Sunday, January 16, 2011

Wednesday Nov 3, 2010

Two hours at the Uffizi today visiting again with Filippino Lippo and his far more interesting father, Filippo Lippi, the horny monk who got a nun pregnant (twice). Moving back to 13th century room, I could see the progression to the beginning of perspective from Giotto and, more impressive to me, Ambrogio Lorenzetti and his brother, the other Lorenzetti. The small story panels look almost abstract … lack of perspective, but shape created with blocking the background and placing the figures on contrasting panels. Almost use of chiaroscuro in an attempt to place background in perspective to the figures.

Later, gilt paint makes the figures pop from the canvas like a cut-out card of psychedelic tromp d’oiel.

Moved on to Lorenzo de Credi (stunningly beautiful Venua) and Raphael Santi.

Michaelangelo’s Nicodemis Pieta at the Museo d’Opera. Donatello statues of prophets and reliefs of angels. How does Michelangelo insert his spirit into the pieces he carves. The figures emote, therefore they live. Then lunch--a pizza and a bottle of water sitting on a bench outside the Duomo.

British Institute: Defining the Artist, Alan Pacuzzi

Greek - technic--technician
Modern: someone who creates, with a special skill, work of aesthetic value
Plato: liberal artes--intellectual (only free men) studied philosophy, math, music
Artes vulgaris -- crafts (for slaves) were painting and sculpture

Painter and sculptors were at the same social level as slaves, though they were paid. Their technical, rather than creative talent was valued.

In classical Greece, artists eventully became known for writing and someone wrote treatise on arts.

476 BC Roman takes over Greece. Roman liberal arts education (116-27 BC) includes architecture, music, and rhetoric alongside philosophy. 2nd C AD Galen added painting and sculpture to a list of liberal arts.

Still, painting and sculpting were not suitable professions for a Roman citizen.

312-337 AD Constantine
Naturalism of earlier works, which was pagan, changes to be seen as iconic images of power, not real people. Imperial Rome chose more sophisticated art to adorn their palaces.

787 Catholic Church starts to proscribe composition of paintings. Medieval art and culture is concentrated in the monasteries. For hundreds of years.

12th century brought monumental gothic cathedrals. Architects were masons/workers and had “no time to contemplate design”. They still had low social status.

However, in the 12th century Tuscanythere waa an increased demand for painting, then in the form of illuminated manuscripts done by monks or lay brothers.

In the late 12th and 13th century painter’s shops started… They joined the apothecary guild (because mixing paints was like alchemy). Business contracts began to be made for art work between artists and patrons, but medieval artists were still considered bufoons, bohemians, moody characters. Artists’ writing indicates they are fulfilled by the technical perfection of their work, not its content.

As cities grew, demand for the arts increased and competition begins among the buyers for fine artists to decorate the homes and palaces. Florence 1270-80 there was an economic boom, banking increased, population increased, and the florin was used all over Italy. Strong merchants guilds formed, there was a spread of religion and its artistic objects.

St. Francis and St. Dominic lived at this time. Religious spread for the following purposes.
1. Didactic art
2. Mnemonic device … remember the stories of bible

Artists now had become professional illustrators .. Guilds strengthen ARTE. By the end of the 13th century guilds had political power … sculptors and architects joined stone masons. Painters joined apothecaries. They were now considered skilled craftsmen.. unconventional, but individual and valued.


Brunelleschi & Duccio challenged the guild system by refusing to pay dues. They were jailed, but the Opera dell’Duomo freed them because they needed them to finish the design of Florence’s cathedral. Tension of group (guild) vs. individual artist starts in the artistic mind.

Brunelleschi does not work along with the masons/builders. He does the drawings and design; the others do the building.

Cennino Cellini wrote an artists treatise
Leon Batista Alberti (1404-73)… Treatise de Pictura or Comentarii della Pittura
Use nature as ultimate guide
Starts to turn artist to scientist (powers of observation recognized)
Use of perspective means artists must use math
Precusor of Leonardo?

Perspective was means by which artists could show the natural world by relying on absolute rules. All things within the space must be realistic and make sense. This led to the need to know anatomy, color, shade theory, etc.

Leonardo as the first to define the artist as an intellectual professional.
Painting without perspective is not art
Math in paintings elevates the mind
End of 15th century.. Artists no longer need guilds but have now merged into society with men of learning. Artst is more than craftsman. Artists are self aware and believe I their intellectual abilities. They put self portraits in their works … the extreme of self confidence

Leonardo: The painter is creator of anything he wants
Michelangelo: Whatever the artist has in his head, he can create with his hand.

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