Monday, July 31, 2017

Survey and AP Level Art History: 19th C Paris Baron Haussmann and Caillebotte

Gustave Caillebotte 1848-94
Paris, A Rainy Day,1876-77 oil on canvas
o/c  Chicago,A.I. approximately 7'x5'
Form: Impressionistic painting done using multiple vanishing points, atmospheric perspective, and subtle non-local colors. However, it lacks the broken brushwork or broken color that other impressionists used.  Caillebotte's paintings do not use optical mixing.

In terms of Caillebotte's use of perspective, he uses multiple points of perspective although on first glance it appears to be just two points.  The lamp post, which is slightly off center is placed just in front of one of the vanishing points.  Caillebotte uses the lamp post to divide the picture plane but also to divide the foreground (on the right) from the far background (on the left.)  Caillebotte also uses atmospheric perspective to dull the intensity and cool the colors of the sky and buildings as they recede into the background.   He also changes the value structure and restricts in the background.
This is part one of a year-long college-level survey course in art history. This course covers world art history from its prehistoric origins until the European Renaissance around 1300 A.D.
Caillebotte also manipulates the color in an impressionistic manner.  If you look closely at the color of the sky, you will see it is not the typical blue that one may think of as being a sky color.  In fact the sky almost has yellows and greens in it.  The same is true of the colors of the cobblestones.  If you look closely at them you may not that the hue or color of the cobblestones are not the browns and grays one might expect.  Even in the flesh tones of the figures you may notice that there are blues and grays in addition to the warm brown we can anticipate.  (Remember Vermeer did this too.)   This is called using "non-local colors."  This use of "non-local colors" is one of the main tricks of the impressionists.

Iconography:  This painting symbolizes many things.  It represents the destruction of the old Paris and the reconstruction of the newer one by Baron Haussmann.  It also represents the rise in the newer bourgoisie and their access to new found wealth.  This new upper middle class had money thanks to industrialization.  This new class of people were able to spend money and enjoy the wide diagonal vistas created by the renovation of Paris.  The clothing these people wear and the accessories they carry (the top hats and umbrellas) represent the mass creation of these luxury goods.  The bottom of the buildings they walk by are shops that contain wide open picture windows that invite these individuals to spend there newly acquired wealth.

Context: According to the Brittanica,

French painter, art collector, and impresario who combined aspects of the academic and Impressionist styles in a unique synthesis.

Born into a wealthy family, Caillebotte trained to be an engineer but became interested in painting and studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He met Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet in 1874 and showed his works at the Impressionist exhibition of 1876 and its successors. Caillebotte became the chief organizer, promoter, and financial backer of the Impressionist exhibitions for the next six years, and he used his wealth to purchase works by Monet, Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Alfred Sisley, and Berthe Morisot.

Caillebotte was an artist of remarkable abilities, but his posthumous reputation languished because most of his paintings remained in the hands of his family and were neither exhibited nor reproduced until the second half of the 20th century. His early paintings feature the broad new boulevards and modern apartment blocks created by Baron Haussmann for Paris in the 1850s and '60s. The iron bridge depicted in "Le Pont de l'Europe" typifies this interest in the modern urban environment, while "Floor-Scrapers" (1875) is a realistic scene of urban craftsmen busily at work. Caillebotte's masterpiece, "Paris Street; Rainy Day" (1877; Art Institute of Chicago), uses bold perspective to create a monumental portrait of a Paris intersection on a rainy day. Caillebotte also painted portraits and figure studies, boating scenes and rural landscapes, and decorative studies of flowers. He tended to use brighter colours and heavier brushwork in his later works.

Caillebotte's originality lay in his attempt to combine the careful drawing and modeling and exact tonal values advocated by the academy with the vivid colours, bold perspectives, keen sense of natural light, and unpretentious subject matter of the Impressionists. Caillebotte's posthumous bequest of his art collection to the French government was accepted only reluctantly by the state. When the Caillebotte Room opened at the Luxembourg Palace in 1897, it was the first exhibition of Impressionist paintings ever to be displayed in a French museum.  

Copyright © 1994-2001 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
RePlan of Paris, 1853,
Baron Georges Eugene Haussmann (1809-1891) and Napoleon III

Form:  Paris is now laid out in a series of broad several lane vistas as wide as some of our 4 lane highways.  The streets are also laid out in diagonals that terminate in views of important or beautiful buildings such as the Eiffel Tower and the Grand Opera house or the Arche de Triomphe.
PARIS. Opera Area. c.1876.  
Demolition for Avenue de l'Opera. (Marville, Charles, photographer). 
The streets are paved with cobblestones and the buildings that spring up from these streets are fairly uniform in size, shape and ornament because they were all constructed fairly quickly and out of similar materials.

