During the mid eighteenth century, a turn away from the ornamentation and asymmetry of the Rococo and the Baroque led to an interest in a revived, more pure form of art and architecture. Enlightenment ideals were being disseminated across Europe aided by the 1751-72 publication of the thirty-five-volume strong Encyclopédie and rationale was becoming a key player in the minds of individuals. Diderot’s hesitation over whether to place architecture under the faculty of reason or that of imagination reopened an ancient debate about what the ultimate role of architecture was. Fewer religious buildings were being erected, and the focus was instead turned toward secular buildings with civic or industrial function. Immanuel Kant’s 1784 essay Answering the Question: What is Enlightenment? coined the phrase sapere aude, or ‘dare to know’ further illustrating the importance science and intellect took on in this period.
An early to late 18th century movement, born in France, Rococo centralised around opulence and extravagance. Not just affecting art, furniture, architecture, theatre and music all have the Rococo period instilled within their history. Its beginnings are off the back of the Baroque movement, which was a response to the Catholic values of the Council of Trent during the Reformation. The origins of the name seem to be from the French rocaille, a popular form of garden or interior ornamentation using shells and pebbles, and coquille, meaning shell. It might also interweave the Baroque etymology, barocco, meaning an irregularly shaped pearl. From these definitions, we can see that the style was centralised around decorative elements and a fanciful, irregular style.
In response to the Royal Academy of Arts current exhibition Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932, this article will address the versatility and imagination of Russian art. The Tsarist rule ended in February 1917, and until Stalin brutally suppressed his people and their creative freedom in 1932, Russian art gained a surge of creativity and energy. In this fifteen year period, the forms that Russian art could take on were limitless.
Kasimir Malevich is paramount to the discussion of Russian revolutionary art. Born in 1879, his career was shrouded in war, politics, and revolution. Early experimentation led him to the development of suprematism, characterised by abstract geometric shapes and stark colours. Black Square can be seen as the epitome of one of these works, and is often considered the first work that wasn’t actually of something. The painting was first shown in The Last Futurist Exhibition 0,10, the exhibition that inaugurated the Suprematist movement, in 1915, after months being hidden in secrecy. The work itself, consisting of a 79.5 by 79.5 centimetre black square surrounded by a white border, was placed high up in the Petrograd room, stretched across a corner of the wall. This placement was similar to the sacred location of a Russian Orthodox icon of a saint in a traditional Russian home. In this way, Malevich elevates the status of Black Square to be the overriding symbol of the new style, and the star of the exhibition.
Cubism was a revolutionary new approach to representing reality. It is generally thought to have begun in 1907, with Picasso’s Demoiselles d’Avignon, which included elements of the cubist style. The name was coined from Louis Vauxcelles comment upon seeing Georges Braque’s paintings, that they reduced everything to ‘geometric outlines, to cubes’. Cubism stands out from other styles due to its concern to break objects and figures down into distinct planes. The artists of the style, including Braque and Picasso, aimed to show different viewpoints at the same time, and within the same space, and so suggest a three dimensional form. Braque was particularly influenced by Cezanne’s multi-perspectival ideas. Edward Fry, in his Cubism 1907-1908: An Early Eyewitness Account illustrates that ‘a comparison of the works of Picasso and Braque during 1908 reveals that the effect of his encounter with Picasso was more to accelerate and intensify Braque’s exploration of Cézanne’s ideas, rather than to divert his thinking in any essential way.’ The works didn’t often create the illusion of depth, because the two-dimensional quality of the canvas was brought to light. This was a revolutionary break from the European tradition of creating the illusion of real space by using devices like linear perspective, that had prevailed from the Renaissance onwards.
The general period we have labeled "Renaissance" continues without any sharp stylistic break (except for the interrupting episode of Mannerism) into the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. We call the art of this later period Baroque, although no one Baroque style or set of stylistic principles actually has been defined. The origin of the word is not clear. It may come from the Portuguese word barroco, meaning an irregularly shaped pearl. Certainly the term originally was used especially in connection with post in a disparaging sense, Renaissance architecture, which nineteenth-century critics perceived as decadent Classical: unstructural, overorna mented, theatrical, and grotesque. The term Baroque included in the art-historical vocabulary for many years a a blanket designation for the art of the period roughly covering 1600 to 1750 and encompassing the careers of some of the greatest painters, sculptors, and architect the Western world has ever produced.
