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 What is Art?

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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 28 May 2015, 16:29

Found a Huffington Post article about the No Seconds exhibition, Caro - with pictures!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/30/no-seconds-henry-hargreaves-photos_n_4689224.html

Here's the Single Olive - With Pip:

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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 28 May 2015, 17:23

I bet Victor Feguer didn't get his olive served on that actual plate. I have a set of 12 soup bowls and under-saucers in almost exactly the same pattern: plain white porcelain, with a band of a lightly embossed, repeated motif ...  coloured with Hanovia gold ceramic enamel. Mine are 1950s German-made (I think) but I'm fairly sure the style was actually copied, faithfully, from a late 19th century/fin de siécle, French design .... (mine do look very much like the bowls used for the turtle soup in the film 'Babette's Feast', which is set in about the late 1880s).

So rather unlikely to be found in Iowa State Penetentiary.



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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 08 Jun 2015, 02:44

Artistic licence, I suppose, MM. 

Today's radio had a man talking about graffiti, and there was discussion of how much art was in the artist's mind and how much it was about the viewer, as graffiti is often seen as vandalism when it is a few scribbles on someone's fence, but then can become very valuable art when it is done by someone famous like Banksy.  And in between there is graffiti which just improves a mess, as is happening in Christchurch at the moment, when street art is livening up the centre city.

It may have already been discussed here, but how do you recognise good art from not so good?  I know there is a school of "I know what I like" but I don't believe there isn't also some relatively objective notice of quality in art, just as there is in literature or music or architecture or building or any field.  I was reading The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova - well worth the read, though quite long - and its background (and foreground really) was art, specifically impressionist art.  All the main characters were artists either professionally or as amateur lovers of painting.  There is discussion of artworks and artists throughout the book, and descriptions of what was so good in paintings, both imaginery and real ones.  At one point a character says something like, "Sisley.  He was better than the rest of them put together."  But I don't know if the reasons for that assessment was given in any particular detail.  I have checked Sisley's paintings via the internet and they are lovely, but to my eye no more so than Monet's or some of the paintings of the other Impressionists. Or Pre-Raphaelites.  And I don't think loveliness per se is what makes good or great art.  But I am not sure what does?  Is it the combination of intention and execution?  or something more intrinsic or instinctive?  learnt? 

I suppose this has all been discussed before, but I haven't remembered all the discussion and the first post was discussing what art was generally, not necessarily what good art was.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 08 Jun 2015, 16:40

I don't want to disrupt the dinosaur thread with any more silly comments, so I'll move here - not for silliness, but for what I think is lovely art. Various artists show Adam naming the animals. This art is as beautiful as the Hebrew poet's (or poets' rather) attempt to explain the mystery of the creation - well I think so.








Love the hedgehogs!







My favourite is the top one by Theophanes the Greek. I like the little dragon. But I also warm to the lion in the bottom picture - he looks very sheepish about something.

I cannot find a single beetle anywhere!
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 08 Jun 2015, 17:00

@Temperance wrote:
I cannot find a single beetle anywhere!

Probably gobbled up by the hedgehogs.

I find it interesting that despite the slightly naive style and that the camels, lions and elephant are not particularly true to life, the birds, despite being almost cartoon-like sketches are all fairly identifiable. The top picture clearly contains an owl (probably a 'horned' eagle-owl), a peacock, and a magpie ... plus on the top of the tree I would hazard a falcon/hawk and a thrush/bulbul (it was painted in the Eastern Med' after all). And lower down I think that's probably a pied flycatcher or maybe a pied wagtail. I assume it's an eagle behind the dragon/wyvern but uniquely this bird, though painted much bigger than the other birds, seems more stylised and heraldic than life-like.

@Temperance wrote:

But I also warm to the lion in the bottom picture - he looks very sheepish about something.

Sheepish indeed .... where's that plump Lamb of God suddenly disappeared to?!?
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Tue 09 Jun 2015, 13:42

Just a thought. Would an artist painting Adam with a belly button be treading on dangerous ground ?

