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Art and Culture - Module 11 - Enlightenment


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Eleventh and final module for GNED 1201 (Aesthetic Experience and Ideas). This one ever so briefly covers the aesthetics of the Enlightenment. I only had a single lecture available to me so it only really covers the topic in a very cursory way.

This course is a required general education course for all first-year students at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Canada. My version of the course is structured as a kind of Art History and Culture course. Some of the content overlaps with my other Gen Ed course.

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Art and Culture - Module 11 - Enlightenment

  2. 2. Last class we saw that from 1550-1650, Europeans were engaged in an orgy of killing, all in the name of God (and maybe also in the name of geopolitics). By 1648, Catholics and Protestants, while not exactly tolerant of each other, were no longer hell bent on exterminating each other.
  3. 3. Over the next 150 years, educated Europeans began applying their reason and power of observation, less and less to questions about God and more to the natural and social world around them. The result was the so-called Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment. Rembrandt, The Anatomy Lesson of Doctor Tulp, 1632
  4. 4. In Caravaggio light represented the divine;
  5. 5. Now light represents knowledge and reason
  6. 6. Vermeer, The Astronomer 1668
  7. 7. A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery by Joseph Wright, 1766
  8. 8. How do you evaluate the merit of an idea? Aristotle: 1. Evaluate its internal logic Aristotle: 2. Compare it to other ideas In the 16th and 17th centuries another option began to be used: test the idea through controlled experiment The spread of this approach to ideas is usually referred to as the scientific revolution.
  9. 9. The instrumental success of this scientific approach influenced more than just how people thought about the natural world. It also transformed the way people think about: • Politics • Society • Ethics •• Ourselves • The Past • The Future
  10. 10. This transformation is usually referred to as the Enlightenment. It refers to style and approach of a range of influential thinkers and writers working in the 17th and 18th centuries.
  11. 11. Some historians and philosophers believe that we still are in the Enlightenment, meaning that the way we think about ourselves, about truth, politics, nature, history, etc is by and large the same as that propagated by the great Enlightenment thinkers.
  12. 12. Illustration of traditional geocentric (earth-centered) view of universe, influenced from Ptolemy
  13. 13. Europeans embraced this model because: 1. It matched their experience and observation = common sense 2. It was handed down from the Ancient world = authority 3. It fit scripture = worldview
  14. 14. The problem with geocentric approach is the problem of retrograde motion of some of the planets. This retrograde motion is especially noticeable with Mars.
  15. 15. To solve this problem, the Ptolemaic model put the planets on epicycles. By the 16th century, the Ptolemaic model was very accurate at predicted/explaining the motion of the planets.
  16. 16. Nicholas Copernicus On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres [1473-1543] [1543]
  17. 17. Galileo Galilei [1564-1642]
  18. 18. Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems [1632] Upon its publication, Galileo was tried by the Inquisition, found "vehemently suspect of heresy", forced to recant, and spent the rest of his life under house arrest.
  19. 19. Galileo and Copernicus’s books were not removed from the Catholic Church’s index of banned books until 1835. In 1992, Pope John Paul II acknowledged that the Church had made a mistake in its opposition to the heliocentric model.
  20. 20. Johannes Kepler [1571-1630]
  21. 21. Influence of Newton’s achievements: Humans began more and more to feel that the world in which they lived was potentially knowable and explainable.
  22. 22. Joseph Wright, An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump, 1768
  23. 23. Art during the 17th and 18th centuries became less and less focused on religious themes, especially in Protestant lands. While mythological themes continued to be popular, portraits, landscapes, still lifes, and genre scenes (scenes from everyday life) became progressively more popular. This was especially true in Holland, a Calvinist country that became quite wealthy in the 17th century.
  24. 24. Peter Paul Rubens 1617
  25. 25. Italian paintings of the Renaissance and the Baroque are an expression of a textual culture in that they are meant to be “read”, i.e., the allegorical, historical, mythological or philosophic meaning must be read from the visual cues in the painting.