"Distinguished for his bold alterations in the layout of Paris under Napoleon III, he is largely responsible for the city's present appearance. To create adequate traffic circulation, old streets were widened and new ones cut, while the great railway stations were placed in a circle outside the old city and provided with broad approaches. For the enhancement of monuments, open spaces and vistas were contrived, including the Place de l’Opéra, the Étoile, and the Place de la Nation, which became focusing points for radiating avenues. The Bois de Boulogne was laid out, as well as a number of smaller parks. The Boulevard Haussmann in Paris commemorates his name."
Iconography: The redesign incorporates many of the radiating patterns that Versaille's gardens have and many of the structures have the French style roof known as the Mansard style roof that the palace at Versailles exhibits.  This reference to Versailles is either a conscious or unconscious attempt to refer back to Paris and France's pre-Revolutionary and romantic days.

Context: According to the Brittanica,

Napoleon III and Haussmann 
Even by the mid-19th century, some areas of Paris had not been improved substantially for hundreds of years. Access from one centre to another and to the railway stations (which had become in effect the gateways of Paris) was difficult; moreover, overpopulation and rapid industrialization had brought squalor and misery, which account in part for the dominant role of Paris in the revolutions of both 1830 and 1848. Napoleon III, emperor from 1852 to 1870, enjoined his prefect of the Seine, Baron Haussmann, to remedy these problems.
Haussmann was the creator of modern Paris. A planner on the grand scale, he advocated straight arterial thoroughfares, symmetry, and advantageous vistas. He slashed the boulevards through the tangles of slums, began the modern sewer and water systems, gutted the Île de la Cité, rebuilt the ancient market of the Halles, and added four new Seine bridges and rebuilt three old ones. The brilliance and prosperity of Paris under Napoleon III were exemplified in the exhibitions held there in 1855 and 1867.

PARIS. Apt. house, 19th c.  
economic status by floor. Pinkney, pl. 3. 
Form:  The Parisian apartment houses were redesigned to be vertical in orientation and often rose four to five stories.
Most buildings were uniform in size and shape and were built around airshafts or a central courtyard which allowed light and air to flow through the entire structure and provided windows for almost all of the inhabited rooms.

The roof was usually designed after the style of Mansard.  The buildings were made mainly from brick and concrete.  Window casements and glass were made from wood often manufactured in standard sizes and shapes.  The buildings were often surrounded by terraces with cast iron and sometimes wrought iron ornamentation.

The buildings incorporated in door plumbing and gas lights and utilized the extensive Parisian sewer system to sanitize them.

Almost all of the building materials were created elsewhere and then brought to the site and built almost in a modular fashion.  Ins some ways these buildings are the ancestors to our own modularly constructed building developments and even trailer homes.
Iconography:  These redesign of Paris and the construction of such similar apartment blocks symbolized the technological innovations and advancements created by French civil engineers and architects.  The construction of such buildings represented the modernization and homogenization of Parisian culture.  It also demonstrated the new found wealth of the bourgeois (middle classes.)

Context:  The creation of such buildings fit in with the over all street designs of Haussmann and were thought to cut back on diseases caused by overcrowding and poor sanitation.  These buildings also combined commercial spaces with living spaces above and therefore made the downtown areas more commercially viable and convenient.

The bottom floor of the structure usually contained shops or a cafe.  The large glass display windows exhibited the goods inside.  The bottom and second floors were the apartments of the wealthier individuals and sometimes the landlords.  As  one moved up the structure, the stairs created and inconvenience since at that point no elevators existed.  The further one moved from the bottom floors the less expensive the apartments became due to the inconvenience.  Hence in the attic (garret) the artists lived as this diagram can attest.
This is part one of a year-long college-level survey course in art history. This course covers world art history from its prehistoric origins until the European Renaissance around 1300 A.D.

Days of Summer, oil on canvas panel 8x10 inches by Kenney Mencher

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Got to be Real, 8x10 inches oil on canvas panel by Kenney Mencher

I’ve always felt a little weird about making art about women. Especially since I’m a man and I’m an artist, to make art about women is basically to objectify them. Years ago, a student asked me why don’t you paint women more, and I replying to her that the reason is it makes me feel a little bit like I’m participating in some kind chauvinist agenda especially when it comes to art history there is even a term for art that’s me to please the male point of view, “the male gaze.”

