
basic notion here. Also be aware of the lighting. There is no sense of their bodies. Each
of the faces is somber, though very carefully reproduced. Each of them have their own
character. Also the hands get attention. It is a wonderful display of old age and its
ravages.
We will now look at Rembrant. He is a giant in the history of western art. He far
exceeds his position in Holland. He concentrated on grand and elevated subjects. He did
not idealize his subjects. He takes very ordinary people, and gives them a grandeur and
spirit that ordinary people don’t have. There is a great sense of humanity and
vulnerability to human beings. People are vulnerable but yet special as well. He worked
in Leiden. After becoming a mature artist he moved to Amsterdam. In his religious
paintings, he has a special affinity for Jews in the Amsterdam quarter. In his Biblical
paintings, he used Jews as his models, as he saw them as heirs to the Bible.
This painting depicts the blinding of Samson. This is his most Baroque and violent of his
works. It was painted while he was still young. There is a love of dark and light
contrasts. The setting is oriental, which is how he thought of the Bible. The costumes
are quite oriental. He liked the oriental scenes. In his studio he dressed his models like
this. The one holding the lance is dressed in a costume of the Orient. The two figures in
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armor are the Philistines. This is the most gory moment of the story. This is what the
Baroque era loved. Notice how sharp these Philistines are. This indicates distortion,
indicating their moral distortion. In the back we see Delilah, who is holding Samson’s
hair. She is holding the shears, and opposite is the lance. This plays with the imagery of
the sharp images. This creates a sharp visual atmosphere.
Next is a famous work by Rembrant. It is called “The Company of Frans Banincoq.” It
was one of the malitia companies operating in Amsterdam. It is a group portrait. It came
to be called night watch because it became dark with soot. It was thought to have been a
night scene. It is clear that these people are preparing to march to receive the queen of
France, who came on a state visit. It is filled with dynamism but also with ambiguity.
The space is arranged so the eye is led back through diagnols. There are a lot of people
and lances behind each other and side by side. But it is not chaotic. There is unity and
continuity. It feels full of vitaltiy. There is a strong and heavy architecture that brings
together all these disparate elements. The other unifying element is the light. The qua lity
of light used is golden, different from anyone else’s. instead of painting everybody
clearly and firmly, this is a more natural and spontaineous picture. There were a lot of
complaints since many were cut off. The light moves into the darkness but comes out
again. This gives the work some unity. The standardbearer has many of the golden
aspects of the light, as well as a lot of the brushwork. There is a fluidity to the
brushwork. The face is very particular, and is very soft. Banincoq has a red banner as a
decoration. His assistant is wearing a golden outfit. We see the scrupulousness with
which Rembrant has rendered the painting. His hand casts a shadow on his clothes. The
effect is very lively.
Now we turn to a more characteristic painting from Rembrant. It is not in our text, but it
is important and Biblical. It depicts Jacob blessing his children at the end of his life. We
can also see the painting as a family portrait. The palate is very warm and rich. There
are a lot of oranges. Jacob is old and blind and he calls Joseph to give the children his
blessing. Notice how Rembrant conceives the painting. The scene is timeless, and it
contains the continuity of family life, the father, son, and grandson. He takes the male
characters and makes them into a singular form. He places them in an Oriental setting.
There is a rich red blanket. Jacob is not idealized. His features are not refined. It is the
setting of the palate that make this work more than ordinary. Another aspect is that there
is a princes like figure, Joseph’s wife. She is placed apart here, as she is not a member of
the tribe. She is not really part of the continuity, and takes here traditional place as a
wife.
Next depicts the “prodigal son,” an NT story. It is about a son who has gone bad but he
has come back and is being forgiven. The light raises them above the ordinary.

Tuesday, March 7, 2000

We will begin with Rembrandt’s self portraits. We will then look at works of art that
were more characteristic of Holland than Rembrandt. We will be responsible for the rest
of the 17th century on our own. Pussan will be an artist we are responsible for on our
own. His work represents the Baroque in France and later throughout Europe. There are
strong arguments between what art should be, between Pussan and Rubens. This
argument goes on to the 20th century. The Royal academy determines how art is taught.
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This occurs in 594 in the book. With Pussan we close the 17 th century era. The 18th
century in France is particularly a watershed year. Until then, most aspects of culture
were related to Christianity. Afterwards we see modern secular art. The exam will
include all of the assigned readings through Jacques Louis David, who determines
everything for the French Revolution. He worked in the neo-classical style. We will also
have to know Goya, his contemporary in Spain.
Here we have a self-portrait of Rembrandt. He painted himself many times over his life,
making a visual autobiography. We see his changes throughout his life. We see him here
toward the end of his life. We see strong physical changes. More to the point is that we
see his inner life. We see his sorrows and joys and successes he’s had in his life.
Physically he has grown heavy and tired. His eyes are shadowed and are sad. We can
see how he applies highlights and his mixtures. There is an overall sadness to his eyes.
We have golden life but also old age and its vulnerabilities. We see heavy jowls and tired
eyes. We also see him filling out the whole canvas. He is in a solid and stable position.
He is sitting on something that gives him the position of a monarch. He seems aware of
his greatness. His cap suggests a monarch’s crown. Even more than that is the stick he is
holding in his hand. It is a painter’s stick. It allows painters to step back from the easle
and see what they’re doing. He holds the tool as if it were a monarch’s septor. He thus
represents as a kind of king.
Most Dutch painters became specialists. It was a world of free trade. They sold to
whomever would buy them. Van Goyen specialized in landscapes. This is called “ships
on a calm sea.” It is a type of painting popular. He is known for his silver tones in his
landscapes. His subject matter takes place in everyday life. Part of this is that they
celebrated their own world and their success. This aspect is there, but there are other
aspects as well. Holland was one of the lowlands, and was very flat. The stormy weather
is characteristic of Holland. In Dutch landscapes we see the same proportions of land to
heavens. We see much more space devoted to the heavens than to the land and what is
taking place on it. The land is static while the heavens are dynamic. There is hidden
symbolism here. There is some religious moralizing here. There is more than just
everyday life.
Next is the work by Jacob van Ruisdal, which depicts a Jewish cemetery. The underlying
reference is to the Old Testament that has past. The trees and other things refer to things
that are past and dead. The rich foliage seems to refer to the New Testament. On the left
is a rainbow, which seems to refer to hope and redemption. The work is characteristic of
things bought. That era saw the underlying symbolism behind the paintings.
Next we see Jan Vermeer’s “The Letter.” The scenes are genre scenes. The scene doesn’t
really tell a story. Vermeer just presents the world in a static way, without telling any
stories. The only vitality is the use of light. The light is a very strong element. What is
left is a crystal perfect world. He creates space by a series of angular forms. We have
the squares of the door and chairs. They are locked together to create depth. There is a
kind of ambiguity of what the scene is about. The women are rounded and connected,
juxtaposed by the squares. The curtain is Baroque, as it tells us that we are looking into
their world. One of the women is carrying a lute, suggestive of the body, love and
pleasure. In the background is a picture quite like van Goyan’s picture, leading us to
think that the scene is the woman receiving a letter that is far away. We see the quiet,
serene, unmoving Dutch world, with the light that seems to purify everything.
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Next we see another painting by Vermeer. It is called “Woman with a Balance.” There is
a juxtaposition between the woman and the table. It is a middle class home. It is an
everyday world, but it becomes more than an everyday world by virtue of the light, and
through other symbols. For example, she is weighing gems, but there is nothing in the
scale. Behind her is a picture of the last judgement, where everything is weighed.
Next is the subject of still life, objects that are not living. The artist puts together things
that have different shapes of different textures. Dutch still life usually had floral life.
They very carefully observe the objects. Here we have many things celebrating the
material. We have an oriental rug covering the table. We have elegant glasses filled with
liquid and one turned upside down. We have fruits here as well. They are very rich in
color, wonderful to look at, and enjoy things we’d like to have. Very often the fruits and
vegetables are not in perfect condition. The lemon here is peeling and not in great shape.
It is the updated version of the banitas, the reminder that our world is short lived, and the
physical will soon disappear. It is a reminder to look to the state of one’s soul and his
status towards his maker. This work is by Heyda.
Next is another banquet piece. We have things overturned and half finished. It is a
reminder that the banquet is over. The point is that a catestrophe has a occurred that
makes everything in dissaray. There is a Baroque curtain.
Finally, we have a breakfast piece. This is a still life by Vahaym. We can see that is
quite a collection of luxurious things. We also have many exotic things that are edible.
There is great luxury here. There is the suggestion of prosperity. Many of the fruits here
are associated with Christian meanings. The parrot is associated with the virgin, and the
pomogranate is associated with redemption. Yet, we can also appreciate the aesthetic
from a secular perspective as well. There is no story here to be told.
We now turn to Rococo. It was a French style, and it moved to other places. There is a
kind of Rococo in Spain. Rococo is a style that dominated the first half of the 18 th
century in France, when there still was a king and an aristocratic class. It was a style of
the French aristocracy. With the death of Louis XIV, things loosened up. For the
aristocracy who had to live in Versails, they no longer had to do so. Many nobles chose
to move to the city and live in many different types of quarters, which were elegant but
relatively small. Rococo was a decorative style to decorate these types of homes. The
noblemen went to the theatre, which was experiencing a golden age. This is the classical
period of France. The style, being aristocratic, devotes itself to the pleasures of urban
entertainment. The smaller size of the town houses make the scales smaller. Figures
become doll like and delicate. It is more playful. People are playing games, pursuing
love and sensual persuits. It is the opposite of Pussan. It is more related to Rubens, with
rich style and color.
What we have here are Watteau’s paintings of the theatre. Noblemen dressed up and
created their own theatre. What we have here is “Gilles del Artes.” This theatre was
very popular, it was the theatre of the people. There was a set formula, with a hero and a
young lover and an evil doctor. There were a whole set of stock characters. It amused
many people, and it became popular in France. Gilles is the equivalent of a stock
character. Watteau painted this a an ad for a friend of his. We are more concerned with
the subject, actors. The figure of Gilles is a clown, but there is sadness. He is about to
take a bow. All of the people have finished the show, and he is about to take his bow.
There is a kind of humility and hesitancy. The hands are not turned out, and he will not
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take a confident bow. Be aware of the movement and the brushwork, which is on the
sketchy side. There is a kind of sadness and humility.
Next is another painting by Watteau, “Pilgramage to Sithera.” Here we have the notion
of mythology. It is hailed in a Rococo way. The subject is beautiful people who have
come to the goddess of love. They are enjoying the pleasures of love. We see a statute
of the goddess of love, Venus herself. We see young lovers involved with each other.
Many are getting ready to re-embark to the ship that took them there. There is opposition
between Pussan and Ruben’s side. This is much closer to Rubens’ style. This painting is
more human than Rubens. There are similar uses of the brush and colors to Rubens.
Underlying this is some level of nostalgia. Yet, these figures are much more doll like and
delicate than other Rococo paintings. The figures are on a much smaller scale.
We now see another painter, Fragonard. This painting is not in the text, called “The
Swing.” To the left of center are French women playing on the swings. It is playful and
doll like, removed from everyday life.
Next is “The happy accident of the swing,” also by Fragonard. The picture is finished,
thought the brushwork is loose. A baron dictated the subject. It depicts the barons
mistress playing on the swing. We can see her slipper. One of the amusing things is that
we can see the baron observing his mistress. In the background, the person pushing the
swing is a bishop, an irreverent way to treat a bishop.
Next is “The Bathers.” It is sketch like. The figures are voluptuous, though on a smaller
scale than Rubens. These are more playful and ornamental.

