Week 8 Blog (Melia)

Renaissance art is like the bowl of “just-right” porridge from Goldilocks and the Three Bears. It takes ideas from the Greek era and ideas from the Roman era, with a splash of new ideas, which results in ground-breaking artwork. The paintings are vibrant, the architecture is incredible, and the sculptures are chiseled to perfection. To say that the Renaissance is the crowing achievement would be quite a statement, but I do agree with it. So much progress was made towards original ideas and so much was achieved during this time. Just look at the dome of Florence Cathedral; nothing like it had ever been done before, but that didn’t stop Brunelleschi. Also, he didn’t just construct a genius dome; he also invented machinery to build his structure successfully. Pretty amazing.

holy trinity.jpg

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Masaccio’s Holy Trinity was made in 1425 and shows many of the new ideas that the Renaissance brought to the table. This painting is a fresco, which means the pigment was applied to wet plaster at just the right time (not too wet and not too dry) so that the color would set and stay. Standing in Santa Maria Novella, Florence, this fresco is twenty-one feet tall. There are six figures seen (not including the “memento mori” in the coffin) arranged in an ascending structure with the Trinity at the point. Brunelleschi’s vanishing point system is used in this painting and is found at the center of the step, which would be at eye-level of a viewer. The surrounding area shows a rectangular room with a barrel vault. Several pillars are seen in the painting and the cross sets the center focal point of the piece.

Hence the title, Holy Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit hold the center of attention of this fresco. You may ask, “Where’s the Holy Spirit, I don’t see him?” and although it is difficult to see, there is a dove directly above the head of Jesus which symbolizes the Holy Spirit. Directly next to Jesus’ body on the cross stands Mary and Saint John. Mary is gesturing towards Christ and Saint John is expressing grief. Then, on the next step down, the figures in red and black cloaks are most likely donors from the Lenzi family (Adams, 244). They were included in the painting because they commissioned it. Below this triangular shape of figures, is a skeleton in a coffin with an inscription called a memento mori. The two figures ascending on both sides of Jesus’ figure balances the piece and creates movement towards the cross.

A lot of linear action is found in this fresco; lines are found in the architectural structure of the room (pillars, trim, steps, ceiling, etc.) and the cross. The curve of the barrel vault adds dimension and contrast to the hard angles and lines. Characteristic to the Renaissance, naturalism is heavy in the body positions and textures. The folds of the fabric are shaded to look real and a lot of detail was put into Christ’s body which is being pulled down by the weight of gravity. The colors used are vibrant, but the only figure dressed in white is Jesus. The pillars are also white on both sides of the painting, so having Jesus’ garment stand-out as the centered white object unifies the painting. Masaccio also alternated from lighter cloak to darker cloak as the figures went “up” the triangular structure. Even God’s rob is split in two colors to follow this color scheme. The emotional expression is high in this sacred space and I love how Masaccio used Renaissance techniques to create this beautifully balanced fresco.

Since we live in an imperfect world, improvements could always be done. This being said, I believe that yes, we are in need of a Renaissance Re-Birth. There are some things in this day and age that have spiraled out of control, and it would help a lot to revive the good ideals from older times. For example, technology is taking over many aspects of our lives. It would be refreshing and eye-opening to replace our smartphones and electric cars with a board game and roller skates. Don’t get me wrong, technology has done a lot of good in many fields, but in social circles, I think we could use a “re-birth”.

Contrary to what I just said about technology in the social realm, I think we are currently in a Renaissance-like time in the medical field with advances in technology and pharmaceuticals. Cures and improvements are rapidly being created which has saved many lives. We now have vaccinations against diseases that once swept entire populations and we’re working towards even more medicinal improvements. I don’t have a ton of knowledge in this area, but I do know that like the Renaissance, many achievements are being made and have been made towards a healthier world.

Sources:
Adams, L. S. (2001). A History of Western Art (3rd Edition ed.). New York , New York: McGraw Hill.

