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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptySun 25 Aug 2019, 13:52

I knew nothing about those technical details, nordmann - absolutely fascinating stuff - thank you for bothering to give us such an interesting explanation. I always did say you reminded me of Johann from Museum Hours. He worked at the Kunsthistorisches Art Museum, didn't he?

I mentioned the film, Museum Hours, in my deleted post yesterday evening, but I shall repeat here that I do recommend it. One reviewer commented that it was "a lovely ode to art and friendship." Amen to that.

PS I can't remember if the Jane Seymour portrait was briefly shown in the film. I shall have to watch my DVD again this week and see if I can spot it.

PPS The eyes have it in the portraits of Cromwell and More. I put this to the historian Derek Wilson a few weeks ago - he has written a biography of Holbein - but Wilson said I was wrong. I don't think I am.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptySun 25 Aug 2019, 14:19

Re your PPS - Cromwell didn't necessarily agree with you and we know he scrutinised the portrait for just such things (he knew Holbein personally and was well aware of the man's abilities), so maybe in fact those eyes not only "have it" but are, photographically speaking, spot on. Allegedly his comment to the artist on first seeing Holbein's now famous portrait of him was "you have given me the thick features of a vicious brute" (a subtle exaggeration of the jowls and jawline). Even more tellingly, he apparently liked this. He went ahead and bought it in any case.

More importantly, now that Cromwell saw at first hand just how masterful Holbein was in altering a likeness's character so fundamentally with only the subtlest of alterations, his brief to the artist when dispatched to "do" Anne of Cleeves and achieve a likeness pleasing to Henry while retaining photographic faithfulness to the subject's appearance led to this particular ability of Holbein ultimately changing the course of English history itself (as well as changing Holbein's commercial viability negatively by the same score).

To the credit of Holbein as an artist however, he didn't give up this habit of sneaking in rather telling slight deformations to slip in what he really thought about his subjects, even after this considerable setback to his reputation and commercial fortune. Completely contemporary to the Cromwell/Cleeves portraits era there is a fascinating "before and after" comparison we can make regarding Richard Southwell, the original cartoon having been executed while Southwell was, in the eyes of many, a murderer and treacherously immoral man of the highest order - his perjury played a large role in More's execution, just a short while after he had quite literally got away with murder thanks to a huge bribe paid to the king. He who most shared this opinion was probably the king himself, who had no doubt welcomed Southwell's perjury and recognised it for the payment in kind that it was, as well as having been the recipient of the actual substantial bribe anyway.

By the time of the eventual painting however Southwell's standing had been restored (after all, that had been the deal with the king), and a lot of other events had transpired during the time the commission had obviously been suspended while the courtier's financial fortunes were in complete turmoil, including the king having married twice and the clamp-down on Catholicism begun in earnest. In the cartoon Southwell wouldn't look amiss on a Victorian stage as the ultimate melodramatic villain. By the time of the painting however all these caricature deformities had been "cleaned up" and the lad struck a suitably authoritarian and patriarchal pose in a portrait intended to be seen by all visitors to his primary residence and which projected the man's hastily acquired aura of good protestant rectitude as now recommended by the state.

Except the mouth (again the mouth). Would you buy a used car from this person? ...

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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptySun 25 Aug 2019, 16:00

Southwell is one of the little-known total bastards of the Tudor age: as well as being a murderer (he and his brothers actually stabbed their victim, William Pennington, in the sanctuary of Westminster Abbey), he was a faithful servant of Thomas Cromwell and did a lot of Mantel's hero's dirty work for him. He compiled reports (full of salacious detail) on the state of the monasteries and played a ruthless part in their dissolution. Cromwell must have been a bad judge of character because he had earlier appointed Southwell as tutor to his son, Gregory - or perhaps that actually tells us more about what values Cromwell considered important in a teacher. Southwell amassed a huge fortune over his years of service to the Crown, and, like all the best bastards of that era, died peacefully in his bed, having survived until the early years of Elizabeth's reign. She had him sussed out, of course, and refused to have him on her Privy Council. She pensioned him off with £165 a year - a pittance for him, as he left thirty manors in Norfolk and 10,000 sheep in his will. Not sure who got all the sheep.

Brilliant, brilliant Holbein - that mouth is indeed revealing. But so are the eyes - full of arrogance and contempt. I hate him.

PS Besides fining Southwell £1000 for the murder in the Abbey (Charles Brandon, by the way, whose man Pennington was, very nearly caused a bloodbath in the Abbey - he and his men immediately went after the Southwell brothers, but were stopped by a warning from the King), Henry got a couple of manors in Essex. What a bunch of godless thugs, the lot of them.

But I would have no fears about buying a used car from Thomas More - Holbein's friend - but that is another story. Wouldn't buy even a second-hand sheep from Southwell - it would no doubt have foot rot - in all four feet.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptySun 25 Aug 2019, 16:27

And all that more or less deducible from an almost hidden left-sided sneer which, once noticed, completely alters the demeanour and character of the subject and thoroughly exposes the evil of the man. Also, as Holbein would well have known, what this would have said about the vanity of the same man who failed to notice it and instead hung it proudly up in his manor for all guests to see, in itself added a layer of exposition about the man's true character that could not have been lost on many of those guests.

Genius indeed. And if that isn't art (in absolutely every sense of the word) then I really don't know what on earth is.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyThu 19 Sep 2019, 16:49

I have mentioned this artist before - Christopher Spencer (Cold War Steve). He has been called the Brexit Brueghel, but in this Guardian article he is compared to William Hogarth or James Gillray. 


Art As Satire


He draws inspiration from the medieval Dutch artists Bosch and Pieter Brueghel. In the foreword to his book, the author Jon Savage also references two historical satirists. “In his sharp moral sense and his ability to create his own complex, detailed worlds, Spencer is the contemporary equivalent of [William] Hogarth or [James] Gillray, both unsparing satirists and social chroniclers,” he wrote.

“Future social historians will find much beneath the Brexit headlines if they study these works: they will find an anatomy of contemporary England – or, to be specific, one particular part of its anatomy, the arse-end – that might help explain the delusion that has descended on the land.”


Last edited by Temperance on Thu 19 Sep 2019, 17:08; edited 1 time in total
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyThu 19 Sep 2019, 16:54

Spencer 's latest offering is brilliant - love the Family Circle tin of biscuits! 

The line from the old Alan Price song, Don't Stop the Carnival, came into my mind when I first saw this:

But this is England on a winter's afternoon...




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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyThu 19 Sep 2019, 20:17

And with Hieronymous Bosch's 'Temptation of Saint Anthony' blazing away in the background - although given the current events in the Supreme Court, perhaps it might have been better to have included the similar infernal fires that Bosch depicted in his painting of 'The Last Judgement'.
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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyMon 23 Sep 2019, 10:27

I find art gallery visits overwhelming for more than an hour at a time. Last week the National Portrait Gallery was an absorbing such time. As it happens, that of Ben Jonson was one of those portraits revisited. Not one to be messed with is one impression and for a writer of comedy his serious intent is   therein revealed.
Another was the Van Eyck self portrait which held attention. An introspective work rather than a vanity it is striking in its depth and further enhanced by the surprisingly modern brushwork of the clothing. In most portraits attention to showing texture etc in dress is as carefully recorded - possibly to enhance an expression of wealth and quality. Next then will be a trail of self portraits - perhaps artists enjoy the opportunity for honesty; commissioned work must have a few draw backs in that respect. The sitter  ain't always impressed, either...….. then of course there are also just bad ones.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyMon 23 Sep 2019, 10:55

I couldn't agree more - about the unique value of self-portraiture, I mean. Rembrandt, for example, seems almost to have used the self-portrait as a "touching base" mechanism with which he reacquainted himself with his default brutally honest regard for his subjects whenever he felt that the latest commissions he'd undertaken had somehow moved him away from his core principles. When viewed in chronological sequence they are an absolutely fascinating document related to his development as an artist, but also to the remarkable consistency he maintained regarding "honesty" in his art throughout his entire life. And if one includes his other work in that sequence you can almost see his motivation in each case to "get back to basics" through this occasional unforgiving assessment of himself.

Even when artists might be accused of vanity (astonishingly I've read as much regarding Velasquez's "Las Meninas") they often used the fact that they were depicting themselves, and as such "owned" the subject, to also give themselves liberty to express themselves technically and aesthetically in ways not evident in their other works. This is often misinterpreted as self-indulgence on their part, but like Rembrandt, one can also appreciate that it was far more than vanity that was guiding or motivating their efforts.

The NPG is always a port of call for me when I'm in London. The core collection may not have changed over the years, but this viewer certainly has, and I long ago noticed that my appreciation of and relationship with the works on display are always inevitably different to how they were on my previous visits. So much life, intelligence, experience, wisdom, stupidity, and all the other human facets, are represented in that collection within the faces alone that it would be a dead fish of a person indeed who could leave after a visit there and not feel one has grown at least a little in knowledge about the so-called "human condition".
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptySat 12 Oct 2019, 09:25

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MM, I am worried about the badger in this offering from Cold War Steve. Why is he there and what is Johnson doing to him?
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptySat 12 Oct 2019, 09:31

But this is my current favourite: "The Duel After the Masquerade".



