Art 100: Art Appreciation

Spring 2014, Assignments

There will be no written assignments for this course in this semester. But there will be two quizzes during the semester, and one final exam, which you should prepare for. I will list key works and the key terms you should know here.

Electrum Fish (bass)
Electrum is an alloy of gold and silver. The bass gets very large and strong and has been known to drag fishermen to their deaths. It is also known to change gender. There's another hybrid on the fish's body. List the other creatures and consider which element they might represent.
Scythian Chieftain's Tatto
Notice that these hybrids are designed to move with the chieftain's muscles. Remember that a symbol shares some essential reality with the thing it represents, and consider the advantage conferred on the chieftain who shares the reality of these creatures.
Scythian Horse Brass
A horse-brass is fixed to the horse's riding tackle. The gems in the ear and eye are garnet. Consider the strengths or powers of the animals combined here and consider the advantage conferred on the horse that wore it.
The Canon (also called The Spear Bearer, and The Doryphorus), 5th century BC, 6'2" tall
Statue of The Ideal male, whose proportions were deduced by measuring hundreds of beautiful young men and averaging out the result. Note also that he is Idealized. You can see several signals of Idealization here: nudity (or near-nudity); contrapposto stance (weight on one leg, other leg bent, hips and shoulders swing in opposite directions), face and body at rest. Make sure you know what Idealization means (there are three possibilities)

The Capitoline Venus (also called Venus Pudica, or "Modest Venus"), 4th century BC (life size)
Note: Venus is the Roman form of the Greek Aphrodite. Both were goddesses of mental, spiritual and erotic love. This is one of the earliest known erotic statues. Note how the female contrapposto stance differs from the male version.

The Dying Gaul, 3rd century BC (a little under life size)
Read the signals of Idealization and non-Idealization and be able to explain what the Greeks thought of the Gauls (Celts who lived in what is now France).

Michelangelo, Creation of Adam, Sistine Chapel Ceiling, 1508-11
Read the signals of Idealization and explain how they illustrate the Genesis story (read Genesis if necessary!).
Murrillo, The Immaculate Conception, 17th century
This is a Romanticization - what are the visual signals? What does it give or demand?
Degas, The Absinthe Drinker, Late 19th Century
This is an Objectification - what are the visual signals? What does it give or demand?

Picasso, Guernica, 1937 (detail only)
Picasso used the keening (howling with grief) motif to make this particular incident into a symbol of the universal human predicament. Consider what the bull stands for and what it is doing. Remember how this relates to the terms of Picasso's will - that Franco should be deposed.

Stone Henge, 2000 BC
Remember the building system? The maximum safe span for unsupported stone lintels?

Mies van der Rohe, The Seagram Building, 1954-8
What kind of building is this? What new material(s) made it possible to build it so tall?

Frank Lloyd Wright, The Robie House, Chicago, 1906-9
What term describes the structure of the extended porch roof? How is it possible to extend it so far? What sort of people could command this kind of house? Was it convenient, comfortable, or weather-tight? Why are these considerations irrelevant? What are modern architects of this kind getting at?

Marcel Breuer, tubular steel chair, 1926
What principle is used in the design of this chair? Hint: look at the seat and legs.

Portrait of Hesire, Saqqara, c.2750 BC
What kind of truth-type is represented here? How can you tell? List the signals you would look for; now check which ones you actually find here.

Donatello, St George Relief, c.1415-17
What kind of truth-type is represented here? How can you tell? List the signals you would look for, and the ones you actually find here. What is so special about the view into the palace at the right? Why is the princess not showing any signs of panic? Here's a better view of the effect.

Titian, Gypsy Madonna, c.1510
Truth-type, signals? Is the Christ child Idealized? How can you tell?

Mantegna, Cristo Scorto (Foreshortened Christ), c.1466
How has Mantegna made Christ's feet appear to occupy our space?

The Reed Painter, Young Warrior (painted on a lekythos), c.425 BC
A Lekythos was a perfume bottle commonly placed on graves. The image is a traditional one of a dead warrior sitting in front of his grave slab. What kind of truth is used here? How can you tell? How does that truth-type contribute to your response to this image? How would your response change if the image had been painted with solid lines and forms?

