Monday, November 11, 2019

Bonaventura Berlinghieri, "St. Francis Altarpiece" tempera on wood 60' x 42' (approx. 5" x 3.5) Byzantine Style (maniera greca) painted during the Gothic Period

Bonaventura Berlinghieri, "St. Francis Altarpiece" tempera on wood 60' x 42' (approx. 5" x 3.5) Byzantine Style (maniera greca) painted during the Gothic Period

Bonaventura Berlinghieri,  "St. Francis Altarpiece," tempera on wood 60' x 42' (approx. 5' x 3.5') Byzantine Style (maniera greca) painted during the Gothic Period

The main reasons why this altarpiece is studied are because it is an excellent example of the Byzantine painting style during the late Gothic period, it also represents St. Francis who is a historical religious figure who represents humanistic changes in culture during the late Gothic period into the Renaissance.

This is painted with egg tempera on wood panel. The medium of egg tempera is quick drying but very prominent in terms of color. The style that this was painted in, sometimes referred to as maniera greca, which literally translates as “in the Greek style or manner,” is a very flat not very illusionistic style of painting that is probably closer to what we think of as a cartooning style than a style that is meant to depict light and shadow or shading. If you look very closely at the figure and how things like how the facial features are rendered, you’ll probably notice that there is an attempt at shading however, it is not based in observing how light shades an object.

The way in which the people or figures are painted is also not very realistic and also closer to what we consider a cartoon rather than a realistic depiction of the bodies’ proportions and anatomy. The figures tend to be elongated, the posture is stiff and unrealistic, and the proportions of the face are unrealistic as well. For example, the eyes seem to be placed a little too high up into the four head, the nose is too long, and the mouth is placed further into the chin than his realistic.

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The creation of space, and the relationship of the sizes of the buildings to the people in the pictures is also not realistic. For example, the figures seem to be too large when compared to the buildings. The size and scale of the figures to the buildings to the landscape our overall disproportionate and unrealistic.

The size of the panel, which is about 5 feet tall, makes the central figure of St. Francis almost life-sized. St. Francis is placed in the center of the composition. The composition is overall symmetrical, which means that you can cut it in half and it seems to be equal on either side of a vertical line. The central figure of Francis divides the overall composition into a left and right series of six scenes are vignettes that contain images of Francis and other figures as well as environments. The scenes represent the life and times of Francis and in particular focus on his deeds.  The scenes range from, Francis ministering to the poor, to animals, and helping to save souls in general.

Francis literally takes the words of Jesus into his life by giving away all of his earthly possessions, ministering to the poor, and in general doing unto others as he would have others do unto him. The three knots in Francis’ rope belt represent, poverty, chastity, and obedience to God’s will. The subject matter of the altar focuses on the central figure of Francis and several scenes from his life that led to his canonization as a saint and amplify the concepts of charity, living a life of non-materialism, and thinking about as well as behaving in the way that Jesus prescribes in the New Testament.

In the upper left-hand scene, Francis receives the stigmata from a type of Angel called a Seraphim. This scene, explains and amplifies the wounds that Francis exhibits in the almost life-sized figure on his hands and feet that represent an honor that he receives because these are the same ones that Christ received while on the cross. Probably the next most important scene for Catholics is the scene in the middle of the left-hand column in which St. Francis delivers a sermon to the animals in the wild, because all living creatures are invested with God’s love. By the way, this does not necessarily mean that St. Francis believed that all animals have souls because this is inaccurate according to Catholic theology.

This altarpiece was painted in 1235 less than 10 years after Francis his canonization. Probably the most important reasons why this painting is taught as part of the great Canon of European late Gothic painting is because it represents the ideas that Francis represented. Since St. Francis taught several revolutionary ways of thinking about Catholicism, he’s almost like the “poster boy” for the changes that were happening in the transition from the late Gothic to the early Renaissance periods. For example, Francis represents humanism and critical thinking in the way that Francis chose to physically act out the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Previous to the life of St. Francis, the Catholic Church was the sole source of information about God for the layman (every day nonclergy).  The Church interpreted, interceded and imposed a very clear point of view about God's teachings and was the sole source of biblical interpretation.  In fact, laymen were not even allowed to own a Bible, not that they could afford one since they were hand written and very expensive.  This point of view and religious/political system meant that everyday people could not actually "know" God for themselves and supported and maintained a point of view that one was born to a place on this earth that was unchangeable.

Francis's point of view that "To follow the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and to walk in his footsteps." Breaks with this tradition and demonstrates the beginning of a point of view in which the lay person could not only have a direct experience of God but also alter their behavior in accordance with their knowledge without needing to consult the Church for interpretation.  This is important and interesting because aside from the ideas exhibited in the teachings of Thomas Aquinas, this represents the beginning of a change in the way of thinking and the stirrings of individual critical thought.  The art that follows, after the Byzantine period and in the late Gothic and Early Renaissance exhibits a new and critical point of view of the world.