Week 7 Post (Melia)

cathedral

Of course Gothic buildings are dark and spooky at night; there is no sun. However, during the day when the sunlight catches those stained-glass windows, they are absolutely beautiful. It’s definitely edgier (literally) than the architecture we’ve studied previously, but the precision and perfected repetition and patterns give it an incredible appearance. After Saint-Denis was beheaded, the old church which housed his shrine rebuilt the structure to befit him which founded Gothic architecture. From this point on, chapels were built with large widows, pointed arches, flying buttresses, and ribbed vaults to form the Gothic characteristics. Compared to Romanesque architecture, the chapels in the Gothic Era were more open which made it easier to view the choir without having huge pillars blocking the way.

interior.jpg

Image Source

What’s amazing to me, is that buildings today can go up in just a few months (best-case scenario), but gothic architectures spent generations on their buildings. It makes sense though, with all of the intricate carvings and designs. An unimaginable amount of patience was poured into these cathedrals and chapels, I’m sure. Not only did it take a large amount of time, but also a large amount of money. On the positive side, it created a lot of jobs for masons, carpenters, sculptors, stonecutters, and other craftsmen, which impacted the community and brought them closer. The cathedrals also brought space for activities, both secular and religious which “generated an enormous sense of civic pride among the townspeople” (Adams, 201).

How did the builders keep up with their motivation for these amazing structures and cathedrals? Faith. First of all, they were building them to function as a place of faith and secondly, their efforts show the beauty that a human’s mind and hands can create with all glory given to God. An article that I found said that a cathedral could take up to 133 years to build (Baines). Also, one of the reasons why the ceilings are so detailed is because the architect wanted to guide the eyes upward, to God. There are many other spiritual intentions built into the Gothic cathedrals, but the main reason that kept the builders building was their devotion to their faith and appreciation to God for giving them the hands and minds to make such beautiful creations.

I’ve always found stained-glass mesmerizing. The colorful fragments of glass cause a room to be filled with color when the sun hits them. There’s a long window of stained-glass at my church here in Grants Pass, and I often find myself gazing at it during the service.. A little bit of history about stained-glass: it got its name from the silver stain that was once applied to the outside surface of a window which turned yellow when it was fired (Khan Academy). Painters liked how the light would shine though their paintings on glass, creating a colorful atmosphere. Stained glass was once created by painting different colors on glass and then firing it in a kiln, but in the Gothic Era, architects used fragments of colored glass which they fused together to create a scene or figure. It was easier to paint facial expressions on faces than it was to carve them out of glass, so we see more close-up faces with the painting on glass than the fragmenting technique.

Image Source Image Source (Image on the left is painted while the image on the right is made from fragments of colored glass)

Abbot Suger was the founder of this eye-pleasing window idea and he was the first to diffuse light and color throughout the interior of the cathedrals. Translucent colored glass is cut and fused together with molten glass to form a window design. We all know how fragile and brittle glass is, so imagine cutting precise figures and shapes with the constant fear of cracking the glass. Amazing. The glass is then fired or baked in a kiln to harden and fuse it all together before joining them by strips of lead (Adams 200). Finally, they are framed by an iron armature and secured in the tracery. The predominant colors of Gothic stained glass are blue and red, but many other colors are used as well. As time went on into the later developments of Gothic style, stained-glass windows became even more detailed with smaller pieces of glass and busier patterns. These later windows remind me of a kaleidoscope.

Image Source Image Source  (Image on the left is found in Sainte-Chapelle, Paris and the image on the right is found in the Chartres Cathedral)

Sources:

Adams, L. S. (2001). A History of Western Art (3rd Edition ed.). New York , New York: McGraw Hill.

Bains, W. (2017). “The achitecture of faith”. beliefnet. Retrieved: July 17, 2018. www.beliefnet.com/faiths/christianity/the-architecture-of-faith?p=2

Spanswick, V. “Gothic architecture: an introduction”. Khan Academy. Retrieved: July 17, 2018. www.khanacademy.org/humanities/medieval-world/gothic1/a/gothic-architecture-an-introduction

“Stained glass: history and technique”. Khan Academy. 2014. Retrieved: July 17, 2018. www.khanacademy.org/humanities/medieval-world/gothic1/a/stained-glass-history-and-technique

 

 

Week 6 Blog Post (Melia)

Displaying its “treasure chest” cover, the Lindau Gospels are now part of a collection in the Morgan Library and Museum. There are many different layers to this manuscript and inspirations from different time periods. The inside contains the four Gospels (of course) and also prologues of Jerome, a preface for each Gospel, and twelve illuminated canon tables (The Morgan Library & Museum). The outside of the object shows jewels, pearls, gold, and several different figures. The center figure is Christ and there are also mourning angels seen in the four corners. Christ is seen as tall and proud, showing minimal suffering except for the blood coming from the nails in his hands. His appearance of showing no pain and displaying his divine nature is is Caronlingian and this word means “of Charmlemagne”. It is said that the Lindau Gospels were made for Charlemagne’s grandson or Charles the Bald (Ross & Zucker, 2015). Anyways, this art attempts to revive the drapery style of the Classical Period while also using Middle Eastern styles with color.

