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A CROPOLIS LIGHT


LIGHT

ACROPOLIS The Art & Art History Publication


Fall Issue 2012 Approaching Shadow | Fan Ho | 1954 Embers | Carter Lyon | 2012

Letter from the Editor Calendar of Events Student Articles Contemporary Artists Scholarship Profiles Major Requirements Just For Fun Page


5435 Richmond Rd. Williamsburg, VA. 23188 (757) 675-6627 lindamatneygallery.com

Opening reception for X-RA*DI*ANCE: February 10, 2013 2pm-6pm.


Photo by: Skye Keene-Babcook


ACROPOLIS Editor-in-Chief Michelle Repper Executive Layout Editors Sofia Chabolla & Becca Schall Executive Scholarship Editor Morgan Doyle Executive Article Editor Matthew Chiarello Executive Photography Editor Stephanie Krauss Treasurer Won Kun Lee Contributors Alan Braddock

Courtney Raterman

Skye Keene-Babcook

Cristina Stancioiu

Joél Elías Carela

Jarrett Ley

Travis Carr

Carter Lyon

Ashley Irizarry

Lucy Macon

Vincent van Gogh, Starry Night Over the Rhone, 1888


LETTER FROM THE EDITOR Dear Reader, Welcome to the second issue of Acropolis, the only art and art history magazine on campus. Many changes differentiate our final product this semester from last semester; in the fall our magazine was entitled: Spirit of the Living Watching, which we decided to change to Acropolis. The fall semester was certainly a learning experience, and we gleaned a lot from producing “Genesis,” our first issue. We became familiar with the process of creating a magazine, and gained a feel for what content our readership responded to. This semester we received funding from the Publications Council to publish our magazine in print, and we were inducted into the Publications Council, which will mean more stability in the future in terms of funding. In order to utilize the advantages of both print and online publishing, we decided to have an abbreviated print version and an extended on-line version of this issue (which can be found at issuu.com). The print version will give the reader a rich glimpse of our publication. It includes a calendar of events, articles, photographs, profiles of students and professors, contemporary art exposés, information for art and art history students, scholarship abstracts and a comics page. The online version will have all of the same content, except it will include extended versions of almost every section, and helpful links for interested readers. This semester we chose the theme “light” because light is such an integral element in all of art. It is in fact so integral that it is often forgotten as a formal element when considering the merits of a work. We wanted to bring this element back to the conscious critical mind. How can light define a work? How does light help a work realize its full potential? These are the questions we want you to ask when looking through the pages of the Spring 2012 Acropolis. We could not be happier to present to you our first ever print issue: “Light,” and we know that there will be many more print and online magazines for you to look forward to in the future. Happy reading!

Michelle S. Repper Class of 2013 Majors: Art & Art History/ South Asian Studies Editor-in-Chief


Photo by: Michelle Repper


EVENTS 2013


JANUARY

Events, Exhibitions, and Dates

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W&M Classes Start 20

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Inauguration Day 27

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11 22 Michelangelo: Sacred and Profane Groundhog Masterpieces Day from the Casa Buonarroti February 9 - April 14 8 9 A Brush with Passion: Mattia Preti (1613-1699) February 9 - April 14

10 Opening Re-

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ception for “XRA*DI*ENCE” show 2-6PM Linda Matney Gallery

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Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras 18

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W&M Global W&M Global W&M Global Film Festival Film Festival Film Festival 24 24

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CW Antiques Forum: Feb 24-26th, 8:30 am to 7pm @ Williamsburg Lodge Conference Center

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MARCH

Events, Exhibitions, and Dates Sun

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Domestic, Wild, Divine: Artists Look at Animals NOV 21 – APR 04 Mellon Galleries 3

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Panorama Photos by: Skye Keene-Babcook


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The Smithsonian: Thomas Day: Master Craftsman & Free Man of Color: Apr 12- Jul 28 14

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The Smithsonian The Civil War and American Art: Nov 16-Apr 28


Photo by: Skye Keene-Babcook


STUDENT ARTICLES


A Visit with Andrew

The Private Studio of A. Wyeth By: Morgan Doyle As I hopped off of the shuttle bus, my very first impression of the building featured a white sign with bold black letters nailed onto the door. It read: “I am working so please do not disturb. I do not sign autographs.� Here was the former home and studio of famous American painter Andrew Wyeth, part of a three generation artistic legacy. With the help of his wife, Betsy, and his son, Jamie, the Brandywine River Museum has restored and staged the Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania building, giving visitors a glimpse into the life of this prolific painter. Originally, the family lived here, but after several years they moved, leaving the space

solely to Andrew. He worked here from 1940 to 2008. When I walked into this private space past the sign warning against outsiders - I was immediately surrounded by Andrew’s family, friends, and models. The walls of the foyer and hallway are filled top to bottom with photographs documenting the people and places important to Wyeth. One corner even features phone numbers and names handwritten by Andrew directly onto the wall. Off to the right sits the kitchen, an eclectic mix of retro appliances and simple, wooden furniture that was once the social center of the home. To the left lies a large, open room with streamlined but aged wood floors. Large windows look out onto the surrounding field from three different walls. Midmorning summer Read more at issuu.com/acropolisarthistory

Photos Taken by: Morgan Doyle


light came pouring into the otherwise dark room as I glanced around. A few pieces of furniture and a fireplace sit lonely and dwarfed in the large space. Almost immediately I had a strange feeling that I had been there before. And I had. Numerous paintings feature the elements found here including Monologue (1965), The Kass (1975), and Helga Painting (1988). By moving a few steps this way or turning my body that way, I recreated the views that Andrew saw and recorded. As amusing as my déjà vu was, connecting the physical space to two-dimensional representations of it, a small, run-down room off to the side was even more fascinating. Here - where the uneven paint peeled off the walls and the ceiling threatened to crumble, where sketches chaotically adorned the walls and coffee-stained drawings scattered about floor – was where Andrew made tangible his artistic visions. Here was where the true process occurred. A large easel stood in the middle of the room, shielding the canvas from eyes peeking in through the doorway. An over life-sized mirror was placed near the wall, behind both the easel and where Andrew would have stood to work. Though hidden from his sight the majority of the time, Andrew used the mirror to alter his view of a canvas in progress, giving him a fresh perspective after long hours of work. In this workspace, Andrew surrounded himself with sketches and drawings of his subjects. He used these as studies for his paintings, carefully observing and realizing specific forms or deciding on poses and positions. They ranged from quick outlines to detailed figures and were haphazardly strewn about the room, posted up on the walls and

thrown across the floor. For Andrew, the drawings were important because of the idea he was able to get out of his head and the practice his hand received; the process was more important than the product, hence the careless placements and coffee stains. On tabletops lie the various paints and brushes Andrew used. He strayed away from conventional oil paints and instead preferred egg tempera. The medium suited Andrew quite well – he found that the mix of egg yolk and pigment gave him rich, real colors, particularly earth tones. He was also able to paint slowly and give his finished pieces a high level of detail. On the other hand,


Andrew worked swiftly with watercolors. He used this medium for moments of free artistic expression, versus the controlled and painstaking process of egg tempera. When a watercolor did need more detail, Andrew used a dry-brush technique. Compared to his disastrous workspace, Andrew’s paintings are known for their elegant simplicity and clean detail. The contradiction of the two was shocking. I could barely concentrate in the studio, my eye wandering from object to object, from peeling paint to pencil sketch, examining this area and then the next, trying to see and comprehend. Somehow, the chaos of the room was turned into a masterful work of art. As I walked out of the door into the bright sun-lit field, I found myself thinking about the creative energy that had once flowed through the house. Of all the ideas and visions that ran through Andrew’s mind, we, as the public, only see a minute portion. The final versions of artists’ inspired exertions and efforts are deliberately framed and

methodically hung against crisp, white walls. Curators specifically choose each work of art and then meticulously arrange and display them in museum showrooms. Though we think that we can appreciate art in this sterile, controlled environment, there is so much that we miss. We completely neglect the process, which is just as important as the final object. When we put ourselves in this position, we cannot fully value the amount of mental and physical effort that the artist put forth into realizing his artistic vision. So much of the decision and alteration process is missed. We also tend to forget the person behind these masterpieces. We fail to remember that they had parents and childhoods, friends and relationships, children and struggles. Visiting Andrew’s studio and home made me acutely aware of the discrepancies between artistic vision and the final work of art. The short experience I had with his personal space gave me such a different perspective on not only his pieces, but on art in general. º

