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H ILAR IOUS ART HISTORY IS ACTUALLY HILARIOUS

A seriously satirical guide BROUGHT TO YOU BY LAURA JAVIER


ART HISTORY IS ACTUALLY HILARIOUS


ART HISTORY IS


ACTUALLY HILARI

From one art history student to another, with love: a guide that is completely unabridged, semi-critically acclaimed, and perhaps a teensy weensy, little, tiny, itty

Published by Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts Campus Box 1213 One Brookings Drive St. Louis, MO 63130 Š2011 LAURA JAVIER!!1!!111!!!!!!1! All rights reserved Printed in the USA 1055 MLV No part of this book may be used or

bit reproduced or even giggled about in the

privacy of one’s own home without written permission from the publisher, except in the context of a glowing review.

facetious. Every reasonable attempt has been made to identify owners of copyright. Errors or omissions will probably be ignored. ISBN: 4-8-1516-2342 LCCN: 133713371337


BUT SERIOUSLY, ART HISTORY IS ACTUALLY HILARIOUS

“No it ISN’T.” THE NATIONAL SOCIETY OF SERIOUS PEOPLE

A BOOK ABOUT ART

25,000 BCE — PRESENT


FOREWORD oxford university

W

department of art history

hen I was approached to write the foreword to Art History Is Actually Hilarious, I was taken aback. Art history is a very serious field that chronicles the development of objects through time produced by the creative human self. Art history is not a subject to be demeaned or ridiculed! It is a noble study devoted to exploring the connections between the artist and his world. Last summer, I took a trip to the Sistine Chapel to study the genius frescoes of Michelangelo—true marvels of the world! (That’s me, in the photo at the left. I’m the one wearing the tie and wristwatch.) Now, upon viewing the masses of naked bodies swarming in energetic orgies on literally all surfaces of this sacred Papel chapel, lesser students of the field would doubtless be reduced to fits of uncontrollable guffawing, perhaps making ignorant remarks like, “Oh, that Michelangelo! What a CHAMPION TROLL. Hah!” They would laugh at the giant, overly-rendered, glossy, shining, muscular bodies floating around in the clouds pointing at each other and toting marble columns

around for no good reason. True, the events depicted are solemn Biblical events. But if they knew more about the critical history of the art, they would take it all more seriously and find that these frescoes aren’t humorous in the least, flying naked people or no! Right then. Art History Is Actually Hilarious covers all artwork ever created. But none of them is funny. They are very serious. Yours in sincerity,

dr. luigi lorenzo lucca colalucci iii january 30, 2011


THIS THING WE CALL “ART” STARTED IN THE

1 STONE AGE 2 GREEK 3 ROMAN 4 MEDIEVAL 5 RENAISSANCE 6 THE -ISMS 7 MODERN 8 POSTMODERN p. 13

THEN IT GREW UP, JOINED A FRAT, AND WENT ALL

p. 23

BUT IT WAS PLAGIARIZED BY THIS EMPIRE THAT CALLED ITSELF

p. 35

AND AFTER THE ROMANS SUFFERED SOME FATAL VISIGOTH-ING, IT ALL WENT REALLY BACKWARD AND

p. 45

UNTIL PEOPLE REMEMBERED THOSE GREAT GREEK DUDES DURING THE

p. 55

THEN WE’RE SKIPPING BAROQUE BECAUSE IT SUCKS AND GOING STRAIGHT TOWARDS THE 20TH CENTURY OF

p. 65

AND THEN STUFF GOT INTENTIONALLY HILARIOUS DURING THIS ERA LOOSELY KNOWN AS

p. 77

AND IF YOU’RE STILL ON BOARD WITH THIS “ART” THING, WE’LL FINISH WITH THE LOGICALLY NAMED

TABLE OF CONTENTS

2011 CE

p. 89


OLD THINGS MADE FROM HARD STUFF

“I’ve had the blueprint upside-down, fellas. We’re gonna have to shuffle some things around.” STONEHENGE FOREMAN

STONE AGE ART

25,000 BCE – 2500 BCE


OVERVIEW

About 25,000 years ago, we developed the sophisticated urge to create objects unnecessary to basic survival.

B

A

Willendorf: setting the bar low Venus of Willendorf This tiny female statuette is one of the earliest known human figures. With its enormous breasts, protruding belly, and stylized round head, the sculpture is more a cluster of spheres than an individualized woman. It was probably a fertility fetish. A

Preceded Strawhenge and Stickhenge Stonehenge In the Middle Ages, this mysterious group of stones was believed to be either the creation of an ancient race of giants or conjured by Merlin, who allegedly transplanted it from Ireland. B

Hallucinating painters working in dark isolation; the tradition begins Altamira Cave Paintings To create these images, cave artists used charcoal to outline irregularities in the walls of caves that suggested forms from nature. C

Constructed by Pharaoh Ponzi Great Pyramids of Giza The pyramid shape recurs throughout history and in diverse cultures, many of which have thought the shape itself had magic powers. The Pyramids at Giza create a visual effect as stunning as the amount of effort required to build them. D


STONE AGE

C

D

A

D

LIMESTONE

B

HENGE STONE

C

STONED STONE

ANY STONES THAT ARE LEFT

15


VENUS DE

VENUS DE

MILO VS WI A A LIGHTWEIGHT OLYMPIAN A A

A A A A A

BAT OF BEAU HOMETOWN: MILOS DIET: MEDITERRANEAN HEIGHT: 6 FOOT 8 INCHES

HELLENISTIC

100 BCE


ILLENDORF A A A A HISTORY’S TINIEST HEAVYWEIGHT

A A A A A A A A

TTLE THE UTIES HOMETOWN: AUSTRIA DIET: BAGS OF ROCK CANDY HEIGHT: 3.6 INCHES

PREHISTORIC

22,000 BCE


SPOTLIGHT: POULNABRONE DOLMEN


STONE AGE

“Dear fellow, the Poulnabrone Dolmen is clearly more sophisticated than that other pile of rocks. ‘Stonehenge?’ What a pedestrian name.” THAG ART CRITIC, 3955 BCE

19


FROM THE FIELD article quarried from the onion: america’s finest news source

Egyptian Pyramids Actually Early Attempt At Camping The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology june 18, 2010

O

nce shrouded in mystery, the pyramids of Giza are now believed to be the earliest known attempt at camping out, a team of archeologists reported Monday. “It appears that around 400 BC, the pharaohs of Egypt began packing up all of their earthly possessions for some recreational camping on the banks of the Nile,” said Dr. Tarek Hilal of Alexandria University, noting that the pyramids’ dense outer walls and sharply angled faces would have been perfect for keeping rain out. “Furthermore, it seems that the extensive hieroglyphics showing spirits embarking on a journey to the afterlife was their way of telling spooky ghost stories.” Despite the remarkable discovery, Hilal and his team are still unsure why so many ancient Egyptians decided to remove their inner organs before getting inside their stone sleeping bags at night.

20


REVIEW & ASSIGNMENTS

STONE AGE

Order the old stones below chronologically.

granite

basalt

1 Compare and contrast rocks and stones. 2 Consider the usefulness of comparing and contrasting rocks and stones. 3 Don’t beat yourself up about wasting all that time comparing and contrasting rocks and stones. 4 The painters of the Altamira Cave used hallucinogens. What kind do you think they used? Where do you think they got them from? Are they

jagger

available today? How much would they cost? Where can we locate them? Be specific in your response. 5 Build a “henge.” Don’t tell anyone why. 6 Define Australopithecus, and use it in a sentence. Try reading your sentence out loud. Then try saying it with a British accent. How pretentious do you sound?