Thursday, March 9, 2000

We were asked to look at Charvin. Jansen thinks that he was Rococo, but professor
Becker disagrees. We will begin with two women artists who worked in portraiture. The
first preson is Jean Simeon Chardin. Jansen assumes that she was Rococo, since she has
richness of color and light. But other than that, the works of art feel different, since
unlike Rococo, it was not the style of the aristocracy. There is another class, the middle
class, that is beginning to rise. With the French revolution, the middle class becomes the
main class. We will see this unfold in the works of art. The middle class believed in
succeeding through merit.
This is Chardin’s “home from the market.” The subject matter is a middle class anterior.
It is definitely different from the world of the voluptuous nudes.
Next is “soap bubbles.” It is a genre scene. The subject matter is not a Rococo work.
This is the kind of work Chardin is best known for. Chardin uses simple common
objects. They are just at hand things. They are fruits and utensils. Chardin paints this
with a joy of the simple shapes. It is realistic. He is painting this with a pleasure for the
aspects of paint. He doesn’t do lofty topics. This put him in a lesser category of artists.
We now turn to Elizabeth Vigee Lebrun. She focused on portraits. Before the
revolution, women were accepted into the academy based on merit. Lebrun did many
portraits of aristocrats. She married an art dealer. Ultimately, she became the favorite
painter of Marie Antoinette. This painting is called Vanalise. It is the kind of pose she
gave to her sitters. She gave them elegant clothes and serenity. This is a very flattering
portrait. She wrote a lot of memoirs at the end of her life. She says that she had many
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sitters who lacked character. In that case, she would give them a little character. She
wants to give a very flattering portrait.
Next is a work called the Dutchess of Polinak. Again, what we have is an attractive
sitter. She is very pretty, an upper class portrayal.
Finally is a self portrait of Lubrun. She is a professional. She could have presented
herself as being more beautiful, or as a mother. However, she presents herself as a
professional artist, at her studio. She is still very beautiful. She takes the time to look up
and acknowledge her presence. She gives herself something very special.
Next is a work not in our text, by Adelaide Labille Guiard. She was recognized as a
capable artist. It is a self-portrait, and she is in her studio. In this case, we don’t see what
she is painting. Her students are there. One is looking at what she is painting, while one
is looking at us. The artist never left Paris since she was on the side of the revolution.
She is not concerned with authenticity. She is concerned with the fact that she is an artist
with students, but she is also very beautiful.
Another trend that emerges in the 18 th century is a moralizing trend. Here we have Jean
Baptisete Greuze. Many thought he was the greatest artist, among whom were Diderot
and Voltaire. They thought that great art should be moralizing and didactic. This work is
called “broken eggs.” Notice the presentation here. The setting here is a simple farm, a
peasant household. The setting is like a stage, as if one is watching a story. As one
watches, one learns a lesson. The lighting is very clear. There is a stiff feeling to this
painting. A young farm girl has been collecting eggs. She has come back to the
farmhouse, and the eggs have broken. She sits sadly in front of a scolding mother. A
young boy is trying to put the eggs together. The implication here is the chastity of the
young girl has been lost.
In England there is a very different society. Here we see the work of William Hogarth.
He is the first international artist who was English. It is Hogarth who starts the
moralizing trend in art. His sensibilities are different. He was known for sharp satirical
works, in which he notices the frailties and foibles of society. But he does it in a way that
is amusing and clever. He made a series of cycles that recount as story. This is from a
series called The Rake’s Progress, tracing the progress of a young middle class boy who
gets more money and spends his time in debauchery. At the end of the cycle he comes to
a no good end. This scene depicts an orgy scene. The gentleman involved, Rakewell, is
on the right hand side. He has been drinking and his socks have been pulled down, and
he is in the lap of a loose woman. However, there is kind of a Rococo type atmosphere.
There is a lot that appeals to us as viewers in terms of the purpose. There is no question
that the Rococo as a style plays a role here, making the work so pleasurable.
Next is Thomas Gainsborough. He incorporates a faithful response to nature. Yet, art
must be coordinated with nature. This painting combines portraiture and landscape. This
is a portrait of a gentleman from someone from the landed gentry. It depicts the couple
shortly after they were married. There is peacefulness, and harmony between man and
nature. He also treats them in a very human way. It has a casual but dignified feel to it.
The man’s legs are crossed. He has a hunting rifle. This gives a sense of what his class
is. Only the landed gentry hunted on their own land. They are very proud of their land.
It combines nature with artiness. Yet it is also very flattering.
Next is a painting of an actress named Sarah Sydnees. It is a very beautiful portrait. It is
very flattering, yet she is very human, in a dignified way. In those times, to be an actress
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did not have as much approval as it does today. The stage is not a place where people
come out looking the way Sarah is portrayed. He paints her with tremendous dignity.
Her clothes are very elegant, and she is also very dignified. The whole image is one of
elegance and the upper class. She might have wanted it done this way. The point is that
she is Sarah Sydness, the belle of the London stage.
Next is Sir Joshua Reynolds. He was not only a painter, but also a theoretician. He
wrote about what art should be, and his views prevailed. This is a painting of Sarah
Sydnees that Reynolds did. It is the same time as Gainsborough. All the aspects of the
beautiful celebrity are absent from the painting. Sarah Sydnees was known for her roles
in classical tragedy. The roles in classical tragedy were most admired. A muse is the
inspiration to poets and artists of various kinds. She is presented as a muse of tragedy. In
the background are figures who seem to represent tragedy. Sarah is presented as
timeless, in a world that is not contemporary. She is treated like a goddess. She is a
character, not real. All the personal aspects in Gainsborough are eliminated for
something more timeless.
We now turn to two Americans in pre-Revolutionary times. There were no opportunities
for artists to train. Those who aspired to become artists moved to Europe. There was
nothing happening in America. By the 18 th century there were some artists beginning to
emerge. The first artist to emerge was Benjamin West. He was born a Quaker in
Pennsylvania. He was self- taught. He was the first to study abroad in Rome. He picked
up the classical style. he made a great success of his career in England.
We have here “The Death of General Wolf.” The subject is the French and Indian war.
There was a siege of Quebec. The British general dies in battle and he is shown expiring
here, surrounded y his men. This indicates the turbluence, reflecting in the sky. There
are troops in the background. Yet, it is a controlled composition. It is a history, but a
contemporary one. To report an important death, they had to portray him so his death is
grander than an ordinary death. West uses a pose that is used by religious figures when
they die. The forms and positions come out of religious art, but the subject matter here is
secular. The Indian is presented with such perfect anatomy that he seems like the perfect
Greek body.
Here is “Paul Revere” by Copley. This is “The shark” by Watson.

