Introduction: What is Art History?

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Brief introduction to Art 109 Renaissance to Modern, Westchester Community College, Prof. Melissa Hall, Spring 2013

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Introduction: What is Art History?

  1. 1. Introduction: What is Art History??Art 109: Renaissance to ModernSpring 2013© Dr. Melissa Hall
  2. 2. What is Art History?So what, exactly, will we learn in anart history course? Image source: http://www.marshall.edu/cofa/art/arthistory/
  3. 3. What is Art History?Will we learn what makes a work ofart a “masterpiece”? Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa, c. 1503-1505
  4. 4. JudgmentWhat makes one work of art“better” than another is highlysubjective Michelangelo, David, 1501-1504
  5. 5. JudgmentWho is to say if something is amasterpiece or not? In 1919 Marcel Duchamp questioned the idea of the “masterpiece” by drawing a mustache on a postcard of the Mona Lisa and calling it a work of art! Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa, c. 1503-1505
  6. 6. JudgmentSo art history is not involved withjudging “greatness,” or whatqualifies as a “masterpiece”That is the job of art criticism, andart connoisseurship Image source: http://www.marshall.edu/cofa/art/arthistory/
  7. 7. JudgmentIn fact, it might be useful to defineart history by differentiating it fromrelated fields:•Art Connoisseurship•Art Criticism•Art Appreciation Image source: http://www.marshall.edu/cofa/art/arthistory/
  8. 8. ConnoisseurshipEstimating the market value of awork of art is the job of the artconnoisseur Sotheby’s auction, May 3, 2006, where Picasso’s Dora Maar with Cat sold for $95.2 million Art Knowledge News
  9. 9. Art Criticism Art criticism also involves evaluation and judgmentImage source:http://www.theinsider.com/news/857730_Simon_Cowell_Back_In_Touch_With_His_First_Love Mr. Art Critic, written and directed by Richard Brauer, 2008
  10. 10. JudgmentIn this class you will be encouragedto form your own opinion aboutwhat you like and dislike Image source: http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/gowhere-hip-hop/2009/12/
  11. 11. Art AppreciationDo art historians help us appreciateart? Norman Rockwell, The Connoisseur, 1962
  12. 12. Art AppreciationLearning about works of art cancertainly help us “appreciate” themmore Artcphoto, Metropolitan Museum of Art - Fifth Avenue - Manhattan - NYC Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/artcphoto/2813520288/
  13. 13. Art AppreciationBut art appreciation is primarilyconcerned with our personalresponse to art Sharon Lipps, Art Appreciation,The Getty, LA, CA, 2009 http://www.pbase.com/elips/image/73508927
  14. 14. Art HistoryArt history is more concerned withthe story behind the work Ben Shahn, The Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti, 1931-1932
  15. 15. Art HistoryArt History is the study of works ofart in historical context
  16. 16. Art HistoryIt is concerned with what art meantto the people who made and used it Francois Joseph Heim, Charles X Distributing Awards to Artists Exhibiting at the Salon of 1824 at the Louvre, 1827 Metapedia
  17. 17. Personal ResponseDoes this mean your personalresponse is not important? David Choi, 9:48 a.m. Greek Galleries Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8007731@N07/3407100463
  18. 18. Personal ResponseYour personal response can be animportant component ofunderstanding Laura P. Russell, At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, Flickr
  19. 19. Personal ResponseBut to qualify as “art historical,” itmust be informed by what you havelearned about the society and theculture Merode Altarpiece with Viewers Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/82032880@N00/4014610392/
  20. 20. BiographyDo art historians study the lives ofartists? Vincent Van Gogh,Self-Portrait as an Artist, 1887-88. Oil on canvas, 65 x 50.5 cm. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam Artchive
  21. 21. BiographyArtistic biography is only onecomponent of art history, but it isnot always the most important Rembrandt van Rijn, Self Portrait, c. 1659-1660
  22. 22. Role of the ArtistPrior to the Renaissance, the artistwas was merely a craftsman NannidiBanco, Sculptors at Work, 1416. Orsanmichele, Florence lib-art.com
  23. 23. Role of the ArtistArtists were expected to be skilled,not creative Image source: http://www.thekiesels.com/VA_2003vacPg2.html
  24. 24. Role of the ArtistWorks of art were commissionedby patrons who gave specificinstructions about what theywanted
  25. 25. Role of the ArtistArt historians must therefore learnabout the patrons whocommissioned works of art Raphael, Pope Julius II, 1511 London National Gallery
  26. 26. Role of the ArtistOften, the work is more about thepatron than it is about the artist whomade it EnricoScrovegni giving the gift of his chapel to angels, Last Judgment, Arena Chapel, Padua, c. 1305 Jacques Louis David, Napoleon Crossing the St. Bernard Pass, 1801
  27. 27. MethodologyHow do art historians study worksof art?
