The current canon’s origin originates from Giorgio Vasari’s 1550 book Le Vite De’ più eccellenti Architetti, Pittori et Scultori Italiani, a biased survey of what Vasari viewed as important works of art.  This precursor to today’s canon highlights the works of High Renaissance artists was well as placing Vasari’s home-city, Florence, as the center of art’s history.  Texts written since then have stuck to the structure as well as the content of Vasari’s selection of art work.  The works of art largely focuses on white European males, who were selected based upon a “genius” factor.  The genius nature of the artists ultimately separates the viewer and the artists.  Despite this, the actual structure of Vasari’s work does embody the elements of a canon.  As stated by Nanette Salomon, it contains “individual contributions, fixes the terms of a generational and stylistic development of the history of an art, and provides standards for aesthetic judgments along classical lines.”  The criterions for these aesthetic judgments are based on the analysis of an objects separation from consideration of its economic or religious significance.

The problem with the present canon is that it still closely follows that set by Vasari.  Today the world has become a smaller, and the availability too look at images and learn about the culture of different places it much more accessible.  There is a need for art historians, especially in a globalized culture, need to place “non-Western” work into the canon, rather than a canon dominated by  Vasari’s emphasis on white male European artists.  Issues with the limitations of other artists have frustrated both feminist as well as those concerned with “non-Western” works.  As stated by Saloman, “this omission of whole categories of art and artist has resulted in an unrepresentative and distorting notion of who as contributed to the ‘universal’ ideas expressed through creativity and aesthetic effort.”  Additionally, by omitting works by artists who do not fit into the mold, that is overall, followed today creates a hierarchical structure in the world of art.  For the canon highlights not what is included but rather what is excluded.  Those works that are not accepted are reduced to a lower status of art and therefore inferior works of art.  Thus the ultimate problem with the canon lies in its inability to include works of art that encompass all aspects of aesthetic values from different times and places.

A reevaluation should be less concerned with what should be expunged from the canon rather there should be a consideration of what needs to be added. A watercolor painting by Abanindranath Tagore (1871-1951) depicts a domesticated camel at the end of a journey.  Its head is laid on the ground as it prepares to lay the rest of its body upon a pile of rocks and the harness and packs are still attached to its back.  The camel is situated in the desert with an orange-brown ground and a burnt-orange sky indicates that the camel truly is at the end of its journey, for the colors are those of a setting sun.   The watercolor is titled A Journey’s End however the date of its creation is unknown.

The subject matter is a well known subject in India, where camels and this image are well known.  The color palette notably of the orange and brown reflect the colors typically seen within the daily lives of Indian peoples at sunset.  Tagore’s desire to promote Indian nationalism is evident in both his subject matter as well as his choice for colors.

The importance of this piece rests not only it its aesthetic beauty, but the context in which it was created.  Tagore was a prominent artist of the Bengal school, which during the early twentieth-century was an influential style in India that was associated with Indian nationalism, but was also promoted and supported by many British arts administrators.  Furthermore, he was a major promoter of swadeshi values in Indian art.  By following swadeshi or self-sufficiency a movement known as the Swadeshi movement came into fruition.  Its goal was to remove the British Empire from power and improve economic conditions in India.

Although this is only one example of a piece that should be considered to being added into the canon, it is an important piece in regards to the context in which the piece was created and more importantly the place in which it was created.  Before the canon considers works of art from far lands such as China, Korea and Japan it needs to evaluate the work of India.  As stated by John Onians, “India [is] a central keystone, recipient, and source of many influences.”  If the canon is to increase its range and quantity of work in the world it needs to not only look at the completely foreign and exotic art works.  Lastly, when studying and incorporating “non-Western” art the interpretation and evaluation should not be done solely from a “Westerners” perspective.  A voice of opinion should be given to every prominent side and should even include a cross-cultural examination from of different artistic approaches from different region.

The Journey’s End

Abanindranath Tagore

Nalini Malani

Fusing contemporary electron media and traditional paint-based techniques, Nalini Malani has come to the forefront of a generation of Indian artists who, in the 1980s, moved to international focus. At that time she was a figurative painter whose works powerfully raised issues of race, class, and gender primarily in India. In the 1990s, thanks to installations at the 1995 Johannesburg Biennial and other venues, she came to be known primarily as a media artist. She often illustrates the lives of those that have been ignored, forgotten, or marginalized by history. Her pieces are politically charged and reflect a deep commitment to women’s issues, particularly in regards to women’s struggle for voice and power. Ancient Greek and Hindu epics, and modern European drama, give additional subtext to Malani’s complex layered surfaces.

Malani was born in 1946 in Karachi, a year before the Partition of India, and her family emigrated as refugees from Pakistan to India, where they endured cultural dislocation. While Indian art for decades was mostly focused on new interpretations of its traditions, Malani’s framework has always reached farther than the boundaries of India. As she evolved as an artist, she related against the male-dominated world of India. For two decades her work centered on painting, then moved progressively into the realms of installation and theater. Her works are dominated by three prominent themes, where she engages in socio-political issues.

Her works tend to display three themes: woman’s experiences and roles as an allegory of our times; he underlying realities of urban life and the consequences of man-made ecological disasters; and her reinterpretation of classical epic narratives and modern drama to reveal universal yet elusive aspects of the human experience.

