Monday, January 15, 2018

Bearded Hipster

"The Last Judgment" St. Lazare, Autun Cathedral, France West Portal, sculpted by Gislebertus c1130CE (AP and Survey Art History)

  • 315-750 (1300) CE Early Christian/Byzantine (some sources say the Byzantine style survived all the way to 1450) 
  • 800-1150  Romanesque 
  • 1150-1350 Gothic 

Study with me here:

The Romanesque style, according to Stokstad, means "in the Roman manner." In essence, it merely refers to the fact that many of the cathedrals built in this time period had the appearance of Roman architecture.
  • Tympanum: the surface enclosed by the arch and lintel of an arched doorway, frequently carved with relief sculptures.
  • Archivolt: the molding fram an arch. In Romanesque and Gothic architecture, each one of a series of arches framing the tympanum of a portal.
  • Lintel: a horizontal beam spanning an openings, as over a window or door, or between two posts.
  • Trumeau: doorpost supporting lintel.
  • Jamb: the side of a doorway or window frame. The jambs of the portals of Romanesque and Gothic churches are frequently decorated with figure sculpture.

St. Lazare, Autun Cathedral, Burgundy France 
West Portal, sculpted by Gislebertus c1130CE

Form: St. Lazare Cathedral. Romanesque.  This is a large relief carving that was originally painted.  The composition is symmetrical and organized using hieratic scale.  The picture plane is also organized according to horizontal bands each filled with figures that are pushed up against the front of the picture plane.  There is no creation of deep space in this relief sculpture.

According to the Brittanica,

Typically, the figure of Christ appears in the centre of the composition, dominant in size and usually enclosed in a mandorla (an oval, nimbus-like form). At his right and left are the four Evangelists, sometimes represented or accompanied by their animal symbols. To the sides, smaller figures of angels and demons weigh sins of the resurrected dead, who are ranked along the lowest and smallest section of the tympanum, directly above the lintel.

Iconography: What makes St. Lazare an interesting example of Romanesque architecture and art is the fact that the west portal, which depicts  a "sermon in stone," was originally painted. It is exceedingly well organized and stylized. This means that the figures represented in the relief sculpture are non naturalistic, this is akin to what one would see in Byzantine art. The figures relative size is based not on reality, but  on their spiritual importance. 

Jesus, as the central figure is shown impossibly huge the figures around him are depicting judgment, heaven and hell, and good and evil. The organization of the composition is designed so that all of the other figures relate in some way to the central figure of Jesus.  Figures who are to the right of Christ are literally on his good side while the figures to his left are not.  Likewise there is a hierarchy according to placement in the three bands.  The correlation between left and right (good and evil) does not exist in the topmost band.  Anything placed in the uppermost register of the composition is "good" or heavenly.

Around this interior depiction of a sermon one can see the various signs of the zodiac, which brings forth one of the main differences between the Romanesque and the Gothic style of art within a cathedral, in a Romanesque cathedral one can easily find depiction's of events and symbols that are not necessarily related to what is found in the bible. In a Gothic cathedral, by contrast, the emphasis is put mainly on biblical scenes, and scenes with Jesus in particular.

Context: In Romanesque art, the emphasis to the followers was teaching. The scenes shown in almost all of the artwork found at St. Lazare are intended to teach a morality lesson, tell a story, or establish a sort of religious iconography of good and evil. For example, almost everything in this piece is representative of something else. The arch above Jesus and the scene surrounding him is representative of heaven. The sinners are always found to the left of Jesus, and the believers to the right. Everything in Romanesque art and architecture is highly organized and made to to make it easy for the followers to read the meaning and the message that the church intends.

According to a former student, Maureen Lara, 
From first glance, one could already see the hierarchy established through the use of three separate levels as well as the scale involved in placing the relatively large sculpture of Jesus in the center enclosed in a glorifying mandorla.    (The topmost level is an exception in the hierarchy since it represents the heavens; the entire band consists of "good" people.  )  The symmetry of the art, to my perspective, expresses the way the world and one's fate after death revolves around how well one learns from and lives their lives according to the teachings of Jesus.

The art overall exhibits no deep space and is stylized rather than naturalistic.   Interestingly, the art is organized in such a way that the figures considered good and worthy of the kingdom of God are to Jesus' right and those who fail the last judgment because of sinfulness are to His left.   The smaller size of the figures in the bottom-most band indicates those who await their judgment before the Lord.   The sizes of the figures as well as their placement in the hierarchy are done in accordance to their religious importance.   This can be scene in St. Peter, who is said to be the gatekeeper of Heaven; he is larger in size than the other believers as well as the angels.   The main storyline of the scenes is centered around the battle between good and evil and triumph of one or the other during the weighing of souls after death.   The consequences of being good are illustrated, for instance, by the faithful children joyfully playing with angels to Jesus' right.   The rewards of goodness are also expressed by the graceful appearance of the angels, a persuasive element in the art that urges people to be righteous.