  28. 28. Methodology1. Subject Matter (iconographic analysis)2. Style (formal analysis)3. Context (cultural analysis) Image source: www.thinkandthrive.com
  29. 29. IdentificationArtistTitlePeriod/RegionDateMediumDimensionsCollection Georgia O’Keefe, Jack-in-the-Pulpit No. 4, 1930 Oil on canvas, 3’ 4” X 2’ 6” National Gallery of Art http://www.nga.gov/fcgi-bin/tinfo_f?object=70179
  30. 30. IdentificationNote: titles of works of art aretreated like book titles“Georgia O’Keefe painted Jack-in-the-Pulpit in 1930.”“The Mona Lisa is a painting byLeonardo da Vinci.”
  31. 31. Subject MatterWhat is the subject matter? Georgia O’Keefe, Jack-in-the-Pulpit No. 4, 1930 Oil on canvas, 3’ 4” X 2’ 6” National Gallery of Art
  32. 32. Subject MatterWho or what is represented
  33. 33. Visual LiteracyHow do we know who thisperson is? Gilbert Stuart, Portrait of George Washington (The Landsdowne Portrait), 1796 Smithsonian Institution, National Portrait Gallery
  34. 34. Visual LiteracySometimes we will need to learnthe story behind the picture Jacques Louis David, Death of Socrates, 1787 Metropolitan Museum
  35. 35. Subject MatterRecognizing subject matter inmodern art can be morechallenging because the work isabstract Pablo Picasso, Bottle of Suze, 1912
  36. 36. AbstractionSimplification of form into simpleshapes Theo Van Doesburg, Cows, 1917
  37. 37. Subject MatterThis collage represents an ovaltable top with a glass and a bottleof Suze Pablo Picasso, Bottle of Suze, 1912
  38. 38. Non-Objective ArtSome works of art have norecognizable subject matter at allThis is called non-objective art "Jackson Pollock painting "One: Number 31, 1950" at the Museum of Modern Art", 2007 Image source: http://www.imaginify.org/post/index.php?catid=&name=News&topic=8
  39. 39. OK, so theSubject Matter subject matter of this painting is George Washington. Am I done? Gilbert Stuart, Portrait of George Washington (The Landsdowne Portrait), 1796 Smithsonian Institution, National Portrait Gallery
  40. 40. Subject MatterWho was George Washington, andwhy is he significant? Gilbert Stuart, Portrait of George Washington (The Landsdowne Portrait), 1796 Smithsonian Institution, National Portrait Gallery
  41. 41. OK, George WashingtonSubject Matter was the first President of the United States. Am I done? Gilbert Stuart, Portrait of George Washington (The Landsdowne Portrait), 1796 Smithsonian Institution, National Portrait Gallery
  42. 42. DescriptionAnalysis of subject matter alsoinvolves description:How does he appearHow is he standing (pose)What is he wearing?What else is in the room? Gilbert Stuart, Portrait of George Washington (The Landsdowne Portrait), 1796 Smithsonian Institution, National Portrait Gallery
  43. 43. NarrationWhat is happening?What is he doing? Gilbert Stuart, Portrait of George Washington (The Landsdowne Portrait), 1796 Smithsonian Institution, National Portrait Gallery
  44. 44. InterpretationAnalysis of subject matter alsoinvolves interpretation:Why is he posed that way?Why were those particular objectschosen?What purpose was this portraitmeant to serve?What was the message? Gilbert Stuart, Portrait of George Washington (The Landsdowne Portrait), 1796 Smithsonian Institution, National Portrait Gallery
  45. 45. Subject MatterSubject Matter: The “what” of the work (who, what, where)Content: The “why” of the work (meaning, purpose, message) Gilbert Stuart, Portrait of George Washington (The Landsdowne Portrait), 1796 Smithsonian Institution, National Portrait Gallery