The implication that Adam had had an umbilical cord and was therefore not the product of a supernatural event would not be lost on the Church (or the Inquisition)
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 10 Jun 2015, 09:01

@Triceratops wrote:
Just a thought. Would an artist painting Adam with a belly button be treading on dangerous ground ?

The implication that Adam had had an umbilical cord and was therefore not the product of a supernatural event would not be lost on the Church (or the Inquisition)

A very good point. It was indeed a theologically fraught issue and in some paintings the tasteful vine leaves serve not only to hide Adam and Eve's genitals but also their navels, just so the artist didn't have to commit one way or the other.

I think most current Christian creationists maintain that Adam and Eve had no belly-buttons, having been created rather than born of womankind. However since God seems to have created them as adults, why could he not have created them to exactly resemble normal adults, with navel?

This was one of the points raised in 1857 by the well-known and otherwise quite respectable naturalist and geologist, Philip Henry Gosse, in a bizarre little book, 'Omphalos' (Greek for navel) subtitled, 'An Attempt to Untie the Geological Knot'. Gosse argued that in order for the world to be "functional", God must have created the Earth with mountains and canyons, trees with growth rings, Adam and Eve with hair, fingernails, and navels, and that therefore no evidence that we can see of the presumed age of the earth and universe can be taken as reliable. The idea saw some revival in the 20th century by some creationists, who extended the argument to light that appears to originate in far-off stars and galaxies, but it seems to have been rejected by most Creationists.

Sensibly so for in that direction chaos reigns. if you accept the idea that God could create the illusion of pre-existence, then logically the Creation might have been just last Thursday and that all the evidence of history before that date, whether as geologic strata, weathered rocks, fossils, wear on teeth, navels, old newspapers and indeed our own memories, were all created at exactly that time.


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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 10 Jun 2015, 09:17

Here's a picture of Gossie. Not much fun down the pub on a Saturday night, I shouldn't think.

Then again, you never know.

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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 10 Jun 2015, 09:43

Those aren't navels on Adam and Eve, they are the marks where God prodded them on their tummies to check that they were done - just like Mary Berry checks her fairy cakes.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 10 Jun 2015, 12:03

That would explain why the (unbaked) Pilsbury Doughboy also lacks a navel:

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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 11 Jun 2015, 07:54

@Meles meles wrote:
That would explain why the (unbaked) Pilsbury Doughboy also lacks a navel:



Does a navel appear after baking then? Your parenthetical comment presents us with yet another challenging theological speculation, MM.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 11 Jun 2015, 10:31

Hadn't read posts carefully enough - I understand now: navel is where the testing skewer has gone in - on cakes, doughboys and Adam and Eves. Sorry for being half-baked.

Serious question. Do any pictures show a scar on Adam - to indicate the first ever bit of successful surgery - the removal of his spare rib (aka Eve)?
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 11 Jun 2015, 12:52

I don't know about a scar but the actual act of creating Eve certainly allowed artists' imaginations to run riot.

This one is 12th century German and I get the distinct impression the monk doing the illustration had never seen anyone, either male or female, fully naked before:



Interestingly though, despite Adam's bizarre anatomy, he does still have a belly-button ... at least I assume that's what it is.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 11 Jun 2015, 13:56

So why did either of them have primary and secondary genitalia if God never intended them for use? Decoration?
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 11 Jun 2015, 17:09

I guess it was His belt-and-braces approach, since being all-knowing He doubtless suspected as soon as He'd given free-will to his pinnacles of creation, they'd sooner or later commit some original sin together and so would have to be evicted from Paradise, thereafter to be mortal and so then they'd have to procreate to keep going. Either that or He just used the adult-form concept sketches as the blue-print, complete with navel, working genitals, adult teeth, fully-grown and growing hair and toe-nails, lactose intolerance, a primed immune system, etc ...

But even so, why did He decide to give Adam, and so all men thereafter .... nipples?
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 25 Jun 2015, 15:26

Just completed. A 14 year project to recreate 16th century tapestries at Stirling Castle;


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-tayside-central-33237947



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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 20 Sep 2015, 08:05

Brian Sewell, the outspoken and opinionated art critic, has just died (19 September 2015) and the papers have been giving some of his more cutting comments about contemporary artists.