lindau gospelslindau sideImage Source

While the Lindau Gospels can be held with two hands, the Gero Crucifix stands at six feet tall and is a “monstrous cross of wood” (Lauer). Christ on this piece of artwork has his head bowed and eyes closed. There is a sense of pain as his body responds to the weight of gravity. This cross was originally donated by Archbishop Gero and stood at his grave, but now, it is currently on the eastern wall of the Chapel of the Cross and is the first monumental sculpture of the crucified Christ still existing (Lauer). Even though a layer of paint was applied in 1904, his body remains in a suffering position.

gero cross
Image Source

Compared to the Lindau Gospels, the Gero Crucifix is very simple in appearance. There are only about three shades of color largely seen from afar: blue, browns, and gold. Looking closer, there are jewels found in the halo around his head, but these jewels are scarce compared to what is seen on the cover of the Lindau Gospels. The manuscript’s cover is very intricately crafted and is very busy. Lots of gold, jewels, and pearls are used, giving it the essence of a incredible piece of treasure. The structure was very carefully thought out; Khan Academy pointed out that the arches forming the cross resembled a basilica structure which is amazing. A technique called “repousse” was used for the gold figures which means they hammered them from the inside instead of carving them on the outside.

I was very interested in the different depictions of Christ in these two objects. The Lindau Gospels show his as strong and of the divine nature while the Gero Crucifix shows him as a human being who is suffering from humiliation and pain. Christ is made out of gold in the Lindau Gospels, but he is carved out of wood for the Crucifix. There is more of an emphasis on Christ himself in the crucifix because he is large, and the center of attention, with little distractions. I really like the golden sun behind him because it illuminates his body and posture even more. However, when looking at the Lindau Gospels, it is easy to glance at Christ and quickly shift focus to the jewels and other figures because there is so much to see.

This being said, I was most drawn to the Lindau Gospels because the cover grabs my attention more than the crucifix. Not only are more colors used, but there is also the sparkle of the jewels and detailed structure to be noticed. I’m sure a lot of effort went into the creation of both objects, but I was more impressed with the cover of the Lindau Gospels. Maybe that’s because we humans have a natural attraction to items of high value… Even though the crucifix is simpler and more focused than the Lindau Gospels cover, I find colorful, detailed things more aesthetic.

Since it’s near the beginning of the week, I haven’t put a ton of thought into my Illumination Project yet, but after watching the videos and reading about the manuscripts, I have a couple ideas. I want to use gold paper (if I can find some) in part of my project because I think it looks awesome. Some of the illuminated manuscripts I saw were of an initial, so I was thinking of using a letter that stands for many different words that have meaning to me and writing them in that cool Latin letter font around the initial. I’ll also have a border that follows the Northern European artwork style. My plans are subject to change, but those are the thoughts in my head so far.

Sources:

Lauer, R. Kolner Dom. Retrieved July 10, 2018, from Gero Crucifix, circa 970: https://www.koelner-dom.de/rundgang/bedeutendewerke/gero-crucifix-circa-970/info/?L=1

Lindau Gospels. (2018, April 26). Retrieved July 10, 2018, from https://www.themorgan.org/collection/lindau-gospels

Ross, N. & Zucker, S. “Lindau Gospels cover”. Smarthistory. December 10, 2015. Retrieved July 10, 2018 from https://smarthistory.org/lindau-gospels-cover/.

 

Week 5 Blog Post (Melia)

What was naturalistic and inspired by human life in the Greco-Roman period was now replaced with ideas of heaven and spirituality in the Byzantine Period. Christianity was spreading quickly, influencing many on the way. Art in the Early Byzantine period focused on churches and icons, which “served as tools for the faithful to access the spiritual world” (Hurst). However, the iconoclasts (those who believed any and all icons  were not part of the Christian way) wanted to destroy these pieces of artwork containing icons. Iconoclasm took down many pieces of artwork in its path. Luckily, there were some pieces of art that survived the Early Byzantine icon debate. The Bible was a source behind the reason why Iconoclasm became significant to the art of the newly-developing Christian world. Saints, martyrs, the Holy Family, and other holy figures were the most important in art and introduced by the Bible. People became upset that holy figures were  being portrayed as possible idols (which is against one of the Ten Commandments) and wanted the artwork gone. Designs, patterns, and animals were okay, but any holy figure in human form was not.

