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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 15 Feb 2016, 14:59

@Gilgamesh of Uruk wrote:
Well, the painters seem to me to have been at the rear, not in the van. In music, polyphony can be regarded as the first sign of the "renaissance", and that began with Leonin and Perrotin in late C12th. In literature, surely by the time of the writing of Machaut's "Le voir dit" and the composition of his mass "Messe de Notre Dame" in the mid C14th, the "ars nova" music and the poetic forms seen in the "Roman de la Rose" were, it seems, well established.

I fully agree. The artist lads had great plans for more realism and naturalism etc etc, but the materials they had to work with were absolutely crap. And one needed what in modern times would be the equivalent of Bill Gates to finance the paints alone, at least if one wanted to paint using all the colours in the rainbow. That was really the Flemish breakthrough - cheap oils. It allowed for a lot of experimentation and practice that just had never been possible before.

If you look at sketches as opposed to paintings however you can see a much earlier leaning towards improved draughtsmanship and execution.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 15 Feb 2016, 20:38

I've just been watching Museum Hours again.

Nordmann, if nothing else - and if I never post here again - thank you for alerting me to this film. It really was superb.

All the above posts are extremely interesting. So was it really just the price of oil paint that made the Renaissance? That's so (Thomas) Cromwellian.  

But I'm sure you are right - as TC usually was.   Smile
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 15 Feb 2016, 22:00

Temp wrote:
So was it really just the price of oil paint that made the Renaissance?

Well the whole humanism thingy might have had a little to do with it too of course ... Smile

But if you look at the robes in Masaccio's painting earlier you can almost hear his anguished tears of frustration as he applies his second mortgage in smeary clumps on the wet plaster and sees it literally sinking without trace before his eyes.

It was the chemists in Amsterdam and Rotterdam who got the ball rolling regarding affordable paints and hitherto unavailable tints and colours. Their use of cobalt to produce yellow for example, replacing gamoge which was made from gum resin only obtained from Asian trees, introduced a primary colour to the palette previously the preserve of a chosen few artists blessed with plutocrat patrons. You can almost date its availability from the profusion of yellows in Flemish art suddenly popping up everywhere around 1420 and with every excuse imaginable employed to use it. To get a yellow out of a metallic ore which really wants to be blue meant adding a lot of arsenic to a substance that already produced lethal doses of arsenic upon smelting. The process was a highly prized secret (or probably most manufacturers died before they got the chance to tell anyone) right up until the 19th century when a safer method was finally found. Da Vinci, who liked to make his own pigments, guessed it (clever man) but dismissed the notion as suicidal (very clever man).
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 15 Feb 2016, 22:08

Wasn't ultramarine also ferociously expensive, made from lapis lazuli, and so frequently reserved for Mary's robe?

edit - made more specific.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 15 Feb 2016, 22:17

Yes, one of the dearest until it was synthesised in the 1800s. However most artists used a pigment called smalt instead (cobalt again) which if skilfully applied in painting could fool most observers (and even some modern art historians) into thinking ultramarine had been used.

Real snobbery of course was to use it as a fabric dye. Smalt couldn't replace it there.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Tue 16 Feb 2016, 13:16

This case covers a few of the subjects we mentioned earlier in the thread, including how one man's art is another man's kick in the groin, along with acceptable portrayals of the Jesus lad, and not least the power of art - if only in this case to offend.

Here are four paintings depicting scenes from the gospels which were on exhibition together in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. Have a look at them and see if you can spot the offence before you read on ...


Perugino: The Resurrection


Tintoretto: The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes


Ricci: The Family of Angels


Granacci: The Crucifixion

The complainant, who took the Met to court over this, even runs a now much visited website dedicated to his complaint which has as its motto "If you don't stand up for something you'll fall for everything".

Any guesses what these four very diverse Renaissance and Baroque artists might have done to put anyone's nose out of joint so vehemently, even up to six centuries after they were executed? Nothing? Some obscure little thing? Several things?

Justin Renel Joseph, the plaintiff in the case which has gone to the Manhattan Supreme Court (no judgement on record as yet), has no such equivocal qualms. For him the matter is as blatant as the nose on Jesus's face. Namely the offending proboscis is not Jewish, and the saviour's epidermis is "white".

Incidentally, if Mr Joseph wins his case (which his lawyers assure us concerns a violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and of Titles II and VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) then any non-tanned Jesus without appropriate nasal configuration can never be publicly exhibited again in the state of New York. Amongst his potential other achievements he stands to single-handedly ensure what centuries of iconoclasts and puritans have so far failed to do, at least not with such immediate vigour and effect, the permanent stripping of almost every piece of art, good bad or indifferent, statue or painting, from every single Catholic Church in the jurisdiction.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 03 Mar 2016, 09:25

Post this news item here. A team from Bristol have created a virtual reality tour of Hieronymus Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights. It does require an app, and the video on the BBC link only gives a glimpse of what it should look like;

Bosch VR


New technology now gives a whole different way of viewing Art.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 05 Mar 2016, 09:43

There is a tried and trusted maxim when it comes to art appreciation which goes along the lines of "If your own interpretation of a painting is not the first that you encounter then you will never encounter it again." Badly animating Bosch is ample evidence of the truth of such a saying. Thank Heavens (and Hell) I got to "The Gardens" before BDH Design and Direction.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 24 Mar 2016, 22:28

@Priscilla wrote:
Reading back in this thread I may have missed a crucial point. Please enlighten me. From year  dot  to when, did the craftsman of design in shape form and colour become art for art's sake?