On Banksy:
"Any fool who can put paint on canvas or turn a cardboard box into a sculpture is lauded. Banksy should have been put down at birth. It’s no good as art, drawing or painting. His work has no virtue. It’s merely the sheer scale of his impudence that has given him so much publicity.”

On Damien Hirst:
“Were Hirst’s canvases the work of a late teenager, we might take the random lines around the skulls as a clever allusion to the measuring-points of a sculptor of Canova’s generation, or as an illusion of cracked glass, and forgive the ugly clumsiness of inexperienced execution; but Hirst is nearing his half-century and should have a far higher level of skill than this rough daubing, with which he degrades his master, Bacon.”

On Tracey Emin:
“The sane man must ask whether he should give any of this pretentious stuff the time of day in aesthetic terms when it seems that this self-regarding exhibitionist is ignorant, inarticulate, talentless, loutish and now very rich.”

On David Hockney:
“Hockney is not another Turner expressing, in high seriousness, his debt to the old master; Hockney is not another Picasso teasing Velázquez and Delacroix with not quite enough wit; here Hockney is a vulgar prankster, trivialising not only a painting that he is incapable of understanding and could never execute, but in involving him in the various parodies, demeaning Picasso too.”

Although not particularly a fan of Sewell, I am rather inclined to agree with his comments.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 20 Sep 2015, 16:53

He waspish commentary was always a joy to listen to. His being a lapsed - considerably - Catholic, I enjoyed the TV diary of his Compostella pilgrimage and  his coming to terms with spiritual matters and well, for one thing, humility  which was never a major suit in his otherwise point loaded hand. 

I hope that the current airing of his remarks - and on a broader front, might well cause some to reflect deeper on what they over applaud and over pay for.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 21 Sep 2015, 07:54

I never reckoned Sewell as much more than a self-publicist himself. His comments about the rather more notorious Cool Britannia "artists" needed to be said out loud by someone with an audience, and for that one is grateful, but when tasked with assessment of what might be described as more conventional art in the sense of past masters and historical style setters he was equally scathing. Often to the point that one was left to wonder just why he bothered persevering in his chosen trade at all, so obviously dismissive he was of the fruits of that trade. It meant that one became sceptical of his views, even on the rare occasion he championed an artist's oeuvre.

As a raconteur and author however he could be very entertaining. And his final book, "The White Umbrella" - mistakenly marketed as a children's book - is a delightful paean to a form of Eccentricus Britannicus no longer with us, alas. The story of a man (known only as B.) and the donkey he has rescued in Pakistan as they make the journey on foot back to Britain via every last ghostly vestige of empire is one that is hugely nostalgic for a dwindling portion of us and (I am sure) absolute twee fantasy for the brasher inheritors of the world of Mr B.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 22 Oct 2015, 11:28

I think this series, The Story of Scottish Art, has only been shown on BBC2 Scotland, so far anyway.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06hbvzn/episodes/player

I've found it pleasant viewing if a not terribly incisive and it does have some interesting points to make, not least about how old Knoxy and the Reformation put the mockers on art for years. I could expand but.........
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 22 Oct 2015, 16:10

They'll probably skip over her but no history of Scottish art should exclude Katherine Arthur Behenna. Although born in Scotland in 1860 she made her name in the USA painting miniatures of top socialites of the day, but it was when she moved to France that her art (and the rest of her) exploded into fantastic lunacy. She believed Helios was her muse and actually divorced her husband to enhance the chance of Helios manifesting himself and the pair of them having carnal knowledge of each other. She was the archetypal "nutter in Greek robes" prancing around on the lawns of houses cadged off her admirers (and she had many). She believed fervently that one had a moral duty to be as stoned or rat-arsed as one could throughout one's life and though she never had any lovers of note (she was holding out for Helios) she believed a successful life was one that ended in mid-orgasm.

Here's an extract from her book Mystic Songs of Fire and Flame

I chaunt the song of Phallus pure
The gift of Jah divine; The symbol of life, Mere outward form Smiling, the gods resign. Soul of the freed man Walking the earth (Channel I now become) And a race of gods Descends to us

The world with wonder dumb !

