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Intro to Art History I, Sept. 7th Notes

by: annaapei

Intro to Art History I, Sept. 7th Notes AHIS-BC1001-01

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Introduction and Intro to Prehistoric Art
Introduction to Art History I
Joseph Ackley
Class Notes
Prehistoric art




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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by annaapei on Wednesday September 7, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to AHIS-BC1001-01 at Barnard College taught by Joseph Ackley in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 51 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Art History I in Art History at Barnard College.

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Date Created: 09/07/16
Class Overview/Introduction: • Goes until 1400 CE • We are going to begin in the Prehistoric to the Ancient Mideast (emphasis on Mediterranean - Ancient Greece/Rome), Southeast Asia (China, Japan), Subsaharan Africa, Americas, Europe (Byzantine, Islamic, Medieval). MAIN THOUGHT: What is Art? How Do We Define It? • Options: Furniture / Cars / Oil Paintings / Jewelry / Sculpture / Relics • What qualifies a piece to be displayed in a museum? • We can look at something and date it based off of characteristics ◦ We know if things are tightly controlled and choreographed ◦ Think about dress, anatomy, behaviors - why have the women's bodies been transformed into a platform for fashion? • Think about the origins of the image: has the image been manipulated? ◦ How truthful is this representation of the event to the event that took place Destruction of the Artifacts at the Mosul Museum in Iraq: • ISIS created a video displaying them destroying artifacts at the museum in February of 2015 • "The group claims that the priceless artifacts - some identified as from the 7th century BC - are symbols of idolatry" - New York Times • An example of iconoclasm (the destruction of images) ◦ Sometimes objects are inhabited by a spirit/soul ◦ Sometimes objects aren't that distinct from a human • False claim by the prophet Mohammed, only once goes to destroy icons ◦ An immediate twisting about what one historical person has said about these images ◦ Also many of these objects were plaster last replicas, although some were originals; also just a small fraction of the objects at the museum (most were sold by ISIS on the black object for money / taken by Iraq before ISIS infiltrated) • Note the editing of the video - how the segments are strung together ◦ How the stories are told ◦ Prayers are being chanted as music ◦ Almost a too tidy/literal example of modern day iconoclasm • Whats the difference between iconoclasm and censoring an image? Opening Slide: • Textile (Silk) ◦ The most expensive thing possible during this time ◦ Travels and is lightweight ◦ Traveled to Medieval Europe in 1204 - used to wrap relics (piece of a holy person) before sealing them inside precious receptacles used to preform miracles • Abbasid, 900s - Halberstadt, Domschatz • Ornamental - Bright Colors, Ornate, iconographic ◦ Happy bird or a monstrous bird? Real or fantastic? ◦ Able to travel and migrate easily despite being out of ordinary for its context • Cross-Cultural Migration of an Object • Luxury translates into its new culture • A value system of art making that is extremely different to what we are accustomed to PrehistoricArt andArchitecture • Not on the midterm • Too old and too little valuable information known about the objects • Very good case studies - examples of the types of questions we can ask about the types of artificets Europe: • Southern France / Spain / England / Austria Chauvet Cave: • A series of cave paintings ◦ This one has horses, rhinoceroses, and aurochs ◦ Vallon-Point-d'Arc, Ardèche Gorge, France (32,000 - 30,000 BCE) ◦ Of the Paleolithic Era - older than the Neolithic Era • Style of Paintings: ◦ Paint applied to the surface with different pigments ◦ A shaded and rounded face • Little known about the Function: ◦ Invested time and resources into doing this ◦ Looking at the natural world / copying things that we are seeing ◦ Had to travel to dangerous crevices only to leave them there - WHY? • Artists: ◦ Were stable enough to have a worker/team of workers who could devote their time/energy to making this rather than gathering food ‣ A microcosm of a great amount of art-making - functional yet also not that functional • We are looking at very small slices of certain past-cultures