Good question and there should perhaps be a separate thread for design. That said - another question is why is Google today marking the 182nd birthday of designer William Morris. Is there any significance to this number?
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Fri 01 Apr 2016, 12:23

Google does that. If you check their associated links to the Morris commemoration you'll see that they also, back in 2011 on the same date, celebrated Harry Houdini's 137th birthday. Go figure.

I'm glad you resurrected Priscilla's question about when craftsmen became artists, even though they were doing more or less the same stuff.

Artists (in the sense we understand them now) were actually not only craftsmen in their own eyes originally, but also some of the very first such craftsmen to organise themselves into guilds - an Italian concept originally. 13th century Florence, then the creative hub of European high-concept painting, was indeed one of the first cities in which these formed. Interestingly "guilds" in Italian is "arti", and artists set up not one but several guilds which reflected varying aspects to what hitherto had been regarded simply as "artistry".

How they got to this stage is also interesting. The second oldest guild in Florence (still existing too) is the Arte dei Medici e Speziali, the guild of physicians, apothecaries, and spice merchants, and it was to this that artists flocked as members when the earliest pioneers quickly realised the mistake of becoming members in the oldest such guild, the stonemasons. The masons had shown the way regarding collective bargaining strength but, compared to artists, they were essentially artisans - the original distinction between the two being between a person who is expected to produce work according to customer-imposed standards and one who has the liberty to innovate. The former could negotiate a higher commission, as whether their work was below or above standard could easily be demonstrated by all parties, and also measured in ergonomic quantities and rates understood by everyone. Artists on the other hand represented the experimental industries, the ones who were more inclined to require to reinvest capital in development of their trade and services.

Besides the apothecaries (the manufacturers of pigment so a logical affiliation for painters), the Arte della Seta (textile workers and merchants) took in designers like Florence's version of William Morris etc who wished to adapt machinery to the task (CGI artists today would be candidates), the Arte dei Maestri di Pietra e Legname (stonemasons originally but doing the fancy bits) naturally adopted sculptors of all hues, and perhaps most surprisingly of all the musicians ended up with the architects in a short-lived guild which attempted to take minority professions under one wing.

The apothecary thing didn't work out. A hundred years later the artists broke away and formed the Compagnia di San Luca, the Company of St Luke (patron saint of barbers, surgeons, chemists and artists), not a guild as this would have set them into direct conflict with the existing system, but in almost every respect as good as one in that its members instantly began the collective bargaining and internal patronage and training that they had learnt as guild members. However their numbers needed boosting so they also took equally disgruntled barbers, a lot of sculptors who wanted to show they were better than just being consigned to doing "fiddly bits" in cathedrals etc, and - for the first time in European labour relations history - women of any trade who previously had not been allowed into any guild.

It seems to have been at this point that one can say - in a European context at least - that artists had truly identified their function as something other than simple craftsmanship (or craftswomanship either for that matter). Once church commissions headed in their direction they not only got the desired seal of social approval for their breakaway concept, but also the wealth and power required to reinforce this new perception of their contribution to society.

Guilds of St Luke, modelled on Florence's Company, were soon to be found in many European cities. The one in Antwerp lasted right up to 1795. However back in Italy the Companies' non-guild constitutions meant that two centuries later, once adequate patronage was lined up, they could almost seamlessly meld into what became known as academies. It was these academies which would eventually liberate all the remaining artists still caught up in the old guild system and adopt them into the academic sphere. The distinction between craftsman and artiste in contemporary eyes was complete.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 03 Apr 2016, 10:30

Most interesting. Thank you for the research. But what of the far east? The design factor perhaps went on very much longer until modern trends crept in. Sub continental art went from miniturists  (design) to modern only in the 20th Century. Having much social content on which to reflect the scene there is currently vibrant and expressive of serious issues that seems to have gone from western culture. Photography perhaps has taken up that role.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 03 Apr 2016, 17:08

It depends on what you mean by "design", I suppose. Highly stylised patterns and motifs never really left western art either until comparatively recently, even as the paintings became more intricate and technically complex in both their execution and their presentation, and it being all the more difficult to discern the patterns behind the complex, naturalistic and realistic presentations on offer. They were still there - as Vasari noted also when he said that contemporary artists of his time owed as much to Giotto as to nature when composing their subjects within the frame. Giotto had struggled to reconcile the patternistic with the naturalistic (often failing), but in doing so had come up with what were considered golden rules of composition which endured right into the proto-impressionistic paintings of Turner et al.

