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 What is Art?

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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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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 29 Sep 2016, 17:22

It could have been worse, MM. Imagine if you had been invited to some posh arty "do" there, and refreshments had been served and you had plonked your wine glass on the small table - and left a nasty, sticky ring on the "Seven Deadly Sins"!  Embarassed Embarassed Embarassed
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 29 Sep 2016, 17:37

.... suitably placed on Gluttony perhaps, although maybe on Sloth, for being too lazy to even look where I was plonking my glass of plonk.

 drunken
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 05 Oct 2016, 18:20

Artemisia Gentileschi, one of the extremely few female artists of the Baroque period whose works survive and which are critically acclaimed still, will feature in the "Beyond Caravaggio" exhibition that opens next week in the National Gallery in London and runs until January. This is one I'll make an effort to get to.

Gentileschi (though art historians refer to her puzzlingly only as Artemisia) was the daughter of the renowned painter Orazio so basically grew up in a studio surrounded not only by artists, but by some of the most prominent practitioners of the day, including Caravaggio, and it is not at all difficult to see the influence of Caravaggio on her own considerable output. At 18 years of age she was raped by a young artist, Tassi, and though it is tempting to think this dreadful experience coloured her art and her attitudes thereafter, this may only be because we are fortunate to have still the entire transcript of the trial which ensued and from which we can adduce much about the young Gentileschi's integrity, strength of mind and stubborn will. As an indication of the times (and in close parallel to Sharia thought today) it was Gentileschi who stood accused and - as was the custom of the day - was tortured in court to see if her accusation against Tassi held up under duress (it did). Gentileschi was found "not culpable" (innocent) but Tassi was nonetheless set free - this odd outcome very much to do with the fact that the pope of the day, Paul V, was a good customer of Tassi and didn't want his output interrupted by such a frivolous little thing as a prison sentence over such a trivial thing as the rape of a young woman.

Gentileschi ended up working in London at one point, her father having been appointed court painter to Charles I, so it is fitting that it is this city which is now recognising her contribution to art, a fine example being her self portrait, executed there in the 1630s when Gentileschi was approaching 40 years of age.



Her most renowned work however is the bloody and superior "Judith Slaying Holofernes" which hangs now in the Uffizi in Florence. Compare it, for example, to Caravaggio's own famous treatment of the same theme to see how much more powerful, intense and realistic the depiction became in Gentileschi's hands. Bear in mind that Judith these days is reckoned to be a self-portrait of the artist, and that Holofernes bears a remarkable similarity to Tassi, and one can probably deduce a rather obvious motive behind the excellence of the work.



Jonathan Jones has a rather good article about her in today's Guardian (click here to read it).
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 05 Oct 2016, 19:22

Good article, and the paintings are magnificent ... The Guardian may have its faults, but it does seem do "art" quite well.

If only their science writers were as literate and informed.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 15 Oct 2016, 10:45

@nordmann wrote:
Artemisia Gentileschi, one of the extremely few female artists of the Baroque period whose works survive and which are critically acclaimed still, will feature in the "Beyond Caravaggio" exhibition that opens next week in the National Gallery in London and runs until January. This is one I'll make an effort to get to.



I knew absolutely nothing about this interesting woman or the exhibition at the National Gallery. Thanks for alerting me to it.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 15 Oct 2016, 12:16

Ruskin, who admired Caravaggio's work, dismissed Gentileschi's output as "imitative daubs". Go figure.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 15 Oct 2016, 14:03

@nordmann wrote:
Ruskin, who admired Caravaggio's work, dismissed Gentileschi's output as "imitative daubs". Go figure.


I hate to admit it, but I do not know enough about Ruskin or Gentileschi to "go figure". (I don't really understand that expression either, if I am honest).

I do know Ruskin was certainly ambivalent about women generally. All right in their place, although I'm not quite sure what Ruskin deemed that place to be - not the marital bed, as I understand? I presume the "places" deemed suitable by him were rather restricted: did he decree that fine art was certainly no métier for females? Women were permitted by Ruskin to dabble in craft, I believe, but little else.

I should imagine a woman/artist such as Gentileschi appears to have been would have absolutely terrified/horrified the man.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 15 Oct 2016, 14:18

"Go figure" is a rhetorical invitation to apply logic to a premise that defies same, that's all. It is not really directed at the reader but is more in the manner of a "note to self". I must have picked it up in the States, y'all.

I am not sure Gentileschi deserved such dismissive treatment and it certainly smacked of something rather more fundamentally objectionable to Ruskin than mere artistic style, so I agree completely with you there, but to be somewhat fair to him it wasn’t so much the daughter he despised as Gentileschi Senior, her father, and poor Artemisia seems to have borne the brunt of this opprobrium towards her dad by extension.

It was while standing in a Turin gallery and contemplating Orazio Gentileschi’s “The Annunciation” that Ruskin experienced a Pauline moment. Up to that second he had been very much the product of a strict, crawthumping version of Wesleyanism which coloured his criticism and treatment of artists’ subjects to an overriding extent. Even while espousing the nobility (his expression) in the works of Tintoretto, Caravaggio, and Titian etc, he strongly maintained a disdain of what his ultra-protestantism dismissed as base, unworthy, lewd and profane. When presented with Orazio’s effort however he suddenly realized that religion in itself was no guarantee of the production of a noble aesthetic, and that even Titian, who was so obviously out to produce sensual effect in everything he did, was superior to artists such as Gentileschi whose Annunciation followed all the rules of piousness and modesty, but was still in fact “base”. It was from this moment also that he began to champion what he termed "true originality" in art, and while he still retained his old favourites he became increasingly dismissive of what, to me at any rate, had been produced by their contemporaries with similar if not equal styles and execution. Artemisia, poor woman, got caught up in his newly adopted splatter-gun criticism of "unoriginal" work. And nor was she the only innocent victim of this - Ruskin was famously sued by James McNeil Whistler for "calumny" (is this still a crime?) when he levelled the same charge of unoriginality against that artist, his failure to appreciate Whistler matched only by his failure to appreciate Americans' so ready recourse to litigation when annoyed which, even then, was evident.

And to be even fairer to Ruskin his "moment" in Turin was no small Damascan shift restricted solely to his brand of esoteric art criticism. It fundamentally changed his life, his outlook, his politics and his religious beliefs. It was in the same essay that he famously remarked that all art is worthless when viewed with an empty stomach, and that the aim of eliminating hunger was a far more noble pursuit than any mere aesthetic one. Not only that but his rapidly developing socialist and humanitarian outlook led him in later life to pursue such basic political goals in a very “hands on” manner.

Here's the painting that turned Ruskin socialist:

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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 15 Oct 2016, 17:34

Ah - thank you for that, nordmann - I just wish I knew more so I could respond intelligently to what you say. But then perhaps admitting one's ignorance is not always a bad thing: it invites and enables others to share their expertise.

Your art posts here remind me rather of the chap in Museum Hours. That is a genuine compliment by the way.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 15 Oct 2016, 18:08

PS For anyone out there who is not familiar with Museum Hours,  which I mentioned above, here is an article from the New York Times about this excellent film. It was recommended by nord a while ago. It's a work of art in itself.


http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/28/movies/jem-cohens-museum-hours-explores-links-of-life-and-art.html?_r=0



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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 15 Oct 2016, 19:49

Nordmann,

""Go figure" is a rhetorical invitation to apply logic to a premise that defies same, that's all. It is not really directed at the reader but is more in the manner of a "note to self". I must have picked it up in the States, y'all."