Photos Taken by: Morgan Doyle


Interview with Mary Cronin

Supervisor of Education at the Brandywine River Museum Morgan Doyle A Discussion of Andrew Wyeth’s Studio, in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, open to the public as of July 3rd. The museum is featuring an exhibition titled A Painter’s View: The Andrew Wyeth Studio in conjunction with the opening. How does a visit to the studio help our understanding of Andrew’s creative process and his final works? I think it gives visitors a chance to see what inspired him, specifically. When you look at his work you’re not necessarily aware that he had a great interest in military history. When you look at a landscape you may not see that as an obvious reference. But when you go to the stu-

dio you find out that there was, in fact, an early silent film, The Big Parade, that he watched over 200 times that dealt with World War I. He collected military uniforms, he collected swords and sabers, he collected over 1200 military miniature figures, from the time he was a child. And so you get to see a lot of those objects that he surrounded himself with and get to learn about how that did impact his work and you can look for those influences. You also get to see the room where he actually did the painting. And the mess that it is in there. One of his famous quotes is “Art is messy.” And again you don’t necessarily see that when you look at his work. His work is very detailed, at times it seems very controlled on the


surface. But when you get into this room and you see that there’s paint on the floor, on the wall, the ceiling is sagging, you get the idea that he did paint in a very free style overall. And you can start to look for that in his work. Was there anything particular or unique to his methods? Was the messiness unique? I think he’s probably right that for many artists art is messy, even if the finished product doesn’t express that. He wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty and experiment with paint, experiment with media. How important was medium to Andrew? He very consciously chose the media that he used. His father was an oil painter, and when he first started out [under his father] he worked in pencil and he worked in oil. It was later that his brother-in-law, Peter Hurd, introduced him to egg tempera and it really wasn’t until after his father’s death that he explored that medium further. [Tempura] allowed him to spend more time with a subject, to paint in great detail, to really delve into every nook and cranny of something. I think he consciously chose to do egg tempera rather than oil and he also very consciously chose to work in watercolor. Initially, he just had this great facility for watercolor. He was very successful. His works sold quickly. But as time went on he used that for sort of taking a break when he was working on tempera to capture something quickly. And he also did many works in dry brush watercolor, which is similar to tempera in that it allows for great detail. I think medium with Andrew Wyeth’s work is very significant. And whether he chose to create a quick watercolor study of something versus a finished tempera piece was very significant for him. What are the benefits of a visit to any artistic studio, particularly for the general public? There are definitely visitors here who may have a vague idea of who the Wyeth’s might be but they’re not that familiar with their work. And

we have two studios on view, both the N.C. Wyeth’s studio, Andrew’s father, and Andrew Wyeth’s. They’re very different. But I think in both cases you get to see ‘what did that artist have around them for everyday inspiration?’ ‘what was important to them?’ ‘what was their environment?’. The N.C. studio you can look out the window and there’s a tree he put into his illustrations. [It’s] interesting that he would paint things that were so close but he could use his imagination and transport the viewer to medieval England. …I think you get insight into how an artist works, what are their sources, what are their references. A lot of art is from imagination, but a great deal of it is from observation as well. I think it’s a combination of the two. So when you see a studio you start to understand that more, that [artists] observe things that are right there and then they use their imagination to transform those things. You’ll rarely find something in the studio and then see a painting of it that looks exactly like what the object is, because artists are always picking and choosing and editing… the way a writer would. º


Fluorescent Light Transformations Dan Flavin’s and Tracey Emin’s Eye-Catchers by Courtney Raterman

Greens crossing greens (to Piet Mondrian who lacked green), Dan Flavin, 1966

Public perception of contemporary art is frequently considered to be muddled, and a trip to the Museum of Modern Art or the Guggenheim in New York may have visitors leaving more puzzled than enlightened. Artists Dan Flavin and Tracey Emin are far more literal when it comes to “enlightenment,” each utilizing fluorescent lights in their primary works, although in markedly different ways. Flavin’s greens crossing greens (to Piet Mondrian who lacked green) from 1966 strikingly dissimilar from Emin’s With You I Want To Live of 2007. Flavin’s utter abstractness and Emin’s strict depictions appear to be polar opposites, despite their use of the same media. The purposes of their production each emerge seamlessly through fluorescent

lights, and this form in turn importantly affects the ultimate messages present in their works. Although Flavin only began working with electric lights in 1961, his relatively rapid abandonment of canvas altogether in 1968 came to define him as a conceptual artist. His “barred corridors” such as greens crossing greens focused on the inherent relationship between space and sculpture. In his exploration of light and space, Flavin thwarted limits set by institutionalized means of display. Greens crossing greens intrudes into the viewer’s space, blocking access to the gallery at the Guggenheim. Flavin’s lights do not simply light an area; they flood the walls in patterns of color and light, immersing the viewer and the space in synthetic


light. Furthermore, his ability to transform basic fluorescent bulbs into aesthetic objects enabled him to emerge at the fore of both the industrial and the found art movements. The emphasis on simple, geometric forms and indistinct relationships among parts became the notable attributes of the minimalist movement. Whereas Flavin’s use of light emerged in the fabric of stark essentialism, Emin’s light fixtures operate on the premises of complete declarations. Using fluorescents to construct phrases of hope, collapse, love, and loss, light lends pathos to her works that only augment the candor and explicit nature of the words themselves. Her work With You I Want To Live is exemplary of the tenderness easily accessible in her art while it simultaneously details variegated emotions and notions of stylized selfpromotion. The work reveals her obsession with passion, complete with peaks and chasms, brightly shining on the face of each viewer in its immediate zone. Her straight-forwardness is nowhere more

clear than in her tent stitched with 102 names of people she ever slept with , entitled aptly, Everyone I Have Ever Slept With. Though subtlety seems not to be the archetypal adjective when describing Emin, her earnest nature keeps her art relevant and her audiences craving more. Her art’s ability to communicate states of the soul through a medium as conventional as a light bulb lends a universality that is evocative, strange, and beautiful at the same time. Flavin and Emin’s employment of florescent bulbs as the basic building blocks of their works speaks heavily to the timelessness of light and the questions it continues to ask of both its environment and viewers alike. The shadows that dance on the walls of international museums indicate light’s continued ascent to the ranks of high art. Flavin’s conception of his work as a unified piece through the handling of formal, phenomenological, and implicit characteristics demand the viewer to consider

With You I Want To Live, Tracey Emin, 2007


formal dichotomies of color, design, and intensity as well as the apparent and the latent, the severe and the whimsical. Whereas Flavin’s purpose is perhaps more discrete, Emin’s internal truths and secrets are illuminated brightly - in plain form - for all the world to see. How might these two artists connect with each other through their usage of light in their art? Each artist’s wide-ranging oeuvre leaves art critics and zealots alike contemplating eye-catching colors scrawled luminously into their locations, transforming museums and galleries into spectacles. Perhaps it is light’s ubiquitous nature that, when inverted into new arrangements, provides an acute awareness about the human experience . Light’s extensive appeal to human emotion provides significant accessibility for even the most perplexed and removed art viewers, enveloping all in its ephemeral and mesmerizing glow. º Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963=1995, Tracey Emin, 1995

Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963=1995, Tracey Emin, 1995


The Effect of Light

Frederic Edwin Church’s painting El Khasne, Petra (1874) Ashley Irizarry Frederic Edwin Church’s El Khasne, Petra, portrays Al-Khazneh (Treasury), a temple (or tomb) in the ancient rock city of Petra, Jordan. Executed in 1874, Church uses light and shadow to emphasize the dramatic setting and inspire wonder. Dark rock walls on either side of the painting create a sense of claustrophobia, forcing the viewers’ eyes upward towards the rock-cut temple of Petra, a structure suffused with golden light. The relatively bare and simple landscape in El Khasne marked a significant departure from Church’s typical works that depicted panoramic scenes of lush, vibrant wilderness. Church was a popular painter of the Hudson River School, a group of nineteenth century artists known for their grandiose paintings of American wilderness. Like other Hudson River School painters, Church’s sublime landscapes attempted to forge a uniquely American form of art that fostered national identity by portraying vast regions of American territory. Church, however, pushed the limits of mid-century landscape art by depicting natural scenes located outside the boundaries of the United States, while still drawing a link between the distant land and the American nation. Light was one of the most important elements he used to portray national spirit. Gerald L. Carr, an art historian with several books on Church, explains that “[t]he thing that most energized Church as an artist was light. It is apparent in all his finished paintings, outdoor studies, and studio canvases.” Light in Church’s paintings has a