So many of the so-called "clever" compositions of the art movements which began to flourish in the late 19th and early 20th century were really only clever departures when the observer also understood the patterns from which they deviated. In other words the design, and the rules of the design, still had much to say in whether the finished product was regarded as "art" or not.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 04 Apr 2016, 08:54

It's worth adding that a full two hundred years before the European Giotto began his rather clumsy experiments in realism and capturing perspective etc, the Far East - here as represented by Chinese art - had already long established a protocol whereby a strict adherence to style and pattern could be successfully combined with realism (or naturism as Vasari would later term it).



Li Cheng, one of the "three great rival artists" of the early Song dynasty, produced landscapes like the one above in the 10th and 11th century, exhibiting an appreciation of perspective and exaggeration of natural forms for effect that his European counterparts couldn't emulate until a full four or five centuries later. To the modern eye his paintings would not look out of place amongst Victorian era prints. To his contemporary viewers however these were masterpieces, not just because of the draughtsmanship employed, but because they also conformed to strict Taoist patternism regarding placement and form within the composition.

There is a tendency to assume that "Eastern" art was a slave to patternism - largely due to the ornate patterns they excelled in creating which we would normally associate with those that developed in the west as ornament, especially when textile and paper printing came into play, as well of course with religious restrictions in Islam that restrict graphic ornation to non-animate subjects and designs. However what these artists also excelled at was apparently breaking the rules while remaining true to them, a concept which also later applied to Western art and which was a considerable component of the product that distinguished it as art at all.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Tue 05 Apr 2016, 09:53

Using art as a tool of social observation and condemnation as I mentioned above is still active in parts - this sort  of stuff does not look so  good on the the sitting room wall. however I do not know if the far east ever toyed with that...... nor of expressing emotional self-pity, either. Just rambling thoughts.... as ever.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Tue 05 Apr 2016, 10:05

'New Rembrandt' to be unveiled in Amsterdam.

The portrait is not a lost work by the Dutch master but a 3D printed painting made by software that distilled the features of a Rembrandt. Called "The Next Rembrandt" it is based on 168,263 Rembrandt painting fragments, and so the painting's real creators are data analysts and computers.

The Guardian : New Rembrandt



Very nice ..... but is it art?
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Tue 05 Apr 2016, 10:39

Not art per se, but a pretty illuminating forensic examination of the artistry of Rembrandt all the same. It addresses the concept of art rather more than it explains it - after all it is basically a sampled composite and despite all the intelligence behind the sampling there must still have been considerable bias used in the selection of the material to be sampled.

A Picasso would have been easier to sample, I imagine - and I have no doubt the result would have challenged the notion of "what is art" much more appositely.

@Priscilla wrote:
Using art as a tool of social observation and condemnation as I mentioned above is still active in parts - this sort of stuff does not look so good on the the sitting room wall. however I do not know if the far east ever toyed with that...

Toyed with it? Eastern art probably pioneered it, I would say. A lot of the pornographic art from China and Japan for example, some produced as early as 500CE and can be seen in London's National Gallery, is extremely subversive and caustic commentary on what were then contemporary normal social mores. Communism in China has seen a great revival of subversive art also in the last 60 years, so the tradition lives on, and in fact is probably more vibrant and relevant in that country than so-called western "subversives" like Damien Hirst et al could ever begin to properly understand, let alone emulate.

The Dream of the Fisherman's wife (an 1814 woodcut by the Japanese artist Hokusai) was a very notable and popular protest aimed at the strict moralisation which typified Edo society of the time. Those familiar with the folk tale knew it to be a lesson in how true virtue is disguised and how overt virtue means little more than hypocrisy - a direct (and dangerous) condemnation of the religio-political leadership of the day. This one definitely hung on many walls at the time, though women being raped by octopuses mightn't strike people today as a particularly appropriate theme for the drawing room.

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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 06 Apr 2016, 08:46

Speaking of eastern art and social commentary, it would be wrong to leave the subject without mentioning Lin Fengmian. Lin's career spanned China's progress from empire through republic to communism, and he managed to fall foul of every administration along the way. Most seriously was when his art was proscribed during the so-called "cultural revolution" between 1966 and 1976, prompting Lin to voluntarily destroy the majority of his works.

Lin's philosophy when it came to art was that it should be of the people and for the people, not something "owned" or appreciated only by a self-appointed elite. His subjects were varied therefore, but all contained en engaging simplicity of style and a readily identifiable theme for the "ordinary" viewer. Ironically it was this that got him into most trouble with the communist leaders, whose real objection it seems was to anyone outside their circle defining principles of commonality, and most definitely defining their own self-serving position at the top of a hierarchy which did not officially exist as an "elite" in itself.

It is difficult now to find works from Lin which best express just how subversive he was interpreted to be by the authorities, so thorough was their and his own destruction of his paintings in later life (Lin was as old as the 20th century and died in 1991). However some survived, mainly through sympathetic customers in Hong Kong who had some pieces smuggled out. Lin's experience under communist rule, and the fate of his paintings, is testimony to the paranoid perception - which still exists in China today - on the part of authority regarding the power of subversive art.