Yes, American, I learned it from Tasneem Kahn on the old BBC board. But in my case I find it so "American" and as I tend to write English English, I rather avoid it. I think even "stuff" is American too, but with that I have fewer restrictions and I don't know really why....


"that Ruskin experienced a Pauline moment."
What one learns all on these boards...from the context I could guess what it was, but even on the mighty Google machine, no direct explanation, nor in the dictionary, of what a "pauline moment" was...through extrapolation from the several Google hints, I was able to reconstruct the "slang"
And you seem, even after all the Priscilla comments about your atheist background, to use still Bible context metaphors Wink ...
http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-damascus-road-conversion.htm#didyouknowout


Kind regards and with esteem for all the thougthful messages you spread here over the place, especially the last ones on Darwinism and Eugenics...

Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 15 Oct 2016, 19:59

Paul wrote:
And you seem, even after all the Priscilla comments about your atheist background, to use still Bible context metaphors

Myth lends itself to use as metaphor. When you really think about it, that's almost why it exists.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 15 Oct 2016, 20:11

Myth is metaphor - that's why it's so real. Truth is not necessarily fact. That's just Enlightenment fundamentalism which is as stupid - dare I use that word? infuriating? - as any other fundamentalism. If this were not so, why have art at all?

But where is Priscilla to back me up?

Back to Strictly now.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 15 Oct 2016, 20:20

Being fundamentally enlightened doesn't sound all that stupid to me, and I dare say one Enlightenment figure at least, David Hume, would have applauded hugely your support for cognitive ethical subjectivism, something he was one of the first to advocate as a method of defining truth.

But myth, alas, is not metaphor. It employs it. It can be employed as it. But unlike myth, metaphor has value beyond its constructual boundaries.

Back to art now.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 15 Oct 2016, 20:34

@nordmann wrote:
...cognitive ethical subjectivism...


Don't try to frighten me with your dead hard words, nordmann. Er - what's "cognitive ethical subjectivism"?


@nordmann wrote:
Back to art now.


Each to his own. As Bolt had Henry VIII ask Margaret Roper (or More as she was at the time): "Can you dance too?"


Last edited by Temperance on Sat 15 Oct 2016, 20:36; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Put question mark inside inverted commas. Capital offence.)
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 15 Oct 2016, 20:53

Temperance,

what is wrong with: (Reason for editing : Put question mark inside inverted commas. Capital offence.)

If Nordmann for instance is citing me between inverted commas: "What is Social Darwinism?", what is wrong with that?

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 15 Oct 2016, 21:03

Cognitive ethical subjectivism is the method of deciding what is true that you advocated yourself above in which feeling and emotive intuition plays a role beyond the simple assessment of the fact. The alternative is cognitive objectivism, which says that nothing is true if it also cannot be perceived as a fact, and is therefore not related to how one perceives a truth through any other means. Hume, the Enlightenment man (fundamentally), drew the distinction and argued for the former as being the best representation of how humans actually think. Your interpretation of "Enlightenment fundamentalism" is therefore fundamentally wrong, and is in fact wrong in both a cognitive ethical subjective sense as well as a cognitive ethical objective sense (which is a common problem experienced by many who struggle with the former and distrust the latter - or as Hume would have said, "religious" people).

As Ms More might have retorted: I can do the jive, I can do the stroll, it's just another name for rock 'n' roll.

Paul. If you use quotation marks when quoting and that which you are quoting did not contain a question mark then by inserting a question mark you are falsifying the quote. Not quite a capital offence, but would get you a red pencil mark in the margin when your essay came back. At least back in the days when teachers knew these things.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 15 Oct 2016, 21:25

Nordmann,

"Paul. If you use quotation marks when quoting and that which you are quoting did not contain a question mark then by inserting a question mark you are falsifying the quote. Not quite a capital offence, but would get you a red pencil mark in the margin when your essay came back. At least back in the days when teachers knew these things."

Now I see...but your English people seems a bit enigmatic for us continentals...as with your "pauline moment"...for instance overhere a quote is still a quote, with or without a questionmark...at least to me...perhaps as I hadn't to write essays in "my" time...what in Norwegian?...

Thanks anyway, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 15 Oct 2016, 21:55

Paul:
I think the question mark objection is that, if you put it inside the quotation marks, that implies the originator of the quotation was asking the question. Outside suggests the person using the quote is the one asking a question.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 15 Oct 2016, 22:11

@Gilgamesh of Uruk wrote:
Paul:
I think the question mark objection is that, if you put it inside the quotation marks, that implies the originator of the quotation was asking the question. Outside suggests the person using the quote is the one asking a question.


Yes Gil, and that is also logical to me. And now thanks to you, when rereading the quote of Nordmann I see now that I misunderstood or at least didn't read the text thoroughly. Indeed he says:"If you use quotation marks when quoting and that which you are quoting did not contain a question mark then by inserting a question mark you are falsifying the quote."
Of course I meant in my example that the original quote had a question mark, and as such was exact then. But indeed if you put a question mark inside the quotation where there was no one, then of course you are wrong.
And yes, when you put a question mark after the inverted commas, you question the whole quotation on its veracity...
That's the same on the European peninsula and perhaps further on on the Eurasian landmass...

Kind regards from a friend from the old BBC history messageboard.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 16 Oct 2016, 13:58

Before we get completely sidetracked into the politics of quotation marks, the metaphysical implications of fundamental enlightenment on the modern religious mindset, and the notion that Artemisia Gentileschi was a ground-breaking feminist icon (or iconographer), can I draw attention to the pre-Caravaggian female pioneers of female artistry? Another largely ignored species, it is probably however even more true of the Renaissance period than the Baroque that members of this club were not only serious contenders to be dubbed "mistresses" of their trade to rival any "masters", even by their contemporaries, but in many cases can be graphically demonstrated to have advanced their profession in terms of skill, "nobility" (as Ruskin would have said), and relevance within their own milieu and for posterity.

A great example of this is the artist Catharina van Hemessen, a Flemish painter who was daughter to an already established "mannerist" painter Jan Sanders van Hemessen. Mannerism was a late Renaissance fashion in which paintings began to veer towards exaggerated beauty, style and elegance, often intentionally upsetting traditional composition and subject matter in order to draw even closer attention to the exaggerated features on display. It is a standard trope within art history that this so-called mannerism, which is now regarded by art historians almost as the oil and canvas equivalent of excessive photo-shopping of photographs, was blown out of the water by an emergent Baroque style in the late 16th century that put the emphasis firmly back on a "warts and all" representation of subjects and therefore a requirement that any transcendent beauty, nobility or elegance had to be communicated by other means.

Which is all well and good as a general summary of historical art trends of the day - except it overlooks a rather obvious and obviously unsettling fact (for male art historians in particular) that mannerism, even at its height in popularity, was being challenged by many artists who distrusted the trend and who stubbornly persisted in letting their subjects do the talking. And what is striking about this opposition to the mainstream of the day was that it was largely exemplified by the output from women artists.

Which is where Catharina comes in. Born in 1520, a full century before the term "Baroque" was even coined, Miss van Hemessen from the beginning of her career seemed determined to haul "modern art" (as she would have known it) from its inevitable hurtling towards chocolate box covers that mannerism seemed determined to pursue, and back into a real world, inhabited by real subjects which art should be obliged to represent in real terms.

Her first known work - executed when she was still only 20 years old - in fact is a self-portrait of herself poised with brush in hand at her easel. Nothing so strange in that, you might think, having seen this subject and composition executed so many times by so many "old masters" from Vermeer to Rembrandt and beyond. But bear in mind that Catharina's painting is the first known example of this subject ever, by any painter in oils, anywhere.