For the love is life Phallus the sign, Symbol of Jah's decree That only through life And light and love The soul of man is free. "Jet out thy semen,

Fiery soul,

Clasp thy wife in thine arms,

Love is immortal And lust is death

Creeping, it slimes and harms !"

"Ah! Mouth unto mouth,

My love, my life,

Thou bone and breath of me ;

And again, again, I draw thee close I pour myself in thee. For power and love.


Her miniatures were nice too. Here's Anna Hall (Eleanor Roosevelt's mum) as captured by Behenna who wouldn't have been so tremendously older at the time.



Behenna's problem (besides being a woman in what was very much a man's business) was that she was born almost exactly 100 years ahead of her time.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 22 Oct 2015, 16:59

I can only think it's a fortunate that she moved away from the douce wee toon of Helensburgh, the Song of the Clyde goes down a lot better there than the song of phallus pure. Except of course when one of the Trident boats gets back from patrol and the crew hits town. Even then 'pure' nay not be particularly apt.

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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 04 Nov 2015, 13:27

Back in November 2013 (page 7 of this thread) Temp had unearthed some remakable Emily and Branwell Brontë artwork (especially Emily's).

Now here's a Charlotte from when she was 13 years old which I've just stumbled upon ...

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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 04 Nov 2015, 13:42

Not an illustration but a manuscript by the precocious Miss Bronte;

http://www.bl.uk/collection-items/bront-juvenilia-blackwoods-young-mens-magazine
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 26 Nov 2015, 15:53

@nordmann wrote:
Back in November 2013 (page 7 of this thread) Temp had unearthed some remakable Emily and Branwell Brontë artwork (especially Emily's).

Now here's a Charlotte from when she was 13 years old which I've just stumbled upon ...


That tree image is familiar: Emily did a similar picture (shown below on the cover of a Penguin edition of her superb poetry) when she was at the Heger Academy in in Brussels. She gave it to the young female friend she made during her time there. Unusual for Emily - she rarely made friends; and she rarely gave her pictures away.




The phallic imagery in Emily's picture has been commented on - both Emily and Charlotte suffered in Brussels, but in different ways.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 30 Nov 2015, 10:57

It is probably unfair to cast a critical eye on the artistic merits of the Brontës' excursions into visual media (as one would say nowadays). They themselves were fiercely critical of their own work in that regard and Charlotte, who once had serious intentions regarding being recognised as an artist in her own right, realised early on with some sadness that her skills were imitative and her paintings and drawings unoriginal; "Unless I can look beyond the great Masters, and study Nature herself, I have no right to paint". Would that many "modern" artists had adopted the same disdain for imitation and lack of originality!

Charlotte however was not completely disregarding of her artistic talents and credited her practice and training in that field with later being able to visualise her invented characters in her stories and trace their characteristics back to acutely observed "real" subjects.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 09 Dec 2015, 16:15

French scientist Pascal Cotte claims there is another portrait underneath the Mona Lisa;

Mona Lisa

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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 10 Dec 2015, 16:15

The Prado version of the Mona Lisa;

Prado Mona Lisa


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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 03 Jan 2016, 15:23

Some have compared it to a modern version of Hogarth's 'Gin Lane', while others have likened its composition to that of a renaissance painting ... the image caught by freelance photographer of a Manchester street strewn with drunken revellers on New Year's Eve has attracted world-side attention after it appeared in a picture gallery on the Manchester Evening News website.

The original photo:



It conforms to the ratios of the Golden Triangle,



.... but is it art?







.... some people clearly think so.

 The Guardian : "Like a beautifual painting" - New Year's revellers in Manchester
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 04 Jan 2016, 23:29

Like it or not, I think it is art - perceived if not intended. Not something I would like on  a home wall, of course. Much that I admire for many reasons I could not live with  are  best put somewhere for reflection but not to be encountered daily. Has any research gone into that side of the art world? I was dumbstruck by seeing a young couple buy  a copy of that green-faced oriental woman at an antiques fair in a stately home last year. Does it still appeal? Why it ever did is still a mystery to me.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Tue 05 Jan 2016, 02:42

I wouldn't hang this on a wall either, but there is a definite place for art that says more than a mere thousand words. It takes real talent to do that, I like this one by Pawel Kuczynski .