Thursday, March 23, 2000

We are now up to Romanticism. The Romantic period is the first half of the 19 th century.
We will focus on France, though not exclusively. One of the reasons is that France
became at that time the center of the art world. It is the dominant area in which
innovation occurs. Each country has an affinity for certain kinds of art. The French
focus on visual forms of art. There are a number of things to say about Romanticism
first. Romanticism is not a term that applies to one style only. Romanticism is an
umbrella term for an attitude towards the world. In the secular age, Christian art doesn’t
dominate the way it used to. It is not the focus anymore. Romanticism is more of a
sensibility for the world. We will outline things they liked. As we look at their works,
the term Romanticism includes a great variety of subjects and personal styles. Romantics
have an affinity for exotic places, like North America, that had only recently beca me
important for Europe. As these places became more accesable, they became subjects of
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art. It is also the time of revivalism, especially that of the middle ages. They liked older
subjects. Literature for visual artists was an important source. They drew on strange and
mysterious poems. The attitude for the role of art also begins to change. The Romantics
saw the artist as a prophet set apart from the rest of society. They thought that the artist
can see the world in a way the rest of us do not. There is a strong feeling that art can play
a significant role in changing society and making the world a better place. The emphasis
of the Romantics was to move towards intuition. The Romantics think that it is intuition
through which we understand the world.
There were two styles at that time, one of which is neo-classicism. In David’s Death of
Marat, there is no sense of brush-work, no sense of the presence of the artist. There is
attention to detail. There are large and universal forms and ideas. The lighting is even.
Here we see a work by Ingres that is not in our text. It is “The Apotheosis of Homer”
(1827). It means turning someone into a god. There are neo-classical elements here. The
subject is universal. The building in the background is ancient Greek. The composition
is balanced. Homer is sitting on a platform being crowned with Laurel leaves,
symbolizing victory by an angel, who represents victory. He is surrounded by the greats
of all time. On one side is Pussin, the Baroque artist. It derives from a self-portrait that
Pussin made. Titian is the figure on the right side with the black beard. It is an homage
to the greats of the intellectual and artistic world. Notice what the ambitions are. The
figures are based on classical forms. This is what he enshrines as a great moment in
imaginative history. The prime figure is the main person in western art. Ingres is always
associated with the neo-classical movement. However, in other paintings, he seems to
have the sensibility of a Romantic.
Next is a portrait of Louis Bertin, also by Ingres. He wanted to paint someone as being
on a lofty plane. Most of the artists at that time had to sell their works to the public.
Most artists had to sell their picture. Next is a preparatory work for the finished
composition. Notice the changes he made between the two works. All artists work from
drawings and sketches. The sketch feels natural and spontaneous, giving the physical
characteristics of this man. In the final work, he gives us a decided type of image. What
comes across is an authoritative personality, someone prosperous. Ingres paints someone
from the point of view of image. To do this, Ingres brings in his chair, and rests the hand
on the trousers. What we get is a more stable and more respected pyramid. Also notice
the adjustments to the face and hair. In the final version he fills in the hair. There is the
image of a respectable and stable member of society. The style is direct and sharply
edged.
Delacroix is more of a pure Romantic. There is a rivalry between the two. Delacroix
wants a more Baroque type of style. These are the dominant approaches at the time.
This is a portrait of Chopin, a pianist. Delacroix did portraits only of his friends. This
friend is an artist. Notice how differently he treats him. We don’t see half the face,
which is in shadow. The picture doesn’t tell you everything about this person. Notice the
active brushwork, and the emphasis on light and shadow. These are two basic differences
in style, though the sensibility is not that far removed.
Next is an Odelisque, a woman of a harem, by Ingres. This fits into the interest of the
eastern world. It also indicates a taste for the exotic and erotic. The idea of a harem is
appealing to the Romantic sensibility. He paints her in a cool style. The edges are
sharply outlined. The form is reduced to essentials. The face is not detailed. The nose
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comes down instead of out, like idealized Greek faces. The figure is idealized. Her hair
is simplified and reduced to an abstract form. Her back is a perfect curve. The circular
shape is repeated. There is a dark space between her arm and her back, though the gap
feels as present as the rounded arm.
Ingres gives an other nude woman though by Delacroix. It is more controlled. Here we
see her front. It is more direct. Part of the sensuousness has to do with the personal
brushwork. We see the active paint, making it more sensuous. She has more of a “come
hither” look.
Next is Gericault. This is his best work, “The Raft of the Medusa” (1819). Among
Romantic works of art there is importance to the sea since it is an element that can’t be
controlled. Shipwrecks are a common theme in their art. This work has political
significance. After Napolean was the restoration of the monarchy. During the restoration
there was tremendous repression. When this work was done the monarch was
oppressive. What inspired the artist to paint this was an incident that occurred. There
was a government ship called the Medusa that was wrecked. There were not enough life
boats sent along with the ship. The people on the ship were army people, as well as
settlers. Since there were only six lifeboats, there wasn’t room for everyone. There were
reports of cannibalism and illness on the lifeboats. What appealed to many Romantics is
that instead of looking at the perfected aspects of mankind and nature, the Romantics
found beauty in the darker aspects of human nature. We see violent and dark sides of
human nature. Gericault read the reports and studied the dead bodies. Notice that this
work is imaginative, though sparked by a real event. Some of the figures have poses
from ancient art and from Renaissance art. It is the moment when the rescue ship is
sighted, and the survivors reach upward, with someone at the top waiving toward a rescue
ship. There is a dark sea and sky, speaking to the darkness of what had been going on the
ship. The work was shown in the salon, and the government didn’t like it much.
However, he brought it to England, which was more liberal at the time, and they liked it
there.
Next is also by Gericault. It is part of the desire to look at subjects not studied
previously. He did portraits of several inmates of an assylum. This is a cleptomaniac.
Janson compares him to the Malle Babba of Hals. Gericault paints this subject with a
great deal of sympathy. He doesn’t dehumanize him, or treat him as a thing with no
emotional undercurrent. It is a sympathetic portrait. Romantics were big on feeling and
on trying to evoke responses from the viewer.
We now turn to Delacroix again; he was the quintessential Romantic. He emphasized
heroism.
Here is a work which is very Romantic. There are elements of neo-classicism here. The
poses here are from classical sources. The subject is the massacre at Kios. The subjects
here await either death or slavery. We encounter the dark side of human nature. It is yet
also about independence and freedom, making it more modern than the Baroque was.
The artist is not interested in a you are there image. He does not try to make the work
look realistic. It is supposed to be grand and large. It is on the scale of myth and
religion. It is one of general truths, not specific truths. The couple on the left are
classical figures. They could be statutes of the ancient world. Notice that the artist
includes different ages, like the dead mother and the young child. We see the ravages of
war. The sky is lightened up. Notice the richness of the color. One of the things the
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artist depends upon is the richness of the color and of the brushwork. The figures are
frozen. The color fills in the figures. It is not a loose image.
Next is a work not in the text, also by Delacroix. “The Death of Sardinopolis” (1827).
The subject is from literature, from a poem by Lord Byron, dealing with an ancient
Syrian ruler. His armies have been defeated and his enemies are about to arrive. His
slaves are instructed to destroy everything. Sardinopolis is the only figure not in action.
The composition is unusual. The action happens at the ends of the composition, not in
the middle. There is tremendous action and variety of color. He uses idealized nude
forms. Delacroix might be identifying with Sardinopolis, as he is being treated like a
peripheral figure at this time, and he no longer has patrons. In some ways there are some
who see this picture as representing the artist who sees the passionate from a distance and
renders it as such.
Next is “Liberty Leading the People,” (1830). It commemorates the revolution of 1830.
The result was that there were reforms instituted. The woman is the allegorical goddess
of liberty. She looks like a victory figure, and she is carrying the flag of the revolution.
It is patriotic, stirring and dramatic.

