Jenna and Sarah will lead discussion this coming week. Here are just a few opening questions to begin the discussion.
1. How does Dyer conceptualize Warhol’s view of himself? his audience?
2. As we have seen in a number of previous articles, Dyer frames her article by the “via negativa,” that is to say, here are the existing interpretations of Warhol’s works and this is why they do not work.
3. In contrasting the rival readings of the content of Warhol’s work, the commodity culture vs. the commentary on the tragic state of culture, what is Dyer trying to establish?
4. What is the significance of the mundane?
5. How does making things the same also make them different?
6. Did this article make you dizzy?
7. How does Andy Warhol’s style affect the meaning/content of his serial images?
8. How does the preeminence of surface in Warhol’s works reinforce the author’s thesis—or do you disagree with this aspect of the article?
Okay….can I just say how smart Amelia Jones is? I just think her work is so stimulating!
1. Clothing is the means for negotiating identities between the wearer and observer. Discuss.
2. What were the male artists’ sartorial options in the 19th century?
3. Have you ever thought of clothing in the performative sense? Why do certain clothes cast a feminizing light on male artists?
4. In siding with the working class or the dandy, who was the artist rejecting?
5. What do you think of Buci-Glucksmann’s Baudelairean flaneur theory? That to dress as a dandy was a way to defuse one’s anxieties in relation to the emasculating gender and class instabilities of modern urban life?
6. What is the “Great Masculine Renunciation”? Can we talk about the disavowal of the “aphanisis of male specularity”? Don’t you love language?
7. Why are Duchamp and Warhol so radical? What stance does Jackson Pollock adopt?
8. In what sense does Klein ironize the idea of the artist as a creative genius? Why isn’t Klein’s suit a bourgeois sellout?
9. Identity for Morris and Burden (for example) is “contingent on an exchange of visual information rather than phallic inevitability;” how does that change the landscape of the art world?
10. Clothes, it would seem, are yet another weapon in the hegemonic arsenal!
Mia shall lead us in the discussion of this fascinating article. Though long, I felt that it intersected with many of the issues we have discussed thus far in the class on the function of portraiture, the role of the artist, and of course the gaze.
1. For the Yoruba culture, what does a work of art consist of?
2. Where does the sculptural style of portraiture fall on the continuum of naturalism and conceptualism? What role does memory play in the creative process?
3. Why was the head of the Ife ruler often the largest part of the statue?
4. Is the face the index of identity in the sculpture of Yoruba?
5. What were the two liabilities in having a sculptural double?
6. Why did second-burial effigies convey a mimetic closeness to their prototypes? How was this achieved?
7. What were the functions fulfilled by sculpture in this culture? And why was naturalism eschewed in general?
8. In what way was the statuette of the deceased twin used?
9. How did the gaze work in regarding portraits in this culture? Is there a similar ambivalence in western culture?
10. What traditions have survived the invention of photography in this region?
Jessica will be our guide on this article. Just a few musings…..
1. What is Cindy Sherman’s attitude toward art history as a “genre” (as it were)?
2. Do you believe this as gospel truth?
3. What are the subversive elements of Sherman’s reinterpretation of Raphael’s portrait of the courtesan/La Fornarina?
4. The gaze: discuss!
5. Arthur Danto regards this work as a complex transaction between the “original and her tableaux vivant comment on it.” Unpack this critique.
6. Why was Bacchus often a guise for artistic self-portraits?
7. Where else has Melancholia reared its head in this course?
8. Discuss the subversive qualities in Sherman’s appropriation of this portrait, if any exist. Do you agree with the author’s reasons for the literal character of this portrait?
9. Do you feel that copies of “masterpieces” have power over their prototypes?
Vylencia will be leading the discussion next week on the Self-Portraits of Nikki S. Lee, Anthony Goicolea, and David Henry Brown, Jr.
1. Lee’s work demonstrates the constructed nature of identity in a very pointed, often humorous manner. What does her work say about assimilation in society?
2. How do you think the various groups she joins react to her presence? To what do you attribute her “socially fluid” nature?
3. Goicolea’s work deals with adolescent self-obsession and sexuality. Yet his works are also quite poignant. Why is that?
4. On page 49 the author states “Vanity is the backbone of all art; at its essence, all art says, look at my view of the world, it is better, more accurate, more beautiful, than yours.” Discuss!