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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptySat 12 Oct 2019, 10:03

Yes the badger does not look happy - he's probably afraid of being culled - while the tapier in the second one just looks disapproving ... as they generally do with their rather snooty, look-down-the-nose, manner (although in their defence it probably comes simply from having a big nose: everything they regard they inevitably have to look-down-their-nose just to see it) .

The original of 'The Duel after the Masquerade' is almost as odd:

What is Art? - Page 16 The-Duel-After-the-Masquerade

... by Jean-Léon Gérôme and painted for the Duc d'Aumale in 1857, it depicts the outcome of a duel after a costume ball.

From wiki: "It is dawn on a wintry day in the Bois de Boulogne, Paris, and Pierrot succumbs in the arms of the Duc de Guise. A Venetian doge examines Pierrot's wound while Domino clasps his head in despair. To the right, the victorious American Indian departs, accompanied by Harlequin."

I wonder, given that it was a commissioned work that took about two years to finish ... does it just depict a phantastical, imagined, or allegorical scene ... or does it actually depict, or at least allude to, some real historic event?
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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyMon 14 Oct 2019, 09:01

The purpose of art gives rise to thought - and there again what to do with works of art, another. Apart from commissions to fill a gap or enhance, what, for instance and where to display, is MM's duel picture all about? Is such creation intended for a gallery wall? - not one for my front room, anyway. Making a living from it makes it subjective to others' and current taste, perhaps; and let's not forget fitting in with colour schemes...… shudder. It is my own experience that once a work is finished it is easy to part with - but nor the working drawings etc. Those ae kept. Leonardo carted round his 'Mona Lisa'  for years - possibly to tweak every so often; examination has shown that he did so. perhaps it was for other reasons. Producing creative work solely for display in a gallery  is to my mind a rather sterile ambition - but I need to think further on this.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyMon 14 Oct 2019, 10:38

Gérôme was painting not only a real event, but one that was still a juicy scandal being widely reported in French newspapers even as he set it down on canvas.

The duel took place in the Bois de Boulogne Park in Paris during the winter of 1857, and the principles were indeed dressed as described, having picked an argument during a masque ball being held nearby and deciding to settle the matter immediately (the proximity of Paris's most infamous duelling park and some alcohol having probably played a large role in the decision). The cause of the argument was an insult levelled by a Mr Deluns-Montad against the fantastically named Symphorien Casimir Joseph Boittelle in which the latter was described (probably correctly) as a failure in every political office he had ever held and which he had procured through who he knew, not what. In the duel Boittelle was run through with Deluns-Montad's sword and presumed dead. His second however managed to get the "corpse" to a nearby doctor's house and they successfully stabilised him in time, Boittelle eventually making a full recovery.

The automatic "pathos" of the merrymaking costumes in which the participants played out their morbid scene excited public piquance, and two artists were sufficiently motivated to commit the scene to canvas. Thomas Couture's was probably the one attempting most to exploit the commercial potential of a painting encapsulating a bizarre and scandalous event with the then popularity of clowns as artistic subjects in France. He did it off his own bat and as a much purchased print it certainly ended up being a handy pension for the artist. Gérôme's version was commissioned by an English art dealer Gambart (who was probably thinking of print revenues himself), and the artist seems only to have belatedly realised he'd missed a trick when he saw Couture's work topping the artistic charts soon after he'd handed his own version over to Gambart. He therefore approached an acquaintance, the Duke of Aumale, to negotiate permission to purchase the painting from Gambart and broker a deal in which all three of them would share print revenues. Aumale went one better, buying everything outright from Gambart, and then even loaned the painting back to Gérôme so he could exhibit it at various prestigious art fairs. This promotion led to a very lucrative print order and the two men became close friends (and a lot richer). When Aumale died Gérôme, at considerable personal expense, created and gifted a fine equestrian statue of the Duke to his home city of Chantilly.

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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyMon 14 Oct 2019, 10:53

Really interesting, thank you. Which only goes to show about art - what though, I am unsure.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyMon 14 Oct 2019, 12:10

Well, it probably reflects a once very important role of "high" art, still a very real one in Gérôme's time, that has been all but lost in recent times - as a visual documentary and hopefully multi-layered interpretation of current events, be they wars (Goya, Delacroix etc), social conditions (Hogarth, Daumier etc), or simply stuff in the news that had captured the imagination at the time (Turner, JB Yeats, and a myriad others which includes Gérôme of course). The motives employed by artists were as diverse as the subject matter - Picasso for example obviously subscribed to the continued relevance of this role when he self-consciously attempted to emulate his co-patriot Goya and painted the recent atrocity of Guernica as a particularly attention-grabbing, topical and overt anti-war statement. Daumier, along with hundreds of other European and later American artists genuinely thought that their artwork depicting gruesomely realistic visualisations of poverty around them would contribute to a revulsion against the conditions producing such widespread misery in their respective societies (and in Hogarth's case there is even evidence his work had the desired effect), whereas others (including Gérôme) were more inclined to see reality itself and the newsworthy events it threw up as a conveniently topical backdrop against which they could more emphatically illustrate aesthetic statements concerning much more universal or metaphysical themes, whether it be the quality of pathos (as with the duel scene above) or in fact the pathos of "quality" (almost everyone in the Dada movement, but especially Grosz who often drew from events around him for inspiration).

Recent "high" art hasn't totally departed from this approach to topical themes, though these days you will only normally find the odd rare example hanging in prestigious art galleries when it's been executed with so much self-conscious self-irony and often half-apologetic but slightly faux self-deprecation on the part of the artist that it is obviously intended and certainly consumed primarily and correctly as form of parody, though whether the artists are parodying their alleged subjects or simply themselves, or even the art world in general, is anyone's guess. Those with closest adherence to the old traditional role of art as an aesthetic and intelligent adjunct to reportage are often to be found outside the rarefied atmosphere of private galleries and the like - containing among their ranks some of the world's more successful political cartoonists, some of the world's most socialistically idealistic creators of propaganda for their respective ideologies, and of course that most famous of collectives which art dealers (for purely pecuniary reasons, of course) would have us believe is one person, Banksy.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyTue 15 Oct 2019, 20:03

I’ll add my thanks to those of Priscilla. Your last 2 posts nordmann (just on this thread alone) remind me of why I come to Res Historica. I can’t think of another site where one could get such a quick, detailed and illuminating response to, say, the question posed by Meles regarding the story behind Gérôme’s Masquerade painting. Excellent stuff! Regarding the fate of history painting in 20th and 21st century high art, then you’re spot on as well. The facile answer would be to say that it was the Great War which dealt history painting a body blow as a genre. But that does indeed seem to be the case. An example of this would be a work entitled The Opening of the First Parliament of Australia (to give it its short name), an enormous painting which was painted by Tom Roberts in the early years of the last century. Since 1918, however, such works (and in such a style) are very rare indeed. It’s full name is The Opening of the First Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia by His Royal Highness The Duke of Cornwall and York (later His Majesty King George the Fifth), May 9, 1901 although it’s nickname is simply The Big Picture because of its epic dimensions – 10 foot tall by 16 feet wide:

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The artist Roberts photographed during his herculean task in which every discernable face in the crowd is that of an actual attendee at the event. After nearly 3 years in the composition the painting was finally unveiled in 1904:    

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That exhibition, however, did not take place (as one might have expected) in the then Australian federal capital (Melbourne, Victoria) but rather in the British imperial capital (Westminster, England) where it remained for the next half century. It finally returned to Australia in the late 1950s more than 50 years after the opening of the first Australian parliament and more than 30 years after that parliament had relocated to Canberra. It later became the subject of a celebrated cartoon by the late Bill Leak in 1997:
      
The big picture.... with apologies to Tom Roberts

As if to illustrate the point, images of the original painting are widely available online while the cartoon version is more controlled and only viewable online via the above link.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyWed 16 Oct 2019, 22:26

What is Art? - Page 16 1449_1555
Coincidentally we went to the Dunedin Art Gallery yesterday, and I think some of the exhibition would fit into what Nordmann was saying (I may have mistaken this, of course). Many of the artists were NZers, of course, whom most of you won't have heard of, but they had paintings by Nerli and Lowry which depicted scenes of life at the time. On that impressed me because it is so different from today and because my husband was born there was a seaside scene on Ramsgate sands by William Firth. It has people on the sand but is not a beach scene as you would expect today, men in suits standing with their shoes just touching the water, women dressed in dark long clothes, and only a couple of children with their shoes off and their feet in the water. Many people in this painting. (I have managed to include the painting here.)