Tuesday, March 28, 2000

We were talking about Romanticism. Today we will look at examples of English and
American Romanticism.
We will now look at Friedrich. This painting is called “Wanderer over the misty sea”
(1818). It sees nature as a powerful force that man succumbs to. There are craggy cliffs.
The figure is alone and alienated, and we see him only from the back. There is a sense of
distance, meditating on the turbulent sea. It is not a hospitable world. The figure stands
for us as well. We look at the world in the same way he does.
Next is “The Polar Sea” (1824). It was inspired by Admiral Perry’s expedition to the
arctic. The style is very precise, cool and objective. He gives us a sea that is haunted by
silence and cold. The arctic is an inhospitable and cruel place. The only sign of life is a
wrecked ship. The wrecked ship is something frequently used by the Romantics. This
scene is in the text. We feel the coldness through the sharp edges o f the icebergs and the
cold blues. It used to be called the Wreck of the Hope. It is a very pessimistic hope. It
speaks to the idea that nature is a force, and man has no power over it. It can be evil as
well. He is certainly saying that man is puny in the face of nature. Notice that the style is
very different from that of Delacroix.
We now turn to England, with the works of William Turner and John Constable. First is
a work by Turner called “Rain Steam and Speed” (1844). It is a picture of a railroad, a
symbol of the modern world. It is one of the earliest paintings of the railroad. Turner’s
style is watercolors, which has thin layers. He applies thin glazes of colors. This
produces thin layers of transclucent colors felt in an abstract form. The railway is
crossing a new bridge. What he is painting is a physical entity, though something ou
can’t put your finger on. Steam, rain and speed can’t really be touched. Many of
Turner’s paintings have the source of light in the center of his paintings. The light seems
to dissolve everything, as it is powerful. It is even able to dissolve the railroad.
Next is another work by Turner. It is called the Slave Ship” (1839). There is no story
here, but rather a situation, which is gotten by means o f the abstract qualities of the
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painting. There are thin layers of rich color. The scene is characteristic of a ship being
battered by a turbulent sea. The sun and light is so powerful, and it is in the back of the
canvas, that everything disapates and everything is loose. There are no strong forms.
This is different than Friedrich’s sharp forms. In those times, there was a lot of slave
trading. The trading of human lives is very dark, not beautiful or lofty. However, it was
an actuality in those times. It happened that there was a slave ship on the seas in which
the slaves became sick and diseased. In this case the captain was insured against loss of
cargo but not for disease, so he threw all of the slaves overboard. If you look at the
bottom we see limbs of human beings being torn apart by the predators in the sea. Turner
is not painting this as a critique of slavery, as social criticism. What the picture is about
is the movement of the sea and the turbulence and mankind as a puny aspect of nature. It
discusses the lower aspects of human nature.
We now turn to John Constable, who has a very different understanding of nature than
Turner. He focuses on landscapes. Constable paints the land he was born in and lives in.
Here is an oil sketch that is typical of his subjects. It dates from 1821, called “Hampstead
Heath.” It is northeast of London. It is the land that he loved and felt close to. He is still
using the idea of making sketches. His concentration is on the movement of the clouds,
and honest examination of nature. It was Constable’s work that led Delacroix to lighten
the sky.
On the left is a work by Constable not in our text. It is “Constable Heath: the salt box.”
We see a great love for the land. It is a domesticated land; man lives hospitably within
nature. Man is part of nature and nature makes room for man. Constable spent a great
deal of time on the movements of the clouds and the richness of the light. There is a
regard for the ideas of Wordsworth, who gets down to the language of the common
people. Constable gets down to the world of the farmer. The peasants who have worked
the land are moving to the city. The land is being taken over by the railroads and the
factories. Constable is painting a world in which there are not the tensions of modern
industrial society.
Next is the “Haywain,” also by Constable. It is his most famous painting. It is a
celebration of nature’s spirit and energy. He sees the divine in every blade of grass and
every grain of sand. It is a harmonious and pleasurable world.
We now come to America, a new country in the 19 th century. It hasn’t been explored
very much at that time. There are not many settlements past Ohio, so the east and west
coast have only wilderness.
Here is the work of Thomas Cole. He is the first of the American artists. He was English
by birth. He trained as an engraver. He also painted and wrote poetry. He had an idylic
view of the landscape. He painted the Hudson River Valley. This is a painting of the
Hudson River. It is called “in the Catskills” (1837). The direction in the 19 th century is
now a focus on landscapes. This has to do with the fact that the landscape is beginning to
change, so there is nostalgia. Also, landscapes are more neutral in approach than with
human figures. One can make them beautiful, mysterious or hostile, things not possible
with human figures. For Cole, he is painting a landscape because America is a special
place for both Americans and Europeans. The Europeans saw it as a new Eden, that is
unspoiled and filled with freedom and possibility. Cole uses a golden light and idealizes
America. The mountains have softness. Humans are on a small scale but they fit in
perfectly. It is an ideal dream.
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Next is a work by Cole from 1838 called “Schoon lake: The Adirondecks.” It is an
example of the beauties of nature, especially that of the east coast. The Romantic aspect
is the focus on the mountain, which is timeless, long and solid. It is an autumn day, and
the colors on the leaves are reds and yellows. He is specific to the season, but the focus
is on the mountain, which appeared long before the seasons. The mountain is eternal. It
is a force and the one thing that will never change. The trees will die and the seasons will
change but the mountain is timeless. The scene speaks to the grandeur of nature. These
are works by Cole on the east coast.
Next is Dinghem. This is called “Fur Traders on the Mousurri” (1848). The fur traders
trapped animals and sold the furs. The background doesn’t reveal much. And the world
is mysterious and hasn’t yet been explored. In the foreground is a quiet boat that floats
parallel to the front of the picture. The people are simple genre folk. An interesting
touch is that we have a wildcat that has been trapped. It has been domesticated. The
world is wild and unexplored but is being tamed and investigated. The wilderness is not
threatening but in which man lives peacefully and explored.
The last Romantic work is a photograph by O’S ullivan. In the 19th century there was
debate over whether photography should be accepted as art. It is called “The Ancient
Ruins in the canyon Diche (1870). By the time he took this picture it was still part of
New Mexico. Many artists working in photography were trying to make works that
looked like paintings. Some just used it for documentation. The Government used to
send the army to explore the west. There were always artists to sketch what they saw.
Once photographers were invented they used p hotography. From the Romantic point of
view we see the ancient ruins under the ancient stones. It is a native village that existed.
There was a native people that lived there and they were self contained. No one knows
what happened to them. One of the attractions for O’Sullivan is the way he uses the
photography. It is very romanticized. He focuses on the enormous cavern and its
surfaces. We now come to the end of pure Romanticism.
We now come to the works of Daumier and Millet. While they still have romanticized
subjects, but they have a realist sensibilities.
This is a lithograph, another way of making prints. It becomes used for magazines. The
French government at the time was oppressive. In this caricature by Daumier, he is
making sharp political statements, which give it to the government and the middle class.
“Its safe to Release this one” (1834). It is a strong comment on the powers that be. We
have a judge and an industrialist, who have the money and make decisions. They are
looking at a human being who is near death. They can release him since he is not a
danger to them anymore.
This is another example of Daumier giving it to oppressors. This is called “Oh You wish
to meddle with the press.” It has a human being being pressed by a printing press.
Last brings up the notion of photography. Nadar was a well known photographer, a
friend to some big thinkers and a poet. One of the things he did was to go up in an air
balloon and take his camera. Nadar is shown in the balloon with his camera. The caption
is “Nadar raising photography to the height of an art.”
Next is a painting called the Uprising (1848), also by Dumier. It is Romantic Realism.
In that year the little people rebelled against the powers. The revolution spread to the
major cities on the continent. All of the uprisings were put down, but they left a strong
impression. In France it succeeded in throwing out the monarchy. What the artist is
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painting here is the artisan class. He is painting the uprising. The subject is very
political, but it is romanticized in that it is clear where his sympathies lie. The main
figure here is very generalized, it is the worker, the revolutionary. At this time many
socialist groups arise and they try to build a different type of world.
Next is the Third Class Carriage (1862). It is the railway, the most cutting edge space at
the time. The third class carriage carries the idea that this is where the people travel. The
railways were divided into three classes. There are many people pushed together into the
same space. They are genre folk. The romantic aspect is that they are generalized; they
are of specific age groups. They are genre types. While the people are pushed against
each other, each exists in their own psychological, separate arena.
Next is a work by Millet, called “the Sewer” (1850). The peasant is being presented in a
timeless hero. Notice the similarity to the Lybian Cybell. He is painted as if he was a
Michelangelo subject.

Thursday, March 30, 2000

Flaubert starts realism. His new style will be a powerful force for improvement in
society. In 1850, we find many ideas that are new ways of organizing society and seeing
the world. Flaubert was very radical. Aspects of realism become popular. It starts with
literary figures. It focuses on modern life. The focus is on the here and now, modern life
and its problems. The artist says that painting is a physical entity and must therefore
address concrete issues and matters, according to the painter’s experience. This would
eliminate religion as a subject. The subject matter is far more limited. Yet, there are
other things that begin to take on importance which were never before given importance.
He no longer wants to make things beautiful. What matters to him is truth. He saw
himself as a manifestation of genius.
Back to “The Sewer” by Millet. It is very romanticized. Yet it deals with a peasant.
This was thought of as radical.
This is by Cooture, an academic painter. This painting was shown in the salon in 1847.
It was the only place an artist could make a mark. The “Romans of the Decadence”
(1847) was very well received. It is neo-classical. The subject, though classical, focuses
on the end of the empire. It is a classical subject, painted in classical terms. The theme
comes out of ancient history. The light is clear. It is what the official art world loved.
Yet, he is referring to the decadence of today’s government.
Bomheur was a woman painter. She was very well admired. She painted animals. She
was concerned with accuracy. “Plowing at Niderniees” (1849). The camera was around
at this time. This vision rivals the photograph. It is an optimistic view of the world.
Everything in the picture is precise and accurate. There is a certain kind of love of
precision.
Next is by Corbet. “The Stone Breakers” (1849). The year was a time of sedition. The
picture struck the critics as radical and calling for revolution and insurrection, even
though Corbet thought it wasn’t his intention. He elevates figures who are working for
menial labor. There is nothing redeeming about cutting stones. It is, therefore he
includes it in his works. Corbet paints it with thick globs of paint. He uses a palate knife,
so he gets thick lumps of paint. His canvas is very physically there. The material is as
real as the image he is creating. Notice how he outlines everything in the painting. We
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begin with the young man on the left side. Both are anonymous. This man is aware of
the poverty of his dress. He is also physically there. His basket feels very heavy. The
next figure is someone who hasn’t gone very far but has passed a lot of time. The artist
concentrates on the outer physicality, without any psychology. We feel how hard the
work is, and there is no upward mobility in this world.
The next painting is also by Corbet. “Burial at Ornass” (1850). This painting is probably
the funeral of his grandfather. What he paints is an actual country burial, which had been
going on for centuries. Corbet was an atheist. He paints the clergy because he feels close
to his countrymen, and this is how they do it. Realists collected customs of the
countryside. Poets collected folk stories. This is why Corbet chooses this subjects, as it
records how the folk buries its people. The men are separated to the women. The people
are not elegant or beautiful, which is why the painting was seen as so scandalous. Some
of the clergy are rough looking. It is a very real type of depiction.
By contrast we see El Greco’s “Burial of Count Orgaz.” It is a much more traditional
view of death. We have the funeral down below but the focus is really on what happens
to the soul, which goes up to heaven. The point is that what it is about is not physical
death as the importance of the soul. Corbet’s work, by contrast, is not a religious work.
However, Corbet did have a very supportive group of critics who came to his aid.
Next is a work by Corbet not in our text. It was painted in 1851. It is called “The young
ladies of the village.” One of the hard things to see is how radical it is. Why would this
have been seen as so radical? The two cows seem too small and not comfortable in
relation to the ladies. The tree seems too wobley for a harmonyous world. It forces the
eye to move toward where the figures are. The bush closes the composition off. He
makes us look at what’s going on there. We see Corbet’s three sisters, who are wearing
fancy clothes for those of the country. They are dressed in middle class clothing. Notice
that they are giving charity to the cowgirl. What is implied here is that the countryside is
no longer harmonyous. The figures and the cow herd are stiff. Corbet was looking to
folk art as his models, rather than Michelangelo.
Next is “The Artist’s studio: 5 years as an allegory of my life’s work.” Everything about
this work is ambiguous. In 1855, it was the first year of the world’s fair. He intended it
as an ambiguous work whose depths couldn’t be understood. The composition is divided
into three parts. In the middle is Corbet himself. He sits before an easle painting a
landscape. The big artists of the time worked with landscapes, a subject that is the most
cutting edge. He is also the only active figure in the whole composition. Everyone else
is passive. Since this is his studio. There is a nude model there, though he is not painting
her. She is very physical and solid, not beautiful than real. She is the nude model on one
level and stands behind him, suggesting that she is his muse. The very thing that Corbet
is after, truth, is portrayed as a naked woman. We see a child who suggests a changed
world. On the left is material from which he makes his art, the real world. Corbet’s
support structure is on the right and they are there with him. The second figure is his
patron. It is a very complex work.