  46. 46. IconographyTo get from subject matter tocontent involves iconographyIconography: the interpretation ofsigns and symbols Gilbert Stuart, Portrait of George Washington (The Landsdowne Portrait), 1796 Smithsonian Institution, National Portrait Gallery
  47. 47. Subject MatterHow do we know these two peopleare “tourists”?What are the visual clues? Duane Hanson, Tourists, 1970 National Galleries of Scotland
  48. 48. IconographyPose (the way they are standingand gesturing)Attributes (clothing andaccessories) Duane Hanson, Tourists, 1970 National Galleries of Scotland
  49. 49. Subject MatterPainted portraits of political leaderswere the “media” of their dayThey were supposed tocommunicate a message about theperson represented Gilbert Stuart, Portrait of George Washington (The Landsdowne Portrait), 1796 Smithsonian Institution, National Portrait Gallery
  50. 50. Subject MatterWhat message was Stuart’s portraitintended to convey?What are the visual clues? Gilbert Stuart, Portrait of George Washington (The Landsdowne Portrait), 1796 Smithsonian Institution, National Portrait Gallery
  51. 51. The ClothingGilbert Stuart, Portrait of George Washington (The Landsdowne Portrait), Allan Ramsay, King George III (in coronation robes), 1761-17621796. Smithsonian Institution, National Portrait Gallery National Portrait Gallery
  52. 52. The ClothingGilbert Stuart, Portrait of George Washington (The Landsdowne Portrait),1796. Smithsonian Institution, National Portrait Gallery
  53. 53. The ClothingGilbert Stuart, Portrait of George Washington (The Landsdowne Portrait),1796. Smithsonian Institution, National Portrait Gallery
  54. 54. The Clothing “Stuart painted Washington from life, showing him standing up, dressed in a black velvet suit with an outstretched hand held up in an oratorical manner (which could be characterized as "commanding and stern yet open and inclusive"). In the background behind Washington is a row of two Doric columns, with another row to the left. Wrapped around and between the columns are red tasseled drapes.”Gilbert Stuart, Portrait of George Washington (The Landsdowne Portrait),1796. Smithsonian Institution, National Portrait Gallery
  55. 55. The Clothing “Washingtons suit is plain and simple, and the sword that he holds on his left side is a dress sword and not a battle sword (symbolizing a democratic form of government, rather than a monarchy or military dictatorship). In the sky, storm clouds appear on the left while a rainbow appears on the right, signifying the American Revolutionary War giving way to the peace and prosperity of the new United States after the 1783 Treaty of Paris. The medallion at the top of the chair shows the red, white, and blue colors of the American flag.”Gilbert Stuart, Portrait of George Washington (The Landsdowne Portrait),1796. Smithsonian Institution, National Portrait Gallery
  56. 56. The Clothing “On and under the tablecloth-draped table to the left are two books: Federalist—probably a reference to the Federalist Papers—and Journal of Congress—the Congressional Record). Another five books are under the table . . . . The pen and paper on the table signify the rule of law . . . .” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lansdowne_portraitGilbert Stuart, Portrait of George Washington (The Landsdowne Portrait),1796. Smithsonian Institution, National Portrait Gallery
  57. 57. Subject MatterA detailed description helps us seethe work more clearly Gilbert Stuart, Portrait of George Washington (The Landsdowne Portrait), 1796 Smithsonian Institution, National Portrait Gallery
  58. 58. StyleWhat is style?