According to the Brittanica, 
Christianity, further developing the concept of the Last Judgment, teaches that it will occur at the Parousia (the Second Coming, or Second Advent, of Christ in glory), when all men will stand before a judging God. In early Christian art the scene is one of Christ the judge, the resurrection of the dead, the weighing of souls, the separation of the saved and the damned, and representations of paradise and hell. Romanesque artists produced a more terrible vision of the Last Judgment: Christ is shown as a stern judge, sometimes carrying a sword and surrounded by the four mystical beasts--eagle, lion, ox, and winged man--of the apocalypse; the contrast between paradise and hell is between the awesome and the ferocious. In the gentler, more humanistic art of the Gothic period, a beautiful Christ is shown as the Redeemer, his right side undraped to reveal the wound of the lance, and both wounded hands raised high in a gesture that emphasizes his sacrifice. He is surrounded by the instruments of his Passion--cross, nails, lance, and crown of thorns. The intercessors are restored, and the scene of the Judgment is treated with optimism. In the 16th century, Michelangelo produced a radically different version of the Last Judgment in his fresco in the Sistine Chapel in Rome (1533-41): a vengeful Christ, nude like a pagan god, gestures menacingly toward the damned.

The "elect" rising. 
According to Gardener's, "Art History" the figure at the bottom far right has a bag ornamented with a cross and a shell,  
symbols of pilgrims who have journeyed to Jerusalem  
and Santiago de Compostela. The iconography found on select parts of the tympanum clearly show what happens to the 'good' believers. The smaller figures beneath represent the righteous and the faithful, which includes the children, seen playing with an angel. The Angels are always depicted as elegant, benevolent, beautiful, and kind. This was to give the impression that heaven was a wonderful place, and would inspire the believers into being good and faithful servants of the church.
Peter and the elect

Here, on the right side of Jesus is St. Peter with the faithful. Note again how he depicted as larger than the followers, and even larger than the angels. This shows his relative importance in the spiritual hierarchy.

Pulled to judgment.

Though at first one would think this was a depiction of suffering, in truth its meant to show that after the death of this believer, the hands of an angel reach down to pull him heavenward, assuring that his soul has been saved.

The Judgment 
The Damned and the weighing of the souls

On the left side of Jesus is Evil, the Devil and his minions who are participating in the weighing of the souls. In this judgment scene, one can see the Devil and the Archangel Michael both taking part in the judgment. While it appears that the Devil is trying to pull the scale downward in order to be able to claim another soul, Michael appears to be attempting to lift the soul upward, in order to claim the soul for heaven. Though it is a small vignette, it illustrate rather succinctly the struggle of good and evil in the souls of mankind. Note how in contrast to the angel Michael, the Devil is portrayed as emaciated, grotesque, and as terrifying as the stone masons could portray. This was to remind the members of the church how awful hell was, and frighten them into submission. 

Paul makes a last attempt

Here, though it is technically the left, or 'bad' side of Jesus, We see St. Paul and the Angel make a last attempt to pull the damned souls to redemption. Hoping that through the call of the heavenly trumpet, man will be swayed to the side of God. 

Study with me here:

Sleeping Magi

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Some Free Marketing Videos about Art

I have a lot of ideas about how to market on Facebook (an other platforms.)
I have a series of free videos, a business plan you can download for free.
(It's a super big zip file of about 2 GIGs so it may take a long time, a half hour to an hour to download the entire zip file. It's 20 or so half hour videos.)
I designed for my students when I was teaching at a community college in Fremont. It's really for art but I think the main concepts are transferable to any other field.

Friday, January 12, 2018

City and Pillar, oil on canvas panel, 9x12 inches, by Kenney Mencher

Thursday, January 11, 2018

It's tax time!

Be a champion for arts education when filing by making a contribution to the Keep Arts in Schools Fund

Less than 40% of all California students currently participate in arts courses.* As a supporter of the arts in your local community, you know that arts education is a key factor in helping California’s next generation succeed, boosting overall academic achievement, social engagement, attendance and graduation rates, and college and workforce readiness. 

You can help keep arts in schools. 

Individuals may make tax-deductible contributions in amounts of $1 or more to the California Arts Council’s Keep Arts in Schools Voluntary Tax Contribution Fund. In the past four years, we have raised nearly $1 million to directly support California arts education programs. Donations are critical to our vision to provide all students with quality arts education in order to reach their full potential. 

100% of your tax-deductible contribution is applied to arts education programming supported by the California Arts Council.