Soon after this painting was produced (and it must be said to the world of Flemish painters' credit to general acclaim at the time by fellow artists who knew a significant development when they saw one) Catharina was "adopted" by Maria of Austria, no less, then regent of the Low Countries on behalf of her brother Charles V, emperor of both Spain and the Holy Roman Empire at the time. What Maria's patronage meant was far more than simply a guarantee of income for the young artist who embarked on a career focusing mostly on portraiture, but also Maria's own obvious disdain for the chocolate box tendency meant that Catharina had found a patron who also wished to usher in the Baroque style two generations before most European men even knew what it was.

These days it is difficult to explain why van Hemessen should be considered as significant at all. However the clue lies in the chronology, and especially when you compare her work to other great portraitists of the period, such as Hans Holbein for example. Both enjoyed similar patronage, both worked with similar subjects, and both could be said to have attempted to introduce a photographic realism into their portrayals (Henry VIII famously made a rather embarrassing marital choice based on Holbein's reputation for just that). Art historians agree also that Holbein grew better at this skill - or maybe cared less who he offended as he grew more secure - if one follows his paintings chronologically through his career.

But now place van Hemessen's work - and the two overlapped to a huge degree in terms of both when they operated and which circles they moved in - side by side with Holbein, or for that matter every other prominent male portraitist of the age. What strikes one immediately are two very obvious things - Catharina hit the ground running from the off, and the others seem perpetually to be in catch-up mode behind her innovative style.

Where Catharina excelled however, and trounced her male colleagues into the dust in my opinion, was in her portrayal of women, and though it sounds contrived and cliched, most likely because she was one and they were not. Where Holbein might be justly feted for his male portrayals in terms of honesty and realism we all know what happened when his skills depicting the female of the species were put to a definitive acid test. Catharina on the other hand has left behind her a legacy of female portraits which even today strike one as going far beyond bland or idealised representation and affording their subjects as close to an objective respect for their actual appearance and character as an oil painter could dare hope to achieve. It is precisely because this innovation was eventually emulated by men, and that this emulation led to what we now call Baroque portraiture with hundreds, if not thousands, of extant examples we can look at today, that poor Catharina - mere woman that she was - has somehow got lost in the mix. That she predated them, that they obviously followed her lead, and that she once was so obviously appreciated not only by the women whose portraits she executed but by knowledgeable artists and connoisseurs of her time, has all now been conveniently forgotten or fudged by those who wish to believe that the Baroque style somehow appeared out of thin air many years later at the end of a brush held by a man's hand. And I haven't even mentioned Levina Teerlinc or Lavinia Fontana yet ....

Some of Catharina's women:









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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 16 Oct 2016, 15:57

Thank you, normann, for your research about this fine artist of whom I knew nothing whatsoever.......but I did know about punctuation and quotes.

One small observation - the above ladies though projecting very different personalities they  do seem to  all have similar lips. Perhaps it was the lippy style in her day
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 16 Oct 2016, 16:33

Well, this I suppose is my point also - that we don't generally hear about these women, despite not only being great artists but often pioneering artists in far more ways even than feminists (rightly) give them credit for.

A contemporary of van Hemessen in Italy was Sofonisba Anguissola. Like her Flemish counterpart Anguissola received general acclaim from other artists (Michelangelo - who was rather sniffy about other artists' output - declared her a genius even before she had come to general attention) and throughout her long life - she was 93 when she died - her reputation and status as an accomplished artist only grew. As a teenager she had stubbornly persisted, and succeeded, in being taken on as an apprentice in various prestigious artists' studios, including Michelangelo's, thereby becoming the first female to break into what had hitherto been an exclusively male preserve. This breaking of gender barriers continued with her being the first female member (by invitation) of several art academies over the course of her life, as well indeed as in other important respects too. Her second marriage, to a ship captain who she fell in love with on a voyage to Genoa, was objected to by her brother and a subsequent court case which she won allowed women of independent means (as by then she had become) to decide such matters for themselves in all Italian states except the papal ones.

Vasari, who referred to female artists rarely if ever at all, begrudgingly afforded her an entry in his famous book of art critique with; "Anguissola has shown greater application and better grace than any other woman of our age in her endeavors at drawing; she has thus succeeded not only in drawing, coloring and painting from nature, and copying excellently from others, but by herself has created rare and very beautiful paintings."

But what Vasari was understating with his rather back-handed compliment was Anguissola's undeniable prowess in two forms of portraiture that men struggled to emulate. Like van Hemessen, Anguissola excelled in producing credible images of her female subjects in terms of both physique and character (and probably was even better at lips, as you point out), but she also was the first - and for many years the only - artist who portrayed children as something other than wax effigies or taxidermy subjects when called upon to paint them. If the patron wanted the taxidermy or "miniature adult" style of course she could oblige, but when left to her own devices Sofonisba produced some wonderfully accurate depictions of children which, if one looks at portraits as an art form afterwards, were often not emulated at all in terms of style or surpassed in terms of the conveyance of character until the late 19th century.

Some of Sofonisba's kids:









Van Dyck was so taken with her when he met her as an old woman in Genoa that he portrayed her as Dame Maggie Smith:

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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 16 Oct 2016, 20:37

Nordmann,

thanks also for pointing to the female artists, who were even pioneers in certain fields...

"Soon after this painting was produced (and it must be said to the world of Flemish painters' credit to general acclaim at the time by fellow artists who knew a significant development when they saw one) Catharina was "adopted" by Maria of Austria, no less, then regent of the Low Countries on behalf of her brother Charles V, emperor of both Spain and the Holy Roman Empire at the time. What Maria's patronage meant was far more than simply a guarantee of income for the young artist who embarked on a career focusing mostly on portraiture, but also Maria's own obvious disdain for the chocolate box tendency meant that Catharina had found a patron who also wished to usher in the Baroque style two generations before most European men even knew what it was."


Yes, Mary of Hungary (also Maria of Austria) (although I know the Low Countries history very well I have still trouble with all these names Margaret, Mary, Ferdinand and Johan of Austria...) was an able female ruler, as her aunt Margaret of Austria (we know her as Margaretha van York).
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_of_Hungary_(governor_of_the_Netherlands)
In fact we had three succeeding women as rulers in the Low Countries:
The already named aunt Margaret:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_of_Austria,_Duchess_of_Savoy
And the last one:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_of_Parma
Of the three I think Margaret of York was the most able one, but she ruled also in the less troubled circumstances too...
I read three books about these three regents from the Dutch/British historian:
https://www.librarything.com/author/ionghjanede
http://auction.catawiki.com/kavels/4442427-history-jane-de-iongh-regentessen-der-nederlanden-3-volumes-1981#
I read that she, as a feminist (and women only sexual preferences), was eager to point to these examples of female rule...
But I found them well researched and easy readable.

And Nordmann thank you also for pointing to these examples of women emancipation. I had a look to all the ladies that you mentioned:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catharina_van_Hemessen
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levina_Teerlinc
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lavinia_Fontana


Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 17 Oct 2016, 10:06

It surprises many who are probably not familiar with the dates involved, and who assume the Italians were "first" with all artistic innovation assigned to the Renaissance period, just how advanced and groundbreaking Flemish art was for a long period in comparison to its Italian equivalent. This was largely due to the patronage which, compared to a more Catholic church controlled patronage in Italy, allowed greater scope to artists for experimentation, choice of subjects, tweaks of standard aesthetic principles, etc.