21


WHITE AND PROBABLY NAKED

“The Greeks were grate [sic] artists. The Greeks made many marble sculptures. Greek art is displayed in many museeims [sic] today.” MICHAEL DOBSON, 6 th GRADE

GREEK ART

700–300 BCE


OVERVIEW

According to Greek theory, the classic nude’s idealized body reflects the perfection of a big, strong, virile intellect.

C

A

WHITE:  NAKED: 

One small step for Greek art. One smaller step for naturalism. Kouros A kouros (meaning a male youth) is the term given to representations of male youths which first appear in the Archaic period in Greece. Such statues are found across the Greek-speaking world, and are typically marble. In contrast to their rigid Egyptian counterparts, kouroi postures advance the left foot forward and anticipate later advancements in Greek naturalism. A

DORY = from Gk. “spear” PHOROS = from Gk. “demonstrating a lovely example of contrapposto, students!” Doryphoros The Greek sculptor Polykleitos designed the Doryphoros (“Spear-Bearer”) as an example of the canon showing the perfectly harmonious and balanced proportions of the human body in the sculpted form. A solid-built athlete with muscular features carries a spear (missing in the marble copy) balanced on his left shoulder. A characteristic of Polykleitos’ Doryphoros is the classical contrapposto in the pelvis; the figure’s stance is such that one leg seems to be in movement while he is standing on the other. B

B

WHITE:  NAKED: 


GREEK

25

WHITE:  NAKED: 

D

WHITE:  NAKED: 

Most likely cause of death: battling in the nude Dying Gaul The statue depicts a dying Celt with a typically Gallic hairstyle and moustache. The figure is naked save for a characteristic neck torc. The Greek historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus regarded this as a foolish tactic: “Our enemies fight naked. What injury could their long hair, their fierce looks, their clashing arms do us? These are mere symbols of barbarian boastfulness.” C

Giving reclining nudes a bad name E

WHITE:  NAKED: 

Drunken Satyr In Greek mythology, satyrs were human-like male woodland spirits who attended Dionysus, the god of wine. Satyrs are often portrayed with goat-like tails, hooves, ears, or horns. D

Nude men and sea serpents: cue Sigmund Freud Laocoön and Sons This sculptural group shows the Trojan priest Laocoön and his sons Antiphantes and Thymbraeus being strangled by sea serpents. Laocoön was killed by the smakes (sent by Athena) after attempting to expose the ruse of the Trojan Horse by striking it with a spear. The most famous account of these events is in Virgil’s Aeneid. E


PLACES OF A

A

A

A

A

THE PARTHENON

A

A

DEITY: ATHENA* COLONNADE: DORIC SATAN FIGURE: EARL OF ELGIN

HOUSE OF

WISDOM

*GODDESS OF CIVILIZATION, WISDOM, CRAFTS CLASSICAL

438 BCE

A

A

A


F WORSHIP A A A A A

THE US TREASURY

A A A A A

DEITY: ALEXANDER HAMILTON* COLONNADE: IONIC SATAN FIGURE: THE YUAN

HOUSE OF

MOOLAH

*GOD OF LOSING DUELS TO AARON BURR NEOCLASSICAL

1842 CE


SPOTLIGHT: NIKE OF SAMOTHRACE


GREEK

29

“Gotta finish this Nike sculpture. Come on, just do it, Demetrios. JUST DO IT.’” DEMETRIOS OF POLIORKETES SCULPTOR, FUTURE ATHLETIC APPAREL CEO, 206 BCE


FROM THE FIELD

30

article taken with barefaced impudence from the onion: america’s finest news source

Historians Admit To Inventing Ancient Greeks The Journal of Hellenic Studies october 7, 2010

A

group of leading historians held a press conference Monday at the National Geographic Society to announce they had “entirely fabricated” ancient Greece, a culture long thought to be the intellectual basis of Western civilization. The group acknowledged that the idea of a sophisticated, flourishing society existing in Greece more than two millennia ago was a complete fiction created by a team of some two dozen historians, anthropologists, and classicists who worked nonstop between 1971 and 1974 to forge “Greek” documents and artifacts. “Honestly, we never meant for things to go this far,” said Professor Gene Haddlebury, who has offered to resign his position as chair of Hellenic Studies at Georgetown University. “We were young and trying to advance our careers, so we just started making things up: Homer, Aristotle, Socrates, Hippocrates, the lever and fulcrum, rhetoric, ethics, all the different kinds of columns—everything.” “Way more stuff than any one civilization could have come up with, obviously,” he added. According to Haddlebury, the idea of inventing a wholly fraudulent ancient culture came about when he and other scholars realized they had no idea what had actually happened in Europe during the 800-year period before the Christian era. Frustrated by the gap in the record, and finding archaeologists to be “not much help at all,” they took the problem to colleagues who

were then scrambling to find a way to explain where things such as astronomy, cartography, and democracy had come from. Within hours the greatest and most influential civilization of all time was born. Haddlebury said, “One thing led to another, and before you know it, we’re coming up with everything from the golden ratio to the Iliad.” “That was a bitch to write, by the way,” he continued, referring to the epic poem believed to have laid the foundation for the Western literary tradition. “But it seemed to catch on.” Around the same time, a curator at the Smithsonian reportedly asked for Haddlebury’s help: The museum had received a sizeable donation to create an exhibit on the ancient world but “really didn’t have a whole lot to put in there.” The historians immediately set to work, hastily falsifying evidence of a civilization that— complete with its own poets and philosophers, gods and heroes— would eventually become the centerpiece of schoolbooks, college educations, and the entire field of the humanities. “One night someone made a joke about just taking all these ideas, lumping them together, and saying the Greeks had done it all 2,000 years ago.” “We picked Greece because we figured nobody would ever go there to check it out,” Nguyen-Whiteman said. “Have you ever seen the place? It’s a dump. It’s like an abandoned gravel pit infested with cats.” She added, “Inevitably, though, people started looking around for some of this ‘ancient’ stuff, and next thing I know I’m stuck in Athens all summer building a goddamn Parthenon just to cover our tracks.” Nguyen-Whiteman acknowledged she was also tasked with altering documents


GREEK

ranging from early Bibles to the writings of Thomas Jefferson to reflect a “Classical Greek” influence—a task that also included the creation, from scratch, of a language based on modern Greek that could pass as its ancient precursor. Historians told reporters that some of the so-called Greek ideas were in fact borrowed from the Romans, stripped to their fundamentals, and then attributed to fictional Greek predecessors. But others they claimed as their own. “Geometry? That was all Kevin,” said Haddlebury, referring to former graduate student Kevin Davenport. “Man, that kid was on fire in those days. They teach Davenportian geometry in high schools now, though of course they call it Euclidean.” Sources confirmed that long hours and lack of sleep took their toll on Davenport, and after the lukewarm reception of his work on homoeroticism in Spartan military, he left the group. In a statement expressing their “profound apologies” for misleading the world on the subject of antiquity for almost 40 years, the historians expressed hope that their work would survive on its own merits.