self-illuminating quality so that the canvas seems to glow with its own internal light. Carr describes this aesthetic phenomenon as one in which “[l]ight splashes his painted surfaces, and radiates, or seems to radiate from beneath them.” This self-illumination has a striking effect, suggesting transcendence and the inherent spiritual power of the natural world. Light came to play a different role in Church’s later works; rather than evoking community, Church’s use of light emphasized a subjective experience that encouraged melancholy introspection. The sweeping landscapes celebrating American identity that characterized Church’s early work shifted during the 1860s. America’s descent into Civil War left Church disillusioned; and although Church painted landscapes until the end of his life in 1900, the tone of his work in the latter part of the nineteenth century shifted away from triumphant nationalism. El Khasne, Petra is one of the paintings that emerged from this post-Civil War mentality that de-emphasized a community vision. His earlier works rarely included human figures or man-made structures, but paintings executed from the late 1860s and onward focused less on the natural landscape and more on the human element, particularly ruins. This is not to say that Church abandoned the landscape, it remained central to his style and content; yet, these later landscapes are characterized by a despon-


dent, versus an exultant tone. The mental shift Church experienced did not change his artwork altogether, as Church continued to demonstrate a dedication to the dramatic interplay of light, color, and shadow to create beautiful and awe-inspiring scenes. In contrast to his early work, light in El Khasne evokes a subjective experience rather than an all-encompassing vision of nationhood. Replacing the bird’s-eye vantage point of his other paintings, El Khasne situates the viewer in the narrow foreground. The extreme verticality created by the dark canyon walls induces discomfort, which is only relieved by the slim entrance into the open sunlight at the foot of the temple. In his book examining the relationship between imagery and nineteenth century American religion and nationalism, John Davis argues that “[t]he structure of El Khasne, Petra replicates a state of anxiety and anticipation. The glowing temple offers itself as a kind of visual escape, the need to move forward to the light becoming all but irresistible.” The uncomfortable narrowness created in the foreground intensifies the effect of the light; the bright walls rev-

eled between the canyon provide relief from the darkness, but not an escape from the discomfort of the scene. The light is brilliant, but also blinding. The colors of Al-Khazneh (the tomb-temple) also contribute to the powerful effects of the light in the painting. Instead of a busy arrangement of colors, Al-Khazneh’s surface is plain, adorned only by the angles, lines, and curves of temple’s architecture. However, the pale yellow-brown of Petra’s walls amplify the golden effect of the sunlight, creating a feeling of transcendence. In a letter to his friend, E.D. Palmer, Church asks him to “imagine this fairy like Temple blazing like sunlight amongst those savage black rocks.” This interaction between sunlight and the plain walls of the rock-cut edifice pushes viewers toward a personal, spiritual revelation. The harsh brightness of the sun reflecting off of the exterior of Al-Khazneh mutes the details of the temple. Figures cut between the pillars are discernible, but barely distinguishable. One cannot tell exactly what each image represents, while the finer features of


the column capitals are drowned into vague swirls. In suppressing the temple’s details, the light becomes a spiritual force in the painting, overwhelming the viewer so that personal identity is subsumed within a larger divine power. This loss of the viewer’s identity within a higher power was a significant aspect of Church’s artwork immediately following the Civil War. Religious themes had always been a key component of his work, but after the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species in 1859, Church experienced a religious crisis, which he sought to mitigate by visiting Biblical sites in the Middle East. The paintings that came out of this trip, including El Khasne, engaged with theology in a different way than before. Church’s panoramic wilderness scenes paralleled the grand, imposing power of God, the viewer is supposed to draw peace and comfort from a God-imbued landscape. In El Khasne, the viewer is meant to feel blinded and isolated. The deep shadowed canyon before the city is lonely, even the small human figures on the left side of the canvas do nothing to alleviate the solitude of the viewer’s experience. Instead, the figures heighten the sense of isolation. The two men are located far back in the canvas, away from the implicit viewer, leaving the onlooker deserted. Like the decorative figures on Al-Khazneh, their features are indistinguishable. Blurred into darkness rather than light the painting’s observer cannot connect with these shadowed figures. By turning them away from the entrance to Petra, they appear unconcerned with the transcendent light behind them, leaving the viewer alone in their spiritual revelation.

Light in Church’s El Khasne, Petra acts as spiritual force, provoking a personal experience of the ancient rock city in Jordan. Contrasted with Church’s serene and sublime wilderness landscapes, light in this painting marks a departure from the transcendent nationalism in his early artwork. El Khasne is both transcendent and disquieting; the constricted space opening into dazzling sunlight paralleling the artist’s own experience of Petra. As a piece that parallels the artist’s own experience at Petra, El Khasne is a work that is both transcendent and disquieting with the constricted space opening into dazzling sunlight. º

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Jordan Tourism Board, “Petra,” Jordan Tourism Board, http://www.visitjordan.com/default.aspx?tabid=63. Frances K. Pohl, Framing America: A Social History of American Art (New York: Thames & Hudson Inc., 2002), 135. Berry-Hill Galleries, “Consultant and Author of the Frederic E. Church Catalogue Raisonne,” Berry-Hill, http:// www.berry-hill.com/about/GLcarr.html Gerald L. Carr, Frederic Edwin Church: Romantic Landscapes and Seascapes (New York: Adelson Galleries, 2007), 66. John Davis, The Landscape of Belief: Encountering the Holy Land in Nineteenth-Century American Art and Culture (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press: 1996), 172. Davis, The Landscape of Belief, 196. The painting’s title, El Khasne is actually a misspelling of the tomb-temple’s real name, Al-Khazneh. Church probably gave a phonetic spelling of the building. Frederic E. Church to E.D. Palmer, Jaffa—Palestine, 10 March 1868. Quoted in Kevin J. Avery, Treasures from Olana: Landscapes by Frederic Edwin Church (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press: 2005), 55.


Fingerings, Judith Anne Braun


CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS


On the Roof “Cloud City” Tomás Saraceno, Summer 2012 Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York Pictures courtesy of the MET exhibitionThis summer, as part of the MET’s annual roof-garden installation,

Argentine artist Tomás Saraceno created a massive maze of reflective and transparent modules. Viewers were able to enter Saraceno’s “Cloud City” to gain an entirely new perspective views of the iconic New York City skyline.

Contemporary Artist

Tomas Saraceno


Contemporary Artist

Amanda Means Amanda Means uses photography to capture her chaotic surrounding environment with images of nature and common household objects. Her exploration in photography focuses on the duality of natural and human built environments. These negative gelatin silver prints show extreme detail in their light & dark contrast of plants.

Flower (Number 86) Amanda Means, 1996 Gelatin Silver Print Above Across: Sensitive Form Amanda Means, 1990


Contemporary Artist

Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei is a contemporary Chinese artist who works in a variety of media, including sculpture, photography and architecture. He is celebrated worldwide for incorporating social and political criticism into his works and is a particularly outspoken dissident against governmental corruption in China. Unresponsive authorities have censored, surveilled, and imprisoned him for his opinions, but he remains a prominent activist in China. His artworks reflect a repeated focus on threatened freedom of expression and its universal impact upon the world. Ai often revitalizes the collective memory of past abhorrences to the Chinese people by its government through his art.

Clockwise from upper left Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, 1995 Light Installation in Tokyo, Japan Fountain of Light, 2007 20 Chairs from Qing dynasty Han Dynasty Urn with Coca-Cola Logo, 1994 | Paint and Han Dynasty urn, (206-220) Map of China, 2004 | Iron wood from dismantled Qing Dynasty temples (1644-1911)


Woman Framed by Sunburst Sculpture, 1930s


ART HISTORY SCHOLARSHIP


Homosexuality and the Harlem Renaissance A Radical Vision of the New Negro Through the Lens of Sexual Transgression The Harlem Renaissance is usually discussed in terms of its relationship to the AfricanAmerican community and black visual and literary expression; but there is another minority group that left a lasting impression upon the movement. A vibrant homosexual subculture existed in Harlem, and many of its members were also leading lights of the Harlem Renaissance; these included artists like Richmond Barthe and Aaron Douglas, and writers such as Alain Locke and (probably) Langston Hughes. The influence of homosexuality on the works produced during the Harlem Renaissance is wide and varied. The in-depth evaluations of the many pieces of artwork, literature, and even music that address homosexual themes reveal an important connection between the two. This gay subculture also served as an outlet for a younger generation of artists to oppose the proper, middle-class valFig. 1 Aaron Douglas, Cover of FIRE!!, 1926

