The Sumerians are the first sign of civilization; early peoples give up the dangerous and uncertain life of the hunter/gatherer for the more permanent life of the farmer/herder. Civilization was arranged in city states; they had a code of laws, currency, and value the good of the community over the family (for example, you could not kill a man for family honor because it would damage the community as a whole).
This is also the first instance of written documents; the Sumerian language was made up of pictographs - pictures that indicated words, the early precursor to the hieroglyph. The most famous document found is the Epic of Gilgamesh, which told the story of the King of Uruk.
Unknown, Stonehenge, ca. 2550 - 1600 BCE
- Megalithic structure, meaning big stone
- Circle is 97’ in diameter, trilithons 24’ high
- a ‘henge’ is arrangement of mega stones in a circle + surrounded by a ditch
- inside rings are ‘blue stone’ and surround a horse shoe
- includes a ‘heel stone’ - a marking stone, marks the spot where the sun rose in the summer solstice; stonehenge is an astronomical observatory, and is remarkably accurate to solar calendar
- not sure how they got there since their weight is tremendous; the stones are from Wales
Unknown, Hall of Bulls (ca. 15,000 - 13,0000)
- this was painted over time; not representing one particular artist
- common subject matter for this era is animals; perhaps serves as a guide for hunters; how to identify different animals, etc.
- animals were thought to possess magical properties; performed ritual dances near the paintings to give them luck in hunting; this particular form of reverence came from the fact that their livelihood depended on the food from animals (clothing, building homes, tools from bones, TOTAL USE of the animal) meat/skin/bones
Unknown, Spotted horses and negative hand prints (ca. 22,000 BCE)
- negative handprints indicate the use of blowpipes to spray the pigment; this is one of the earliest signatures/identification of self there are
- 200 sites where cave paintings have been found; this one is located at Peche-Merle, France.
- red and yellow ochre (natural material used to paint, ground into fine powder/pigment and mixed with water) used reeds and twigs as brushes, and large flat stones to mix and grind paints, like a palette.
Unknown, Venus of Willendorf , (ca. 28,000 - 25,000 BCE)
- limestone is hard, brittle, and difficult to carve; it is a native material to austria
- arbitrary name’
- named by location and after ‘venus’ greco/ROMAN goddess of love. venus is typically the only goddess depicted as nude, also the ‘ideal beauty’
- likely a fertility figure; emphasis on the volume and sexual areas of figure (breasts, pubic area); most prehistoric figures were mostly of women and mostly nude
- consider size: since it’s small, it’s portable; the people are nomadic food gatherers, so it’s very important to take art with them
alright, my summer break comes to a close in around two weeks so it’s time to attend to artwhat again.
what you see here is the entirety of my notes from western art ii, which covered the early renaissance to modern day. in the next few weeks, i’ll be dumping all my notes from western art i, starting with paleolithic europe, just so the complete, broad picture is out there.
i’m starting on my major once the fall semester starts up, so what i’ll be posting will be pretty narrow from then on. in the next few months i’ll be dumping all my renaissance history notes, and who knows what class i’ll get into next semester.
Judy Chicago, The Dinner Party, 1974 – 1979
- emphasis on the female anatomy
- monumental dinner table; each side of the triangle is 48 feet, with 13 place settings for a total of 39 important women in history
- collaboration between artists from CalArts in media that had traditionally not been recognized as fine arts, such as fiber, ceramics, and metalworking
- each place setting tailored to the style of art in which each of these women lived, and each plate is an abstraction of a vagina
- example of second wave feminist art
Ana Mendieta, Untitled Work from the Tree of Life Series, 1976
- often lumped in with the earthworks artists because it has a natural touch performed and photographed in a natural setting
- literally covered in earth and posing against a large tree; photographed in iowa and mexico
- she was born in cuba and emigrated to the united states at an early age.
- This pose is the errant pose; typical of early Christian art. She is communing with spirits, and making connections between her body and nature.