I believe there is a difference between simply looking at holy figures in artwork and worshipping them. Idolatry is definitely a sin, but appreciating the different interpretations of characters from the Bible is not. I can understand why iconoclasts were worried about the possible idolatry that could happen with the Early Byzantine art, but now we see plenty of images regarding Christ, heaven, etc., and we have the self-control to not view the artwork itself as an idol. In 843 A.D., the edict against graven images was lifted and artistic image-making was back in full swing. I enjoy looking at different depictions of Jesus Christ in artwork; I find it very interesting. For example, below I have an image of 4 different depictions of Christ, all by different artists. Because of Iconoclasm, artists are aware of sin that could arise from putting icons in their artwork, but the resolution in 843 A.D. allowed artists to express their spirituality without intentions of idolatry by using altered styles (like distinct portrait types, more standardized wall decorations, and certain subjects about Christ).

4 jesus

Image Source

The mosaic I chose to analyze shows Christ in the center with angels at both of his sides. San Vitale is next to the angel on his right and Bishop Ecclesius is next to the angel on his left. There is a cross inside of the halo around Christ’s head and he appears to be handing a jeweled crown to San Vitale, who’s arm is in the position of receiving the crown. Bishop Ecclesius is holding a model of the church. Christ is wearing a purple robe (to symbolize royalty) and he is seated on a circular globe. Above the five figures’ heads are thin clouds of red and blue. This mosaic is from A.D. 547 and remains on the inside of San Vitale, which was an important Justinian church in Ravenna. This church was dedicated to Saint Vitalis (San Vitale in Italian) who was a “Christian martyr who became the object of a growing cult” (Adams, 157). To make this mosaic, tesserae (squares or groupings of four of colored glass/stone) was embedded into wet cement or plaster. The mosaic is very large (see below).

interior san vitale(Above the windows closest to the floor)
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Christ surrounded by two angels, St. Vitalis and Bishop Ecclesius, from the apse (mosaic)
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What’s interesting about this mosaic is that it shows dimension in the fabric and shading, yet appears to be two-dimensional. The naturalistic textures and shadows trace back to the techniques of the Hellenistic and Roman artworks. The lines used are mostly curved to outline the human shapes and clothing articles. Linear shapes can be seen in the green grass below their feet and in the church model being held by the bishop, but most shapes in this mosaic are curved. However, the figures are frontal and the movement seen in the body postures and draperies is not completely natural. While the facial expressions are not all exactly the same, there is little variety or personality seen in each figure. The globe that Jesus is seated on is two-dimensional and he is not logically supported by it. As a whole, the mosaic is well-balanced with five figures and Christ being the focal point in the center. All of the figures are about the same size, but the curve of the ceiling gives Christ the center-stage appearance and makes him look larger than the others. Also, he is the only one seated and is wearing a darker robe which calls all attention to him.

The colors seen are very vibrant which makes the scene aesthetic to the eye. The big globe in the middle of the mosaic is a bright blue outlined in black which draws attention to it. As mentioned before, Jesus is wearing a purple robe of royalty and the angels are wearing white robes. The ground they stand on is green and blooming with flowers and life while the “sky” above them is decorated with red and blue clouds. Repetition is seen in San Vitale’s robe pattern. While there is some overlapping seen in hand positions and body gestures, there is an absence of perspective. This piece of art fits in to the Byzantine Era because it shows holy figures and is found in a church. Martyrs, bishops, and members of the Holy Family were popular figures in Byzantine art and all three of these are found in this mosaic.

At first, I was not necessarily impressed by this mosaic because it lacked the dimension previously seen in Hellenistic and Roman art, but after learning about the whole mosaic technique, my opinion changed. It’s amazing that an artist was able to create faces, the texture of draped fabric, and a balanced proportion of figures using thousands of small squares of colored squares and a huge slab of wet plaster or cement. A tedious task, I’m sure. I think it’s interesting that the artist had Jesus handing a crown to San Vitale because it seems anti-Christian to believe that Christ would hand his crown to a mortal man. This mosaic shows heavy religious meaning because it clearly includes angels, Christ, and a bishop while also being located in a church. After reading about this mosaic I found out that the outside of San Vitale (the church) is covered in plain brick while the inside is filled with vibrant, rich mosaics and marble. That’s just another lesson that you can’t judge a book by its cover, right?

Sources:
Adams, L. S. (2001). A History of Western Art (3rd Edition ed.). New York , New York: McGraw Hill.