Tuesday, April 04, 2000

We discussed Corbet, who focusses not on loftiness but on concrete issues and truth.
Because of this, the way he treats subjects is quite limiting.
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We will now discuss Manet. He is pre-impressionist. He does a variation of Corbet. His
style can best be called aesthetic realism. We will then look at the impressionists. They
admired Manet and took out their admiration for him by depic ting things that are real but
only certain aspects of it. We will then look at Monet and Renoir.
This work is by Bordree and is called “Death of Marat” (1861). There is a great deal of
meticulousness. David reduced things to essences. Bordree focuses on details that would
be found in photography. It is different from Corbet’s realism.
This is by Commenal, “The Birth of Venus.” Botecelli’s Venus is grand and ethereal.
The nude female form is here in Commenal. However, the appeal here is more on an
erotic level. The picture here is not elevating here but is just a nude form.
This work is by Manet not in our text, called “The Spanish Guitarist” (1860). We see a
still life in the corner, like Velasquez’s Water Carrier. Still life was very importa nt in
Spain, and this borrows from it. Spanish 1700’s painting was seen as realist. The palate
is dark. On the other side, he is a singer, and actor and performer. He is an artist. This is
represented in a work of art. What is real is that he is an a rtist and this is what art is
about. Also, Manet was middle class. He was an urban gentleman. He spent much of
his time at the race track and ballet, where gentlemen of his time spent. He is radical
more artistically than politically.
By 1863, France was no longer a Republic and a second empire came to form. When
Manet is working now, France is an empire. By 1863 there were so many entries to the
salon that the emperor established a second salon, where everyone could send his work.
When Manet got this work rejected by the regular salon, he sent this painting there. The
painting is called “Luncheon on the Grass” (1863). We have four people in the park.
The landscape is not idealized. We have a modern situation, modern people having a
good time in their leisure hours. However, one of the figures is nude. From a realist
point of view it is not real. Yet there is nothing allegorical. It is ambiguous. It brings
together several categories of painting, landscape and nude figure. The two men and t he
naked model are wearing contemporary clothes. The fourth figure in the background is
wearing an old robe, out of a more traditional painting. The nude female figure was
Manet’s model. The configuration of the figures form a pyramid. It is a very stable
composition. It is an extension yet inversion of tradition. The complaints about the work
was that it didn’t make any sense. Also, the nude model does not have gentle gradations.
Rather, there are no gradings of tones, and she is a white tone set up against a dark
background. The contrast between these two shades make her stand out. He eliminates
the way that the third dimension is traditionally done. Usually we look at a reclining
female nude figure. We look at the figure. But here, she looks boldly back at the viewer.
Nudes don’t usually look back at us in such a confrontational way. The picture was seen
as being very radical.
Next is a still life by Manet. The emphasis is on the representation of the paint. There
are heavy brush strokes. We are aware of the paint. We are aware of the fact that some
fruits are spoiled. What we are looking at is a work of art rather than reality. The two
paintings established Manet as a radical. He drew all of the young artists and attracted a
lot of attention.
In 1866 we have another scandelous painting by Manet. It is called, “The Fifer” (1866).
Manet focuses on the notion that what we are looking at are notations. It is a little boy
wearing a uniform. He is a relatively unimportant subject, so mething everyone knows.
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What is radical here is not the subject, but the way he paints it. If we look carefully, we
see that there is no definition of space. We have a standing, erect figure without any
definition of a wall or floor lines. The side of his legs and arms seem on the same level
as the background itself. There is no sense that he is standing in space with the normal
definitions of three dimensional objects. The only suggestion of space is the shadow
between the two feet and the shadows in his creases of his pants. Art is not really 3D,
and space is only an illusion. Really the surface is flat. An important aspect of realism
here is what art is about. He eliminates the gradiations of tone so he appears flat. The
shapes are reduced to essences. The color areas are simplified, reduced to few forms.
This painting is so reductive its startling.
During the 1860’s Manet is the most radical innovator of all artists. He is the center of
many artists. The artists around him become known as the impressionists. They are very
influenced by Manet. The notion of the awareness of the shapes and colors and materials
of the work of art is what they take from Manet. The 1870’s is the period of the high
point of impressionism. At this point Manet adopts the felling of his students, and
becomes impressionistic. By 1881-2, Manet paints this large and impressive work
combining his 1860’s style with some aspects of impressionism. It is called “Bar at the
Foley’s del aire. It is filled with ambiguities. There are many questions raised without
answering any questions. The Folley’s del jaire is a musical review, which included
music and beautiful costumes. In the 1880’s, all of the sophisticates went there. Even
today, during the intermission people buy food. In the background are people taking a
break from the show and are eating. In the background is a reflection in the mirror. In
the foreground is the barmaid. There are many still life objects, including beer and wine.
It is a part of urban modern life. The artists realize that they are part of the modern
world. The objects appeal to the senses. On the table is a glass with flowers, evoking
smells and touches. The foreground has clearly outlined shapes, but the background is a
kind of sketchy maze. One can’t read any figure with clarity. The eye picks things up
quickly. Another aspect is the reflection of the light, and its artificial reflection. It is
very different from outdoor light. Another aspect of the reflections is that nothing is
stable, just like modern life. The foreground is more realist while the background is more
impressionistic. There are a lot of questions this image raises. One of them is the angle
of reflection. Also introduced here is a gentleman buying something from her, raising the
question of what she is selling and who the gentleman is. Last, in this world of
commodities, is she a commodity there for purchase. There is also a vast difference
between her and everyone else. Everyone else is there for fun and pleasure, amusing
herself. She is distinct as part of the working class, raising the issue of classes. She is
very turned in and seems meloncholy or thoughtful. She is distant, not reaching out to
the viewer.
Now about the impressionists. This group of artists all came from different regions and
came together to become artists. Most characteristic are Monet and Renoir. They were
drawn to Claurot and to Corbet. They gathered around Manet. They went out and
painted nature. They began to develop a collective style, called impressionism. Even
though they worked from a similar style, each has a unique stylistic character. They all
have individual characteristics.
The first work is by Monet. The subject is “The Luncheon on the Grass” (1866). It is not
a finished work. Monet seems much more casual and loose, a much brighter palate.
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Thursday, April 6, 2000

We are continuing the impressionists. They focused on natural conditions like light and
air. It was looked down upon in its earlier years because there radical aspects of them.
They don’t care about detail. The paint application is sketchy and one sees the smudges
of the paint rather than the figures.
Monet is the best example of the style. He is the only one who continued to be an
impressionist into the 1880’s.
This is Monet’s luncheon on the Grass. As time goes on, he gets down reflections of
light and movement. The subject is casual; it is what middle class people do in their time
off. They go to nature as experienced by the urban citizen. It is not wild nature or
threatening nature as we saw in the Romantics. Everyone in the picture were friends of
Monet. Notice the contemporary nature of the costumes. He gets down things that had to
do with the immediate moment. Impressionism has to do with the now, what we
experience at this moment. Notice the bright palate. Impressionists have brighter
palates.
The next work is also by Monet. In 1884, artists tried to have a private exhibition. For
anyone who wanted to see it. This took place at the home of Nadar. This is called
“Impression: Sunrise” (1874). No one considered it a finished work of art. Someone
said that it was just an impression, hence the name impressionists. Though we still have
a sense that we are looking at a 3D surface, we realize that we are looking at a flat
surface. We feel the scene here as patches of color. Notice the sketchiness. Yet, it gives
us a complete feeling about the moment and what is taking place. There are machines in
the background. It is what Monet sees before him, yet it doesn’t rival the accuracy of the
camera. They want to paint what is real, but they want to paint it the way they render it.
It doesn’t have to have the accuracy of the camera.
Next is an early work by Monet. “The River” (1868) depicts the outdoors. He captures
the effects of nature and light. If you just look at the water and the houses in the distance,
you see that the reflections have just as much of a presence as the houses themselves. He
shows the reflections as one band. The houses are lined up vertically above the beach.
He plays up 3D as opposed to 2D. The color patches force us to be aware of the
brushwork and the patches. Impressionism is the last school in which the opposition of
nature to art are still well balanced. Afterwards, it goes much more towards art rather
than nature.
Next is from the mid-1870’s. It is also by Monet. “The bridge at Argentult.” Notice the
casualness of the scene. It is the country. Be aware of the brightness of the palate. It
depicts nature rather than people, typical of Monet. He is painting it under particular
light and seasonal conditions. One of the complaints about impressionism was that they
worked intuitively, rather than using theory. There are various types of brushworks here.
It is intended to look casual and uncomposed, but it is not completely uncomposed. The
masts are strong verticals. There is a completed pattern, as the bridge encloses the
composition. The sky has fluid brushwork, but the trees have scumbled brushwork.
Notice the water. As water moves, it is never stagnant. Reflections in the mirror are
constantly moving. He therefore uses a broken brushwork for the water. There are a lot
of marks on the surface of the water. Last is that the impressionists looked at how things
look under certain lighting conditions. They noticed that there are no solid blacks and
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everything is filled with color depending on the conditions. Something under different
conditions will seem a different color. Even dark things are filled with color. One of the
complains about impressionism is that the shadows are shown as blue or violet, rather
than the traditional dark. For the bush the brushwork seems even more broken. The bush
here has become abstract.
Next is another work by Monet in 1874. “The Railroad at Arguntult” (1874). This is
modern life, though not really picturesque. It is just a scene that people would come
across at this time. He paints with an objectivity that comes out of Manet. The critics at
the time were offended by the treatment of the figures as globs of color and tone, and no
more important than the boat on the water and the train. The train seems larger than the
painting. Traditional art focused on mankind, and impressionists are not concerned with
that. They focus on what the eye sees. What the eye sees is the big train and the little
people.
The next painting is also by Monet, called “Grainstacks.” It is one of a series from the
1890’s. Many of the impressionists had began to address new issues. They thought that
under impressionism the forms didn’t have enough solidity. Monet was an exception.
He became even more free and sketchy than he had been before. Monet set up a number
of empty canvasses and grainstacks. As the conditions changed and he had painted one
canvas, he would set up a different canvas and paint the next set of conditions. The
grainstacks don’t seem any more solid here than the shadows. In impressionism,
everything is surface and weightless.
This is a late work by Monet in the late 1880’s. By this time Monet was well heeled.
Many painters began to copy aspects of the impressionists. This painting is rich in color.
It is more concentrated on shapes and colors. It is called “The Japanese Bridge” (1900).
This is called “The Lily Pond” from (1900). He takes impressionism to its logical
conclusion, the complete dissolusion of form.
We now turn to Renoir. It is called the “Moon land d’lagalet” (1876). Renoir focuses
much more on people than Monet. This was one of many cafes around Paris in which
people danced, ate, talked to each other. Renoir takes a slice of contemporary life. The
composition is packed. The emphasis is on the immediate moment. It captures the
instant as it is changing. It is in flux. Motion is an important aspect of impressionism.
Many of the people are friends of Renoir. Notice the blue shadows. Also notice the
packness of the shapes. There are patches of colors and shapes. There is a great sense of
activity, though nothing of great importance. Yet it is life, which is very busy, and in
constant movement. It suggests pleasure. It is a very personal view. After the early
1880’s, Renoir began to move in his own directions. Renoir addresses the problems of
how to take these emphases and put back the solidity and human focus that
impressionism seemed to lack.
This is “The Boating Party” (1881), also by Renoir. He concentrates on the figures.
Notice that he retains the casualness and the richness of the palate and the pleasures of
modern life. However, he makes the figures more solid. He gives a strong structure by
placing a canopy above the figures, and the man and the woman on the left close off the
picture. We see the still life on the table, as well as the richness of the paint surfaces.
We now turn to one of the woman painters of impressionism. In impressionism there is
no sense that humans are more important than other objects. Most of the artists believed
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in democracy and repuclicanism. It is one of the rare places in which there were women
in the group. Here we have Berthae Morsot.
This is a “Young Girl Reading” (1888). Most of her subject matter has to do with people
in her family. This is her niece. She loves the effects of light on skin and on the trees.
The surface is covered with colored patches, very aware of the surface.
This is by Pissaro. He is the artist who loves farms. He is more realist. This is his
“Haystack.” It is more solid.
Here is Morosot’s grainstack.
Next is Degas. He is upper class. This is “The Glass of Absen.” They are in a café, but
the attitude is very different.