31

“It would be a shame to see humanity abandon achievements such as heliocentrism and the plays of Aeschylus just because of their origin,” the statement read in part. “Moreover, we have some rather disappointing things to tell you about the pyramids, the works of Leonardo da Vinci, penicillin, the Internet, the scientific method, movies, and dogs.”


REVIEW & ASSIGNMENTS

32

Match the columns in the top row with the columns in the bottom row.

corinthian

1 Is the Parthenon the Pantheon? Why or why not? 2 Were the Ancient Greeks idealizing the human form in sculpture, or might the country simply have been populated with gorgeous models who were too poor to buy clothes? 3 Is it all Greek to you? If so, how much do you approve of clichĂŠd idioms?

doric

ionic

4 Chart your class attendence. Were you more likely to attend when lectures featured nudes? 5 See how long you can stand in the contrapposto stance before you develop spinal nerve damage and lose feeling in your left leg.


KOUROS LINE


COPYING GREEK ART

“From his right shoulder he brandished his terrible spear of Pelian ash, and the bronze gleamed around him like flashing fire or the rays of the rising sun.” HOMER

“Ditto.” VIRGIL

ROMAN ART

400 BCE – 400 CE


OVERVIEW

If imitation is truly the sincerest form of flattery, then the Romans were the sincerest people in history.

A

Doryphoros... with clothes A Prima Porta Augustus Augustus is shown in the role of “Imperator,” the commander of the army. The statue commemorates Augustus’ latest victories; he is in military clothing, raising his right hand to address the troops. The cupid at his ankle was absent in the bronze original but was added to support the weight of this marble version.

The Parthenon... with a dome B Pantheon The Pantheon is a building in Rome built by Emperor Hadrian and dedicated to “all the gods.” The rotunda has a coffered, concrete dome, with an oculus that lets in both light and rain. The interior of the dome was possibly intended to symbolize the arched vault of the heavens and remains the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome.

A Doric column... with a spiral relief C Column of Trajan Trajan’s Column commemorates Emperor Trajan’s victory in the Dacian Wars in its spiral bas relief. The narrative relief, while virtually impossible to read from the ground, was meant to be viewed from nearby balconies and galleries. The height of the column indicates and celebrates the height of the excavation project of the nearby Forum and Markets. Trajan and his wife are buried in the column’s square base.

THIS CHAPTER SPONSORED BY

A

DERIVATIVE


ROMAN

C

B

B

INSPIRED

C

REGRESSIVE

37


HERAKLES VS A A A A A

THE GREEK ORIGINAL

A A A A A

CLO WA UNIFORM: LIONSKIN HEIGHT: 10’ 2” BUILD: BRONZE

HELLENISTIC

300 BCE


VS HERCULES A A A A A

THE ROMAN CLONE

A A A A A

ONE ARS UNIFORM: LIONSKIN HEIGHT: 10’ 2” BUILD: MARBLE

ROMAN

200 CE


SPOTLIGHT: EQUESTRIAN PORTRAIT OF MARCUS AURELIUS


ROMAN

“ WHITE LIGHTNING IS NOT A PONY, VALERIUS!” MARCUS AURELIUS BEFORE FIRING HIS SCULPTOR, 173 CE

41


FROM THE FIELD

42

article copied in roman fashion from the onion: america’s finest news source

Sports Become Increasingly Boring As Death No Longer Punishment For Losing

shot, they would be unable to comprehend why he would not be stabbed to death, drawn and quartered, or burned alive, not to mention torn to shreds by the winning teams’ womenfolk.” “If a Roman Colosseum audience saw Kobe Bryant miss a lastsecond shot, they would be unable to comprehend why he would not be stabbed to death.”

American Journal of Archaeology december 14, 2009

A

ccording to prominent sports historians, the modern-day practice of allowing a losing team or athlete to live has significantly lessened the intensity of sports as a whole in the centuries since the execution of defeated competitors has fallen out of vogue. “A shared awareness that the loser would be put to death raised the stakes and increased crowd involvement, to say nothing of its effect on the entertainment value of the match itself,” said Joachim Albrechtssen, professor of competitive outcome studies at Louisiana State University. “Sports today just can’t compete with that. If a Roman Colosseum audience saw Kobe Bryant miss a last-second

Through careful study of the behavior of sporting audiences from 3500 B.C. to the present, sports archaeologists have noted a distinct drop-off in crowd enthusiasm around the time of the last jousting matches, a lull that has been interrupted only by brief localized spikes during the heydays of public duels, bareknuckle boxing, bullfighting, and air shows. Such studies suggest that reintroducing the mandatory execution of losing athletes could add a new level of fervor to tie games, and could especially increase crowd interest during lopsided victories, which currently see crowds leaving early and television audiences changing the channel because they no longer have the opportunity to witness the mass slaughter of the losing side.


REVIEW & ASSIGNMENTS

ROMAN

Compare and contrast Greek and Roman art. Use the Venn Diagram below.

1 Is the Pantheon the Parthenon? Why or why not? 2 Was Rome built in a day? If yes, how? If no, how many days? Be precise.

3 Copy a friend’s answers on this assignment. If you’re caught, say it was an “homage.” 4 When in Rome; do as the Romans: use proverbs.

43


LET THERE BE SHININESS

“ Yea, ever since we didst fall out with Rome, we canst think of nothing else—indeed all is forgotten. Rome didst not even call, the blaggard.” ST. AUGUSTINE

MEDIEVAL ART

400–1300 CE


OVERVIEW

During the Dark Ages, many artists sought to abstract God as light. This was a great excuse to plaster everything with gold.

Thou shalt put the “God” in gaudy.

A

Pantocrator Mural These murals, constructed from thousands of mosaic tiles, decorated the domed interiors of many Byzantine basilicas. In this image, Christ is shown as the pantocrator, meaning “omnipotent”—the ruler of all. Pantocrator iconography requires that Christ be shown holding the Bible in his left hand and giving the gesture of blessing with his right. The “IC” displayed on the left stands for the first and last letters of “Jesus” in Greek, and the “XC” on the right stands for the first and last letters of “Christ” in Greek.

12 INDULGENCES

C

DAMNATION*

A

Thou shalt abstain from sex, live in isolation, and wear scratchy habits. But thou shalt enjoy decorating gospel books. Therefore, rejoice! Book of Kells The Book of Kells is the illuminated manuscript widely accepted as one of the finest of its kind due to the extreme intricacy and complexity of its decorative illustrations. The page shown is known as the Chi-Rho (the first two letters of “Christ” in Greek) and marks the first occurrence of Christ’s name in the Bible. The style is characteristic of Celtic insular style in its “carpet” appearance of intricate interlace patterns. Common motifs include spirals in groups of three; though these could reference the Trinity, they occur in many earlier pagan works of the region. B

* PAGAN ART STRICTLY INVALID


MEDIEVAL

47

Au

according to medieval thought, god’s presence on earth was best embodied by an element with B

79 protons and 6 electron shells

7 INDULGENCES

I shall smite those heathen Vikings for their inferior interlace patterns. Oseberg Ship Animal Post This post was discovered in the Oseberg ship excavation—a Viking burial ship in Norway—and functioned as a rope post on the ship. Notable in this pagan work is the striking similarity of the interlace patterns to their contemporary Christian counterparts found in illuminated manuscripts. C

50 INDULGENCES**

D

Thou shalt commemorate here my most excellent practical joke on Abe and his son Isaac. Dome of the Rock Located in Jerusalem, the Dome of the Rock marks both the site of the Sacrifice of Isaac and of Mohammed’s ascension to Heaven and is therefore sacred to all three of the Abrahamic religions. The architecture of the building is appropriate in its octagonal plan—the conventional plan used for Roman mausoleums— in its reference to resurrection and rebirth. D

** OFFER ONLY VALID WHEN UNDER CHRISTIAN OCCUPATION

E

9 INDULGENCES

This altar I reserveth for only the humblest of mine servants. Altar of St. Ambrose The altar, located in Milan, is a study in goldsmithing: cabochon (polished, inset gemstones) and filigree (twisted gold wires). It contains relics of St. Ambrose, one of the four founding doctors of the Church. E


ICONOPHILES VS A A A A A A A A

TO SHOW?

