Thursday, November 20, 2014

ART HIST 1A03: Art of the Americas

Due to the weather conditions on Wednesday, Nov. 19, our lecture was cancelled. As noted in my blog post of yesterday, I am providing a short video to highlight key works and questions from the lecture. Here is the link for the video:

ART HIST 1A03: Art of the Americas (video)

I will be adding a few extra questions here (later today) to expand upon those in the video.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

ART HIST 1A03: Lecture Cancelled for Tonight

The weather down this way (Niagara) has caused highway closures and accidents. There is an OPP advisory to stay off the roads in the region. I have decided to cancel tonight's lecture as a result. However, I will be posting a short video later this evening to provide some notes on the material we would have covered in class.


Info on ART HIST 1AA3 (Term II): Online Course

McMaster's Faculty of Humanities has posted a video to introduce the ART HIST 1AA3 (World Art & Cultural Heritage II) online course beginning next term. here is the link:

ART HIST 1AA3: World Art & Cultural Heritage II

Sunday, November 9, 2014

ART HIST 1A03: Tutorials (10, 11, 12)

Last week I spent some time discussing the now-famous 'botched' restoration of the 'Ecce Homo' ('Behold the Man') fresco in Borja, Spain above). Here is a New York Times report from 2012 (when the story broke and went viral):

Despite Good Intentions, a Fresco in Spain is Ruined

As noted in lecture, the critical response to the restoration was fixated in the technical inadequacies of the work carried out by Cecilia Giménez. The value of the restoration as an act of love and devotion was thus marginalized. The Borja incident reminds us of the limits imposed upon our understanding of works when we judge them solely on the basis of aesthetics and technical execution. Accordingly, it remind us of the terms upon which we negotiate our relationship to works of art. The context we set up for understanding a given work ultimately involves a negotiation of power in which we, as viewers, are privileged.

Consider the following sculpture (Recovery, c. 1950) for instance. Look at the image for a few moments before reading the text beneath.

Now consider the following information about the work (as provided on the National Endowment for the Arts website):

Carved from the trunk of an apple tree, Recovery was sculpted by the hands of an unknown British mental patient. It has been attributed as a self-portrait as the patient's own concave chest (the result of tuberculosis) is replicated in the wooden figure. Edward Adamson, a thought-leader in art therapy for mental patients, encouraged the individual's work on the tree trunk. After a month of whittling, Recovery was born. The piece is the only identified work of the unknown creator.    

How does our relationship to this work change with this information? To what extent might our inclination to value the work aesthetically (or technically) limit our understanding of the work? If we identify it as a work of art do we, in turn, impose a set of values upon the object which do not necessarily apply? What might those values be? If this is the case does it raise ethical concerns about our treatment of the work?

In our course lectures we have looked at a variety of works from different periods and cultures and each of these have been presented in a book titled, Art History. Each work has thus been treated in the text as a work of art. Does this raise any issues for you? Are there any examples of work that seem to be poorly served by the title 'art' alone? Which ones? Why might it be problematic to designate them as works of art? 

Be prepared to share your thoughts in tutorial.

Monday, November 3, 2014

ART HIST 1A03: Handing in Late Assignments

Please note that late assignments should be taken to the SOTA office (TSH 414) to be signed and dated by the office secretary and placed in my mailbox. Papers that are not signed and dated by office staff will NOT be accepted. Late papers are deducted by 5% per day. It is your responsibility to confirm (by email) that I have received the paper after delivery.

The SOTA office closes at 4 pm each working day.


ART HIST 1A03: Byzantine Icons

During this evening's lecture I paused to take a closer look at Byzantine icons, their history, production and reception. When looking at such icons it is important to understand that they transcend time and, therefore, should not be bound within the limits of style or chronology. Byzantine icons are still made today following techniques that go back through the ages. The materials and methods of production follow tradition for a reason as faithfulness to earlier models is of the utmost importance.

We must also remember that these are not works of art bound by aesthetic concerns. They are considered to be living images endowed with miraculous powers. Here, for instance, is a recent story of a miraculous icon in Hawaii:

Miraculous Icon in Hawaii (News Report)

ART HIST 1A03: Office Hours Today

Hello everyone. Please note that I am unable to schedule my usual office hours today. My apologies for any inconvenience.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

ART HIST 1A03 Tutorials (Nov. 3, 4, 5): Painting Techniques

This week you will be looking at two traditional methods of painting. The first is tempera on panel and the second is 'buon' ('good') fresco. The TAs will be discussing these two traditional techniques and working with you to explore their benefits and limitations. As with the sculptural techniques discussed in the previous set of tutorials you will want to arrive at some conclusions as to why artists might favour one method of painting over the other.

To help you grasp a better understanding of the techniques I am providing the following video links:

Tempera Painting on Panel: Process Part 1   This video covers the initial part of the process of preparing a wood panel for tempera painting. Here the artist demonstrates how to size the panel and the applied layer of linen. (note: low volume)

Tempera Painting on Panel Process: Part 2   The second part of the previous video. Here the artist demonstrates a method of applying gesso. (note: low volume)

Gilding a Panel (applying gold leaf)   A good video demonstrating the application of gold leaf on a prepared panel.

Application of Final Colours (Time Lapse Video)I   The application of final, coloured layers of tempera paint using time-lapse video.

Buon Fresco Technique  A useful video demonstrating the steps involved in 'buon' fresco painting. Note that the techniques, here, represent those adopted by Michelangelo and thus mark some slight modifications of the traditional methods employed before the High Renaissance. See if they can be spotted during tutorial.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

ART HIST 1A03: Reminder about Assignment Title Page

Just a reminder... please remember to indicate the name of your TA (or, if the name happens to escape) the number of your tutorial on the title page of your assignment.