Tuesday, April 11, 2000

We are now up to post- impressionism. It begins in 1883 and continues into the 20 th
century. Cezanne, Seurat, van Gogh, Gauguin, are the major post- impressionists.
Cezane worked independently, and influences Picasso. Seurat was a neo-post-
impressionist. Van Gogh is proto-expressionism. Gauguin is a synthesist or symbolist.
By 1883, art based on vision was not seen as big enough. One of the things lost in
impressionism was structure. Most of the artists try to retain what they gained from
impressionism, while getting back some of the things they lost, like structure. The artists
therefore tried a great variety of styles. Post- impressionism is a reactive attempt to add
stability and structure to figures. Artists also begin to think that art should say
something. Therefore, there is a development towards symbolism. Symbolism is felt, an
intuitive understanding, but it doesn’t directly correspond to a signified.
First we see a work by Renoir. “Algerian Landscape” is a landscape painting from 1881.
The form feels dissolved, the edges feel unclear. The surface is filled with short
brushwork. There is a strong sense of surface. The effect is that the surface is filled with
color, and there is no clear area that is one particular color. There is a sense that the thing
is changing so nothing stays the same for more than an instant.
By contrast we see a work by Cezanne. It is as loose as any of his works will get. Notice
that his works are much more structured. He sees a tight structure within nature and
within making a picture of nature. “Mount St. Vitre” (1882) is a mountain that actually
exists in France. He always paints in front of nature. Though there is a sense of distance
between background and foreground, we get a sense that the structure of the scene has
been carefully arranged. It is a bird’s eye view. There is a strong sense of the surface, by
giving a strong vertical, a tree, in the center, which gives us a sense of the distance. It
alternates warm and cool hues. It alternates between greens and oranges. The eye is thus
led from warm to cool to warm, until the eye is stopped by the aqueduct. We feel like we
are looking at something deep in space, yet we are also aware of the tree and the
mountain. There is a balance between the 2D canvas and the 3D illusion of deep space
and distance. He believes that there is some permanence to nature, symbolized by the
mountain. In nature, he saw an underlying geometric structure.
The next work is not in our text. This is a self portrait in 1889. Important is pictorial
structure. The brushwork serves to build form. There is a 3D head yet the sense that it is
a painted head. There is a sense that the head is three dimensional, though not in the
usual way. He uses areas with alternating warm and cool hues, creating a colorful
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surface. There is a full sense of color. The other side is that he contours the head and the
shoulders. We have the wall paper and a painted wall. This is a flat area. There is a
sense that the body is an extension of the wall.
Next is a still life. It dates to 1882. It has a tighter and more deliberate structure than
other impressionists. He loved to paint apples. He had particular affinity for apples.
They had a special meaning for them. He treats the apples as if they were grander than
just rounded shapes. The napkin is painted with a kind of grandeur, as being significant.
He gives the apples and dishes no more and no less attention than the voids. The void
also has a sense of presence. Everything on the canvas is felt as a shape on the canvas. It
is felt that these are a representation, rather than the things themselves. Finally, in
keeping with the idea of 3D is what happens to the table top, which is tilted. Anything on
the table should slide off. The apples and the dish seem to be stuck onto the surface.
There is the notion of being stuck on the surface. The last time we saw a tilted table like
this was with the master of Flamalle.
Next is a late work, dating from 1900. “Mont Ste victorie: Seen from by Bennis Quarry.”
It is an objective view coming from a subjective view. There is a sense that the mountain
is permanent and stable, just like Thomas Cole’s painting of the mountain. We are much
more aware of the means by which he presents his views.
We now turn to Seurat. He can be seen as a pointalist. He is more traditional than the
other post-impressionists. “Sunday at the Island of Bran Jutt” (1886). He develops a
method by which anyone can make a work of art. The scene is part of modern life, and
the people are wearing modern clothes. However, unlike other impressionists, the scene
is controlled and static. He studies optics. He wants to create an image with the most
illuminosity. He develops a pseudo-scientific system. He is concerned with how each
individual sees. He analyzes each part of the composition and breaks each down to its
parts. Seurat places a spot of color next to each other, rather than mixing the colors
together. He has patches of sun spots. Everything is analyzed. Notice the static quality
of the figures. Most of the figures do not feel like three dimensional figures, but rather
like cut outs. The only movement is in the infraction of light. The dog is the only figure
moving. WE see the little drops of paint. The spots of color give a sense of being active.
It shows the stability yet change within existence. It is a generalized look at the human
figure.
The next painting, also by Seurat, is called “Invitation to a Sideshow” (1888). The scene
here is of a group of musicians, the middle of which is a strong vertical form, holding a
trombone, which adds to the vertical sense. It is 3 vertical forms arranged horizontally.
This balance between the vertical and horizontal creates a classical, enduring feeling. We
have strong verticals. He gives us a strong vertical image. The spots of color give a
sense that one is looking at a mosaic, in which the surface is active.
The last work by Seurat is called “The can-can.” We are in the place of popular
entertainment. We have a chorus line doing a can-can, with musicians providing the
music. Seurat gives us the effect of the lines. We see repeated diagonals of legs. We
also see much larger spots, more like confetti. He is also having fun. A waiter gets lost
in the group of dancers.
We now see the work of van Gogh. He is a proto-expressionist. Expressionists worked
in the early 20th century. He starts off with a concern for doing useful missionary work.
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He is a sensitive person, and feels empathy for those on the bottom of the social heap. He
was a lay preacher. He then turned to art.
This is “Potato Eaters” (1885). It is an example of his expressionism, his emotional
portrayal of the world he looks at. What he sees is its intense feeling and its suffering, as
well as its underlying spirit. The palate here is still very conservative, dark, and
traditional. He uses light like Rembrandt. The light plays over the faces of the figures so
that even though the people are distorted, the light makes them spiritualized, even
beautiful people. There is respect for them even though they seem distorted and ugly,
just like their lives are distorted.