ues of W.E.B. DuBois’ talented tenth and Alain Locke’s “New Negro” by focusing on sexual deviance, the lower classes, and other transgressions. In Harlem, this subculture, though not always implicitly approved of or accepted, thrived and involved numerous key figures of the Renaissance. Consequently, it is just as important to see the Harlem Renaissance as a flourishing of black gay culture as it is to see it as a flourishing of black culture. It is important to first establish that this homosexual subculture did not emerge out of a vacuum; Harlem’s development as a center for vibrant nightlife, sexual fluidity, and experimentation peaked during the Harlem Renaissance as “the efforts of antivice movements in white areas of New York led to the closure of numerous establishments that offered or tolerated sexual entertainment.”1 Harlem, then, became the place to which those of all races journeyed to either act as spectator or participant in a wide range of sexually “deviant” behavior. These included both heterosexual and homosexual spaces, as oftentimes both existed in the same place. In this way the presence of a homosexual subculture during the Harlem Renaissance is not analogous, to say, a modern gay community, as sexual identities were largely viewed with a degree of fluidity; as George Chauncey states, “the binary of homo-/ heterosexuality did not yet govern most people’s perception of sexual relationships during the 1920s.”2 Still many did outwardly identify as homosexual, including prominent artists and writers like Richard Bruce Nugent, Richmond Barthe, Carl Van Vechten, and the founder of the New Negro Movement himself, Alain Locke. These spaces for sexual experimentation and queer expression included “drag balls, ‘pansy parades,’ buffet flats, and rent parties,”3 and were a significant part of Harlem’s dynamic nightlife scene. Harlem was famous for its over-the-top drag balls, which Langston Hughes famously described as


make-up and women dressed in suits and top hats. Whether the majority of this audience was there to indulge in a “deviant” form of sexual expression or out of mere fascination is unclear, though their presence highlights the fact that this subculture held a certain kind of perverse allure to those who would normally have existed far outside its reach. Gay-oriented clubs and speakeasies were also popular, as they offered a safe space for public homosocial interaction. Probably the most famous was Harry Hansberry’s Clam House on 133rd Street; its main attraction was the performer Gladys Bentley, a “250-pound masculine, dark-skinned lesbian, who performed all night long in a white tuxedo and top hat.” 6 Bentley was renowned for her stage presence, deep singing voice, and ability to incorporate raunchy lyrics into her songs. These songs made use of “double entendres and often directly referred to sex, gay men, and lesbians.”7 Blair Niles, a white female author, published a famous gay novel in 1931 titled Strange Brother which includes a speakeasy called The Lobster Pot which is based on the Clam House; it even features a lesbian performer named Sybil whose characterization owes much to the persona of Bentley.8 Its prominent presence in literature and popular culture of the time confirms that it was not some hyper-marginalized space that existed completely outside of the mainstream; of course it did operate on the outer skirts of middleclass propriety, but it did still attract people of all walks of life, not just those “in the lifestyle.” This again stresses the fluidity and toleration of experimentation that can largely characterize the era.

Figs. 2. Aaron Douglas, Three Drawings from FIRE!!, 1926

“spectacles in color.”4 Highly-anticipated, these events could draw crowds of upwards of five thousand people and featured a beauty contest in which “the fashionably dressed drags would vie for the title of Queen of the Ball.”5 However these events were nearly just as much for the spectators as for those participating in this early form of queer performativity; many would come to these drag balls merely to gawk at the men dressed in elaborate gowns and

Private spaces of homosexual interaction and display like the rent parties and buffet flats offered a more explicit area for expression. Rent parties were extremely popular for all members of Harlem’s nightlife scene, and predominantly homosexual rent parties were far from scarce. Raucous and booze-filled, they featured heavily in literature of the time including Wallace Thurman’s 1932 novel Infants of the Spring, which includes a scene in which a bisexual Harlem artist shows off his latest male lover at a rent party.9 Heiress A’Lelia Walker, a local celebrity, was also known for throwing lavish parties that “had a distinctly gay ambiance,”10 while Alexan-


Figs. 3-4. Aaron Douglas, Three Drawings from FIRE!!, 1926 ; Fig. 5. Richard Bruce Nugent, Jesus and Judas, 1947

Alexander Gumby’s literary salon became a popular spot for homosocial interaction in which an evening could include “‘reefer,’ bathtub gin, a game of truth, and homosexual exploits.” 11 And these over-the-top affairs seem almost tame in comparison to some of the more debauched private parties, namely those termed “buffet flats;” wild parties where all forms of illegal activity took place, they gained a reputation for their offering of “a variety of sexual pleasures cafeteria- style.” Both private and public spaces for sexual deviance allowed for the emergence and expression of homosexuality, often directly alongside heterosexual illicitness. All of this contributes to the overall feel that Harlem, though it didn’t necessarily feature a gay community in the way modern society would conceptualize it, was a scene where anything goes; and clearly one of which was homosexuality. As has already been stressed, a large number of prominent members of the Harlem Renaissance were engaged in this homosexual subculture that emerged in the 1920s. Many of these, generally a younger generation of artists and writers, came to be known collectively as The Cabaret School; Langston Hughes, Wallace Thurman, Claude McKay and Carl Van Vechten were all considered to be

“members.” This group stood largely in direct contrast to the ideologies of the Fathers of the Harlem Renaissance, namely W.E.B. DuBois and Alain Locke; these proponents of the New Negro movement wanted the Harlem Renaissance to promote black morality and positive role models, to use art and literature as propaganda in the face of entrenched stereotypes held by white society. They therefore saw the Cabaret School, with “its tendency toward black sensuousness, exhibitionism, primitivism, and sensationalism, as a distraction, or worse, an impediment to their vision of the Renaissance.” 13 The works of this Cabaret School, and those more tangentially related to it, are the main focus of this essay for they operated within this newly emergent, though complex, realm in which homosexuality was an extremely important component. Of course, not all out-gay figures of Harlem were opposed to DuBois’ ideology of the talented tenth; Locke himself was a known homosexual, and the poet Countee Cullen also “had little difficulty adopting the privileges and double standards of middle- class gay male identities in the early twentieth century.” 14 Perhaps the group’s greatest collective achievement is the publication of FIRE!! in 1926, ironically just one year after Alain Locke published


Fig. 6. Nugent, John the Baptist, 1930 ; Fig. 7. Nugent, Cover of Opportunity, 1926 ; Fig. 8. Nugent, Narcissus

his seminal work The New Negro. A literary and art publication, it lasted for only a single issue, yet it is considered one of the most influential works of the Harlem Renaissance. Featuring writings by Langston Hughes, Richard Bruce Nugent, Zorea Neal Hurston and Wallace Thurman, and artwork by Aaron Douglas, the magazine served as a controversial and even radical proclamation against DuBois and Locke’s vision of black identity in the Harlem Renaissance. Many of its creators and contributors were either openly gay (as in the case of Richard Bruce Nugent) or a bit more ambiguous (Aaron Douglas, Langston Hughes, Wallace Thurman). Regardless, the issue had a very obvious dialogue with the world of homosexuality and sexual fluidity. Farah Jasmine Griffin writes that “the journal succeeded in shattering expectations of respectability.” 16 By explicitly dealing with topics like homosexuality, bisexuality, prostitution, and other vices and their relation to the African-American community, FIRE!! was flying in the face of DuBois’ talented tenth. Aaron Douglas contributed both the cover (see Fig. 1) and several drawings (see Figs. 2-4) that appear within the pages of FIRE!!. Best known for his semi-abstracted depictions of history of the African-American, such as Aspects of Negro Life:

From Slavery Through Reconstruction (1934) and Into Bondage (1936), his work produced as a younger artist for FIRE!! is markedly different. The cover, at first glance, is a strikingly graphic representation of a red sphinx with a chain attached to it against a black background. Upon further inspection it becomes clear that the black background in question is actually the profile of an African man, and the chain is in fact an earring. The sphinx, with it’s implicit ties to Egyptian/ African culture and an advanced civilization, is found inside the African man as is the title of the journal: FIRE!!. This was not the first nor the last time Douglas used distinctly African or Egyptian imagery in his artwork; in fact he, “often spoke of the significance of Egyptian forms to his own art.” 17 By choosing an easily recognizable symbol of Egyptian civilization, one known by both whites and blacks, and by physically positioning it within the same space as the African figure he is making the bold connection between the two; he, and FIRE!! by extension, is positing that the great classical civilization of Egypt was very much an African civilization. By doing so he situates FIRE!! in an over-centuries long debate about the relationship between Egypt and the African conti-


nent, and the civilization’s importance in determining African-American identity. Other artists of the era also sought inspiration from Egypt and the other great African civilization, Ethiopia, including Meta Warrick Fuller’s Ethiopia Awakening (1910), Lois Mailou Jones’ The Ascent of Ethiopia (1934), and the stage production of DuBois’ Star of Ethiopia (1913). This is to say that “by the time the Douglas image appears on the cover of FIRE!! Black intellectuals had devoted a century of energy, time, and ink to arguing that Egypt was an African, Black African civilization.” 18 The journal, then, however incendiary and revolutionary its content might have been, is still very much in dialogue with many of the standard themes of the Harlem Renaissance. Douglas’ other contribution to FIRE!! comes in the form of three simple line drawings, each depicting a different African-American type. The first is of a preacher, the second an artist, and the third and final a waitress. These are particularly different from the work that most would associated with Douglas’ career; they are essentially caricatures, drawn with fluid lines and an eye for both verisimilitude and the Fig 9. Nugent, Mr. Brooklyn