Brooks, S. (2001). “Icons and iconoclasm in Byzantium”. Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/icon/hd_icon.htm

Hurst, E. (2014). “A beginner’s guide to Byzantine art”. Smarthistory. Khan Academy. www.khanacademy.org/humanities/medieval-world/byzantine1/beginners-guide-byzantine/a/byzantine-artintro

 

 

Week 4 Post (Melia)

The art of Ancient Greece started out very precise and repetitive, but slowly shifted focus from patterns and portrayal of a story to the human body and naturalism. The most drastic shift I saw in Greek art took place in the Classical to Hellenistic Style (c. 450-1st century B.C.) where figures began to be painted and sculpted in a more natural way. Dimension was gained and the artwork was more realistic than ever before. In contrast to the Late Archaic style where the figures on vases were very flat and rigid, figures in the Late Classical/Early Hellenistic style had more natural curves and postures.  As seen below, a vase shows a man sitting by a grave with his clothes draping around his body and legs (Adams, 3rd edition, 87). His position is slouched and he is three-dimensional which is very different than the men painted on the Late Archaic vases. From this point on, more detail and texture was added to the human body to make artwork come to life even more. Also, this painting is on white-ground lekythos rather than a black-ground vase which was more aesthetic from my point of view because it emphasized the colors used and looks so much different than the previous Greek paintings. If you just glance at it, the painting looks like it could be a drawing or sketch in a modern day artist’s notebook because the lines vary in thickness and the colored areas seem sporadic. This is why it caught my eye.

reedpainter1

Reed Painter, Warrior by a Grave (c. 410 B.C.)  Image Source

I found this period amusing mostly because of the humorous stories that arose from it. Artists of this time period were said to have painted objects so realistic that people were fooled into thinking some of the things they painted were actually real. For example, Apekkes of Kos used such naturalism in his paintings of horses that real horses neighed when they saw them during the 4th Century B.C. Using these illusionary paintings to trick the viewers thrilled the artists, I’m sure. When we look at these paintings from the Late Classical/Early Hellenistic period, we aren’t necessarily impressed by the naturalism because we are used to the more modern types of paintings which show hyperrealism and we see portraits taken on modern-day technologies quite often in magazines, books, social media etc. Even though it may not look super intricate to us now, we can still appreciate the art of Ancient Greece in the late fifth century because it shows the big step from 2-D figures to 3-D figures.

Marble grave stele

Marble grave stele with a family group (ca. 360 B.C.) Image Source

This grave stele pulled my attention because at first, it seems abruptly unfinished and/or something is clearly missing. This marble sculpture shows an older man, his wife, his young daughter (facing profile), and another person in the top left corner. Three of the figures are complete, but the fourth is not. After doing some outside reading on this sculpture, I found several different interpretations, but the final answer is unclear because the inscription was lost. Some say the unfinished body is the deceased person who is trying to reach out to his family, while others say the man holding the staff is the deceased man. Regardless of who the dead person is, this scene is clearly sorrowful. The mother and father look straight ahead while the eyes of the head in the top left corner gazes directly at the two. This gives a sense of brokenness from the person who was lost. All of the figures display mournful facial expressions which is a new technique seen in the Late Classical period. The fabric of the clothes looks real and naturalistic texture is also seen in the figures’ hair/beard and postures. Artists of the Classical period idealize the human body, which can be seen in the older man’s body structure. The proportion of his daughter to the father is a little off of what it would be in real life, but this reflects a little bit of previous Ancient Greek artwork where women and children of lower status than the male were smaller in size.

The Parthenon is quite the work of art. After watching the videos and reading the textbook, I had a lot more respect for the amount of planning and organization that went in to it. I also thought it was interesting how the pillar/column idea has carried on through many years in many different structures (see images). When comparing the Parthenon to Stonehenge, ziggurats, the Pyramids, and other monumental structures, I notice one thing they all have in common (physically): they’re all quite large. From a spiritual standpoint, all of these things were built to honor someone or many someones who were significant or important to that period of time. When these things were constructed, I think the builders all had a similar thought of “This needs to be very big and very memorable to all who see it so that I can honor the person(s) I’m making it for”. I think we’ve realized now that bigger does not necessarily give anything more spiritual value or “honor points”, but our monuments in the United States are still quite large. The difference though, is that we don’t tie our monuments here to spirituality as much as they did in Ancient Greece/Egypt/etc. We build monuments to honor those who have lived noble lives and give little attention to its effect on the human spirit. Instead of displaying our spirituality in large structures like monuments, we have moved towards a more individualized society where people express their spirituality in their own ways, like praying or practicing religious customs. Since our country is filled with freedom and diversity, we cannot place something large (like a monument) under a certain spirituality because it could cause discrimination or other conflict (because conflict seems to arise out of just about anything these days). However, people in the Ancient times, like the Greeks and Egyptians, connected their monuments to their spirituality because majority of the people had the same beliefs.