A A A A A A A A

2N COMMAN

CONT

CHAMPION: POPE GREGORY I SCRIPTURE INTERPRETATION: LAX WEAPON: TEMPERA & GOLD

BYZANTINE

706 CE


S ICONOCLASTS A A A A A A A A

OR NOT TO SHOW?

A A A A A A A A

ND NDMENT

TEST

CHAMPION: EMPEROR LEO III SCRIPTURE INTERPRETATION: HARDCORE WEAPON: WHITEWASH

BYZANTINE

730 CE


SPOTLIGHT: MILAN CATHEDRAL


MEDIEVAL

“Holy fucking Toledo!” POPE MARTIN V UPON FIRST VIEWING THE CATHEDRAL, 1402 CE

51


FROM THE FIELD

52

article gloriously resurrected from the onion: america’s finest news source

Heaven Less Opulent Than Vatican, Reports Disappointed Pope

heaven was going to be like this, I would’ve taken one last tour through my 50 rooms of velvet-draped thrones and priceless oil paintings before saying ‘Amen’ and breathing my last.” “Don’t get me wrong. It’s very nice up here—quite beautiful and serene. It’s just not as fancy as

The Holy Father’s Digest

what I’m accustomed to.”

april 13, 2005

T

he soul of pope john paul, which entered heaven last week following a long illness, expressed confusion and disappointment Saturday, upon learning that the Celestial Kingdom of God to which the departed faithful ascend in the afterlife is significantly less luxurious than the Vatican’s Papal Palace, in which the pope spent the past 26 years of his earthly life. “Where are all the marble statues, sterlingsilver chalices, and gem-encrusted scepters?” the visibly disappointed pope asked. “Where are the 60-foot-tall stained-glass windows and hand-painted cupolas? Where are the elaborately outfitted ranks of Swiss Guards? Why isn’t every single surface gilded? This is my eternal reward?” Heaven, according to the New Testament, has “brilliance like a very costly stone... of pure gold, like clear glass...” with “twelve gates... each gate a single pearl.” Yet the pope, who spoke from the afterlife, said heaven is nothing like the “solid-gold city” detailed at length by John of Patmos in the Book of Revelations. “Evidently, the Bible was not intended to be taken literally, after all,” John Paul II said. “Don’t get me wrong: It’s very nice up here— quite beautiful and serene. It’s just not as fancy as what I’m accustomed to. If I’d known

According to the pope, heaven is merely a place of unending peace and happiness, wherein all the spirits of the Elect live together forever in perfect harmony and goodness, basking in the rays of God’s divine love. “Up here, everyone is equal,” John Paul II said. “No one has to go through an elaborate bowing ritual when they greet me. And do you know how many times my ring has been kissed since I arrived? None. Up here, I’m mingling with tax collectors, fishermen, and whores. It’s just going to take a little getting used to, is all.”

LIFE

AFTERLIFE


REVIEW & ASSIGNMENTS

MEDIEVAL

53

Saint or astronaut? Label appropriately.

1 Do you miss Rome, too? 2 Some art historians assert that the Dark Ages should be renamed “The Sparkly Ages.” Agree or disagree? 3 Exodus 20:3-6 reads: “ You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me.” Did the medieval

artists totally screw up? Cite Biblical loopholes to justify your response. 4 Extra credit (5 pts): recreate a Byzantine mural (24 karat gold only). To redeem your extra credit, ship the mural to “9713 Colgrove Dr, St. Louis MO 63130.” Limit 2 murals per reader. 5 Avoid the Black Plague like the plague.


THE CLASSICS, REMASTERED

“Art is my wife, and the works I leave behind are my sons; I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free. And all I ask is that he honor his father and do well in school and make his bed once in a while, but all he does is sit around in front of the television, and I had to remind him THE LORD GIVETH AND THE LORD TAKETH AWAY AND THEN I SMASHED HIM WITH A HAMMERRR!” MICHELANGELO

RENAISSANCE ART

1400 - 1600 CE


OVERVIEW

Renaissance thought emphasized the individual over the supernatural because the supernatural had started wearing pink nightgowns.

I swear this combination of tempera and oil on dry plaster will hold up forever and ever! The Last Supper Painted by Da Vinci, The Last Supper depicts Jesus revealing at his final meal with his disciples that one of them would betray him. Because Da Vinci chose to paint the mural with both unorthodox materials and method (forgoing the tried-and-true pigment on wet plaster), the paint began to flake from the surface within years of its completion. The mural has since received extensive restoration attention. A

I’ll create the most famous painting in the world! Or at least one worthy of a Dan Brown cover. Mona Lisa In his Mona Lisa, Da Vinci employed a sfumato technique to soften and blur elements and eliminate harsh strokes and chiaroscuro to communicate light and shadow through modeling. Though the Mona Lisa is probably the world’s most recognizable painting, the identity of the woman depicted is unsettled; some suggest that it is a selfportrait of the artist himself. B


RENAISSANCE

57

popular pyramidal compositions in paintings advised viewers of their daily dietary recommendations of disciples, platos, adams, and lisas.

Of course I was accepted there. It was a total safety school. School of Athens Raphael’s School of Athens was one of a series of frescos commissioned by the Pope for Vatican walls. It depicts an imaginary gathering of intellectuals from both Classical and contemporary times—the two central figures are Plato (gesturing heavenward) and his pupil Aristotle (gesturing to the earth). In true Renaissance fashion, Raphael fixed the vanishing point on these two philosophers, and even appears to have included himself in the painting. C

I created the Creation of Adam. Bow to your creator. Creation of Adam Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam is part of his fresco series on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel illustrating stories from Genesis. Michelangelo depicts the moment of creation when God imparts the “spark of life” in Adam and, by extension, mankind. The two figures on God’s left arm are Eve (or Mary) and the Christ child; God points, then, from Adam, the source of original sin, to Christ, who would ultimately conquer over sin. D


DAVID V A

A

A

A

A

A

A

A

MAN!

A

A

A

A

A

A

A

A

SIZ

MAT MAN BEHIND THE MAN: MICHELANGELO SECRET WEAPON: OVERSIZED HANDS HEIGHT: 17 FEET

HIGH RENAISSANCE

1504 CE


VS DAVID A A A A A A

BOY?