My favourite form of art is portraiture, which doesn't really fit this topic. Here is what the Dunedin Art Gallery site had to say: 

Taking a journey through the Dunedin Public Art Gallery’s historical collection, Style & Substance looks to the genre systems that have occupied art history discourses for centuries. This system, established by the French Royal Academy in the seventeenth century, presented a hierarchy based on subject matter. Depictions of the human form were the most prestigious and valued, allowing history painting and portraiture to dominate throughout the Renaissance. In contrast, it was the lack of human subject matter in the landscape and still life genres that saw them placed at the bottom of the hierarchy. 
Divided into six themes – history painting, portraiture, genre painting, landscape, still life and animal painting – Style & Substance explores examples of artistic genres that can be found in the collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery.  It considers the narrative style of history painting as a means of telling stories of culture and religion over generations, while portraiture reflects the diverse individuals whose portraits are recorded within the Gallery’s collection. The selection of national and international landscapes celebrates home and abroad, looking at the ways in which artists have recorded and responded to the environment and natural world. The final two sections of the exhibition consider still life and animal painting, looking closely at these more focused artistic genres and the opportunities that are presented through the careful selection of subject matter. 
We only had time to see the first three sections, but I plan to go back for an hour or two and relook at the ones I did see and look at the others, though landscapes aren't really my favourite style. 
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyWed 16 Oct 2019, 23:29

You mention liking portraiture, Caro, and this cropped up a few  posts ago after a visit to the National Portrait gallery in London. This is my growing interest also - what draws you to it?
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyThu 17 Oct 2019, 09:58

@Caro wrote:
My favourite form of art is portraiture, which doesn't really fit this topic.

If you mean by "this topic" artists injecting topical reference into their works and using it to make a commentary on wider social issues, metaphysical contemplations, or even just as a form of "news reporting", then you might be forgiven for thinking that portraiture is exempt, and as a rule it is. Until, that is, you take a closer look at the backgrounds in some of them.

There is one fantastic example of this. Marie de'Medici's marvellously megalomaniac commission in the early 17th century for the artist Peter Paul Rubens to produce not one, not two or three, but twenty-four portraits of herself to be hung in her newly constructed Luxembourg Palace home, was probably the single most profitable commission any artist had ever received from any single patron at any time in the history of portaiture up to that point. Marie's life, even for a de'Medici, was turbulent to put it mildly, the girl having managed - through serendipity, machinations of others as well as her own, and what was probably by then an almost supernatural Machiavellian curse afflicting that family in which no good deed went unpunished and bad deeds often reaped huge reward - not only to find herself at the centre of huge political and religious conflict, sometimes the winner and sometimes the casualty, but even to personify these huge European events in microcosm.

For Rubens, this was a chance too good to miss. Marie might have expected to acquire twenty-four flattering aspects of her face and fine clothes from several angles and with backgrounds reflecting her station and wealth. In the end she got only three such representations from Peter Paul, the other twenty-one being a series of images of Marie, often as Juno, parading through her own life in allegory, with all the instances of her life (which included being prostituted as a child for political gain, complicity in at least three political coups, bankruptcy and ruin twice over, sex with three crowned heads of Europe and marriage to one, assassination of her husband the king the day after their marriage, exile, prolonged and bitter war with Richelieu and several Popes, and a final triumph over all these adversities that coincidentally was seen as symbolic of the end of a centuries long religious war) depicted, faithfully if a little obliquely in some cases, as separate themes to each of the paintings in which she took centre stage in portrait form.

Rubens, not content with this potential equivalent in oils of a most lurid Netflix biopic, knew also that each separate theme not only addressed a salient moment in Marie's life but also of France and Europe, and even the wider world in one of them (in which Marie's background shows grateful dark skinned Canadians bearing gifts in homage - as if ...).  Some events, such as sieges and battles, are depicted more or less realistically. Other more sensitive stuff - rapes, abductions, embarrassing exiles, and the like are depicted in allegory, but still - if deciphered - are a pretty good chronological representation of what passed for "high politics" in Europe in the late 16th and early 17th century.

Because of the Juno depictions the series is often referred to as Rubens' "Apotheosising of Marie de'Medici", but this is a terribly gross oversimplification of what the lad actually achieved, I reckon. Taken all together the portraits not only give one insight into the darker as well as the happier aspects to Marie's character and life (as a good portraitist should always deliver) but also render her life in several contexts from the politically mundane to the metaphysical near-mythical world in which such individuals could not avoid always having at least one foot, at least in the pubic imagination.

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Even better, the "Marie de'Medici Cycle" is still intact (one large chamber within the Louvre houses the all important twenty-one pieces) and - armed with a potted history of late Renaissance and early Baroque Europe, a lunch-pack with thermos, and any half-decent biography of the girl - one could easily spend a perfect day in her and Rubens' company there.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyFri 18 Oct 2019, 22:36

I have just finished a U3A course on Every Picture Tells a Story and should have remembered the portraits there being discussed. The Adolphini Marriage, for example, has all sorts of details which art historians have argued about for centuries. Our lecturer came down on the side of it being a memorial to the man's dead wife. 
And he talked one day about how Elizabeth I was always depicted in later years based on a painting of herself in younger years which did away with signs of aging and smallpox scars etc. And he also talked about the ephemera in paintings which had great meaning at the time, sometimes biblical and sometimes denoting social status or lack of it. Little dogs had meaning, as did anything gold or red. 

Priscilla, I just like portraits because I think I really prefer realism to other forms of art. Portraits, excluding very modern ones, generally show personalities or at least make you wonder about the personalities. I just loved the National Portrait Gallery when we were in London, but this Dunedin exhibition, while featuring lesser known artists, is well worth seeing. (You can look for it online, but paintings need to be seen in their real state to be truly appreciated.) 

We have a very famous NZpainter of the 19th centry, Charles Goldie, who painted Maori subjects and is often accused of romantising them and there was one of his there and it seemed quite realistic to me, so I am not sure what that means. The one beside it by Gottfried Lindauer I could see could be considered romantised but not the Goldie one. Lindauer was from Bohemia and came to NZ/Aotearoa in his mid 30s. (I do see now that while he was and still is very famous TEARA, the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, calls him a 'journeyman".  "The artistic or aesthetic value of Lindauer's paintings has also been exaggerated. While his output of oil paintings of Maori was, with that of C. F. Goldie, far larger than that of any other European artist, Lindauer was fundamentally a journeyman painter – a tradesman producing portraits on commission (mostly for European clients, but for some Maori) – rather than a fine artist. Nevertheless, his works remain, along with Goldie's, the best-known and most popular paintings of Maori in New Zealand, and among Maori are valued as memorials to ancestors and kin."



And it says how to cite this page: Leonard Bell. 'Lindauer, Gottfried', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, first published in 1993. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, https://teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/2l12/lindauer-gottfried (accessed 19 October 2019)
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyWed 30 Oct 2019, 09:40

@Caro wrote:
I just like portraits because I think I really prefer realism to other forms of art

I go along with this too - it's the one area of "fine art" that has most stubbornly clung in recent years to a requirement to reflect visual reality, presumably because most people who commission a portrait of themselves don't want to end up looking at something like bacon wrapped around pork suspended in brine (Churchill's own description of the infamous Graham Sutherland effort).

This of course means that much of modern portraiture is bound to be bland, derivative, and all the other things that are frowned upon by those who make a living out of defining "good" art. But what it also means is that when a good practitioner comes along, the contrast is so stark that it simply cannot go unnoticed and their work does what any artist working in any medium aspires most to achieve - a piece that strikes the viewer at a visceral level as much as at any intellectual level and manages to speak at all other levels in between if one is ready to listen. A trip to the NPG, where the collection features so many paintings selected primarily with this effect in mind, is therefore - to me at least - the equivalent of plugging one's brain simultaneously into an ethereal cornucopia of intellectual, historical, spiritual, psychological, and other assorted stimuli all at once. Always wise to make sure you've given yourself a good few hours to properly immerse yourself whenever you're in London - otherwise it's like having permission to use the world's most luxurious bath filled with the finest body-salving lotions, candle-lit ambiance and everything, and then deciding just to dip one's toe and scarper.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyThu 31 Oct 2019, 23:22

Caro and nordmann, I too prefer perhaps realism, but then realism with a message, which want to make an impression on the viewer. But in most abstract and even expressionist paintings that message, in my opinion, is lost, because the link between the artist and the viewer is lost, as he don't recognize any message and by that isn't perhaps not impressed?
As such I come too Symbolic Realism...
Rockwell Kent: The Trapper.
https://en.wahooart.com/@@/9FJMM3-Rockwell-Kent-The-Trapper
What is Art? - Page 16 Rockwell-Kent-The-Trapper
 
Or the Dutch Jan Mankes:
https://www.tuttartpitturasculturapoesiamusica.com/2015/10/Jan-Mankes.html



What is Art? - Page 16 Jan%2BMankes%2BTutt%2527Art%2540%2B%252899%2529

Or perhaps our James Ensor: The Drunkards

What is Art? - Page 16 The-drunkards-1883.jpg!Large

And are they the predecessors of the expressionists, where some (in my opinion few) had also a recognizable message to impress?