Image Source (Lower Left)
Image Source (Upper Left)
Image Source (Upper Right)
Image Source (Lower Right)

Adams, L. S. (2001). A History of Western Art (3rd Edition ed.). New York , New York: McGraw Hill.

“Grave stele with a family group”. Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. October 2006. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/11.100.2

Kelly, R. “Classical Greek Grave Stelae”. CCIV 224: A Virtual Museum of Death and Afterlife in Egypt & Greece. ccivcopy.site.wesleyan.edu/project-6/grave-stele/

Week 3 Blog Post (Melia)

A piece of Ancient Egyptian artwork that stood out to me was the painting of Nebamun hunting in the marshes. This painting was found in Thebes, Egypt around 1350 B.C. in the  late 18th dynasty and is made with paint on plaster. The central figure is Nebamun who was an Ancient Egyptian government official. He stands on a canoe along with his wife and daughter while they are surrounded by the birds and fish of the marsh. There are also some hieroglyphs in the top-right corner. Scenes like this were traditionally seen in tomb-chapel decoration. This image is actually a fragment of a larger painting on gypsum plaster which has been lost over time.

egypt-1.jpg

Image Source 

This marsh appears to be a very vibrant, lively place. Nebamun and his wife and daughter are out on a canoe while Nebamun, who is the largest, hunts the birds. His pose is “conventional Egyptian” because his head and legs are in profile while his torso and eyes are frontal. There are five pieces of the painting that immediately stuck out: the fish, the birds, the cat, the sizes of the figures, and the hieroglyphs in the background. Each of these has a different purpose to give the painting its ultimate meaning.

The fish at the bottom of the painting are shaded by the artist which gives them volume and naturalism. I read in a SmartHistory article by The British Museum that fertile marshes, like the one seen in this image, are symbols of “rebirth and eroticism”. Since this painting would have been seen in a tomb in the Ancient Egyptian time, it would provide a hopeful image of a new life and biodiverse surroundings. As noted in the textbook, the birds have looser, more flexible forms than those of the human figures which show more of the naturalistic element found more in the New Kingdom than ever before (Adams, 2001, p. 59). Nebamun’s action of hunting the birds in the scene represents his superiority and victory over the forces of nature.

Nebamun is not the only hunter in this painting; there is a predatory cat in the middle of the image also participating in the bird-hunting. After doing some research, I found that this cat was not only a common house pet of the time, but also represented the Sun-God who hunted the enemies of light and order. Rank was an important element to be portrayed in Ancient Egyptian art, and we can see this in the painting where Nebamun is much larger than both his wife and his daughter. He is the largest figure in the painting, meaning he is most important. However, even though his wife and daughter are smaller, they appear more naturalistic which is part of the Old Kingdom tradition of “increasing naturalism for decreasing rank” (Adams, 2001, 59).

Even though this painting is fragmented and missing pieces of the scene, the balance and proportions place an emphasis on the main character: Nebamun. As already stated before, the naturalistic and curvier lines are used on those of lower rank, or the wife and daughter. Nebamun is created with more precise, straight lines. Going along with e naturalism theme, the artist included lots of texture in this painting from the feathers of the birds, to the scales of the fish, and to the fur of the cat. The blue color of the marsh plants, water, and birds complements the brown, earthy tones of the human figures’ skin and the other animals in the scene.

I enjoy looking at this painting because it is so full of life and texture. There are so many things to look at and many different pieces to interpret. Even though Nebamun is hunting the birds, I would not call this painting gory or dark. He is merely out in the marsh with his family doing something for fun. The scene would be a lot different if there was only one bird and he chose that one to kill, but since it is such a diverse area of life, his hunting seems to be more of a hobby than a harmful activity. It’s also very interesting to see the different species of birds and fish painted from so many years ago. I wish I could decipher the hieroglyphs in the background.