Many of her works interpret women’s experiences and roles as an allegory for our times, such as the installation Mother India: Transactions in the Construction of Pain, 2005. It prompts consideration of women’s roles in patriarchal societies and addresses the issue of sexual violence against women in time of war. It specifically references her personal experiences as a refugee of the Partition when thousands were killed in Hindu-Muslim violence. The women who are raped or kidnapped, many of them decided to marry their violators because babies had been born. Five years later, after the women had made a life for themselves, the Indian and Pakistani governments each stated that they wished the women to return to their “home” countries. For these women it was like a second partition. It is only now that they are much older and they will soon pass away that they share their story in order to be remembered. Malani in an interview states, “The bodies of women were metaphors for the nation, they had to bear the signs of their possession by the enemy.”

Malani’s second theme of works looks at the underlying realities of urban life and the consequences of man-made ecological disasters. In her film Remembering Toba Tek Singh, it negiatively focuses on India’s underground nuclear testing. The video installation draws on the short story of the same name by author Sadat Hsan Mantu. The story is set during the Partition and is about a mental patient, Bishen Singh, who was so confused by the process of administering India’s Partition that he did not know whether the land he was standing on was India or Pakistan. He refused to be removed to India and dies. Manali uses the symbolism of Singh’s death to explore the effects of partition on the human and environmental condition. The installation, video projections show two women folding a sari across the exhibition space. The unabridged gap between the projected images acts as a metaphor for partition and the nuclear impasse between India and Pakistan.

Continuously throughout the majority of her work, Malani reinterprets classical epic narratives and modern drama to reveal universal yet elusive aspects of the human experience. Most of her characters are based on various female protagonists, Sita from the Hindu epic. The two female characters share parallels between their two stories: both were associated with the earth, both went into exile for the sake of their husbands, and their men eventually rejected both. Sita and Medea then figure as supremely tragic and potent symbols for deeply ingrained gender-biased in Indian and European mythology, but also for desire, violence, and betrayal as basic characteristics of human behavior.

Art and War: The Bamiyan Buddhas

In the center of the long valley that separates the chain of the Hindu Kush from that of the Koh-i-baba range, lays the oasis town of Bamiyan. In the foothills northeast of the town is a series of sanctuaries and assembly halls that for more than a mile honeycomb the cliff side, along with the carvings of two colossal standing Buddhas. Before the destruction at Bamiyan, by the Taliban in 2001, the monastery consisted of rock-cut halls and cell-like sanctuaries, which were carved entirely from the face of the sandstone cliff. At the eastern end a Buddha stands 120 feet high and has been designated as the Sakya muni (or Historical Buddha) and to the west stands the 175 foot Buddha known as Maitreya (or Buddha Image.)

The first accurate information regarding Bamiyan and the Buddhas was recorded by the seventh-century Chinese scholar monk Xuanzang (Tsuan-tsang) who traveled the Silk Road and reached Bamiyan around 630 CE. Xuanzang made a sixteen-year pilgrimage to India, in order to learn about Buddhism and its teachings. During his travels he wrote Records of the Western Region, which he wrote for the Tang emperor, and it contains a description of Bamiyan and the Buddhas. In his journal he mistakenly described the smaller statue as being made of metal, because at the time of his visit it was entirely covered with gold-leaf and metal ornaments. It as from Xuanzang’s writings that later inspired 19th century Europeans to visit Bamiyan and learn about this vast monastery.
Bamiyan came to notice through the travels of nineteenth century explorers such as Alexander Burnes and Charles Masson. The first full-scale archaeological investigation of Bamiyan began with the founding of the Déleéation archéologique français en Afghanistan (DAFA) and was completed in November 1922, emphasized the importance of the sites at Bamiyan. After the Second World War, Benjamin Rowland and Zemaryalai Tarzi have been the most active Western researchers. With Proffesor Tarzi continues today to search at Bamiyan for the Reclining Buddha.

The towering image was a focus of attention for all pilgrims traveling the Silk Road to Bamiyan and then to India. The larger Bamiyan Buddha, because of its impact on the traveler, was of great importance. Small replicas of the Bamiyan Buddha were carried back by pilgrims to China and Japan, and so became prototypes for particular sacred or holy images. Little if anything of colossal statues had been known before in China and Japan.
The Bamiyan caves have undergone both natural and intentional destruction. Since the ninth century, after the Muslim community drove the Buddhist out of Bamiyan, the caves have become the target of purposeful desecration. In the seventeenth century, Auragzeb a Mughal Emperor of India used the larger Buddha as a target for firing his cannon, which caused damage from the knees down. In our own time, the faces of the two Buddhas have been destroyed and both sets of hands broken off. Most recently, anti-government military groups in Afghanistan’s civil war have used caves as barracks and powder magazines. In September of 1998, a renegade Taliban commander blew off the head of the smaller Buddha using dynamite. He also fired rocks at the large Buddha’s groin, damaging the folds of the statues dress.