It has become a cliche however to ascribe this purely to Northern European protestantism, emerging as a powerful force politically at the time. But Maria of Austria, and several other rich patrons like her, seem to contradict that cliche in no small way. My interpretation of the event is that the reformation inflamed a zeitgeist which soon was outside of any religious control or influence whatsoever, and in fact in many ways as yet under-explored in my view there is a huge case for maintaining that the zeitgeist had already swept in before the religious reformation and could indeed have been its primary cause. In any case the key element in this zeitgeist was independence of thought, something we assume as a natural right, one when curtailed by political (including religious) forces represents a retrograde step and an assault on our "dignitas", but which people of that period must have experienced as a revelatory and revolutionary departure from what had been considered "natural" in the past. It was nothing less than a new natural order for them, an "undiscovered country" to be explored with some urgency, and that great new adventure recruited people from all schools of thought and belief.

Without the reformation I doubt we would ever have had an Enlightenment, I really cannot see what else could have sparked such a departure in how people fundamentally thought at the time (fundamentally Enlightened, perhaps?). But the process was more complex than that simple statement infers. Maria, staunch Catholic and all as she was, was also very much caught up in that zeitgeist as is evident from her choices in patronage and what she prioritised - avant garde art (in its day), promotion of females, and crucially establishment of libraries and academies of learning.

When asked to appreciate an Italian artistic innovation from the Renaissance period (and great strides were undeniably made there) I always instinctively look for a Flemish or Dutch precursor, and I am rarely let down.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 17 Oct 2016, 13:25

@nordmann wrote:
It surprises many who are probably not familiar with the dates involved, and who assume the Italians were "first" with all artistic innovation assigned to the Renaissance period, just how advanced and groundbreaking Flemish art was for a long period in comparison to its Italian equivalent. This was largely due to the patronage which, compared to a more Catholic church controlled patronage in Italy, allowed greater scope to artists for experimentation, choice of subjects, tweaks of standard aesthetic principles, etc.

It has become a cliche however to ascribe this purely to Northern European protestantism, emerging as a powerful force politically at the time. But Maria of Austria, and several other rich patrons like her, seem to contradict that cliche in no small way. My interpretation of the event is that the reformation inflamed a zeitgeist which soon was outside of any religious control or influence whatsoever, and in fact in many ways as yet under-explored in my view there is a huge case for maintaining that the zeitgeist had already swept in before the religious reformation and could indeed have been its primary cause. In any case the key element in this zeitgeist was independence of thought, something we assume as a natural right, one when curtailed by political (including religious) forces represents a retrograde step and an assault on our "dignitas", but which people of that period must have experienced as a revelatory and revolutionary departure from what had been considered "natural" in the past. It was nothing less than a new natural order for them, an "undiscovered country" to be explored with some urgency, and that great new adventure recruited people from all schools of thought and belief.

Without the reformation I doubt we would ever have had an Enlightenment, I really cannot see what else could have sparked such a departure in how people fundamentally thought at the time (fundamentally Enlightened, perhaps?). But the process was more complex than that simple statement infers. Maria, staunch Catholic and all as she was, was also very much caught up in that zeitgeist as is evident from her choices in patronage and what she prioritised - avant garde art (in its day), promotion of females, and crucially establishment of libraries and academies of learning.

When asked to appreciate an Italian artistic innovation from the Renaissance period (and great strides were undeniably made there) I always instinctively look for a Flemish or Dutch precursor, and I am rarely let down.



Absolutely superb pictures above. Like Priscilla, I knew nothing of these women. Thank you.

Two other female artists of Flemish extraction were Susanna Horenbout and Levina Teerlinc. Susanna was the sister of the famous Lucas Horenbout. All were employed at the Tudor court. Teerlinc was actually head-hunted by Henry VIII and he was obviously impressed enough to offer this woman a higher salary that that offered to Holbein.

http://beingbess.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/levina-teerlinc-female-miniature.html

Levina was the eldest of five daughters born to a Flemish illuminator and miniature painter in Bruges, named Simon Benninck. In the absence of a son, and as the eldest daughter, Levina was trained as an artist, presumably by her father. By 1545, Levina was married to George Teerlinc and still living in Bruges; just one year later, in November of 1546, Levina and her husband left for England. Levina had been hired by King Henry VIII as a court artist, being granted an annuity income of 40 pounds, to last "from the annunciation of our Lady during your Majesty's pleasure".

To have been scouted by Henry VIII, and to have acquired a starting salary more substantial than Holbein's, Levina Teerlinc must have finished her training several years prior, and had to have been working steadily in order to build up a reputation to recommend her  As the records show, Teerlinc's annuity would continue almost every year until her death. After working for Henry VIII, Levina worked for his three children in succession: Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I.


I do so agree with your comments about the zeitgeist and the Protestant reformation. All thinking people must have been infected - caught up in the excitement. I once read that "Erasmus was too good a Protestant to become one" - which, I think, rather sums up what you say. Erasmus may have "laid the egg which Luther hatched", but boy, he certainly chickened out later. Was Luther then actually the father of the Enlightenment - and of our modern secular age? I think he realised that once you get people thinking there is no stopping them. He was actually somewhat horrified at what he had triggered. Thinking is a dangerous, if exhilarating, business - now as then. And heresy is tempting fun, as More knew - hence the need for fires and stakes. It usually ends in tears, one way or another. But this is the Art thread and I both ramble and digress. I don't know enough about the Enlightenment - and looking at its links with the great thinkers (and artists) of the Reformation would make an interesting topic perhaps. But how to word a topic title?

In haste. Haven't got time to find any pictures. Can't compete with nord there, I'm afraid.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 17 Oct 2016, 13:43

PS "The intellectual basis of the Renaissance was its own invented version of humanism, derived from the rediscovery of classical Greek philosophy, such as that of Protagoras, who said that 'Man is the measure of all things.' "

Discuss - but not on this thread.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 17 Oct 2016, 14:04

Forgot to add that Erasmus's intellectual egg was a nice safe hen's egg (as he himself noted): Luther hatched an enormous Protestant cuckoo.

Re-reading the above posts, I've probably got it all wrong, as usual. I'm in an awful hurry, trying to do three things at once. Should have waited and thought more carefully. But I blunder on -  as you say, the religious bit wasn't perhaps that important within artistic circles (is it ever?) - but the freedom bit was. Hence the humanist/Greek quote above.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 17 Oct 2016, 14:13

Temp wrote:
Was Luther then actually the father of the Enlightenment - and of our modern secular age?

I rather think not - if you're pursuing a religious thread back from the Enlightenment to a possible source it is through the academies and universities you have to go alright, but not via those academicians or seminarians who made a name from replacing dogma with dogma, or those who encouraged a Protestant organisation on a par with its Roman counterpart. I would be more inclined to trace a line back to that other protestant group which emerged almost immediately after a break with the Roman church was sanctioned in any area, sometimes even before, and which was despised by so many at the time, especially political leaders - initially to be called with some derision the "freethinkers" and then eventually the "Free Thinkers" exemplified by Bruno and others. In each case they arose they were probably even more distrusted and reviled than Roman Catholics - Luther himself foresaw their emergence with loathing and preached with some vehemence against them as being outright heretics - but while they were hunted down on the streets and in civic life they managed to find refuge often within places of learning. Many ancient universities have proud histories of this subversive accommodation, especially in their philosophy departments, and by extension their natural philosophy faculties - those who would develop later into scientists as we know them today. In the outside world they also proved a tough nut to crack, and eventually ended up as many diverse "offshoots" of protestantism in uneasy coexistence with the status quo but which we now regard almost as exemplars of that faith (re Quakers and Unitarians etc). But along the way other variations of some note evolved, typified perhaps by a man like Isaac Newton who could at the same time embody the essence of modern science along with an inordinate interest in the supernatural and alchemy, all of which were deemed suspect by religious authorities of all Christian hues for different reasons, but which would not deter him from either thinking innovatively or regarding himself as a devout Protestant Christian at the same time.

