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Results 1 - 25 of 36
1. Contested sites on India’s Deccan Plateau

By Richard M. Eaton and Phillip B Wagoner


Power and memory combined to produce the Deccan Plateau’s built landscape. Beyond the region’s capital cities, such as Bijapur, Vijayanagara, or Golconda, the culture of smaller, fortified strongholds both on the plains and in the hills provides a fascinating insight into its history. These smaller centers saw very high levels of conflict between 1300 and 1600, especially during the turbulent sixteenth century when gunpowder technology had become widespread in the region. Below is a selection of images of architecture and monuments, examined through a mix of methodologies (history, art history, and archaeology), taken from our new book Power, Memory, and Architecture: Contested Sites on India’s Deccan Plateau, 1300-1600.



Richard M. Eaton is Professor of History at the University of Arizona, Tucson. Phillip B. Wagoner is Professor of Art History at Wesleyan University. They are authors of Power, Memory, Architecture: Contested Sites on India’s Deccan Plateau, 1300-1600.

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2. Characters of the Odyssey in Ancient Art

Every Ancient Greek knew their names: Odysseus, Penelope, Telemachas, Nestor, Helen, Menelaos, Ajax, Kalypso, Nausicaä, Polyphemos, Ailos… The trials and tribulations of these characters occupied the Greek mind so much that they found their way into ancient art, whether mosaics or ceramics, mirrors or sculpture. From heroic nudity to small visual cues in clothing, we present a brief slideshow of characters that appear in Barry B. Powell’s new free verse translation of The Odyssey.



Barry B. Powell is Halls-Bascom Professor of Classics Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His new free verse translation of The Odyssey was published by Oxford University Press in 2014. His translation of The Iliad was published by Oxford University Press in 2013. See previous blog posts from Barry B. Powell.

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3. The rise and fall of the Macedonian Empire in pictures

By Ian Worthington


Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE), King of Macedonia, ruled an empire that stretched from Greece in the west to India in the east and as far south as Egypt. The Macedonian Empire he forged was the largest in antiquity until the Roman, but unlike the Romans, Alexander established his vast empire in a mere decade. As well as fighting epic battles against enemies that far outnumbered him in Persia and India, and unrelenting guerrilla warfare in Afghanistan, this charismatic king, who was worshiped as a god by some subjects and only 32 when he died, brought Greek civilization to the East, opening up East to West as never before and making the Greeks realize they belonged to a far larger world than just the Mediterranean.

Yet Alexander could not have succeeded if it hadn’t been for his often overlooked father, Philip II (r. 359-336), who transformed Macedonia from a disunited and backward kingdom on the periphery of the Greek world into a stable military and economic powerhouse and conquered Greece. Alexander was the master builder of the Macedonian empire, but Philip was certainly its architect. The reigns of these charismatic kings were remarkable ones, not only for their time but also for what — two millennia later — they can tell us today. For example, Alexander had to deal with a large, multi-cultural subject population, which sheds light on contemporary events in culturally similar regions of the world and can inform makers of modern strategy.



Ian Worthington is Curators’ Professor of History and Adjunct Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Missouri. He is the author of numerous books about ancient Greece, including Demosthenes of Athens and the Fall of Classical Greece and By the Spear: Philip II, Alexander the Great, and the Rise and Fall of the Macedonian Empire.

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Images: 1. From By the Spear: Philip II, Alexander the Great, and the Rise and Fall of the Macedonian Empire. Used with permission. 2. Bust of Alexander the Great at Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek by Yair Haklai. CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. 3. Map of Greece from By the Spear: Philip II, Alexander the Great, and the Rise and Fall of the Macedonian Empire. Used with permission. 4. Macedonian phalanx by F. Mitchell, Department of History, United States Military Academy. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons. 5. Aristotle Altemps Inv8575 by Jastrow. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons. 6. Alexander Mosaic by Magrippa. CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. 7. The Death of Alexander the Great after the painting by Karl von Piloty (1886). Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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4. Ten landscape designers who changed the world

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By Ian Thompson


It comes as a surprise to many people that landscapes can be designed. The assumption is that landscapes just happen; they emerge, by accident almost, from the countless activities and uses that occur on the land.  But this ignores innumerable instances where people have intervened in landscape with aesthetic intent, where the landscape isn’t just happenstance, but the outcome of considered planning and design.  Frederick Law Olmsted and his partner Calvert Vaux coined a name for this activity in 1857 when they described themselves as ‘landscape architects’ on their winning competition entry for New York’s Central Park; but ‘landscape architecture’  had been going on for centuries under different designations, including master-gardening’, ‘place-making’, and ‘landscape gardening’. To avoid anachronism, I’m going to call the entire field ‘landscape design’. The ‘top ten’ designers that follow are those I think have been the most influential.  These people have shaped your everyday world.

André Le Nôtre (1613 –1700).  France’s most famous gardener was employed by Louis XIV to create, at the palace of Versailles, the most extensive gardens in the Western world. Le Nôtre brought the Renaissance style, based upon symmetry and order, to its zenith. Versailles was copied, not only by the designers of other princely gardens, such as those at La Granja in Spain, the Peterhof near St. Petersburg or the Schönbrunn Palace in  Vienna, but by city planners who appropriated its geometry of intersecting axes. The most surprising example is the influential plan for Washington D.C. produced in 1791 by the French engineer Pierre-Charles L’Enfant, who had grown up at Versailles.

The palace of Versailles gardens

Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown (1716 –1783). Lancelot Brown is credited with changing the face of eighteenth century England. From humble origins, he become the most sought-after landscape designer in the country, undertaking over 250 commissions, including Temple Newsam in Yorkshire, Petworth in West Sussex and Compton Verney in Warwickshire.  He swept away many formal gardens to create the naturalistic parkland which subsequently become an icon of Englishness.  The style has been emulated worldwide:  Munich has its Englischer Garten, while Stockholm has the Hagaparken and Paris the Parc Monceau.

Compton Verney gardens, Warwickshire

Thomas Jefferson (1743 –1826)  Yes, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence and the third President of the United States was also a landscape designer. Not only did he lay out the grounds of his own property at Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia as an ornamental farm, but he also created the influential masterplan for the campus of the University of Virginia. However, his greatest impact upon the American landscape, for better or worse, was his advocacy of the grid for the subdivision of territory and for rational town planning.

Drawing of Pavilion III, The Lawn, University of Virginia campus

William Wordsworth (1770-1850).  The poet might seem an unlikely selection, but Wordsworth designed several gardens, not just for his own houses, but also for those of friends. However, my principal reason for including him in this list is that he wrote the Guide to the Lakes, first published in 1810, which was notionally a travel guide, but was just as much a design guide, full of thoughtful advice about how to build – and when not to build – in a sensitive cultural landscape. Wordsworthian values were a significant influence upon the founders of the National Trust and continue to inform thinking about landscape conservation.

Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) Olmsted is often seen as the founding father of the landscape architecture profession. He thought that the creation of pastoral parks within teeming cities could counteract the adverse effects of industrialization and urbanization. In addition to Central Park, New York City, he was the designer of Prospect Park in Brooklyn and the system of linked parks in Boston known as the ‘Emerald Necklace’. His plan for the residential community of Riverside, Illinois, became the template for innumerable suburbs, not all of the same quality. He was also prominent in the campaign to preserve scenic landscapes, such as the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Big Tree Grove from development and commercial disfigurement.

The 1894 plan for the Emerald Necklace Park System in Boston, Massachusetts

Thomas Dolliver Church (1902-1978) When a style becomes ubiquitous, we sometimes forget that someone pioneered it. Church was a Californian designer who created elegantly functional ‘outdoor rooms’ for a sybaritic West Coast lifestyle.  Those curvaceous, free form swimming pools that appear in American movies and TV shows from the 1950s onwards are Church’s principal contribution to cultural history, but he was an important figure in the rise of Modernist landscape design in the mid twentieth century.

Ian McHarg (1920-2001) Scottish-born McHarg was teaching at the University of Pennsylvania when he wrote Design with Nature, published 1969, the most influential book ever written by a landscape architect. McHarg’s thesis was that we should design our environment in harmony with natural forces, rather than in opposition to them. He pointed out the foolishness of such practices as building houses on floodplains. His advice seems ever more prescient as the world begins to cope with the consequences of climate change.   

Peter Latz (1939 -)  Landscape designers in many countries have been involved in the reclamation of derelict industrial sites. Latz’s office recognized that reclamation does not need to mean the complete erasure of all history. Instead it can recognise the value of what remains. Most famously, Latz turned a rusting Ruhr valley steelworks into the Landschaftspark Duisburg Nord, where gardens flourish in former ore bunkers, rock-climbers practice on old concrete walls, and scuba-divers plunge into pools created within onetime gasholders. This approach to reclamation, which works with memory and aims to preserve as much of the existing site as possible, is rapidly becoming mainstream.

Landschaftspark Duisburg Nord

James Corner (1961 -)  English-born Corner is now Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania and principal of the New York based practice, Field Operations. He is perhaps the world’s most celebrated landscape architect, following the extraordinary success of the High Line project on Manhattan, which turned an abandoned railway viaduct into a linear park, visited by around four million people per year. Field Operations are also working on the Freshkills Landfill on Staten Island, transforming it into one of the world’s biggest urban parks.

Kongjian Yu  (1963-)  Educated at Beijing Forestry University and Harvard Graduate School of Design, Professor Yu now heads the innovative Turenscape practice which has created many remarkable new landscapes in China, including the Zhongshan Shipyard Park, a reclamation project similar in philosophy to Landschaftspark Duisburg Nord. Turenscape makes use of vernacular features of the Chinese agricultural landscape, such as paddy fields and irrigation channels, to create striking new urban parks. Many of Yu’s park designs, such as the Floating Garden at Yongning River Park, demonstrate an ecological approach to flood control.

Ian Thompson is a Chartered Landscape Architect and Reader in Landscape Architecture in the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape at Newcastle University. He worked as a landscape architect from 1979 to 1992, mostly on work related to environmental improvement, derelict land reclamation and urban renewal, before taking up a lecturing post at Newcastle University.  He is the author of many books including Landscape Architecture: A Very Short Introduction.

The Very Short Introductions (VSI) series combines a small format with authoritative analysis and big ideas for hundreds of topic areas. Written by our expert authors, these books can change the way you think about the things that interest you and are the perfect introduction to subjects you previously knew nothing about. Grow your knowledge with OUPblog and the VSI series every Friday, subscribe to Very Short Introductions articles on the OUPblog via email or RSS, and like Very Short Introductions on Facebook.

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Image credits: 1) By Michal Osmenda from Brussels, Belgium [CC-BY-2.0] via Wikimedia Commons 2) Graham Taylor [CC-BY-SA-2.0] via Wikimedia Commons 3) By Leslie S. Claytor [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 4) By Boston Parks Department & Olmsted Architects (National Park Service Olmsted Archives) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 5) By Martin Falbisoner (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ] via Wikimedia Commons

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5. OK Go: Is the Writing on the Wall?

By Siu-Lan Tan


When I saw OK Go’s ‘The Writing’s on the Wall’ video a few days ago, I was stunned. If you aren’t one of the over eight million people that has seen this viral music video yet, you’re in for a visual treat.

OK Go is known for creative videos, but this is the band’s richest musical collage of optical illusions so far. The most amazing part is that it was done … in one take!

Click here to view the embedded video.

Over 7.5 million viewers saw this extraordinary video in the first week it was posted.

And just newly released, OK Go uploaded this equally splendid video that gives us a ‘Behind-the-Scenes’ look.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Just a lucky coincidence?

OK Go posted ‘The Writing’s on the Wall’ on 17 June 2014. I wonder if they knew this is a significant date for Gestalt psychology? Important enough to be in the APA’s historical database for 17 June:

“June 17, 1924. Robert M. Ogden of Cornell University wrote to German psychologist Kurt Koffka, inviting him to become a visiting lecturer. This was the first step… that brought Gestaltists Koffka, Köhler, Wertheimer, and Lewin to America” (Street, 2007)

Wertheimer, Koffka, and Köhler are key figures in Gestalt psychology who laid the groundwork for what we know about perception, especially how we organize visual elements into meaningful wholes. Central to their work is the idea of ‘figure’ versus ‘ground’ – or how we distinguish the main focus (or figure) from the background or landscape in which it is set (ground).

They were also interested in perceptual illusions, influenced by psychologist Edgar Rubin who created many figure/ground illusions such as the Rubin vase, which now appears in every introductory psychology book.

Here’s a modern version: Are these columns or five tall standing figures with bowed heads? That depends on what you take to be figure vs. ground.

153733-157359

OK Go’s ‘The Writing on the Wall’ plays with figure/ground relations. Many illusions in this brilliant music video ambiguate, and then disambiguate, what is foreground versus background.

This is especially well illustrated in the illusion that “the writing’s on the wall” — as it never really is. In every appearance of the written word == in the title, the blurbs in the middle, and the amazing reveal at the end — the writing’s never on the wall.

Instead, the words blend figure and ground into single alignment. The illusion works — and then is dismantled before our eyes — as the movement of objects or camera disentangle what is foreground and background.

Figure and ground seem to dissolve into each other as the musicians emerge from the red, blue, yellow shapes.

Ambiguity of where figure and ground separate is pushed even further with single images that blend foreground with distant surfaces (floors, walls): blue spots, a network of cubes, a ladder, green checkered tiles, and a row of people that appear to stand together. It’s brilliantly captured at 02:47, in the aerial image of a multi-layered apparatus that “flattens out” into a representation of drummer Tim Nordwind’s bearded face (screenshot below).

153733-157370

The walkthrough also takes us through the development of art: from basic shapes, to patterns (dots, stripes), to 3D (or not) cubes, geometric sculptures, and finally to representations of the human face and full body figures.

The music is not just an accompaniment to the collage of optical illusions and paradoxes, but an integral part of the work. The song is about miscommunication that can go on in a relationship. (Or is the idea of two people really ‘getting each other’ merely an illusion?)

The result is wonderfully perplexing, a delicious trick of the senses. And a fitting tribute to the 17 June landmark in Gestalt psychology.

Siu-Lan Tan is Associate Professor of Psychology at Kalamazoo College in Michigan, USA. She is primary editor of The Psychology of Music in Multimedia (Oxford University Press 2013), the first book consolidating the research on the role of music in film, television, video games, and computers. A version of this article also appears on Psychology Today. Siu-Lan Tan also has her own blog, What Shapes Film? Read her previous blog posts.

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Image Credit: Optical illusion. Image by Sha Sha Chu. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 via shashachu Flickr.

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6. Scenes from the Odyssey in Ancient Art

The Ancient Greeks were incredibly imaginative and innovative in their depictions of scenes from The Odyssey, painted onto vases, kylikes, wine jugs, or mixing bowls. Many of Homer’s epic scenes can be found on these objects such as the encounter between Odysseus and the Cyclops Polyphemus and the battle with the Suitors. It is clear that in the Greek culture, The Odyssey was an influential and eminent story with memorable scenes that have resonated throughout generations of both classical literature enthusiasts and art aficionados and collectors. We present a brief slideshow of images that appear in Barry B. Powell’s new free verse translation of The Odyssey.



Barry B. Powell is Halls-Bascom Professor of Classics Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His new free verse translation of The Odyssey was published by Oxford University Press in 2014. His translation of The Iliad was published by Oxford University Press in 2013. See previous blog posts from Barry B. Powell.

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7. Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan from Grove Art Online

In celebration of World Art Day, we invite you to read the biography of Ludovico Sforza, patron of Leonardo Da Vinci among other artists, as it is presented in Grove Art Online.

(b Abbiategrasso, 3 Aug 1452; reg 1494–99; d Loches, Touraine, 27 May 1508).

Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan. Sforza Altarpiece, 1495

Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan. Sforza Altarpiece, 1495

Son of (1) Francesco I Sforza and (3) Bianca Maria Sforza. In 1480, several years after the death of his brother (4) Galeazzo Maria Sforza in 1476, he succeeded in gaining control of the regency but did not become duke in name until his nephew Gian Galeazzo Sforza died in 1494. His commissions, both public and private, were divided between Lombard and Tuscan masters. Milanese architects were responsible for many of his most important projects, including the construction of the Lazzaretto (1488–1513) and S Maria presso S Celso (begun 1491 by Giovanni Giacomo Dolcebuono) in Milan, and a farm complex, known as the Sforzesca, outside Vigevano. Several prominent Lombard sculptors, in particular Giovanni Antonio Amadeo, were commissioned to work on the façade of the Certosa di Pavia. Of the artists Ludovico encouraged to come to Lombardy, an undated letter reveals that he was considering Botticelli, Filippino Lippi, Perugino and Ghirlandaio as court artists. About 1482 Leonardo da Vinci arrived in Milan, where he remained as an intimate member of Ludovico’s household for 18 years. As court painter, Leonardo is documented as having portrayed two of Ludovico’s mistresses, Lucrezia Crivelli and Cecilia Gallerani. The latter may be identified with the painting Portrait of a Lady with an Ermine (c. 1490–91; Kraków, Czartoryski Col.). Much of his work was for such courtly ephemera as the designs for the spectacle Festa del Paradiso, composed in 1490. Another commission of which nothing survives was for a bronze equestrian statue honouring Ludovico’s father, which Leonardo worked on in the 1490s. A surviving work by Leonardo for the Duke is the Sala delle Asse (1498) in the Castello Sforzesco, Milan, where motifs of golden knots are interspersed among vegetation and heraldic shields.

Other Tuscans at work in Milan during the 1490s included Donato Bramante. As a painter, Bramante produced an allegorical figure of Argus (1490–93) in the Castello Sforzesco (in situ). The development of the piazza, tower and castle at Vigebano in the 1490s, one of the most important campaigns of urban planning in the Renaissance, was the work of Bramante, working perhaps with Leonardo, under Ludovico’s supervision. Ludovico also took day-to-day responsiblity for projects financed by his brother (6) Cardinal Ascanio Maria Sforza, for example Bramante’s work on the new cathedral in Pavia and the monastic quarters (commissioned 1497) at S Ambrogio, Milan. The illuminator Giovanni Pietro Birago was also active in Ludovico’s court, producing, among others, several copies (e.g. London, BL. Grenville MS. 7251) of Giovanni Simonetta’s life of Francesco Sforza I, the Sforziada.

Ludovico’s plans were destroyed by the invasion of Louis XII, King of France, in August 1499. Ludovico escaped, to return in February 1500, but following his final defeat and capture in April that year, he was confined to a prison in France for the remainder of his life.

Bibliography

E. Salmi: ‘La Festa del Paradiso di Leonardo da Vinci e Bernardo Bellincioni’, Archv Stor. Lombardo, xxxi/1 (1904), pp. 75–89
F. Malaguzzi Valeri: La corte di Ludovico il Moro: La vita privata e l’arte a Milano nella secunda metà del quattrocento, 4 vols (Milan, 1913–23)
S. Lang: ‘Leonardo’s Architectural Designs and the Sforza Mausoleum’, J. Warb. & Court. Inst., xxxi (1968), pp. 218–33
A. M. Brivio: ‘ Bramante e Leonardo alla corte di Ludovico il Moro’, Studi Bramanteschi. Atti del congresso internazionale: Roma, 1970, pp. 1–24
C. Pedretti: ‘The Sforza Sepulchre’, Gaz. B.-A., lxxxix (1977), pp. 121–31
R. Schofield: ‘Ludovico il Moro and Vigevano’, A. Lombarda, n. s., lxii/2 (1981), pp. 93–140
M. Garberi: Leonardo e il Castello Sforzesco di Milano (Florence, 1982)
Ludovico il Moro: La sua città e la sua corte (1480–1499) (exh. cat., Milan, Archv Stato, 1983)
Milano e gli Sforza: Gian Galeazzo Maria e Ludovico il Moro (1476–1499) (exh. cat., ed. G. Bologna; Milano, Castello Sforzesco, 1983)
Milano nell’età di Ludovico il Moro. Atti del convegno internazionale: Milano, 1983
C. J. Moffat: Urbanism and Political Discourse: Ludovico Sforza’s Architectural Plans and Emblematic Imagery at Vigevano (diss., Los Angeles, UCLA, 1992)
R. Schofield: ‘Ludovico il Moro’s Piazzas: New Sources and Observations’, Annali di architettura, iv–v (1992–3), pp.157–67
L. Giordano: ‘L’autolegittimazione di una dinastia: Gli Sforza e la politica dell’ immagine’, Artes [Pavia], i (1993), pp. 7–33
P. L. Mulas: ‘”Cum apparatu ac triumpho quo pagina in hoc licet aspicere”: I’investitura ducale di Ludovico Sforza, il messale Arcimboldi e alcuni problemi di miniatura Lombarda’, Artes [Pavia], ii (1994), pp. 5–38
V. L. Bush: ‘The Political Contexts of the Sforza Horse’, Leonardo da Vinci’s Sforza Monoument Horse: The Art and the Engineering, ed. D. C. Ahl (London, 1995), pp. 79–86
A. Cole: Virtue and Magnificence: Art of the Italian Renaissance Courts (New York, 1995)
L. Giordano, ed.: Lucovicus dux (Vigevano, 1995)
G. Lopez: ‘Un cavallo di Troia per Milano’, Achad. Leonardo Vinci: J. Leonardo Stud. & Bibliog. Vinciana, viii (1995), pp. 194–6
E. S. Welch: Art and Authority in Renaissance Milan (New Haven, 1995)
L. Giordano: ‘Ludovico Sforza, Bramante e il nuovo corso del Po 1492–1493′, Artes (Pavia), v (1997), pp. 198–205
G. Cislaghi: ‘Leonardo da Vinci: La misura del borgo di Porta Vercellina a Milano’, Dis. Archit., xxv–xxvi (2002), pp. 11–17
E. McGrath: ‘Ludovico il Moro and his Moors’, J. Warb. & Court. Inst., lxv (2002), pp. 67–94
L. Syson: ‘ Leonardo and Leonardism in Sforza Milan’, Artists at Court: Image-making and Identity: 1300–1550, ed. S. J. Campbell (Chicago, 2004), pp. 106–23
L. Giordano: ‘ In capella maiori: Il progetto di Ludovico Sforza per Santa Maria delle Grazie’, Demeures d’éternité: églises et chapelles funéraires aux XVe et XVIe siècles, ed. J. Guillaume (Paris, 2005), pp. 99–114

E. S. Welch

Oxford Art Online offers access to the most authoritative, inclusive, and easily searchable online art resources available today. Through a single, elegant gateway users can access — and simultaneously cross-search — an expanding range of Oxford’s acclaimed art reference works: Grove Art Online, the Benezit Dictionary of Artists, the Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, The Oxford Companion to Western Art, and The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms, as well as many specially commissioned articles and bibliographies available exclusively online.

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8. A conversation with Alodie Larson, Editor of Grove Art Online

We are delighted to present a Q&A with the Editor of Grove Art Online, Alodie Larson. She began at Oxford last June, coming from JSTOR, where she spent four years as part of their editorial team, acquiring new journals for the archive. In the below interview, you’ll get to know Alodie as Editor, and also learn her thoughts on art history research and publishing. You can also find her Letter from the Editor on Oxford Art Online.

Can you tell us a little about your background?

When I was young, I would draw house plans (with elevations in the shape of animals) and make artwork with whatever I could find. In college, I studied architecture and the history of art; I completed my MA at the Courtauld Institute of Art, focusing on the architecture of Georgian England. Afterward, I moved to New York and lived in a comically small apartment with my brilliant friend who studied with me in London. She worked at Christie’s, and she kept me from straying too far from the art world while I worked at Random House. I began in the audio/digital department and later moved to the children’s division; I was lucky to learn from talented editors who were generous with their time. I became intimately familiar with Louis L’Amour novels, and I read Twilight when it was a stack of 8 ½ x 11 copy paper. I joined JSTOR in 2009, where I managed their list of journals in art and architecture. I contributed to a project to digitize a group of rare art journals like 291 and The Crayon, as well as to an effort to build a database of historical auction catalogs, all of which JSTOR made freely available along with their other content in the public domain. I also worked on business and sociology, which helped me to appreciate how research methods differ between disciplines. I am delighted to be here at Oxford as the steward of the Grove Dictionary of Art. In my free time I like to travel, visit museums, go to the opera, and refinish furniture. I am still somewhat disappointed that my current house plan is not shaped like a giraffe.

What is your favorite piece of art, of all time, and why?

I love Bernini’s David – the artist’s skill and inventiveness make this sculpture a singularly perfect object. In Bernini’s hands, marble seems to melt, as if it could be smoothed and stretched to his design. Grove’s biography explains this gift: “He felt that one of his greatest achievements was to have made marble appear as malleable as wax and so, in a certain sense, to have combined painting and sculpture into a new medium, one in which the sculptor handles marble as freely as a painter handles oils or fresco.” Unlike Michelangelo’s calm, anticipatory David, Bernini’s figure projects determination and energy. His body twists in motion, and as you circle him, you feel you are both being wound up together. I leave this sculpture feeling as if I have been flung out of the gallery, propelled by his purposeful strength.

David stands in my favorite museum, the Galleria Borghese, which adds to its grandeur as it is the original location intended for the sculpture. In the early 17th< century, Cardinal Scipione Borghese oversaw construction of the building—then the Villa Borghese—and commissioned David as well as a number of other stellar works from Bernini including Apollo and Daphne and Pluto and Proserpina. I relish seeing these sculptures in the magnificent home of Scipione’s original collection.

NLW Larson

Galleria Borghese, Rome. Photo courtesy of the Alodie Larson.

Since it’s impossible to get someone with an art background to answer this question briefly, I must add that I also particularly admire the work of Eduard Vuillard, Mark Rothko, Grant Wood, James Turrell, William Morris, Daniel Burnham, Raymond Duchamp-Villon, Franz Kline, Xu Bing, and McKim, Mead & White. Closer to home, I have two favorite works of art that belong to me. The first is a watercolor sketch of Piccadilly Circus that I bought at a market in the courtyard of the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio in Milan. With minimal strokes it evokes the London crossroads on a rainy night in the late 50s (back when Gordon’s Gin and Wrigley’s Chewing Gum took up prime real estate in the neon collage).

Piccadilly_Circus_in_London_1962_Brighter

Piccadilly Circus in London, 1962. Photo by Andrew Eick. Creative Commons license via Wikimedia Commons.

The second is a watercolor illustration of “Dradpot the Inverted Drool” drawn by my grandfather, Max V. Exner. He devoted his life to music but was a terrific artist as well, and our family lore has it that he was offered a job with Walt Disney Studios in the 1930s when a member of the company saw him doodling in a restaurant.

Also, in a beautiful, financially responsible future, I will have enough disposable income to buy an original work by David Shrigley. I urge him to try to become less famous so that I can afford this.

What is your favorite article in Grove Art Online?

I’m grateful that this role allows me to learn about artists I’ve never studied, and my favorite articles to read are those on subjects with which I’m not particularly familiar. Our forthcoming update includes new biographies on an outstanding group of contemporary artists from Nigeria, Kenya, Sudan, Ghana, Senegal, and South Africa, which I have enjoyed.

I am partial to the articles written by some of my favorite architectural historians, particularly Leland M. Roth, whose Understanding Architecture (1993) is, I think, one of the most engaging introductory texts. His Grove article on the urban development of Boston gives a great overview of the subject. I also like David Watkin’s article on Sir John Soane. An excellent summary of Soane’s life and work, it is an absorbing narrative with entertaining flourishes. (“Despite Soane’s high professional standing, his idiosyncratic style was often ridiculed by contemporaries in such phrases as ‘ribbed like loins of pork’.”) I have always admired Soane’s work and his unconventional museum.

The breakfast parlour at Sir John Soane's Museum as pictured in the Illustrated London News in 1864

The breakfast parlour at Sir John Soane’s Museum as pictured in the Illustrated London News in 1864. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

What are some of the challenges of transitioning art history resources to an online environment?

Together, Grove and Benezit contain over 200,000 entries and images, and it is a challenge to organize that much information online in a clear, intuitive way that ensures researchers will find the articles they need. Many Grove entries first appeared in the print publication, The Dictionary of Art, and the article titles weren’t designed to fit well with modern keyword searches. Important essays can be buried within several layers of subheadings in long articles, sometimes with only date ranges as section titles. For a print work, it makes sense; you’d want all of the articles on a topic or region to be gathered together and located within the same physical volume. However, in an online environment, ideal heading structure would aid successful keyword matches and avoid cumbersomely long entries.

Despite the challenges, an online environment offers more powerful research options. Both Grove and Benezit are organized under a robust taxonomy, and this information allows users to narrow content by categories such as art form, location, or period. Rich search functionality and linking helps users to move between topics more swiftly than print research would permit. An online environment also allows our resource to respond quickly to new developments. We constantly update and expand the body of articles in our encyclopedia (though updates are not instantaneous, as our content is peer-reviewed, supervised by our distinguished Editorial Board and Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Nicola Courtright).

Oxford Art Online hosts thousands of images. Are there any challenges in hosting these on the site?

Yes, as with our articles, the volume of objects presents a challenge. Grove Art contains over 7,000 images, including many well-known artworks that would be discussed as part of an introductory survey course. Keyword searches usually connect researchers with the images relevant to their work, but we’re working to develop more powerful tools with which to both search and view images.

Obtaining image permissions can also be a challenge, but we are grateful for our partnerships with organizations like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Art Resource, Bridgeman Art Library, and the National Gallery of Art, which have brought a rich group of images to GroveBenezit, too, benefits from important partnerships with the Frick Art Reference Library and ArtistSignatures.com, which provide thousands of artists’ portraits and signatures on Oxford Art Online.

How do you envision art history research being done in 20 years?

I believe research in art history will become more collaborative, interdisciplinary, and international. Art libraries have undertaken enormously useful digitization projects, making objects in their collections available to scholars in far flung locations. I’m impressed with primary source projects like the collaboration between the Met and the Frick libraries to digitize the exhibition materials of the Macbeth Gallery, and Yale’s Blue Mountain Project, which digitized a collection of avant-garde art, music, and literary periodicals from 1848-1923. A number of other university libraries have excellent digital collections for art research, including the University of Washington, the Harry Ransom Center at UT Austin, Harvard University, University of Wisconsin, and Columbia University, which hosts the addictively interesting Robert Biggert Collection of Architectural Vignettes on Commercial Stationery.

Courtesy of The Biggert Collection of Architectural Vignettes on Commercial Stationery, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.

Courtesy of The Biggert Collection of Architectural Vignettes on Commercial Stationery, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.

Whether through local collections or collaborative projects like the HathiTrust, JSTOR, and the DPLA, libraries and publishers are bringing a terrific breadth of important materials online. As content becomes more accessible, I think researchers will select online resources based on the caliber of their material and on the functionality provided the platform. Even as publishers’ brands may fall further behind the façade of library discovery services, I believe scholars will continue to value sources they can trust to maintain high standards of quality.

Art has always been an interdisciplinary field, involving history, politics, economics, and cultural exchange. In the coming years, I think it will be important to emphasize how art connects with these other fields. With the current national focus on careers in science and technology, art is sometimes cast as an academic luxury, but it is not. Its study involves issues fundamentally relevant to all of us. In the words of Albert Einstein: “All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man’s life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual toward freedom.”

Alodie Larson is the Editor of Grove Art and Oxford Art Online. Before joining Oxford, she studied the architecture of Georgian England at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London and worked for Random House and JSTOR.

Libraries are a vital part of our communities. They feed our curiosity, bolster our professional knowledge, and provide a launchpad for intellectual discovery. In celebration of these cornerstone institutions, we are offering unprecedented free access to our Online Resources, including Oxford Art Online, in the United States and Canada to support our shared mission of education.

Oxford Art Online offers access to the most authoritative, inclusive, and easily searchable online art resources available today. Through a single, elegant gateway users can access — and simultaneously cross-search — an expanding range of Oxford’s acclaimed art reference works: Grove Art Online, the Benezit Dictionary of Artists, the Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, The Oxford Companion to Western Art, and The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms, as well as many specially commissioned articles and bibliographies available exclusively online.

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9. Leonardo da Vinci myths, explained

By Kandice Rawlings


Leonardo da Vinci was born 562 years ago today, and we’re still fascinated with his life and work. It’s no real mystery why – he was an extraordinary person, a genius and a celebrity in his own lifetime. He left behind some remarkable artifacts in the form of paintings and writings and drawings on all manner of subjects. But there’s much about Leonardo we don’t know, making him susceptible to a number myths, theories, and entertaining but inaccurate representations in popular culture. The following are some of my favorites.