A A A A A A

ZE

TTERS MAN BEHIND THE MAN: DONATELLO SECRET WEAPON: LONG FEATHER UP INNER THIGH HEIGHT: 5 FEET

EARLY RENAISSANCE

1440 CE


SPOTLIGHT: DESIGNS FOR A NATIVITY PAINTING


RENAISSANCE

“Art is never finished, only abandoned.” LEONARDO DA VINCI ALL-AROUND-GENIUS, 1480 CE

“I’m not paying you until you finish that painting, Leo.” POPE JULIUS II ALL-AROUND-GENIUS’S CLIENT, 1480 CE

61


FROM THE FIELD

62

article rebirthed from the onion: america’s finest news source

Four Or Five Guys Pretty Much Carry Whole Renaissance The Renaissance Quarterly december 14, 2009

F

ollowing 1,000 years of cultural decline and societal collapse known as the Dark Ages, the 15th century brought forth the Renaissance, an unprecedented resurgence in learning and the arts, which four or five guys pretty much just strapped onto their backs and carried the whole way. “Our research indicates that da Vinci, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, and Galileo basically hoisted the entire intellectual transformation of mankind onto their shoulders while everyone else just sat around being superstitious nimrods,” said Sue Viero of the Correr Museum of Art in Venice, Italy. “Here’s da Vinci busting his ass to paint such masterpieces as The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa, while some loser like Albrecht Dürer is doing these dinky little woodcuts that are basically worthless.” “Here’s da Vinci busting his ass to paint such masterpieces as The Last Supper, while some loser like Albrecht Dürer is doing these dinky little woodcuts that are basically worthless.” “And how pathetic is it that Masaccio wasted so much time churning out his frescoes that barely revolutionized linear perspective or naturalism at all, when without

Michelangelo’s David, we wouldn’t even have a Renaissance to begin with?” Viero added. “Honestly, it’s not even friggin’ close.” According to modern thought on the era, contributors to the Renaissance can be broken into two distinct groups: the brilliant few who, day in and day out, were thrusting society out of the depths of darkness and into the light of learning; and the rest of the so-called artists, mathematicians, and scientists, who were mostly all phoning it in. Among those considered by historians not to have pulled their weight are Sandro Botticelli, Hugo van der Goes, Titian, and Italian humanist and total hanger-on Pico della Mirandola. “So, Pico’s most famous philosophical work was Oration On The Dignity Of Man,” scoffed Harvard philosophy professor Richard Nostrand. “I mean, come on. Compare that to Thomas More’s Utopia for—actually, you know what? Don’t bother. Because you can’t.” While some claim the three- century-long movement would not have been possible without the contributions of lesser-known sculptors and thinkers, most scholars said they would challenge anyone to name an image by Jan van Eyck or Francesco Guicciardini that’s more iconic than, say, Donatello’s Mary Magdalene. “It’s a no-brainer, really,” cultural anthropologist Diane Messinick said. “Mediocre talents like the playwright George Peele or renowned court painter Federico Brandani were pretty much the equivalent of the guy at work who brews a fresh pot of coffee while you’re busy making sure there’s still a company to come back to after everyone gets back from goddamn Christmas break.” Added Messinick, “Hacks.”


REVIEW & ASSIGNMENTS

RENAISSANCE

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Rank these Renaissance souvenirs from most to least classy.

1 Who was created in “The Creation of Adam?” 2 How scientifically accurate is the anatomy depicted in “The Creation of Adam?” The subject matter? 3 Why do we suddenly know all these artists’ names? 4 Roleplaying: You are a Renaissance student cramming for an exam. Rediscover Greek and Roman art by referring to Chapters 2 and 3.

5 Gather and experiment with painting materials. Is there a combination that causes deterioration faster than tempera and oil on dry plaster? Try it on your next large-scale painting for a rich patron. 6 Write a short paragraph describing the artistic Renaissance in your own words. Refrain from using terms such as “rebirth,” “Florence,” “cultural,” “blossoming,” “developments,” or words like “when” and “the.”


PAINT, TEARS AND EARLOBES

“ With the likes of Neo-Classicism, Impressionism, and even Post-Impressionism making the cut, how were we left out? What is the appeal process? Please advise.” RACISM, ALCOHOLISM, CANNIBALISM, AND HYPERTHYROIDISM

THE -ISMS

1700 – 1900 CE


OVERVIEW

No longer slave to the patronage of the Church or crown, painters were finally free to live on the streets and thrive on healthy diets of paint and absinthe. C

IMPRESSIONISM

Stillwhiteandnakedism Death of Marat Jacques-Louis David looked back toward classical styles in depicting the assassination of his friend Jean-Paul Marat, a well-known journalist during the French Revolution. Marat suffered from a skin disease and would often take baths to ease the irritation—it was during such a bath that the assassin Charlotte Corday gained admittance and stabbed Marat. A

A

NEO-CLASSICISM

SOSism Raft of the Medusa Géricault’s painting depicts, in characteristically melodramatic Romantic style, the fifteen survivors (of over one hundred others) of a shipwreck in the early 1800s that left the castaways afloat for thirteen days and subject to dehydration and cannabalism. The scale of the painting is over-lifesize and pulls the viewer into the horrifying drama on the raft. The moment of imminent rescue is communicated in the diagonal— corpses at the bottom left progress to the man waving a cloth and signalling for help in the composition’s upper right. B

B


THE -ISMS

D

E

67

POST- IMPRESSIONISM

TERRORISM

Tinydancerism Prima Ballerina Degas is best known for his Impressionist paintings of dancers. While many other Impressionist painters took to the outdoors to paint landscapes, Degas took to dance studios and backstages to capture the movement of dancers. He also, in part, rejected the Impressionist insistence on spontaneity and instead argued that he worked through careful reflection, creating unusual viewpoints and cropping aggressively. C

Asylumpaintingism The Starry Night Dutch artist Van Gogh painted this famous image during his stay at an asylum in Saint-Rémy. Much has been written about the artist’s emotional anguish evident in the swirling sky. D

Keepcalmandcarryonism The Scream Edvard Munch’s painting, an Expressionist work, depicts a figure screaming on a bridge while two shadowy figures approach in the distance. The sky is an unnatural red, and the swirling strokes convey Munch’s sensation of an “infinite scream passing through nature.” The piece’s original title was The Scream of Nature. E

ROMANTICISM


POINTILLISM V A A A A A A

SCIENTIFIC! SCINTILLATING!

A A A A A A

CHAMPION: SEURAT RESOLUTION: 25 DPI

DU DO

TECHNIQUE: METICULOUS

OF

POST-IMPRESSIONISM

1886 CE


VS PIXELATION A A A A A A

SCORNFUL! SCANDALOUS!