This tendency to divorce one's religious identity from one's individuality as defined by one's actions in the pursuit of knowledge is why I suspect an intellectual movement of sorts long predated religious reformation, and why it is probably better to confine historical religious roots within that milieu of the genuinely maverick religious thinker rather than in the main quasi-official channels of reform which emerged and which organised themselves under political patronage at the time, at least when attempting to define that shift in the intellectual paradigm which would become known as the Enlightenment later. Luther was too late to have been at that movement's inception, being more likely a product of it himself (probably even less so than Erasmus), and too early to have been identified ultimately with either a status quo version or renegade versions of protestantism, the whole thing taking longer than his lifetime to settle down and polarise into constituent faiths. Before and after him however the concept of mental independence continued, it seemed, to develop.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 17 Oct 2016, 17:42

Humanism and its development is most definitely a subject worthy of discussion, but not here, I agree. The notion that it was somehow reinvented or rediscovered at some point and therefore kick-started the Renaissance proves itself a very parochial one when looked at in a broader context and with less focus on Italian sources, even when discussing only its ancient Greek philosophical roots, which itself is actually unwarranted too. But we digress.

In the field of art history the impact of humanism in Italian art is easy to trace in terms of development and influence. However even then when the effect is analysed it rather matches other graphically obvious developments evident in art elsewhere, and often long preceding Italian innovation. This is both a clue to the true nature and history of humanism, as well as a great avenue of exploration within the subject of artistic expression over the years.

If I have time I'll bore everyone to tears regarding the Irish missionaries and the educational legacy they left dotted around  Europe during the so-called "Dark Ages". But it is worth, just as an example of how much broader one needs to think, checking out the actual history of that subsequent legacy and what resulted within it over the many centuries it endured - including of course the art it engendered.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 17 Oct 2016, 22:37

@nordmann wrote:
It surprises many who are probably not familiar with the dates involved, and who assume the Italians were "first" with all artistic innovation assigned to the Renaissance period, just how advanced and groundbreaking Flemish art was for a long period in comparison to its Italian equivalent. This was largely due to the patronage which, compared to a more Catholic church controlled patronage in Italy, allowed greater scope to artists for experimentation, choice of subjects, tweaks of standard aesthetic principles, etc.

It has become a cliche however to ascribe this purely to Northern European protestantism, emerging as a powerful force politically at the time. But Maria of Austria, and several other rich patrons like her, seem to contradict that cliche in no small way. My interpretation of the event is that the reformation inflamed a zeitgeist which soon was outside of any religious control or influence whatsoever, and in fact in many ways as yet under-explored in my view there is a huge case for maintaining that the zeitgeist had already swept in before the religious reformation and could indeed have been its primary cause. In any case the key element in this zeitgeist was independence of thought, something we assume as a natural right, one when curtailed by political (including religious) forces represents a retrograde step and an assault on our "dignitas", but which people of that period must have experienced as a revelatory and revolutionary departure from what had been considered "natural" in the past. It was nothing less than a new natural order for them, an "undiscovered country" to be explored with some urgency, and that great new adventure recruited people from all schools of thought and belief.

Without the reformation I doubt we would ever have had an Enlightenment, I really cannot see what else could have sparked such a departure in how people fundamentally thought at the time (fundamentally Enlightened, perhaps?). But the process was more complex than that simple statement infers. Maria, staunch Catholic and all as she was, was also very much caught up in that zeitgeist as is evident from her choices in patronage and what she prioritised - avant garde art (in its day), promotion of females, and crucially establishment of libraries and academies of learning.

When asked to appreciate an Italian artistic innovation from the Renaissance period (and great strides were undeniably made there) I always instinctively look for a Flemish or Dutch precursor, and I am rarely let down.


Interesting posts, Nordmann. I have a lot to say about it, but will open tomorrow a new thread: Dark Ages precursor to the Renaissance and Renaissance precursor to the Enligthenment.

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Tue 18 Oct 2016, 07:15

Paul wrote:
Interesting posts, Nordmann. I have a lot to say about it, but will open tomorrow a new thread: Dark Ages precursor to the Renaissance and Renaissance precursor to the Enligthenment.


I was going to do that! Oh well, never mind - I'll leave you two gentlemen to get on with it and maybe pop in later with a comment about Erasmus and Luther - if they are of any relevance to anything which they are probably not.

I'll run off now and do some cleaning.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Tue 18 Oct 2016, 08:20

There are (to put i mildly) several historical themes worthy of discussion within that ambit, Paul.

I look forward to your take on it, Temp, whether you start a thread or join in one of Paul's link-fests later.  Smile

Paul, you seem to think I am presenting women artists in some way because I am linking them solely to the topic of female emancipation. Far from it (though I approve completely of emancipation for anyone lacking that status). My point has been primarily to indicate how narrow a view we have inherited from traditional treatments of "art history", not just in terms of ignoring obviously important female contributors in our general appreciation of significant periods such as the Renaissance or Baroque, but also in terms of completely getting the whole process of innovation wrong. And not just slightly wrong - but fundamentally (in an enlightened way?) wrong.

To my mind this is not just down to gender bias, though that undoubtedly plays a large role in the cases above, but also because we basically underestimate or ignore innovation when it doesn't apparently conform to preconceived notions of progression as can be seen, for example, in when we assess classical art - but also of course in assessing many other fields too. Temp, your quotation above regarding humanism, which when Googled appears to have become an internet meme in its own right and not just a Wikipedia assertion, to me is evidence of this unwarranted stricture on our interpretation not only of humanism but of what was actually transpiring in the field of humanism in the centuries prior to its labeling as such. Protagorean principles (and why should he get all the credit anyway) hadn't disappeared in the intervening millennium and a half, and in fact huge strides had been made in the application of humanist philosophy in that time (you are intimately familiar with one, I believe), though these developments may not always have acknowledged their philosophical roots within their own imposed logic and history, or have been acknowledged to have them in any case by many who actually knew full well the traditions they were tapping in to but who had other cats to kill and heretics to burn.

What is fascinating about art history is that one can readily see that all of this was captured along the way if one examines the pictographic record, an intelligent approach to historical art which goes beyond the purely aesthetic and attempts to place it in the minds of those producing it and what they actually thought they were communicating.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Tue 18 Oct 2016, 08:41

@nordmann wrote:
What is fascinating about art history is that one can readily see that all of this was captured along the way if one examines the pictographic record, an intelligent approach to historical art which goes beyond the purely aesthetic and attempts to place it in the minds of those producing it and what they actually thought they were communicating.


Absolutely. I can't understand the intellectual snobbery about Art History degrees. The Duchess of Cambridge opted for this subject at St. Andrew's and one commentator contemptuously dismissed the course she had followed as the Sloane Ranger intellectual equivalent of studying flower-arranging. I'd love to have a go at it (art history, not flower-arranging, although that too has its uses).

Had a bit of a gender huff earlier, but have more or less recovered now.