Leonardo_da_Vinci_-_presumed_self-portrait_-_WGA12798

Leonardo da Vinci, Presumed Self Portrait, circa 1512. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Myth #1 – Leonardo was gay.

Leonardo’s possible homosexuality is one of the more prevalent – and more plausible – myths circulating about the artist, and has the backing of none other than Sigmund Freud. There’s no way of knowing Leonardo’s sexual orientation for sure, but he isn’t known to have had romantic relationships with any women, never married, and in 1476 was accused (but later cleared) of charges of sodomy – then a capital crime in Florence. Scholars’ opinions on the issue fall along a spectrum between “maybe” and “very probably”.

Conclusion: Maybe true.

Myth #2 – Leonardo wrote backward to keep his ideas secret, and his notebooks weren’t “decoded” until long after his death.

For all his skill, Leonardo was not a prolific painter – the major part of his surviving output is in the form of his notebooks filled with theoretical and scientific writings, notes, and drawings. His strange habit of writing backward in these notebooks has been used to perpetuate the image of the artist as a mysterious, secretive person. But in fact it’s much more likely that Leonardo wrote this way simply because he was left-handed, and found it easier to write across the page from right to left and in reverse. No decoding is necessary – just a mirror. Leonardo’s theoretical writings and other notes were preserved by his follower and heir Francesco Melzi, and were widely known, at least in artistic circles, during the 16th and 17th centuries. Published extracts began appearing in 1651.

Conclusion: False.

Myth #3 – Leonardo put “secret” codes and symbols in his works.

I’d rather not get into all the problems with The Da Vinci Code too much, but I have to credit this 2003 book, by renowned author Dan Brown, for a lot of these theories. Aside from the fact that the book is full of factual errors (example: Leonardo’s “hundreds of Vatican commissions,” which actually number in the vicinity of zero) and twists the historical record, its readings of Leonardo’s artworks are based on some fundamentally flawed conceptions about the making, meaning, and purpose of art in the Italian Renaissance. In Leonardo’s world, paintings like the Last Supper in Milan were made according to patrons’ requirements, with very specific Christian meanings to be conveyed. Despite Leonardo’s artistic innovations, the content of his religious paintings and portrayal of religious figures (with the exception of some details in an altarpiece from the 1480s) were not untraditional.

Conclusion: False.

396px-Mona_Lisa

Leonardo da Vinci, The Mona Lisa, between 1503-1505. Louvre. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Myth #4 – The Mona Lisa is a self-portrait/male lover in disguise/woman with high cholesterol.

Martin Kemp has observed, “The silly season for the Mona Lisa never closes.” The ridiculous theories about this painting abound. Here’s what we can say with reasonable certainty: Leonardo started the painting, probably a portrait of Lisa Gherardini, a merchant’s wife, while in Florence around 1503. For unknown reasons, he didn’t deliver it to the patron, however, and it ended up in the possession of his workshop assistant Salai (who some think was Leonardo’s lover – again, without evidence). There’s no reason to think that Leonardo recorded in this painting his own features or those of Salai, even if, as many art historians believe, he continued to work on the painting after he left Florence for Milan and then France. In a theory that deviates from the usual speculation about the identity of the sitter, an Italian scientist thinks that the way Leonardo portrayed the sitter shows she had high cholesterol. Right, because Renaissance paintings are straightforward, scientific images, pretty much just like MRIs and X-rays.

Conclusion: False.

Myth #5 – Leonardo made the image of Christ on the Shroud of Turin.

The Shroud of Turin is a relic purported to be the shroud that Christ’s body was buried in after the Crucifixion. According to its legend, the image of his body was miraculously transferred to the cloth when he was resurrected. The idea that Leonardo forged it depends on claims that the proportions of Christ’s face as depicted on the shroud match those in a drawing that is thought to be a self-portrait by the artist, and that Leonardo devised a photographic process that transferred the image of his face to the shroud. The fact that the shroud dates to at least the mid-14th century, a hundred years before Leonardo’s birth, just makes this already kooky theory even harder to buy. I’ll admit, though, that I haven’t read the whole book explaining it … and I’m not going to.

Conclusion: False.

Myth #6 – Leonardo was a vegetarian.

Vegetarianism would have been pretty unthinkable in Renaissance Italy (and veganism just plain absurd); people probably ate about as much meat as they could afford. The most commonly cited quote used to back up this claim is taken from a novel (see p. 227) and often misattributed to Leonardo himself. None of Leonardo’s own writings or early biographies mentions any unconventional eating habits. There’s really only one documentary source that might be relevant, a letter written by a possible acquaintance of the artist, who compares Leonardo to people in India who don’t eat meat or allow others to harm living things. Pretty tenuous, but vegetarians love to claim him.

Conclusion: Probably false.

Myth #7 – Leonardo invented bicycles, helicopters, submarines, and parachutes.

It’s true that Leonardo was fascinated with mechanics, aerodynamics, hydrodynamics, flight, and military engineering, which he touted in his famous letter to Ludovico Sforza seeking a position at the court of Milan. Leonardo’s notebooks contain many designs for machines and devices related to these explorations. But these were, for the most part, probably not ideas that Leonardo considered thoroughly enough to actually build and demonstrate. In the case of the bicycle, the drawing was likely made by someone else, and might even be a modern forgery.

Conclusion: Not so much.

Leonardo_Design_for_a_Flying_Machine,_c._1488

Leonardo da Vinci, Design for a Flying Machine, 1488. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Myth #8 – Leonardo built robots.

While it sounds nutty, this one’s not so far off the mark, if you consider automatons – mechanical devices that seem to move on their own – to be robots. In a plot line of the cable fantasy drama Da Vinci’s Demons, Leonardo constructs a flying mechanical bird to dazzle the crowds gathered in the Cathedral piazza for Easter. A reliable historical record instead points to a lion that Leonardo made for the King of France’s triumphal entry into Milan in 1509. One observer’s description reads:

When the King entered Milan, besides the other entertainments, Lionardo da Vinci, the famous painter and our Florentine, devised the following intervention: he represented a lion above the gate, which, lying down, got onto its feet when the King came in, and with its paw opened up its chest and pulled out blue balls full of gold lilies, which he threw and strewed about on the ground. Afterwards he pulled out his heart and, pressing it, more gold lilies came out … Stopping beside this spectacle, [the King] liked it and took much pleasure in it.

Wow.

Conclusion: True.

If you’re interested in learning more about Leonardo, including the current locations of his works, read his biography from the Benezit Dictionary of Artists, or, for a longer treatment, pick up the accessible but smart book by leading expert Martin Kemp.

Kandice Rawlings is Associate Editor of Oxford Art Online and the Benezit Dictionary of Artists. She holds a PhD in art history from Rutgers University.

Oxford Art Online offers access to the most authoritative, inclusive, and easily searchable online art resources available today. Through a single, elegant gateway users can access — and simultaneously cross-search — an expanding range of Oxford’s acclaimed art reference works: Grove Art Online, the Benezit Dictionary of Artists, the Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, The Oxford Companion to Western Art, and The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms, as well as many specially commissioned articles and bibliographies available exclusively online.

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10. Illustrating a graphic history: Mendoza the Jew

By Liz Clarke


The illustration of a graphic history begins with the author’s script. There are two aspects to turning that script into artwork. It’s both a story, calling for decisions to be made about the best way to present the narrative visually, and a history, rooted in fact and raising questions about what the places and people (and their furniture and transportation and utensils) would actually have looked like.

conceptsketch

A sketch of Esther Mendoza, wife of Daniel Mendoza. Courtesy of Liz Clarke. Used with permission.

It’s unlikely that we’ll find perfect answers to all of these questions, particularly in a pre-photography age like the late 18th century, when Daniel Mendoza was at the height of his boxing career. Some subjects offer a wealth of images. Some, like a number of the places Mendoza frequented in London, still exist today. I was able to work from current photographs of locations including Mendoza’s house in Paradise Row, the cemetery where he is buried, and the exterior of the White Hart Inn. We had several images of Mendoza himself to refer to, thanks to his celebrity status. We knew what he looked like at different points in his life, how tall he was and how much he weighed. We knew about his fighting style from newspaper reports, artwork, and from his own instructional writing.

However, other subjects may not have been recorded in an image or even in a written description at the time. If records were made, they may not have survived. This means we have to cast the net wider. There are many sources of general information available that allow a lateral approach — records of people and places with shared characteristics, surviving artefacts and garments, artwork and documents from the time. There was nothing definite to work from in the case of Mendoza’s wife Esther, but we could ask what a woman like Mendoza’s wife would have looked like. How would a woman similar in age, class, and religion to Esther have dressed and worn her hair? We could then blend fact and imagination to arrive at a concept sketch of Esther, which allowed us to agree on how we would depict her.

processsteps

A page from Mendoza the Jew, showing the process from the sketch stage to the final piece. Courtesy of Liz Clarke. Used with permission.

Once we have enough information, each page is planned in detail. I’ll decide on the composition of the whole page, and of the contents of each panel on the page. There are choices to make about viewpoint (for example, if the scene is going to be presented from a low angle, looking up at it, or a high angle, looking down on it, which creates two very different effects), how to draw attention to the pivotal point in the scene, the characters’ body language and expressions, if they aren’t already defined by the script, and how to convey the themes of the book. This layout sketch is the most important stage in the illustration of a page.

Once the author has approved the sketch, I draw it in ink as line art and prepare this to be coloured digitally. Colour and the nature and direction of the light can also contribute to the storytelling. For example, the desaturated colours at the beginning of an exchange between Mendoza and Humphries, when Mendoza is not at his best, gradually become brighter and warmer by the end of the scene, as their verbal sparring restores Mendoza’s fighting spirit. The text comprising the narrative and dialogue is added to the art, and text boxes and speech bubbles are fitted to it. For Mendoza the Jew, we decided to use three different fonts. Two fonts with some resemblance to typefaces from the time period represented quotes from Mendoza’s autobiography and from a newspaper report of Mendoza’s match against Humphries in Doncaster, distinguishing the author’s words from Mendoza’s, and those of the reporter.

As an artist, illustrating a graphic history, as opposed to a work of fiction, has some unique rewards as well as challenges. There’s an awareness that these were real individuals and events, and it always feels like a privilege to be telling their stories.

Liz Clarke is an illustrator based in Cape Town, South Africa. Her artwork has appeared in magazines, games and books, including Abina and the Important Men: A Graphic History by Trevor R. Getz and Mendoza the Jew, Boxing, Manliness, and Nationalism: A Graphic History by Ronald Schechter.

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11. Window into the last unknown place in New York City

New York City, five boroughs boasting nine million people occupying an ever-expanding concrete  jungle. The industrial hand has touched almost every inch of the city, leaving even the parks over manicured and uncomfortably structured. There is, however, a lesser known corner  that has been uncharacteristically left to regress to its natural state. North Brother Island, a small sliver of land situated off the southern coast of the Bronx, once housed Riverside Hospital, veteran housing, and ultimately a drug rehabilitation center for recovering heroin addicts. In the 1960s the island, once full with New Yorkers, became deserted and nature has been slowly swallowing the remaining structures ever since. Christopher Payne, the photographer behind North Brother Island: The Last Unknown Place in New York City, was able to access the otherwise prohibited to the public island, and document the incredible phenomenon of the gradual destruction of man’s artificial structures.



North Brother Island: The Last Unknown Place in New York City: Photographs by Christopher Payne, A History by Randall Mason, and Essay by Robert Sullivan (A Fordham University Press Publication). Christopher Payne, a photographer based in New York City, specializes in the documentation of America’s vanishing architecture and industrial landscape. Trained as an architect, he has a natural interest in how things are purposefully designed and constructed, and how they work. Randall Mason is Associate Professor and Chair of the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design. He worked previously at the Getty Conservation Institute, University of Maryland, and Rhode Island School of Design. Robert Sullivan is the author of numerous books, including The Meadowlands: WildernessAdventures at the Edge of a CityRats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted InhabitantsThe Thoreau You Don’t Know: The Father of Nature Writers on the Importance of Cities, Finance, and Fooling AroundA Whale Hunt, and, most recently, My American Revolution. His stories and essays have been published in magazines such asNew YorkThe New Yorker, and A Public Space. He is a contributing editor to Vogue.

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12. Announcing the winners of the street photography competition

By Victoria Davis


This year, in honor of World Art Day, Oxford invited photographers of all levels to submit their best street photography. Thank you to all of you who submitted! We received many thought-provoking, original entries, and are now happy to announce the winners.

Street photography is, according to Grove Art Online, a “genre of photography that can be understood as the product of an artistic interaction between a photographer and an urban public space.”

First place goes to Emily Huang for her photo “One Direction” taken in Taipei, Taiwan. Both of our judges were immediately drawn to this photograph, with Dr. Lisa Hostetler (Curator-in-Charge at George Eastman House) explaining: “This is a witty image that speaks volumes about the ubiquity of cameras on urban streets today, a situation that has fundamentally altered the nature and practice of street photography. It also recalls precedents in the history of photography, such as Friedlander’s Mount Rushmore.”

One Direction," Taipei, Taiwan. ©Emily Huang.

“One Direction,” Taipei, Taiwan. ©Emily Huang.

Emily will receive $100 worth of OUP books.

Second place goes to Leanne Staples for her photo “Life Goes One” taken in New York City. Dr. Hostetler explains: “An allusion to classic street photography, this photograph gives the viewer the sense of participating in the experience of the street alongside the photographer.”

“Life Goes On,” New York, NY. ©Leanne Staples.

Leanne will take home a copy of our Photography: A Very Short Introduction.

Congratulations to both of our winners!

Victoria Davis works in marketing for Oxford University Press, including Grove Art and Oxford Art Online.

Oxford Art Online offers access to the most authoritative, inclusive, and easily searchable online art resources available today. Through a single, elegant gateway users can access — and simultaneously cross-search — an expanding range of Oxford’s acclaimed art reference works: Grove Art Online, the Benezit Dictionary of Artists, the Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, The Oxford Companion to Western Art, and The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms, as well as many specially commissioned articles and bibliographies available exclusively online.

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13. Photography and social change in the Central American civil wars

By Erina Duganne


Many hope, even count on, photography to function as an agent of social change. In his 1998 book, Photojournalism and Foreign Policy: Icons of Outrage in International Crises, communications scholar David Perlmutter argues, however, that while photographs “may stir controversy, accolades, and emotion,” they “achieve absolutely nothing.”

camera

Camera Lens, by Jkimxpolygons. CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

In my current research project, I examine the difficult question of what contribution photography has made to social change through an examination of images documenting events from the Central American civil wars — El Salvador and Nicaragua, more specifically — that circulated in the United States in the 1980s. Rather than measure the influence of these photographs in terms of narrowly conceived causal relationships concerning issues of policy, I argue that to understand what these images did and did not achieve, they need to be situated in terms of their broader social, political, and cultural effects — effects that varied according to the ever shifting relations of their ongoing reproduction and reception. Below are three platforms across which photographs from the wars in Central America circulated and recirculated in the United States in the 1980s.

(1)   In the early 1980s, the US government adopted a dual policy of military support in Central America. In El Salvador, they provided aid against the guerilla forces or FMLN while in Nicaragua they backed the contra war against the Sandinistas. Many Americans learned and formulated opinions about these policies through photographs that circulated in the news media. The cover of the 22 March 1982 issue of Time, for instance, featured a photograph of a gunship flying over El Salvador. Taken by US photojournalist Harry Mattison, the editors at Time used the photograph as part of their cover story questioning the use by the US government of aerial reconnaissance photographs of military installations in Nicaragua to establish a causal link between the leftist insurgents in El Salvador and Communist governments worldwide.

(2)   In addition to these reconnaissance photographs, the Reagan administration also turned to photography in an eight-page State Department white paper entitled Communist Interference in El Salvador, which was released to the American public on 23 February 1981. In this white paper, the US government included two sets of military intelligence photographs of captured weapons, which they believed would help them to further provide the American public with “irrefutable proof” of Communist involvement via Russia and Cuba in Central America, and thereby justify the escalation of US military and economic aid to the supposedly moderate Salvadoran government. The aforementioned article in Time also questioned the validity of the sources used in this document.