Nevertheless, almost all art is about objectification. When talking about his artists are by their very nature making images of beautiful things that people should find beautiful. I certainly do this in almost all my paintings of men but with women unless, will about it. I’ve been trying to work this out because I realize that a lot of women, like a lot of men, like to be looked at and consider their physical presence a sort of work of art. So when I make art about women, and portraying women, I try to make them look a little bit stronger and make it a little bit more about their personality rather than just their physical beauty as would appeal to a straight man perhaps or an immature point of view of the female in the female form. A lot of the images that I get of women are often from blogs that are run by lesbians who have a slightly different aesthetic than straight men do. I hope that this comes out in my paintings.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Portrait is off! This is a quick fix with your Cell Phone and Photo Shop

Survey and AP Level Art History: Stele of Hammurabi c.1780 Mesopotamia


The context of this carving is probably one of the most important parts about it. This carving was a code of laws that was published in the middle of a populated area so that everyone had access to the laws involved with citizenship in the Babylonian Empire.

Probably, one of the most significant things about Babylonian culture is that by the time of Hammurabi they had already developed a highly-sophisticated form of writing called cuneiform. Cuneiform began more or less as a pictographic form of writing but at some points made the transition into an alphabet that became the standard writing system for the entire Mesopotamian world. Every city state along Tigris and Euphrates used cuneiform as a means to keep records and to track laws and events. This is despite the fact that they each had a separate dialect in terms of their spoken language.

Hammurabi was an important ruler who is most known for his positive governmental policies and fairness, but at the time was probably most known for his economic policies that favored his subjects by forgiving tax debt on several occasions. Of course, forgiving taxes to his subjects made him very popular.

The so-called, “Code of Hammurabi,” outlines a series of important laws and their equivalent punishments for breaking them. The majority of these laws revolve around retribution for breaking the law by paying, literally, in terms of commodities for infractions. For example, we all know the phrase, “an eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth.” However, many of the laws concern themselves specifically with equivalent values for things such as human life being equal to a certain amount of livestock to repay someone’s death warmer. Another example, if the house falls down with someone in it that was made by an architect the architect must be placed in a house and have a house all on him and kill him in return. But, the architect may also by himself out of this consequence buy providing payment to the family to exact their revenge.

“The Code of Hammurabi,” is probably the basis for Jewish law and the 10 Commandments in a very abbreviated form. The Jewish people, who were called the Hebrews at the time, were nomadic group of people who traveled through Mesopotamia and probably adapted a shortened version of the Babylonian code as their own.

The iconography or symbols used in this are both literary and artistic. The system of writing that is used on this relief sculpture is called cuneiform and it is a pictographic writing that probably was first established in the early 3000s BCE and evolved over time into a more abbreviated type of writing that was adapted to several languages from Mesopotamia including Sumerian and Babylonian.

The sculpture at the top of the incised cuneiform writing depicts two major figures and their roles in Babylonian culture. The figure on the left represents Hammurabi. He is standing in a votive position. He is clothed in traditional kings clothing and has a beard which in this culture and many others is most likely a symbol of wisdom and leadership. Seated on a throne to the right is the God Shamash who is the God of light and enlightenment. The God is depicted as being larger than the King. If the God Shamash stood up he would be twice as tall as the standing Hammurabi to his left. The God also has a beard and has rays of light coming from his shoulders.

The three steps upon which the god rests his feet are iconographic of this meeting taking place on a mountain top.  The larger seated figure is the god Shamash.  (The use of size to indicate importance is referred to by Stokstad as hieratic scale.)  Both Shamash’s size and the flames surrounding his represent his larger than life divine status.  The flames surrounding his head are icons of his role as god of light or enlightenment and they symbolize power and ideas in much the same way our comic books represent figures with a lightbulb above their heads to represent a good idea.  This meeting is symbolic of Hammurabi’s divine right to rule and pass judgment.  Shamash hands over a staff of rule or rod.  This represents Hammurabi’s divine right to act as Shamash’s earthly representative. 

This is part one of a year-long college-level survey course in art history. This course covers world art history from its prehistoric origins until the European Renaissance around 1300 A.D.

This course is designed as a basic college-level survey of art history. Although lectures are closed-captioned and I provide an online textbook as well as study guides and worksheets.

This course is the actual content of a course I taught at an accredited college in California called Ohlone college.

I designed this course as a series of clear, non-jargon laden video lectures and texts designed to help any student who wants to pass AP art history and or any beginning level art history survey course.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Unusual Female Beauty in Rembrandt Light

Survey and AP Level Art History: Caravaggio's "St. Matthew and the Angel"

Form:  Although only a black and white reproduction survives the image entitled St. Matthew and the Angel, we know that originally would have looked very similar in color and value structure to the Inspiration of St. Matthew.