On March 2, 2001 the Islamic Taliban militia began the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas. They used anti-aircraft fire, rocks, cannons, tanks and motor shells to blast the Buddhas. It took three separate blasts to destroy the larger Buddha. They first blew up the legs, then the head, and finally the torso. The entire operation took two weeks to complete. The reasons the Taliban decided the destroy these ancient statues came from their iconoclasm,, which goes in line with Islamic law. In July of 1999, Omar issued a decree that said the Bamiyan Buddhas should be preserved. They were, he pointed out, no Buddhist left in Afghanistan to worship them, but he added, “The government considers the Bamiyan statues as an example of a potential major source of income for Afghanistan from international visitor. The Taliban states that Bamiyan shall not be destroyed but protected.” What caused the Taliban government’s attitude to change was prompted a month before the Buddhas were destroyed. When a visiting delegation of mostly European envoys and representatives of the United Nations Education, and Cultural Organization (Uneco) offered money to protect the giant standing Buddhas, while millions of Afghans faced starvation. The reasoning can be summed up by the Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbafi who said, “I am now convinced that the Buddhist statues were not demolished. They crumbled to pieces out of shame, because of the West’s indifference toward Afghanistan.” This resentment the Taliban’s felt toward the West pushed Omar to issue a decree that the destruction of the Buddhas were “irreversible.” This statement was met with outrage from leaders around the world. On March 2, 2001 the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas began and two weeks later they were completely obliterated.

To be rebuilt or not?

Those in favor argue that, if the Buddhas were to be rebuilt then it would bring back tourism the Bamiyan Valley. The reconstruction would be good for the economy, bring jobs, and eventually tourism. However, the cost of such a project has been estimated at $30 million dollars per Buddha, money the Afghan government does not have. Those opposed to reconstruction argue, rebuilding the Buddhas is unpractical, and additionally it would destroy the full history of what happened to the Buddhas.

The Eight Wonder of the World:

In addition to the reconstruction of the Bamiyan Buddha, archaeologist Zemaryali Tarzi of Strasbourg University has been on the search for the missing Buddha described in the journals of Xuanzang. Tarzi says there is a third statue believed to be 1000 feet long, known as the Sleeping Buddha, shown in a reclining position. He says, “I believe the writings of Xuanzang indicated that it is east or south-east of the smaller Buddha on the site of a former monastery.” Tarzi believes that Xuanzang’s journal is reliable, as it gives the exact measurements of the two destroyed Buddhas. It is believed to be clay, which would slowly fragment over the centuries. But Tarzi hopes to find enough fragments and some of the foundation to reconstruct the statue. In ?? a 62 foot statue in a sleeping position, which dates back to the third century was found. This newly fund statue has been badly damaged, but some parts of it, such as the neck and right hand remain in good condition. These latest finding give hope to archaeologist to find the 1000 foot Reclining Buddha. If this giant statue was to be found it would bring enormous press, business, and tourism to Bamiyan as well as add on to the story of the Bamiyan Buddhas. It ahs already been deemed the eighth wonder of the world upon its discover. ‘

First Oil Paintings:

The wall paintings at Bamiyan combined fresco painting with sculpted secco forms marking the introduction of a mixed-media tradition. This novel experimentation of paining was not the only kind at Bamiyan. A team from the European Synchrontron Radiation Facility in Grenoble has analyzed these ancient paintings and discovered that in 12 of the caves painted in the seventh century were created using oil paint. The oil paint was derived possibly from walnuts or the poppies which grew in the area. Before this discovery it was believed oil painting in Europe some six centuries after.

Approach: The Social History of Art

The relatively newly developed twentieth-century approach, the social history of art, can trace its roots back to the late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Griederick Hegel (1770-1831.) It is essentially from the ideas of Hegel that the revolutionary Karl Marx (1818-1883) was able to formulate his theory on human behavior. It was from this theory, which came to be known as Marxism, that Marxist art historians began to emerge and develop the social history of art. It is important to note in what historical conditions this approach came into development. Three articles written by respectively by three prominent social art historians, Arnold Hauser (1888-1966), T.J. Clark (1943-??) and Theodore Hartt (1914-1991) collectively explain how approach was able to both defined and redefined itself. Sociological art history, is frequently described as, the subject matter, the means and process of production—including the structure, style and composition—as tools to reveal the basic economic condition of in which the artwork was produced in.

There are three initial limitations to this approach. Firstly, art has a dual nature, in that; it is a product of an individual’s inner logic. Sociology is unable to analyze artworks independence. Secondly, it does not address a works quality. Lastly, it does not explain the connection, or lack of connection, between an artistic quality and its popularity. There are positive aspects that other approaches either do not address or are insufficient in addressing them. For example, the history of styles is preoccupied with the formal elements of art and hardly touches upon historical explanation. A phenomenon, which sociological history of art, easily explains is the coexistence of styles. A population, in the most part, fails to be homologous; thus, an explanation for the lack of homogenous artwork that is produced within a particular culture. Lastly, this approach allows art historians to ask more questions about art.

Annotated Bibliography

Since I am not currently taking any other course in art history I decided to do research on a top that I personally find interesting, typography.  In the majority of art, words are not the main emphasis.  In modern art, where a lot of inspiration is drawn from pop culture and ads, word and their stylistic qualities have a more dominant role.  Pop art, particularly incorporates this into their works and I personally find it fascinating the manner in which they choose to interpret and represent these well known words, such as Campbells or Pepsi.

20th Century Art: Museum Ludwig Cologne. Los Angeles: Taschen, 2003.