(3)   While photography played a prominent role in debates over the existence of a communist threat in Central America, beginning in 1983, a number of artists and photographers — Harry Mattison, Susan Meiselas, Group Material, Marta Bautis, Mel Rosenthal, among others — put photographs from the Central American conflicts, some of which had circulated directly in the aforementioned contexts and others which had not, to a different use. Rather than employ photographs to perpetuate or even question the accuracy of communist aggression in the region, these artists and photographers instead used the medium to examine the imperialist underpinning of the Reagan administration’s foreign policy in Central America as well as the longstanding geopolitical and historical implications of US involvement there. To this end, they produced the following: the 1983 photography book and exhibition El Salvador: Work of Thirty Photographers, which was edited by Harry Mattison, Susan Meiselas, and Fae Rubenstein and toured various US cities in 1984 and 1985; Group Material’s 1984 multi-media installation Timeline: A Chronicle of US Intervention in Central and Latin America, on view at the P.S. Contemporary Art Center in Queens, New York, as part of the ad hoc protest organization Artists Call Against US Intervention in Central America; and the exhibition The Nicaragua Media Project that toured various US cities in 1984 and 1985. Together these three photography books and art exhibitions provided, what I call, a “living” history for photographs from the Central American civil wars.

In his 1978 essay “Uses of Photography” that was anthologized in his 1980 book About Looking, cultural critic John Berger argues that for photographs to “exist in time,” they need to be placed in the “context of experience, social experience, social memory.” Using Berger’s definition of a “living” history as a model, my research project offers a novel way to think about how, within the contexts of these exhibitions and books, photographs from the conflicts in El Salvador and Nicaragua functioned as dynamic, even affective objects, whose mobility and mutability could empower contemporary viewers to look beyond the so-called communist threat in the region that was perpetuated through the Reagan administration as well as the news media and begin to think more carefully about past histories of US imperialism and global human oppression in Central America.

Erina Duganne is Associate Professor of Art History at Texas State University where she teaches courses in American art, photography, and visual culture. She is the author of The Self in Black and White: Race and Subjectivity in Postwar American Photography (2010) as well as a co-editor and an essayist for Beautiful Suffering: Photography and the Traffic in Pain (2007). She has also written about her current research project for the blog In the Darkroom.

Oxford Art Online offers access to the most authoritative, inclusive, and easily searchable online art resources available today. Through a single, elegant gateway users can access — and simultaneously cross-search — an expanding range of Oxford’s acclaimed art reference works: Grove Art Online, the Benezit Dictionary of Artists, the Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, The Oxford Companion to Western Art, and The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms, as well as many specially commissioned articles and bibliographies available exclusively online.

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14. Ricky Swallow, Grove Art Online

By Rex Butler

We invite you to explore the biography of Australian artist Ricky Swallow, as it is presented in Grove Art Online.

The_Victorian_College_of_The_Arts_in_St_Kilda_Road

The Victorian College of The Arts. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

(b San Remo, Victoria, 1974). Australian conceptual artist, active also in the USA. Swallow came to prominence only a few years after completing his Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne, by winning the prestigious Contempora 5 art prize in 1999. Swallow could be said to have ushered in a wholly new style in Australian art after the appropriation art of the 1980s and 1990s. His first mature work was a hammerhead shark made out of plaid, later followed by such objects as bicycles and telescopes made out of plastic. These were not hyperreal simulacra in the manner of Pop artist George Segal or sculptor Ron Mueck. Rather, in remaking these objects in altered materials, Swallow wanted to open up a whole series of associations around memory and obsolescence. In one of the works for Contempora 5, Model for a Sunken Monument (1999), Swallow made a vastly scaled-up version of the mask Darth Vader wore in the Star Wars movies, fabricated out of sectioned pieces of fibreboard, which produced the effect of a melting or compression or indeed a diffraction, as though the piece were being looked at under water. Swallow also made a series of works that featured death as a subject, including iMan Prototypes (2001), which involved a number of skulls made of coloured plastic that looked like computer casings, and Everything is Nothing (2003), in which a carved wooden skull lies on its side inside an Adidas hood. In 2005, he was selected as Australia’s representative at the Venice Biennale, for which he produced Killing Time (2005). In this piece Swallow carved an extraordinary still-life of a table covered with a series of objects (fish, lobster, lemon), seemingly out of a single piece of Jelutong maple, in the manner of the Dutch vanitas painters of the 17th century. Swallow’s artistic lineage would undoubtedly include Jasper Johns, in particular his 1960 casting of two beer cans in bronze. His work could also be compared to contemporary Australian artist Patricia Piccinini and international artist Tom Friedman. Without a doubt, Swallow belongs to a generation of Australian artists who make work outside of any national tradition and without reference to the by-now exhausted critical questions associated with Post-modernism.

Bibliography

  • E. Colless: ‘The World Ends When Its Parts Wear Out’, Memory Made Plastic (exh. cat., Sydney, Darren Knight Gallery, 2000)
  • J. Patton: Ricky Swallow: Field Recordings (Roseville, 2005)
  • A. Gardner: ‘Art in the Face of Fame: Ricky Swallow’s Refection of Reputation’, Reading Room: A Journal of Art and Culture, i (2007), pp. 60–79
  • A. Geczy: ‘Overdressed for the Prom’, Broadsheet, xxxvi/3 (2007), pp. 60–79

Oxford Art Online offers access to the most authoritative, inclusive, and easily searchable online art resources available today. Through a single, elegant gateway users can access — and simultaneously cross-search — an expanding range of Oxford’s acclaimed art reference works: Grove Art Online, the Benezit Dictionary of Artists, the Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, The Oxford Companion to Western Art, and The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms, as well as many specially commissioned articles and bibliographies available exclusively online.

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15. Understanding Olympic design

By Jilly Traganou


After attending the “Because” event at the Wolff Olins office on July 4th, I was once again reminded of the big disconnect that lies between designers and their public. Wolff Olins is the firm that designed the London 2012 brand, a multifaceted design campaign that included much more than the London 2012 logo. Readers may remember the numerous complaints that the logo generated. As my research revealed, this was caused partly due to International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s restrictions and the corporate unwillingness to allow for the full application of what might be seen as a “no logo” campaign.

Wolff Olins proposed an open-source framework that would integrate the public by providing a design language that could be shaped into new forms and messages. The designers’ intention was to “hand over some tools that would allow people to make everything they wanted.” Design would be “off the podium, onto the streets.” But neither the public nor the broader designers’ community were ready to accept that the Wolff Olins team showed no compliance to the usual set of corporate instruction and that what they were trying to achieve lied beyond the creation of beautiful forms.

London 2012 event. Photo by Gary Etchell. Used with permission. All rights reserved. http://www.flickr.com/photos/gary8345/557769058/

The designers’ goal was to evoke an effect similar to that of the Mexico 1968 design: a visual language designed by Lance Wyman that was not only appropriated by the counter-Olympic movement, but also marked future visual languages developed by local designers in Mexico. In a way, Wolff Olins’ design succeeded in its adaptability, even though its multiple viral deconstructed versions that appeared on the streets and online were meant to primarily express conspiracy and protest, or even a disdain for the very visual language that the designers provided (and which these “dissidents” are now using).

But why would designers today strive for openness and participation? And why should IOC, London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), or the general public be indifferent or even hostile to these intentions? After all, are there any designs that would meet the aspirations of all stakeholders: Olympic organizers, designers, and their multiple publics? The Olympics, as indeed most public events, are complex platforms that bring to the surface deep social conflicts and generate heated debates about the notion of public good. The new temporary or permanent configurations that are designed for the Olympics express these tensions and often become the targets of opposing voices.

Everyone today recognizes that the modern Olympics only partly concern sports. Few, though, are aware of the multiplicity of the design engagements that are mobilized for their realization. Being characterized as something between urban festivals and quasi-religious events, the Olympics have a strong ceremonial character that design generates. Hundreds of designers are mobilized to create a series of objects (logos, posters, uniforms, mascots, souvenirs) that are indispensable for the Olympic ensemble. This may seem to some a contemporary distortion to the original 19th century idea of the modern Olympics’ founder, Pierre De Coubertin, but Coubertin was keenly aware of the importance of design for the identity of the Games. He designed what has been credited as the most recognizable logo in the word, the Olympic rings, and spent considerable energy in prescribing the ceremonial characteristics of the event, with writings on subjects that ranged from attention to lighting and decoration, to specifications on the architecture of the venues.

Photograph in newspaper (unspecified) of Richard Beck working on the design for the Olympic poster. This proto-version differs from the final design, particularly in its typography. Collection: Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, 92/1256–1/4. Used with permission.

The design for the Olympics has been an overlooked subject in the fields of design history and Olympic studies alike. Olympic design’s role as an instrument of modernity becomes obvious, for instance, in the way British athletes’ uniforms were designed for the early Opening Ceremonies, expressing but also helping to shape the identity of modern Britain. The Melbourne 1956 poster designer, Richard Beck, abandoned the neoclassical body of the male athlete that characterized earlier Olympic posters for a non-figurative composition along the tenets of modern design.

As it has become only too obvious with the current case of London, in late modernity the Olympics are also an opportunity for new infrastructure projects and major real estate enterprise, which leave a debatable legacy to the host-city. Planners, architects, and urbanists play a major role in this process, as well as those who sponsor, lease, or invest in the projects in the longue durée of the post-Olympic era. The design for the Mexico 1968 Olympics had significant ideological implications for the social segregation that marked the future of Mexico City. The architecture of the Athens 2004 Olympics is emblematic of ‘instant monumentality’ and a lack of legacy planning that has characterized many modern Olympics.

At the same time, the high visibility, budget, and scale of the Olympics have provided designers with opportunities to realize ambitions that are not possible through ordinary projects, and to envision ideas that are often too advanced for their times. Katsumi Masaru for instance insisted in compiling a design manual for the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games (a set of prescriptions that would secure the unified application of the graphics, and thus a cohesive Olympic image), even though he knew too well that it could hardly be applied in the Tokyo Olympics per se. Indeed it was completed just before the start of the Games leaving nevertheless an important legacy for all forthcoming Olympics for which a design manual became a staple. Should we similarly expect that the “no logo” idea of the London 2012, with its openness and lack of corporate compliance, is signaling a new paradigm shift?

Jilly Traganou is Associate Professor in Spatial Design Studies at the School of Art and Design History and Theory, at Parsons The New School for Design in New York. She has published widely in academic journals, has authored The Tokaido Road: Traveling and Representation in Edo and Meiji Japan (Routledge, 2003) and co-edited Travel, Space, Architecture (Ashgate, 2009). She is currently working on a new book Designing the Olympics: (post-) National Identity in the Age of Globalization. Traganou has recently edited a special issue titled “Design Histories of the Olympic Games” for the Journal of Design History, where she also serves as Reviews Editor.

The new issue of the Journal of Design History titled “Design Histories of the Olympic Games” introduces the Olympics as a multifaceted design operation that generates diverse, often conflicting, agendas. Who creates the rhetorical framework of the Olympics, and how is this expressed or reshaped by design? What kind of ambitions do designers realize through their engagement with the Olympics? What overall purposes do the Olympics and their designs serve? ‘The Design Histories of the Olympic Games’ brings together writings by a new generation of scholars that cross the boundaries between traditional disciplines and domains of knowledge. Some of the articles look at the role of Olympic design (fashion design and graphic design) in representing national identity. Other articles look at the interconnected area of architecture, urbanism and infrastructure and the permanent legacy that these leave to the host city. You can view more on the Journal of Design History’s Design Histories of the Olympic Games Pinterest board too.

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16. Otto Dix and The War

By Reinhold Heller


The German artist Otto Dix — born this day in 1891 — drew a remarkable image of himself in 1924 (the tenth anniversary of the beginning of World War I), simply rendered in bold lines of India ink, caricature-like in its exaggerated simplicity. In the drawing we see Dix as he gazes directly out at us through squinting eyes, sporting a small curving mustache, a cigarette dangling from his lips, wearing a battered steel helmet and tattered uniform while carrying a heavy machine gun. Directly above his self-portrait, he scrawled as an explanatory inscription: “This is how I looked as a soldier.” The drawing echoes in its conception innumerable propaganda images from all nations involved in the First World War, depicting wounded or exhausted soldiers who nonetheless stand tall and proud, resilient and strong as they gaze into an unknown distance. They are idealized heroic warriors, Greek gods in modern uniforms. Their images on posters and postcards were meant to inspire and reassure those at home that, despite all, their nation would triumph.

Dix’s self-portrait, however, is divested of these inspirational formulations and transforms them into an image of a bedraggled soldier in torn uniform and damaged helmet, unshaven and scarred. While the machine gun he holds serves as his identifying attribute, its massive, pristinely geometric and precisely drawn form also seems overwhelming; it is in contrast to the rumpled, disrupted contour of his uniform jacket and its burden causes him to list slightly, unsteadily. There are no heroics, no noble endurance in Dix’s self-portrait. Disheveled and dirty, supporting or supported by his massive weapon, Dix instead makes a simple statement: “Here I am.” Or, more correctly, as his 1924 inscription notes: “This is how I was.” At the same time, the very existence of the drawing also proclaims his survival of the war and his continuing life, not as the soldier depicted but as the artist who made the drawing.

Buried Alive by Otto Dix. Source: Wikipaintings.

Dix made this self-portrait drawing to serve as the dedicatory image of Der Krieg (The War) – a sequence of 50 etchings, engravings, and aquatints in five portfolios – that he gave to his Berlin dealer Karl Nierendorf, who had commissioned the series. Der Krieg was published in an edition of 70 by Nierendorf, who also published accompanying pamphlets with depictions from the print series to publicize it among newspapers, labor unions and pacifist organizations. The prints offered a somber contrast to the numerous monuments honoring the fallen heroes of the conflict — often depicted in full uniform, sleeping peacefully, their noble bodies displaying no signs of wounds — being unveiled in numerous German cities in 1924, while German victories at the war’s beginning were being remembered and celebrated with elaborate military ceremonies. In contrast to these public displays, replete with fluttering flags and martial music, Dix’s Der Krieg offered a private recollection, silent but insistent in its focus on the everyday experience of the war and its multitude of horrors. With no sense of a sequential narrative, the 50 prints shift from scenes of a bomb- and artillery-shattered landscape (Crater Field near Dontrien Lit by Flares) to close-ups of wounded soldiers in the trenches (Wounded Man [Baupaume, Autumn 1916]), from soldiers in the company of prostitutes (Visit to Madame Germaine’s in Méricourt) to gas-masked, charging troops (Shock Troops Advance under Gas) and mud-covered soldiers eating, the decomposing bodies of their former comrades nearby (Mealtime in the Trench [Loretto Heights]). The series is a seemingly unending catalogue of terror, misery, horror, and death, inflicted on human beings, animals, and nature equally — one that not infrequently employs a sense of macabre, satirical humor. “I depicted primarily the horrible consequences of war,” Dix later stated. “I believe no one else has seen the reality of that war as I have: the privations, the wounds, the suffering. I chose a truthful reportage of war; I wanted to show the destroyed land, the corpses, the wounds.”

Dix’s war portfolio, its link to Nierendorf’s publicity campaign among unions and left-leaning groups, and his monumental painting The Trench (1920–3, destroyed), which was vehemently attacked for undermining the nobility of the German soldier and returned to Nierendorf by the museum that had purchased it, all tied Dix immediately and irrevocably to pacifist and leftist political attitudes in Germany in 1924. Although he insisted — perhaps somewhat ingeniously — that his war imagery was fundamentally apolitical and no more than an honest report of his memories of the war, the cacophony of nationalist criticism and military celebration drowned out his objections. Nierendorf sold only one complete Der Krieg portfolio.

Reinhold Heller is Professor emeritus of Art History and Germanic Studies at the University of Chicago. He has published extensively on modern German and Scandinavian art, including the entries on Otto Dix and Edvard Munch in Grove Art Online. He curated the exhibition The Birth of German Expressionism: ‘Brücke’ in Dresden and Berlin, 1905–1913 at the Neue Galerie, New York, in 2009, the first major American museum exhibition devoted to this group that initiated Expressionism in Germany.

Oxford Art Online offers access to the most authoritative, inclusive, and easily searchable online art resources available today. Through a single, elegant gateway users can access—and simultaneously cross-search—an expanding range of Oxford’s acclaimed art reference works: Grove Art Online, the Benezit Dictionary of Artists, the Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, The Oxford Companion to Western Art, and The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms, as well as many specially commissioned articles and bibliographies available exclusively online.