Perhaps you should start a new thread, nordmann? The wording of the topic title could be tricky, and both Paul and I perhaps could easily get bogged down. No disrespect, Paul, but you do always acknowledge nord as the wordsmith expert here! (Which he is.)
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Tue 18 Oct 2016, 08:54

Temp wrote:
one commentator contemptuously dismissed the course she had followed as the Sloane Ranger intellectual equivalent of studying flower-arranging

Intellectual snobbery, or yet more anti-intellectual claptrap? We live in such times alas ...

My beef with art history per se is that as an academic subject it tends to produce parrots (and quite a few intellectual snobs in its own right). Up to university level it should be firmly integrated into human history as a general subject, that which people portrayed pictorially being as valid a communication from the past as how and what they wrote, or how and what else they did which ended up as recorded events and utterances. It's all part of the same thing really. With that in one's educational foundation then one is less likely either to fall into the "classical" traps, especially when it comes to received wisdoms concerning how and when things happened in "art" which even slight investigation shows are just plain wrong.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Tue 18 Oct 2016, 12:05

Similar "received wisdom" can be found in other fields - for example, Binchois is frequently overlooked in favour of his contemporaries Dufay and Ockeghem, despite being as complete a master of the "formes fixe" style as either, and dismissed as "bourgeois", which may describe his family status in Mons fairly accurately, but misses the point totally in musical terms.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Tue 18 Oct 2016, 21:13

Temperance,

"Perhaps you should start a new thread, nordmann? The wording of the topic title could be tricky, and both Paul and I perhaps could easily get bogged down. No disrespect, Paul, but you do always acknowledge nord as the wordsmith expert here! (Which he is.)"

you seems always a bit reluctant to admit that you have the same qualities as all of us, including Nordmann. It are not the wordsmith qualities that count, but the thoughts expressed with it. And BTW your word "wordsmith" is already a jewel on its own...

No, no false shame...go for it..

But perhaps we can divide the burden...as I am a bit more for the defense of the dark ages as a bridge from the ancients to the renaissance I could perhaps take this part and (but it is only a hint, Temperance!) you, as you seems more competent in the renaissance, could take the renaissance as the forerunner for the enligthenment...or it can also be that you are not agree with that statement...well, then you can choose another title...

Your friend, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Tue 18 Oct 2016, 22:04

Hello Paul - I was a bit grumpy this morning and actually was just trying to wriggle out of having to think of a good title, plus then make the effort to compose a suitable opening post. Humanism is a huge subject. Perhaps just that one word as our title would be the simplest starting point!

No false modesty at all - I have googled about a bit today and I really am appalled at my ignorance of a subject which I thought I understood. However, that actually makes me all the more interested in starting the new topic. Apparently the man to read on the origins of humanism is Professor Ronald G. Witt; he incidentally has some things to say about the role of the lay intelligentsia in the beginnings of what we think we mean when we say "humanism".

http://www.history.ac.uk/reviews/review/1485

But nord's mention of parrots has made me fear lest I squawk too much. I'm always quoting "experts".

This post is messing up the Art thread, so will shut up. Too tired now to start a new thread, but I expect I  shall tomorrow. I'm sure we can all contribute one way or another. Threads should be organic; they should just develop naturally, I think - that's what makes them come alive. Too much control stifles discussion - and I'll try not to quote (squawk) too much if you don't give too many links! Smile
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 19 Oct 2016, 08:49

I'm surprised you thought I might be referring to you with my "parrot" reference, Temp, when citing my main objections to how art history is perceived and what its study can often produce, at least in its present form as an academic subject. (Why are you always so quick to assume direct personal reference when a negative is expressed?)

If twenty products of an "art history" education in Britain, most of Europe, or the USA tell me that Giotto's principal innovations include a revolutionary use of light and shade to add a sense of third dimension to his subjects then I hum and haw but will most likely agree (understanding that their education did not by default include the relevant Chinese study). If they tell me that "chiaroscuro" was a Renaissance innovation pioneered by Giotto and that it received this name as it was a revolutionary technique which no-one had ever realised could be done before, I hum and haw but will most likely assume their eagerness to trace origins in stylistic art and advise them to perhaps broaden their scope in tracing the development of draftsmanship and available materials with which to execute it. But when the same twenty people tell me that Giotto was the first, thanks to this technique, to marry the prosaic with the ethereal in graphic form (or variant thereof) I tend to slink away backwards, feeling for the door handle behind me, and wondering how the hell I ended up in a psittacine aviary.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 19 Oct 2016, 09:28

@nordmann wrote:
I'm surprised you thought I might be referring to you with my "parrot" reference, Temp, when citing my main objections to how art history is perceived and what its study can often produce, at least in its present form as an academic subject. (Why are you always so quick to assume direct personal reference when a negative is expressed?)


Because you scare me to death with your erudition, nordmann, that's why. You once said you were not "an academic" - very hard to believe, unless you simply mean you do not work in a university. I, however, know for certain that I am not "an intellectual": I was once told that by someone who had, for better or worse, a huge influence on me and on my education. I therefore offer my opinions tentatively and wait to be shot down (although I'm a bit more confident about some areas of literature). But such reverse grandiosity gets tedious - I irritate myself with it. Adolescent diffidence, alas, can stay with us all our lives, despite our best efforts to overcome it. But even though I regularly retreat under my stone, I never stay there (as you may have noticed).

@nordmann wrote:


If twenty products of an "art history" education in Britain, most of Europe, or the USA tell me that Giotto's principal innovations include a revolutionary use of light and shade to add a sense of third dimension to his subjects then I hum and haw but will most likely agree (understanding that their education did not by default include the relevant Chinese study). If they tell me that "chiaroscuro" was a Renaissance innovation pioneered by Giotto and that it received this name as it was a revolutionary technique which no-one had ever realised could be done before, I hum and haw but will most likely assume their eagerness to trace origins in stylistic art and advise them to perhaps broaden their scope in tracing the development of draftsmanship and available materials with which to execute it. But when the same twenty people tell me that Giotto was the first, thanks to this technique, to marry the prosaic with the ethereal in graphic form (or variant thereof) I tend to slink away backwards, feeling for the door handle behind me, and wondering how the hell I ended up in a psittacine aviary.


See what I mean about his erudition?  pale


PS I've learnt a new word - "psittacine":

1.  Relating to, resembling, or characteristic of parrots.

2.  Of or belonging to the family Psittacidae, which includes the macaws, parakeets, and most other parrots.



As this is our Art thread, let's have a nice parrot picture. Here is  The Green Parrot by Van Gogh.


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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 19 Oct 2016, 09:32

Erudition my arse ... Smile

This is also art, I hear. Though inspired more by Python & Co than Pythagoras & Co.

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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 22 Oct 2016, 16:59

Can I add my admiration for your erudition nordmann but not however your arse upon which, having not seen it, I can hardly comment.

I don't know whether I should post these here, on the 'Benefits' thread or on the 'Dark Age bridge' but I'll stick them here anyway since I'm here. I happened on these on the Smithsonian Mellon Fine Art Lectures site and they might be of interest being at least a little germane to all three.

