Spanish Colonial Art? Nekkid Greeks?

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Spanish Colonial Art? Nekkid Greeks?

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1PigsnieLite
gen. 11, 2007, 3:37pm

Hi! My name is PigsnieLite but you can call me PLite or Archie. I am interested in Spanish Colonial art, ie. paintings & sculptures from Latin America, Peru in particular (Cuzco School!) I am also interested in Philippine religious art. I am not really into nude Greek sculpture ( whose perfection makes them seem unreal) but my brother collects detached marble body parts which make good paperweight. Hee.

2dougsingsen
gen. 24, 2007, 1:08am

Classical sculpture isn't my favorite either. I picked Michelangelo's David (it's actually from the Renaissance, not ancient Greece) because it is often considered one of the greatest masterpieces of western art. Of course, this is extremely problematic since it reflects two of the deepest biases of traditional art history, the bias towards the West and the bias towards the cult of artistic genius.

So why did I pick the David, given its considerable ideological charge? There are several reasons. 1) Precisely because of its problematic position at the top of the canon, it stands as an appropriate symbol for that contested concept known as "art history." 2) As hard as art historians have tried to erase canonical ideas about art, they stubbornly refuse to die. The David is a reminder that, for better or worse, these ideas will probably always be with us. 3) Laziness.

3PhilOPosia
gen. 24, 2007, 9:43am

Aquest missatge ha estat suprimit pel seu autor.

4MMcM
gen. 24, 2007, 11:44am

Furthermore, pure white marble is more or less an invention of the Renaissance, based on their own version of "art history."

5dougsingsen
gen. 24, 2007, 1:52pm

It's true that the association of pure white marble with classical sculpture was a creation of the Renaissance, but it was based on the state of the objects when they were unearthed--the paint that had originally adorned them had been worn away over the centuries--rather than their concept of art history. It wasn't until the late 18th century and the birth of systematic archeology that anyone had a clue that ancient Greek sculptures and temples had been exuberantly colored.

6MMcM
gen. 24, 2007, 5:05pm

But isn't their concept of art history informed by the evidence available to them? Wouldn't our concept of art history be changed if we found some legitimate new Warhols? You're making a distinction that I don't doubt is valid, and is probably important here, but I'm not quite getting what it is.

My point was primarily that "art history" itself has a history, making this again a good symbol, per your point 1.

7dougsingsen
gen. 24, 2007, 7:23pm

>But isn't their concept of art history informed by the evidence available to them?

Sure. But your first post implied that the Renaissance view of the pure white marble of antiquity was a result of preexisting ideas on the part of Renaissance scholars and aesthetes. In fact, it was the other way around. The Renaissance view of pure white marble was not based on their version of art history, since they didn't really have one; rather, their ideas were based on the (misleading) objects that they unearthed from the ground.

>My point was primarily that "art history" itself has a history, making this again a good symbol, per your point 1.

Agreed.

8myshelves
gen. 24, 2007, 7:42pm

I find the painted Greek sculpture hard to get used to. There was a female in the Acropolis Museum who looked to me as if she was wearing the Wonder Woman costume from the comics. (Is it really vice versa?)

If anyone tried to slap a new coat of paint on the Hermes of Praxiteles, I'd want to shoot first and debate art history later!

(Not a student of art history, as you may have guessed. Grin.)

9MMcM
Editat: gen. 24, 2007, 8:43pm

>But your first post implied that the Renaissance view of the pure white marble of antiquity was a result of preexisting ideas on the part of Renaissance scholars and aesthetes.

In that case, I did not express myself well, for which I apologize, since "preexisting" would definitely be overstating it. Far from denying the effects of the surviving state, I was taking it for granted.

Would you agree, though, that they found their interpretation of ancient artifacts confirmed in their interpretation of ancient philosophy (both natural and theoretical)? Though it can productively be distinguished from art history in our modern sense, they did have historical aesthetics, including what I guess I'll call "progress" and "ideals". So, more than just imitating and idealizing surviving works, they did so within the larger theoretical framework that is the Renaissance.

10dougsingsen
gen. 25, 2007, 12:08am

First of all, I want to say that this is a very interesting discussion and is exactly what I was hoping for when I started this group.

>Would you agree, though, that they found their interpretation of ancient artifacts confirmed in their interpretation of ancient philosophy (both natural and theoretical)?

The Renaissance is not my field (I'm an art history PhD student studying the 20th c.), so I can't say for sure, but I think that this is probably right. (And also the reverse, that their interpretation of ancient philosophy confirmed their interpretation of ancient artifacts.)

One other (side) note: it is definitely fair to say that the Renaissance had ideals, since Neo-Platonism, which was the dominant philosophy of the Renaissance, was explicitly concerned with ideal forms. However, there was no concept of progress in the Renaissance--Renaissance thinkers looked back on Greece and Rome as an unsurpassable cultural golden age. In the Early Renaissance, it was considered impossible for modern artists to even equal ancient art. This changed during the High Ren, when da Vinci, Raphael and Michelangelo proved that modern artists could equal the standards of the ancients, but it was still considered impossible to actually surpass antiquity. So there was no idea of continual progress throughout history such as we have now--at best, progress meant a return to the high standards of an earlier period, which is not really what we mean by progress today.