How can I contribute? 
The Keep Arts in Schools Voluntary Tax Contribution Fund can be found in Voluntary Contribution Section 110 (425) of the "540" individual state tax return form.

Every dollar counts. Please join us in supporting arts education across California. Learn more at

*California Arts Education Data Project, 2017.

Click here to learn more and to download a filing reminder flyer.

Nicola Pisano and his Nativity Scene on the Pulpit of the Baptistry in Pisa Italy, Italian Gothic Sculpture

Form:  According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica,  "The circular baptistery, begun in 1152 but only completed in the 14th century, is covered by a dome surmounted by a cone, which gives the structure an ogival, Oriental effect. The interior contains a wonderful hexagonal pulpit completed in 1260 by Nicola Pisano."

Nicola Pisano. Nativity,
Pulpit from Pisa's Baptistery c1259
Italian Gothic,

Form:  This pulpit exhibits qualities from all three of the eras.   The ornate carving and stylization of the lions and the lions demonstrates both the influence of the Byzantine and Gothic eras.  The classical columns surmounted by Gothic style tracery show those periods styles.Iconography:  This pulpit is the podium from which the priest or brother who resides over the ceremonies and services speaks from.  As such it is elevated as his words must be but the decorations and ornamentation are also iconic of the priest's words and his status. The references to both the classical and gothic styles also lend the work some authority as well.  The sculptures of the eagle and lions at the base have some basis in earlier traditions in which lions and monsters serve an apotropaic (protective) function but in this case, it is possible that the lions could refer to the story of Daniel in the lion's den or to a passage from the the 95th Psalm (read the entire Psalm in "Liaisons"):

For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
Likewise, the representation of the eagle could be a reference to one of the apostles or again to the psalm:
Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
Context:  Several generations of the Pisano family had worked in and around the Pisa complex where this was found.  The Catholic Church at this point in time was the major patron of the arts.  It was not unusual for several generations of artists or workers to work on a single church or structure.

Nicola Pisano. Nativity, detail of Baptistery Pulpit panel: Annunciation,
Nativity and Annunciation to Shepherds 1259-60 Italian Gothic,

Pediment of the Parthenon
Three Goddesses c438BCE
Greek Classic,

Form:  This is a relief carving.  The relief varies greatly in the height and or depth of each of the figures and objects.  In general the composition is fairly symmetrical yet it is very crowded and almost seems disorganized.  Most of the figures are placed in the foreground of the picture plane and the space created is not very illusionistic.  Space is created by placing the figures in the foreground lower in the picture plane.  In order to show the recession of space, the figures are layered and the placed in a vertical perspective. The rendering of each of the figures is fairly naturalistic and the clothing, drapery and poses are somewhat reminiscent of carvings such as the this one from the Parthenon's pediment.  Several of the figures, such as the main one which depicts Mary and the child (Jesus) are repeated because several scenes are simultaneously being represented.  This kind of continuous narrative is common in Byzantine, Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance art.

Iconography:  This is a nativity scene that at first appears to take place in a manger but it also contains the baptism of Christ as well as the annunciation by the angel Gabriel.  The scenes are as follows, far left the angel Gabriel confronts Mary with his annunciation of the birth of Jesus. Mary pulls away towards the center of the scene.  In the upper right hand corner is a manger scene in which Jesus lies in his crib, at the far right are two of the wise men who are missing their heads.  The center of the scene Mary reclines in a pose very reminiscent of the Goddesses from Parthenon.  In the lower left foreground of the image is the baptism of Christ (note he's missing his head too.)

The next major difference is in the style and amount of artwork. In general, the Romanesque style is extremely organized, diagrammatic, and stylized. It tends to take cues from Byzantine art, in which the figures' relative size to another figure is based upon its' importance in the spiritual hierarchy. For example, when Jesus or an Angel is shown, they are relatively larger than all the other figures whom are depicted in a particular scene. This shows how important they are, they loom above the mere mortals, faithful and sinners alike. In contrast, the Gothic style of sculpture and art within a cathedral is very much a "schema and correction" of the Romanesque art. While the same themes and saints may be depicted, they are far more naturalistic, shown more or less in proportion often with detailed, flowing robes which harken back to the Greek ideals of art and beauty. For example, in Stokstad on pg. 594, is a depiction of Dormition of the Virgin from the Strasbourg cathedral in France. Jesus, the virgin, and all the followers are all equal in size and proportion, the only thing that shows Jesus as the most important figure is his place n the center and his halo, otherwise he blends in with the others. There also tends to be more of an emphasis on the stories of Jesus in the Gothic cathedrals, whereas the Romanesque cathedrals tended to emphasize not only Jesus, but biblical stories, morality stories, saints, parables, and virtues.Context:  The realism of her pose and drapery demonstrate the beginnings of the heightened realism that occurs during this period.  These classical references are both "classy" but also refer to the new ideas concerning a more humanistic approach towards interpreting scripture.  The naturalism relates more towards the viewer than ever before and it is possible to imagine the scene as something real.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Monday, January 8, 2018

What you should know about the “Bison from La Madeleine”

What you should know about the “Bison from La Madeleine”
It has a variety of names, Bison with turned head, fragmentary spearthrower, from La Madeleine, Dordogne, France ca. 12,000 BCE.  Is now in Museum in France close to where it was found around the middle of the 19th century.