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17. The legacy of the Napoleonic Wars

By Mike Rapport


The Duke of Wellington always has a traffic cone on his head. At least, he does when he is in Glasgow. Let me explain: outside the city’s Gallery of Modern Art on Queen Street, there is an equestrian statue of the celebrated general of the Napoleonic Wars. It was sculpted in 1840-4 by the Franco-Italian artist, Carlo Marochetti (1805-1867), who in his day was a dominant figure in the world of commemorative sculpture. Amongst his works is the statue of Richard the Lionheart, who has sat on his mount and held aloft his sword outside the Houses of Parliament since 1860.

Yet Glasgow’s lofty monument has been a magnet for pranksters –  ever since the 1980s, according to the BBC – who regularly scale the pedestal, Copenhagen’s (the horse’s) flanks and then, clinging onto the Iron Duke himself, crown him with an orange traffic cone. This has caused some controversy: the police warn that the acts of intrepid, late-night climbers (who, to be frank, may also have enjoyed the hospitality of the local hostelries) is an act of vandalism and is downright dangerous. The government-funded agency that oversees the care of the country’s historic buildings, Historic Scotland, acknowledges that embellishing Wellington with a modern piece of traffic paraphernalia is now a ‘longstanding tradition’, but emphasises that the statue is A-listed and so needs to be protected from damage – and there has indeed been damage: on different occasions, the general has lost a spur and his sword. Others argue that the ‘coning’ of Wellington is a worthy expression of the people’s sense of humour and that it is as much a part of the cityscape as its historic buildings and monuments. And indeed the statue has become iconic – not because it is a likeness of the Duke of Wellington, but because the general has a cone on his head: postcards proudly depicting this symbol of Glaswegian humour are easy to find.

This controversy sprang to mind when I was first putting together a proposal for writing a Very Short Introduction on the Napoleonic Wars. One of the reviewers very helpfully suggested that the book might consider a chapter on the conflict in historical memory and commemoration. When I came to write this, the final chapter, I considered opening it with an account of the ‘coning’ of the Duke of Wellington, but in the end I felt that such irreverence and jocularity sat rather uneasily with the content of the rest of the book, which tells a tale of aggression, international collapse, and human suffering. Yet the fact that the Duke still sits, as ever, with a garish point on his head – gravity making it lean at a jaunty angle – did make me wonder about how far the Napoleonic Wars (including, by extension, the French Revolutionary Wars from which they emerged – collectively the wars lasted from 1792 to 1815) have left a legacy that is embedded, visibly or otherwise, in our European cityscapes.

This might well be more obvious on the continent than in the British Isles, since there was a direct impact as armies rampaged across Europe – and there were therefore more sites clearly associated with Napoleonic conquest, European resistance to it, and later commemoration of the conflict. In Paris, the very same Marochetti was responsible for one of the reliefs on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, the one depicting the Battle of Jemappes (one of the French Revolution’s early victories over the Austrians in 1792). The Arc was completed under the July Monarchy (1830-48), which worked hard to appropriate the Napoleonic legacy for its own political purposes. The same regime nearly awarded Marochetti the commission to create Napoleon’s tomb in the Church of the Invalides when his body was repatriated from Saint Helena. The sculptor, in fact, was producing models for this work as he was busy on Glasgow’s Wellington statue (giving the latter a pedigree that surely reinforces Historic Scotland’s mild-mannered point). Yet British towns and cities are also embedded with places that are connected with the French Wars – as barracks, as headquarters, as places of exile and refuge, as naval dockyards, as depots for PoWs, as sites of popular mobilization. Sometimes the associations are long-forgotten, sometimes they are commemorated.  The conflict is remembered in the monuments that ask us not to forget the carnage and in the individuals who are commemorated in stone and bronze. These may, like Glasgow’s Iron Duke, have become so much part of our urban environment that they are almost unnoticed unless they have a cone on their head, but the traces and memory of the French Wars in Britain’s towns and cities… now there’s a project!

Dr Mike Rapport is Senior Lecturer in the Department of History at the University of Stirling. He is the author of Nationality and Citizenship in Revolutionary France: The Treatment of Foreigners 1789-1799 (OUP, 2000), The Shape of the World: Britain, France and the Struggle for Empire (Atlantic, 2006), 1848, Year of Revolution (Little, Brown, 2008), and The Napoleonic Wars: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2013).

The Very Short Introductions (VSI) series combines a small format with authoritative analysis and big ideas for hundreds of topic areas. Written by our expert authors, these books can change the way you think about the things that interest you and are the perfect introduction to subjects you previously knew nothing about. Grow your knowledge with OUPblog and the VSI series every Friday!

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Image credit: Statue of Wellington, mounted. Outside the Gallery of Modern Art, Queen Street, Glasgow, Scotland [Author: Green Lane, Creative Commons Licence via Wikimedia Commons]

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18. A history of Fashion Week

By Anna Wright and Emily Ardizzone

Vivienne Westwood Autumn/Winter 1993/94, photograph by Niall McInerney, Bloomsbury Fashion Photography Archive

Fashion weeks showcase the latest trends, which often blend dazzling technical innovation with traditional craftsmanship, and from a design point of view present a heady mix of the classic and surprising, of newness and renewal. The first Fashion Week of 2013 has been no exception, with surprises including John Galliano’s controversial return to the fashion world working in collaboration with Oscar de la Renta — which may suggest the beginnings of the designer’s own reinvention — watch this space!

The fascinating new collections currently on show reveal the often cyclical nature of fashion, drawing on classic designs and reinventing them for a new age. Burberry’s new metallic/fluorescent take on the traditional trench coat, for example, is the perfect fusion of traditional design with a modern twist.

Moschino’s use of tartan for their 2013 A/W collection is a particularly interesting example of this, drawing on traditional Scottish heritage fabric and design. Tartan has featured throughout many designer collections over the years, and is favoured by designers such as Vivienne Westwood, whose A/W collection shown at the fashion week of Feb 1993 included tartan garments modelled by Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss (pictured).

Whether taking inspiration from the past or present, fashion weeks always bring with them a buzz of excitement. If you are keen to read more about the history of fashion weeks, read an exclusive free article from Berg Fashion Library.

Informed by prestigious academic and library advisors, and anchored by the 10-volume Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, the Berg Fashion Library is the first online resource to provide access to interdisciplinary and integrated text, image, and journal content on world dress and fashion. The Berg Fashion Library offers users cross-searchable access to an expanding range of essential resources in this discipline of growing importance and relevance and will be of use to anyone working in, researching, or studying fashion, anthropology, art history, history, museum studies, and cultural studies.

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19. Back to (art) school

By Kandice Rawlings


Summer is over and it’s back-to-school season. Art students are heading back to their classrooms and studios, receiving a course of training that will help them become professional artists. Much of the general public today likely has an image of the working artist as a glamorous intellectual, a socially-conscious provocateur, or a tradition-busting bohemian who has received a course of formal training, resulting in a fine arts degree. But these stereotypes and the reality they approximate—and the institutions that have contributed to it in one way or another—are relatively recent phenomena.

For most of history, the artist in the West (Europe and its colonies) was a craftsman who was trained as an apprentice in the workshop of a senior artist (‘master’). By working under the master and paying him a fee, an apprentice would learn the technical aspects of his craft—how to mix pigments, prepare wood panels for painting, or handle a chisel and hammer—as well as standard motifs and compositions that would suit his patrons. (I use the male pronoun here deliberately—professional women artists were unknown until the Renaissance period and were still extremely scarce until the 19th century.) After several years of training (usually in adolescence), an apprentice could apply for guild membership and open his own workshop.

Students painting ‘from life’ at the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris. Late 1800s.

Students painting ‘from life’ at the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris. Late 1800s. Photograph in the public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

This model persisted in most of Europe until the 17th and 18th centuries, when state-sponsored art academies became widely established. The institution of the academy has its roots in Renaissance Italy, where humanist scholars, famous artists, and their patrons set out to reshape the visual arts as intellectual endeavors. While the medieval artist was a craftsman, the same as a cobbler or a weaver, the Renaissance artist—a good one, anyway—was a genius and a scholar. He (and, increasingly, she) therefore required a new kind of education, to learn about classical culture, literature, philosophy, theology, science, and mathematics, all of which were deemed essential to the production of good art. The first academy (named after Plato’s school in ancient Athens) was established in Florence in 1563, soon followed by one in Rome. By the end of the 18th century, every major European state boasted at least one academy of art. The National Academy of Design was founded in New York in 1825, based on the British model of independence from government involvement. The course of study at the academies was highly standardized and was based largely on classical forms and subjects, and the study of live models and plaster casts. Artists not trained at academies might instead learn similar skills in a successful artist’s studio, similar to the medieval master/apprentice relationship, with an updated curriculum.

By the late 19th century, after decades of political upheaval throughout Europe and the United States, the academy came to be seen by many artists as a sclerotic arm of the state. Academic artists turned out technically astute but formulaic work, some of it openly propagandistic. The emergence of the avant-garde prompted many artists to break institutional ties, forgoing academy-sponsored exhibitions (in France, these were the famous Salons) and trying to make their way without the help or influence of the establishment. (Thus the image of the artist as a struggling outsider was born.) In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, groups of artists established schools that were alternatives to the academy, such as the Art Students League in New York and the Bauhaus design school in Germany. A break from academic norms also opened doors for so-called self-taught artists with no formal training at all.

Exterior of the Bauhaus workshops

Exterior of the Bauhaus workshops, Dessau. Photo by PeterDrews (Own work). CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Today artistic training happens in the contemporary academy, in post-secondary art schools or fine arts departments of colleges and universities, and in some cities and countries, beginning in specialized high schools. Programs awarding bachelor’s and graduate degrees require a variety of studio courses, as well as exposure to art theory through seminars, and sometimes professional internships or additional coursework in art history. Typically, graduating students participate in a capstone exhibition of their work (‘thesis show’).

How do artists fare after their formal education has finished? Statistics and studies from different countries provide a mixed picture, but a recent survey revealed that Americans holding fine arts degrees have a rate of unemployment (4%) well below the national average and report a high level of satisfaction in their jobs.

Kandice Rawlings is Associate Editor of Oxford Art Online at Oxford University Press. Before joining OUP, she studied Italian Renaissance art and taught art history at Rutgers University. Her students included many talented artists and performers studying at the Mason Gross School of the Arts.

Oxford Art Online offers access to the most authoritative, inclusive, and easily searchable online art resources available today. Through a single, elegant gateway users can access — and simultaneously cross-search — an expanding range of Oxford’s acclaimed art reference works: Grove Art Online, the Benezit Dictionary of Artists, the Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, The Oxford Companion to Western Art, and The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms, as well as many specially commissioned articles and bibliographies available exclusively online.

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20. When art coaxed the soul of America back to life

By Sheila D. Collins


Writing in the New York Times recently, art critic Holland Cotter lamented the fact that the current billionaire-dominated market system, “is shaping every aspect of art in the city; not just how artists live, but also what kind of art is made, and how art is presented in the media and in museums.” “Why,” he asks, “in one of the most ethnically diverse cities, does the art world continue to be a bastion of whiteness? Why are African-American curators and administrators, and especially directors, all but absent from our big museums? Why are there still so few black — and Latino, and Asian-American — critics and editors?”

It wasn’t always like this. During the 1930s under the New Deal, the arts were democratized, made accessible to ordinary people who lacked the means to buy paintings worth hundreds of thousands of dollars or to attend Broadway shows at over $100 a ticket. The New Deal’s support for the arts is one of the most interesting and unique episodes in the history of American public policy.

The federal arts programs initiated in the 1930s were intended to alleviate the economic hardships of unemployed cultural workers, to popularize art among a much wider segment of the population, and to boost public morale during a time of deep stress and pessimism, or as New Deal artist Gutzon Borglum remarked, to “coax the soul of America back to life.”

WPA Federal Art Project Poster

WPA Federal Art Project Poster, 1936. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The best known of all the programs that were enacted during the Depression was the WPA (Works Progress Administration) Art Project. It consisted of four distinct projects: a Federal Art Project, a Federal Writers’ Project, a Federal Theatre Project, and a Federal Music Project.

Paintings were given to government offices, while murals, sculptures, bas relief, and mosaics were seen on the walls of schools, libraries, post offices, hospitals, courthouses, and other public buildings. Over the course of its eight years, the WPA commissioned over five hundred murals for New York City’s public hospitals alone. Among the now well-known artists supported by these programs were painters such as Thomas Hart Benton, Jackson Pollack, Willem de Kooning, Raphael and Moses Soyer, and the sculptor, Louise Nevelson.

The print workshops set up by the WPA prepared the ground for the flowering of the graphic arts in the United States, which until that time had been limited in both media and expression. Moreover, since prints were portable and cheap, they became a vehicle for broadening the public’s understanding and appreciation of the creative arts.

Some 100 community art centers, which included galleries, classrooms, and community workshops, were established in twenty-two states–but particularly where opportunities to experience and make art were scarce. Through this effort individuals who may never have seen a large painted scene or a piece of sculpture were given the opportunity to experience not only a finished work of art but to participate in the creative process. In the New York City area alone, an estimated 50,000 people participated in classes under the Federal Art Project auspices each week. According to Smithsonian author, David A. Taylor, “the effect was electric. It jump-started people beginning careers in art amid the devastation.”

The Federal Writers’ project provided employment and experience for editors, art critics, researchers, and historians, a number of whom later became famous for their novels and poetry, such as Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Studs Terkel, and Saul Bellow. They were put to work writing state and regional guidebooks that were to portray the social, economic, industrial, and historical background of the country. These guidebooks represented a vast treasury of Americana from the ground up, including facts and folklore, history and legend, and histories of the famous, the infamous, and the excluded. There were also seventeen-volumes of oral histories of the last people who had lived under slavery. An additional set of folklore and oral histories of 10,000 people from all regions, occupations, and ethnic groups were collected and are now held in the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress.

Federal Theater Project poster, 1938. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Federal Theater Project poster, 1938. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The Federal Theatre Project was the first and only attempt to create a national theatre in the United States, producing all genres of theater, including classical plays, circuses, puppet shows, musical comedies, vaudeville, dance performances, children’s theatre, and experimental plays. They were performed wherever people could gather—not only in theaters, but in parks, hospitals, convents, churches, schools, armories, circus tents, universities, and prisons. Touring companies brought theater to parts of the country where drama had been non-existent, and provided training and experience for thousands of aspiring actors, directors, stagehands, and playwrights, among them, Orson Wells, Eugene O’Neill, and Joseph Houseman.

The program emphasized preserving and promoting minority cultural forms. At a time of strict racial segregation with arts funding non-existent in African American communities, black theatre companies were established in many cities. Foreign language companies performed works in French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Yiddish.

The Federal Theatre Project also brought controversial issues to the foreground, making it one of the most embattled of all the New Deal programs. Its “Living Newspaper” section produced plays about labor disputes, economic inequality, racism, and similar issues, which infuriated a growing chorus of conservative critics who succeeded in eliminating the program in 1939.

The Federal Music Project employed 15,000 instrumentalists, composers, vocalists, and teachers as well as providing financial assistance for existing orchestras and creating new ones in places that had never had an orchestra. Many other musical forms—opera, band concerts, choral music, jazz, and pop–were also performed. Most of the concerts were either free to the public or offered at very low cost, and free music classes were open to people of all ages and abilities.

In addition to the arts programs, the Farm Security Administration’s photography program oversaw the production of more than 80,000 photographs, as part of the effort to make the nation aware of the plight of displaced rural populations. These images–produced by photographers such as Walker Evans, Gordon Parks, and Dorothea Lange helped humanize the verbal and statistical reports of the terrible poverty and turmoil in the agricultural sector of the economy and brought documentary photography into the cultural pantheon of the nation.

Between 1933 and 1942 ten thousand artists produced some 100,000 easel paintings, 18,000 sculptures, over 13,000 prints, 4,000 murals, over 1.6 million posters, and thousands of photographs. Over a thousand towns and cities now boasted federal buildings embellished with New Deal murals and sculpture. Some 6,686 writers produced more than a thousand books and pamphlets, and the Federal Theatre Project thousands of plays. More than the quantity of the output, however, is the way in which these programs shaped Americans’ understanding of who they were as a people and their country’s possibilities. Before the New Deal, the notion that government should support the arts was unheard of, but thanks to the New Deal, art had been democratized and, for a time, de-commodified, made accessible to the great majority of the American people.