The fisher women.


Christ, remorse


Market scene


Harvest scene


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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 06 Apr 2016, 10:34

Art expression is only subversive if it is  feared by an authority, otherwise it is a social statement. The impact cab be considerable. I recall the fuss about Reg Butler's 'Political Prisoner' - I think it won an award - during cold war days. Much are was black and spiky at the time, reflecting nervousness and tension.This thread asks art what is, so perhaps I am saying it can be a reflection of its time.
The Lin Market scene is a joy.......I would use it as a work for art students to discuss then copy on day one of their course. I would probably be booted out by day two, of course. Let's have some more art that perhaps made a difference - anyone?
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 06 Apr 2016, 11:42

@Priscilla wrote:
The Lin Market scene is a joy.......I would use it as a work for art students to discuss then copy on day one of their course.

And Lin would be rolling in his grave. At the Great Beijing Art Meeting of 1927 Lin outlined the principles of what he regarded as modern art in a Chinese context in six "golden declarations". Note the first one:

Down with the tradition of copying!
Down with the art of the aristocratic minority!
Down with the antisocial art that is divorced from the masses!
Up with the creative art that represents the times!
Up with art that can be shared with all the people!
Up with the people's art that stands at the crossroads!
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 06 Apr 2016, 15:26

The Thai artist Phan Thông was very influential in the 1950s in the nascent struggle in Vietnam to overthrow French colonialism. His prints and paintings are worth quite a bit these days - but at the time they were published in underground magazines and the like, typified by a reliance on the graphic alone and with little or no text to get the message across. This series shows a landlord and his family working closely with the French, behaving horribly, and eventually being denounced by the villagers who end up eating well. Under French law (Vietnam being a quasi-department when it suited them) Phan Thông was wanted for the crime of treason, no less, which meant that his art was produced under very difficult circumstances indeed, to put it mildly. His series of vignettes however, like the one below, were not only descriptive of life in colonial Vietnam but also instrumental in encouraging peasant militarism against their French overlords, a struggle that was to take such a horrendous and deadly series of twists before eventual communist victory in the 1970s.













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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 07 Apr 2016, 09:51

@nordmann wrote:

The Dream of the Fisherman's wife (an 1814 woodcut by the Japanese artist Hokusai) was a very notable and popular protest aimed at the strict moralisation which typified Edo society of the time. Those familiar with the folk tale knew it to be a lesson in how true virtue is disguised and how overt virtue means little more than hypocrisy - a direct (and dangerous) condemnation of the religio-political leadership of the day. This one definitely hung on many walls at the time, though women being raped by octopuses mightn't strike people today as a particularly appropriate theme for the drawing room.


The woman is not being raped - the text above this piece of shunga art (see British Museum website) makes it quite clear she is thoroughly enjoying the attentions of the ugly beast - and of the little octopus too. Most people miss the baby.

Shunga was not so much social protest as art for private pleasure - small pieces often given as wedding gifts to young couples and enjoyed by men (and women?) necessarily separated from their spouses for long periods of time - for example soldiers and travelling merchants. The British Museum had an exhibition of shunga work a couple of years ago. Such art, the BM tells us, was often "humorous and tender". Octopus love was a popular motif. There are lots of other examples of what is now unfortunately - and vulgarly - called Japanese  "tentacle rape" -  a description which rather misses the point and purpose of this genre.

When I first looked at this picture several years ago I admit I was repelled. I didn't understand it at all: it seemed an ugly image of greed to me. Probably I should not admit that: such a response to this Japanese art perhaps smacks of the immature and bewildered Ovaltiney. I was, however, intrigued when the print appeared in Mad Men; and Bert Cooper, the agency boss who had it displayed in his office during the 1960s, declared it reminded him of the advertising business (see quote below). The picture of course was much discussed when it appeared in that programme, and provoked heated argument in pubs all over the place. Interesting how it then became a symbol of female liberation - sexual and professional - when Peggy Olson, the girl in Mad Men who transformed herself from mousy secretary to formidable boss, ended up with it hanging in her office (at the beginning of the 70s decade). But there is perhaps an irony in that - Peggy is childless (she had to give her baby away), and she struggles to find a satisfactory partner.


But did the use of the picture in Mad Men make a nonsense of it? Were the producers of the show laughing at us all as we speculated - in our pathetic ignorance - on "meaning" and artist's "intent"? What was the artist's intent? And does an artist's intent matter these days (see below) anyway?


http://lacmaonfire.blogspot.co.uk/2010/07/bert-coopers-freaky-octopus-picture.html


http://fusion.net/story/129910/what-you-need-to-know-about-that-octopus-erotica-on-mad-men-last-night/


