Assignment for Monday, May 22

I really enjoyed reading and discerning what Brusati had to say. His focused analysis of perspective used in Dutch painting was incredibly eye opening for me to read. To realize the subjectivity used by a technique like bringing the distance and vanishing points to together is something that I did not consciously think of. I really resonated with his perspectives on viewing art. I generally do not do it in a very comprehensive or criteria based-manner. I enjoy varied colors, shapes, and perspectives, but don’t necessarily look deeply into the mechanics of perspective like Brusati did. I also enjoyed reading about how the Dutch painters focused on the domestic scenes, like the painting from the Rijksmuseum that I examined, View of Houses in Delft, Known as The Little Street.(Vermeer, 1685) The view into the alley, and the perspective provided by the rooftops in the upper left of the painting are to me, genius. I also really like the color utilized in this painting. I think that Berger’s methods are a little less technical, and more narrative-focused. He discusses how it is important to think critically about the likeliness of the events being depicted, and how it is important to consider the greater social and political context of the period that the work of art is being depicted in. I enjoy the first-person narrative style. It is more avant garde and accessible as opposed to more rigid and textbook style instruction on how to understand and learn about a subject. It definitely affected how I perceived and reflected upon the topics that I read about. Overall, I really enjoyed both articles, and both allowed me to think about how I perceive art in different ways, both technical and narrative.

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7 thoughts on “Assignment for Monday, May 22

  1. One thing that struck me about your second comment was how you stated that art should tell a story, one that could highlight social and economic strife. In this you discuss motive, the motive of the artist to portray these things to the public. But perhaps we can even go further and see how the social environment of the period affected how people viewed the art. In Van Gogh’s case, he distinctly painted the weavers in a way to represent their strife in an industrial world. But how would the audience approach the piece? How would a weaver interact with the piece based on their background and knowledge? What about a local business? Or a foreigner who has never heard of the weavers? I think this might be an interesting avenue to go down in your paper, looking at how the artist highlights his social environment in his work, and then how the audience might react based on their own social environments. Overall, I think you’ve done a great job really hitting on some interesting discussion topics.

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  2. Your comments here are a great start for the essay on the positives of each of the methods, and I highly suggest using some of the language you used in your blog post in your essay. The descriptions and reasoning you used for why the methods were unique and helpful to you were easy for me to understand and in my opinion will help your essay. One area that you don’t mention in your post is the drawbacks of each of the methods, and I’m curious what you think those would be. Look forward to seeing your writing.

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  3. I really liked the point you made about how it is important for art to tell a story, but how it can also play a crucial role in displaying societal struggles. I think it could be very interesting to see this point expanded on in your essay perhaps with specific examples of art you looked at from the Rijksmuseum. I also really enjoyed the thread on Berger’s first-person narrative and think that this could be an idea that follows through the course.

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  4. Glad you’re enjoying the tools of looking that Brusati is giving you, and that you’re starting to apply those to the Vermeer. Pushing that point further, how exactly was Vermeer using perspective–was it providing alternate trajectories, as Brusati argues many did (vs. a unified field)? And how exactly did those rooflines affect your way of looking? And what colors, exactly, and what did they do to you–how did they direct your gaze? I’m thinking about this as physical motion, even–did they guide your eye around the painting as Brusati argues? And if so, what did this reveal to you, or what meanings arose to you, or what feelings? What was the net effect of these techniques?

    On Berger’s first-person narrative, you’ve started a good thread here & started changing J’s mind! Nicely done! She raises an interesting point about writerly ethos: Does the tone or register (informal vs. formal, first- vs. third-person) fairly or unfairly shape the ways we as readers evaluate the trustworthiness of the research or analysis? You’ll all need to think about these issues as you craft your own essays. The models (see calendar for link) are somewhere in between: public intellectual art reviews. They need to be substantive and well-founded, but also accessible.

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  5. I think that today’s reading, especially with Protschky, shows how important it is to fully appreciate a painting. While modern colonial still life painting focused on botanical representation and not sociality, it did not focus on or address the tensions of colonial society. The subsistence crops portrayed in modern colonial still lifes did not encourage a dialogue about pressing moral issues such as slavery and indentured servitude. Protschky’s mention of this reminds me of the Berger article. It is important for art to tell a story, but it can also be a crucial component of highlighting social and other forms of strife within a society. It can be used to highlight things such as poverty and daily struggle, as shown by Van Gogh’s weavers.

    I think that when I’m looking at art, I’m thinking in more stylistic and aesthetic terms. What I want to be better at is recognizing a narrative, or the underlying motives of the art. In other words, I really want to connect with the art on a deeper level, more so than I have done before.

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  6. I agree with you that the first person narrative style of Berger’s writing is more accessible. I think that this accessibility allows the reader to feel free to form their own opinions without feeling that they are looking at the art in a “wrong” way. I also think it is interesting how you talk about the subjectivity of perspective as a technique. I think this is really important to consider because the artist made a conscious decision to change where the vanishing point is in order to effect the perspective and one must consider the different reasons the artist could have had for doing so. I think you can look deeper into this by asking, what are the pros and cons of having the artists representation of the space and not being able to see how it actually looked?

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  7. It’s really interesting to me that you thought Berger’s first-person narrative style of writing was more accessible. For me, a person who normally reads more scholarly academic art history papers, his article seemed a little too lax. While reading I couldn’t get over my bias that because he was more loose in his writing that his evidence and analysis was not necessarily valid. For some reason I’ve been trained to think that if something is written in this way then I need to be cautious of his sources and arguments because it is not “properly” written as an academic paper. But now that you say accessible I can really see how Berger made his article for an audience beyond the art history community. And since most visitors to a museum consist of people beyond the art history world it’s practical to write a piece that can be accessed by people who may not understand what “historiography” means etc. Now when I look back over Berger’s article I can resonate with your analysis and I am less wary of his argument.

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