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyThu 31 Oct 2019, 23:28

OOPS and I forgot De Schreeuw (Skrik) from Edvard Munch
https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Schreeuw_(schilderij)

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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyFri 01 Nov 2019, 08:57

Paul wrote:
But in most abstract and even expressionist paintings that message, in my opinion, is lost, because the link between the artist and the viewer is lost, as he don't recognize any message and by that isn't perhaps not impressed

Not sure how you are quantifying "most", but I would take issue with this statement as an accurate generalisation anyway.

Whatever style may be ascribed to a painting, that which all displayed artworks share is - as you imply - a communication between the artist and the viewer, or at least an attempt at such communication. However the nature of that communication varies wildly, even within all instances where it can be deemed to have been successful.

More abstract work can indeed baffle the viewer, and might even profoundly frustrate some viewers, especially if they have entered a gallery in the naive expectation of an eye-candy treat to the exclusion of all else, in which case you will often witness such visitors being visibly frustrated to the point of anger when they find themselves confronted with hardly accessible "messages" in the work they are viewing. However the artist is under no obligation to always produce art which satisfies such naive and limited expectations, and in fact the art works which very often retain popularity and a consistent assessment of being above average exemplars of the skill are those which, at some level, retain some element of provocation, experienced either as a negative or positive by the viewer. One's intellect can be provoked, one's sense of the aesthetic, or simply one's peace of mind - but works that consistently provoke or excite in such a manner will tend to become memorable, and often very popular indeed.

It might seem like a cheap trick when one is confronted with something that simply but obviously provokes and hardly attempts to communicate with you at any other level. However, whether one likes it or not, if this has also been the artist's intent then these experiences too constitute a successful communication of sorts. It might never have been much of a "message" to convey, and may have been so trite a conveyance anyway as to decrease rather than enhance a piece's memorability, but if such was the hope of the artist regarding conveyance then you have participated in a successful exchange.

My own principal criteria for assessing if I have been badly used by an artist rest solely on what else, besides simply looking at the piece, I had been expected to do in order to undergo the experience. For example, if I find I'm looking at one failed or trite communication after another at a "modern art" exhibition (much more likely in my case than at an exhibition of classical art), and I had also been charged an exorbitant entrance fee for this dubious privilege, then I think based on past experience that I would be more inclined to allow my own frustration grow to actual anger. I also object to being told I have to absorb extra "background" information before I can even begin (or pretend) to "appreciate" a work, or that I must have already bought into a myth that the artist is "good" predominantly because some art dealers and collectors have placed a high monetary value on their work. However these personal considerations aside, I will otherwise appreciate even the most banal or only partially successful attempts at dialogue between the artist and myself through their work for what it is, and will be very much less inclined to glibly or immediately classify it on a sliding scale from "good" to "dire". Like people, works of art are best approached with a "take them as you find them" attitude and with as few preconceived biases as possible. Then, as with people also, there is a far better chance that the odd one will in fact communicate honestly and profoundly with you and therefore fully deserve any personal assessment of being "meaningful", "relatable" and "good".
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyFri 01 Nov 2019, 23:03

nordmann, thank you very much for explaning what you understand by it, when you say:
"a communication between the artist and the viewer, or at least an attempt at such communication. However the nature of that communication varies wildly, even within all instances where it can be deemed to have been successful."
PS: I had to seek for "eye-candy treat", but understand it fully now.

And I fully appreciate your approach:
"However these personal considerations aside, I will otherwise appreciate even the most banal or only partially successful attempts at dialogue between the artist and myself through their work for what it is, and will be very much less inclined to glibly or immediately classify it on a sliding scale from "good" to "dire". Like people, works of art are best approached with a "take them as you find them" attitude and with as few preconceived biases as possible. Then, as with people also, there is a far better chance that the odd one will in fact communicate honestly and profoundly with you and therefore fully deserve any personal assessment of being "meaningful", "relatable" and "good"."

Indeed it will be always an attempt, I think, for a dialogue between the artist and the individual "spectator?" (observer?), while in my opinion the piece of art can make on each individual an apart special impression.

When I studied at school Émile Verhaeren...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89mile_Verhaeren 
And here I see for the first time in my life, the history of that artist...
I was deeply catched by his poems, as for instance

Le moulin (the windmill)
Le moulin tourne au fond du soir du soir, très lentement,
Il tourne et tourne, et sa voile, couleur de lie,
Est triste et faible et lourde et lasse, infiniment.
The google translation is not bad:
(The mill turns in the evening evening, very slowly,
He turns and turns, and his sail, the color of lie,
Is sad and weak and heavy and tired, infinitely.)

It made in the time and still makes a deep impression on me, especially the sentence: "Est triste et faible et lourde et lasse, infiniment."
Both for the word choice and the ease in which the words follow on each other as the atmosphere that the group of words pull up.
The same with the poem: Le passeur d'eau. (the ferryman)
https://poesie.webnet.fr/lesgrandsclassiques/Poemes/%C3%A9mile_verhaeren/le_passeur_deau
Try once google translate (it is not bad either)

I tried once in that artistic period of me, to make a water colour paint of "my"! impression of that strophe of "Le Moulin"
Autour d'un vieil étang, quelques huttes de hêtre
Très misérablement sont assises en rond ;
Une lampe de cuivre éclaire leur plafond
Et glisse une lueur aux coins de leur fenêtre.
(Around an old pond, some huts of beech
Very miserably sit in circles;
A copper lamp illuminates their ceiling
And glide a glimmer at the corners of their window.)

And when a real artist and family (the cousin of my father on his mother's side) (known for his paintings) saw my artistic utterings when he visited our house, he said that it was a good first attempt and he praised me for my not very "natural" colours. Nevertheless I was not content about the painting, while I felt I had to follow a paint academy for praxis (and that didn't frame in my plans for the future) and after a second attempt to picture a strophe from the "Passeur d'eau" my artistic career was finished  silent ...
And even if I had success on my own, your paintings have to be after all be viewed by other people and have to make an impression on them to have some success? Perhaps under the patronage of the cousin of my father... Wink

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptySun 03 Nov 2019, 09:55

Paul wrote:
...paintings have to be after all be viewed by other people and have to make an impression on them to have some success?

If you mean by "success" a communication between the artist and the audience/viewer then yes. But that is probably too restrictive an interpretation of the mechanics of the exchange when addressing the more fundamental question "what is art?".

For example, if you paint a picture purely for your own satisfaction and then lock it away in a cupboard with the intent that no one should ever see it, is it then art at all and if so by what definition, let alone art defined by successful communication between artist and viewer? Logic would dismiss the latter automatically in this case, and the more fundamental question of "what is art?" remains unanswered. Your painting is "art" by one definition, though also lacking elements that by other definitions allow "art" to be deemed "successful" or not, the lack of which in turn reduces the "art" definition to something akin to an unfounded claim.

However imagine then that years after your death the cupboard is opened and the painting found, and what's more the discoverers are profoundly impressed by your work. Now suddenly, despite whatever intent you as the artist might have started out with, the work suddenly fits all the usual criteria for defining "successful" art, and so by the same token "art" itself.

Which begs the real question behind the simple "what is art?" inquiry. Does "art" in fact transcend intent? Is there indeed any requirement at all for an introduction of the concept of "control" in the mechanism of producing "art"?

The old adage "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" can probably be expanded to include all aesthetic assessment by the viewer, and might probably then be the only dependable criteria by which "art" can be said to be "art" at all. In other words the responsibility for deciding what is visual "art" and what is not rests ultimately with the viewer and not the artist at all.

This somewhat reverses or at least fundamentally challenges traditional concepts behind the production of art and the role of the artist in that process. If followed to its logical conclusion it would certainly decimate the "fine art industry" as it presently exists. But it is still, in my view, the only dependable method of understanding the artistic process at all - as your example from personal history demonstrates: a poem produced by these criteria made an impression on you, to the extent that you then engaged in a similar process and produced something artistic that could then be assessed by a third party. Your engagement stopped there in this instance, but if your relative had been so impressed as to acquire the work and display it, or even be inspired by it to engage in the production process himself, then the resultant chain would have demonstrated perfectly how much what appears to be a string of controlled and deliberate decision and execution is in reality very much an unpredictable random sequence also in which any amount of artistic expression and impression could result.

And this, to me, is about as much as one can honestly say about "art", what it means and how it has arisen as a "thing" at all.

Ars gratia artis, as MGM regularly reminded us (even as they challenged any definition of art at all with almost all of their output).
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptySun 03 Nov 2019, 20:25

@nordmann wrote:
Paul wrote:
...paintings have to be after all be viewed by other people and have to make an impression on them to have some success?