This book contains a selection of the Museum Ludwig in Cologne 20th Century art. It begins with the turn of the century, and it covers the key aspects, phrases and approaches of modern art. The collection concentrates on the attempt to understand the workings of artistic creativity, and to recognize and ultimately document the spirit of each development. It contains a chronology of the Museum and its collection. The majority of the book contains short bibliographies of artist and their work (mostly showing those held at the museum.) The biographies are typically one to two pages and describe the artist’s career, the progress of their career, their tribute to their movement and art history as a whole and occasionally it contains information about their inspiration from previous artists. Most importantly it contains many of the prominent American Pop artists.

Alloway, Lawrence. “On Style: An Examination of Roy Lichtenstein’s Development, Despite a New Monograph on the Artist.” Art Forum 10 (March 1972): 53-59

Alloway summarized Lichtenstein’s work as governed by the style of matter and as following the rules of dialogue in iconography. He describes how the subject matter was not invented by Lichtenstein, rather it taken from existing comic books. The linear patter he uses does not de-comicize the image, because it still retains the style of the comic. Thus Lichtenstein, in Alloway’s view, references two levels: to a specific drawing and the general knowledge of comic strips. Alloway presents several examples of Lichtenstein’s work , which were inspired from comic strips. Alloway shift on subject matter mimics to focus of Lichtenstein own shift away from comic strips, in which the art gives up the idea of allusion. Lastly, Alloway gives a somewhat of review on the monograph Roy Lichtenstein by Diane Waldem and Harry N. Abrams, in which he states that the production of the plates where poor and served no justice to Lichtenstein’s works.

Alloway, Lawrence. “Popular Culture and Pop Art.” Studio International 178 (July 1969): 17-21.

Alloway begins by giving a separate definition of “popular culture” and “pop art” and then goes on to connect the two terms to one another and their interconnected relationship towards one another. Further, Alloway gives a brief summary of how and why the emergence of Pop art came to be and be of its own movement. An important statement that Alloway makes is that Pop art is neither abstract nor realistic, though it has contacts in both directions. Rather it deals with material that already exists, which is often the subject matter for Pop artists. It’s commonality with popular culture lead it be an instant success, not by art critics, but by the mass. This article by Lawrence Alloway is unique in that was written not only by a prominent figure in the Pop art movement, but it was written during the movement itself. It provides a clear and concise analysis of Pop art and its relationship to culture.

Amaya, Mario. Pop Art…and After. New York: The Viking Press, 1965.

Presented within this book is a study of the Pop art movement, while Pop art was relatively new and still in its development. It describes the atmosphere in which the movement developed and reflects some of the then current ideas. The author describes the movement as being instantly famous and successful. The book concentrates on artist mostly from America and Great Britain who either use the techniques and process of commercial art for aesthetic purposes or through a painterly approach that reflects commercially inspired ad-mass references.

Andre, Michael. Review of The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again), by Andy Warhol. ARTnews 75 (May 1976): 78.

Michael Andre, the reviewer of this article, felt that and emphasized throughout his review that Andy Warhol is childish. He places Warhol in the sphere of an artist in the sense of painting and not in the sphere of creative writing and philosophy. He writes that this book is a philosophy of “clever lies” and asserts that Warhol knows nothing. He notes that the book is more of a character analysis, more specifically of Warhol’s character, which can be inferred back from the subtitle, the “beliefs, concepts and attitudes of an individual.”

Archer, Michael. Art Since 1960 2. New York: Thames and Hudson, 2002.

This book broadly chronologies a number of major themes to examine the variety of forms and practices that have appeared since Pop art. It takes a renewed consideration of the relationship between art and how everyday life connects the works associated with Pop. Importantly, the book goes into detail of how the work of the 1960s challenged the modernist account of art history. The result of this challenge came the recognized idea that the meaning of an artwork does not necessarily lie within it, but often arises out of the environment in which it exits.

Bazerman, Charles, ed. Handbook of Research on Writing: History, Society, School, Individual, Text. New York: Taylor and Francis Group, LLC., 2008.

This book contains a wide interdisciplinary inquiry into how people write, how we learn to write, under what conditions and for what purposes we write, what resources and technologies we must use to write, how our current forms and practices of writing emerged within social history, and what impacts writing has had on society and the individual. The volume is divided into five parts. Part Two and Four are of the most interest. Part Two deals with the surveys from an historical and social perspective the many social domains within which writing has had transformative effect and had become part of the cognitive and material infrastructure. Part Four is devoted to the issues of the individual and writing: development, cognition, affect, identity, multilingualism, health, disaffiliates, and disorders.

Brauer, David E., Jim Edwards, Christopher Finch, Walter Hopps, eds. Pop Art: U.S./U.K. Connections, 1956-1966. Houston: Menil Foundation, Inc., 2001.

This catalogue contains essays and chronologies that embody the separate aspects of U.K. and U.S. It looks back, what was then, 45 years ago in which Pop art demonstrated its importance and vitality. his catalogue examines the coincidence of timing and the relative difference between the art made in England and that made in America. It includes a further examination of the relationship between Pop art on the East and West Coasts of America.

Burt, Sir Cyril. A Psychological Study of Typography. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1959.