One person I know who is not terribly keen on men or on would-be intellectuals, declared roundly that the Hokusai woodcut was just a smutty and misogynistic picture. I didn't/don't agree with that: the piece is not just "posh smut", and I no longer think it is just about greed and/or male exploitation of women. Perhaps it is simply meant to be tender and humorous comment on a happy and fulfilling married life. I really have no idea. The inclusion of the baby in the scene -  is that a clue to the artist's intent? I repeat: I really have no idea. What is art, indeed - and how are we meant to interpret it? Is one interpretation ever "correct"? Postmodernists say a piece of literature, once written, no longer belongs to the writer, but to the reader(s). Is that true of art? Does a work of art - its interpretation - simply belong to the individual viewer, however the experts lecture us on what is "correct"? And is it wise - or kind - to dismiss those who do not always understand - the baffled, the stunned, yes even the offended - as immature, as intellectually backward, stupid even, fit only for infants' nourishment, unable to digest anything more sophisticated? Good teachers never do that because it utterly stifles discussion - makes people afraid to venture an opinion on anything - art, literature, philosophy - for fear of appearing to be totally daft. They give up. And that's a shame.



PS From one of  the above links:

“I picked it for its sensuality, but also, in some way, it reminds me of our business,” he (Bert Cooper) explains. “Who is the man who imagined her ecstasy?”


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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Fri 08 Apr 2016, 09:03

Temp wrote:
Good teachers never do that

I'm a bad teacher. I know that. However I wasn't trying to teach anything here, just answer Priscilla's musing over whether far eastern art also featured social commentary, subversion etc.

Hokusai's venture into Shunga has to be understood in the context of his time to appreciate just how radical it was perceived to be. The tale of Tamatori-hime and the tide jewels she salvaged are of huge religious importance in Shinto lore. The Edo culture of Hokusai's time was in the throes of a very severe moral backlash against previous regimes' more liberal approach to social control, one huge element of which was to try to restructure Shinto along the lines of what they had seen Jesuits do locally regarding Christianity until they had been turfed out. However the lesson had been well learnt that if Shinto could become an authoritarian organisation tied to the state then the Shoguns could exercise even more control over the populace. Shinto had always been a much more personal and family-oriented faith with no leaders as such and in which mores, myth and observance developed in what might be called a rather organic way. The tide jewels, to which many families built shrines, were an important legend within the myth and therefore one which received a make-over by the authorities in which the woman's obedience, breeding and virtuousness, rather than her courage, libido and self-sacrifice, were now to be emphasised. The Shoguns at the same time were also clamping down on Shunga, big-time. Its typically erotic art was banned and those who printed or purchased this material faced severe punishments, even that of beheading for repeat offenders.

By demoting the now state-owned (and morally chastened) Princess to a fisherwife, and setting her as central figure in what one must admit is a very visually engaging Shunga motif, Hokusai was quite emphatically breaking two recent edicts. His print was immediately a best-seller, bought and displayed by so many people - almost as an act of "reclaiming" the legend from its self-appointed morality police owners - that the authorities actually gave up on even trying to prosecute offenders. In fact that whole morality offensive itself also soon ground to a halt (though it being Japan another one would be along later), and in the process this motif became at the time a symbol of rebellion against overt authoritarian interference, especially in Shinto observance. To many Japanese it is still a potent symbol of personal freedom, even today. And you're quite correct to point out that she isn't being raped. She's enjoying herself. Cue moralistic shock horror everywhere in the shogunate halls of power.

I must admit you have me at a disadvantage regarding Mad Men's interpretation of the motif, which may of course be quite different. I confess I have never watched it and didn't even know that it led to many pub arguments regarding octopuses etc. I must have been in the wrong pubs at the time. Pity, I would have enjoyed a didactic octopus diversion over a few pints - beats arguing about Manchester United's youth policy and the price of alcohol.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Fri 08 Apr 2016, 12:18

@nordmann wrote:
 I confess I have never watched it and didn't even know that it led to many pub arguments regarding octopuses etc. I must have been in the wrong pubs at the time. Pity, I would have enjoyed a didactic octopus diversion over a few pints - beats arguing about Manchester United's youth policy and the price of alcohol.


Do I detect a hint of sarcasm there? You don't know what you've missed: the programme led to several open-minded - open-mouthed even - intellectual moments in our village pub. However, one must admit conversation there is not often about 19th century Japanese erotic art: silage and slurry problems; whether the Church tower will collapse any day soon; and footrot (ovine) are more usual topics. Jon (not Dan) Snow and assorted zombies are very popular too - all stuff nearly as tedious as Manchester United's (or Exeter City's) youth policy, I'm afraid, although the latter, I'm sure, is of huge importance and significance to many.