If you mean by "success" a communication between the artist and the audience/viewer then yes. But that is probably too restrictive an interpretation of the mechanics of the exchange when addressing the more fundamental question "what is art?".

For example, if you paint a picture purely for your own satisfaction and then lock it away in a cupboard with the intent that no one should ever see it, is it then art at all and if so by what definition, let alone art defined by successful communication between artist and viewer? Logic would dismiss the latter automatically in this case, and the more fundamental question of "what is art?" remains unanswered. Your painting is "art" by one definition, though also lacking elements that by other definitions allow "art" to be deemed "successful" or not, the lack of which in turn reduces the "art" definition to something akin to an unfounded claim.

However imagine then that years after your death the cupboard is opened and the painting found, and what's more the discoverers are profoundly impressed by your work. Now suddenly, despite whatever intent you as the artist might have started out with, the work suddenly fits all the usual criteria for defining "successful" art, and so by the same token "art" itself.

Which begs the real question behind the simple "what is art?" inquiry. Does "art" in fact transcend intent? Is there indeed any requirement at all for an introduction of the concept of "control" in the mechanism of producing "art"?

The old adage "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" can probably be expanded to include all aesthetic assessment by the viewer, and might probably then be the only dependable criteria by which "art" can be said to be "art" at all. In other words the responsibility for deciding what is visual "art" and what is not rests ultimately with the viewer and not the artist at all.

This somewhat reverses or at least fundamentally challenges traditional concepts behind the production of art and the role of the artist in that process. If followed to its logical conclusion it would certainly decimate the "fine art industry" as it presently exists. But it is still, in my view, the only dependable method of understanding the artistic process at all - as your example from personal history demonstrates: a poem produced by these criteria made an impression on you, to the extent that you then engaged in a similar process and produced something artistic that could then be assessed by a third party. Your engagement stopped there in this instance, but if your relative had been so impressed as to acquire the work and display it, or even be inspired by it to engage in the production process himself, then the resultant chain would have demonstrated perfectly how much what appears to be a string of controlled and deliberate decision and execution is in reality very much an unpredictable random sequence also in which any amount of artistic expression and impression could result.

If you mean by "success" a communication between the artist and the audience/viewer then yes. But that is probably too restrictive an interpretation of the mechanics of the exchange when addressing the more fundamental question "what is art?".

Ars gratia artis, as MGM regularly reminded us (even as they challenged any definition of art at all with almost all of their output).

"If you mean by "success" a communication between the artist and the audience/viewer then yes. But that is probably too restrictive an interpretation of the mechanics of the exchange when addressing the more fundamental question "what is art?"."
Indeed nordmann, I meant as success, a being able to have a communication between the artist and the audience/viewer.

Then you go further to try to explain "what is art"? And you go to the core of the matter, what I always admire in you. And I have to agree that indeed, no matter what the artist in his deeper feelings wanted to express, it is always the viewer(s), listener/audience who have to be emotional moved to catalogize it as art. And in that I don't include the artificially inflating of public attention towards art for financial gain by the big art "houses". As the self destroying painting...what a pity subspecies those humans are...it remembers about the Dutch tulip mania...

nordmann, as I followed further your explanation of what is art, with the conclusion:
"And this, to me, is about as much as one can honestly say about "art", what it means and how it has arisen as a "thing" at all."
I can only but agree with you.

"Ars gratia artis, as MGM regularly reminded us (even as they challenged any definition of art at all with almost all of their output)."
nordmann, you don't know what you started with me...
Ars gratia ars, Art for art's sake, the original "L'art pour l'art", Kunst für die kunst.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_for_art%27s_sake
About the controversy, I would say that in my opinion, as I think you explained too, the artist is fully responsible for what he makes with his piece of art, with or without intention, l'art pour l'art or l'art with a message. it is his work and it is he, who created it and it is he, who has the sole responsability of it. And then it is in the eye of the viewer to decide if he considers it as art, independent of what the artist tried to create in his work. I wonder what your opinion is about all that?

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyMon 04 Nov 2019, 08:00

You really have to go easy on your quotes, Paul. There is absolutely no point using the quote function to replicate my entire post and then cut and paste whole chunks of the same post into your own post anyway. It makes for a mess that is difficult to read. If you want to make a point simply make it with the minimum amount of embedded quoted material, if it follows from a post immediately before it then it's obvious what you're addressing anyway and makes for something legible.

Speaking of which - when you say in apparent agreement with my post "it is always the viewer(s), listener/audience who have to be emotional moved to catalogize it as art.", can I simply correct you and emphasize that this isn't quite what I meant? It may be a safe category but it definitely isn't the only one that applies. If everything is left to the viewer's aesthetic evaluation, for example, then what is there to eliminate paintings executed by chimpanzees, or for that matter simply "nice" patterns or visual effects produced by totally natural inanimate causes (both of which have been exhibited as "art" in the past)?

And nor is the artist fully responsible for what "he" makes with "his" piece of art, even an artist who is committed fully to the concept that anything produced by them carries an intrinsic artistic value. Does that include an artist's discarded snot rag or used toilet paper? Or, using a slightly less nauseous example, is there any artistic justification at all for the discarded palette smeared with oil paint that presently hangs as an exhibit in its own right in a prominent Madrid gallery simply because it was once used by Sorolla? Had it belonged to Dali or Picasso one might understand the imputed value, after all neither man was a stranger at all to employing such "in jokes" at the expense of the viewer's credibility - both in fact insisting that such deception was not only ethical but an intrinsic artistic statement present in all exhibited "art" which they were simply portraying more honestly than others. And who's to say they were wrong? Sorolla on the other hand, I imagine, would be horrified were he to see his tools being presented as "art".

So I can only conclude that even though you see fit in your reply to quote my full post in its entirety, and then for no apparent reason proceed to quote it all again in segments within the same reply, you maybe hadn't actually read it? "Ars gratia artis" is the admission that art can never be adequately categorized within one definition, not a definition in itself.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyMon 04 Nov 2019, 13:15

@nordmann wrote:
 Which begs the real question behind the simple "what is art?" inquiry. Does "art" in fact transcend intent?


Surely it must, simply because great art always comes from the unconscious? Often the artist (whatever his or her medium) is unaware of what is really going on - even if he or she believes there is full understanding/control of intent? Or is that pseudo-scientific, Jungian claptrap? I don't think it is.

I'm honestly wary of saying anymore: I do not, Paul, have your confidence in challenging - or indeed simply questioning - nord anymore. But I am confused by what has been said about art for art's sake. I thought the old saying (originally French, I believe???) was a stand against art being used for any overtly didactic purpose - political, religious, or anything else? Or have I got that wrong? But great art  is so subtle and surely always teaches us something about ourselves - even if, ironically, that was not the artist's "intention"? I've just finished reading Henri Nouwen's little book Home Tonight - Nouwen's second lot of reflections on Rembrandt's Return of the Prodigal Son. This second book - written after a breakdown - is one of the most moving interpretations of the old story and the painting it inspired. But is Nouwen's Jungian interpretation of the painting what Rembrandt meant at all? Would the artist himself have been baffled by the idea that his great painting represents the need for individuation - the coming together - or the acceptance - of all aspects of the personality, good and bad?  I'm not sure I care - all I know is that the painting and the interpretation, as I read it, made me weep. I am not ashamed to admit that. Nouwen suggests that Rembrandt had come - at the end of his life, after so many terrible tragedies - to understand that we are all the characters in the story: the Prodigal, the Elder Son and the Father. It's pure Jungian psychology understood /"taught"/painted by a great master. Vincent van Gogh realised this too: when he first saw this work by his fellow Dutchman, he said: "You can only paint this painting when you have died many deaths." Nonsense? Maybe, maybe not - who knows?

This is probably nothing whatsoever to do with anything nordmann has written about in his posts above, but if we remain paralysed by fear lest we say something stupid - or irrelevant - here, the thread (and this site) will die. We mustn't let that happen. Wittering for wittering's sake, I say - so long as we are genuinely trying to grasp things and comment sincerely.

Posted in haste without adequate thought or research, but what the heck. Will probably delete the whole lot around 10.20pm.


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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyMon 04 Nov 2019, 20:22

nordmann, quoting chunks from a message where you reply to, is perhaps a habit that I held over from the BBC history messageboard and many still use at the nowadays French history messageboard that I attend too. And you can be right that it is easely misquoted or quoted out of context as mentioned in another thread.
But when one reacts on certain paragraphs or quotes contained in the whole message, can't it be that when one answers on certain items that one read, and answers in the wrong way that you will say that he is answering besides the question?
I thought yesterday that you would reply patiently on every item and correct all my errors and misinterpretations, but I will try in the future to do what you ask...

Thanks for the answer on my sentence and correction about your quote that I mentioned in my previous message:
"If you mean by "success" a communication between the artist and the audience/viewer then yes. But that is probably too restrictive an interpretation of the mechanics of the exchange when addressing the more fundamental question "what is art?"."

nordmann: " "Ars gratia artis" is the admission that art can never be adequately categorized within one definition, not a definition in itself."
I will make a new thread of it, as Temperance seems also to have a view about it, perhaps more similar to mine.