The Sixty-Third A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts: Past Belief: Visions of Early Christianity in Renaissance and Reformation Europe, in which Anthony Grafton,  Henry Putnam University Professor of History at Princeton, focuses on the efforts of artists and scholars to recreate the early history of Christianity in a period of crisis in the church from the 15th to the 17th century.



http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/audio-video/mellon.html


There are 6 in the series and you will need to scroll down to find them. If you scroll down a bit further you will also find Mary Beard's series on Twelve Caesars: Images of Power from Ancient Rome to Salvador Dalí, on  the continuing engagement throughout history with images of Roman emperors and its impact on Western visual art and culture.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 23 Oct 2016, 13:38

Thanks for the link, ferval. I'm working my way through them and enjoying Grafton's lectures immensely. At one point he mentions Isaac Casaubon's heavily annotated (scribbles in margins) edition of "Basil of Caesarea" which can be seen in Marsh's Library in Dublin, and the translated scribbles make for excellent reading in their own right (as Grafton said, they were probably intended to be the basis of a book). However the same library, thanks to local Huguenot benefactors, also has Casaubon's copies of "Clement of Alexandria", Origen's "Against Celsus" and a volume of Philo's collected texts, and these too are riddled with equally interesting margin notes. Grafton seems to imply that the library is also where Casaubon's copy of Baronio's "Annales Ecllesiastici" is to be found. This isn't so - I believe it's actually in the Bodleian.

Casaubon was the Bart Ehrman of his day - his debunking of the alleged writings of the Egyptian "sage" Hermes Trismegistus as complete forgeries drew vitriolic criticism from fellow scholars and theologians at the time who were making their livings from working the texts into early Christian philology. Undaunted, Casaubon in fact reacted by turning a critical gaze on all archaic Christian "literature", and when Baronio produced what he hoped would be a definitive ecclesiastical history of the church using many other such sources it simply sparked Casaubon into an even greater frenzy of debunking, now directed almost exclusively against Baronio, and in such detail that he'd only debunked a portion of the first of twelve of the volumes in Baronio's book when he died at only 55 years of age.

One of his most interesting margin notes is in his copy of the Annales Ecclesiastici where Baronio has written "and so on this day Christ was crucified", beside which Casaubon has scrawled (with several question marks) "Qui Dicit?" (Says who?).

As this is the art thread after all however I'd better quickly steer the post back into the visual. Here's the Bodleian Library's copy of the only known portrait of Casaubon:



And what is assumed to be the original in the National Portrait Gallery, London:



I'm sure you'd agree these are rather poor attempts, and probably something of an injustice to a man whose erudition (the actual variety) was so thorough that he even took time out from debunking false Christian philology to perfect a method of adding water to wine while retaining the original alcoholic strength of the potion. No dummy, he.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 24 Oct 2016, 10:19

As a sort of antidote to the rather pedestrian portraits of Isaac C above (by unknown artists, but both presumed male interestingly enough) maybe I can be allowed present a third female artist and so complete a triptych, this time an artist of the Baroque period, who - I am sure had she been male - would now rival the likes of Franz Hals or Jan Steen in our received historical appreciation for the "warts and all" Dutch style of the period, which attempted to abandon typical or "photogenically enhanced" subjects and instead convey a concept of perfection using quite new and revolutionary ideas regarding what should be presented in an image to that end and how it should be regarded. That she doesn't now rival her male contemporaries however in traditional appreciation (and in particular Hals), while admittedly having a lot to do with subsequent gender bias which has affected all female artists of the period, was also in Judith's case down to a rather seedy and sinister aspect to such bias, one which we know actually began very early in her career and which, amazingly, has persisted up to very recent times (in fact it has not entirely disappeared either).

Judith Leyster's career (and subsequent reputation) is important in art history, though unfortunately and through no fault of her own for reasons not really to do with art at all, but rather because Judith - quite unlike her contemporary female colleagues mentioned earlier - was one of the first artists who we can actually see come a cropper within her own lifetime as notions of what represented a "great" artist began slowly to adopt very structured and socially motivated parameters far removed from aesthetics, an increasingly prevalent one in Northern Europe being that mere women should no longer feel themselves worthy of being included in such a club. This rather sudden shift has been ascribed to various things from assertion of puritan ethics to increased competition for patronage, both aspects to Dutch history of the period and probably therefore both with a role to play, but neither of which fully explain the speed, vehemence and absoluteness with which the expunging of females from the art world was apparently carried out. What is especially tragic therefore about Judith is that she epitomised this trend so acutely.

Judith actually started off, as a young artist, being held in very high regard by her contemporaries, including messrs Hals and Steen mentioned above, young men she actually rated as close friends and even artistic allies early in her career when, like her, they too were also just starting out and hoping to push the boundaries to an extent in their chosen profession. Hals in particular recorded his admiration for Judith's style and talent at that time in a letter to her father, and it does not take a degree in art history to see how he strove to emulate it, or at least how the two colleagues worked stylistically very much in tandem, in terms of both subject and execution.

As time went on, and as Hals' reputation steadily grew, something quite different however happened to Judith. When both of them had started off in Haarlem she had in fact been one of several successful female artists operating there, and we know that she and Sara van Baalbergen had been admitted to the prestigious local guild of St Luke at a precociously young age. The first sign of something other than art appreciation entering the frame was an incident when, after Judith had hired some male apprentices (a rather revolutionary step for a woman, even in Haarlem), Franz Hals - her so-called ally and friend - "poached" those he deemed sufficiently good to work in his own studio. This was exactly the kind of thing that St Luke's Guild had been set up to stop and, as both were members, Judith took the necessary legal action to have the guild return her apprentices to her. In the case of one such student Hals had already publicly admitted involvement, and had even paid her a paltry compensation just to confirm the poaching he had executed, so Judith was confident of success. However the guild surprisingly ruled that Hals' compensation should merely be upped slightly to a still paltry amount, and then fined Judith an even greater amount claiming she had not properly registered the apprentice with the guild - not a requirement enforced for its male artist members who were allowed the grace of a "proving time" before prospective apprentices had to be regulated.

From there things went from bad to worse, and quickly. Whether she tactlessly annoyed the guild further by complaining too much, or whether the case's resolution showed that she was already being made unwelcome is hard to know, her biography gets sketchy at this point. But we do know that she moved from Haarlem to Amsterdam shortly afterwards, that she therefore lost guild membership completely (as did van Baalbergen at the same time, coincidentally the only other guild member to speak up for Judith in her case, along with a sudden drop into obscurity of the other remaining Haarlem female artists), that her patronage dropped right off and never again recovered so that she became totally dependent on her husband's income (he was a mediocre but reasonably successful artist in the same style, Jan Miense Molenaer), and that as her patronage dropped she, as good artists are wont to do, actually used the opportunity to choose her own subjects and style thereafter, and with great effect.

But even such optimism and perseverance were not to save her legacy in art history terms. In one of the grossest injustices ever done to an artist's reputation (not helped by her husband selling her entire ouvre off as a "job lot" upon her death so that it failed to be properly registered), Judith's name in fact completely disappeared from art history for over two hundred years. But even worse, while her name disappeared her art most certainly didn't. As a final insult the dispersed paintings (reckoned to be over a hundred in all but of which now only thirty two can be vouched for), on the occasions when they did come up for sale in the years that followed, were ascribed to Franz Hals, often with Judith's distinctive "JL" monogram erased or painted over, sometimes crudely changed to look like "FH", and amazingly sometimes even with her signature still clearly visible and unadulterated.

In the early 1890s a Dutch art historian and collector, Cornelis Hofstede de Groot, at last called foul over Judith's treatment. Against much opposition (especially from those who thought they owned a Hals original) he began painstakingly to identify Judith's extant work, a task which several others have taken up since but with the same disappointingly sparse results, it must be said. It wasn't in fact until as recently as the 1990s, when sufficient of Judith's work had at last been identified and recovered from false provenance, that an exhibition could be staged in Amsterdam showing off the best of these, and which went some way to restoring her reputation. Even today however (though thankfully less and less) she is still dismissed as a mere "impersonator" of Hals - though again this is a case where the chronology should really be checked to see just who was most likely to have been "impersonating" whom.