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Friday, November 8, 2019

Only one more week of grant applications! Deadline details inside.
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NOVEMBER 08, 2019

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One week left to apply for open CAC grant opportunities!

There's still time to submit applications for 10 of our grant programs! The next round of applications is due before midnight tonight - click the individual links for application and eligibility details.
If your organization has been impacted by the state's recent wildfires, view details on requesting an extension here.
November 8
Arts Education Exposure - Supporting student attendance at arts performances and exhibits.
Local Impact - Supporting arts projects in California's historically marginalized communities.
Reentry Through the Arts - Supporting arts projects for formerly incarcerated individuals.
Youth Arts Action - Supporting arts projects for youth outside of traditional school hours.
November 15
Artists in Communities - Supporting artistic residencies in community settings.
Artists in Schools - Supporting projects integrating community arts partners as part of the regular school day.
Arts Integration Training - Supporting arts integration training for educators facilitated by teaching artists.
Cultural Pathways - Supporting arts programs in communities of color, recent immigrant and refugee communities, or tribal groups.
JUMP StArts - Supporting arts education projects for youth impacted by or at risk of being engaged in the justice system.
Statewide and Regional Networks - Supporting arts service organizations and networks.

Open call for grant review panelists - apply by Nov. 21

Cultural workers, artists, and arts field professionals wanted! Gain insight into grantmaking while lending your valuable voice to the process. Apply by November 21 to be considered for service on a CAC grant review panel.

Programs Evaluation Consultant proposals due Nov. 14

The California Arts Council is seeking a qualified full-service evaluation consultant or firm to design and implement a collaborative, participatory, and human-centered program evaluation of CAC grant and contract-based funding programs that will utilize innovative and inclusive methods of data collection, analysis, and reporting. The deadline for proposal submissions is November 14. View details and the Request for Proposal here.

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Thursday, October 31, 2019

Church of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy 526-47 CE Byzantine Style

Church of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy 526-47 CE
Byzantine Style

Form: This central plan structure has an octagonal shape and two levels.  The arches walls and floors are all covered with ornate and intricate Byzantine style mosaic and tile work.  Arches and some vaulting are used and the center even has a dome, which from the exterior looks like an octagons full of windows that flood the interior with light. Eight large piers alternate with columned niches to define precisely the central space and to create a many layered design.  Nevertheless, the technology used to construct San Vitale is not quite as advanced as Hagia Sophia although the walls were lightened by the use of hollow pots in its interior.Iconography:  San Vitale reflects Byzantine influence and technological creativity. St. Vitale is the major Justinian monument in the West. It was probably built as a testament to the power of Orthodoxy in the declining kingdom of the Ostrogoths. He tries to establish a place where there are severe Christian Churches (people were forced to convert to Christianity).
Context:  On the second level of the ambulatory, is a special gallery reserved for women. This was a typical custom of Jewish religious worship. The reason for this, was to segregate the males from the females in order for them to pray with greater devotion.
For more details of  San Vitale go here.