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyTue 05 Nov 2019, 09:06

Temp wrote:
... simply because great art always comes from the unconscious?

Always? You followed this remark with the observation that the artist sometimes is unaware of the potential impact of their work, which I reckon is certainly much closer to the truth of it.

I'm not sure either what you mean when you say "great" in the context of art, whether unconsciously produced or not. Do you mean "great" as in work that has been consistently appreciated by very many people over a very long time? Or are you applying a more personal and subjective take on what is and isn't great, as your example seems to indicate?

For what it's worth I agree with you about Rembrandt's "Prodigal Son", at least in so far as that it certainly is a multi-layered work indeed. I haven't read any Jungian interpretation of it, let alone Nouwen's, but to me the genius lies in the fact that any individual can interpret subtle motive and mood in the painting which is correct in every instance. But each individual need not necessarily interpret the same things, and in fact the same individual can quite justifiably interpret different things at different times, based on their own mood, experience and shifting philosophical stance. I'm still at the point alas where I think the dad looks very awkward (it's really one of those half-hearted "man hugs" he's doing) and therefore maybe only going through the motions of "forgiving" his skinhead son for public show.

If you ever do finally manage to drop in to the Kunsthistorische Museum in Vienna you'll find Guercino's take on the same story. Guercino, aka Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, was only a young lad himself when he painted it (about 50 years earlier so Rembrandt may well have been aware of it and knew how not to go about the theme thanks to Snr Barbieri). It's blatantly obvious what impressed young Giovanni about the story and whose side he most definitely was on - he skipped straight to the bit where the returned wastrel gets a load of gratis glad-rags from the dad. No deep introspection of forgiveness, recognition or paternal joy on display here - simply a manipulative little freeloader picking up where he left off, I reckon.

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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyTue 05 Nov 2019, 09:12

Paul, all I ask is that you restrict your quotes to manageable sizes, and especially that you do a better job visually differentiating them from the text of your own input. They're murder to read and I confess that I often give up, as do many others I reckon, simply because it's often nigh on impossible to see where the copy-and-pasted remarks end and your own remarks begin.

So forgive me if I didn't answer all your individual points earlier. I honestly hadn't succeeded in disentangling them from the rest of the word salad.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyTue 05 Nov 2019, 18:11

@nordmann wrote:
 They're murder to read and I confess that I often give up, as do many others I reckon, simply because it's often nigh on impossible to see where the copy-and-pasted remarks end and your own remarks begin.



Paul, no one is trying to be beastly-horrid (as Catigern used to say) to you, but nord is right: your posts too often contain huge chunks in inverted commas, bits of which are then repeated, the  whole ghastly jumble interspersed with your own comments. It is sadly almost impossible to sort out what you are trying to say. It is such a shame, because you obviously spend ages thinking about things, and want keep this interesting discussion going. Your points often are missed - do not get read at all! A waste of your time and your very real effort as a contributor here. The unnecessary links to Wiki (we all know where to look for a Wiki entry!) or to an online dictionary also clog things up dreadfully. Please keep links to articles or sources we may not know about. Using tidy spacing helps too. By the way, if you have found the old quoting facility has gone a bit funny, try clicking on the very end (right) icon in the strip above. I don't know why, but it reverts everything to the old quoting set-up. Nordmann could explain better than I. But if I can sort this out, anyone can!



@nordmann wrote:

Always? You followed this remark with the observation that the artist sometimes is unaware of the potential impact of their work, which I reckon is certainly much closer to the truth of it.



Oh dear - that was rather sloppy of me, I admit. Have done some judicious editing. Post probably still indicates muddled thought, but never mind.



@nordmann wrote:
f you ever do finally manage to drop in to the Kunsthistorische Museum in Vienna you'll find Guercino's take on the same story. Guercino, aka Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, was only a young lad himself when he painted it (about 50 years earlier so Rembrandt may well have been aware of it and knew how not to go about the theme thanks to Snr Barbieri). It's blatantly obvious what impressed young Giovanni about the story and whose side he most definitely was on - he skipped straight to the bit where the returned wastrel gets a load of gratis glad-rags from the dad. No deep introspection of forgiveness, recognition or paternal joy on display here - simply a manipulative little freeloader picking up where he left off, I reckon.



I love that picture, too, and agree with your interpretation of it - what a dysfunctional family. A controlling parent there who has taught his wastrel son the art of manipulation, and raised two angry, unhappy and messed-up children (no sign of the elder brother here - he presumably is still "outside"?) So do we blame the father for it all?  Nice irony there.



Yes, I hope to get to the Kunsthistorische Museum one day - and soon; also the longed-for visit to the Hermitage. Sort of Grand Tour of the Prodigals.



But I've been amazed reading some of the reviews of Nouwen's (second) book about the Rembrandt painting: many people still think he sees the father as God up there, rather than the "god within our breast" to quote a favourite pagan emperor. The elder son is our persona or "mask", and we all look down on/disown/deny/hate our own "inner" Prodigal - our Shadow/Twin. Simplistic summary,  I know, but this makes complete sense to me. I think Jesus - who started all this - possibly went through Jungian therapy in the wilderness. But that's another story.



Paul, isn't my post neat and nicely presented?  Smile  I may even insert a link for you all, but not a Wiki one! Smile



Kind regards, Paul - honest!


Temp.


Last edited by Temperance on Wed 06 Nov 2019, 08:01; edited 5 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyTue 05 Nov 2019, 21:02

@nordmann wrote:
Paul, all I ask is that you restrict your quotes to manageable sizes, and especially that you do a better job visually differentiating them from the text of your own input. They're murder to read and I confess that I often give up, as do many others I reckon, simply because it's often nigh on impossible to see where the copy-and-pasted remarks end and your own remarks begin.

So forgive me if I didn't answer all your individual points earlier. I honestly hadn't succeeded in disentangling them from the rest of the word salad.

Thank you nordmann for the enlightenment and I will do my best.
Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyTue 05 Nov 2019, 22:02

@Temperance wrote:
By the way, if you have found the old quoting facility has gone a bit funny, try clicking on the very end (right) icon in the strip above. I don't know why, but it reverts everything to the old quoting set-up. Nordmann could explain better than I. But if I can sort this out, anyone can! Temp.
Temperance, poor me...I even don't know what the old quoting facility is...and then you say: clicking on the very end (right) icon in the strip above: if I do that nothing is changed in the preview?

But I found a way now with the copy and paste of the quote marks:
@Temperance wrote:
and copy and past the quote marks

And as proof, dear Temperance:
@Temperance wrote:
Do we blame the father for it all? .

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyTue 05 Nov 2019, 22:30

@nordmann wrote:
"Ars gratia artis" is the admission that art can never be adequately categorized within one definition, not a definition in itself.

About the controversy of the term: "l'art pour l'art", which seems to have been a slogan against the formulation that art had to serve a moral or didactic purpose, I would say that in my opinion, the artist is fully responsible for what he makes with his piece of art, with or without intention, l'art pour l'art or l'art with a message. it is his work and it is he, who created it and it is he, who has the sole responsability of it. And then it is in the eye of the viewer to decide if he considers it as art, independent of what the artist tried to create in his work.

If the artist is driven by whatever trigger, be it personal souvenirs, experiences, thoughts, inner expression urge, political beliefs, adherences, transcendent, religious beliefs, and he produces an art work and a lot of viewers are emotionally moved by that work of art and recognize it for their own as art (and not the commercial elite, who tries to influence that general public), why wouldn't it be art? And if some "organisations" use it for their own purpose, why would it then not be a work of art anymore?

nordmann, when you then say:
""Ars gratia artis" is the admission that art can never be adequately categorized within one definition, not a definition in itself." Do you mean then that there is no one single definition to catch art in, or did I misinterpret you? Does that mean that we are again to square one of the thread "What is art?", or can we agree then, not on a definition, but on a description of the characteristics of art?

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyWed 06 Nov 2019, 07:25

PS
@nordmann wrote:
Do you mean "great" as in work that has been consistently appreciated by very many people over a very long time? Or are you applying a more personal and subjective take on what is and isn't great, as your example seems to indicate?

Both.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyWed 06 Nov 2019, 09:27

Ok. Can I maybe add an "ephemeral greatness" of "great art" to your list of criteria? Artistic expression that somehow fits the zeitgeist but which, like the zeitgeist, achieves and discards the mantle for no apparent reason other than that time moves on, tastes change, perspectives shift, and things lose worth imperceptibly and with little fuss. It's very difficult these days to get people excited about Giotto, for example, and without also studying art history in some depth one cannot really appreciate just how radical and "great" that artist was. But though his zeitgeist has long departed, enough people appreciated his "greatness" at the time that his surviving body of work, even if 99% of visitors might breeze past examples of it in a gallery without a second glance, clings on to the description more due to tradition than evaluation. Which to me is a good thing - it has meant that from time to time this preserved body of work has had the opportunity to attract attention for various reasons related to the aesthetic that even he would have struggled to understand. This applies to "slow burner" greatness too, in which art that has only fortuitously survived due to lack of general appreciation suddenly finds itself at one with a whole new zeitgeist that its creators could never have anticipated.