Some major differences do exist however.  The point of view is quite different in both as is the costuming and the interaction of the two figures.  In the image on the left, Matthew is bare legged, entwined with the angel in a transparent gauze like gown and his facial expression is rather dumb.  Although the viewer is placed in a vantage point from above, the viewer is still confronted with the bare feet of the saint as they project out into the foreground.  The image on the right is just the opposite in almost every way.

Iconography:  The iconography of this scene concerns itself with an image in which Matthew composes his gospel long after the death and ascension of Jesus.  Matthew is described as having received divine inspiration and guidance for his account from an angel.  Nevertheless, the angel in the left hand image is guiding Matthew's hand in a rather provocative manner.  This manner, coupled with the bare legs and befuddled almost senile expression on the saints face is what ultimately led to this image being rejected by the patrons.  Caravaggio then painted its replacement the Inspiration of St. Matthew.

Context:  It is precisely this kind of irreverence and rebellious "thumbing his nose" at the patron that both earned Caravaggio his notoriety as well as his infamous reputation.

Caravaggisti- a follower of Caravaggio

Form:  As in the last comparison only a black and white reproduction survives the image entitled St. Matthew and the Angel, we know that originally would have looked very similar in color and value structure to the the painting by Rembrandt.
Rembrandt painted his image more than 50 years after Caravaggio painted his but Rembrandt's portrait of the saint follows many of the same schema as Caravaggio.  Both use tenebrism as a way of creating a focus on St. Matthew and to heighten the drama.  In this way and for this reason, Rembrandt, and other artists who copy Caravaggio's style are often referred to as caravaggisti which literally means a follower of Caravaggio.

Iconography:  Rembrandt depicts Matthew in a similar manner to Caravaggio however, in his depiction Matthew is not as aware of the angel as in either one by Caravaggio.

Rembrandt also incorporates and element of the genre imagery in his work.  Matthew looks like one of the Jews that he might have known in Amsterdam and Rembrandt also attempts to authenticate the Persian or middle eastern quality of the image by providing Matthew with a turbine.

Context:  Many artists, including Rembrandt, Velázquez, Gentileschi and others took their cue form the works of Caravaggio and we refer to them all as Caravaggistis.

Saturday, July 22, 2017


Instagram deletes trans teen's inspiring artwork for violating guidelines

'It is really important to me that these pieces get shared with other LGBTI people'

Instagram deletes trans teen's inspiring artwork for violating guidelines
'Bittersweet' by Jasper Behrends
18-year-old Jasper Behrends woke up this morning (22 July) to see his artwork on trans identity deleted from Instagram.
Just last week, Gay Star News interviewed Behrends about a viral post he made.
In it, he explains his teacher didn’t think his artwork was appropriate for school, but he did it anyway and won a top award.
And now it seems like Instagram has a problem with it too.
Behrends told Gay Star News: ‘People just saw the boobs and the one piece of the child taking scissors to his penis and reported it as inappropriate.
‘[They] said they took down my post because it did not follow the Instagram guidelines and then I went to my profile and it had been taken down,’ he said.
He posted the news to his Twitter and Instagram accounts, calling for a proper explanation from Instagram.
He tweeted: ‘Why are so many people against trans art?’
Behrends also took to his Instagram story to send an urgent call out to haters.
He said: ‘Fuck Instagram, I’m reposting it all later.’
He also posted this message to his story:
When asked if he will continue doing provocative art on gender and sexuality, Behrends replied: ‘I will definitely keep creating queer art. It’s literally the only type of art I truly enjoy doing.
‘Art is just materialized passion, and my passions stand with the queer community,’ he said.
To see the full portfolio, go to Jasper Behrends’ website or Instagram.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

How Drawing 1001 Black Men Helped an Artist to See

Stills from Arjuan Mance's series, '1001 Black Men'.
Stills from Arjuan Mance's series, '1001 Black Men'. (Photo: Courtesy Ajuan Mance)
The first drawing in Ajuan Mance’s sketchbook-journal-art-project series, 1001 Black Men, is the torso of a shirtless, African-American man — inspired by the men who play basketball on the corner of Brookdale and High in East Oakland. The last is a drawing of her own father.
Read more here:

I added a rose patterned background.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Jobs related to "art history" found 5 new jobs.

Jobs related to "art history" found 5 new jobs.
City Colleges of Chicago
posted on July 8
College of Global Liberal Arts, Ritsumeikan University
posted on July 7
Buffalo State College in New York
posted on July 6
University of Dayton
posted on July 6
Dartmouth College in New Hampshire
posted on July 6