  26. 26. Dutch paintings arises within a truly “visual” culture; hence the values or meaning in the paintings are seen not read. Dutch art of the 17th and 18th centuries thus described the world as seen by its subjects … it was a visual culture that was inline with the new scientific breakthroughs happening in Holland and elsewhere …
  27. 27. This can also be readily seen in paintings that depict events from everyday life (genre scenes) were a favorite of Dutch public. One of the masters of this style was Jan Vermeer (though we only have 34 paintings by him).
  28. 28. Vermeer, Milkmaid 1660
  29. 29. Vermeer, Girl with the Pearl Earring 1665
  30. 30. The Love Letter Vermeer 1669
  31. 31. Girl Reading a Letter by an Open Window Vermeer 1669
  32. 32. The Little Street Vermeer 1658
  33. 33. Another popular style were still lifes, paintings dedicated to the representation of common household objects and foods.
  34. 34. “Chardin has taught us that a pear is as living as a woman, a kitchen crock as beautiful as a precious stone. The painter has proclaimed the divine equality of all things to the mind that reflects upon them, in the light that embellishes them. He has made us leave behind a false idealism in order to explore a more ample reality where, on all sides, we rediscover beauty” -- Marcel Proust
  35. 35. Portraits continued to be an important genre.
  36. 36. Philip IV [1631, 1644] Diego Velázquez
  37. 37. Las Meninas [1656] Diego Velázquez
  38. 38. Perhaps the greatest master of the portrait during the 17th century was the Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn.
  39. 39. Rembrandt’s used light to animate the figure, but unlike Vermeer or Caravaggio, where external light falls on the sitter, with Rembrandt the light appears to emanate from the people themselves.
  40. 40. Night Watch, 1642
  41. 41. Rembrandt was an inveterate painter of self portraits … he painted almost 100 over a 40 year time span.
  42. 42. 1629 (23 yrs old)
  43. 43. 1632 (26 yrs old)
  44. 44. 1635 (29 yrs old) A year after wedding
  45. 45. 1640 (34 yrs old) Rembrandt’s work was exceptional popular and at this point he had a very large income.
  46. 46. 1643 (37 yrs old) Rembrandt’s wife and three of their four children were dead by 1642.
  47. 47. 1655 (49 yrs old) Declared bankruptcy in 1656. Lived common law with his maid.
  48. 48. 1657 (51 yrs old)
  49. 49. 1659(53 yrs old) Forced to sell his house in 1660 and prohibited from selling his works
  50. 50. 1669(63 yrs old) His common-law wife and son died in 1668.
  51. 51. Elsewhere in Europe, the time period after the religious wars was a time period in which the power of the state grew as did the relative power and wealth of absolute monarchs such as France’s Louis XIV (1643- 1715) and England’’s Charles I (1600-1649).
  52. 52. Louis XIV
  53. 53. Charles I
  54. 54. Palace of Versailles, France
  55. 55. Hall of Mirrors Palace of Versailles
  56. 56. The elaborate visual art from the mid 17th century to the mid 18th century is sometimes referred to as rococo, which continues the elaborateness of baroque and emphasizes asymmetry and decorative detail.
  57. 57. Peter Paul Rubens, Arrival of Marie de’ Medici at Marseilles 1621
  58. 58. Andrea Pozzo, Triumph of St Ignatius 1691-4 Church of Saint Ignazio, Rome
  59. 59. Antoine Coypel, The Eternal Father Promising the Coming of the Messiah, 1709-11, Versailles
  60. 60. Another related feature of rococo art is the focus on the high life of the aristocracy (along with a love of sensuous pleasures).
  61. 61. François Boucher Madame de Pompadour (ca. 1758)
  62. 62. Thomas Gainsborough Mr. and Mrs. Robert Andrews 1748
  63. 63. This art style perfectly exemplifies the French high society’s taste at the time, summed up in the words of Emilie du Châtelet, mistress of the famous writer Voltaire: “We must begin by saying to ourselves that we have nothing else to do in the world but seek pleasant sensations and feelings.””
  64. 64. During an era where France was the epitome of flamboyance, and when everything was elaborate from furniture to hairstyles, these paintings captured the ideal embodiment of the Rococo spirit where the upper classes were preoccupied with their own amusement and luxuries while the common folk lived in misery.