Let's hope the interesting discussion (and teaching) continues at Res His: we do all appreciate it, sir, and would - believe it or not - miss it were it to disappear.  study


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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 09 Apr 2016, 12:56

Octopuses or octopodes?
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 09 Apr 2016, 13:25

Seems one is wrong, whatever one puts.


http://www.heracliteanriver.com/?p=240


The word octopus is not an ancient word from Greek or Latin.  Ancient Greeks called the animal a polypous, and Romans adopted the word from Greek, Latinizing it into polypus.  This word comes from the Greek roots meaning “many feet” and could refer to any sea creature, probably including octopuses, squid, and so forth.  There was a word in Ancient Greek oktapous (with an a), an adjective meaning “eight-footed,” but it did not refer to the sea creature we now call an octopus.  (Ancient Latin similarly had a poetic adjective octipes, derived from the Latin  octo– “eight” + -pes “foot.”  Note the variation between Greek -pous and its Latin variant -pus compared to the original Latin -pes.)
So where did we get our modern word octopus?  Carolus Linnaeus, the father of modern biological taxonomy, coined it in the mid-1700s on the basis of the Greek roots and by analogy to Latin polypus.  Note by this time that Latin was rarely spoken outside of church functions and traditional schools.  Linnaeus, however, had to coin a lot of new words for his classification system for all animals and plants, so Latin and Greek roots seemed the obvious place to start.
The late origin of octopus is important, because we actually don’t have a historical precedent to refer to when it comes to deciding the plural.  We can’t know what the Romans would have used, since they didn’t use that word at all.



The Romans must have eaten squid and octopus - surely? Polypus (with ginger and lemon-grass) on a menu would look very odd. Did the Romans eat calamari? Date however (see below) for that word is 1560s.

calamari (n.) Look up calamari at Dictionary.com1560s, from Italian calamari, from Latin calamarius, literally "pertaining to a pen," from calamus "a writing pen," literally "reed" (see shawm). So called from the cuttlefish's pen-like internal shell and perhaps also from its being full of ink.

I think we need a Waffle or a Woolly Thread for interesting points arising from other threads, but which are really off-topic. I might start one later. The plural of octopus and stuff (not scientific) about time are things I should like to waffle on about.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 09 Apr 2016, 13:44

Hmm. Octopus waffle. With or without maple syrup, I wonder?
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 09 Apr 2016, 13:56

Woolly squid? P, get your needles out.







Sorry, sorry, I'm away now. As you were.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 09 Apr 2016, 14:02

Oh all right, all right, I won't start a Woolly Wafflers Thread then. See if I care.






But this off-topic nonsense really won't do: let us remember that this is The Very Serious Art thread and adjust our thoughts accordingly.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 10 Apr 2016, 14:53

Off-topic? Maybe not.

Wool has been regarded as a legitimate medium for artistic expression as long as wool itself has been around - teasing (quite literally in this case) artistic expression from within strict limitations imposed by the mechanics of knitting and the nature of the fiber itself has been a challenge taken up by many who maybe learnt their craft through simple necessity but still saw no reason not to explore its artistic potential. Nowadays "fiber art" is the expression of choice, it seems, and at least one recognised fiber artist is not even averse to introducing an octopus or two now and again. This is "Ocean Candy" by Betty Usdan Zwickler (it is an art medium, like weaving, typified by its absolute predominance of female practitioners, so probably has traditionally received less credit than it deserved for quite non-artistic reasons over the years).



Priscilla's earlier point about patternism is very relevant on a thread discussing historical perceptions of art, and illustrated very neatly by knitting. What is the point of introducing an artistic motif into the design of any garment which does not enhance its functionality except to add a dimension to the piece that demands aesthetic appreciation, and whether you're knitting a fair isle gansey, painting the roof of the Sistine Chapel, or (these days) sawing a cow in half, this hope of aesthetic appreciation is what each person's endeavour is all about in essence.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 11 Apr 2016, 12:01

Ah, "fibre art" - not just use of wool, but wool with silk and gold thread - immediately made me think of the great artists in tapestry who worked in Brussels during the 16th century. Tapestries were a huge status symbol - Henry VIII could have commissioned two warships for what he spent on his "Story of Abraham" tapestries.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brussels_tapestry

Details of the tapestry used in Wolf Hall given here:

http://zardiandzardi.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/replica-tapestries-to-feature-in-bbc.html

Commissioned in January 2014 by Company Pictures, we made replicas of three celebrated tapestries from the historic collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), London. As a registered licensee of the museum, we were able to work closely with the V&A who undertook a considerable amount of research to source each tapestry. Not only did the enormous textiles have to match the correct historical period (1510-1520) but they also needed to depict the mood of the production. Olivia Stroud, Image Licensing Manager at the V&A, helped Company Pictures to make their final selection, choosing the religious scene of Esther and Ahasuerus as well as two tapestries from the Devonshire Hunting series. In addition to these tapestries, Zardi & Zardi were also commissioned to replicate the famous Salomon et la Reine de Saba tapestry which were sourced from the Musée Grobet-Labadié in Marseille, France


The project took full advantage of 21st century technologies as it digitally manipulated the tapestry of Ether and Ahasuerus to meet the requirements of Wolf Hall's Artistic Director.   The tapestry plays a prominent part during a scene with Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII. The frame shows Anne Boleyn holding her hands in a clasp position; the tapestry was edited to portray Esther holding her hands in the same clasp, as well as editing her hair and eye colourings to match those of Anne Boleyn’s.







