History of the figure


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  • All images in the powerpoint presentation are either in the public domain, are available under the GNU licensing agreement or have been reproduced and made available under the Yorke project. All other images which are not in the public domain or have copyright restrictions have been listed with a url link to an image.
  • Rock painting of 3 men performing a ritual dance, Tamunshede, Bohuslan, Sweden Aboriginal Rock Art, Ubirr Art Site, Kakadu National Park, Australia
  • petroglyphs at Una Vida site at Chaco National Historic site
  • 3000 year old paintings by the San people at Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg, South Africa
  • Teotihuacan, Mexico around 200,000 people; in 600 AD it is estimated to have been the sixth largest city in the entire world. [Palace of the Moon -12 temples Funerary Figure Mural -Procession of the Priests -inside the Temple -the large curve in front o fthe priests are speech bubbles- representing their chanting
  • The most famous in palace The Paradise of Tlaloc. The god Tlaloc - depicts his "paradise" many people are shown in the middle of a variety of acts - diving and swimming in a river with fish, talking to each other, eating, picking flowers and, near the top right-hand corner of this photograph, As you can see, there's an abundance of speech bubbles, as well as various butterflies and other insects. Here, figures are well established somewhat proportionally correct an in a variety of animated positions
  • British Museum
  • Queen Nefertiti -1360 BC changing Egypt's religion from a polytheistic religion to a monotheistic religion. They believed in only one god, Aten.
  • Contrapposto -weight on mostly one foot to twist the torso forward and jut out the hip
  • Ancient Greece - Black Figure Amphora Urns -500BC
  • Zeus on his throne Zeus with thunderbolt and dove Zeus settling a dispute
  • Eyes were blank or hollow “Windows to the Soul”
  • Held drapery always in left hand so that right arm could freely move to express. It forced them to be more graceful
  • Greeks were very much about the body and idolizing the figure to its extremes. The romans were more realistic about the body The discus Thrower “ The old woman - Romans were not afraid to depict the decay of the body or the ordinariness
  • Iconography -elongated figures slumped over, tired, figures -endless work in translating the scriptures, slight disproportion- emphasis of the halo
  • Form shown through shading . The Christ child having adult features, foreshadowing his ministry Features are stoic or sad, keeping in step with humility and self-abassment
  • Christ in Majesty, Aberdeen Bestiary The illuminated letter P in the Malmesbury Bible Figures using symbols and gestures
  • Christ Handing the Keys to St. Peter by Pietro Perugino (1481-82) Fresco, 335 x 550 cm Cappella Sistina, Vatican
  • Death of St. Sebastian by Giovanni Bellini –he was shot to what they thought to death by a number of arrows like a pin cushion. But he was taken down by two ladies who nursed him back to health. He then healed a blind girla nd was beaten to death by soldiers.
  • Michelangelo’s David -compare to our biblical understanding of David and his boyishness Creation of Adam Sistine Chapel –Part of the Palace for the Pope in Rome 4 years and 300 figures
  • Leonardo Da Vinci
  • Albert VII, Archduke of Austria, Peter Paul Rubens, 1615 – 1632, Marie de Medici, Peter Paul Rubens, 1622-1625, FASHION: Once drapery, medieval ages moved male drapery to above the knee. Women all wore full length dress
  • The Artist’s Family, Hans Holbein the Younger, 1528. Realism through the Reformation and emphasis on the family instead of religious.
  • Robert Andrews and his Wife, Thomas Gainsborough, 1748 – 1750, National Gallery London Riding Pants, British uniform reflected in everyday wear. Women still covered. Wealth and leisure to show status.
  • Empahsis on the leisure class and infidelity –cupid in corner with the man and his hat opened wide to the young gal who is kicking off Her shoes at him and revealing all. The Swing by Jean-Honoré Fragonard 1700’s
  • Romanticism : created as a reaction to the lovey dovey work of the 18 th Century Shows the sublime, the poetic, the romantic-deep nature of humans Watson and the Shark, John Singleton Copley, 1778, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Romanticism The rawness of the scene and the violence was shocking for the public to see. The striking of the spear, the possible doom the victim may Have, the suspense of not knowing. Chiarascuro – use of light and darks to emphasize the drama. Watson and the Shark was inspired by an event that took place in Havana, Cuba, in 1749. Fourteen-year-old Brook Watson, an orphan serving as a crew member on a trading ship, was attacked by a shark while swimming alone in the harbor. His shipmates, who had been waiting on board to escort their captain ashore, launched a valiant rescue effort. Copley chose to depict the moment of highest dramatic intensity -- the instant just prior to the third, presumably fatal, attack. Viewers had no way of knowing that the lad would be plucked from the jaws of death by his stalwart companions. Brook Watson, a young sailor out for a swim, was attacked by a shark and saved by his shipmates. The shark bit off part of Watson's leg, but he recovered and went on to live a well-documented, one-legged life as a merchant and politician in London, and eventually served a term as mayor from 1796-97. It is likely that Watson commissioned the painting from Copley. The use of movement in placing elements –including the dramatic thrust of the tail off the picture page!