  65. 65. “Après nous, le déluge” “After us, the deluge (the flood)” -- Madame de Pompadour (or Louis XV) For others and those who live after us, things will get terrible, but who cares, let’s party!
  66. 66. The music of this time period is usually (and perhaps somewhat confusingly) given the name baroque.
  67. 67. Recap: Medieval Music The principal form of Western art music in Monophonic (with parallel melody lines) the early medieval era was Gregorian chant, which was monophonic. Polyphonic music emerged in the later medieval era as chants were embellished with additional melody lines; in time, purely Polyphonic Texture y ; ,p y original polyphonic music was also composed.
  68. 68. 17th and 18th Century Music Like baroque and rococo painting and sculpture, the music of this era was theatrical and elaborate.
  69. 69. The Baroque era marks the rise of instrumental music to an equal footing with vocal music in the Western world. One of its key features was major-minor tonality, which denotes that a composition is both tonal (centred around a fundamental note) and based on major and minor scales (another innovation of the baroque era). Major-minor tonality dominated Western music throughout the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods (and continues to flourish in pop and rock music, film music, and musical theatre).
  70. 70. One can even view baroque orchestral (i.e., no singing) music as the first purely abstract art (i.e., no meaning) in western culture. Abstract visual art doesn’’t appear until the 1920s but happens in music in the 17th century!
  71. 71. The orchestra emerged in the Baroque era, serving initially as accompaniment for opera. As opera developed and expanded, so did the orchestra. Baroque composers also composed pieces for smaller ensembles (solo, trio, quintet, etc). These smaller pieces are sometimes referred to as chamber music.
  72. 72. Baroque Composers Monteverdi [1567-1643] Lully [1632-1687] Pachelbel [1653-1707] Corelli [1653-1713] Vivaldi [1678-1741] Scarlatti [1685-1757] Bach [1685-1750] Handel [1685-1759]
  73. 73. Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) was the musical director of St. Marks in Venice. He introduces a new musical art form, the opera. Monteverdi’s Orfeo (1607) is generally considered the first opera. Indeed opera is the oldest continuous musical art form.
  74. 74. Lully [1632-1687] was a French court composer for Louis XIV, and introduced conductor (an orchestral version of the absolute monarch) and uniform playing by all members of the orchestra. [Overture] [Overture] Overtures were the musical introduction to a ballet or opera. Lully’’s overtures are slow, stately, and grand. Lully combined music, drama, and dance in his operas. He limited vocal display and brought focus to the words. It also emphasized mood, costume, and stage effects.
  75. 75. The atmosphere at a 18th century opera was quite different than today. The audience would talk, move around and visit, and play cards. That is, the audiences treated the entertainment on the stage sort of like modern families treat television: part of routine life rather than masterpieces by geniuses. It was perhaps like that of a baseball or soccer game today: the audience might seem inattentive, but would be focused when something interesting happened.
  76. 76. Corelli [1653-1713] was an Italian composer who innovated in sonatas as well as concertos. Subsequent composers extended his approaches. A sonata was generally a three (or four) movement piece (fast-slow-fast) where one instrument is given the main melodic line. A concerto is also usually three movements, and one (or sometimes two) solo instrument(s) is accompanied by an orchestra. [Sonata] [Concerto]
  77. 77. [Pachelbel’s Canon] In music, a canon is a contrapuntal compositional technique that employs a melody with one or more imitations of the melody played after a given duration (e.g., quarter rest, one measure, etc.). The initial melody is called the leader (or dux), while the imitative melody, which is played in a different voice, is called the follower (or comes). [Scarlatti] Scarlatti was one of the most creative keyboard composers of the 18th century. His keyboard sonatas use binary form (there are two sections, each repeated, with the second section modulating more, but with sections returning to the original tonic key).
  78. 78. The main keyboard instrument of the baroque was the harpsichord. It produces sound by plucking a string when a key is pressed. By the later 18th century, the harpsichord was by and large replaced by the piano.