This bison which is only about 4 inches long. It was found in La Madeleine, it started probably as just a small chunk of bone that they decided to preserve as much of the bone as possible and not carve away too much of it.  The shape of the bone may have suggested to the artist the outline of a bison.  The artist would have been aware that any delicate extensions like legs could be easily broken off.   It's an interesting idea that the materials and the shape of the materials suggested the form to the artist.  One of the important vocabulary terms in art history classes to describe making something like this is called “subtractive sculpture.” This means that anything carved away or subtracted from something creates its form. It’s a buzzword but I bet it’ll help you get in a on the test. 

If you look closely at the sculpture you'll see not only has the larger forms been carved a way to make the outline of the bison, but there are also etched were incised lines to add detail to the hair and the texture of the face. So there's a combination of high and low relief sometimes referred to as Haute and bas-relief.  The etched lines would be considered low or bas-relief since they don't push out very far from the surface of the sculpture. The overall outline or big shapes are sometimes referred to as high relief or haute relief.

It appears to be part of an antler that was carved a way to make the shape of the bison turning back and licking its hindquarters. There are several other depictions of bisons doing this and most likely the reason why the bison is being depicted this way is because it uses less antler to create it. Some textbooks suggest that the form of the antler that it was carved from suggested to the artist the shape and form.

It appears to be a broken off section from a larger antler, other tools may from antlers with similar designs on them have been found and they appear to be a kind of tool that is used to throw spears and increase the force through leveraging a longer arc or sweep of the arm. There’s a nice description of this at the beginning of the film “The Cave of Forgotten Dreams.” So the most logical suggestion of how this thing was used is that it was an ancient tool that was used to increase the force of throwing a spear.

Art historians, archaeologists, anthropologists often try to do a deeper reading of what objects like this symbolize. Based on what we know about prehistoric man in the region of France that were talking about it appears that a bison would have been a very useful animal to hunt. It also be a hard animal to hunt. Some books suggest that bison bones were prepared by burning them down to make grease which would’ve been an important dietary supplement. Most likely, because of this evidence and because a bison is something that was important to them are the main reason for creating something in the shape of the bison.  However, based on what we think we know about religion and how humans think about supernatural kinds of things it may be possible that the iconography or what the bison symbolizes goes deeper than what we understand. Here’s a couple of suggestions about what the iconography or symbolic meaning of bisons are for ancient peoples.
 It may have just been a work of art for the sake of beauty or a religious fetish.  

fe·tish also fe·tich \'fe-tish also 'fē-\ n [F & Pg; F fétiche, fr. Pg feitiço, fr. feitiço artificial, false, fr. L facticius factitious] (1613) 
1 a : an object (as a small stone carving of an animal) believed to have magical power to protect or aid its owner ; broadly: a material object regarded with superstitious or extravagant trust or reverence b : an object of irrational reverence or obsessive devotion : prepossession c : an object or bodily part whose real or fantasied presence is psychologically necessary for sexual gratification and that is an object of fixation to the extent that it may interfere with complete sexual expression 
2 : a rite or cult of fetish worshipers 
3 : fixation 

It also could be a fetishistic item in a way for instance think of kids to put posters the celebrities in their locker on their wall and it's almost like they have little altar to that celebrity and by owning in effigy or a picture of that celebrity icon they have some sort of connection to that icon.  Have you ever taken a lock of hair from someone? Perhaps a mother preserves a lock of hair from her baby. The hair is symbol but it is also like holding a little piece of that person.  If you have a representation of something like for instance a bison it could be a representation of something that was important to them and by holding onto it.  They might've been able to feel that they have some kind of control over real bison so those are some of the reasons why small sculptures from the Paleolithic era might've been made. I think that I am it's interesting to take a look at the motivations from the cultures that we know a lot more about who share similar technology and apply what we know about those cultures to the prehistoric eras.  

For a complete set of videos and an online text please visit

Jobs related to "art history" (teaching)

ChronicleVitae. A Service of The Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicleVitae. A Service of The Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicleVitae. A Service of The Chronicle of Higher Education
Kenney, your saved search for Jobs related to "art history" found 5 new jobs.
Cornell College in Iowa
posted on January 3
Foothill-De Anza Community College District
posted on January 2

View all matching jobs