Thursday, April 13, 2000

We were up to van Gogh. He came from a liberal society of have nots. We saw the
potato eaters. In 1886, he moved to Paris to live with his uncle who owned an art gallery.
There, he got to know the advanced artists of his time. One of the chief influences of
these young artists were Japanese prints. Part of this had to do with the fact that these
prints focussed on ordinary lives. They were also not concerned with the western
perspective. Van Gogh copied many of these prints, and in the course of his stay in Paris
he had a enamour for Japanese things. He wanted to set up a society to match the
Japanese society. In 1888, he moved to Southern France. By this time, his palate was
bright, and he developed his own style.
This work is not in our text. “Night Café” (1888).It is an example of his expressionist
proclivities. When he first gets to Paris, he happens upon this café, which is open all
night long, and it has peripheral characters. What he sees here is a place open to dark and
dreadful situations, and he feels an intense emotional response, and this is how he paints
this painting. Notice how high pitched the colors are. He finds in the distortion of forms
and perspective a high pitched emotion inherent in the café. He is interested in how the
eye sees things, and how personal the idea of perception is, and how colors affect things.
He thinks that if you put complimentary colors next to each other, each color will be
brightened by the contrast. The red and green are placed next to yellow, creating a high
pitched and emotional atmosphere. The floor boards move back at a very rapid clip, so
that they move back very quickly. They don’t move back but rather move up. Notice
how he simplifies the forms, like the pool table and the human figure standing next to it.
The result is that the atmosphere is certainly not serene or peaceful, but suggestive.
This is also not in our text. “Starry Night” (1889). Van Gogh liked doing landscapes.
The difference between him and others is that he works from nature. He felt that there
were dynamics, mystical pitches, within nature. He looks at nature and sees it filled with
vitality and energy. This is how he paints it. There is reason to think that this is what he
saw when looking at nature. In doing night scenes he had a hat that was attached to a
candle. He is not giving us a quick glimpse of what the eye sees, but what his particular
eye sees. Notice the thick globs of paint. In this composition, important is the contrast
between nature and the sleeping village. The cypress tree feels like it is alive. The
village, by contrast, is not lively at all. The cypress tree is the same shape as the church.
The yellows and blues are strong opposites, creating visual tension.
The last work is called “Wheat fields and Cypresses” (1886). It sees nature as turbulent
and ecstatic, filled with energy. Despite the exageration, he remains committed to the
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visual world. He remains true to nature. He uses thick areas of paint. The action of the
brush is part of the dynamic of the composition. This helps create the feeling. There are
a number of artists at the end of the century who have similar ideas.
Next is the work of Munch. “The Scream” (1893). It has to do with something not
visual, but it conveys the feeling of a terrifying shriek. He depends on color and form to
create the sense of the scream. It is easy to see the bridge on which the figure stands. He
uses the nervous and rapid perspective, moving up at a fast pace, producing visual
tension. The figure is skeletal. Notice the broad strokes of color in the sky, nothing like
a regular sky. Yet, this style creates a kind of tension and emotional charge that
translates into the terrifying scream.
Now we see the work of Gaugain. He started off his adult life as a stock broker. He
painted on Sundays. The other side of him is that he had a gypsy side of him. He sent
his wife and children to his family to Denmark and became a full time painter. He
develops a strong sense of himself as a painter. He looks for something original,
something instinctive. There is a sense that the art world in Europe was stale. He was
looking for something that had always been there. He moved to Brittany, a primitive and
cheap part of France; it attracted a lot of painters then. He is attracted to the peasants.
This work is from 1888. It is called, “The Vision After the Sermon.” These women are
not nuns. They are dressed in costumes that the women there wore since medieval times.
The women are very pious and very simple. They have been in Church, and Gaugain
observes them after they get out of Church. They have just heard a sermon about Jacob
wrestling with the angel. They see a vision of an enactment of the sermon. Unlike van
Gogh, Gaugain feels no need to paint what is in front of him. He is an objective painter.
He is not interested in what the world is objectively. He gives his inner world and inner
landscape. He wants to use colors and shapes to express his inner vision. Be aware of
how arbitrary his selections are. The field has nothing to do with a real field, as it is
bright red. He sees the field as red, not caring about whether the field exists in real life.
Be aware of the curved lines of the women’s headdresses. This vision is completely
intangeble. The proportions between the vision and the women are quite distinct. There
is no relationships in terms of space. The separation between the two comes from the
road, separating the real from the vision. It is not logical. The end result is that he
evokes and stimulates the viewer. He says that what he aims for is a condition of music.
He sees stained glass effects in churches. He does this with strong black lines around the
forms and bright colors.
The next work is not in our text. It is a Self Portrait (1889). He shows himself as pulled
by the two sides of his nature, the savage and the middle class person. He is shown with
a halo, with fruits, giving a garden of Eden motiff. The rounded arabesques are part of
the style known as Art Nouveu. Be aware that Gaugain works flat areas of color. It gives
us a sense of his dual nature.
He then traveled to the South Sea Islands, spending the rest of his life there. This
painting shows the people as primitive, yet uncorrupted and fresh, people as they once
were in a golden age. The work here is understood as symbolism. The meanings are
evocative, though not literal. This work is philosophical. “Where do we come from,
Who are we, and where are we going?” It has natives and their gods. He even uses
Christian forms in some of his paintings. He paints a primitive world that is still pure.
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Next is the last work by Gaugain. It is a wood cut. “Offerings of Grattitude” (1891). It
goes back to instinct rather than learning. A wood cut is made by taking a piece of wood,
cutting a design into the wood, and then ink is pressed into the wood. It was used
frequently in the middle ages. By choosing to work in wood block, he chooses a more
ancient and primitive form. Be aware that what he is using for subject matter are native
gods, treated in reduced and simplified forms. The form is intended to be primitive. He
is looking for something that is basic. He is only concerned with his inner life, which he
conveys through simple forms.
This is a work by Ensor. He lived in Belgium with his parents. This vision is very
cynical. “Christ’s Entry into Brussels, 1889” (1888). The people are middle class. But
the people look more like masks than real people. He implies that the people are
hypocritical, and the world is loaded with corruption. He is saying that if Christ returned
to a Christian society, would we be able to find him? Christ gets lost in the crowd.
The next painting depicts a café. Toulouse-Lautrec, “At the Moulin Rouge” (1895). It
depicts middle class people, but he makes their faces like masks. They are not natural.
Next is by the same artist. It is a colored lithograph. “Jan Avril.” Jan Avril was a popular
entertainer. Notice how flattened out everything is here. The floor is a series of diagnals.
The figure is flat and silloetted. Included are letters spelling out her name. There is
equal value given to the letters and the dancing figures, although the woman is supposed
to be 3D, unlike the letters. This give us a sense of what an image is, flat. The musical
instrument takes an arabesque curve, serving as a flattened out design. This all leads us
to a dependency on form and design, away from subject.
We will now start the 20th century. Matisse was the leader of the young artists, who show
a whole room of pictures that are bright and sharp, reduced in their forms. Their works
happened to be in a room of animal sculptures. A critic said that it is like looking at wild
beasts, hence the name, “Fauves.”
This is one of Matisse’s works, called “The Open Window,” (1905). It is his
interpretation of what he sees. He expresses the world as he sees it. We can see the
freedom and distortion from which he works. He feels free to paint one wall blue and
one wall orange. The edges hold the composition together. He paints from the
perspective of an urbanite. The world he sees, the boats, is seen from the indoors,
indicating a distance of nature. The frames are simplified. The painting comes together
from the richness of color and variety of shapes. The emotional aspects come from the
colors, rather than from the scene himself.
Next is a portrait of Madame Matisse. The green line separating the two sides of her face
has nothing to do with nature. Everything is simplified. The eyes are almond shapes,
and the hair is arranged as broad shapes. The face is also very flattened out. Yet, it gives
us a sense of who she is. It reaches us on an aesthetic level.
Finally is “The Joy of Life” (1906). It is a summation of what he and his partners were
doing at this time. It gets across the harmony and pleasures of life and traditional things.
There is a lot here that recalls “Baccanal.” It evokes the world of the golden past. The
dancing figures in the center somehow suggest distance. The nude figures have a 3D
quality because of their strong outlines. The figures are very simplified. There are no
details. The whole picture is filled with pleasure and joy.
Next is Matisse in his post-Fauves period. He simplifies his compositions more and
more. “The Red Studio” (1911). We are in his studio. Here he uses red as the structural
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element, what holds his picture and studio together. Everything is red. Nonetheless,
there is a sense, through the lines, that we are looking into a room, with a third
dimenstion. The pictures are things that he did before 1911. The point is that he is after
expression. The whole picture is expressive.
Last is a work from 1952. “The Blue Nude.” It is a collage. We see how far the
reduction can go and still speak to us.

Tuesday, May 2, 2000

We will cover Picasso, who is very radical. We will look at his works along with
Georges Braque, in the creation of Cubism. Cubism begins in 1907. There is analytical
and synthetic cubism. There are three figures working in these times: Matisse, Picasso,
and Mondrian.
First for Picasso. He was born in 1881. He was interested in artists like Cezenne and
Gaugain. We will start off looking at Roussseu, “The Dream.” He was a self taught
painter. The appeal here is the freshness and simplicity of the forms. There is a kind of
imagination here. He paints an imaginative world. The reason he has such appeal among
the avante- garde is that they are looking for a freshness of vision that all great artists
have. The artists of the time are looking for freshness that is not taught in the schools.
Rousseu thought that he was painting the world as it really was.
Another strong influence was tribal art from non-western cultures. Artists found these
tribal art works to be great works of art. What we see here is a guardian figure from
Africa. The body incorporates the arms and legs. The face is intended to scare off evil
spirits. The mouth is perfectly round.
Here we see an early work of Picasso’s. The traditions in Spain are more emotional and
intense than the French traditions. This was done while Picasso was still living in
Barcelona. In 1904, he moved to Paris. This is called, “The Old Guitarist,” (1903).
Picasso is working in a symbolist aesthetic. This is known as his blue period. His
subjects during this period are usually outsiders, with the old and the disenfranchised.
The color is a means toward expressing an idea. The figure is elongated. It seems a little
similar to El Greco. He is creating a symbolist world, an expression of the sadness of this
world. His style changed from the blue period to the rose period. His mood changes in
Paris. In 1907, he begins to experiment with his artwork.
This work of art is not yet a cubist work, but we begin to see the radical nature of his
experimentation. He begins to analyze figure space and their relation to each other. He
takes the sacrosanct image of the nude and breaks up the forms. He examines the parts of
the parts of the human forms. He rearanges the parts into a pictorial construction. In the
picture, he breaks down the real world and reconstructs different worlds for the picture.
It is a pictorial construction rather than a representation of the world. It is called, “The
Ladies of Avignon.” What he has done is study the human form, connecting the parts to
space. He has reconstructed space and represented it anew as a pictoral constructio n.
Avingnon was the red light district, so the picture depicts five prostitutes. The original
plan of the drawing has seven figures. Each of the women, particularly the one on the
right side, are influenced by the African masks. The central figure with her arms up
looks like a classical figure broken up. Her pose is similar to Venus figures, which is
intended to depict the perfect goddess of love. We don’t usually associate these figures
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with Venus. He is getting at basic and primitive instincts. The table has fruit on it, which
usually is associated with sensuousness. The melon on the table is just the opposite. The
women here stare out quite boldly. Underlying this is some aspect is human emotions
that are primitive. Yet he uses other traditions from western art. There is no logic to the
way the woman on the right stands. The development of cubism was a colaborative
effort between Picasso and Braque. Braque at the time was working as a Feuve artist.
When he saw Picasso, he worked like Picasso. Their partnership led to analytical
cubism.
This painting is a good example of analytical cubist work. It is a portrait of Vollard,
Picasso’s art dealer, painted in 1910. Picasso worked to break down forms into facets.
His concentration was on form itself. He eliminates color. Most of color is eliminated
for a monochronotic palate. The concentration is on the forms, rather than the colors.
The figure has been broken down to forms, some of which are opaque while others are
transparent. The figure becomes harder and harder to read. There is something that
suggests the fingers. There are pieces of his body. This is a construction, not reality.
One element here is time. There was talk of the temporal dimension. Vollard’s face is
seen head on. But the top of his head is not possible in life. Picasso shows us the back
and front at the same time, as he takes apart the pieces and reconstructs them on the
campus.
Here is another analytical cubist work not in the text. This is called “Ma Jolie,” or
“Woman with a guitar.” Ma Jolie was a popular song. The subject here is a young
woman. If you look carefully you can see pieces of her. This is to show how radical
cubism becomes.
Later on, with synthetic cubism, Picasso comes back to reality.
This is “Still Life with chair Canning” (1912). He uses the collage style. He takes thing
and pastes them onto the canvas. He draws on top of the canvases. The objects were
usually scraps lying around. In this case, they take a piece of cloth and make it look like a
chair canning. On top of that they draw other objects. The art has real things, which
operate as real things, but also as representing other things. Picasso uses rope as his
frame. Notice the element of time here. One of the ordinary objects was a pipe. The
white cylinder here looks like a stem of a pipe. Above it is a round form, the bowl of the
pipe is if looking into it. It thus becomes possible to show incomplete things.
Next is “Man with a hat” (1910). Picasso takes newspaper and cuts it into shapes,
drawing a nose and a mouth. Notice the simplification and the repeated patterns. The
dark edge here is part of the collage. The double curve repeats here. The same form is
also at the top of the figure, whose shape is like a guitar. The ear on the right hand side is
also like the double curve.
Next is by George Braque. It is a still life. “Newspaper Lequriere” (1914). There is a lot
of playing with symbol and reality. It is a collage with lines drawn in. There is wood
texture. This is stenciled, part of a musical instrument. It inverts the whole notion of
painting, a logical recession back into space. This reverses the whole process. It builds
outward rather than inward.
By the end of WWI, everything in cubism had been explored, and became a set aesthetic.
What it had done was changed the whole vocabulary of painting. Picasso stopped
making collages. But he uses the aesthetic in more conventional ways.
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This is called “Three Musicians,” (1921). They are all stock c haracters from popular art.
There is a dog under the table. It is all very simplified. There is also a sense of mystery
in the painting. There is a kind of underlying mystery to the painting, which has a strong
emotional charge. There is a kind of intensity that goes beyond the intellectual analysis
of the forms.
Next is “Three Dancers,” (1925). Notice how flat the shapes are. He uses the same
shape to represent different things.
Next is in 1932, called “Girl Before a Miror.” On the right hand s ide we see the mirror of
herself. There is a tradition of women looking into mirrors. She is round and
voluptuous. Her blonde hair is a golden leaf. Everything about her speaks to the notion
of naturalness. On the right hand side, she sees another side of herself, a more passionate
image.
Last is “Guernica” (1937). It is the name of a small Spanish city. In 1936, there was a
civil war in Spain, a preview of the second world war. The legal government of Spain
fell to Franco. He allowed the German airforce to bomb the civilian population. The
vocabulary here comes out of cubism. There is no color here, and is just black and white.
We just see shattered forms of a destroyed civilization. A mother holds her dead child.
He paints the whole terror of a disintegrating civilization.
Last is Chagall’s “I am my village.” His vision is nostalgic. It is personal and rich in
color.
Next is Leger’s “The City” (1919). He had optimistic feeling about industrialization.