  79. 79. Johann Sebastian Bach [1685-1750] was a German composer who worked in almost all styles of music. His music is characterized by an unprecedented richness and complexity. He worked initially as a church organist, and later as a court concert master. Bach’s choral works would have been performed as part of a church service
  80. 80. Opera of the baroque era was divided into two types: opera seria (serious opera) and opera buffo (comic opera). Opera seria almost always used plots from classical antiquity, and consisted of recitatives (talking or musically accompanied talking) that move the plot forward, and arias (singing), which repeated a single thought or emotion and allowed the singer to show off his or her vocal talents. They also made use of castrato (castrated me n) voices. Opera seria was oriented more towards the aristocracy, and involved heroes or kings performing good deeds.
  81. 81. Handel [1685-1759] was a German composer who is best known for his English oratorios and his Italian operas.
  82. 82. Opera buffa was an Italian style that was more satirical, typically involved some type of love plot, and was more oriented to the general public.
  83. 83. The new music of the 18th century served a variety of social roles.
  84. 84. Well-off aristocrats could hire musicians to play concerts. Most composers at this time were paid salaries or worked on commissions paid for by rich aristocrats.
  85. 85. Amongst the middle and upper classes, amateurs often played with and for family and friends. By the early 19th century, the majority of a composer’s income came from the sales of sheet music.
  86. 86. In Italy, opera was analogous to Shakespearean theatre (in London) in that it was enjoyed by all ranks of society. In the rest of Europe, opera was generally a middle- and upper-class only entertainment.
  87. 87. Between 1750 and 1830, Vienna was the center of musical innovation in Europe.
  88. 88. Haydn [1732-1809] Mozart [1756-1791] Beethoven[1770-1827] Schubert[1797-1828] The best best-known composers from this period are Joseph Haydn Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Franz Schubert. Other notable names include Luigi Boccherini, Muzio Clementi, Antonio Soler, Antonio Salieri, , François Joseph Gossec, Johann Stamitz, Carl Friedrich Abel, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, and Christoph Willibald Gluck, Johann Nepomuk Hummel, Mauro Giuliani, Friedrich Kuhlau, Fernando Sor, Luigi Cherubini, Jan Ladislav Dussek, and Carl Maria von Weber.
  89. 89. Unlike Athens and Florence in their golden ages, Vienna of the 18th century had a political culture which was dominated by its conservative aristocracy.
  90. 90. Vienna was the capital city of the Austrian Empire, and in Mozart’s day, a new emperor Joseph II was the new ruler. Joseph II saw himself as an Enlightened ruler. He abolished serfdom, the death penalty, and judicial torture. He also introduced compulsory elementary education for all children (male and female). He also introduced official religious toleration and cut back on the power of the Catholic Church. He was an enthusiastic patron of the arts, especially music.
  91. 91. A key cultural institution in Vienna was the coffeehouse. It provided a venue for both leisure and intellectual exchange. They functioned as the public spaces that allowed citizens to debate and criticize (perhaps in a similar way that the agora or piazza did for Athens and Florence).
  92. 92. The style of music created by Haydn and Mozart is usually called classical and is related to newer aesthetic tastes that were rejecting the elaborateness of baroque and rococo. The aesthetic of classicism is defined by simplicity, clarity, and balance.
  93. 93. In music, these characteristics are particularly evident in phrasing: whereas Baroque phrases tend to be relatively long and intricate, Classical phrases are short simple, and dominated by tuneful melodies. https://www v=HlXDJhLeShg [Bach Baroque] v=meop0rG3tLc [Mozart Classical]
  94. 94. Mozart is widely considered one of the greatest (if not the greatest) composers in the Western tradition. He was a remarkable prodigy: an accomplished harpsichord player at 5, composing at 6, harmonizing on the fly at 7, he composed his first symphony at 8 and his first opera at 12. He also was incredibly prolific. Though he only lived for 35 years, he composed over 600 works. Before he was even 18, he had composed 34 symphonies, 16 quartets, five operas, and over 100 other works.
  95. 95. Later in his life, Mozart refused to work for rich aristocratic patrons (he complained that he was treated no better than the gardeners and cleaners), and as a consequence his last ten years were blighted by a real shortage of money.
  96. 96. During his life, Mozart’s music was considered too unusual, too intellectually demanding, and emotionally too enigmatic and problematic.