5. What position must the viewer assume in Goicolea’s works? Why is this so fraught with ambiguity?
6. Do you agree that the artist’s sexual orientation colors the reception of his work?
7. Brown explores identity in terms of celebrity. And not just any celebrity. Out of the works discussed in this article, which did you respond to on a conceptual level?
8. Discuss Brown’s opinion of himself vis a vis the rest of mankind. Classism: discuss! Did you agree with the author’s assessment of Brown’s body of work?
9. Dalton characterizes these artists as conceptualists who use photography to explore issues of social identity. In what ways is the work of Cindy Sherman similar? In what ways is it different?
First, a bit of levity:
Some thoughts to get the conversation started: 1. Why were relics so important in the Middle Ages? 2. Were contact relics as effective as body parts? 3. What is the relationship between the container and the contents in body-part reliquaries and does it shift over time? 4. Have you ever seen a relic? If so, what was the context and what was the effect of this experience?
The vierge ouvrante is one of the most interesting categories of sculpture produced in the Middle Ages. 1. Why does the author stress the importance of both the haptic and optic dimensions of the worshiper’s experience of this sculpture? 2. In what way is the Virgin the door for Christ and for the saved through his sacrifice? 3. What are the theological implications of lodging the whole Trinity within the Virgin’s womb? 4. In the narrative interiors of the vierge ouvrante, what subject matter was found and how was it disposed? 5. What are some of the differences in types of sculpture north and south of the Pyrenees? 6. What is the symbolic meaning of the doors that open the womb of the Virgin and how does the statue’s capacity to move affect the viewer’s experience? 7. What is the paradox embodied by the vierge ouvrante? What occurs in her corporeal erasure?
Alexis and Maria will be our guides for tomorrow’s class, but here are just a few questions to think about for our discussion.
In the tympanum at Conques, do you agree with the author’s reading of the facial expressions of the damned? Isn’t it interesting to think about our expressions and gestures as culturally contingent?! In what way was Augustine’s conception of hell different from other Early Christian Church Fathers? How did the Byzantine notion of the Resurrection differ from that of the West? Did the sketch of Ste.-Foi’s actions surprise you? Does the restraint of the elect at Conques weaken the author’s theory of attunement with the damned?
In the construction of sanctity, what role does architecture play? What role does the shrine play in devotion? What does the author mean by the “voice or tone of the shrine”? What “conspires” at Golgotha to make the religious experience so powerful? What role do the ampullae of holy oil play in the pilgrims’ experience of the sacred? What function did the icon fulfill in the Eastern shrine? What guided the medieval viewer in his devotions? In other words, was there a “proper form” of worship of these images? West versus East: discuss! When Hahn says that the shrines (or the saint’s presence therein) join the past and the present, how do they also join the devotee to the Heavenly Jerusalem?
Katherine will be our guru for this article and part of the rebus is figuring out why we are reading this for Portraiture….but there’s a method to my madness. Here are some thoughts: To me this painting embodies the birth of modernism. Though analyzed to death, what are some of the new ways that this author looks at “Le Dejeuner?” What are the “indoor” elements in this work? Was it difficult for you to see the painting within the painting? Does the divided pointer/painter/man trouble you or does the author’s skillful use of visual sources satisfy you? On page 204, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar? Discuss. In discussing the levels of reality and a work doubling as an allegory of the art of painting, did anyone else miss Vermeer? Remember that inscription I always cite: “Which are you drinking? the water or the wave?” Do you in the end agree with this reading of the painting?
I will take a backseat to our discussion leaders, but here are just a few queries to get the ball started!
1. According to Kingsley, what is the connection between gift giving and memory in the Middle Ages?
2. What are some of the ideas we discussed in the bronze doors at Hildesheim reflected in the frontispiece of the Bernward Gospels?
3. In what ways is Mary the door to Paradise?
4. Think of any one of the images “deconstructed” in this article (the curtain, for example) and explain how it functions as a mnemonic device.
5. What do all of Bernward’s gifts signify? What are the fate of these gifts after Bernward’s death?
In the article on portraiture:
1. Why wasn’t mimetic likeness as important in the Middle Ages as it was in the Renaissance?
2. What was the significance of The Secret of Secrets? The lesson learned from Hippocrates’ physiognomy?
3. How did medieval authors speak about portraits? Why do you think they had a devotional quality that almost rivaled religious images?