Scholars gradually came to see that the Baroque styles were quite different from those of the Renaissance. The Baroque, for example, looks dynamic; Renaissance styles are relatively static. The historical reality lies in the flow of stylistic change, and Baroque art is a useful classification for isolating the tendencies and products of stylistic change. We shall designate here as Baroque those traits that the styles of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries seam to have in common. We have earlier applied adjective "baroque" retrospectively to examples of ancient sculpture and architecture that appear to modern art historians to have strong stylistic affinities with seventeenth and eighteenth-century monuments, for example.
Like the art it produced, the Baroque era was manifold -
It was an age of expansion following on an age of discovery, and its expansion led to still further discovery. The rising national powers colonized the globe Wars between Renaissance cities were supplanted by wars between continental empire and the history of Europe was influenced by battles fought in the North American wilderness and in India. The art of the Baroque period reflects this growing nationalism. In France, for example, it centers around the powerful monarchy; in Italy, it is the Catholic art of the popes, in opposition to the art of the Protestant North.
In preparation for the upcoming lecture at the Victoria and Albert museum on the 25th, 28th, 31st of March
Warhol had many assistants including Gerard Malanga, Brigid Berlin and Ronald Tavel. His assistants' approach was very significant, and his workshop ethos was both generated as a result of and influenced by his technique. His assistants allude to the techniques in which his works were produced, and his thought process. Marco Livingston states that Warhol ‘presented himself merely as a mediator’, putting a lot of onus on his assistants. Warhol says, ‘I was never embarrassed about asking someone, literally, ‘What should I paint?’ because Pop comes from the outside, and how is asking someone for ideas any different from looking for them in a magazine?’
Warhol barely planned his compositions according to Malanga, who said that ‘His vagueness was pretty precise’. Perhaps, he wanted to create a likeness in all of his work, to imitate his opinion that 'everyone should be a machine'. He painted white makeup onto his models, including Elizabeth Taylor, to anonymise her features and make her appear more cartoon-like, and he wanted more people to take up screen-printing so that his work couldn't be identified as his own. Livingston also says that 'Warhol devised numerous ways — both obvious and devious — of creating surfaces that looked as though they had barely been touched by his hand. Not only because it was part of his style to remain enigmatic but because he saw it as one of his roles to give the critics a job to do.' He replaced his mother's trademark signature on his work with 'a signature worthy of the Invisible Man: a simple rubber stamp of the type used by, or on behalf of, officials too busy or remote from their work to be able to sign their own names to it.' For all of these reasons, we get the impression that Warhol wanted anonymity and banality in his works from the Pop Art era, and that that was what came to epitomise Andy Warhol's paintings.
For the obvious reasons, February is associated with love and nothing seems more appropriate than to finish the month discussing a piece of art that simultaneously reveres and ridicules love. The Allegory of Love, or Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time was executed by Agnolo Bronzino in 1546. Vasari wrote that the finished canvas was given to King Francis I (of France), although by whom we cannot be sure — potentially Cosimo I de Medici or Mannerist painter Francesco Salviati. Either way, it is apparent that it was in an attempt of flattery to the king, with its dense iconography, detailed narrative, and complex composition.
Victoria Hammond begins her chapter in David Stephenson’s revolutionary book about the dome with this quote: the dome offers ‘a kaleidoscope of shifting visions of heaven ranging from the grand cosmology of imperial Rome, through richly embroidered Byzantine worlds and the mystical geometry of Islam, to the sublime serenity of the Renaissance and the gravity-defying transfigurations of the Baroque, culminating in the ethereal lightness of the rococo and beyond.’ This encompasses the immense propagation of the domical form across eras and cultures, and shows its profound use in helping us to trace this architectural history. The first section of this essay shall discuss how the domed edifice has developed from ancient sacred forms, then moving forward to discuss the specific effects that this history has had on the dome structure. The last section will focus on the importance of dome decoration in tracing history. In choosing three examples — the Cathedral of the Assumption (Fig 1) in the Kremlin, consecrated in 1479, the Alhambra’s Sala de las dos Hermanas (Fig 2), built in the Islamic style in 1258, and the dome of Murray Edwards College, Cambridge (Fig 3), finished in 1965 — I hope to give a comprehensive conclusion to the idea that domes take their form from a wide range of times and places, and tracing this complex history gives a thorough understanding of the meanings that can be attributed to them.