  97. 97. Four of his last operas (Le Nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, Cosi fan tutte, and The Magic Flute) in particular were very avant garde and challenging not only the musical tastes of the day, but also challenged attitudes about class, gender, power, religion, and art.
  98. 98. Indeed, these operas are considered by many to be the greatest operas ever composed and still have relevant things to say to a modern audience. Before Mozart, operas were mainly about pretty singing and ridiculous soap opera like plots. After Mozart this remained mainly true until the 20th century. Mozart’s great operas however are profound reflections on conflicting societal beliefs and behaviors.
  99. 99. They probe the social consequences of values associated with the old regime as well as the values of the modern world as envisaged by the new philosophy of the Enlightenment. They still are remarkably contemporary because of how the social conflicts between old ways of life and the newly emerging world of bourgeois capitalism are examined through the lens of gender relations.
  100. 100. Unlike any prior operas (and to be honest, almost none after either), Mozart’s four great operas combine comedy with serious commentary. As well, in these operas Mozart projects complex characterization not just through words but more through the music itself.
  101. 101. Baroque operas prior to Mozart mainly consisted of long arias connected by spoken recitatives with the occasional duets and very brief ensembles. It was technically difficult to blend voices singing different words, and for that reason, prior to Mozart, duets and ensembles tended to be short and/or had the singers singing the same words together. Recitatives were thus used to move the plot forward.
  102. 102. By contrast, Mozart’s late operas contain many duets, trios, quartets, quintets, sextets, septets, octets, and even larger ensembles. These voices are often singing different words at the same time. Indeed, they are often expressing simultaneously diametrically opposed emotions, an innovation of Mozart’s. “Only opera can exploit the paradox that we all have different responses to the same situation, even when we are saying the same words. And for us – the audience – it is a moment of complete chaos made clear. The music gives it form and meaning.” Peter Hall, Exposed by the Mask
  103. 103. Baroque operas emphasized vocal pyrotechnics in long arias, and made frequent use of the “unnatural” castrati voice. Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro used no castrati (though the role of a young male teenager is played by a female). Indeed the opera contains little if any individually spectacular singing. Instead, it blends together “normal” voices to create something spectacular.
  104. 104. Furthermore, the story itself was socially very radical and subversive, involving the triumph of a male and female servant (Figaro and Suzanna) over a powerful philandering (but jealous) aristocratic Count. In this they are helped by the Count’s long-suffering wife. Because you are a great Man, you fancy yourself a great Genius.—““Which way?—How came you to be the rich and mighty Count Almaviva? Why truly, you gave yourself the Trouble to be born! While the obscurity in which I have been cast demanded more Abilities to gain a mere Subsistence than are requisite to govern Empires. … your Justice is the inveterate Persecution of those who have the Will and the Wit to resist your Depredations.” But this has ever been the Practice of the little Great; those they cannot degrade, they endeavour to crush.
  105. 105. The plot is a bit complicated. The Count is trying to buy Susanna (his wife’s maid) sexual favors, and to do so, he is trying to postpone the wedding of Susanna and Figaro (his valet). To this end, the Count enlists the help of some shady characters who are trying to force Figaro to either marry an elderly lady (Marcellina) or go to jail instead. However, Susanna and Figaro are too clever, and not only are they able to marry, thanks to an elaborate deception using disguises and role changes, they expose the Count’’s philandering nature, and broker a (no doubt temporary) reconnection between the Count and the Countess.
  106. 106. A decade later, Napoleon said of the work, “it is the Revolution already put into action”. The 1990s movie Shawshank Redemption used an aria from this opera as the vocal encapsulation of a hope for a better life.