A A A A A A

CHAMPION: GOOGLE IMAGES RESOLUTION: 72 DPI

UEL OTS

TECHNIQUE: ABOMINABLE

THE

DIGITAL AGE

1993 CE


SPOTLIGHT: JUDITH BEHEADING HOLOFERNES


THE -ISMS

“I don’t think I’m doing this right.” JUDITH

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FROM THE FIELD

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article impression captured from the onion: america’s finest news source

Struggling Museum Now Allowing Patrons To Touch Paintings The Paintbrush Chronicle october 5, 2009

H

oping to boost attendance and broaden its base of supporters, the Metropolitan Museum of Art launched a new initiative this week that allows patrons, for the first time ever, to prod and scratch at the classic paintings in its revered collection. “Though it contains more than two million pieces and represents a profound legacy of artistic achievement, most people remain completely indifferent to our museum,” Met director Thomas P. Campbell said. “So we decided to try something a little different and give visitors a chance to experience our timeless works of art up close and personal.” Added Campbell, “Please, bring the whole family and smudge up our paintings as much as you want.” According to Campbell, attendance has increased tenfold since the new policy went into effect, with record turnouts causing 45-minute waits for those wishing to clumsily paw at the works of Vincent van Gogh. “You can’t grasp the brilliance of a great painting just by looking at it,” said Phil Brehm, 32, who acknowledged that he hadn’t set foot inside a museum since a mandatory field trip in high school. “To truly appreciate fine art, you need to be able to run your fingers over its surface and explore its range of textures.” “Or just rub your face all over it, like I do,”

Brehm added. Gerard Schmidt, a retired banker who lives near the Met, said he had never much cared for museums until he was given the chance to manhandle one of Monet’s Water Lilies. Art students also took advantage of the Met’s relaxed rules, with many photocopying Cézanne canvasses or trying to gain insight into Rembrandt’s techniques by tracing over Aristotle With A Bust Of Homer with soft pencils and charcoal. Karen Cooper, a 41-year-old mother of four, said she enjoyed her first visit to the Met, but admitted it was exhausting to spend an entire afternoon touching paintings. “This is good to know about, though” said Cooper, before applying another coating of moisturizing lotion to her hands and returning to palm more Vermeers. “Whenever I need some alone time, I can bring the kids here and send them off to go play with the Picassos for a while.” Museum officials confirmed that many new visitors have given donations to the museum to get special member benefits, such as being allowed to remove works of art from the walls and sit down with them while enjoying food or drinks in the café. The new policy has been so popular that on Monday the Met began extending tactile privileges beyond its paintings. Patrons are now invited to climb inside ancient Egyptian sarcophagi, whether to take a souvenir photo or just carve a message into a 2,500-yearold sacred coffin. Museum-goers are also encouraged to try on the medieval suits of armor and participate in mock battles. Commenting on the diversity of the museum’s permanent collection, Met publicity director Sarita Bhakta said, “Where else can you recline in an original Mies chair, put your feet up on a Rodin, and play “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” on a 300-year-old Stradivarius?”


THE -ISMS

Some, however, remained unimpressed. “I touched a crapload of Jasper Johns’ paintings,” said Mark Bennet, 67. “I just don’t get why they’re supposed to be so special. They feel like any regular old painting.”

going to let “Next year we’re masterpiece they people grab any a shit on it.” like and just take Still, the Met’s success has inspired other institutions to follow suit. The Guggenheim Museum now allows customers to swing from its Calder mobiles, while the American Museum of Natural History has begun charging $2 to ride atop its famed brontosaurus skeleton. And the cash-strapped Boston Symphony Orchestra has created a special “Jam Night” during which audience members can come up onstage to play along with the orchestra, improvise lyrics, or just twirl around waving colored scarves. “Sometimes you have to go that extra mile to grab people’s attention,” said Campbell, the Met director. “Sometimes it takes more than curating exhibits that bring meaning and context to our complex cultural heritage, more than preserving works of art that capture the spirit of transcendence unique to humankind.” Continued Campbell: “Next year we’re going to let people grab any masterpiece they like and just take a shit on it.”

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REVIEW & ASSIGNMENTS

74

Is Impressionism made better or worse with the addition of a Bichon Frise?

1 Is eating paint a good idea, or a great idea? Justify your response.

3 Is art finally becoming art for art’s very own art’s sake?

2 Monet: what was her obsession with water lilies?. . . Wait, really?

4 Cut off an appendage, wrap it in paper, and give it to a prostitute. Express your pain in a painting.


MONET WAS A MASTER OF COLOR


WHAT THE.

“ You just don’t understand.” AN ARTIST

MODERN ART

1900 – 1970


OVERVIEW

Has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like? Z

Composition in O, C, and D Composition II in Red, Blue, and Yellow Piet Mondrian worked within the De Stijl movement, a Dutch movement that emphasized geometric abstraction and pure color in the name of utopian harmony. Here, Mondrian limits himself to the primary colors (plus black and white) and rigidly vertical and horizontal lines to form a rational gridlike composition. Q

Supremely hilarious Black Square A painter working within the Russian Suprematist movement, Malevich produced aggressively minimalist paintings that focused on geometric forms (specifically the square and the circle) and monochromatic palettes. M

Welcome to the Matrix The Treachery of Images Belgian Surrealist painter René Magritte displays a painting of a pipe and labels it, “Ceci n’est pas une pipe”—”This is not a pipe.” His point is that the pipe as an object is separate and distinct from the pipe as an image. X


MODERN

X

var randomnumber=Math. floor(Math.random( )*11)

K

Collage with Squares Arranged According to the Laws of Chance Part of the Dada movement, this piece by Jean Arp was purportedly created by randomly dropping torn squares of paper onto a larger piece of paper and gluing them down. Dada championed irrationality, nonsense, and spontaneity. K

“Elle a chaud au...” Just ask your French teacher. L.H.O.O.Q. Dada artist Duchamp created this piece by drawing a mustache on a postcard featuring the Mona Lisa and writing the title “L.H.O.O.Q.” beneath it. The work is a humorous subversion of traditional icons of art history and a critique of convention.

M

Z

79

Q


READY-MADE

A A A A A A A A

HIGH-BROW

A A A A A A A A

RUM IN T RUB

FINE ART

VALUE: $3.6 MILLION METHOD OF SALE: AUCTIONEERING

DADA

1917 CE


E VS REFUSE A A A A A A A A

MBLE THE BBLE

LOW-BROW

A A A A A A A A

ACTUAL

GARBAGE

VALUE: $1–$10 METHOD OF SALE: SCAVENGING

NEIGHBORHOOD DUMPSTER

3 AM


SPOTLIGHT: BIRD IN SPACE


MODERN

“Ceci n’est pas un oiseau, et il n’est pas dans l’espace! HAHA!” CONSTANTIN BRANCUSI ARTIST/PRANKSTER, 1923 CE

83


FROM THE FIELD

84

article found, ready-made, at the onion: america’s finest news source

Republicans, Dadaists Declare War On Art Ceci N’est Pas Une Publication may 7, 2009

C

iting the “proliferation of immoral and offensive material throughout America’s museums and schools,” and waving placards emblazoned with agit-prop fotocollage reading, “diE KUnst ISt tOT, DadA ubEr aLLes” (“Art is dead, dada over all”), a coalition of leading Republican congressional conservatives and early 20th-century Dadaists declared war on art in a joint press conference Monday. Calling for the elimination of federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts; the banning of offensive art from museums and schools; and the destruction of the “hoax of reason” in our increasingly random, irrational and meaningless age, the Republicans and Dadaists were unified in their condemnation of the role of the artist in society today. “Homosexuals and depraved people of every stripe are receiving federal monies at taxpayer expense for the worst kind of filth imaginable,” said U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms (RNC), a longtime NEA critic. Dadaist Jean Arp agreed. “Dada is, like nature, without meaning. Dada is for nature and against art,” he said. Added nonsense-poet Hugo Ball, founder of Zurich’s famed Cabaret Voltaire: “...’dada’ (‘Dada’). Adad Dada Dada Dada.” Donning an elaborate, primitivist painted paper mask, he then engaged reporters in a tragico-absurd dance, contorting wildly while bellowing inanities.