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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Tue 05 Jan 2016, 10:19

Is the photo Art? It depends I think. If that photo was taken with intent, if the photographer selected his shot in terms of composition, chose his position and framed it with care them yes, it certainly is. However if he was randomly snapping anything and everything with abandon, hoping to get a good image among dozens or hundreds, then I don't think it is, really. But then if he (was it a 'he' or is that just an example of bias?) has later selected it and perhaps cropped and enhanced it, it still could be art, more like found art in that case.

What might Caravaggio have done with a digital camera? Something very like that, I'd think.

The couple buying the Tretchikoff ? Post-modernist irony perhaps?
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Tue 05 Jan 2016, 11:52

@ferval wrote:
Is the photo Art? It depends I think. If that photo was taken with intent, if the photographer selected his shot in terms of composition, chose his position and framed it with care them yes, it certainly is. However if he was randomly snapping anything and everything with abandon, hoping to get a good image among dozens or hundreds, then I don't think it is, really.

.... not so sure. What about Korda's iconic photo of Che Guevara, "Guerrillero Heroico":



Why should Jim FitzPatrick's red Che, or Warhol's multi-coloured manipulation,

     .

....be "art", while the original photo isn't just because as Korda admitted, is was a lucky shot? He had just a few seconds and had to snap away almost blindly (the complete roll of film is here). Korda rotated the image slightly, boosted the contrast a bit and cropped it down ... Jim FitzPatrick didn't even have to do that.

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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Tue 05 Jan 2016, 14:49

ferv, a great deal of art - and some of the finest - is a result of accidental application. Very often not what you intended, paint strokes produce an effect that that pleases ore and can present  further challenge; in sculpture it can be somewhat radical. That is the reason I gave it up. A huge, long fossil suddenly be revealedin the stone was the last straw after much hard work. As for photography, people do seem to try to line  up an agreeable composition as they take their boring time lining it up. Professionals usually take many shots from which to select a considered expression of their art. And primitive art from children - and animals - is often recognised as art tho not actually the intent of the artist; as ever, its  perception and eye  and of the beholder.

As for the drunks, I like the styled artwork using the photo as a base. Some of the greatest war photos were not lined up with much thought about composition and art yet the results are. I stand my ground. I think the drunks photo is art whether intended or by accident.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Tue 05 Jan 2016, 16:01

I don't think I'm entirely disagreeing with either of you but I would suggest that, if that photo was a happy accident, then the artistic input lies as much in the selection of that shot from amongst the others and the recognition of its qualities as much or more as in its creation.

I know nothing of the circumstances of the taking of the image nor whether the photographer was a professional or just a bystander taking what might be a rather prurient snap of a squalid scene - would that matter, I wonder?

I would completely agree that the work of children is art, it's always an act of creation, and much the same might be said of animals given materials but if the cat runs across an open paint box and then a sheet of paper, that is art only if a human eye selects it as having the what-ever-it-is that makes something art. The same could apply if the cat runs over a piano. With found art it's the taking out of context and ascription of value that makes the item art: a beautiful stone is not art when lying on a beach but it can be when placed in another setting.

It's complicated and I do struggle to organise my thoughts. I do like the picture a lot though.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Tue 05 Jan 2016, 23:17

Re the beautiful stones. In Henry Moore's drawing studio in Hertfordshire was a shelf holding  elongated flintstones gathered from a beach. I recall him taking down one to show us (students) what had inspired him for a huge reclining figure. for the UNESCO building  In workshop studio next door he had someone working on a large plaster model for  a selection committee. He got the commission, anyway. Based on that stone and several like it  he then went on to develop his reclining figure style  in which each tell a stunning tale in space, line, volume, curves and angles.Eventually he pared the idea down to the simplest of statements yet no less telling.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 11 Jan 2016, 16:38

It's a brave man who can attempt to "make art out of his own death".





