Saturday, October 30, 2010

El Lissitzky

This week we talked about art as an agency for change both preceding and during modern revolutions. Do you think that art has a responsibility to be of use in the way that the Bolsheviks did? Can you think of any examples of contemporary works that seriously challenge either the sociopolitical status quo or the role of art in society?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Reading for next week: Song of Myself from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. Discussion questions and images will be up soon, and next week the presentations will be on the sublime, subjectivity, Orientalism and naturalism.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Abraham Lincoln, 1862

This week's New Yorker has a short review by Peter Schjeldahl of a show at the Guggenheim that focuses on early 20th century Classicism, politics and beauty in art. You can download it here.

Last Thursday we talked about some of the ways power has influenced art and architecture in relation to ideals of beauty. Defining beauty and its role in art was complicated. Ideals of beauty seem to be dynamic, shifting through time. Can you think of any specific formal or material properties that you relate to either beauty or power (or both)? 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Vito Acconci, Following Piece, 1969

Sophie Calle, The Shadow, 1981: "In April 1981, at my request, my mother went to a detetctive agency. She hired them to follow me, to report my daily activities, and to provide photographic evidence of my existence."

Jeff Wall, The Destroyed Room, 1978

Henry Darger, from The Story of the Vivian Girls 

Roni Horn, Dead Owl, 1998

Giuseppe Penone working on an Atlas Cedar, 1999

Shana Lutker, Dream Book, 2003-2004

Las Meninas, by Michel Foucault (Required reading)

Also, a
profile of Baldessari by Calvin Tompkins was published in the New Yorker last week in anticipation of the opening of Pure Beauty at the Met October 20.

Last week we talked about the role of narrative in art history and about various narrative strategies. The images above include works that are based around blurring the boundaries between fiction and reality in storytelling. Many of the two-dimensional works include more than one panel or page, in order to directly address the perception of a linear passage of time, something that is often fundamental in narratives. Some are more performative and are experienced by the viewer either as an image with text, as a text alone, or as a sculpture. 

Do you think that it's possible to tell a story using a single image or object?

Also, can you think of any examples of current non-filmic work that employs narrative?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Caravaggio, St. Jerome Writing, c 1600

Diego Velasquez, Old Woman Frying Eggs, 1618

Diego Velasquez, The Waterseller at Seville, 1623

This week we saw high-contrast chiaroscuro in Jarman's "Caravaggio," and talked about the cinematic drama of baroque painting and how it functioned for a struggling Catholic church. The paintings and sculptures at the end of the renaissance and into the baroque began to favor dynamism over classical symmetry and depictions of flesh over divine iconography. 

Why do you think that in the baroque paintings we've looked at (and those above) perspective has become such a secondary strategy?

Also, we talked about the anachronistic props in the film at the end of class. Can you think of other examples of films or artworks that incorporate techniques, styles, or subjects from various time periods--and to what effect?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Caravaggio, The Taking of Christ, 1602

Caravaggio's bones? / June 2010

Getting ready for the Baroque, a look at Caravaggio. The reading for this week: Paul Schrader, Notes on Film Noir (from Silver and Ursini's Film Noir Reader).

Friday, October 1, 2010

Fra Angelico, Annunciation, 1438-45

Sandro Botticelli, Primavera, c. 1482

James Turrell's Live Oaks Friends Meeting House, 2000

This week we discussed the transition from the Gothic to the Early Italian Renaissance period in both architecture and painting. A renewed interest in Classical antiquity and the development of linear perspective related to highly developed ideals of geometric symmetry. The interest that wealthy patrons like the Medici's took in art was also a critical factor in the dedication of resources to artistic practice and production.

The illusion of light and space became important strategies for artists working in the period, although traditional symbolism remained in play, and this illusion has continued to resonate through architecture, theater, dance, and art for centuries. This week there are two discussion questions. 

Did perspective allow artists to depict spatial reality more accurately? 

In this period, the role of the artist was elevated. Remember that icons were considered to be of divine origin, not created by human work. Do you think that the model of church and lay patronage was freeing or limiting for artists? How does it relate to art practices today?