grotesque. Aside from their stylistic differences with Douglas’ more abstracted murals (for which he was most famous), his selection of subject matter here is important. Focusing on everyday, ordinary AfricanAmericans, as opposed to the physicians, intellectuals, and businessmen of the talented tenth, is itself a highly-charged political statement for the time period. In Douglas’ rendering they are messy and even ugly, proof of the lack of fear this younger generation of the Harlem Renaissance had in delving into the lives of the emergent black working class and criminal and sexual underworld, a subject the old guard considered off-limits and potentially detrimental to the progress of the New Negro. If the publication of FIRE!! shocked mainstream leaders of the Harlem Renaissance and sparked a new wave of younger visionaries, the works created independently by some of its contributors, particularly Richard Bruce Nugent, embraced homoerotic themes in ways that provoked and disturbed to an even greater degree. Both a writer and an artist, Nugent was openly gay, and his sexuality was one of the foremost influences on his work. For example, in his series of Bible stories, he conflates homosexuality with a wide array of Christian stories and characters and the accompanying drawings, including an extremely homoerotic depiction of Jesus and Judas as potential lovers (see Fig. 5) His pieces were designed to confront and “directly challenge both homophobia and shallow piety.” 20 This content would be extremely controversial today, let alone back in the twenties. His Salome series (see Fig. 6) also drew connections between transgressive sexuality and biblical themes, and his figures “present sexuality as performance, as artifice - as drag.” 21 Nugent’s homosexuality was also apparent in his contributions to more mainstream Harlem publications, including his March 1926 cover for the journal Opportunity (see Fig. 7). The palm tree on the left is actually a large phallus, a tongue-in-cheek joke played on the New Negro readers that Opportunity generally reached, and the young man bears more than a passing resemblance to the drag queens, who were beginning to gain popularity22. One of Nugent’s favorite subjects to depict was that


on the sensuality and body of the figure itself rather than the mythological story of Narcissus. Another undated work, titled Mr. Brooklyn (see Fig. 9), operates as an abstracted celebration and glorification of the black male with limbs, body parts, and faces morphing and changing into one another in an orgy of skin.

Fig 10. Richmond Barthe, Feral Benga, 1935

of dance, which he used to “express primitive vitality and freedom from sexual inhibition” 23 the breaking away from Victorian black middle-class ideals of propriety and rigidity. His dancers were almost always nude or barely-clothed, and their elegant motion and contorted bodies imply a level sensuousness and provocation that DuBois would have likely found distasteful. His drawing of Narcissus (see Fig. 8), a mythological subject prominent in classical art and literature, is a further example of the influence of homosexuality on his work; the figure stands with his back to the viewer fully nude, with the emphasis

If Nugent “skillfully attacked prevailing sexual, religious, and racial norms simply by celebrating the joyous potential of transgressive sexuality,” 24 his contemporary (and supposed one-time lover) Richmond Barthe was far less confrontational. Barthe was extremely well-known for his bronze sculptures of the nude male form, and his subjects ranged from dancers or athletes, to mythological figures or ordinary workers. Regardless of the subject, though, each of Barthe’s sculptures, with their emphasis on the male form, musculature, and sensuality, can be read through a homoerotic and homosexual lens. In works like The Feral Benga (1935) (see Fig. 10) he deconstructs the notion of the sexually aggressive black male, transforming the figure from a warrior brandishing a long sword into an elegant, sensual dancer whose implied movements read not as violent and war-like but as soft and even slightly feminine. Similarly his sculpture Boy With Flute (1940) (see Fig. 11) unashamedly depicts the nude male form with an eye to body composition and musculature, this time portraying a subject holding a clearly phallic object. Stevedore (1937) (see Fig. 12), though not a fully nude composition, continues Barthe’s fascination with the male form this time adapted to portray a lower-class dock worker. By choosing depict an “ordinary” subject, Barthe also situates himself comfortably within the narrative of the Cabaret School and it’s members who decided to focus on the lives of everyday African-Americans, both good and bad. Though Barthe’s work is more subtly homoerotic than Nugent’s, the fact that he received a notable amount of press and acclaim despite being an openly gay artist is particularly noteworthy, again highlighting the degree of acceptance and even fascination with art and literature that existed outside the realm of normative sexual mores. Carl Van Vechten, perhaps the most publicly


is that of Bessie Smith, the famed bisexual blues singer who frequently sang songs that touched on the homosexual undercurrent of the world of Harlem: “There’s two things that got me puzzled, there’s two things I don’t understand... that’s a mannish-acting woman and a lisping, swishing womanish-acting man’” she sings in ���Foolish Man Blues.” 25 He also photographed Richard Bruce Nugent in 1936 (see Fig. 13). This portrait illustrates the dynamic between the many gay artists and authors of the Harlem Renaissance; they largely all traveled in the same circles, went to the same parties, and knew the same people. As a result sexual liaisons between them were frequent. The bust next to Nugent is also significant, for it is of Antinous, a suspected lover of the Roman emperor Hadrian. References to the subject and artist’s own sexuality are explicitly stated in this photograph, without shame, context, or fear. Furthermore Van Vechten is composing a meta-commentary on his own relationship to Nugent; by propositioning Nugent, Van Vechten places himself in the role of the older, more experienced Hadrian to Nugent’s youthful and vivacious Antinous.

Fig. 11. Richmond Barthe, Boy With Flute, 1940

gay figure of the Harlem Renaissance, provides another interesting example of the role that homosexuals and homosexuality played in the movement. Though white, and as such often viewed with suspicion by many black artists and social leaders of Harlem, Van Vechten played an extremely important role in the promotion and exportation of black art and artists from Harlem to white society. Noted as both a writer and an artist, it is his photographs of Harlem celebrities that are of particular interest. Many of his subjects were gay and lesbian men and women, and many others were heterosexuals who operated within the same social sphere marked by sexual transgression and indulgence. Perhaps one of Van Vechten’s most famous portraits

If the Harlem Renaissance did not have an explicit gay community in the modern sense, it’s seemingly ‘anything goes’ approach to sexuality provided an atmosphere in which a homosexual world could emerge and bloom. Public spaces like cabarets and speakeasies allowed for both hetero- and homosexual experimentation, and more private affairs like rent parties and buffet flats were important in the development of homosocial networks. Homosexuality, then, though not necessarily encouraged by the majority of Harlem society, was at least an obvious and well-known part of life. Its influence is evident in the songs, art, and literature of the time, as many leading figures of the Harlem Renaissance employed their homosexuality in their works. These artists forged a new black identity, largely separate from and contradictory to DuBois’ idealized vision of black progress; they were not afraid to show the ugly humanity of black life. These artistic individuals strived to depict a more fully realized version of Harlem society, and homosexuality and sexual transgression was oftentimes the main tool used to achieve this end. º


Fig. 12. Richmond Barthe, Stevedore, 1937

Fig. 13. Carl Van Vechten, Richard Bruce Nugent, 1936

Endnotes 1—2; 7. A.B. Christa Schwarz. 9, 3, 11. 3; 13—14. Shane Vogel. 3, 19. 4 - 6; 8 –11; 25. Eric Garber. 12.—taken out for published essay. 15—18. Farah Jasmine Griffin. 46, 50, 52. 19—taken out for published essay. 20—24; 26 Thomas H. Wirth. 45, 59-60, 60, 57, 59, 226. Bibliography

Garber, Eric. “A Spectacle in Color: The Lesbian and Gay Subculture of Jazz Age Harlem.” Hidden from History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past, vol. 1. eds. Martin Bauml Duberman, Martha Vicinus and George Chauncey Jr. New York: NAL Books, 1989. accessed May 1 2012 http:// xroads.virginia.edu/~ug97/blues/garber.html.

Griffin, Farah Jasmine. “On Time, In Time, Through Time: Aaron Douglas, Fire!! and the Writers of the Harlem Renaissance.” American Studies 49 (2008): 45-53, accessed May 2 2012 https://journals.ku.edu/index.php/amerstud/article/viewFile/3942/3756.

  

Schwarz, A.B. Christa. Gay Voices of the Harlem Renaissance. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2003. Vogel, Shane. The Scene of Harlem Cabaret: Race, Sexuality, Performance. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009. Wirth, Thomas H., ed. Gay Rebel of the Harlem Renaissance: Selections from the Work of Richard Bruce Nugent. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002.