Superb track.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 11 Feb 2016, 15:27

There has been discussion elsewhere of barbarians, good and bad. How have barbarians been shown in art? I can find lots of cartoon/comic depictions, but there must be some serious pictures/sculptures? Found this one - dates from Germanic wars of Marcus Aurelius:


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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 11 Feb 2016, 15:40

You can spot the barbarians  -Roman men in short skirts  barbarians in trews - there's even one with bum like Sharpe of the South Essex Chosen Ones. Still quite a lot of barbarianism in Soth Essex as it happens.

Must have been fun in the group when the sketches were made for it. Perhaps in the G.O.Days sculptors just got straight in with the chiselling. We always had to make sketches.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Fri 12 Feb 2016, 00:23


Here you are Temp, The Dying Gaul, Roman copy of a lost Greek original which may have been a bronze. Thought for many years to be a dying  gladiator, the torc identifies the subject as a, for want of a better word, Celt. Poor laddie has lost his trews though.

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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Fri 12 Feb 2016, 09:15

There are other 'Dying Gauls' who kept their brecs on - to use the word of the time. I have seen one but can't think where. But not  surely these are not the image Temps is seeking. Try  Breccus - who sacked Rome (appropriate) and made off to Toulouse - but  I cannot recall if he came to a sticky end. It is said his hoard has never been found. I doubt there was one after the mob was paid off etc. Temps might look at the Noble Savage artwork - but this would be treading a very fine line and I shall probably be excommunicated for even suggesting it. Your marble is a nice piece of work - of its genre. Carving a block to release 'what is within' is without doubt the biggest challenge I ever took on. I found it so all round exhausting that I gave up the conceit. Bronzes and such are a damn sight easier.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 13 Feb 2016, 08:41

Thank you for your replies, P. and ferval.

I very much like the Dying Gaul, but there is something about it that disturbs: could the Romans - a brutal and ruthless people - indulge in a certain condescending sentimentality when it came to presenting their defeated enemies in art? But then it is a copy of a Greek statue you say, ferval?

I know nothing about sculpture, so I am wary of saying more.

Prompted by the original remarks in the Tumbleweed about barbarians/noble savages and nord's reference to Tacitus (Germania?), I have been checking out barbarians and what various Roman writers said about them. Couldn't find much to do with this thread (might be the subject of another), but Roman writers such as Horace, Virgil, and Ovid apparently gave very favourable treatment to the Scythians. I knew absolutely nothing about these people (whom Herodotus said were descended from Hercules and a rather odd woman he found in a cave), so was amazed to find how beautiful their art was - they were great goldsmiths apparently. Here are some examples:










I love this horse. There is also a magnificent piece showing a horse being attacked by a tiger, but I can't make it copy.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 13 Feb 2016, 17:06

Did you see Waldemar Januszczak's series The Dark Ages: An Age of Light on BBC 4? http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00zbtmp

I can only find one episode on line, no. 2:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1vakg6_bbc-the-dark-ages-an-age-of-light-2-of-4-what-the-barbarians-did-for-us-2012_creation

I'm fond of wee Waldemar with his endearing waddle and provocative opinions. I see he has a new series starting on Monday. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0717ld7
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 14 Feb 2016, 08:16

Yes, the recorder's set. Have you seen the article in the Radio Times about his new programme, ferval - Sex, God and the Belgians? Apparently Januszczak will argue that we've got the Renaissance all wrong: "People believed the Renaissance started in Italy because Vasari said it did - no!" Should be interesting.

I love Dürer's picture of the grass the RT gives as one of WJ's "Renaissance hits" - can you believe it, but I have never seen it before?