This study is an investigation of the act of reading and how the appearance of print affects the reader. The study takes two fundamental and distinct considerations into account: first, the alphabetical symbols in themselves (for example their linear shape); and second the human habits of systematizing and using these shapes, in capital and lower case, being read from left to right continuously through a series of punctuated paragraphs and successive, separated pages. The study finds that the liability of a page of print according to the finding of the present investigation is determined by: the size and substance of the letters; the space between them and the words they constitute; and the distance between the successive lines. Other important factors are the texture and the color of the paper, the quality of the impression and the density of the ink.

deAK, Edit. Review of “Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again),” by Andy Warhol. Art in America 63 (November 1975): 21-22.

The reviewer deAK is disappointed by Warhol’s book saying that “I think Warhol is a moral, hard-working capitalist who would not treat his customers with nothing but the best.” His use of “nothing” in this sentence is actually used to mock Warhol and his book. For Warhol is known for his “nothingness.” Warhol is known for not divulging any information about himself to the public, even in an autobiography.

Gelb, I.J.. A Study of Writing: The Foundation of Grammatology. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1952.

The book contains twelve chapters, but it can be broken up structurally into five parts. First, the place of writing among the various systems of human inter-communication. Followed by four chapters devoted to the descriptive and comparative treatment of the various types of writing in the world. The sixth chapter deals with the evolution of writing. The next four chapters deal with general problems, such the future of writing and the relationship of writing to speech, art, and religion. Of the two final chapters, on contains the attempts to establish a full terminology of writing, the other is an extensively bibliography. The main point of interest in the book is the section “writing and Art,” where it focuses on the study of writing from the artistic point of view.

Geldzahler, Henry and Kenworth Moffett. “Pop Art: Two Views.” ARTnews 73 (May 1974): 30-31.

This article is a composition of two articles in one, one by Henry Geldzahler and the other by Kenworth Moffett. It presents a review of Pop art in general and the Lawrence Alloway’s exhibition of “American Pop Art” at the Whitney Museum of Art which opened April 6, 1974. Moffett’s article questions why the exhibition organized by Alloway happened at all. Geldzahler takes the point of view that the years of the “purest” Pop were represented by the careers of the leading Pop artists, such as Johns, Warhol, and Lichtenstein and thus the exhibition was a success. Whereas Moffett asserts that the show was too soon, since Pop art was less than a decade old. The two writers take opposing viewpoints on the style of the Pop as well. Geldzahler praises the artist’s ability to depict the universal icons for people everywhere; Moffett believes Pop art is rigid, static and uncreated as it exploited rather than extended the art context. This article presents an important insight to the opposing view of Pop art, even after it was a success and viewed by critics as art.

Hamilton, Richard and Lawrence Alloway. “Roy Lichtenstein.” Studio International 175 (January 1968): 20-31.

Richard Hamilton gives a retrospective of Lichtenstein’s work. He discusses, who he feels is the ultimate and purest Pop artists and how his work and other Pop artists challenged conventions of what art. This article is followed up by one written by Lawrence Alloway and his interpretation of Lichtenstein’s career. Alloway gives specific examples throughout Lichtenstein’s career, whereas Hamilton is more conceptual. Alloway also incorporates other movements in art, such as Abstract Expressionism, and describes their effect on Lichtenstein.

Hobhouse, Jacob. Review of Jasper Johns, by Michael Crichton. ARTnews 77 (Summer 1978): 193-194.

The author views this catalogue as a great success, which engages Johns as a whole from all levels of perceptions, not solely as a specialist. The review gives a brief overview of the organization of the catalogue, which is divided into three sections. Hobhouse asserts that the best section of the book is the series of proposals and digressions called “The Function of the Observer,” in which it offers an account of the relation between the observer of John’s work and Johns as an observer of the world.

Lippard, Lucy R.. Pop Art. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, Inc., 1966.

This book is comprised of several essays by different authors. It explains how it was felt that no one person could be fully acquainted with the new movement. Each author has a decidedly different background and approach. Their points of view often conflict and there is no attempt for them to reconcile. The text is broken up into six chapters, notably containing: “New York Pop,” “Pop Art in California” and “Pop Icons.”

Massin. Letter and Image. Translated by Caroline Hillier and Vivienne Menkes. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1970.

This book describes how the image is an annihilated form, which is read instantaneously, but presents an immediate impression of the world. It illustrates how the letter is the vehicle of communication and advertising today makes an image of the letter itself. The last chapter titled “The Letter and the Written Symbol in Painting” provides several examples of paintings in which the artist have all incorporated letters as the dominate focus in their work. It asserts that there are several reasons for the sudden interest in artist to use the letter, for example the structural quality of the letters in the Latin alphabet are purely geometric in shape. It presents a select group of artists who it feels demonstrates the variety of method used, and at the same time illustrates various attempts which were based on the common objective of transfiguring lettering into pictorial images or giving writing as a pictorial dimension.

McShine, Kynaston, ed. Andy Warhol: A Retrospective. New York: Bullfinch Press, 1989. With essays by Kynaston McShine, Robert Rosenblum, Benjamin H.D. Buchloh, and Marco Livingstone.