  59. 59. StyleStyle refers to the visualcharacteristics of a work of art Pablo Picasso, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907 Museum of Modern Art
  60. 60. Style
  61. 61. Period StyleA style that is typical of a particulartime period Jacopo daPontormo, Entombment of Christ, Parmigianino, Madonna with the Long Neck, 1525-1528 1534-1540
  62. 62. Regional StyleA style that is typical of a particularregion Jean Hey? or the Master of Moulins, Portrait AlessoBaldovinetti, Portrait of a Lady, tempera and of
Margaret of Austria, oil on panel, c. 1490 on wood, c. 1465 (National Gallery, London)
  63. 63. Personal StyleAn individual artist’s unique“personal” style Vincent Van Gogh, Starry Night, 1888
  64. 64. Evolution of StyleHow style changes over time Unknown Master, Virgin and Child Enthroned with St Dominic, St Martin and Two Angels, c. 1290 Web Gallery of Art Giotto diBondone, Ognissante Madonna, c. 1310
  65. 65. Evolution of Style Changing attitudes towards the bodyExpulsion of Adam and Eve, Hunterian Psalter, c. 1170 Albrecht Dürer, Fall of Man (Adam and Eve), 1504
  66. 66. Evolution of Style Composition and lightingJan Vermeer, Young Woman with a Water Pitcher,c. 1662 Caravaggio, Deposition, c. 1600-1604
  67. 67. Evolution of Style Concepts of “realism” Gustave Courbet, the Stone Breakers, 1849Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Princesse deBroglie, 1851-1853
  68. 68. Evolution of Style Capturing effects of atmosphere and lightJacob Van Ruisdael, View of Haarlem from the Dunes atOverveen, c. 1670 Claude Monet, Boulevard des Capucines, 1873
  69. 69. Evolution of StyleRejection of realism Ernst Kirchner, Head of a Woman, 1913 Paul Gauguin, The Yellow Christ, 1889
  70. 70. Evolution of StyleEvolution towards abstractionMarcel Duchamp, Nude Descending a Staircase, 1912 Georges Braque, The Portuguese, 1911
  71. 71. Evolution of StyleElimination of subject matter Wassily Kandinsky, Improvisation 28, 1912 Constantin Brancusi, Bird in Space, 1924
  72. 72. Art and ContextArt does not mean in a vacuum!The cultural context of art is anintegral part of its meaning orcontent Jeff Koons, New Hoover Convertibles, Green, Red, Brown, New Shelton Wet/Dry 10 Gallon Displaced Doubledecker1981-87
  73. 73. RenaissanceHumanismHumanist scholarship and thesecularization of learningShift in patronage Andrea del Castagno, Giovanni Boccaccio, c. 1450
  74. 74. The Reformation St. Peters Basilica, RomeWorkshop of Lucas Cranach, Martin LutherMetropolitan Museum
  75. 75. Absolutism Hyacinth Rigaud, Louis XIV, 1701
  76. 76. The Enlightenment Jacques Louis David, Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier and his Wife, 1788 Metropolitan Museum
  77. 77. The Age of Democracy Eugene Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People, 1830Jean-Antoine Houdon, George Washington, 1788-1792
  78. 78. The IndustrialRevolution Jean-François Millet, The Gleaners, 1857
  79. 79. The Rise of Cities GustaveCaillebotte, Rue de Paris, Temps de Pluie, 1877Claude Monet, Boulevard des Capucines, 1873
  80. 80. The Machine Age Fernand Léger, the City, 1919
  81. 81. War Pablo Picasso, Guernica, 1937
  82. 82. Atomic Age Hans Namuth, Jackson Pollock, 1950
  83. 83. Consumerism Andy Warhol, 32 Campbells Soups, 1962

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