Willem Claeszoon Heda, Still Life with herring, bread, lemon, and wine, c.1640
What kind of truth-types are blended here? What do we call this appeal to well-established sensual memories and experiences? Note: this is a different still life from the one we studied in class - but it uses all the same tricks.

Rogier van der Weyden, The Annunciation, c.1430
What kind of truth-types are blended here? What are their visual signals (or how do you recognize them)? What does the carafe of water mean? What do the oranges mean? Why is the Virgin reading a book? Is Eve present in this picture? Why/why not?

Mondrian, Composition with Black, Red, Gray, Yellow, and Blue, 1921
Truth-type? Visual signals found here? Is this Abstract or abstracted art?

Braque, The Portuguese, 1911
Truth-type? Visual signals? Abstract or abstracted? Pick out the figure in as much detail as you can. Then relax a bit and imagine the scene Braque was painting. How vividly can you see it?

Magritte, The Treason of Images, 1928-9
Truth-type? Visual signals? Is it relevant or important that the artist has written in his "best copybook writing"? In English, the text means: This is not a pipe. If it is not a pipe, what is it?


Know the three possible interpretations of this figure type as applied to Classical and Christian art (listed in the Paradigmatic History of Art: click on "Idealization").
Know the five visual signals by which to recognize it (there will usually be at least two or three of them present).

Purpose of Art (as defined in this course)
Burke Feldman implies a partial definition in his introduction on page 11. We made this more specific. In this course we see the function of art as a "bringer to consciousness", or an "awakener" - a way of making people think consciously about things that they may already know but may be ignoring, denying or forgetting. Think about how this works whenever you encounter any art!

Art as Language
Burke Feldman analyzes art as a "language" with a "grammar". In this course, we go further and see several "languages" and "grammars" (we call them truth-types). Each language/truth-type is uniquely suited to express a particular aspect of reality.

Post and Lintel (also called Post and Beam)
The earliest structural system people used for buildings with spaces or rooms in them. Know which is the post and which is the lintel. Be able to recognize this building system on sight.

The Cantilever
Another structural system which has become very common in this century because we have developed building materials that can take the strain. The cantilever exerts a strain on the upright parts of the building because it is only fixed at one end. Therefore we need building materials that are good in tension. That means we need wood (quite good), or steel (excellent). Be able to recognize this structure on sight - in buildings, in furniture, in nature, in toys. Be able to recognize it horizontally (normal) and vertically. Be able to list a wide range of cantilevers, so you can speak with authority about the feelings and ideas people associate with cantilevers.

Ferro-concrete; Reinforced concrete
Concrete is durable, and quite good in compression. Once we knew how to reinforce it with steel grids, it became excellent in tension too. This is why we can now make extended cantilevers. It is the steel in the concrete that takes the strain.

Sky Scraper

The Aesthetic Experience
What does Burke Feldman claim is the cause of aesthetic experience? In other words, what human need forces us to react and engage with our environment and with works of art?

How does Burke Feldman characterise aesthetic experience (see page 253)? Note that this ultimately goes back to the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, who either caused or recorded a major shift in western thought about aesthetics when he articulated this idea. After Kant, western attention has focussed more on the person who experiences art than on the person who produces it. Also after Kant, western powers have refused to support art and artists as strongly as they did before. (We will therefore fill in the missing millennia of pre-Kantian thought as the course progresses.)

What are the three components of the aesthetic experience, according to Burke Feldman? He sees the whole experience in terms of gestalt theory ("whole experience theory"); and he uses several different terms to cover the same ideas:

  1. engagement, empathy, distance and proximity (over-distance and under-distance both prevent the audience from properly engaging with the work)
  2. recognition, similarity (life-likeness), understanding
  3. elegance, sprezzatura (maximum result for minimum effort)
You could put all this into much simpler language in this way:
  1. attention,
  2. interpretation,
  3. quality evaluation

Lyrical Compositions
Be able to recognize them and to explain the evolutionary, biological, environmental, and social experiences that affect our interpretation of them (see Paradigmatic History of Art; click on "composition").