4. What were some of the “alternative” methods of portraiture in the medieval period? (We now know where “worth his weight in gold” comes from….) Does mimetic likeness replace heraldic codes of identity?
5. Can you draw any parallels between Bernward and Christine de Pizan and Isabeau of Bavaria?
“Hello all! I am so excited to hear your thoughts on this article. I continue to be amazed at the ways each article we read seems to interact with others. I thought this was a fun article to read and hope you all enjoyed it. Here are some of my thoughts!
1. “I must flee your eyes, I must…” (52). This focus upon the gaze is particularly interesting, especially when one considers the discussions we have had about the emasculating power of the female gaze. Do you feel that this quote is an example of this emasculation? Discuss!
2. How did ya’ll feel about the discussion surrounding the fashion plates? Did you feel that this argument was well grounded? The notable similarities between two paintings of Marie-Antoinette, particularly in the costuming, were not really discussed? Is this just an oversight? http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/49/Marie_Antoinette_Adult4_cropped.jpg , http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_kGeEKJKyFco/TL8IFPu6KbI/AAAAAAAAAxc/NuGjIz2g07w/s1600/064td8v.jpg
3. Both of the above mentioned paintings are by Vigee- LeBrun, whose career has been, to my knowledge, heavily documented and studied, while it was noted that Labille-Guiard’s career has not been as researched. Why could this be? Could this be the reason that the connection was not heavily emphasized?
4. The portrait of Marie-Nicole was discussed as being pure because of, among other things, the presence of her father’s portrait. Can we discuss the male and particularly the father as a purifying agent in this kind of art?
5. “With the Self Portrait, Labille-Guiard opted not to avoid but rather to highlight the contradictions that riddled both her ambitions and her reception” (45). This article seems to give Labille-Guiard a lot of credit, which is refreshing and somewhat unusual in light of our other articles. Is she given too much credit? Please also discuss the above quote.
I cannot wait to see all of you on Thursday and very much look forward to reading your comments and questions!”
Embodied Vision: Who knew?
Amelia Jones is definitely one of my heroes. I think this article is quite provocative. Just a few queries:
1. How do the self-portraits of Sherman, Wilke, et.al. differ in their invocation of death from Renaissance memento mori?
2. In Jones’ new mode of interpretation, what does she mean by “relinquishing our power as viewing subjects and reveling in our own otherness?”
3. In what way is a photograph a death?
4. Is spectatorial engagement what we do when we go to museums and look at art? Seriously, what does she mean by this type of charged gaze?
5. What is Lacan’s understanding of the photograph and what role does the viewer play in this interpretation?
6. When Craig Owens speaks about the subject of a photograph posing “as an object in order to be a subject” (cited on 959), weren’t you reminded of Berger’s “Fiction of the Pose?”
7. How does Barthes’ punctum function in viewing self-portraits?
8. What does Merleau-Ponty mean by the embodied viewer?
9. What is the paradox of the self-portrait (972) and do you agree?
1. This article reinforces many of the themes that we have discussed so far in this course, particularly the lack of neutrality of the gaze. Through what methodological lenses does Simons view the issue of gender in profile portraits created in the Renaissance?
2. The portraits in this article are seen in the context of the display culture of Quattrocento Florence. Discuss.
3. In the discussion of woman as an object of exchange, her appearance was carefully calculated to foster her transfer at the time of marriage; I found the comparison of the profile portrait to a still life positively chilling because it was so apt!
4. Wives and nuns, the only two Quattrocento options for women, both defined women in relationship to a male. How do these portraits perpetuate this system or contradict it?
5. What led to the eventual demise of the profile portrait?
6. On p. 15 Simons states: “Visual art…both shared and shaped social language and need not be seen as a passive reflection of pre-determining reality. For the representation of women, the profile form, and its particulars were well suited to the construction, rather than reflection, of an invisible ‘reality’.” In what other art historical cases has this been demonstrated?
7. It strikes me as ironic that the origins of the profile portrait are traced to dead men and male rulers. What has the female appropriation done to the prototype.
8. Are all portraits “anatomizing” in the end?
9. There is so much in this article to discuss!!! The optic fear of the woman’s gaze, the Medusa syndrome, the forced passivity of these portraits, and then calling Dr. Freud!
10. Do you see any danger in discussing these portraits in light of scopophilia, castration anxieties, fetishisation, or the proto-panopticon?