A topic from the reading that I found especially intriguing were the discoveries at Thera from Chapter 6. A Greek archaeologist named Spyridon Marinatos discovered an island (which is now known as Santorini, but was formerly known as Thera by the historical Greeks) that once was a home to an artistic culture before it got buried under the ashes of a volcanic eruption. It is said that this disaster took place in between 1500 and 1628 B.C. “at the height of Minoan civilization” (Adams, 72). Although many artifacts and pieces of art were found on this island, no human remains were found which means nobody survived or they all evacuated the island. I feel like this story would make a cool movie. Lots of evidence of previous human life has been found though, like interior baths, paved streets, houses, and mills. On the walls of public buildings and private homes, many frescoes have been discovered with a wide range of images like landscapes, animals, sports, rituals, boats, and battles. There were also many other large paintings found on Thera. I thought this discovery was very cool to read about because it just shows that there is always more to discover. Just because we’ve put together a complete, well-labeled map of the whole world doesn’t mean we’ve found every place that has ever existed. You never know when someone will find a whole city buried deep down under some very old dirt.

Sources:

Adams, L. S. (2001). A History of Western Art (3rd Edition ed.). New York , New York: McGraw Hill.

The British Museum. “Paintings from the Tomb-chapel of Nebamun”. Smarthistory. August 29, 2016. Accessed June 20, 2018. https://smarthistory.org/paintings-from-the-tomb-chapel-of-nebamun/.

Trustees of the British Museum. “Nebamun Hunting in the Marshes”. The British Museum. April 26, 2012. Accessed June 20, 2018. https://www.ancient.eu/image/503/

 

Week 2 Blog (Melia)

 

As I was reading about the Dolmens (p. 28), I began to think about the history of both ancient tombs and modern tombstones. The tombs from thousands of years ago were chambers for burying the dead, but now, we have deconstructed the old tomb and taken away one slab of stone to place at the head of a buried body (a.k.a. the tombstone). Even though this may not be the realistic explanation, I bet the people who collected the slabs of stone for the tombs back in the day got really tired of hauling around huge chunks of stone and finally realized that it would be easier to just find smaller stones that could still be monumental and honor the dead, but in a simpler, more space-efficient way. This probably isn’t how it actually went, but it got me thinking. Anyways, it’s interesting how much effort the Neolithic people put into their burial processes compared to what we do now. They built large, intricate chambers with beautifully decorated walls and symbolic associations to honor the dead, but in today’s society, the body is placed in a much smaller, minimally decorated tomb (commonly known as a casket) and buried under Earth’s surface among other “personal tombs” in the arrangement of a cemetery. Does having lighter-labor burial processes/memorials mean we have less respect for the dead than the Neolithic people? I would say no; we have just evolved into doing a lot of things in the quickest, simplest way possible. We still honor the dead in many different ways, but their resting places are made personal with more of an emotional effort than a physical effort.

2896
Dolmen, Crucuno, north of Carnac, Brittany, France, c. 4000 B.C. (p. 28)

In today’s culture, the living and the dead “interact” most commonly in cemeteries or at memorial sites. Men, women, children, and the elderly visit cemeteries to spend time with their loved ones who have passed, even though only the body remains and cannot be seen. The usual marker of the area of burial is the gravestone which labels the deceased individual and usually includes a couple more words of remembrance. Similarly to the Neolithic people who made tombs of stone, we use slabs of stone as memorials for the dead because stone is everlasting. Although our society no longer uses tombs, there are several memorial sites -some larger than others- for remembering those who have died. Examples of the larger ones would include Pearl Harbor and the 9/11 memorial. We also recognize national holidays like Memorial Day to honor people’s lives as well. The honoring and remembering of the dead has not stopped, but the burial processes have changed significantly over time.

The original Jericho Skull (L) and the completed facial reconstruction (R).
Image Source (L) Image Source (R)

I know it’s been said before, but technology is pretty amazing. After reading National Geographic‘s “Face of 9,500-Year-Old Man Revealed for First Time” I learned that researchers were able to reconstruct the face of the original Jericho Skull that was discovered and dug up by Kathleen Kenyon in 1953. By using 3-D printing, digital imaging, and forensic reconstruction techniques, they found out that the skull belonged to a male who was about forty years old and had a broken nose. Micro-CT scans were used to reveal these facts. There are seven Neolithic skulls present in the British Museum and each was stuffed with soil to support the facial bones and covered in wet plaster to make facial features on the skull. The reason behind this was to try and recreate the appearance of the dead person (because scrapbooking didn’t exist yet and they wanted to remember what the person looked like). To get the soil into the cranium, a hole had to be made in the back of the person’s head. After being “stuffed”, the hole was covered with clay. 9,500-year-old fingerprints were recently found on the clay, which I think is incredible. Unfortunately, since there was not a clear writing system in this era to record the practiced beliefs, researchers will never know the exact function and meaning of these plastered skulls. However, several thousands of years later, modern technology is able to work magic and create a three-dimensional, realistic human face that would have been the face of a Neolithic man.