Perhaps Roosevelt himself best summed up the significance of the New Deal arts programs:

A few generations ago, the people of this country were often taught . . . to believe that art was something foreign to America and to themselves . . . But . . . within the last few years . . . they have discovered that they have a part. . . . They have seen in their own towns, in their own villages, in schoolhouses, in post offices, in the back rooms of shops and stores, pictures painted by their sons, their neighbors—people they have known and lived beside and talked to. . . some of it good, some of it not so good, but all of it native, human, eager, and alive–all of it painted by their own kind in their own country, and painted about things that they know and look at often and have touched and loved. The people of this country know now . . . that art is not something just to be owned but something to be made: that it is the act of making and not the act of owning that is art. And knowing this they know also that art is not a treasure in the past or an importation from another land, but part of the present life of all the living and creating peoples—all who make and build; and, most of all, the young and vigorous peoples who have made and built our present wide country.

New Deal support for the arts had coaxed the soul of America back to life, but we are in danger of losing it again. Under the obsession with deficits, arts programs in the public schools are being cut, federal funding for the arts has dropped dramatically, and even private funding has been reduced. Without art, we are ill-equipped as a people with the collective imagination that is needed if we are to resolve the enormous challenges that confront us in the twenty-first century. Who or what will there be to coax this generation back to life?

Sheila D. Collins is Professor of Political Science Emerita, William Paterson University and editor/author with Gertrude Schaffner Goldberg of When Government Helped: Learning from the Successes and Failures of the New Deal. She serves on the speakers’ bureau of the National New Deal Preservation Association, the Research Board of the Living New Deal and the board of the National Jobs for All Coalition, is a member of the Global Ecological Integrity Group and co-chairs two seminars at Columbia University.

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21. Politics to reconnect communities

OUP-Blogger-Header-V2 Flinders

By Matthew Flinders


Why does art and culture matter in the twenty-first century? What does it actually deliver in terms of social benefits? An innovative new participatory arts project in South Yorkshire is examining the ‘politics of art’ and the ‘art of politics’ from a number of new angles.

“The general value of arts and culture to society has long been assumed,” a recent report from the Arts Council acknowledges, “while the specifics have just as long been debated.” It is this focus on ‘the specifics’ that is most interesting because in times of relative prosperity there was little pressure from neither public nor private funders to demonstrate the broader social impact or relevance of the arts. In times of austerity, however, the situation is very different. A focus on the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) risks eviscerating the funding for the arts and humanities unless these more creative and less tangible intellectual pursuits can demonstrate their clear social value. The vocabulary of ‘social return’, ‘intellectual productive capacity’, ‘economic generation’ may well grate against the traditional values and assumptions of the arts and culture community but it is a shadow that cannot be ignored.

The publication of The Impact of the Social Sciences (Sage, 2014) provides more than a sophisticated analysis of the value of the social sciences across a range of economic, cultural, and civic dimensions. It provides a political treatise and a strategic piece of evidence-based leverage that may play an important role in future debates over the distribution of diminishing public funds. I have no doubt that the impact of the arts and humanities is equally significant. But the problem is that the systematic creation of an evidence base remains embryonic. My personal belief that the arts and humanities are educationally critical is, in many quarters, meaningless without demonstrable evidence to support these beliefs. The methodological and epistemological challenges of delivering that research are clearly significant but as the Arts Council emphasizes ‘it is something that arts and culture organizations will have to do in order to secure funding from both public and private sources’.

As a political scientist I have always been fascinated with the relationship between art and politics. Though heretical to suggest to the arts community, I have often thought that the role of the professional politician and the professional artist (indeed, with the amateur politician and the amateur artist) were more similar than was often acknowledged. Both seek to express values and visions, to inspire hope and disgust, and both wish to present a message. It is only the medium through which that message is presented that differs (and relationships of co-option, patronage, and dependency are common between these professions). But having (crudely) established a relationship between art and politics, could it be that the true value of the arts lies not in how it responds to the needs of the economy but in how it responds to the rise of ‘disaffected democrats’ and the constellation of concerns that come together in the ‘why we hate politics’ narrative?

Parliament_at_Sunset

In a time of increasing social anomie and political disengagement, especially amongst the young and the poor, can participatory arts projects provide a way of reconnecting communities?

François Matarasso’s Use or Ornament (1997) provides one of the most systematic explorations of this question and concluded that “one of the most important outcomes of [the public’s] involvement in the arts was finding their own voice, or perhaps, the courage to use it.” More recently, the New Economics Foundation’s report Diversity and Integration (2013) suggested that young people who participated in arts programmes were more likely to see themselves as “holding the potential to do anything I want to do” and being “able to influence a group of people to get things done.” Other studies tentatively offer similarly positive conclusions but with little analytical depth in terms of identifying between political reconnection, civic reconnection or personal reconnection (in terms of personal understanding, confidence and aspiration). To return to the Arts Council’s recent report – The Wider Benefits of Art and Culture to Society – the existing research base is light on ‘the specifics’.

It is for exactly this reason that the Sir Bernard Crick Centre for the Public Understanding of Politics has joined forces with ‘Art in the Park’ as part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s ‘Civic Value’ programme. Young people from all across South Yorkshire will be brought together to participate in an eight week arts project that uses music, film making, dance, writing, painting or whatever medium the young people select to explore social and political issues. Artists are embedded in the research and current and former politicians can be brought into the project to facilitate sessions if that is something the young people request. Surveys, focus groups, and interviews will capture how participating in the project affects political attitudes and understandings – positive, negative, political, civic, or personal – with the aim being able to answer if the arts can breathe life back into politics and reconnect communities. Now that really would be a wider benefit for society.

Flinders author picMatthew Flinders is Founding Director of the Sir Bernard Crick Centre for the Public Understanding of Politics at the University of Sheffield and also Visiting Distinguished Professor in Governance and Public Policy at Murdoch University, Western Australia. He is the author of Defending Politics (2012). He was recently a winner in the ‘This is Democracy’ International Photography Competition – but his wife now claims she took the picture. Malaika Cunningham is the Research Officer for the project discussed in this article.

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Image credit: Parliament at sunset, public domain via WikiCommons.

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22. Monuments Men and the Frick

By Stephen Bury


At rare moments in time a library can have a singular impact on history. The recent release of George Clooney’s film Monuments Men (2014) has triggered an interest in the role that the Frick Art Reference Library played in the preparation of maps identifying works of art at risk in Nazi-occupied Europe. For the first time in history a belligerent was taking care of cultural treasures in a war zone.

Bill Burke and Jane Mull, members of the Committee of the American Council of Learned Societies on the Protection of Cultural Treasures in War Areas, working with Gladys Hamlin, draftswoman, at the Frick Art Reference Library on a map of Paris. circa 1943-44. The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Photographs. [National Archives photograph]

Bill Burke and Jane Mull, members of the Committee of the American Council of Learned Societies on the Protection of Cultural Treasures in War Areas, working with Gladys Hamlin, draftswoman, at the Frick Art Reference Library on a map of Paris. circa 1943-44. The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Photographs. (National Archives photograph)

Initially, the concern was that Allied bombing might damage or even destroy irreplaceable cultural treasures. This was articulated first by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) who in June 1943 accepted Helen Clay Frick’s offer of the use of the Frick Art Reference Library, 10 East 71st Street, New York, which Helen had founded in 1920, in their endeavors. This was the only time in its history that the Library was closed to the public (15 July 1943- 4 January 1944).

Under the auspices of William B. Dinsmoor (1886-1973), Chair of ACLS Committee on the Protection of Cultural Treasures in War Areas, which predated the Roberts Commission, lists of cultural treasures were drawn up at the Library using its guidebooks — Baedeker, Touring Club Italiano, Guide Bleu etc. — and other resources, supplemented by what could be seen as an early form of crowd-sourcing, i.e. questionnaires sent out to academics and others who had recently visited Europe. Lists of monuments and art objects were compiled and marked on maps of the relevant area — the maps supplied by the Library of Congress, the Army Map Service, or the American Geographical Society. Some of the monuments were rated higher in importance than others: it is interesting to speculate what the criteria might have been. The monuments were numbered and their locations marked on a gridded tracing paper overlay over the map. These were re-photographed by the Library photographers, Ira Martin and Thurman Rotan. The photographic studio where this was done is now the Library’s conservation facility.

Questionnaire image_Page_4

Sample questionnaire from the ACLS Committee on the Protection of Cultural Treasures, c.1943. The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives.

Used by bomber pilots and navigators, then by soldiers on the ground directing artillery after the invasion of mainland Italy in September 1943 and France in June 1944, the maps were also incorporated into the Army’s Civil Affairs handbooks, which were issued to all officers on the ground. Later the lists and maps of treasures were used in the continuing struggle to return looted and confiscated portable treasures the rightful owners and their heirs. The Library’s resources including its Photoarchive are still used today for this very purpose.

Some 700 “Frick” or “Treasure” maps were made, and in a letter, dated 12 October 1943, to Dinsmoor, Monuments Man, Theodore Sizer praised their usefulness in the field and the work of “those magnificent women in the Frick”.

Dr. Stephen Bury is the Andrew W. Mellon Chief Librarian of the Frick Art Reference Library, New York, and is the Advisory Editor of the Benezit Dictionary of Artists.

Oxford Art Online offers access to the most authoritative, inclusive, and easily searchable online art resources available today. Through a single, elegant gateway users can access — and simultaneously cross-search — an expanding range of Oxford’s acclaimed art reference works: Grove Art Online, the Benezit Dictionary of Artists, the Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, The Oxford Companion to Western Art, and The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms, as well as many specially commissioned articles and bibliographies available exclusively online.

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23. World Art Day photography contest

By Victoria Davis


World Art Day is coming up on 15 April. We’re celebrating with some forthcoming blog posts, select free journal and online product articles, and a photography competition.

We invite you to celebrate with us by submitting your own art to our Street Photography Contest. According Grove Art Online, street photography is:

Genre of photography that can be understood as the product of an artistic interaction between a photographer and an urban public space. It is distinguished from documentary photography in that the photographer is not necessarily motivated by the evidentiary value or socio-political function of the resulting photographs. Unlike photojournalism, a street photographer’s images are not intended to illustrate a news story or other narrative. Instead, their primary goal is expressive and communicates a subjective impression of the experience of everyday life in a city. Thus neither the locale nor the subject-matter defines street photography; it is the photographer’s approach to the medium and movement through public space that differentiate street photography from related forms of photography.

The steeple of the church before the restoration in 1913. Collections Department of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Eugène Atget. The steeple of the church before the restoration in 1913. Collections Department of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Live in a city? Have a camera? Send us your best shots.

The winner will receive $100 in Oxford University Press books. Second place will take home a copy of our Very Short Introduction to Photography.

To submit, please email groveartmarketing[at]oup[dot]com, with “photography competition” in the subject line. Please include a caption describing your work in the body of the email, and attach your image (maximum of 3MB). Competition will close on 28 April 2014. Please read our terms and conditions before entering the competition.

Victoria Davis works in marketing for Oxford University Press, including Grove Art and Oxford Art Online.

Oxford Art Online offers access to the most authoritative, inclusive, and easily searchable online art resources available today. Through a single, elegant gateway users can access — and simultaneously cross-search — an expanding range of Oxford’s acclaimed art reference works: Grove Art Online, the Benezit Dictionary of Artists, the Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, The Oxford Companion to Western Art, and The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms, as well as many specially commissioned articles and bibliographies available exclusively online.

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24. Street Photography from Grove Art Online

In honor of World Art Day on 15 April 2014, Oxford is hosting a street photography competition. But what exactly is street photography? The below article from Grove Art Online by Lisa Hostetler explores the history of street photography, as well as its relationship to contemporary art.  As Dr. Hostetler explains, this type of art includes “photographs exposed in and of an urban environment and made with artistic intent.”

Street photography

Genre of photography that can be understood as the product of an artistic interaction between a photographer and an urban public space. It is distinguished from documentary photography in that the photographer is not necessarily motivated by the evidentiary value or socio-political function of the resulting photographs. Unlike photojournalism, a street photographer’s images are not intended to illustrate a news story or other narrative. Instead, their primary goal is expressive and communicates a subjective impression of the experience of everyday life in a city. Thus neither the locale nor the subject-matter defines street photography; it is the photographer’s approach to the medium and movement through public space that differentiate street photography from related forms of photography.

1. Technological factors and the roots of street photography

Photographs made in or of an urban environment are as old as the history of the medium itself, but street photography did not coalesce into a distinct form of photographic practice until the 20th century. Louis Daguerre‘s view of the Boulevard du Temple (1838), made from the window of his studio, suggests one reason why: the daguerreotype’s relatively long exposure time meant that the majority of people on the street were invisible in the photograph; the only person who stood still long enough to register on the plate was a man who stopped to get a shoeshine. In the first decade after the announcement of photography’s invention, photographic optics and chemistry were not fast enough to capture bustling crowds—a hallmark of urban life and a key element in street photography. The wet collodion negatives that dominated photographic practice in the 1850s and 1860s continued to involve significant time, requiring the photographer to prepare, expose, and develop negatives all in the space of about ten minutes. This made immersion in the experience of the street difficult and did not lend itself easily to spontaneity—a quality upon which later street photography thrived. With the introduction of dry-plate negatives in the 1870s and then gelatin silver roll film in the 1880s, photographic technology became more conducive to street photography. In addition, the launch and dissemination of the 35mm camera beginning in the mid-1920s was a particular boon to street photography; its hand-held size allowed for candid, easy movement through well-populated spaces, and many of the films developed for it were sensitive enough to record images even in situations with limited light. Unlike earlier snapshot cameras, the photographer held the camera up to his or her eye to look through the viewfinder instead of peering down into it from above. This facilitated the sense of the camera as an extension of the mind’s eye and permitted photographers to move along with the rhythm of street life more fully. With such technological developments in place, street photography flourished, particularly in the decades immediately after World War II.

Before that time, much of the photography that has come to be associated with the genre had its roots in another form of the medium. For example, Charles Marville’s photographs of French architecture and condemned roads in Paris suggest urban life in the 1850s and 1860s, but they were produced primarily to record the existence of culturally significant buildings and infrastructure slated for demolition. Similarly, Eugène Atget‘s images of Paris from the late 19th century and early 20th were originally intended as documents for artists rather than as independent works of art. Nevertheless, their collective impression of the city as a place with a specific mood—one in which ageing building façades and reflective store windows combine to evoke the mien of an anonymous urban populace—established Atget as a godfather of street photography for generations of subsequent artists.

The seeds of street photography are also present in photographs from the early years of the 20th century by Alfred Stieglitz and Paul Strand. Stieglitz’s Winter, Fifth Avenue (1893) and The Terminal (1893) record quotidian scenes of New York life, employing snow and smoke to enhance the pictorial power of the image. In photographs such as Wall Street, New York (1915), Strand created an image that defines the experience of scale in the city’s financial district while juxtaposing the structural geometry of the built environment with the pattern of figures and shadows on the sidewalk. Blind (1916) depicts an unfortunately common feature of urban life, a blind beggar on the street, but the image may also be interpreted as a comment on the voyeurism of candid photography in public. Thus, both Stieglitz and Strand made photographs on New York streets that contributed to the development of the genre, but street photography was not their primary pursuit.

2. Development and fruition

In the years between World War I and World War II, several photographers had a formidable impact on the subsequent maturation of street photography. Hungarian photographer André Kertész‘s images of Paris made after his adoption of the 35mm camera in 1928, such asMeudon (1928) and Carrefour Blois (1930), communicate the everyday surrealism and graphic élan characteristic of metropolitan life. Kertész was an important figure for both Brassaï and Henri Cartier-Bresson—two photographers whose work fundamentally shaped the practice of street photography after World War II. Brassaï, whom Kertész introduced to photography, became especially well known for his photographs of Paris at night. His images of the characters, sights, and activities endemic to the nocturnal life of France’s capital city were published in book form asParis de nuit (1933), a foundational book of street photographs. Kertész was also a mentor to Cartier-Bresson, whose concept of the ‘decisive moment’—the instant when subject-matter and compositional form align, as in Behind the Gare Saint Lazare (1932)—guided his photographs of everyday life in Paris, Madrid, New York, and other cities beginning in the 1930s. Famous for his devotion to the Leica camera, rejection of flash photography, and purported refusal to crop his images, Cartier-Bresson advocated spontaneity and intuition as the driving forces of creative photography. His 1952 book Images à la sauvette laid out these principles and became a touchstone for subsequent generations of street photographers.