Helms, well known for his opposition to arts funding, was adamant in his demand for the elimination of the NEA from the national budget. “The American people will no longer stand for vulgar, nonsensical displays that masquerade as art,” said Helms, who, along with U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), demanded the passage of obscenity laws granting police and government officials broader powers in the prosecution and censorship of art. In a show of solidarity with the Republican legislators, Andre Breton, who founded the surrealist movement in 1923, fired a pistol at random into the crowd, conceptually evoking the hideous irrationality of the collective unconscious and wounding Hatch. Urging reporters to “imagine a boot stamping on a face, eternally,” Breton, along with Max Picabia, the most radical anti-art proponent within the Dadaist camp, then theatrically demonstrated Helms’ vision. In a collaborative staged “manifestation,” Picabia pencilled a series of drawings, which Breton erased as Picadia went along. “So-called modern art is, at its core, an absurd and purposeless exercise,” Helms said, echoing the Dadaists’ illustration of the meaninglessness of art. He then announced the Gramm-Helms Decency Act, a bill that would facilitate the legal prosecution of obscenity, as well as establish stiffer penalities for the creators and exhibitors of “morally objectionable works.” Dadaist leaders were even more strident than Helms, stressing the need for the elimination of not only art, but also of dada itself. “To be a Dadaist means to be against dada,” Arp said. “Dada equals anti-dada.” Urging full-scale rioting, the assembled Dadaists called for their own destruction, each of them alternately running into the audience to pelt those still on stage with tomatoes. In a gesture honoring Helms and the new


MODERN

bill, seminal anti-artist Marcel Duchamp drew a moustache and beard on a reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Duchamp titled the resultant image “L.H.O.O.Q.,” a series of initials which, when pronounced in French, forms the sentence “Helms a chaud au cul,” or “Helms has hot pants.” “The Republicans and Dadaists were unified in their condemnation of the role of the artist in society today.”

Centered in Berlin, Paris and Zurich, the Dadaist movement was launched as a reaction of revulsion to the senseless butchery of World War I. “While the guns rumbled in the distance,” Arp said, “we had a dim premonition that power-mad gangsters would one day use art itself as a means of deadening men’s minds.” When told of Arp’s comments, Helms said he was “fairly certain” that he concurred.

85


REVIEW & ASSIGNMENTS

86

Which of the compositions below is Arp’s Collage with Squares Arranged According to the Laws of Chance? Which one looks like a collage with squares arranged according to the laws of chance?

1 What is your favorite species of duck? Where? 2 What do Magritte, Malevich and Mondrian have in common? 3 Roleplaying: You are an art historian. Was naming the era “Modernism” a bad call? What prefixes will you use in the future? Test how many “post”, “neo-”, “high-”, and “super-” you can append without feeling silly.

4 Brainstorm at least five better descriptive titles for Brancusi’s Bird in Space. 5 Go for a walk and locate a common building (library, parking garage, supermarket). Submit it to a local art show as a “ready-made.” Record responses.


THE END

“Back to work, everyone. Move along. Nothing to see here.” THE WORLD

POSTMODERN ART

1980 - X


OVERVIEW

Postmodern artists continued the tradition begun in the Stone Age of producing objects unnecessary to basic survival.

B

A

Post-Venus-of-Willendorf Tourists II Duane Hanson’s hyperrealistic sculptures serve as commentary on contemporary social issues. Hanson made casts from real people, then clothed and painted them to achieve the hyperrealistic effect. A

Post-Stonehenge Tilted Arc Richard Serra’s Titlted Arc was commissioned and installed in New York City’s Federal Plaza as a public artwork. It was removed eight years after its installation due to general unpopularity. B

Post-Altamira- Cave-Paintings Balloon Dog Jeff Koons is best known for his sculptures of kitschy subjects such as balloon animals and toys. Many are large-scale and have highly reflective surfaces. C

Post-Pyramids-of- Giza Louvre Pyramid Designed by I. M. Pei, the Louvre Pyramid merges the old with the new—a Postmodern structure of glass and steel against the backdrop of the French Renaissance Louvre. It serves as the museum’s main entrance. D


POSTMODERN

C

D

FIBER GLASS & STEEL

A

B

C

D

COR-TEN STEEL

STAINLESS STEEL

ANY STEEL THAT IS LEFT

91


MINIMALISM A A A A A A DEMOCRATIC PRESENTATION A A A A A A

TH

SHEL SHOW MASTERMIND: DONALD JUDD MATERIALS: ANODIZED ALUMINUM LOCATION: CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF ART

POSTMODERN

1989 CE


MVSIKEA A A A A A A AFFORDABLY EUROPEAN!

A A A A A A

HE

LVING WDOWN MASTERMIND: SYNNÖVE MORK MATERIALS: SOLID, UNTREATED WOOD LOCATION: AN IKEA NEAR YOU!

SCANDINAVIAN

2009 CE


SPOTLIGHT: ONE AND THREE CHAIRS


POSTMODERN

“Chair. C-H-A-I-R. Chair.” JOSEPH KOSUTH AGE 10, CHEROKEE ELEMENTARY SPELLING BEE

95


FROM THE FIELD

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article totally plagiarized from the onion: america’s finest news source

Non-Controversial Christ Painting Under Fire From Art Community The Postmodern Post june 13, 2001

M

iguel Nunez, a Brooklyn-based artist, has sparked protest and outrage within the art community with his “Jesus Rising #4,” a non-controversial, non-feces-smeared painting that in no way defiles or blasphemes Jesus Christ. “Jesus Rising #4,” included in Nunez’s new Divinity exhibition at the Whitney Museum, has received harsh criticism from artists and academics since its June 6 debut. The painting has been picketed nearly around the clock by angry protesters, who say they are stunned by its lack of obscene imagery metaphorically conveying a provocative, highly charged theopolitical message. “Why isn’t this [painting] splattered with donkey semen?” asked sculptor India Jackson, one of the protesters. “And I defy anyone to find a trace of urine, human or otherwise, on this entire canvas. The piece does not appear to be an enraged howl against Christian patriarchal hegemony at all. Frankly, I’m shocked.” “It’s the duty of all artists to expose JudeoChristian brutality through images of Christ engaged in acts of masturbation, rape, and torture,” said Diana Bloom-Mutter, curator of New York’s Rhone Gallery. “When I look at a painting of Christ, it’s supposed to make me say to the person standing next to me, ‘Yes, this is obscene, but do you know what’s really

obscene? Two thousand years of white, male oppression in the name of God.’” Other detractors point out the “outrageous, inexcusable absence” of subversive commentary on the pervasiveness of materialism in our consumer culture. “[Nunez] could have had a field day with this subject,” said Martin Meyer, a 1960s artworld sensation who made his name with such Pop Art works as “Mother (Rheingold Beer Ad)” and “General Le Duc Tho Wouldn’t Trust Anything Less Than Oxydol For His Wash.” “Divinity and materialism are practically one and the same in today’s world. Instead of Jesus on his throne, why not place him