Can you spot the difference?
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Tue 12 Apr 2016, 10:04

We may have discussed this before - in as much as we can discuss anything here before being clobbered  - but tapestry is called needlecraft and possibly  as is the gaudy octopus applique above also a craft. Defining the difference is not easy - needing skill with literate  art. Or do I mean word craft? Or should I go and have breakfast?
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Tue 12 Apr 2016, 10:26

When discussing tapestries, would it be fair to say that the art is in the design and the craft in the translation of that design into the completed article?



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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Tue 12 Apr 2016, 11:32

@ferval wrote:
When discussing tapestries, would it be fair to say that the art is in the design and the craft in the translation of that design into the completed article?



Couldn't the same be said of, for example, jewellery, pottery, furniture etc?
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Tue 12 Apr 2016, 11:52

..... and mosaics, carved marble sculptures, cast bronzes, gesso frescos, ... and aquarelles and oil paintings too.

Surely there's a huge amount of practical technique and craft in any fine art. Michelangelo or Rembrandt were as much well-trained or gifted craftsmen as they were artists. I would trust Michelangelo to square off a humble block of natural building stone for a doorstep, without cracking it, more readily than I would Damien Hirst, Tracy Emin or Anthony Gormley ... though I suspect Henry Moore would have be able to do it. Gormley's 'Angel of the North' was actually built entirely by Hartlepool Steel Fabrications Ltd, who specified the steel and fabrication techniques to be used, they then transported the bits to the site and erected by them using several other sub-contractors. An architectural consultancy advised on the foundations, which had to be made 21m deep to withstand wind resistance, and these were then drilled by a specialist building company. Gormley just had the 'back of a fag packet' artistic idea, and was entirely reliant on the expertise, knowledge, craft and yes, artistry, of others. So in that case just who was the sculptor?
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Tue 12 Apr 2016, 15:46

Interesting comments. Holbein - besides being one of the greatest painters of portraits - and thus a man who could show us what Titian called the "inclination of men's* souls" - was also a brilliant designer of gold and jewellery items.

But who indeed was the artist - Holbein or the goldsmith?

*or women's





Cup designed by Holbein for Jane Seymour
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 13 Apr 2016, 13:10

Is the "Caravaggio" found in the Toulouse attic the real thing? I have no idea.

If a Caravaggio, the painting's value is estimated at around $137,000,000; if a mere copy, rather less.

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2016/apr/13/caravaggio-in-tolouse-attic-looks-like-a-fake
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Fri 15 Apr 2016, 23:16

Have you seen this?





The calligraphic image is painted across almost 50 buildings in a Coptic area of Cairo and is designed to foster relations between that marginalised and stigmatised community and the majority population by drawing on the words of a 3rd century bishop, Anyone who wants to see the sunlight clearly needs to wipe his eye first

This explains the art work and the intentions of its creator. http://thespaces.com/2016/03/22/street-artist-el-seed-paints-a-mural-across-50-cairo-buildings/

Isn't it wonderful?
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Fri 13 May 2016, 14:33

This doesn't really follow on from above, but, as we have often mentioned Caravaggio on this thread, I wanted to share a description of the artist I have just stumbled upon.

I am reading Christopher Hitchens' (yes, me reading Christopher Hitchens Shocked  - what a witty and erudite devil he was, to be sure, RIP) autobiography at the moment (Hitch-22 A Memoir) and I came across the following. Hitch is describing his memories of childhood days in Malta:


"...Valletta, the capital of the tiny island-state of Malta and one of the finest Baroque and Renaissance cities of Europe. A jewel set in the sea between Sicily and Libya, it has been for centuries a place of the two-edged sword between the Christian and Muslim worlds. Its population is so overwhelmingly Roman Catholic that there are, within the walled city, a great plethora of ornate churches, the cathedral being decorated by the murals of Caravaggio himself, that seductive votary of the higher wickedness."


What a lovely description - "that seductive votary of the higher wickedness". Like something Oscar Wilde could have come out with.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Fri 13 May 2016, 15:49

Self explanatory;

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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Fri 08 Jul 2016, 12:52

The Museum of Bad Art collections;

MOBA




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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Fri 26 Aug 2016, 17:27

Designers often do a very good job - or at least I thought so with the many team GB outfits for the Olympics that few here seem interested in. Not just GB, though. The variations on the chosen theme became a fascination because other teams did much the same with theirs. I did wonder why Germany went for muted grey. Very drab and uninteresting.
In truth I also began to realise that it is about time that NZ and OZ have their own flag without the Union flag. ..... for one thing  it was difficult for me to watch the sailing eventswith union flags on sails all over the place. 
This being the year of the Brexit we ought encourage  Jacksoff in the flag dept.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 26 Sep 2016, 18:07

I found this interesting:

The Guardian : David Hockney on what turns a picture into a masterpiece

..... if for nothing else than Rembrandt's simple yet exquisite sketch, "A child being taught to walk" ... beautifully capturing the briefest of simple, transient and intimate moments in a family's life ...  and done with such an economy of lines. Lovely.