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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 14 Feb 2016, 10:41

Heart-flip art. There is so much else to say of this work but for me, his palette  control is a wow.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 14 Feb 2016, 11:24

Renaissance Art is a problematic term in art history. If it is taken as a completely separate development to all else dubbed "renaissance" then it is indeed hard to pretend that its origins were Italian - the development of the aptitude (and attitude) to create paintings in which proper perspective and an overt respect for anatomical, botanical and even compositional accuracy, as well as all the other things regarding materials and teaching required to produce them, defies pinpointing regarding where it all might have started. But it is pretty safe to say (and easily demonstrable) that Italian schools in the 15th and 16th centuries often lagged behind more northern based artists. What distinguished the Italian branch was its rapid assimilation into what was then a fledgling approach to secular academia being pioneered in Northern Italian cities in which such art reflected similar developments in what was termed at the time "natural philosophy".

The question is not really therefore "who was first?" rather than "how did Renaissance Art reflect other important intellectual advances of the period?". Italy was where these developments received their initial impetus and recognition - the term "humanism" was coined first in that region and applied first to the scope of philosophical departures typical of the Renaissance. And of course the idea of all this being a re-birth of classical values also took root first in that culture, one in which an ancient appreciation of the concept of trivium found a new label "studia humanitatis", and all such developments reflecting this new evaluation and increased scope were inevitably linked both to the academies in which they were being forged and to the area that housed them.

That is why the Renaissance is so strongly linked with Italian origins. However the disciplines which underwent revolutionary make-overs in the process were much more diverse in terms of influence and origin (part of the new humanism opened academia to input from much further afield than had been common beforehand), and artistic style and expression are just one aspect to this ambiguity which the term Renaissance as an Italian concept tends to have further smudged historically.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 15 Feb 2016, 11:48

A measure of the confusion (and lack of recognition for the radical changes in Flemish art which at least coincided with Italian advances) can be gleaned from the following two opening lines in their respective Wikipedia entries.

Concerning Flemish Art the author begins (quite correctly) with "Flemish painting flourished from the early 15th century until the 17th century."

Compare this with the opening sentence addressing Renaissance painting: "Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painting represents the 16th century response to Italian Renaissance art in the Low Countries."

You can see what has happened there, can't you? The likes of Jan van Eyck, Hans Memling, Hugo van der Goes, Robert Campin and Rogier van der Weyden, whose mastery of oils as a medium was pioneering and so far advanced for its day that Italians travelled to the Low Lands to learn what the guys were up to, still doesn't apparently merit inclusion in the Renaissance movement. Yet when Italians started mastering the same craft the Flemish "responded" to them in kind and thus got their membership.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 15 Feb 2016, 12:25

A comparison - two paintings executed by artists within a decade of each other, both of which are rightly hailed as typical of the breakthroughs both guys were making at the time.

Yet amazingly we are invited to regard only the Italian painting as true Renaissance. The Flemish painter is deemed to have died almost a century before his compatriots managed to "catch up" with their Italian counterparts as fully fledged Renaissance artists.


Masaccio's "The Tribute Money" - a bunch of guys with seemingly little real interest in what's going on around them assume classical poses in one of the artist's trademark Dr Seuss landscapes. And of course no one mentions the upturned cake trays on everyone's heads. They all appear a little sinister to me in fact. Don't really know what Masaccio was aiming for here.


Jan van Eyck's "St Francis Receiving the Stigmata" - in a landscape with geologically identifiable rock formations and with a realistic but symbolic representation of Jerusalem in the background, a rather bemused Frank adopts a "Today was crap, and now this!" expression as God punctures him, while his mate Leo gets all overcome with everything and slumps in what looks like either grief or an expression something akin to "Christ, I'm not with this guy!". At least they're believable, if a little too cool about everything. Also if you take a magnifying glass you will see about another dozen mini scenes of human interaction going on among the people and animals around the city's walls.

Yet the cake tray man is Renaissance, but the other lad failed to make the cut. Hmmm ....
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 15 Feb 2016, 13:42

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.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 15 Feb 2016, 14:00

@Priscilla wrote:


As for the drunks, I like the styled artwork using the photo as a base. Some of the greatest war photos were not lined up with much thought about composition and art yet the results are. I stand my ground. I think the drunks photo is art whether intended or by accident.
Well, this one certainly represents a "re-enactment" and was carefully composed and set up by Joe Rosenthal, but has become one of the most iconic photos in US history.

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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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