The immediate post-war years inaugurated a particularly rich era in the history of street photography in the United States. Several key street photographers—including Lisette ModelHelen LevittLouis FaurerWilliam Klein, Saul Leiter (b 1923), and Robert Frank—produced their best-known images between 1940 and 1959. Some, such as Helen Levitt, distilled decisive moments from city life into universal human images. Others, such as William Klein, transformed restless glances and brash gestures into grainy, often blurry images that embodied the frantic pace and aggressive rhythm of post-war New York City. Meanwhile, Louis Faurer trained his camera on the idiosyncratic characters, gritty nightlife, and poignant personal interactions that were common to the urban scene but absent from mainstream representations of American social life. Such photographs imparted a particularly subjective view of public space, underscoring the expressive possibilities of photography. In 1955–6, Robert Frank travelled throughout the United States making the photographs that would eventually become The Americans, a book of his work published in France in 1958 and in the United States in 1959. Although not composed exclusively of street photographs, the book established street photography as a legitimate creative pursuit and launched Frank as one of the consummate American photographers of his generation.

Street photography flourished outside the United States during the post-war period as well. In France it was dominated by three figures: Robert DoisneauWilly Ronis, and Izis. Doisneau’s The Kiss (1950), which depicts a sailor passionately kissing a woman in front of the Hôtel de Ville in Paris, captured the energy and optimism to which many aspired after the devastation of World War II. It became one of the best-known photographs of the era. In England, Roger Mayne photographed everyday life on working-class streets after the war. His perceptive impressions of Teddy Boys and working ‘stiffs’ sharing the pavement in London foreshadowed generational tensions that would erupt in the 1960s. Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama also turned to street photography during these years. His images suggest an undercurrent of restlessness and repression in a society shattered by war and caught between tradition and modernity.

By the 1960s the snapshot aesthetic had become a prominent motif in American photography, thanks in large part to curator John Szarkowski at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. A master of this mode, Garry Winogrand applied his talents to the streets of New York and other cities throughout the 1960s and 1970s. His street photographs, in which titled horizon lines, apparently haphazard framing, and bold movements make frequent appearances, seem to channel the kinetic energy of his subjects, making many of his images iconic examples of the genre.

3. Street photography and contemporary art

As conceptual artists began to incorporate photographs into their work in the late 1960s and 1970s, the presence of photography in contemporary art expanded, and street photography became a form of performance art. Douglas Huebler (1924–97) and Sophie Calle created work that shared street photography’s embrace of chance interactions in public space. However, their work replaced street photography’s spontaneous, subjective edge with the prescriptive procedural frameworks characteristic of conceptual art.

In the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, as the world became increasingly saturated by photographic imagery that was ever easier to manipulate, street photography found new contexts. Its emphasis on spontaneity and intuition promised an inherent authenticity, making it an appealing genre for a number of contemporary artists. Some, like Philip-Lorca diCorcia (b 1951), used it to question photography’s axiomatic association with truth. DiCorcia’s photographs on international city streets in the 1990s appear to be extemporaneous examples of street photography, but in fact, the scenarios were carefully arranged and lit. Other artists, such as Zoe Strauss (b 1970), continued to pursue street photography in its straightforward form. Her images, made in South Philadelphia, extended the accessibility, sincerity, and sense of personal exposure associated with classic street photography into the contemporary age. Outside the United States, artists such as Alexey Titarenko (b 1962) and Graeme Williams have also brought the genre of street photography into the 21st century.

Bibliography

J. Livingston: The New York School: Photographs, 1936–1963 (New York, 1992)
J. Meyerowitz and C. Westerbeck: Bystander: A History of Street Photography (New York, 1994)
K. Brougher and R. Ferguson: Open City: Street Photographs since 1950 (Oxford and Ostfildern, 2001)
U. Eskildsen: Street & Studio: An Urban History of Photography (London and New York, 2008)
L. Lee and W. Rugg, eds: Street Art, Street Life: from the 1950s to Now (New York, 2008)
L. Hostetler: Street Seen: The Psychological Gesture in Photography 1940–1959 (Milwaukee, 2010)

Lisa Hostetler

Oxford Art Online offers access to the most authoritative, inclusive, and easily searchable online art resources available today. Through a single, elegant gateway users can access — and simultaneously cross-search — an expanding range of Oxford’s acclaimed art reference works: Grove Art Online, the Benezit Dictionary of Artists, the Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, The Oxford Companion to Western Art, and The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms, as well as many specially commissioned articles and bibliographies available exclusively online.

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25. Leonardo da Vinci from the Benezit Dictionary of Artists

In celebration of World Art Day and Leonardo da Vinci’s birthday, we invite you to read the biography of da Vinci as it is presented in the Benezit Dictionary of Artists.

Italian, 15th – 16th century, male.

Active from 1515 in France.
Born 15 April 1452, in Anchiano, near Vinci; died 2 May 1519, in Clos-Lucé, near Amboise, France.
Painter, sculptor, draughtsman, architect, engineer. Religious subjects, mythological subjects, portraits, topographic subjects, anatomical studies.

Leonardo da Vinci was the illegitimate son of the Florentine notary Ser Piero da Vinci, who married Albiera di Giovanni Amadori, the daughter of a patrician family, in the year Leonardo was born. Little is known about the artist’s natural mother, Caterina, other than that five years after Leonardo’s birth she married an artisan from Vinci named Chartabriga di Piero del Veccha. Leonardo was raised in his father’s home in Vinci by his paternal grandfather, Ser Antonio. Giorgio Vasari discusses Leonardo’s childhood at length, noting his aptitude for drawing and his taste for natural history and mathematics. Probably around 1470, Leonardo’s father apprenticed him to Andrea del Verrocchio; two years later,Leonardo’s name appears in the register of Florentine painters. Although officially a painter in his own right, Leonardo remained for a further five years or so in Verrocchio’s workshop, where Lorenzo di Credi and Pietro Perugino numbered among his fellow students.

signature da vinci

In 1482, Leonardo went to Milan to work in the court of Duke Ludovico Sforza and remained there until 1499, returning to Florence after brief visits to Venice and Mantua. During his second Florentine period, Leonardo gained notoriety, primarily as the result of two cartoons he worked up and put on public display. In 1508, Leonardo returned to Milan to work for the French rulers there and complete an altarpiece commission he had begun during an earlier stay. The artist made his first trip to Rome in 1513 and was involved there with military projects for Giuliano de’ Medici (the duke of Nemours and brother of Pope Leo X). Through the pope, Leonardo may have met the French king Francis I, who was Leonardo’s patron in the last few years of his life. The artist died near Amboise and was buried there, in the church of St Florentin. Because of these circumstances, several of Leonardo’s most treasured works, including the Mona Lisa, ended up in the French royal collection and are now preserved in the Louvre.

A few works can be attributed to the period of Leonardo’s training with Verrocchio: a landscape drawing dated 1473 and part of Verrocchio’s Baptism of Christ (both Uffizi Gallery), namely the angel at the far left of the composition. In January 1478, now an independent painter, he was commissioned by the city of Florence to paint an altarpiece for the S Bernardo Chapel in the Palazzo Vecchio, which he did not complete. The following year, Leonardo made a drawing of the hanged body of an assassin involved in the Pazzi Conspiracy to overthrow the Medici government, which may have been connected with another state commission. In March 1480, he was retained to paint an altarpiece for the main altar in the monastery of S Donato a Scopeto, most likely the unfinished Adoration of the Magi, a dynamic reimagining of the subject. It appears that around this time he also produced numerous Madonna studies and his Portrait of Ginevra dei Benci, the first of his many captivating portraits of women.

In 1481, Leonardo wrote a letter to the new ruler of Milan, Ludovico Sforza, asking for a position at court. It is almost entirely devoted to his knowledge of military engineering and ideas for new weapons; the last paragraph briefly mentions that he is an able painter and can also assist in the completion of an equestrian monument of Ludovico’s father, Francesco, which had been planned but not begun. Leonardo arrived in Milan by 1483, perhaps with Medici assistance, and was contracted to paint an image of the Virgin for an altarpiece for the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception’s chapel in S Francesco Grande. This commission resulted in a protracted legal battle and two versions of the painting, the so-called Virgin of the Rocks; the first version, painted between 1483 and 1486, is in the Louvre, and the second, painted primarily in the 1490s, is in the National Gallery, London. The history of the two paintings and the authorship of the later version are much disputed.

During this period, Leonardo received commissions across a wide spectrum. He built stage equipment and devices used for the marriage ceremony of Gian Galeazzo Sforza; he travelled to Padua to supervise construction of the cathedral; he designed costumes for the festivities arranged to celebrate the marriage of Ludovico Sforza to Beatrice d’Este; and he drew a design for the crossing tower of the Milan Cathedral (1487). He made two portraits of women supposed to be Ludovico’s mistresses, Cecilia Gallerani (or Lady with an Ermine) and Lucrezia Crivelli (or La Belle Ferronnière).

Around 1495, Leonardo set to work planning decorations for the Castello Sforzesco. At the start of 1496, Leonardo and Ludovico, by that time the duke of Milan, quarrelled, and the duke repeatedly tried to entice Pietro Perugino as a replacement for Leonardo. Some two years later, the duke andLeonardo reconciled, and Leonardo started working again on the ducal palace and supervising fresco decorations for the Sala delle Asse. While out of favour with the duke, Leonardo had occupied himself with painting a monumental fresco of the Last Supper for the refectory of the Milan monastery of S Maria delle Grazie. In his life of Leonardo, Vasari asserts that execution of this fresco was fraught with difficulty. Leonardo’s use of an experimental medium in order to achieve the naturalistic effects of oil painting caused the fresco to deteriorate rapidly, with much of the original composition quickly being lost. By 1545, it was reported to have already been partially destroyed; three centuries later it was evident that years of neglect, humidity, and inept restorations (attempts at complete restoration were recorded in 1726 and 1770) had only served to make matters worse. A further and more successful attempt at restoration was undertaken in the early years of the 20th century, and the spirit of the original was recaptured, at least partially. The most recent restoration, begun in 1979, was completed in 1999. Fortunately, the original appearance of the Last Supper survives in the form of excellent copies made by students of Leonardo, possibly under his supervision. Among these is a copy reproducing the dimensions of the original (15 by 28 feet [4.5 by 8.60 metres]), painted around 1510 by Giovanni Pietro Rizzoli for the Carthusian church in Pavia and now in London’s Royal Academy. Another detailed reproduction was made by Marco d’Oggiono, commissioned by Connétable de Montmorency for the chapel at the castle of Écouen and now in the Louvre. Despite the fresco’s condition problems, it is one of Leonardo’s best-known and most influential works. The painting is admired for the variety of expressions and poses, the mastery with which Leonardocaptured the most dramatic moment of the biblical story, and the mathematical clarity and regularity of the space, which is conceived as an extension of the refectory (dining hall) it decorates.

Although in 1483 Leonardo had made a clay model of an equestrian sculpture of Francesco Sforza that was erected for the wedding celebrations of Bianca Maria Sforza and Emperor Maximilian, he did not begin work in earnest on the bronze Sforza monument until the 1490s. In fact, Ludovico wrote in a 1489 letter to Lorenzo de’ Medici that he feared Leonardo would not be able to cast the sculpture and requested Lorenzo to provide him with expert bronze sculptors as replacements. Although no finished sculptures by Leonardo have been identified, his training in Verrocchio’s workshop meant he would have received some degree of instruction on techniques of bronze casting; during the 1470s and 1480s, Verrocchio was occupied with various projects in bronze, including an equestrian monument in Venice. Later, during a stay in Florence in 1506–1507, Leonardo may have been involved the design of Giovanni Francesco Rustici’s bronze group St John the Baptist Preaching for the exterior of the Florence Baptistery. In any case, the Sforza monument was never cast, and the largest clay model that Leonardo completed suffered serious damage when French troops entered Milan in September 1499 and archers elected to use it for target practice. However, many drawings, both studies for the composition and technical designs for the casting, survive. The monument, if completed, would no doubt have been a major achievement, both artistically and technically.Leonardo planned a dynamic and highly innovative composition with a rearing horse and a fallen enemy beneath its forelegs, and the statue was to be colossal in scale. The project was abandoned when Leonardo fled the French invasion.

In December 1499, Leonardo went to Mantua with the mathematician Fra Luca Pacioli. There,Leonardo produced a highly finished drawing for a portrait of Isabella d’Este that was either never executed or has been lost. He then spent a short time in Venice before returning to Florence in April 1500. That same month, he finished a cartoon for a major work entitled Virgin and Child with St Anneand displayed it to adoring crowds at SS Annunziata. The cartoon is untraced but is thought the have been related to a drawing now in the National Gallery, London, and a painting of the same subject now in the Louvre. It was around this period (1500-1503) that Leonardo also began painting the portrait of Mona Lisa (or La Gioconda), generally believed to have been the wife of the Florentine merchant Francesco del Giocondo. According to Vasari, Leonardo worked on the Mona Lisa for the better part of four years, but he never delivered it to its patron, bringing it with him to France and perhaps working on it intermittently into his late years. He also made studies for Leda and the Swanthat were copied by his students and Raphael; the final painting is untraced and may have been finished much later, during Leonardo’s sojourn in Rome.

The end of 1502 saw Leonardo inspecting fortifications in the Romagna in his new capacity as senior military architect and general engineer in the service of Cesare Borgia. He was abruptly removed from this post in October of the same year when a rebellion broke out in the duchy. April 1503 foundLeonardo back in Florence and, in July of that year, the Republic of Florence dispatched him to an encampment near Pisa to conduct a survey on how the Arno River could be diverted behind Pisa (so that the city, then under siege by Florence, could be deprived of access to the sea). Later that year, in October, he embarked on a major decorative composition for the new Salone dei Cinquecento (Hall of the Five Hundred) in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. The chosen theme was the victory of Florence over Milan at the Battle of Anghiari in 1440. This monumental work, like its intended complementary painting by Michelangelo of the Battle of Cascina, remained unfinished. Leonardowas commissioned to paint the mural in 1502 and was working on the fresco by 1504. Once again, technical problems frustrated him, notably the poor state of the wall surface he painted and again another experimental technique using oils, and he abandoned the project in 1506. Both the cartoon and the mural were avidly studied by younger artists and some of its appearance can be surmised from drawn and engraved studies. In 1563, Vasari covered the ruinous painting with a new fresco. A project to discover Leonardo’s painting beneath the later fresco using infrared and laser technology was launched in 2005, in the hopes that Vasari preserved it by leaving a gap between the Battle of Anghiari and the plaster for his own fresco.

Leonardo then spent a short time in Milan, perhaps to settle his long-standing commission for theVirgin of the Rocks, before returning to Florence, where he painted a Virgin and Child commissioned by a secretary of the French king Louis XII. At the insistence of Chaumont, the French governor of Milan, Leonardo returned to the Lombard capital and remained there until 1507, when he was obliged to return to Florence to assert his rights of inheritance under the terms of an uncle’s will. During this time, he painted two Madonnas that he took with him on his return to Milan. Leonardo was still in Milan when Louis XII arrived in that city after his victory at Agnadello. Based on a manuscript sketch, he probably also painted around this time the St John the Baptist now in the Louvre. Not least, he is believed to have painted around this date (and possibly in collaboration with one of his pupils) theVirgin and Child with St Anne, also in the Louvre. His preparatory sketches for the work strongly suggest that his initial intention was to paint an intimate ‘family portrait’, but that he subsequently elected for a composition that became widely acclaimed for the innovative contrapposto technique whereby Leonardo twisted a figure on its own axis, with a movement to the left counterbalanced by an equal and opposite movement to the right. The result is a pleasing dynamic symmetry.

During this period, Leonardo also began designing another equestrian monument, this one to commemorate Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, the governor of Milan under the French. When the Sforza returned to power, the project was abandoned. Leonardo remained in Milan after the withdrawal of the French in 1512 and it has often been speculated that Massimiliano Sforza may have been displeased and bitter at Leonardo’s decision to work there for the French occupiers. Whether that was the case,Leonardo recorded in his journal on 24 September 1513 that he was about to leave for Rome in the company of his pupils Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio, Francesco Melzi, Lorenzo, and Il Fanoia. In Rome, he was made very welcome by Pope Leo X and duly housed in the Belvedere. Demand for his services proved slight, however, and his output during this period seems inconsiderable. He may have worked there on his Leda and the Swan, together with a Madonna and Child and a Portrait of a Young Boy. There was also a rumour that his preoccupation with scientific studies, notably anatomy, did not endear him to the pontiff.