Resources:
Romey, Kristin. “Face of 9,500-Year-Old Man Revealed for First Time”. National Geographic. 5 January 2017. Source.

German, S. (2018). “Jericho”. Khan Academy. Khan Academy. Source.

 

 

 

Week 1 Blog Entry (Melia)

The “Artistic Impulse” was something that specifically stood out to me in the reading. Going into Elementary Education, I’ve been around many small children and seen the artistic impulse on display. Children make art out of almost anything (depending on what you consider art). Like it said in the text, young kids create images/pictures and build before even learning to read or write. This goes to show those people who say that they “are terrible at art” or have no artistic abilities, that we actually have a natural impulse to build and create artwork before we are even aware of exactly what we are doing. Art is in our blood.

The intrinsic value of art is most interesting to me because it gives hope to all pieces of artwork. Even though a viewer may not give value to a work of art and it may be ignored or just seen as mediocre at first, it could possibly be celebrated as high in value many years later, like Van Gogh’s Mona Lisa. The interpretation almost always comes down to the aesthetic preferences of the viewer which is a part of intrinsic value. What may be seen as valuable to one may not be seen as valuable to another with a different pair of eyes and in a different time or place.

The methodologies of approaching art and art history were interesting to learn about but also added a level of complexity to the interpretations of artwork. Each method is like a different lens on a camera and each lens is vastly different. Feminism makes assumptions about the discrimination of women in the “male-dominated art world” while iconography focuses more on the content of the art and the underlying text of the image. I can see the arguments from the more controversial methodologies like Feminism and Marxism, but it was easier for me to understand and relate to the simpler approaches like Formalism and Biography/Autobiography.

The image I chose was the Giovanni Bellini, San Giobbe Altarpiece which was found in Chapter 16, on page 298 (Oil on Wood).

Made in 1487, the religious meanings in this painting keep it true to its time period when a lot of paintings focused on religious values. I liked this painting because it shows balance, textures, shapes, light/color, and a good composition. The vibrant blue of the fabric around Mary’s body brings the initial attention to that point. Also, she is seated higher than the other people, so the viewer’s eye first lands on her and the through the movement principle, the focus moves to the baby (Jesus) and then to the left and right on the other people occupying the space. Bellini uses a darkness behind Mary to emphasize and bring out her presence and character. The textures of the fabrics in the painting display another successful formal element. The shape and space elements can be seen in the architecture of the building surrounding them. There are repeating shapes on the ceiling which creates a sense of unity and precision. Lines with curves and angles along with shading techniques give the structure depth and dimension which adds to the realistic perception of the painting.

 

Introducing Melia Bents

Hello!

Assuming that you don’t know anything at all about me, I’ll start from the very beginning. I was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico on July 28, 1999 and after a couple moves to Colorado Springs and Ashland, my family found a sweet spot in Grants Pass, Oregon which is where we live now. I am the middle child between an older brother (who is almost a junior at University of Washington) and a younger sister (who is a sassy thirteen year-old). The pet situation at my house is kind of funny; we have llamas, alpacas, dogs, cats, and chickens, oh my! My family loves to travel and over the years, we’ve been to China, Costa Rica, Italy, Japan, Amsterdam, Mazatlan, and a few other super cool places. Traveling is awesome (minus the jet-lag) and I highly recommend getting out and seeing different parts of this beautiful planet.

In my free time, I enjoy painting, playing piano, hiking, and watching Food Network Channel (even though I’m no chef myself). There’s a wonderful river that runs right down the middle of my town, and I really enjoy finding peaceful, secluded spots and spending a sunny afternoon painting by the water. It’s great. My favorite color is the soft yellowy color that you see when you hold a lemon slice up to the sun and my favorite things to eat are blueberry pancakes and Pad Thai. I’m also a sucker for anything chocolate. In the future, I am going to be a first-grade teacher which means I am studying Elementary Education right now. If all goes to plan, I will move to Japan after I graduate and teach overseas for a couple years before returning back to Oregon to get my Masters and educate kids for the rest of my life! I also recently added an Art minor because hey, I love art and learning about art, so why not?

This summer I will be painting, doing homework for this class, reading classic books that I have neglected for several years, eating lots of watermelon, working full-time as a day-camp counselor at the YMCA, volunteering in elementary school classrooms, and hopefully floating in various bodies of water (rivers, pools, lakes, etc).

Excited for this class and excited to learn more about you all!