January 8 2016
What is Art?
● Cultural subject - underlying symbolism
● colossal size = cultural importance
Everything created before the 1400s wasn’t considered art, it was more monumental.
Ex. Great Sphinx Funerary Complex of Khafre, Giza. C. 2520-2494 BCE.
● The Sphinx is part of a complex of structures that also contains the Sphinx temple. This
temple, like the Great Pyramid and the Oseiron temple at Abydos in Southern Egypt,
may also date from Pre-dynastic times.
● The purpose of the Sphinx is not known. Some orthodox archaeologists assume that it
was a memorial to a Pharaoh or that it functioned as some sort of talisman or guardian
deity. Other scholars, however, believe the Sphinx functioned as an astronomical
observation device that marked the position of the rising sun on the day of the spring
equinox in the time of Leo the Lion, which lasted from 10,970 to 8810 BCE. This
interpretation is given support by the leonine shape of the Sphinx.
Where does Art History begin?
● Plato and Aristotle
Aristotle thought Art should use Mimesis
● Mimicking real life
● Mirroring the natural world
● Good quality = looks like reality
○ In the visual arts, a manner of execution that is characteristic of an individual, a
school, a period, or some other identifiable group.
● Ideal Style
○ Physical beauty was not just a mirror of nature, but an idealized version.
*Story of Zeuxis and Parrhasios*
● Late 5th century BCE
● They were two famous Ancient Greek painters, Zeuxis and Parrhasios. Both were at the
top but no one could choose between the two as to who is the best. So they decided to
hold a “painting duel” with strict and controlled conditions. Both were assigned a wall and
were to paint in private, each was to paint a mural, a fresco of paint in wet plaster. An
audience jury was to assess it and award the one with the best a prize. This would
forever solve this rivalry. ● Zeuxis had a stronger initial effect on the people, his work left the people shocked and
surprised whereas Parrhasios used the same techniques but was more subtle. They
sometimes made them less likeable in the beginning. However, he was seen as more
talented because his work took more time and was less likely to win over Zeuxis. This
duel was more of a way for Parrhasios’ ability to think his way through this dilemma.
Zeuxis was a master of initial surprise.
● Zeuxis painted a bowl of fruit; however, it was definitely beautifully painted and shocking
to the audience. The glint of light off the pale green surface of the pears made them
seem moist and firm. You could practically taste the pomegranates. He used the
technique of super-realism. A bird flew down from i