ARHS 2913 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Richard Serra, Kouros, Court Painter

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1.) Formal
2.) Psychological
3.) Social History
4.) Deconstruction
a discipline that has developed in recent years esp. in the 20th cent.
prior to this, most of it was formal analysis
formal analysis
method that focuses on the formal properties of a work
i.d. subject, what the word represents
consider the nature of the representation
is there an eort on the artist part to create a perfect imitation of something in nature?
of is that artist abstracting the imagery? using symbolism to capture an essence
ex.) right work - representation
left work - abstract - Henry Moore, Recumbent Figure, 1938
Richard Serra, The Matter of Time, 2010
what kind of impact does the use of color and line have on your experience of the work
ideas of color vary from one culture to the next
pure color vs. softer tints of colors
ex.) Georgia O’Keefe, Music - Pink and Blue II, 1919
organic lines
G. O’K. Radiator Building, Night, 1927
geometric lines
What is the focal point of the work?
size, framing, in the center
subordination, directional forces - employed in mores sophisticated ways in more recent work
Think about how depth is created
layering, higher detail in foreground
ex.) Raphael, School of Athens
linear perspective (one point)
Think about whether or not balance is achieved?
symmetrical balance - left and right match almost exactly
asymmetrical - two sides not the same but balance achieved
complex forms carry more weight than simple forms
large forms carry more weight than small forms
forms placed at the corner of the composition carry more weight
formal analysis often involves comparison
notice similarities and dierences
will observe shifts in artistic practices between groups and individuals
ex.) left - kouros 600 BCE - archaic ex. much more abstract
right - Kristin Boy, 480 BCE - early classical ex. show more attention to human anatomy
early 20th cent - intro. of new methodologies
psychological analysis
informed by freud who believed that an art work is a reflection of the artist
reflects something about an artist that in unintended
looked to artists biography and subconscious
ex.) Leonardo Da Vincent - The Virgin with Child and Saint Anne - 1503 CE
found a passage in Da Vinci's sketchbooks about a bird opening his mouth with its tail and moving
it around and learned that he was taken from his birth mother and raised by a step mother
decided this meant he had desire for mother
memory of the bird was actually a desire for his mom
virgin marry - step mother
saint anne - birth mother
her expression documents her ambiguous feelings about being close to her son
sometimes it makes more sense to employ this type of analysis
ex.) Van Gogh's self portraits
Self Portrait- 1888 CE and Self-Portrait 1889
before and after he’d been in an mental institute
The New Art History
Social History
emerged as a form of analysis shortly after WWII
grounded on the theories of Carl Marx
believed it was inadequate to focus solely on formal qualities
situated work between specific socio-cultural context
the artist as genius
artist are products of their environments/culture and that the work reflects that environment/culture
consider the role of artist in society, the relationionship b/w patron and artist
how these inform the artistic practices
ex.) Antoine -Jean Gros, Napoleon in the Plague House at Jaa,1804 CE
the artist tried to make Napoleon look much better than he was in order to align himself with Napoleon
because it would be beneficial to be his court painter at the time
artist propaganda
ex.) Manet, A Bar at the Folies-Bergere, 1881-82 Ce
change in women’s posture between her figure and her reflection could suggest social commentary about
how french bartenders would moonlight as prostitutes
Iconographic Analysis - historical context
Saussure - linguist - the study of signs
relationship of the signifier - word and signified - what word rep.
Psnosky adapted this study to art history
the relationship between the iconography and the actual object is sometimes obvious but can be
more nuanced
ex.) smoke could rep. smoke but it could also rep. fire
situate the interpretations within the culture in which the work was produced
ex.) Royal Portal, Chartres Cathedral, 1145-1155 CE
symbols of the evangelist, the eagle obviously is john the evangelist because the other three
symbols are there and so is jesus
ex.) Jan Van Eyck, The Arnolfini Wedding, 1434 CE
wedding portrait - appear to be taking vows
Deconstruction
post structuralism- informed by the ideas of Saussure - the arbitrariness of langue
Derrida - French philosopher
if this is the case, interpretations become unlimited
Barthes - scholar
published The Death of The Author
"the birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the author"
giving the power to interpret the text to the reader
not only what it intends to convey, but what it conveys nonetheless
became the cornerstones of feminist art theory, queer theory, race theory
ex.) Menkaura and a Queen - 2500BCE
gives insight into the roles of women and men even though that wasn’t the main purpose
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