The Body & Power of Christ: Shifting Perspectives and Ideas in Rembrandt's Lazarus Matthew Chiarello

Introductory Remarks Summoned by the commanding call of Christ, the reanimated figure of Lazarus arises from his reopened tomb and rejoins the realm of the living. This miraculous scene of dominion over death – originally articulated in the Gospel of John as the crowning sign of Christ’s spiritual mission – manifests itself in the early works of Rembrandt van Rijn1. Not only was the miracle featured as the subject of a 1630 painting entitled The Raising of Lazarus, but it also appears in several etchings dated from relatively early in the artist’s career. Of the former, the artist appears to highlight the figure of Christ and the dynamic force of his presence. Of the latter, however, particularly in an etched image created in 1632, Rembrandt appears to shift the focus of the narrative away from the gravitas of Christ and towards the power of the miracle itself.

The Figure of Christ As the purple sleeve of Christ’s cloak falls back from his upraised palm and the ghostly figure of a once-dead man lurches upward from the tomb, the viewer of Rembrandt’s 1630 Lazarus is confronted by an imposing scene of spiritual might (Figure A). Within the bounds of the vertically oriented rectangular canvas, the artist presents the dominating figure of Christ placed slightly left of center with the depictions of Lazarus’ sisters, Martha and Mary, crowded to his right. These two relatives, along with several other slightly obscured figures, appear to be caught in a moment of awe and visible disbelief as they witness the lifting of Lazarus from his tomb. As for the saved man himself, Lazarus drifts upward from the perpendicular, arching away from his four day repose in death at the bottom right of the image. The remainder of the painting is

doused primarily in darkness, evoking the depths of a final reobeys the call of Christ, so too is the painting’s audience commanded by the hand of the artist to consider the overwhelming power of the piece’s central figure. This forceful presentation of Christ, which stands as an integral aspect of this particular work, is achieved both through compositional arrangement and by means of rendering a scene of fluid action. In terms of the former element, Rembrandt shows Christ commanding a position of authority. As abovementioned, he stands in a domineering pose, eyes steadfast, hand aloft, and mouth agape. His raised right arm and outward facing palm cast in glancing light and situated at the highest point of the work draw the viewer’s gaze immediately to Christ and to the power he wielded. This sense of spiritual might is compounded by the sheer size of the figure, which dominates the center-left of the canvas. Christ’s relative size persists despite the fact that he hovers in the middle ground of the image and is situated behind the figures of Martha, Mary, Lazarus, and two hunched male acolytes. In addition to the Figure A: The Raising of Lazarus Rembrandt van Rijn1630


emphasis placed on figural arrangements, Rembrandt creates a space, which allows for the presentation of the biblical narrative in a highly dynamic fashion. Having recently departed from the tutelage of Peter Lastman in 1625, Rembrandt employs a style that could be typified as his “early period,” from roughly 1620 into the 1630s2. The sweeping gesture of Christ, the momentum of Mary as she leans forward, and the drifting upward of Lazarus all speak to aspects of narrative motion characteristic of Rembrandt’s early work3. This dynamism is significant in this particular painting as it appears to be instigated by Christ’s actions. That is to say that had Christ not commanded Lazarus in this instant, the image would be static; all of the motion hinges on the words of Jesus. Thus, through his composition and his narrative dynamics, Rembrandt presents his audience with a potent rendering of both the gravity of Jesus’ presence as well as the power intrinsic to Christ’s figure.

The Power of Christ Two years after completing the above discussed painting, Rembrandt revisits the New Testament healing scene by way of a moderately sized (36.8 x 25.5 cm) etching (Figure B). Here again, the looming figure of Jesus is placed to the left of center, with a crowd of rapt followers and the swooning siblings of Lazarus surrounding the open stone sarcophagus. Yet, with his back now turned towards the viewer’s gaze and with his eyes presumably locked onto the body of Lazarus, this etched Christ occupies a wholly different space in this rendering than he does in the 1630 image. Here, the viewer’s position as originally established in the earlier version – facing Christ and Lazarus – has been supplanted by a group of surprised onlookers. And while these spectators are granted a frontal view of the scene, the viewer of the 1632 etching is relegated to a position nearly behind Christ. This arrangement not only departs from the pictorial tradition as captured in a contemporaneous painting of the subject by Jan Lievens, but also prefigures a unique distortion of perspective employed in such works as Antonio Ciseri’s Ecce Homo (Figures C & E)4. Within this rotated view, rather than lock eyes

Figure B: The Raising of Lazarus, Rembrandt van Rijn1632

with the imposing central figure in the original work, the viewer is forced to follow Christ’s obscured and diverted gaze away from his body and towards the realization of his miracle. In fact, of the twelve discernible figures in the image (including Jesus but discounting Lazarus) eleven of them appear to be marveling at the reanimated corpse and not at the agent responsible. This collective stare, then, actively redirects the gaze of the viewer away from Christ and towards the miraculous anchor of the image embodied in the form of Lazarus. Such a transition away from the figure of Jesus and towards the miracle itself is equally evinced by the light and shadow that Rembrandt employs in this etching. While the light in the 1630 work trickles into the tomb from behind the figures at the viewer’s left and barely glints off portions of Christ and Lazarus, in the etching it emanates brightly from the center. This light source appears to be


situated in the space between Christ and Lazarus, bathing the resurrected man, his savior, and Christ’s followers in a radiant glow and conversely throwing the surrounding area behind these figures into inky crosshatched darkness. This bright patch is perhaps the clearest indication of Rembrandt’s intended subject matter. Rather than highlight Christ – as it does in the 1630 work – the light here places emphasis on the miracle, perhaps even being created as a byproduct of the act itself. This illumination coupled with the altered arrangement and perspective – speaks to a shift in overall content from Christ to his ministry. Concluding Remarks Although the works above discussed are united under the same narrative mantel, they diverge heavily in terms of meaning and conveyance of message. While the 1630 painting focuses on the power of Christ, the 1632 image emphasizes the nature of the miracle itself. While this shift might appear slight, its ramifications are of significance, especially in light of Rembrandt’s later work on the subject in 1642 (Figure E). In this work, completed nearly a decade after the first etching, Rembrandt combines the methods examined above in that he provides the viewer with a visible Christ, ancillary figures beholding the miracle, and a light source similar to that found in the 1632 etching. This synthesis speaks to an evolution of both style and motivation during the early portion of Rembrandt’s career and can be seen in large part in the works above.

Figure E Rembrandt Harmensz. Van Rijn, The Raising of Lazarus: Small Plate, c. 1642. Engraving and etching on paper; plate 5 7/8 x 4 1/2 inches; sheet 14 5/8 x 10 1/6 inches. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. (Cat. 23A)

Endnotes 1

John. Bible Gateway. Web. <http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+11:1&version=NIV>.

2

Straten, Roelof Van., Harmenszoon Van Rijn Rembrandt, Jan Lievens, and Ingrid W. L. Moerman. Young Rembrandt: the Leiden Years, 1606-1632. Leiden, Netherlands: Foleor, 2005. Print. 3

Westermann, Mariët, and Harmenszoon Van Rijn Rembrandt. Rembrandt. London: Phaidon, 2000. Print.

4

The latter, despite the fact that it was composed nearly 200 years after Rembrandt’s death, could certainly claim this Lazarus of 1632 as among its direct antecedents. 5

Silver, Larry & Perlove, Shelley. "Rembrandt's Jesus." Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus. 74-107. Print.


Figure C (top): Antonio Ciseriâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Ecce Homo, 1642 Oil on Cavas

Figure D (bottom): Jan Lievens, The Raising of Lazarus, 1631. Oil on Canvas; Brighton Museum and Art Gallery


Bosch’s Ambiguous Traveler: A Springboard for Personal Interpretation and Contemplation by Lucy Macon The potential for symbolic depth and intellectual value in a seemingly simple medieval peddler figure wandering through the Dutch countryside expands far-beyond what viewers may initially think. Bosch’s peddler is a true man of mystery, one who serves as a metaphor for the entire spectrum of morality - ranging from the Prodigal Son to the lowliest of sinners and everything in between. However, Bosch does not necessarily include the peddler in his artwork simply as a symbolic or metaphorical figure. In conjunction with his meticulously detailed surrounding landscapes, the peddler is a motif that takes on a whole new level of significance when it is taken as a springboard for discussion, contemplation, and meditation of the struggles that lie at the core of our human existence. Ambiguity aside, the two most frequently compared and important depictions of traveling peddlers by Bosch are found in the Rotterdam tondo and exterior wings of The Haywain. These two best-known and most frequently studied surviving depictions of the traveling peddler attributed to Bosch serve as a window into the 16th century intellectual response to the ongoing conditions of uncertainty, chaos, and temptations. While Bosch’s exact intent in creating each of his peddler panels will never be known, theories abound. The peddler figures represented in Bosch’s Rotterdam tondo and Haywain Tryptch are figures that have long been topics of discussion by their viewers, resulting in centuries of intellectual discourse linking elements of the peddler to topics of 16th century political development and social situations. Such discussions have extended as far as deep contemplations involving not only the world in which we live, but also heaven and hell and of our roles and duties as co-inhabitants not only to each other but also to a greater being/God. Through the slightest details Bosch manages to convey sugges-