‘Just as the dome form itself represents the transcendent sphere, so its history transcends race and religion.’ The dome has a complex and varied history, to which it owes its ‘transcendent sphere’ form, and the place to begin is with the primitive shelter concept. At the most primitive level, the most prevalent type of constructed shelter was circular in plan and covered with a curved roof. Circles of saplings or leaves would have been bound together and bent inwards at the top to form a roof. This was the easiest method of construction, as there was no need to bind a separate roof to the structure. From this, the associations of the dome and curved drum with ‘a tribal and ancestral shelter’, therefore home, came about. In fact, the Arctic Inuits continue to build their snow homes, igloos, using a domical structure. The etymology of the word, coming from ‘domus’, meaning ‘house’, illustrates this quality further, also extending the dome’s purpose to ‘house’ other things. The Middle Ages and Renaissance saw the word translate into Domus Dei , the Italians into duomo, the Germans and Danish into Dom, and as late as 1656 in England, dome meant ‘Town-House, Guildhall, State-House or Meeting-House.’
In the quest to understand what manuscripts are, one should first turn to the Latin ‘manuscriptus’, meaning ‘written by hand’, which precedes the word utilised now. Manuscripts replaced papyrus scrolls as the primary object used for recording history and law, conveying biblical stories and creating fictional stories, through the means of text. Manuscripts were generated in four stages: parchment making, writing, illumination and binding, and formed the shape of a book, making them easier to handle and more practical than scrolls. The Anointing of a Bishop from Renaud de Bar’s unfinished Metz Pontifical from 1303-1316 sheds light on the technique of the first two processes. Manuscripts could be created by a single person, for example a monk carrying out a devotional act, or by a holistic team of artisans with specialities in different areas. The former had more religious sentiment, but the latter was cheaper, more time efficient, and potentially produced even better results from the multitude of skills available. In the magnificent Dover Bible shown in the Fitzwilliam Museum, the work of monks and of artists may be intertwined, with the writing process carried out in the monastery of Christ Church, Canterbury by monks, and the illumination, done by hired professionals. This illumination, from grisaille sketching to gold punching, encompasses everything that involved the ‘lighting up’ of the manuscript. As the Fitzwilliam’s Colour Exhibition illustrates with its focus on its namesake, illumination played a vital role in the final versions of many manuscripts, as can be seen in the striking, foliate ‘O’ initial, by artist Cristoforo Cortese, from the Entry into Jerusalem story from a Venetian 1410-1420 Gradual, owned by the museum. These three works all highlight different aspects of the process of manuscript making, and are each unique in their illumination. They were all also chosen by the curator of the Colour Exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, for display.
A Pontifical produced in Metz for Renaud de Bar, Bishop of Metz Cathedral and wealthy Lorraine nobleman affords the spectator an overview of manuscript making, as you leaf from the unfinished back, still in the sketching stage, to the front, completed before de Bar died in 1316. A page of the Anointing of the Bishop found in folio 123 depicts an incomplete miniature of the Archbishop, who can be found centrally in the small illustration at the top of the page, anointing the head of a bishop (from the Office for Consecrating a Bishop), above a block of text in black script, switching to red further down the page.
“The colour that seems the softest can often speak the loudest" — Robin Cembalest
Pink, thought to be named after the frilled edge of a small flower of the Dianthus genus, emerged in the 17th century as a gender-neutral fashion choice for Europe’s elite, only becoming associated with femininity when men transitioned into business suits in the 19th century. The colour began to take on a more active role when it became the symbol of various campaigns in the twentieth century. One of these was post-World War II propaganda to lure women back into the kitchen. A more benevolent campaign, however, was that in the fight against breast cancer, with the symbol of the crossed pink ribbon.
From October 2013 to May 2014, the Boston Museum of Fine Art held a phenomenal show, “Think Pink”, charting the history and associations of the colour pink. It juxtaposed clothing (both men’s and women’s), accessories, graphic illustrations, jewellery, and paintings to shed light on changes in style; the evolution of pink for girls, blue for boys, and other colour associations were analysed. Not only all of this, but the exhibition also touched on the topic of breast cancer, and its pink link, including a selection of dresses and accessories from the collection of the late Evelyn Lauder, who was instrumental in creating an awareness of breast cancer by choosing the pink visual reference.