Lascaux Cave - Hall of the Bulls: • Dordogne, France (15,000 BCE) • Can assume that there is a significance to this iconography matter Peche-Merle Cave: • Facts: ◦ Spotted Horses and Human Hands - Dordogne, France ◦ Horses - 25,000 - 24,000 BCE ◦ Hands - 15,000 BCE • We know that it was largely human-made but there was also tools that they used ◦ Chewed the Pigments up and spit them onto the stone - a type of technology (trial and error) Altamira Cave - Bison: • Facts: ◦ Discovered in the late 19th Century ◦ Altamira, Spain - 12,500 BCE • First evidence of cave sculpture - Bison were created out of the natural shape of the ceiling and then pigmenting them Le Truc d'Audoubert - Bison: • Facts: ◦ Le Truc d'Aoubert - 13,000 BCE • Natural outcropping of rock ◦ Has been chiseled, tooled, smoothed, and then polished ◦ Only to create two bison who are left in a relatively un-acessable area The Woman of Willendorf: • Facts: ◦ Austria, 24,000 BCE ◦ Vienna, Naturhistorisches Museum ◦ Used to be referred to as Venus of Willendorf - decided too arbitrary and unfitting of a title • Dated due to fine spots created by the layers of earth • Conventions: ◦ Conventions of representations - sculpting/picturing the human figure ‣ Conventional - Follows Conventions (neither good nor bad) ◦ Identifiable as a healthy and plump human figure - all components are pictured (while not necessarily conventionally defined) ◦ Geometric Hair - conventional for the time • What exactly was this used for? We don't know exactly. ◦ Perhaps a fertile body, a pregnant body Woman From Dolní Vèstonichi: • Not designed to be finished to exist like this • A very specific mixture before being explored until it exploded ◦ Either put back together after the fact or just exploded like that • What exactly is the work of art here? ◦ Is it the statue? The process of the exploding statue? The fragments that remain? The memory of that process of having been witnessed/formed? ◦ Typically thought to be looked at, to be preserved, to exist ‣ Instead was made to be destroyed; counters our idea of what an artifact is Woman from Brassempouy: • Grotte du Paps, Brassempouy, Landed, France (30,000 BCE) ◦ Saint-Germain-en-Laye; Musée des Antiquités Nationales • Why is this decided to be a woman? ◦ Perhaps long patterned hair ◦ Long neck • Why thing A but not thing B • Why is there no mouth? ◦ Was it the material? The location? Was it just not important? ‣ How does this define their culture's standard of beauty? ◦ The nose was clearly important enough Lion-Human: • From Hohlenstein-Stadel, Germany (30,000 - 26,000 BCE) ◦ Mammoth Ivory, Height: 11⅝ in. ◦ Ulmer Museum, Ulm, Germany • What is the importance of an animal? What is the difference between an animal and a human? ◦ Was a human so different from an animal? Did they exist on the same spectrum? Was there an overlap between this creature and the homosapian's body? Human Figure: • From 'Ain Ghazal, Jordan (6500 BCE) ◦ Fired Lime Plaster with Cowrie Shell, Bitumen, and Paint ◦ National Museum, Amman, Jordan • Lots of surface decay that adds to the romance of the object ◦ Archaeologists enjoy to note the romance of the fragment: what makes it difference? ◦ Was it made for its object to look at originally? Was it used to ward off bad/ undesirable things? Was this a representation of a non-living entity or is this supposed to be human or a spirit? Men Taunting A Deer: • Detail of a Wall Painting from Çatalhöyük, Turkey (6000 BCE) ◦ Museum of Anatolian Civilization, Ankara, Turkey • Frequently buried their dead beneath their residences ◦ How do you treat the dead? Where are the dead? ◦ Very atypical for this time Tomb Interior with Corbeling and Engraved Stones: • Newgrange, Ireland (3000-2000 BCE) • Not only is the tomb one of the most important sites for many of the societies, but also a site that we can now access today ◦ Things that were once buried are very important ◦ Interesting when you have a society that priorities the luxury and the happiness of a corpse • Look at the way that the stone was cut and shaped into an interior room • Corbeling: A way to make a vaulting states using a stepped cantilever stone to enclose a space Stonehenge: • Post-and-Lintel: A series of posts with a horizontal lintel that rests on top of them • Likely did not have any sort of sun worshipping ◦ Used for burial and afterlife purposes ◦ Archaeology gets very complicated very quickly • Not all completed at once ◦ Can see fragments of how it was divided


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