Emperor Justinian and his Attendants
mosaic on north wall of the apse
Church of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy 526-47 CE
Byzantine Style
Empress Theodora and Her Attendants.
mosaic on south wall of the apse
Church of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy 526-47 CE
Byzantine Style
Form:  The interior of St. Vitale, is similar to the Pantheon and Hagia Sophia.  The design includes an enormous amount of different colored marble and all the other surfaces are decorated with mosaic or tile.  The ornamentation in the church's interior looks Islamic or Arabic although it predates Islam. The figures are stylized in a typical Byzantine mode.  The heads are too large and the bodies are covered completely with drapery that does not reveal the anatomy beneath.   It also shares some elements from the Arch of Constantine, the heads are big and there's no Contrapposto (liberal movement in figures).  The facial anatomy is stylized.  The face is also elongated and the nose meets the bridge of the brows and the eyebrows actually go directly into the nose.  These are some of the elements that become standardized in Byzantine Manuscript.
Stokstad discusses the reverse perspective of the image which basically is a denial of the illusionistic systems of Roman art that are apparent in the mosaics and frescoes of Pompeii.
Iconography:  Both the empress's and emperor's mosaics face one another across the apse and each holds one component of the eucharist.  Justinian holds the tray and the wafer which symbolizes the body of Christ.  In his twelve companions, which are roughly the equivalent to Jesus' twelve apostles, the emperor also has two symbols of the power he holds: on the earth he has his army to support him at his right hand.  Notice they have the implied mandate of the power of Constantine because of the chi ro on their shield.  (Here's what a chi ro is)
Chi-Rho n, pl Chi-Rhos [chi + rho] (1868): a Christian monogram and symbol formed from the first two letters X and P of the Greek word for Christ--called also Christogram What is Chi Ro? Chi Ro, pronounced (KI ROW), is probably the oldest monogram used for the name of Christ. It was found written along the walls of the catacombs, which were the cemeteries of the early Christians and also a place where they held their secret meetings. The Chi and Ro are the first two letters in the Greek word for Christ. Our CH was one letter in Greek and was shaped like our X. The Greek R had the shape of our P. By combining the RO or P to one arm of the Chi we get XP. As a pre- Christian symbol, the Chi Ro signified good fortune. The Chi Ro became an important Christian symbol when adopted by the Roman Emperor Constantine, representing the first two letters in the name Christ. According to Church Father Eusebius, on the eve of the Battle of Milvan Bridge, the Emperor saw the emblem in a dream, with the inscription "With this symbol, you shall conquer." According to the story, the battle was won. In return for the victory, Constantine erected Christian Churches. The symbol was the standard of the Emperor's army, prominently displayed on the Emperor's labarum, or battle standard. 
For his spiritual power he has the members of the clergy on his left.  Directly to his left is the archbishop Maximus whose face is almost as defined and unique as Justinian's. Theodora is surrounded by her ladies in waiting and the local clergy as well and Theodora holds the wine which symbolizes the blood of christ.  On her gown is an image of the three Magi carrying their gift to the newborn Jesus.  Both are wearing royal purple and both are placed at the center of the image.  The placement and the icons they carry and wear were meant to communicate to the viewer that the emperor and empress were the church and the only path to salvation.  This links theological and political power as a single theocratic unit.
Context:  (Stokstad gives a much more detailed discussion of the iconography in the Byzantine chapter.)
For more details of  San Vitale go here.

Capital, Church of San Vitale,
Ravenna, Italy 526-47 CE
Byzantine Style
Form:  This capital at first appears to be an almost Tuscan or Doric capital but on closer inspection it is the correction of the original Greek and Roman orders.  Between the arch and the capital is an additional structure called an impost block.  The designs on the capital are much more ornate and less solid looking then its predecessors and combines carving, polychroming and mosaic.  The over all intricate organic patterning and weaving of the ornamentation is abstract and overly ornate. Iconography:  The organic vine like qualities refer to the symbol of Christianity as a vine that keeps spreading.   In the center of the column's capital and impost block are cruciform symbols.  Notice on the capital, the Greek cross formed of four circles that looks like the domed greek cross plan discussed on page 324 The Elements of Architecture, Multiple-Dome Church Plans.  The use of classical ornamentation and then the obvious changing of it is symbolic of the fusion of the Roman and Greek classic ideals wedded to the culture and decorative forms of the east as well as the iconography of Christianity.


Friday, October 25, 2019

Art History Update

"art history"
Daily update  October 25, 2019
Two of European Art History's Most Dramatic Figures, Bernini and Caravaggio, Go Head to Head in ...
A new exhibition at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna gathers together works by leading Italian Baroque artists. Kate Brown, October 24, 2019.
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MOMA's Heady Introduction to Betye Saar, “The Conscience of the Art World”
Last year, the Getty Research Institute acquired Saar's archive, for its African American Art History Initiative, deeming her “the conscience of the art ...
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Samuels Public Library to host 'Degenerate Art' lecture
Samuels Public Library in Front Royal will host a lecture on an important period in art history on Tuesday. Titled “Degenerate Art: The Persecution of ...
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In the flesh: Kimbell exhibition dares to examine Renoir's nudes
Renoir is the dominant force, because we see him literally digesting art history and defining himself both with and against it. Occasionally, as in the ...
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Do Art Movements Still Matter?
It's no surprise that we often think of art history this way, too, grouping artists by the time, place, and medium in which they work. The term “.
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Actor Cheech Marin displaying private art collection 'Papel Chicano Dos' at the Loveland Museum
“This exhibit functions as an art history lesson in some ways, defining the earlier days of the Chicano art movement and the ways in which it addresses ...
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Double, double toil and trouble — a new exhibit on witchcraft opens at UC Irvine
Derek Quezada, outreach and public services librarian for UCI, said inspiration for the exhibit came out of work he was doing with a group of art history ...
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Q&A: Kate Hoffman, CEO of Spacey, on Breaking Down the Barriers to Investing in Art
I love art; I studied fine arts and art history in college as well as being a marketing major, and so I started thinking about what the art world looks like ...
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Spinozzi '01 To Bring Met Expertise to Hartwick College
During her return to campus, she will also meet with art history and English majors. In February, 2020, Spinozzi will host Hartwick alumni for a private ...
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Mary Margaret “Moo” Anderson
More than 30 doctoral candidates in art history at the university have interned at the Anderson family collection and the Anderson Collection at ...
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