July 1515 saw Leonardo in the train of the papal army commanded by Giulio de’ Medici, and there are indications that he travelled with the army as far as Piacenza and that he was in Bologna in December 1515 for the signing of the concordat between the pope and Francis I of France. Shortly afterwards, Leonardo’s services as ‘first painter, architect and mechanic of the King’ were retained by Francis I in exchange for a pension amounting to 700 gold crowns and a private residence at Clos-Lucé (Cloux) near Amboise. After settling in Clos-Lucé, Leonardo’s artistic output came to a virtual standstill. He drew up plans for the canal and gardens at the palace of Romorantin and for the construction of a palace near Amboise; he was also credited with having had a major hand in the plans for the Château of Chambord. Much of Leonardo’s time in France seemed to have been devoted to scientific studies and writings in his notebooks.

Leonardo was an avid and highly skilled draughtsman, and the large quantity of his surviving drawings (approximately 4,000 sheets) and notebooks far outweigh his finished paintings and sculptures. These drawings reveal the breadth of Leonardo’s intellect, his innovative mind, and his artistic process. In addition to many technical drawings for machines; anatomical, zoological, and botanical studies; sketches; and figural studies, Leonardo also made architectural drawings of centrally planned churches, many of them contemporary with Donato Bramante’s remodeling of S Maria delle Grazie and Leonardo’s execution of the Last Supper at the same complex. The notebooks also include fragments of a planned treatise on painting, which were compiled by Leonardo’s student Francesco Melzi after his death (Codex Urbinas) and first printed in 1651. Leonardo’s practice of writing backwards has been proposed as either motivated by secrecy or, perhaps more plausibly, a practical solution to the difficulty of writing left-handed.

Leonardo da Vinci’s genius extended across many fields: painting, sculpture, architecture, and various complex scientific research disciplines, including not only anatomy and physics but also highly specialised areas such as military technology and civil engineering. One might have expected that such a technically oriented mind would have been reflected in an artistic style that was precise, not to say meticulous. In effect, quite the contrary is true. Leonardo preferred to render the subtleties and vagaries of light and shade and the mysterious sfumato that is the basis of his style. He strove to create the effect of light not in terms of colour but rather as form so there is no sharp contrast between light and shade but, instead, a long and sustained transition from light towards shade. His figures are bathed in an ‘atmosphere’ that has a presence of its own; they emerge and merge back into the whole without sacrificing the constructive value of their form. In addition to his rendering of spontaneous movement and his ability to capture the serenity of facial expression, Leonardo achieves monumentality by often eliminating detailed settings. Leonardo’s commitment to naturalism in his painting goes hand in hand with his intense scientific study of all aspects of the natural world. Although he is considered the first of the ‘high’ Renaissance artists, in his scientific approach to painting he is quite distinct from his contemporaries, whose naturalism was so often tied to antique precedents.

Group Exhibitions

1979, From Leonardo to Titian: Italian Renaissance Paintings from the Hermitage, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and Knoedler Gallery, New York
2001, Virtue and Beauty: Leonardo’s Ginevra de’ Benci and Renaissance Portraits of Women, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
2004, Painters of Reality: The Legacy of Leonardo and Caravaggio in Lombardy, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Solo Exhibitions

1989, Leonardo da Vinci, Hayward Gallery, London
1989, Leonardo da Vinci: Studies of Drapery, Louvre, Paris
1996–1997, Leonardo’s Codex Leicester: A Masterpiece of Science, American Museum of Natural History, New York
1997, Leonardo da Vinci: Scientist, Inventor, Artist, Institut für Kulturaustausch, Tübingen, Museum of Science, Boston
2000, Leonardo da Vinci: The Codex Leicester, Notebook of a Genius, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney
2002, Leonardo da Vinci: Inventor (Léonard de Vinci: l’inventeur), Pierre Gianadda Foundation, Martigny, Switzerland
2003, Leonardo da Vinci, Master Draftsman, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
2003, Leonardo da Vinci: Drawings and Notebooks (Léonard de Vinci. Dessins et Manuscrits) Louvre, Paris
2006, The Treatise on Painting: Manuscripts and Editions between the 16th and 19th Century, Castello Sforzesco, Milan
2006–2007, Leonardo da Vinci: Experience, Experiment, and Design, Victoria and Albert Museum, London
2007, The Mind of Leonardo: The Universal Genius at Work, Uffizi Gallery, Florence
2011, Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan, National Gallery, London

Museum and Gallery Holdings

Cambridge (Fitzwilliam Mus.): A Rider on a Rearing Horse (c. 1481, metalpoint reinforced with pen and brown ink/pinkish prepared surface)
Edinburgh (Nat. Gal. of Scotland): Studies of Paws of a Dog or Wolf (c. 1400-1495, silverpoint drawing)
Florence (Gal. dell’Accademia): Vitruvian Man(c. 1487, pen and ink with metalpoint on paper)
Florence (Uffizi): Adoration of the Magi (c. 1480, oil/wood); Annunciation (1470s, oil/wood)
Krakow (Czartoryski Mus.): Portrait of Cecilia Gallerani (or Lady with an Ermine)
London (British Library): Arundel Codex
London (NG): Virgin of the Rocks (or Virgin with the Infant Saint John Adoring the Infant Christ Accompanied by an Angel) (c. 1491-1508, oil/wood);Virgin and Child with St Anne and St John the Baptist (c. 1499-1500, black and white chalk/brownish paper/canvas)
London (Victoria and Albert Mus): Forster Codex
Madrid (Biblioteca Nacional): two codices
Milan (Ambrosiana): Portrait of a Musician (c. 1485, oil/wood); Codex Atlantico
Milan (Biblioteca Trivulziano): Trivulziano Codex
Milan (S Maria delle Grazie): Last Supper
Holy Family
Munich (Alte Pinakothek): Madonna with the Carnation (1470s, oil/wood)
New York (Metropolitan MA): several drawings
Oxford (Christ Church College): seven drawings
Paris (Institut de France): Codices A through M; Ashburnham Codex
Paris (Louvre): La Gioconda (or Mona Lisa);St John the Baptist;Virgin and Child with St AnneVirgin of the RocksLa Belle Ferronnière (Lucrezia Crivelli?)Virgin Offering a Bowl of Fruit to the Infant Jesus (drawing); Isabella d’Este(drawing)
Parma (NG): Female Head
St Petersburg (Hermitage): Virgin and Child (Litta Madonna); Benois Madonna
Turin (Royal Library): Study for the Angel for ‘The Virgin of the Rocks’ (drawing)
Vatican (Pinacoteca Vaticana): St Jerome(1480s, tempera and oil/wood); Urbanis Codex
Washington, DC (NGA): Ginevra de’ Benci (c. 1474-1478, oil/panel, two-sided portrait)
Windsor (Windsor Castle, Royal Collection): Study for St James the Elder; notebooks

Auction Records

Paris, 1742: St Jerome, FRF 1,900
London, 1773: Christ and the Virgin with St Joseph, FRF 7,075
London, 1801: Laughing Infant, FRF 34,120
London, 1811: Female Portrait, FRF 78,700
Paris, June 1825: Leda and the Twins Castor and Helen, Pollux and Clytemnestra, FRF 175,000
Paris, 1850: La Colombine (Mistress of Francis I), FRF 81,200; Various Saints: Study for ‘The Last Supper’ (red and black chalk) FRF 16,600
Paris, 1865: Virgin Stooping towards Her Son, FRF 83,500
Paris, 1875: Initial Study for ‘The Adoration of the Magi’ (pen drawing) FRF 12,900; Study for ‘st Anne’ (black chalk, Indian ink, and wash) FRF 13,000
London, 1881: Virgin of the Rocks, FRF 225,000
London, 1888: Virgin in Low Relief, FRF 63,000
Paris, 1900: Draperies (study), FRF 12,500
Paris, 26-27 May 1919: Head of Old Man (silverpoint drawing heightened with white) FRF 6,000
London, 22 May 1925: Infant Jesus and Saint with a Lamb, GBP 1,890
London, 29 June 1926: Hermina: Emblem of Purety (pen) GBP 800; Study Folio (pen) GBP 760
London, 15 July 1927: Virgin with Flowers, GBP 2,100; Head of Leda, GBP 1,785
Paris, 25 Feb 1929: Profile Study of Old Man (pen) FRF 15,400
London, 10-14 July 1936: Wild Horse (pen) GBP 4,305
London, 23 May 1951: Head of the Virgin (charcoal, heightened with colour, study for the painting in the Louvre of The Virgin and St Anne) GBP 8,000
London, 26 March 1963: Head of an Old Man (caricature) (ink drawing with bistre wash) GNS 44,000
London, 21 May 1963: Virgin and Child with a Dog (pen drawing and wash) GBP 19,000
Paris, 12 June 1973: Horse (patinated bronze) FRF 160,000
New York, 17 Nov 1986: Three Child Studies and (recto) Three Lines of TextStudies: Child, Head of Old Man, and Machine with (verso) Several Lines of Text (black chalk, pen, and brown ink, 8 × 5½ ins/20.3 × 13.8 cm) USD 3,300,000
Monaco, 1 Dec 1989: Draperies with Kneeling Figure Facing Left (brush and brown-grey wash, heightened with white gouache, 11¼ × 7¼ ins/28.8 × 18.1 cm) FRF 35,520,000; Draperies: Study with Figure Standing and Facing Right(brush and brown-grey wash, heightened with white gouache on canvas prepared with grey gouache, 11 × 7¼ ins/28.2 × 18.1 cm) FRF 31,080,000
London, 10 July 2001: Horse and Rider (silverpoint, 5 × 3 ins/12 × 8 cm) GBP 7,400,000

Bibliography

Bode, Wilhem von: Studien über Leonardo da Vinci, G. Grote, Berlin, 1921.
Sirén, Osvald: Leonardo da Vinci, G. Van Oest, Paris, 1928.
Suida, Wilhem: Leonardo und sein Kreis, F. Bruckmann, Munich, 1929.
Verga, Ettore: Bibliografia Vinciana 1493-1930, Zanichelli, Bologna, 1930.
Richter, Jean Paul: The Literary Works of Leonardo da Vinci, Oxford University Press, London and New York, 1939.
Goldschieder, Ludwig: Leonardo da Vinci, Phaidon, London: Oxford University Press, New York, 1943.
Popham, Arthur Ewart: The Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci, Reynal and Hitchcock, New York, 1945 (2nd ed., Jonathan Cape, London, 1946).
Heydenreich, Heinrich Ludwig: Leonardo da Vinci, 2 vols., Holbein-Verlag, Basel, 1954.
Freud, Sigmund: Leonardo da Vinci: A Memory of His Childhood, Routledge, London, 1957 (reprinted2006).
Chastel, André (ed.)/Callmann, Ellen (trans.): The Genius of Leonardo da Vinci: Leonardo da Vinci on Art and the Artist, Orion Press, New York, 1961.
Huard, Pierre/Grmek, Mirko Dražen: Léonard de Vinci. Dessins scientifiques et techniques, R. Dacosta, Paris, 1962.
Pedretti, Carlo: A Chronology of Leonardo da Vinci’s Architectural Studies after 1500, E. Droz, Geneva,1962.
Gombrich, Ernst Hans: ‘Leonardo’s Methods of Working Out Compositions’, in Norm and Form: Studies in the Art of the Renaissance, Phaidon, London, 1966.
Clark, Kenneth: The Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen at Windsor Castle, Phaidon, London, 1968–1969.
Panofsky, Erwin: The Codex Huygens and Leonardo da Vinci’s Art Theory, Greenwood, Westport (CT),1971.
Pedretti, Carlo: Leonardo da Vinci: A Study in Chronology and Style, Thames and Hudson, London, 1973.
Kemp, Martin: Leonardo da Vinci: The Marvellous Works of Nature and Man, Dent, London, 1981 (2nd rev. ed. 1988).
Calvi, Gerolamo: I Manoscritti di Leonardo da Vinci: dal punto di vista cronologica, storico e biografico,Bramante Editrice, Busto Arsizio, 1982.
Clark, Kenneth/Kemp, Martin: Leonardo da Vinci: An Account of His Development as an Artist,Harmondsworth, Middlesex; Viking, New York, 1988 (new rev. ed.).
Batkin, Leonid M.: Leonardo da Vinci, Laterza, Rome, 1988.
Viatte, Françoisee/Pedretti, Carlo/Chastel, André: Leonardo da Vinci: les études de draperies, exhibition catalogue, Réunion des Musées Nationaux, Paris, 1989.
Maiorino, Giancarlo: Leonardo da Vinci: The Daedalian Mythmaker, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, 1992.
Turner, Richard: Inventing Leonardo, Alfred A. Kopf, New York, 1993.
Frère, Jean Claude: Léonard de Vinci, Du Terrail, Paris, 1994.
Cole Ahl, Diane (ed.): Leonardo da Vinci’s Sforza Monument Horse: The Art and the Engineering, Lehigh University Press, Bethlehem (PA), Associated University Presses, Cranbury (NJ) and London, 1995.
Letze, Otto/Buchsteiner, Thomas/Guttmann, Nathalie: Leonardo da Vinci: Scientist, Inventor, Artist, exhibition catalogue, Institut für Kulturaustausch, Tübingen; G. Hatje, Ostfildern-Ruit, 1997.
Arasse, Daniel: Leonardo da Vinci: The Rhythm of the World, Konecky and Konecky, New York, 1998(French ed., Hazan, Paris, 1997).
Zöllner, Frank: La ‘Battaglia di Anghiari’ di Leonardo da Vinci fra mitologia e politica, Giunti, Florence,1998.
Zwijnenberg, Ribert: The Writings and Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci: Order and Chaos in Early Modern Thought, Cambridge University Press, New York, 1999.
Chastel, André: Leonardo da Vinci. Studi e ricerche 1952-1990, Phaidon, London, 1999.
Villata, Edoardo/Marani, Pietro C.: Leonardo da Vinci: i documenti e le testimonianze contemporanee,Castallo Sforzesco, Milan, 1999.
Farago, Claire: Leonardo da Vinci: Selected Scholarship, 5 vols, Garland, New York, 1999.
Brown, David Alan: Leonardo da Vinci: Origins of a Genius, Yale University Press, New Haven (CT), 1998.
Desmond, Michael/Pedretti, Carlo: Leonardo da Vinci: The Codex Leicester, Notebook of a Genius, exhibition catalogue, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney; Powerhouse Publishing, Haymarket (Australia),2000.
Nuland, Sherwin: Leonardo da Vinci, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 2000.
Léonard de Vinci: l’inventeur, exhibition catalogue, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Martigny, 2002.
Goffen, Rona: Renaissance Rivals: Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael, Titian, Yale University Press, New Haven (CT), 2002.
Bambach, Carmen C. (ed.), and others: Leonardo da Vinci, Master Draftsman, exhibition catalogue,Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2003.
Zöllner, Frank/Nathan, Johannes: Leonardo da Vinci, 1452–1519: The Complete Paintings and Drawings, catalogue raisonné, Taschen, Cologne and London, 2003.
Kemp, Martin: Leonardo, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2004.
Kemp, Martin: Leonardo da Vinci: Experience, Experiment and Design, exhibition catalogue, Princeton University Press, Princeton (NJ), 2006.
Bernardoni, Andrea: Leonardo e il monumento equestre a Francesco Sforza: Storia di un’opera mai realizzata, Giunti, Florence, 2007.
Farago, Claire (ed.): Re-reading Leonardo: The Treatise on Painting across Europe, 1550–1900, Ashgate, Burlington (VT) and Farnham (England), 2009.
Syson, Luke, and others: Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan, exhibition catalogue, National Gallery, London, 2011.

Oxford Art Online offers access to the most authoritative, inclusive, and easily searchable online art resources available today. Through a single, elegant gateway users can access — and simultaneously cross-search — an expanding range of Oxford’s acclaimed art reference works: Grove Art Online, the Benezit Dictionary of Artists, the Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, The Oxford Companion to Western Art, and The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms, as well as many specially commissioned articles and bibliographies available exclusively online.

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