11dougsingsen
gen. 25, 2007, 12:16am

myshelves,
Did the sculpture in the Acropolis Museum have its original paint or was it a modern interpretation? We don't know how the sculptures were actually painted, since usually all that is usually left on ancient sculptures are a few tiny particles of paint, so we don't really know what the Greek and Roman paint jobs looked like. My personal opinion is that what looks wierd on a single isolated sculpture probably looked a lot better when applied to an entire temple (and Greek and Roman sculptures were almost always part of an architectural structure). The HBO series Rome has really awesome set design that, while just an educated guess, gives as good an idea of what painted temples would have looked like as possible--and, for my money, it looks pretty good. If you have cable, you should check it out: the 2nd season is on the air now. (Granted, you see a lot more architecture than sculpture on the show, but since the sculpture was part of the architecture, it seems reasonable that the sculpture would look good as well.)

12myshelves
gen. 25, 2007, 12:35am

Did the sculpture in the Acropolis Museum have its original paint or was it a modern interpretation?

I wasn't able to find out. :-( There was nothing helpful in the museum guide I bought. My Greek suffices only for things like "good morning" and "thank you," so I couldn't ask.

I did like Arthur Evans's colorful reconstruction of the palace of Minos. Whether or not it is accurate, it was certainly interesting.

Rome: After the first season my cable company switched the channel lineups and upped the ante. I will not pay another $40 a month to get HBO back!

13MMcM
gen. 25, 2007, 12:40am

>... I want to say that this is a very interesting discussion and is exactly what I was hoping for when I started this group.

I'm glad; it's what I'd hoped this it was for.

>So there was no idea of continual progress throughout history such as we have now--at best, progress meant a return to the high standards of an earlier period, which is not really what we mean by progress today.

Agreed. That is a basic distinction. But more generally, the notion of progress, while fundamental, is never stable.

Even in modern times. I'm going to oversimplify, and you just said this is your area of expertise, so you can no doubt express it better, but I'll try. It seems not unreasonable to say that for Greenberg progress means what must happen and post-Greenberg it just means what does happen.

14dougsingsen
gen. 25, 2007, 1:01am

>>So there was no idea of continual progress throughout history such as we have now--at best, progress meant a return to the high standards of an earlier period, which is not really what we mean by progress today.

>Agreed. That is a basic distinction. But more generally, the notion of progress, while fundamental, is never stable.

I was thinking of social progress as a whole, not just artistic progress. In the Renaissance, antiquity was seen as a golden age in all areas, not just art. In the last 200 years, it has often been thought that technology, living conditions, and political conditions would all inevitably continue to improve forever. In art, this idea was expressed through the avant-garde, which saw its role in society as continually advancing the cutting edge art of art by challenging commonly held ideas about art, society, and politics. Greenberg is one example of this (although he was purely concerned with aesthetics, not society or politics) but he's hardly the only example.

You are definitely right that in the postmodern period (which is essentially identical with the post-Greenberg period, since Greenberg was the last gasp of modernism) this sense of the progress of the avant-garde has been lost. You could argue that it was still alive in the 70s in Conceptual Art, Video Art, and Feminist Art, but it pretty much died in the 80s. In the 90s it was revived, but only as an object of nostalgia and irony, thereby once again demonstrating Marx's claim that history occurs first as tragedy and then as farce.

15dougsingsen
gen. 25, 2007, 1:48am

>It seems not unreasonable to say that for Greenberg progress means what must happen

yes

>and post-Greenberg it just means what does happen.

Actually, I think that post-Greenberg it usually means doing specifically the opposite of what Greenberg said would happen, or, more generally, the opposite of whatever happened in modernism.

The relation between modernism and postmodernism is a huge controversy, of course, and it's impossible to say much of anything definitive about it. For one thing, starting in the 1910s there was a contingent within the avant-garde itself (the best example of which is Dadaism, but also Futurism, Surrealism, and Constructivism) that used all of the techniques later used by postmodernists to attack modernism. In fact, these techniques all originated during the modernist era and were later copied by the postmodernists. So it's hard to make any clear division between modernism (Greenberg) and postmodernism (or post-Greenberg).

16dpbrewster
maig 27, 2008, 12:47pm

Here's a recent book from an exhibit at Stanford that you might find interesting:

The Virgin, Saints, and Angels: South American Paintings 1600–1825 from the Thoma Collection
Suzanne Stratton-Pruitt
SKIRA in association with the Cantor Arts Center, 2006
231 pages, color illustrations
Paperback: $34.95

17Nicole_VanK
març 28, 2009, 1:03pm

A fairly good general introduction would be Art and Architecture in Spain and Portugal and their American Dominions 1500-1800 - though unfortunately it does focus more on the European stuff.