Speaking of ephemeral greatness, "The Prodigal Son" is one of those artistic subjects by which one can trace the advent of Baroque in European art - a notoriously difficult artistic style to classify in terms of technique, materials, choices of subject, execution, or indeed any of the more usual rules of thumb that apply. It is hard to find two art historians who can definitively state when it began or when it ended, and though all would agree that using it to describe just a phase of time cannot ever be a good application of the term, when tasked with identifying a more stylistic definition are equally unable to agree over what exactly distinguishes it from other art "movements".

However if you take our prodigal friend and the myth in which he plays a role when used as a common theme throughout all these "movements" then the arrival of Baroque can at least be somewhat pin-pointed, not in terms of style or execution but in terms of treatment of the subject. It helps that the legend within the myth is so multi-layered regarding what it purports to deliver by way of its narrative almost as much as its incorporation into a predominant religion in the culture meant that all its details remained pretty consistent and well known to everyone.

The two treatments of the subject we've already mentioned show pre-Baroque and Baroque preoccupations rather well. Before Baroque the artist typically assumes that the viewer is so well acquainted with the subject that it can basically be used as a backdrop, the "point" of the composition often being something else entirely - be it simply a beautifully rendered reminder designed to nudge the viewer into contemplation of the parable or sometimes even just to highlight the artist's technical skill. When you look at Baroque treatments of the subject however you see a far more careful and specific choice of which part of the parable is most worthy of artistic rendition, and it is almost always invariably the exact moment of the homecoming, the father's instant reaction, and that of the brothers, encapsulated in a moment frozen in time before any subsequent dialogue in the parable complicates that moment with philosophical and moral overtones. A good artist, like Rembrandt, tries to incorporate reference to what is going to happen next. But even the less good ones tended to concentrate also on that moment, correctly in my view identifying not only the dramatic highlight of the incident but also the moment most laden with opportunity to explore within one visual image as many of the complex layers the parable itself presents for contemplation. Something a little more powerful than a mere "nudge", in other words.

I assume this had a lot to do with patronage. The Baroque style occurred along with a European wide elevation of many people from what once had been a mercantile class to a new form of aristocracy, one with new values being imposed on a whole new way of structuring society in which the older giants driving high-end aesthetics, the church and the extended monarchical aristocracies, were increasingly obliged to share the reins of power with the new elite, and in many cases yield them completely if they wanted to survive. For a while though some of the older tropes remained durable, and therefore one does not at this point see much of a shift in terms of subject matter in paintings - artists were still commissioned to tackle subjects in expensive paintings the acquisition of which was as much to demonstrate this elite's "arrival" as to explore new takes on aesthetic worth.

However something still had to demonstrate that this was a new form of commission for a new power, and artists themselves seized on this requirement to do what artists do best - attempt to produce something that transcends simplistic aesthetic assessment. Even a bad artist at the time was expected to spend weeks or even months communicating with a canvas during the creation process, so it is not surprising that this time encouraged artists to go well beyond mere familiarity with the object under creation and to avail of each commission as an opportunity to explore the limitations of their trade regarding communication. The period also saw a blossoming of natural philosophy education and its wider popularity through print, so it was hardly surprising that one also found artists and their patrons approaching the same old tried and trusted tropes much more cerebrally than before. It was hit and miss, as one can see from walking around any gallery displaying Baroque content, but where it hit it was not only new but powerfully engaging, and still is in fact.

It wasn't to last however. Baroque, having never been one unified style anyway, and as a reflection of strong social mores adopted by the rich and powerful of the day, became instead what it probably had always been doomed to be, a launchpad from which many diffuse styles and approaches would emanate, some radical (such as in Belgian and Dutch art of the period, reflecting dynamic re-ordering of a society that had broken away from political tradition), some experimental (Russian art of the period, in a society where the middle and upper classes could never really coalesce, shows amazing invention in works commissioned by the former), and even ultra-establishment (ultra-traditional societies which, with the rise of nationalist consciousness, produced and sponsored a sort of "back-lash" against cerebral treatment of theological subjects in particular).

And the Prodigal Son ended up showing this too. This work by Pompeo Batoni also hangs in the Kunsthistorische Museum in Vienna, and shows what happens when the innovation and technical experimentation of the Baroque has led to a style within Italy which requires the artist to produce technically advanced works exploring nothing in particular. Batoni was technically a real "master", his knowledge of pigments and brush was second to none and he had many pupils who went on to become well respected artists. Aesthetically however one can only call him "bland", though in fact had he been called this at the time (he wasn't) he might, like Michael Caine pointing to his Spanish villa built with earnings from his worst movies, point to his huge popularity as a portrait painter across Europe and the wealth it had earned him. He was probably most well regarded in Britain, where youths on their "grand tour" hadn't really felt like they'd been on one if they couldn't produce a Batoni portrait of themselves to prove it.

Consider that this is almost a century after Rembrandt. However progress it ain't. It's akin aesthetically to putting Rembrandt's "prodigal" through too warm a wash cycle and ending up with this faded threadbare specimen ...

What is Art? - Page 16 Pompeo_Batoni_003
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyThu 07 Nov 2019, 12:53

Thus the master has spoke on schools Baroque..... and fading into crock. From a lower level of appreciation, let's hear it for the print makers. The Shepherd print of the Royal Exchange I sent for a lad's birthday - he loving the buzz of London - had the entire family (not the cat) into waves of appreciation, finding out more of the artist even to thinking about getting an original print etc.

That it is a lino print was not immediately recognised - nor is the complex skill of layering in many forms of print making appreciated. Having given up sculpture as being far too demanding for my own talent, I then explored print making and found that a stretch too far too. believe me, painting - my last resort = was a relief. The broad experience though gave me a better honed mind to appreciation. Putting any of it into words  is something else. However many get paid for writing the most awful twaddle ….  know artists who have fallen about at what some deem to have observed in their work. And if it brings in the shekels what the heck - :Yer that red blob is wot it'sall abart, yer.'
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyFri 08 Nov 2019, 08:37

Is this the one you bought?

What is Art? - Page 16 Royal-Exchange-London-1829

Shepherd painted the original picture, which was part of a series that was then printed by William Wynne Ryland in London, rightly renowned as a master craftsman in the genre, using what at that time was a brand new technique using steel laminates called "stipple engraving". So revolutionary was it that for many decades there were only two printers in the whole of Europe who understood it and who jealously guarded their secret - Ryland and the man who actually invented it and from whom Ryland was accused of stealing the original patent, Francesco Bartolozzi. Bartolozzi had perfected the method of intaglio indentation of treated steel plates while living in London for ten years and Ryland's shop was right next door  - hence the subsequent accusations that saw both print houses carry on the acrimony and legal challenges long after both men had died. So close were they in terms of method, perfection and style that even today there is often huge confusion regarding which of them produced some first edition prints that come on the market lacking trustworthy provenance.

I can't imagine a linoleum method coming close to either man's steel engraving method when it comes to the quality of the finished product - even these days when 3D digital technology can be used to micro-stipple surfaces. As you rightly alluded to, hand-crafted intaglio is far more than just an artisan skill, no matter how original or artistic the painting on which a print is based may be. The line depth, burination, pit depths and elongations, and even the choice of muslin used along with gradated pressure applied, is all something that can be mechanically described and even taught. However applying oil paint with a brush or scalpel is also something that can be reduced to mechanical definition, and as a technique it can be taught to varying levels of skill, but it would be a fool indeed who would say then that this is sufficient a definition to lump Da Vinci & Co in with every biscuit tin artist out there. The same, I think, applies to high quality steel engraving which, when done by a true artist in the trade, even one "copying" an original painting, will often actually produce a visual image far more striking than the original. In fact far more worthy of the description as "art" in many cases.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyFri 08 Nov 2019, 09:38

My error - much as I like the Shepherd you foind, the one I ought to have detailed is one Rupert Shepherd who did a series of London linocut works circa 1970.  How interesting to compare both takes on the Royal Exchange. Followed up my yesterday's post with interesting chat with a professional artist neighbour (fabric designer) who collects lino and wood cut prints.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyFri 08 Nov 2019, 09:50

Which I'll post here for comparison purposes (hope this is the one you meant then):

What is Art? - Page 16 The-Royal-Exchange-1975-by-Rupert-Shephard

Somehow I can't see Rupert's lino technique ever being challenged in the court of patent. In terms of technique it is a good (very good in fact) example of the perspective flattening effect when working with lino manually - only really skillful and extremely patient artists can, or know how to, mitigate this. Shephard has gone a different route and embraced the effect as his "style".