Dynamic Compositions
Be able to recognize them and to explain the evolutionary, biological, environmental, and social experiences that affect our interpretation of them (see Paradigmatic History of Art; click on "composition").

Static Compositions
Be able to recognize them and to explain the evolutionary, biological, environmental, and social experiences that affect our interpretation of them (see Paradigmatic History of Art; click on "composition").

Truth Types
See the Paradigmatic History of Art; click on "truth-types" for full explanation. Know what aspects of reality these address, and the visual signals by which to recognize them.

Some general terms to know

See the Paradigmatic History of Art; click on "Classicism" for full discussion. Know "The System", "Classical Beauty", "Idealization (the Idealized figure)", "linear perspective", and "greatness". Know the difference between linear perspective and atmospheric/aerial perspective. Know what the universe is supposedly made of! Know, therefore, why linear perspective was such an exciting, wonderful, stupendous invention.

More terms to know and understand

Again go to the Paradigmatic History of Art; click on "Sensualism" for full discussion. Know "The System", "Sensual Beauty", and "Romanticization (the Romanticized figure)". Understand that this is a different system from Classicism. Know that instead of GIVING perfection to the audience, it DEMANDS great efforts and sincerity instead. Understand that both systems are attempts to recognize and navigate reality, and to chart our human destiny within reality. Sensualism began to become a recognizable phenomenon in the 16th century, and was the dominant paradigm by the 17th. When did Protestantism emerge? If you had to characterise religion as working through "faith" or "good works", which of these characteristics would you apply to Catholicism and which to Protestantism?

More terms to know and understand

Additions since last Quiz

Kantian Beauty
This is the second, later type of Beauty associated with Sensualism
Know how it differs in kind from Classical and Sensual Beauty
Know how to try and recognize it
Know the role of taste in recognizing it
Know what kind of artist can produce it
Understand that it has no spiritual or moral function

Kant's Sublime
Know roughly how to recognize it
Remember that it is merely "extreme Kantian Beauty" which therefore has no spiritual or moral function

Schopenhauer's Beauty and Sublimity
Visually like Kantian Beauty but is the manifestation of the Will, or Thing in itself
The Will, or The Thing in Itself can be equated to "ultimate reality", or "God"
Schopenhauer's Beauty and Sublimity therefore do have a spiritual and moral function: they require you to set aside your own will, even if you might die horribly as a result, and they require you to be inspired or uplifted by the experience.

Note that this system SHUNS Beauty, and instead presents itself through Temporal Plainness. Know how to recognize Temporal Plainness.

Note that this system's spiritualized figure is The Objectification (also called The Objectified Figure). Know how to recognize and interpret the Objectified Figure.

Some vocab for Quietism
Non-descriptive brushwork
Non-descriptive colour
arbitrary (same as non-descriptive)
female erotic types:

Evaluating painting
Indirect painting
    e.g. egg tempera (uses egg yolk)
    e.g. fresco (painted on wet plaster)
        colour goes over drawing
        alterations not possible
            values correspond to Classical paradigm

Direct painting
    e.g. oil (almost clear, damp-resistant, malleable)
        colour goes onto unprepared canvas
            alterations easy
            values correspond to Sensual paradigm

Mem: quality is an invalid criterion for Quietist painting.

Evaluating Sculpture
Closed form
    (monolithic, solid, no holes)
        values correspond to Classical and Sensual paradigms

Open form
    (monolithic, with holes)
        values correspond to Pluralist paradigm (not in quiz)
    (assembled, with holes)
        values correspond to Quietist paradigm (not in quiz)

Summary for Quiz

You want to get yourself now in a position where you can quickly and easily compare and contrast the paradigms. We have looked at FOUR paradigms (Pluralism, Classicism, Sensualism, Quietism). So go to the "Paradigm Structures" and the "Essence Definitions" links in the Paradigmatic History of Art. These sections will reduce everything to lists for you.