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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 28 Sep 2016, 08:40

It's beautiful, isn't it? Perfect indeed.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 28 Sep 2016, 09:16

Hockney and his interviewer have a go at Giotto like a lot of others do, normally because his technique doesn't pass muster when compared to his his immediate successors, as in the Masaccio illustrated in the article purely to draw this comparison. I have always felt poor Giotto is so summarily dismissed in this manner as to merit accusations of snobbery and bullying by people who can "do hands" and fail to understand what Giotto actually achieved. Instead of dissing his poor shadows (though Hockney states that his own use of shade is similar) and generic noses etc, one should take a look at what was passing for acceptable standards of pictorial representation immediately prior to him. That he put shadows in at all was revolutionary in its day - and in fact if you look at Giotto's stuff chronologically you can actually see the shadows accentuating (and becoming part of the composition) as time goes on. He snuck them in, got them settled, and then moved them centre stage. Masaccio and the rest of them should have been paying him royalties (and Caravaggio should have simply added a "pace Giotto" under his signature on everything he did).

Any good mate of Petrarch is a mate of mine ...

PS: I heartily agree about the Rembrandt cartoon - they're all good. Da Vinci is another whose cartoons often surpassed his paintings for expression and freedom in composition. One has to laugh when one reads that fantastic expression through simple impressionist brush strokes was a 19th century revolution. Great artists were doing it for centuries in their preparatory sketches.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 28 Sep 2016, 09:39

Did anyone else watch the recent BBC 4 short series on conceptual art? I loved Bricks: witty ironic, insightful and thought provoking, it addressed the title of this thread most entertainingly.



http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b07w6hdm/bricks?suggid=b07w6hdm

Here is the first episode, Who's afraid of conceptual Art:



http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b07w6gkt/whos-afraid-of-conceptual-art


And the third which I haven't seen yet, Gaga for Dada:



http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b07w6j9h/gaga-for-dada-the-original-art-rebels?suggid=b07w6j9h
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 28 Sep 2016, 11:23

iPlayer isn't available to those of us outside the Septic Isle unfortunately, but thanks for the thought.

Discussion of "modern" art cannot fail to regurgitate, for me, memories of "Art", the Yasmina Raza play which centres on a group of upper middle-class acquaintances and how the purchase of a blank white canvas by one of them for a small fortune (ironically John Fortune in the part when I saw it) raises all kinds of existentialist doubts and struggles among them which jeopardise their so-called friendship. Besides raising valid questions about "what is art" it is also a great examination of people who have so long disappeared up their own arses that everything they contemplate and utter is through a veneer of the inevitable from such a perspective.

How's this for an existentialist take on the basis of friendship as attemptedly enunciated by Yvan, who has just trounced off in a huff after a perceived slight issued by one of the others while discussing the painting, but has now immediately come back with what he seriously thinks is an ameliorative opener to smooth things over and start again:

"If I'm who I am because I'm who I am, and you're who you are because you're who you are, then I'm who I am and you're who you are. If however... I'm who I am because you're who you are, and you're who you are because I'm who I am, then I'm not who I am and you're not who you are."

John Fortune's bemused silence as he contemplated how to receive this utterance must have lasted a full three minutes and was absolutely glorious. But I digress ....
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 28 Sep 2016, 11:25

Don't the YouTube links work?
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 28 Sep 2016, 11:28

Apologies - indeed they do. I thought they were trailers.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 28 Sep 2016, 12:57

Couldn't let Rembrandt slip past without highlighting some of his other cartoons - I love them so much.

This one is from 1655 and is - criminally - owned but rarely displayed by the British Museum:


Girl sleeping


Another in the learning to walk studies


And yet another (I well remember my brother being thus elasticated at that age)


Comforting a child frightened by a dog

And just to highlight why Masaccio was all very good but you still can't beat a good sketch here's both his and Rembrandt's take on St Peter raising the widow Tabitha from the dead.


All very austere and biblical - lovely shadows etc


One feels one's almost intruding into a very private and sacred moment here
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 29 Sep 2016, 11:41

I have only just noticed the above message. I have never seen any of those pictures before: how lovely they are, every single one of them. Thank you for posting them, nordmann. It makes one realise how much art one has never experienced...



Thanks also to ferval for the links. I recorded these programmes, but had forgotten all about them: I shall try to watch them this weekend.


Going from the sublimity of Rembrandt to the idiocy of some "conceptual" art, I always remember one of Minette's witty remarks on the subject. She was telling us about her visit to a Tate Britain exhibition and how she positioned herself on a big escalator in one of the major galleries with some trepidation. She wasn't sure if it was a proper escalator, or one of the Turner Prize sillier offerings. She no doubt had in mind the judgement of one famous art critic that "art must keep moving".
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 29 Sep 2016, 12:48

The Tate's a minefield for that sort of thing. I nearly tripped over the famous "bricks" while destracted by some other bit of art. Mind you in the Prado I was admiring some huge painting, stepped back and briefly leaned against a small table ... only for a guard to quickly appear and ask me, politely, to desist. I'm ashamed to say I was casually leaning on Hieronymus Bosch's 'Seven Deadly Sins', which until then I didn't actually know formed a table top (thankfully it is protected by thick glass).
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