Shepherd the elder would probably be rolling in his grave seeing these prints fetch a price on the market given how much investment he made in perfecting his own engraving technique, but I'm with you on this one. Shephard the younger has managed to communicate far more about the actual character of the subject setting than Shepherd did, so personally I'd be inclined to hang them side by side if I ever had the opportunity. They're almost like book-ends within which a whole history of London in the intervening period, as well as of popular aesthetic sentiment, can be gleaned.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyFri 08 Nov 2019, 10:06

Thank you for taking the trouble, nord. There are times when I feel the old comfy times of Res Hist in my life and this is one of them. I think the two prints will sit well together in that house. … mark you, any port in a storm for enlivening a minimalistic space  How to use good art is a whole different bag.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyMon 11 Nov 2019, 11:56

A delayed response to nordmann's interesting and informative post of 6th November. I have been looking at some of Giotto's work: I know nothing about him, but - despite my ignorance -  I do not think I should walk past his work: it struck me as being startlingly modern. There is something fey-like in his portrayal of his biblical subjects. Something fey-like too - and startlingly intelligent - in this image which is thought to be a portrait of the artist himself. The eyes again! I have tried to copy here the Uccello painting of Giotto  (it won't "take") - again the sense of an almost other-worldly knowledge and understanding shown in that face. Thank you for alerting me to a painter about whom I knew nothing before last week.


The Santa's Grotto version of the Prodigal is awful.





What is Art? - Page 16 Giotto_face_restored



@Priscilla wrote:
 How to use good art is a whole different bag.


Strangely that comment jarred with me, Priscilla. Is art meant to be used? I remembered something Soames Forsyte said when he was courting the lovely and artistic Irene Heron: as he escorted her around a gallery, Soames paused in front of a painting he was considering buying and asked: "Would it look good in one's hall?" Irene looked startled. But then who am I to comment? A former prospective mother-in-law once told me I had a "bourgeois" taste in art. I suppose some of the greatest artists have been from that despised class, so perhaps I should have taken the damning judgement as a compliment.

Poor Soames - he had such a genuine feel for beauty, but didn't quite know what to do with it - just wanted to "possess" it.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyMon 11 Nov 2019, 13:07

Giotto is the "go to" guy in standard art history classes when examining the claim that perspective was introduced into art in the Renaissance during this period, thereby opening up whole new vistas of and opportunities for expression hitherto unavailable to artists, and in so far as one limits one's scrutiny to Italian medieval art then this is indeed the case and Giotto was indeed the most notable pioneer within his society. However it doesn't take much scrutiny of surviving art from earlier periods and from further afield to see how this is way too simplistic (and basically incorrect) an assessment of how perspective was used by artists, and often to stunning effect, from long before Giotto appeared, even within Italy it must be said.

However there is no denying that this artist's commitment to reintroducing an element of visual realism into his paintings also led him into some interesting consequences which even he probably didn't quite understand exactly how and why he was achieving as he explored them. He may even have been convinced on that basis that there was some divine influence at play, and one gets the impression that Giotto almost apologetically handed over the fruits of his labour on occasion, knowing full well that he least of all could account for the startling visual impact his works contained. Yet there was no denying the impact - whether one liked this new departure or not - and for Giotto there was no turning back anyway. Once he started framing his subjects within a realistic three dimensional environment he then found that many of the traditional shortcuts that had been used in symbolism, especially religious symbolism, just didn't "fit" anymore (golden discs around heads, stylised hand gestures, etc) and he had to find other ways to get across the same subtleties using means that didn't just look stupid within realistic settings. Facial expression was one that he exploited, as well as general composition, background, and choice of secondary components within the frame - all considerations that became the bog standard method of composing an oil painting afterwards but which, at least within Italy, were hugely radical at that particular moment. And remember, no one was telling Giotto to go that way, least of all the important church patrons on whom his trade depended - he was probably as much derided as praised in his day for these "modern" interpretations of traditional subjects, undoubtedly lost as many potential commissions as ever he procured, but still nevertheless felt committed to pursuing this avenue of expression to the exclusion of all others nevertheless.

His "moneylenders" painting always struck me as particularly powerful. He's still sticking with the golden head discs (he was to drop them later) but it still has to be said there's absolutely no messing with this Jesus ...

What is Art? - Page 16 Giotto_di_Bondone_-_No._27_Scenes_from_the_Life_of_Christ_-_11._Expulsion_of_the_Money-changers_from_the_Temple_-_WGA09209

Personally I have always thought that Masaccio, traditionally presented as Giotto's "heir" in the perspective stakes, far outreached his so-called "teacher". Or at least he realised that painting a credible expression on a face wasn't in itself enough to make a powerful statement; instead it was often best that one started with the expression and then composed everything else to draw one's eye into it. In his "expulsion from Eden" series, for example, you're in no doubt how the couple feel about it, and indeed who is bemoaning her lot the most (Adam could as easily be muttering under his breath about the stupid bitch he'd been lumbered with). But if you're illiterate, and this is the first non-oral rendition of the scene you've ever encountered, then you have 99% of all you need to know in just this one depiction of the two principal characters, with no traditional shortcut techniques employed at all:

What is Art? - Page 16 800px-Masaccio-TheExpulsionOfAdamAndEveFromEden-Restoration

(The above shows it before and after its recent restoration, thankfully with those damned 16th century fig leaves finally removed, they always bugged me)
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyTue 12 Nov 2019, 10:48

Aye, Temps, the whole business about where to display artworks is irksome - where, for instance was the above intended? Even if it did match the carpet it wold be an unlikely choice for most front rooms.

Designing a room around an art work seems honest but not the other way round when introduced because it matches. Sometimes there seems a melancholic lonely aura  about some stuff on display as if ir is in the wrong place. 

As for the salutary sort based on biblical  or martyr reference - often gory - were they for the pst# part commissioned or by artist's choice of subject? And was the placement of it  decided before or after? Or was it sometimes, as in fashion, someone  wanting a little number run off by a famed name?

And here an odd confession; when seeing a new collection at any  level -from amateur  to the famed  there comes a tendency to ask why it is not great art - what is lacking rather than admiration for its strengths.  Yet I do not intend to put the artist to the test but to hone my qualities of judgment. And that can be applied to almost anything......not least with an election coming up. Oh gawd, perhaps I need a biscuit or something. Is the bar open?
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyTue 12 Nov 2019, 22:55

Yes, to your statement about placing art to fit in with a room. We have a new house and I keep telling my husband not to try and fit our art to the room colours. Not that we can anyway -  our art works are rather eclectic in style from the oddness of the Lonely Dog series that we bought a painting of once to a Peter Beadle one of three ships in misty conditions to the ones our children gave us of lovely little artworks of the places we knew in Sheffield. Not to mention large framed photos we have of our own photos.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyYesterday at 10:15

You mention Photos, Caro and in a discussion about what is art then that is an art form ought be mentioned.... possibly it has been before. There are of course snaps which are personal but there are also many others which are moving, evocative and perhaps reflections of what the great painters endeavour to capture in other media.

Many are carefully panned and  orchestrated but others that catch a moment can be stunning. On the bare brick walls of the War Correspondents Club are huge and stunning  examples taken during conflict. And it is to memory of similar that my mind often turns in painful recall of such times. In particular one of a youth with gun poised in the rubble of Beirut. He is troubled, enmeshed and so very  alone. I may have seen it in Time  magazine or Picture Post and only seen once but a harrowing an insight into the trials some youth suffer. Those that line the walls of the mind are often disturbing. The selection for the home seems to reach out for peace and serenity that some photographer are able to capture.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 16 EmptyToday at 08:29

A visit to the Gallery of Photography in Dublin is always on the cards whenever I'm there. They change exhibited works quite frequently and whether what's on display comprises journalistic or "artistic" content in the main it is rare that one does not encounter at least one visual image which sears the mind. Photography and paintings presented for aesthetic purposes may seem to overlap in purpose and presentation, but I reckon the technique and processes involved are sufficiently separate and distinct to regard them as completely unique media. A photographic artist, for example, has far less freedom with regard to concocting the finished image than a painter addressing a blank canvas with little more than some pigments and imagination. For a photographer to achieve similar aesthetic impact and effect therefore requires quite a different approach to the creative process, with a huge amount of that process for instance invested in interpreting composition from visual input at the point of recording the image on film or - these days - digitally. Manipulation of the image can be done after this point, but without the first creative step having been taken no amount of manipulation will normally guarantee an effective result. However I agree with you both that this in no way devalues that process when compared to painting - it's just a different way of producing often stunningly effective art.

Speaking of stunningly effective art - we mentioned this lady before and I notice she's back in the news again with a recently discovered work of hers being sold yesterday for nearly 5 million quid.

What is Art? - Page 16 5385
Artemisia Gentileschi's "Lucretia"

The article in today's Guardian mentions that the National Gallery in London will be presenting 35 of her paintings in a major exhibition next year. One to watch out for.
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