tions of how we ought to live our lives and navigate the unavoidable obstacles every man is confronted with. The Rotterdam tondo peddler is thought to have originally been the exterior portion of an altarpiece that opened by separating the image of the traveling peddler down the middle. Inside were other famous pieces such as Bosch’s Ship of Fools/ Allegory of Intemperance (right interior panel), Death of the Miser (left interior panel), as well as another lost work (Dickson 74). The second peddler depiction mentioned was originally found on the exterior of Bosch’s Haywain triptych and is, at first glance, seemingly similar to the Rotterdam tondo but upon closer examination, exhibits distinct differences that make the two peddler representations interesting contrasts. The number of interpretations, theories, and metaphors surrounding these two peddler images are varied and numerous. But after exploring a wide array of legitimate possibilities explaining Bosch’s intent, I’ve come to the conclusion that despite the overwhelming similarities between the two images, the different landscapes, slightly altered postures and facial expressions, as well as other detail-oriented differences point to the Rotterdam landloper and the Haywain wayfarer as opposites; the former represents the weak sinner on the verge of corruption, unable to resist worldly temptation and the latter represents the man who has remained strong and will consequently be saved. The characterization of Bosch’s Rotterdam tondo peddler as a sinner heading down a path in life that leads to a dead end is, in my opinion, Bosch’s most likely intended interpretation. It makes sense to have a character with whom the audience of the time could identify as a subtle, more tangible warning before introducing the more ridiculous and exaggerexaggerated interior images of the altarpiece which reflect life governed purely by in-


dulgence and acceptance of vices such as folly and gluttony. The peddler on the outside is one who has clearly strayed and is at a pivotal turning point in his life journey where he can chose to resist the evils of the world or continue living a life of sin and excess. When the previously adjoined illustrations are revealed, Bosch suggests the landloper has made the easier choice and thus fallen victim to the evils of the world depicted in the interior works. Art historians who favor this interpretation include Ludwig von Baldass who in 1943 suggested that at the time Bosch depicts the traveler he has yet to give in and is instead in the process of deciding whether or not to resist the evils by which he is surrounded. Baldass argues that the peddler is not an interpretation of a reformed prodigal son back on the path of the righteous after coming from the brothel because the dog is barking at him and thus unfamiliar with our traveler. The pigs, which are interpreted by supporters of the prodigal son analysis as those to which the prodigal son from the bible tended, Baldass proposes to instead be connected to “the moral turpitude and depravity of the brothel” (de Bruyn 133). Building on the growing amount of evidence that the peddler in the Rotterdam tondo is someone who is distracted by and about to give into temptations rather than someone who has already given in, is Dirk Bax’s analysis of the woman in the window. Judging by her curious facial expression, she is looking at the peddler as more of an anonymous passer-by rather than a familiar departing client (de Bruyn 133). More specific details foreshadowing the choice that the landloper is about to make include the owl perched in the branches above him which is interpreted as “a symbol of evil and serves to reinforce other negative elements of the scene” (Dickson 95). Another detail pointed out by Andrew Pigler is the large size of the peddler’s burden, which is “inconsistent with a down-and-out son returning to his father’s house” (de Bruyn 133). Ultimately, what I consider to be the most problematic obstacle in the interpretation of the Rotterdam tondo landloper as a prodigal son is the closed gate, which blatantly suggests that the door to salvation will not open easily (or at all) for our traveler. In addition to the argument that the Rotterdam tondo figure represents a fallen man on a

path without hope, there are also foundationally sounds theories supporting the opposite conclusion, that this peddler is actually a Prodigal Son. The first person to attribute the Rotterdam tondo to Bosch, Gustav Glück, “took the principle character to be the prodigal son at the moment of repentance” (de Bruyn 133). The criteria upon which Glück arrives at this conclusion are his interpretation of the dilapidated building and the pigs. He views the former as a disreputable tavern representative of the indulgent life led by the prodigal son and the latter as the pigs to whom he had tended before returning home and repenting. The cow on the right behind the closed gate is, according to Glück, the fatted calf that would be killed upon the return of the prodigal son. To this prodigal son interpretation of the Rotterdam tondo, art historians Charles de Tolnay and Marcel Brion have added the idea that the peddler’s hair is grey as a result of the hardship he has faced and the excessive nature of his lifestyle (de Bruyn 133). The grey hair is a perfect example of one of the elements that contributes to the ambiguity of the Rotterdam tondo. Different accredited art historians have used

The Peddler, or The Prodigal Son By: Hieronymous Bosch 1495, 71 x 70.6cm, Museum Boymans-Beuningen, Rotterdam (rectangular panel cut into tondo). Dendrochronlogical Date: 1486 same tree


the peddler’s hair for the argument supporting and opposing his characterization as a prodigal son figure. Ludwig von Baldass, previously mentioned as one of the art historians arguing that against the prodigal son interpretation of the Rotterdam tondo, uses the grey hair as a point in his argument as well claiming that a prodigal son would not be old enough to have grey hair. One of the most discussed details of the Rotterdam tondo especially when compared to the exterior of the Haywain is the relationship between the peddler and the dog. The dogs in both paintings wear spiked collars, which establish a link between them and the devil. Based on Netherland-ish historical context, we can conclude that the spiked collars were depicted to “indicate that these were dangerous vicious dogs” which would explain their aggressive behavior (de Bruyn 137). Some art historians have even gone as far as to call the dog in both paintings an allegorical representation of the devil. The dog’s fur is of a reddish color, which had extremely negative social connotations during the middle ages and was associated with the devil.

four bodily humors. Art historians Lotte Brand Philip and Andrew Pigler are among those who have suggested the presence of details referring to humoral and astrological elements. Astrologically, the overwhelming majority of evidence relates the two peddlers to Saturn. At the time, Saturn was thought to be the furthest planet from the Earth and the slowest of all in its journey around Earth. It was also linked to the melancholic temperament and the bodily humor of black bile (excrement). Historically, in works that Bosch would have been exposed to by this point, such as the popular Children of the Planet Series, a Florentine engraving dating to around 1460, Saturn’s offspring are depicted as decrepit, antisocial, workers of the Earth including as farmers, gravediggers, and hermits (Dickson 96). The color scheme, especially of the Rotterdam tondo, can be connected to Saturn because of its “particularly earthen” composure of “delicate tones of brown, ochre, and grey” with even the sky a neutral buff shade (Dickson 96). The use of the Saturn/black bile imagery fits well with the idea that Bosch is painting a material world leading only to Earthly death. The

Another interesting topic to explore when considering the meaning of these two traveling peddlers is the reoccurrence of elements related to the astronomical image of Saturn. As a man interested in alchemy and other prevalent sciences of the time, Bosch would have been familiar with popular theories, including those relating to the planets and the Children of Saturn, Florentine, 15th century engraving

Insets: Rotterdam Tondo, Hieronymous Bosch, 14871516, oil on panel


Saturn related imagery especially supports the conclusion that I find most likely: the Rotterdam tondo peddler is one who is leaning towards/has already made the choice to give in to temptations. He is crippled like the children of Saturn and thus has chosen to follow a similar path. The display/illustration of voluntary poverty is also a possible interpretation, especially in the case of the Haywain wayfarer, that I find highly likely based on the history of Hertogenbosch, the town from which Bosch came. Voluntary poverty is exactly what the name implies- the purposeful practice of self-denial and discipline in an attempt to emulate Christ. Those who willingly subject themselves to voluntary poverty in an attempt to renounce the material goods with which the world tempts us are often referred to as the faithful good. The concept of voluntary poverty is founded on the premise that “the contemplative life of the saints and the meditation on Christ’s sacrifice are the sole means of escaping the evil that pervades every aspect of life” (ArtBook, Bosch 126). This literal interpretation of the bible was practiced by the Franciscan order of monks, who had a large presence in Hertogenbosch. The Franciscans “encouraged a simple life of poverty and detachment from the material world- purposefully poor, they took literally their founders belief that the things of the world belong to no one and are simply on loan from the Almighty” (Dickson 100). Evidence that the peddler on the exterior Haywain wings is one of the faithful good (sometimes referred to as fideles boni) is that all though this landloper is clearly poor, he doesn’t display the negative, stigmatizing characteristics associated with poverty that the Rotterdam Tondo wayfarer exhibits (Dickson 99). There were two types of poverty recognized by Christians in the pre-industrial era: the man who is poor because of low social position and bad luck and the man who is poor because he has chosen the path of Christ. This suggests The that the Haywain wayfarer can be included in the second group while the Rotterdam tondo landloper is part of the first. The arguments for and against the Rotterdam tondo peddler as a prodigal son each have logical, legitimate points. The question of whether the