  • In 1819, Francesco de Goya painted the grotesque "Saturn Devouring One of His Children" : t depicts the Greek myth of Cronus (in the title Romanised to Saturn), who, fearing that his children would supplant him, ate each one upon their birth. It is one of the series of Black Paintings that Goya painted directly onto the dining wall of his house sometime between 1819 and 1823. After Goya's death the work was transferred to canvas, and now resides in the Museo del Prado in Madrid.
  • Croquet Players, Winslow Homer, 1865, Albright-Knox Gallery Paintings of leisure and upper class, also mingled with reality of lower class The “Black Suit” due to Industrial Revolution –soot etc and making all men equal The lady and her dress became the focal poitn and showed the man’s class
  • The Luncheon Boating Party, Auguste Renoir, 1881, Phillips Collection
  • Claude monet
  • Mary Cassatt, 1900 -Asian Influence on patterning and negative space
  • Edward Degas
  • Vincent van gogh
  • Henri Matisse
  • Picasso –interested in the objetionables/outcasts Pink period early in career – the cirucs Cubism -“Les demoiselles d'Avignon”, 1907 - 5 nude prostitutes in a brothel –OUTRAGE african masks over 100 sketches
  • Edward Munch
  • Frida Kahlo
  • Salvador Dali
  • Andrew Wyeth –Christina’s world
  • Reclining Figure, Henry Moore, modernism
  • George segal -Isolation
  • Edward hopper
  • Today we feature the famous picture of the woman of the Great Depression. The photograph was taken in 1936 by Dorothea Lange.
  • Diane Arbus – the abject
  • Richard Avedon 1980 –the normal
  • Andy Warhol Roy Lichenstein
  • Duane Hanson -1970’s
  • Sandy skoglund- Isolation
  • Jonathan Borofsky Walking to the sky –NYC Male/Female –Meijer Gardens
  • History of the figure

    2. 2. The representation of the figure in art changes as human needs and artistic expression evolved. Early figure images served only communication and religious purposes.Later, portraits captured images of the living. After the invention of the camera, figure art became highly creative and expressive.
    3. 3. Throughout history, figures are represented asdrawings, paintings, and sculpture. Sculpture achieved a realisticappearance before drawings and paintings of figures.
    4. 4. PREHISTORIC FIGURES• Line drawings of figures, similar to “stick figures.”• Told stories of tribal celebrations, war and “the hunt” and communicated before written language.
    5. 5. PRE-COLUMBIAN FIGURES• Figures were mostly in sculpture form.• Represented gods and other deities for worship and ceremonies.
    6. 6. ANCIENT EGYPTIAN FIGURES• Figure drawings were flat looking, with heads and feet in profile, while the chest/heart faced forward as well as the eye.• Most important figures were shown larger than others.
    7. 7. Profile headForward facing torsoProfile legs & feet
    8. 8. ANCIENT GREEK AND ROMAN FIGURES• Figures were often used in storytelling, especially mythology.• Drawings were still flat looking, but sculptures were very realistic.• Figure sculptures showed the classical “contrapposto” pose and realistic looking drapery.
    9. 9. Storytelling on Ceramic Vases & Urns
    10. 10. Figures fromMythology
    11. 11. Very realistic figure sculpture
    12. 12. Realistic looking drapery “Contrapposto” Pose
    13. 13. MIDDLE AGES 1000- 1300AD• Figures in paintings were beginning to develop a little more in form.• Used in picturing religious and medieval scenes.
    14. 14. Illuminated Manuscripts
    15. 15. RENAISSANCE 1400 AD• With the discovery of perspective, figures had more realistic form.• Figures continued in religious depictions, but also became popular as portraits of the clergy and wealthy patrons.• In time, portraiture grew to include the middle class.
    16. 16. 18th Century -1700’s• Portraiture continued to be popular, sometimes including land, house, pet, or other prized possession.• Figure painting also provided entertainment or delivered a message.
    17. 17. ROMANTICISMlate 1700’s-1800’s
    18. 18. Realism and Impressionism –late 1800’s• The invention of the camera had a profound effect on figures in art, especially portraiture.• Artists began painting “genre” (figures in everyday life situations).• Figure painting and sculpture changed from realistic to more impressionistic styles.
    19. 19. Post-Impressionism and Cubism -early 1900’s• Reexamining what is “high art”
    20. 20. Expressionism
    21. 21. Surrealism
    22. 22. 20th Century American Art
    23. 23. POP ART -1960’s
    24. 24. Contemporary Art Issues