Thursday, May 04, 2000

Artists now feel freer to make art on any medium. We will now cover Mondrian.
This is called “Flowering Trees” (1910). He is influenced by Cubism. The reference
here is to something in nature. The curved linear forms suggest the flowers of the trees,
yet the forms are simplified to abstraction. The curve has more to do with nature than
with geometry. This work comes from his notion of the spiritual. By the 1920’s,
Mondrian reduced his work to pure abstraction.
This is “Composition with Red, Blue and Yellow” (1930). He eliminates anything that
isn’t basic to the notion of painting. The canvas is square. He then proceeds to use
square and rectangular forms in the scheme of a grid. He eliminates distance. He uses
various dimensions of lines in black that form the lines. He uses only the three primary
colors and black and light. Theoretically, every color can be mixed by combinations of
these three colors. Theoretically, he has all of the basic elements of painting without
anything extra. Painting is colored shapes on a flat surface. The surface here shows no
sign of the brush. He is trying to eliminate anything that is personal and subjective. He
gives the equivalent of purity in the cosmos. It is the grid and straight lines and the
colors, each of which have a visual weight. If you have a large amount of red, you must
balance it with whites blues and yellows. He wants to take opposites and create a
balance. Perfection is the balance. All of his work is made in this way, but they are
tremendously varied. He wants a pure and perfect balance of opposites, which is the sign
of perfection. By 1940, many European artists left to the US.
This is also by Mondrian, called “Broadway Boogie Woogie,” (1942). He was taken
with American Jazz. It is an expression of the excitement and the pleasures of Jazz. It
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invokes the rhythms and creates the mood, even though it doesn’t look like New York at
all. It only uses the primary colors again.
The next pieces we will look at are between the two world wars. In that period, the
dominant form was surrealism. It was preceded by Dada. One of the primary Dada
artists was Duchamp.
This is by Duchamp, called “Bicycle Wheel” (1915). The world was falling apart during
the first world war. The world was altered. The war caused people to question western
values. One of the things of value in the western world was art. Thus, many thinkers
questioned the value of art. It raised questions about what is and what isn’t art.
Duchamp found ordinary objects like stools and bicycle wheels, and put them together in
an art context. It raises the question of what is art, and what does it do for us. It
redefines the notions of what art can be. There is a certain irony to this sculpture, as one
can look at it like a kind of sculpture, as it has an aesthetic character. This type of art he
called “found objects.”
“In advance of a broken arm” shows a snow shovel.
Now we will cover surrealism. The Surrealists were concerned with morals and social
issues. One of the aims of the artists was a processing and exploring of the unconscious.
The whole notion of the unconscious was significant, which artists dealt with. One of the
ways they explored it was by bypassing the rational and the planned, which art had
depended on. It dredged up the things that we don’t understand. Instead of planning a
composition in advance, they used automatic writing, letting the hand wander as if it is
propelled by unconscious motivations. What they try to explore is things they don’t
understand.
This is by Salvador Dali. It is a strange landscape. Some things are recognizable, but the
content is strange and it is something that people don’t experience while we are awake.
Rather it is fantasy. It is called “The Persistence of Memory,” (1933). There is a creature
with a clock strapped to it. It is something between fish and fowl, but everything about it
is something we do know. It is blubber. Hairs grow out of it. We have these time
pieces, forcing us to ask how memory exists. It evokes and deals with the notion of
things that are irrational but are real in their own way, as dreams can be said to exist just
as much as reality.
One surrealist is Juan Miro. This is called “harlequin’s carnival” (1924). It resembles the
cubist movement. There is a playful quality to it.
Next is also by Miro, from 1933, called “Composition.” It has no relation to the outside
world. There is a certain playfulness to it. The surrealists are aware of the notion of
chance.
We now turn to works that were done after the second world war, when the art world was
centered in New York. This movement is called Abstract Expressionism. It is an art
known as action painting. The most important artist most inventive was Jackson Pollack.
He was very radical. His early works were very influenced by the surrealists. In the late
1940’s he began to experiment with different techniques. This is “No. 5” (1948). Instead
of putting the canvas on an eisle, he took large pieces of canvas and put them on the
floor, applying paint to the canvas. He didn’t use the usual medium of oil paint, but
house paints and acrylic. He dripped and splashed the paint onto the canvas. He works
on the canvas as he walks around it. It is a very untraditional way to work on a canvas.
It allows for the notion of chance and accident. We live with accident and chance, but
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also with control, and Pollack controls the flow of the paint. He adds layers and layers of
paint. He controls it, though not in the usual way. It is not so shocking that in this time
he is doing this. Pollack was an American. He spent his life in broad areas. Among the
things he looked at were sand paintings by American Indians, which took in large areas.
The flow of the unconsciousness is also something that comes out of surrealism. What
we get here is the result of a process of making his world. We get the process of making
the picture. Therefore, it is called action painting. It is extremely personal. The artist is
living in the painting, and what we get is his time and involvement with the painting. We
are looking at the action of human being working energetically at the painting.
Next is a section from “No. 1.” It has tremendous varieties and textures, as well as
controll.
This is a work called “Autumn Rhythm” (1950). One is drawn into what Pollack is
doing. It is expressive and intense, very personal and very emotional.
This is “Blue Poles,” (1953). It evokes freedom.
This is by Lee Krasner called “Celebration” (1960). She is using a brush, so it is a more
formal work.
The next person in the movement is DeKooning. Unlike Pollack, he is figurative. He did
a series of works in the woman series. This is “Woman No. 2” (1952). These giant
women here require stretches of the imagination. The female form is an extension of the
goddess idea in an abstract way. He feels free to scratch out parts of the composition and
repaint them.
This is another called “Woman on a Bicycle,” (1953). One of the issues is how he sees
the woman. She is goddess like. But the color of her flesh is mole shaped. He is playing
with the sense of flesh and skin in traditional paintings. But her necklace looks like her
mouth in the painting. He is drawn to her softness and her skin. But he is also repelled,
seeing her as dangerous and threatening. He doesn’t treat her with any gentle character.
This is also by DeKooning. It is from 1954, called “Marylin Monroe.” He is painting the
virgin Mary of our time. He paints her as being very desirable, very womanly, and very
large. She is a symbol of womanhood. Although she is a symbol of a woman, Monroe
never had a baby. This questions what we see as womanly and desirable.
This is by Rothko. This is called colored field, or minimalism. It is from 1957 called
Black ocre, Red Ocre Red. It searches for the spiritual, using the painters vocabulary.
Next is called “Orange and Yellow” (1956).
Next is a complete reaction to abstract expressionism from Stella, from 1965, called “The
empress of India.” What we see here is something different. It is a painted surface, but
also a relief. He eliminates any sense of the hand of the artist, anything that is personal.
He takes 4 industrial shapes and puts them together. We have a shaped canvas that is
painted with industrial paint. It is impersonal a reversal of subjective art.
This is Jasper John’s “Painting with four faces,” and “Four Flags.”
Drowning Girl by Lichtenstein, Marylin Monroe by Warhol.
Last is Smithson’s Spiral Jay, and earthworm.
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