This book marks a full-scale critical examination of Andy Warhol. It spans the wide range of his creativity, from the earliest works of the fifties to the works executed just before his death. Most noteworthy is the vast amount of plates, which are in full color. The plates are divided into many sections depending on the subject matter. Their division is marked by one full page of color (which varies). The plate’s subject matter range from self-portraits, gold-leaf drawings, advertisement based work, comic strip Imagery, soup cans, portraits of celebrities, and death and mortality.

Pellegrini, Aldo. New Tendencies in Art. Translated by Robin Carson. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1966.

This book maps out modern art, its movements and the political and social implications on these movements and artists. It begins its evolutionary history of modern art with the development of abstract art during WWII. A fundamental characteristic of art at the time this book was published was the movement of internationality. It explains that there are two distinct attitudes present in modern art. In one, the artists expresses himself and in the other the artists constructs. It is from the latter expression that a third attitude emerges, which does nothing more than “display.” This last category is important; for certain forms of pop art belong here, such as the works that limit themselves to enlarging or reproducing images.

Polano, Sergio. abc of 20th-Century Graphics. Translated by Giovanna Crespi and Richard Sadleir. Electa: Phaidon Press, 2002.

This book contains a coherent selection of the many essays written by Polano on the themes of graphics and images, scripts and lettering. It is separated into two parts. The first part contains topics such as, typology, “paper architecture,” “talking figures,” and “the return of pictograms.” Most importantly, typology explores the features of the letter, ranging from calligraphy to digital type, in the dialectic between the method used to trace the marks and the surface on which they are traced. And the “return of pictograms” is dedicated to the form of icon (sign/pictograms). The second part proceeds with examples.

Swenson, G.R.. “What is Pop Art?: Part I” ARTnews 62 (November 1964): 24-27, 60-64.

This article contains the first half of eight interviews conducted by G.R. Swenson. This particular article features the artists, Jim Dine, Robert Indiana, Roy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol. It asks questions such as “what is Pop art?” do you consider yourself a Pop artist? and where do your ideas about art begin? The interview gives insight into the mind of the artists, and what they think about Pop art.

Swenson, G.R.. “What is Pop Art?: Part II” ARTnews 62 (Feberary 1964): 40-43.

This article contains the second half of eight interviews conducted by G.R. Swenson. This particular article features the artists, Stephen Durkee, JasperJohns, James Rosenquist and Tom Wesselmann. Only one of the artists interviewed in this half objected to being a Pop artists—Jasper Johns.

Varnedoe, Kirk. Jasper Johns: A Retrospective. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1996. With an essay by Roberta Bernstein.

This survey of Jasper Johns’ work is a full mapping of his four decades, traced in his paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures. It was produced from the Museum of Modern Art and features works in their collection. Most noteworthy is the section that contains a chronology accompanied with plates. This vast section is subdivided into nine sections of time periods ranging in totality from 1930-1995. The plates illustrate the universal icons of Johns work which he incorporated into the vocabulary of contemporary art.

Writers on Art: James Beck

An American leading specialist in Italian Renaissance art, James Beck was a true connoisseur of his field.  He wrote numerous books and articles, with the focus on famous artists of that time period, devoting particular attention to Michelangelo.  It was during the 1980s that extensive restoration on the Sistine Chapel frescoes began; this initiated his vigorous critique of conservation of art. Beck argued that Michelangelo’s frescoes were dramatically over cleaned and left exposed to pollution.  In his 1994 book, Art Restoration: The Culture, the Business and the Scandal he rejected the belief of “restoration circles and many museums” that frescoes, pictures or sculptures could be brought back to their original condition.  He proposed that there be a “system of checks and balances” installed leading to the creation of ArtWatch International.

Beck’s ideas on restoration were influenced by Cesare Brandi, an Italian art historian and critic.  Brandi was one of the first art critics to diverge from the past.  Before Brandi the conservator’s goal was to destroy the races of time, to reconstruct/recreate a work of art, and to obtain the artwork’s “original condition.”   Brandi argues that a restoration should remove the cause of the deterioration and if that fails then the restoration is useless and ineffective.  Moreover, the reworking of the art should be minimal.  Paul Philippot, a Belgian art historian, administrator, and university teacher, influenced Beck in his belief that he entire history of a work of art should be considered.  Philippot takes the stance that a work of art is of historical significance and that all the changes to the work should not be erased.  Brandi agrees with Philippot that the changes of  an art work should not be erased, however Brandi believes that aesthetic alteration are acceptable as are the removal of “inappropriate” alternations.  Where Brandi tends to place more emphasis on aesthetic alteration, Beck sides with Philippot and believes the history of an artwork is more important.

The controversy that surrounded the cleaning of the Sistine Chapel ceiling erupted almost from the beginning and focuses on a single point: did Michelangelo modify and add to his frescoes after the application of the buon fresco layer with secco fresco, such as glue-based painting, or not?   His argument, which he discuss in  Art Restoration, reflect the direct influences of Brandi and Morelli,  Beck believes that Michelangelo did modify his fresco after the application of the buon fresco layer and thus the “restoration” done of the Sistine Chapel has falsified Michelangelo’s work.  When images were released to the public, Michelangelo was immediately praised for being a “brilliant colorist.”  If he had been then biographers and followers from previous centuries surely would have mentioned it.  In fact, as Beck states, Michelangelo was praised for the modeling of figures.  Beck insists that Michelangelo built up modeling in terms of light and shade by adding a layer of toning over paint on top of the buon fresco layer, thus reducing the color.   The restorers counterargued that Michelangelo would not have modified or darkened the vivid colors they exposed.