Rotterdam tondo figure is the prodigal son or not has created a definitive divide amongst art historians. Most use the Haywain wayfarer as a comparison because of the obvious similarities between the two. Both figures are impoverished, lone travelers glancing behind at a dog with a spiked collar. The differences are in each man’s facial expression and his posture, the dog’s behavior, and the surrounding landscape. The Rotterdam tondo landloper possesses an expression of reluctance and uncertainty, hinting that he is on the verge of giving into temptation. However the Haywain wayfarer’s expression is one of fear and trepidation as he tries to maintain his determined and strong will. In comparing the two wayfarers those art historians who support the Rotterdam Tondo as a representation of the prodigal son take a different side when interpreting the closed wings of the Haywain. Increasingly however the general consensus is that Bosch would not have painted two themes as similar as the Haywain exterior and the Rotterdam landloper while having one represent the prodigal son and the other not. This line of reasoning led to a reevaluation and more general reclassification of the peddler not as the prodigal son, but instead as an “allegorical reference to man on his journey through life” for which the term homo viator (Latin for travelling man) has been coined (de Bruyn134). The idea of the homo viator leaves more room for individual interpretation of the man-inquestion’s fate. Some believe him to be a helplessly sinful figure surrounded by a world filled with vice, while others see him as a righteous pilgrim resisting the evil that surrounds him. Whatever he is, there is most definitely “an indissoluble alliance of figure and landscape: nature reflects the lonely wander’s nostalgia, which, in turn, is a reflection of the melancholy lot of all mankind” (Delevoy 39). The isolation of the traveler and the landscape ties back to the idea of the homo viator as a man who is “exiled within himself” (Delevoy 39) while on “a pilgrimage through sin” (ArtBook, Bosch 126). The key emphasis of his situation is the choice that he faces and the fact that he indeed possesses the option to determine the rest of his journey. I prefer to take elements of each of these


interpretations and combine them to form my own patchwork meaning of Bosch’s peddler. Personally, I am in favor of the theory that Bosch has repeated the same image twice, making small changes in detail, with the intention of having them represent two opposite ways of living. I believe he is using the journeying peddler motif to illustrate the quintessential struggle man faces in his journey through life against the temptations of the material world to which so many fall victim, as illustrated by the works that were intended to accompany both wayfarer pieces. The Haywain peddler and the Rotterdam peddler were created to serve as openings/introductory pieces to other illustrations. In each instance the interior/ associated paintings depict (though in different forms/contexts) the fall of the masses and the results of living an impure, unrestrained life. It makes sense to me that as an artist Bosch would precede each of these scenes of worldly chaos with a reinforcement of the fact that the folly, gluttony, and chaos shown inside is the result of an individual choice that each man makes on his own at one point on his journey through life. These opening images depict the peddler at a time where he has paused to

think about how to proceed in relation to his surroundings. In a sense Bosch uses this scene to communicate the message that “when the wings are shut on this world of selfish greed and perversity, there appears the figure of a man who has managed to escape from it” (Delevoy 38). As we go through our lives we are provided with the opportunity to follow Christ’s example and that is up to us whether we take the difficult, lonely road that leads to salvation or settle for what’s easiest. The complexity of the peddler’s role in Bosch’s artwork leads scholars to view him as an eternally ambiguous figure that has carefully guarded his identity, meaning, and purpose. Bosch’s peddler is a playful figure that denies the world’s best scholars and specialists the satisfaction of claiming a definite and specific interpretation. He is elusive of a singular definitive reading and considered ambiguous by many accredited art historians. His refusal to reveal his purpose and thus be pigeonholed into a certain interpretation forces the viewer to engage in personal meditation and intellectual discussion in order to form a well-rounded understanding of Bosch’s message.

Haywain Triptych, Hieronymous Bosch,1510, oil on canvas


ART & ART HISTORY DEPARTMENT


New Professor

Alan Braddock Ph.D., Art History, University of Delaware, 2002 M.L.S., Library Science, University of Maryland, College Park, 1995 M.A., History of Art, Johns Hopkins University, 1988 B.A., Grinnell College, Art and Art History, 1984

The Department of Art & Art History at W&M is great. Superb students, wonderful faculty colleagues, and a real sense of community. Published books: Thomas Eakins and the Cultures of Modernity One meaning [of “light”] concerns the idea of “enlightenment” (with and without a capital “E”), A Keener Perception: Ecocritical Studies in American involving a belief in the power of observation to Art History, co-edited with Christoph Irmscher reveal truths about the world we inhabit… For various reasons… postmodernism taught us to be skeptical about “enlightenment” and “truth” as universalizing ideals, but lately a number of people in my field have become intrigued by the power of observation to inform us about things in our world. Those things will always be somewhat elusive—their “truth” always receding somewhat from the light into darkness—but we have a responsibility, I think, to see and imagine them as best we can. Art still has an important role to play in that.


Cristina Stancioiu

PhD, Art History, University of California, Los Angeles, 2009 MA, Art History, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX, 2003

The Art History Department provides a wonderful, collegial, and dynamic milieu in which to teach and carry out research. I am constantly inspired by my colleagues’ research agendas, and the Department’s engagement with students’ interests and learning… I hope to inspire my students to travel and explore our world, to reassess familiar cultures, and to learn about those that seem distant and foreign. I feel that I can do that here.

MA, Medieval Studies, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary, 1999 BA, History and Theory of Art, University of the Arts, Bucharest, Romania, 1998

New Professor

Selected Publications: “On the Painted Ancestry of Domenikos Theotokopoulos’ Sacred Landscape of Mount Sinai and the Monastery of St. Catherine” “I ever loved thee, lady mine and yet my love increases: Rhodian Portrait Ceramics and Cultural Dialogue in the Mediterranean” “Not in the excellent ancient Greek style: Beauty and Aesthetics in Late Byzantium”

Light is intrinsic to Medieval art and architecture. In Byzantium, light was carefully considered and integrated in the very structure of buildings, but also in their decoration, through the selection of mosaic as a preferred medium… In the Medieval West, the Gothic cathedral was built around light… Symbolic of divine light, natural light is filtered through monumental stained glass windows, creating a colorful jewel-like effect inside the church, an image Medieval people associated with the beauty and brightness of Heavenly Jerusalem.


[I am interested in] the way that art history begins to inform design.

College of William & Mary Art & Art History Graduation: May 2013

Pratt Institute, School of Architecture Architecture Design Rome Semester, 2012

Columbia University, GSAPP Introduction to Architecture, 2011

When an architect designs a structure or space, one of the most critical elements is the way that it engages with its existing context, and in a context, one of the most important elements is that natural light is operating within the space… The first thing that we do in architectural design...101 with Ed [Pease] is a project about shadows… you have to design… something that in some way is playing with light and shadow… your architecture has to be relevant and operating within its existing conditions.

Jarrett Ley


Art & Art History Major Art History Concentration 39 credits in Art and Art History (maximum of 48 credits) ART 211, 212 and ARTH 251, 252 Three credits in each of the following five fields: 1. Medieval (351, 352, 353) 2. Renaissance and Baroque (360, 362, 363, 364, 365, 366) 3. Modern (370, 371, 372, 375) 4. American (381, 383) 5. Non-Western (393, 394, 395) Methods in Art History (ARTH 480) & another 400-level Major Computing Proficiency & Major Writing Requirement

Art Concentration 39 credits in Art and Art History (maximum of 48 credits) ART 211, 212, 460, and ARTH 251, 252 Two-Dimensional Art: 20 credits including ART 309, ART 311 or ART 317, and ART 315 or ART 316 Three-Dimensional Art: 20 Art credits, 3-credits of either ART 319 or 320, and 3credits in drawing: ART 309, 310, 311 or 317 Printmaking: 20 credits including ART 323 and ART 324 Six upper level (400) Art History course credits Senior Major reviews & ART 460 both semesters of senior year Major Computing Proficiency & Major Writing Requirement

Art or Art History Minor Art Minor: ART 211, 212 Five 300 or 400 level courses in Art. Art History Minor: ARTH 251, 252 Five 300 or 400 level courses in Art History Art & Art History Minor: ART 211, 212, ARTH 251, 252 Three 300 or 400 level courses in any combination of Art

& Art History


Photo by: Life Magazine

Just for FUN


Botched restoration of the ‘ecco homo’ fresco. From left, the original version by Elías García Martínez, a 19th-century painter; a deteriorated version of the fresco; the restored version by 81 -year-old Cecilia Giménez.


Thomas Pavitte created the most complex connect the dots puzzle in history; it took him nine hours to complete the puzzle featuring 6,293 dots, to reveal the Mona Lisa.


Photo by: Skye Keene-Babcook


Acropolis, Light, Fall 2012