Some examples of the recovered works:


"Serenade"


"Self portrait" (astoundingly attributed to Hals for almost two centuries)


"The Jolly Toper"


"Girl with Straw Hat"


"Child with Cat"

I'll shut up about the women now, I promise  Smile  ...
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 24 Oct 2016, 16:30

@Gilgamesh of Uruk wrote:
Similar "received wisdom" can be found in other fields - for example, Binchois is frequently overlooked in favour of his contemporaries Dufay and Ockeghem, despite being as complete a master of the "formes fixe" style as either, and dismissed as "bourgeois", which may describe his family status in Mons fairly accurately, but misses the point totally in musical terms.
In furtherance of Nordmann's Flemish claims, note that the three composers cited above were active in the Burgundian court and Flanders. Similarly, Notre Dame in Paris was the home base of Leonin and Perotin, early (C12th) exponents of polyphony in sacred music, and Machaut, composer of the oldest surviving mass setting (the link below is to the Kyrie), was born in Rheims c. 1300, and was employed by the King of Bohemia (John I, the blind one killed at Crecy). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvIEA2dBKGA
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 20 Feb 2017, 10:02

Temp's mention of Cavallino on another thread prompted me to dig a little deeper in the World Wide Websters thingy regarding what might most politely be termed "assumed provenance" but which many observers of the art trade suspect should more accurately be called "fake provenance".

In the UK people might remember the trial of John Drewe and John Myatt in the 1990s - one an "old school" con artist (pardon the obvious), the other an excellent forger. The story of their scam would make an excellent film, I reckon. What made it unique (and excellent in scam terms) was their extra touch of what we would now call "hacking" (though in their case the "digital" aspect to their hack referred more to fingers than computers) in which they created false provenances for works of modern art executed in the style of famous artists. So good were these works with regard to execution, and so thorough was the hacking involved, that even today (though one understandably doesn't hear much about it from within the art world) some of the most prestigious art auction houses and galleries still cannot be quite sure whether they are selling and buying "real" art or not. They did quietly withdraw from circulation any works named by Drewe and Myatt during their eventual prosecution, but D&M also - quite understandably - preferred to remain vague about the full extent of their scam so they could retain some bargaining chips for future use. The art world appears to have drawn a line under the incident and just decided to go with what they have - in other words Drewe and Myatts, most likely, are still "out there", gaining provenance, and fetching increasingly ludicrous prices in today's heated up art auction world accommodating the nouveau riche of several new up and coming economies churning out billionaires by the dozen on a daily basis.

But that's just one aspect to the fraud that merits interest. The other is the reaction of the art world and the establishment at the time. Torn between a desire to have the perpetrators hung, drawn and quartered and an equally strong desire to have the whole thing over and done with as quickly as possible, the state prosecution service charged with sending the perps to trial found themselves in a very strange situation.

At one point, after some months of extreme cooperation from the "art world" who left no stone unturned and made every resource available to help the authorities effect an arrest, the CPS reached the logical point in their assembly of their case where they needed a definition and description of how provenance of any art work is verified at all. And that's when things suddenly got very murky indeed, especially when the CPS found that in many cases provenance was decided by "consensus", though how this consensus was reached and by whom was never quite adequately explained. Furthermore the CPS found that the more they examined the records for where such "consensus" occurred the more they were being pushed towards the most lucrative end of the market dealing in the very kinds of work that Drewe and Myatt themselves had targeted. This of course meant that the more they investigated Drewe and Myatt the more they were highlighting what seemed very dodgy practice indeed within the "legitimate" art world itself.

The public record abruptly stops at this point - as did the intensity of the demands that Drewe and Myatt be gorily eviscerated on a hastily erected gallows before the Tate Modern (presumably with Damien Hirst as executioner - he has previous experience). The lads got relatively normal to mild sentences in fact, which they served and then returned to their respective fortes - Drewe ended up back in the clink for some rather more pedestrian conning of money from old widows, and Myatt is back in the "legitimate forgery" business, churning out Monets in particular to beat the band. Here's a nice one of his - or Claude's, I'm not sure anymore:



(He signs them at the back with "Genuine Fake" under his name)
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 20 Feb 2017, 11:17

The grubby art trade world does the art world no service. I have seen exquisite paintings by unknown artists sold for a song and pathetic 'authenticated' stuff greatly over priced......much like trade all over. Forgers do not develop a style that explores possibilities but can use a known style with skill and thus have their uses. I have a pair of forged impressionists - probably by a well known skilled local man who occasionally resided in the local nick. These works are unlabeled but as good as the  'real thing' and bought because they appealed and were cheap. Keeping up with the herd in buying brand names etc only works if you boast of  it or flash the label. Hats off to the 'unknown' artists and craftsmen who have produced many a fine thing but never made the benchmark status of fame. 
I know personally a few critics of repute, nice people who make lots of money for themselves - and a few artists - who have honed  claptrap into a breadwinning creative skill.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 20 Feb 2017, 12:51

@Priscilla wrote:
The grubby art trade world ...

... which of course describes itself as anything but. However Sotheby's and their bedfellows are well aware when describing a piece up for auction, especially these days, the crucial thing is to avoid detail in the description concerning the style, execution and artistic merit of the object, and concentrate on its previously achieved monetary value and provenance. The "art" of auctioneering is to know the client, not the object for sale.

On their website Sotheby's actually do a good job of describing upcoming sale objects - have a look at this Impressionist and Modern Art Auction coming up shortly - click on any of these pieces (some of which are indeed exquisite) and you'll get a pretty good resume of the artist and their art. However look at the design of the site and how provenance and money are the key site switches - this is a good representation in digital form of what actually transpires on the night. The "art appreciation" is available in the catalogue if one wants, but the stuff at the business end is the priority for both the seller and buyers once the gloves are off. I'd wager a bet that whoever ends up buying Picasso's tomato plant is as aware that this is Mr P describing a consequence of war in lycopersic form as he or she is that the new Citroen Picasso has cut its previous CO2 emissions by 18%. In fact, should Sotheby's inadvertently sell the car instead of the tomato the buyer most probably wouldn't even notice.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 20 Feb 2017, 14:47

I recall a Trades Union buying up art works and storing them in vaulted racks to cover lengthy strike expenses. I have often wondered if they are still there. There is a small museum n Holland that collects postcards and photos of art world wide - so that somewhere there is a record of much of interest which may never be seen again but at least it is recorded somewhere..... a friend worked for them voluntarily. Sales catalogues are a useful source. Quite reecntly I contacted a gallery to try to track down a painting that turned up on a birthday card. It was a better than usual local landscape which happened to have my mother and her dog in it. This artist did not usually put people in - and I recall being told that he would in this one  - and there it was, on a birthday card. The original was probably recently sold on because it was in their catalogue. The gallery did not reply to my enquiry.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 20 Feb 2017, 17:38

Now I haven't read the whole thread so apologies in advance if I mention something already alluded to earlier but I remember when I worked at the museum one book had mention of "Flint Jack's work". I looked "Flint Jack" up on the internet and found he was a nineteenth century forger of historic or prehistoric artefacts http://yorkshirereporter.co.uk/flint-jack-archaological-forger/ I've wondered if Jonathan Gash used him as partial inspiration for his "Lovejoy" series of novels.

On a slightly different topic, the cat with the child in the Judith Leyster picture is extraordinarily well behaved. My cat would be struggling to get away!
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