Additionally, Beck had an issue with the chemical used for cleaning the frescoes.  The solvent used to clan the frescoes was an experimental solvent.  Using an experimental solvent or technique is widely prohibited against when used on an important piece of art, such as the Sistine Chapel.  The new solvent, AB57, was previously used to dissolve the calcium build-up in marble, and recommended for the frescoes since the surface of fresco is chemically identical to that of marble.   Questions arose of what the long-term consequences of using AB57 would be and if it would have any damaging affects on the fresco.  Beck views this as “a serious departure from good restoration practice.”

Lastly, Beck, in deviation from Brandi, describes not only the problems of the restorations but the sources of the problem: the “restoration establishment.”  According to Beck the degree of training for restorers should emphasize the history and making of art, and have less reliance on scientific analysis (where the use of diagnostic tools, photographic testing and structures of colors are heavily relied upon.)   The restoration establishment is extensive, including all who are involved with the process of restoration.  Starting with those who sell art: the dealers, the galleries, art collectors, and the action houses to all those who sustain the market.  There are the companies who are involved with producing the products used for the restoration.  The large museums typically have conservation departments and also do restorations for smaller museums, public galleries and individuals.  The art publishing and bookselling industry document the restorations.  Lastly art scholars and critics strongly influence the public’s opinion of the artwork being restored or being considered for restoration.

Ovid’s Metamorphoses: Apollo and Daphne

The narrative of Apollo and Daphne comes from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Ovid was a Roman poet who lived from the end of the 1st century BC to the beginning of the 1st century CE.  His epic poem Metamorphoses is derived from Greek mythology and accounts for bodies changing into new forms, such as Daphne who turns into a laurel tree.

A Summary of Apollo and Daphne:

The myth of Apollo and Daphne is an etiological myth, in that it explains how the laurel tree came to be.  According the Ovid’s Metamorphoses Apollo began to ridicule Cupid for his tiny arrows and boasted how his arrows were of no match to any of the arrows the other gods possessed including himself.  The angered Cupid took one of his arrows dipped in gold and shot Apollo with it causing him to fall madly in love with a nymph, Daphne, and with another arrow dipped in lead Cupid shot Daphne causing her to be impervious to any lover.  Apollo chases Daphne follows throughout the woodlands, until they reach the banks of her father’s river, the Peneus.  Daphne prays to her father to save her and as Apollo begins to rest his hand upon her body she begins to transform; her soft body into bark, her feet turn into roots, and her hair and fingertips sprout leaves, until she is finally she is a laurel tree.

The myth of Apollo and Daphne is an etiological myth, in that it explains how the laurel tree came to be.  When taking a class on Greek mythology I had a chance to read Ovid’s story on Apollo and Daphne.  Before that I had come across this story many times, not in the written form but in the visual form of Bernini’s sculpture Apollo and Daphne. 

In 1622, Bernini inspired by two texts, Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Giambattista Marino’s reinterpretation of Apollo and Daphne in his 1620CE poem Dafne, began his sculpture of Apollo and Daphne.  The poem Dafne puts an emphasis on the flight and immobility of the nymph, which builds up to the moment of her transformation. This emphasis on flight and immobility as well as Daphne’s transformation is captured by Bernini.  The sculpture captures the moment of Daphne in mid-transformation as the result of Apollo’s touch. 

Another work of art, found in the fourteenth century French translation of Metamorphoses, Ovide moralité, is a loose translation.  Ovid has an enormous impact during this time period; however the material of the stories were not appropriate for a Christian audience, for they contained stories of rape and adultery.  By Christianizing these myths, such as that of Apollo and Daphne, the focus shifts from a semi-erotic story of love to a story between a virgin and her divine suitor.   The illustrations adapted to this in their representation of Daphne and Apollo, for they are no longer youthful or nude, but dressed and the ecstasy of Apollo’s erotic love and Daphne’s flight is lost.  The illustrations were Christianized in order to teach Christian morals through pagan symbols.




Joseph H. Hirshhorn (1899-1981)

A self made man, Joseph H. Hirshhorn, gained his wealth in the oil, gold and uranium industries.  With the money that he accumulated over the years, he used to purchase art.  When buying he focused on American paintings from about 1870 on and European and American sculpture from the middle of the nineteenth century on.  He had a particular interest in modern art; he felt it to be a liberating experience, which touched him deeply and produced aesthetic experiences that was previously unbeknownst to him from inquires into past art.   His career as an art collector spans a period of more than forty years, in which he acquired roughly 12,000 works, half of which he donated to the United States.  This donation of 6,502 pieces was given to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in the 1970s, built for the purpose of holding solely from his collection.  The museum is situated in the Mall of the United States Capital.  It is still enjoyed today by art enthusiasts, tourist and Washingtonians alike for not only its quantity but quality of sculptural works.

Salvador Dali’s Contribution to Animation

The Salvador Dali and Disney collaboration “Destino” began in the 1940′s and was only recently released.