POSTMODERN

atop a pile of DVD players? Instead of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, why not three wise men bearing Cuisinarts, Nokia cell phones, and PlayStations?” Still others criticized Nunez’s failure to make himself part of the work. “In my 1997 piece ‘Shitrock Salad (Eat ‘Em Upp) #79,’ I placed myself in a sealed plexiglass coffin for eight days with only a slender tube providing me air, while maggots writhed about my ranch-dressing-covered body,” performance artist Eugene Weaver said. “While I admit ‘Jesus Rising’ shows some skill in composition and color, I think Nunez could have made a far more powerful statement by scourging his naked flesh with broken glass, rolling in a bed of salt, and crucifying himself on an old metal mattress frame.” Among the few members of the art community to come to the embattled painting’s defense is New York Times art critic Michael Kimmelman, who called it “a friskily post-postmodern tour-de-force.” “At first glance, ‘Jesus Rising #4’ seems to be a competent if unremarkable devotional work,” Kimmelman said. “But look deeper,

“The painting has been picketed nearly around the clock by angry protesters, who say they are stunned by its lack of obscene imagery metaphorically conveying a provocative, highly charged theopolitical message.”

and you find that Nunez’s main objective is to challenge our preconceptions to the very core. The beatific visage of Jesus seems to echo the hoariest, most shopworn Sunday School homilies, but the clichés of religious art are so vigorously rendered that the viewer comes to realize that this is not a work of slavish

97

iconography at all, but a shrewd comment on our spiritual limitations.” Continued Kimmelman: “Yet Nunez does not spare the Existentialists and the Modernists, either. They once somberly proclaimed that ‘God is dead,’ but Nunez rejects this, too. His conclusion? ‘God is nice.’” In spite of the uproar over “Jesus Rising #4,” Whitney Museum director Maxwell Anderson said he is committed to keeping the work on display. He is, however, willing to “open a dialogue” with the protesters. “Perhaps we can reach some sort of compromise,” Anderson said. “I don’t want to go so far as to soak the painting in the menstrual blood of a 13-year-old girl, as some have demanded, but I’m open to other suggestions. We might be able to scare up a pint or two of rhino vomit to splash on the canvas. And I know candied yams can be mashed into a nice, viscous paste and spread pretty easily. Personally, I like the painting as it is, but if a little shock is all it takes to calm everybody down, I’m all for it.”


REVIEW & ASSIGNMENTS

98

What is art? Use complete sentences and limit yourself to the lined space provided. Remember to show your work.

1 At what point did we lose you? Record the chapter and page number. 2 In what aspects did Richard Serra complete Assignment #5 from Chapter 1?

3 Read this book backwards. Pretend you’re in a time machine. 4 Make a painting that my kid could paint. Endure criticism. 5 Squint—what hidden, bright green artwork can you spot on the page to the right?


FURTHER READING

Quantum Physics Is Actually Hilarious Chemical Engineering Is Actually Hilarious Music Theory Is Actually Hilarious British Fiction Since 1945 Is Actually Hilarious Microeconomics Is Actually Hilarious Matrix Algebra Is Actually Hilarious Psychological Statistics Is Actually Hilarious Cognitive Neuroscience Is Actually Hilarious

and

German Philosophy Is Pretty Damn Depressing

101


REFERENCES & CREDITS

ael . Isr iety c o o bS enz om inc to tac e. V pho l Ca a m a r o n e R , io m t a a a C The rn acr ari. et. nte ia S he rm 5. I Alin e log tlic 6 i o v M 9 e i 1 taa s h rch s. S ille nd, Arc A u G / i m t / a F d u s ec se ce Sea ne age ton liot Mu ran sio vio bar Bib G Im eve chi mis can um ris. . AK o Vati om . Ar L. S a D e e C . P n s , t h ia e ri om om rte, oss Pho t. Jo ontific , Pa oA e, R a, R m. to J ale f Ar nal hot , ian P u o n t o o . p e i h s o a a s i i um m d az .P er hr Mu Nat use seu Ojé oN me . am ia C &A Mu que afic riel , Ro s. C in M sburg V log è r d e b h k o / h g n a c n t y e h o o s G h io er ar oto ela ibli Un d. , Bu ow. Pu Arc Pet néibr oF lev t r B . i t e a L t t t . o C d c a t R f 7 e / e x ,S n M sc Ar 91 ote , uto . Th y, O MN abi age on an Mo n, 1 Fot ary stit rar um mit m, e. G to R rga rd c ibr pe. gem io I Lib use seu Mo Her hL enc rid Lie Pho ona e n ific r s u t M . t e e i B a d o n t t i n e . l n L i M h e o r o F s l le ta l. ge ip nc nal riti z. B n. P ierp , Base Jür ari, rsh rica . The S Bod ore eB atio to: esit J. P che , Fl t isto k Alin Partne air. o N f b a n t e Th i n l H r h o s i e u v f d a r ü c u .P B ltu hi ift qu ate ,M es o age rna to S sitz Arc in M er Ku t, G eat thè . St lag ste el A nn h e Im lturbe 65. s. B f Ar Pho er Ver des blio Tru ani oha sisc lan itag . Bi u mo 90, aph r, 19 J D s r r e m d u e 9 K / . The e r v u g 1 t n e i i r . s im to ,H be rS res MN he rch e. H ges Mu the sA ste Pho um oR iv P sisc om to A Ima rau itan lliday Klo use t de hot rch sus i, R Pho pol rg. R. K r. P a lda uns h M iv Pre a o i . u e ozz s k r n H l i e r B b t i l t i u l c u a ia P ar ri st/ Me eni aro rch eB ra G Son liche B o M e Kun ity. lda hC e, V Fot ns. ti. A nC of Th lin/Bi ort Art the hiv irch isch fN i Or c tica A l r ees K o r m a , t g e a e s s a y V , it sl to Di ild uB /Da Tru ers ana ur I nz ive Kon ezold, o. B niv mf atic see rm rch .C. of U seu nB ale Mu ca V rt A nD i o P u y l o A , v s t i o . M . st G ra rte k. ing ary nd cou Apo Wash ibr zo B Horna io a an, rt L . En s, elo nA ndi Deh bis g a r a . Oak n o b G . al .A gem i/C ice oN day zol rid Ven alli Gar rez w/B aO ter. ia H sco s n m o e o a M ch .S Lez efa Win . go ck Z ok, Die me Cro e rsto e u n s h Pow . Jo on’t n d o e d eas Lon . Pl nce Fra

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The greatest gift is, I truly believe, a genial irreverence toward learning, and from that irreverence love may spring. ROBERTSON DAVIES


PRAISE FOR ART HISTORY IS ACTUALLY HILARIOUS

“Miraculous. The growing popularity of this text has drastically reduced the number of drool stains on the desks.” STEINBERG HALL CUSTODIAL STAFF

“Remained absolutely true to the field of existing literature. We were completely skipped over.” ALL ART FROM CHINA, INDIA, JAPAN, AND KOREA

“This is really wonderful! So very funny! Although do you think that there were a few too many naked people, dear?” MOM

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Art History Is Actually Hilarious  

A satirical guide to 25,000 years of art history for everyone who fell asleep during slide lectures and missed the comedy. Completely unabri...

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