  107. 107. 97uBU {English v ez7aU_version] p Perhaps its g greatest achievement is the finale of Act , 2, which contains 20 minutes of continuous music (i.e., no recitatives), with the plot moved forward strictly through singing. This finale “starts as a duet, just a man and wife quarreling. Suddenly the wife's scheming little maid comes in unexpectedly - a very funny situation. Duet turns into trio. Then the husband's equally scheming valet comes in. Trio turns into quartet. Then a stupid old gardener - quartet becomes quintet, and so on. On and on, sextet, septet, octet!” [from the play Amadeus, Peter Shaffer]
  108. 108. “I tell you I want to write a finale lasting half an hour! A quartet becoming a quintet becoming a sextet becoming a septet. On and on, wider and wider - all sounds multiplying and rising together - and then together making a sound entirely new . . . I bet you that's how God hears the world! Millions of sounds ascending at once and mixing in His ear to become an unending music, unimaginable to us!” Peter Shaffer, Amadeus
  109. 109. Mozart’s Don Giovanni is a disturbing examination of the relationship between beauty, power, and money on sex. The plot revolves around a good-looking male aristocrat who tries to sleep with as many women as possible, using either seductive language, his social prestige, or pure violence to achieve his goals. The Don is a nihilistic libertine. He takes pleasure subverting all values that might sustain a social order. He exploits his manservant, kills an authority figure, disrupts marital and romantic relationships through seduction and attempted rape. The opera opens with a rape and a murder, and ends with Giovanni choosing to go to Hades (not hell) rather than recant his ways.
  110. 110. Mozart’s Cosi fan tutti (All women are like that) was disparaged for its seemingly cynical attitude towards emotions and love, and to this day some people also find it disturbing, even misogynist or misanthropic. The plot involves two soldiers who are in love with two sisters. They agree to a wager by an older philosophic man, who bets them that via disguises they will be able to seduce the other’s partner in less than a day, which, through the help of the sisters’ cynical maid, ends up being the case. All four lovers apparently emerge at the end wiser about the nature of human emotions.
  111. 111. Yet, Mozart’s music turns the plot into a searching examination of the power of beauty, and how it can both create and undermine happiness and contentment. The exceptionally beautiful Act 2 duet between Fiordiligie and Ferrando is a case in point. Mozart presents an intensely human dramatic situation, in which depth of character is pitted against a strong emotional force, namely love. And what appears to be the triumph of love is but the culminating stage of an extended deception. It is as if Mozart is telling us that beauty is not truth, but is often a lie.
  112. 112. Ultimately, the opera ends ambiguously. Perhaps the original couples are back together and more wiser about themselves and the power of emotions. Alternately, throughout the music of seductions, it has become clearer that the original couples were mismatched and the new arrangements are actually better. But here, like often in real life, the couples can’t break away from their past and are fated to much future unhappiness. The way that Mozart ends the opera with music and singing that is simultaneously savagely unhappy and joyous does I think indicate that there is no single answer: life is complicated and ultimately, once you mature, always simultaneously bitter and sweet. Mozart was (and is) unrivalled in his ability to present concurrently several complex emotional states.
  113. 113. His last opera was The Magic Flute (Zauberflote), and was only completed months before his death at 35 in 1791. This opera has a symbolism-heavy fairy tale plot and is filled with truly wonderful and melodic music. In it, Prince Tamino, in order to win/free Pamina, must first learn about, and then master, the nature of the The image cannot be displayed. Your computer may not have enough memory to open the image, or the image may have been cor upted. Restart your computer, and then open the file again. If the red x still appears, you may have to delete the image and then insert it again. world from a shadowy Masonic-type group that is devoted to truth and reason. He is helped in his quest by the bird man Papageno. He has to pass various ordeals given to him by Sarastro, the head of this group, while the Queen of the Night tries to stop him.
  114. 114. This opera has motivated a wide variety of interpretations. Some see it as an allegory portraying the advancement of humanity from superstitious religiosity to rational enlightenment; others as a critique of the Enlightened absolutist state. Some see it as sexist, while others see it as a strongly feminist work. The opera has also motivated Freudian, Jungian, Lacanian, and other psychological readings. A recent movie has transplanted the opera to the trenches of Word War 1, and transforms Sarastro’s group into proto-UN peace keepers.
  115. 115. This is one of the common features of all great art that we have looked at in this course: they are conducive to multiple interpretations, and that we can learn different things from them at different times in our lives.
  116. 116. There are plenty of times when it is nice to enjoy simple, uncomplicated pleasures. But one of the characteristics of maturity is that eventually you will want subtly and complexity rather than straight-forward and simple. The art and literature we have looked at in this course is also subtle and complex, rewarding frequent reappraisals and which you will (hopefully) appreciate more and more as you get older and more experienced in the ways of life and living.