Directly below is a high quality excerpt of this short film and below that is a lower quality video of the entire film.


Click here to view the embedded video.

Click here to view the embedded video.

To read about the making of this film click here.


While searching for this film I came across a WB cartoon inspired by Dali,  unfortunatly the sound has been disabled due to copywright issues.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Connoisseurship and Cultural Hisotry–constrats

A connoisseur contains knowledge of a specific artistic period or nation, who typically focuses on a single problem.  They know the approximate date, the period and the authenticity of a painting, by having a wide range of knowledge of individual and period styles.  He or she will generate a list of an art objects location and the history of its travels.  These catalogue entries for a work of art consists of all relevant published information, especially references made to the object near the time of its execution.  He or she often has to make extensive travels in order to experience the work of art in person.  The purpose being that the connoisseur is able to attribute works of artists and schools, and identifying styles and establishing sources and influences as well as judging their quality and thus their placement in a canon.  This also gives a connoisseur the chance to identify the work as a copy, fake, or original.  By utilizing evidence of style and documentation as aids, the characteristics of style that are particular to an artist can be identified.   Documents concerning the payment are of extreme value for they explain the circumstances of commissioning and execution.  In addition, a connoisseur is able to show how an artist’s work has been directly influenced by his or her training as well as from the culture they lived in.

In comparison, cultural history is the combined studies of anthropology and history as well as the popular traditions of that time period.  It examines the records and literature, especially those pertaining to social, religious, and cultural aspects of life.  In addition, cultural historians evaluate the political atmosphere of a time period and its relation to the arts.  Jacob Burckhardt (1818-1897) founded the study of cultural history, whereas earlier histories have focuses on political and military history.  Burckhardt’s best known work is The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy (1860), which was the first to show a period of time treated in its entirety with attention to painting, sculpture and architecture.


The Readings:

Raimond van Marle, The Development of the Italian Schools of Paintings, vol. 5

Raimond van Marle, The Development of the Italian Schools of Paintings, vol. 6

Jacob Burckhardt, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, 1860.          


These two sources were written relatively close to one another in comparison to the time period they were written about.  However, Burckhardt was the first of his peers to write a cultural history and since then much has been added to his original thesis about the Renaissance (and it has been challenged that the Renaissance did not start in the 14th century has Burckhardt proposes but rather the 12th century, but that is besides the point. What is important is that Burckhardt changes the revolutionized the way that modern day thinks about history.) 

The van Marle text was original language is English, however Burckhardt was originally written in German.  However, Burckhardt wanted his writing to be accessible to all that possessed a basic knowledge of and passion for the Italian Renaissance.  Thus it can be assumed that his simple language was easily translated into German’s sister language English and that little was lost during translation.  Also, this particular book originally translated by S.G.C. Middlemore has been corrected by Ludwig Goldscheider from the first edition, leaving little room for error.

The target audiences for these two texts are different, in that van Marle addresses a specific group of scholars who wish to gain a specific knowledge of central and southern Italian art during the 14th century.  Its multivolume work and comprehensive material indicates the audiences the author had in mind.  Whereas, Burckhardt audience is the general public who wished to gain an understanding about the Italian Renaissance Society and Culture. 

Both of the authors of these works present their material in a simple and direct manner, for their goal is to inform the audience of the material.  It is important for these types of work to have a direct tone, for history is mostly straightforward and there is little need for embellishment.

            An example from the van Marle text from page 48 describes Triptych, Umbrian School, first half of the 14th century. Pinacoteca, Perugia:

“The third triptych is only a rustic production of the same current.  In the central panel the Madonna, seated on an architectural throne holds the Infant Jesus between St. Anna and the Virgin as a child.  Lower down we see the Crucifixion and the Prayer on Mount of Olives.  Three figures of saints adorn each of the wings.  It is a roughly executed work of no importance.

The elements composing the art to which these pictures belong, are obviously based on Giottesque principles.  The types, as well as the proportions of the figures resemble those of the great Florentine master and we see them here in a form directly inspired by him and not by one of his disciples.  This, consequently, would lead up to date these works form the first half of the 14th century, which seems too early, especially on account of the elaborate form of the throne in one of the pictures, which is characteristic of North Italian painting of a much later date.  Nevertheless it is possible that we are here dealing with one of the first examples and I do not think that the works we have just described can be placed any later than 1350.”

An example from the Burckhardt text from page 24:

“Atlanta, the still young and beautiful mother of Grifone…and more than once had repulsed her son with a mother’s curse, now returned with her daughter-in-law in search of the dying man.  All stood aside as the two woman approached, each man shrinking from being recognized as the slayer of Grifone…but they were deceived: she herself besought her son to pardon him who had death the fatal blow…the eyes of the crowd followed the two woman reverently as they crossed the square with blood-stained garments.  It was Atlanta for whom Raphael afterwards pained the world-famous ‘Deposition,’ with which she laid her won maternal sorrows at the feet of a yet higher and holier suffering.”

Both of these works, although different in their approach are valuable to the study of art history.  Each writer demonstrates their full knowledge of their subject.  The Burckhardt text or a text similar to Burckhardt gives an art historian a general view of  time period and the culture that the artists were influenced by.  And a text like van Marle, allows an art historian not only the topographical changes within a particular country but also the changes that took shape over time.