Sunday, May 21, 2017

A Round With Joël (Bellator 179)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Catalog Entry: The Swing (painting)

    The Swing also is known as The Happy Accidents of the Swing is an 18th century oil painting created by French painter, draftsman, and printmaker, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, who worked in the Rococo style. This painting is considered to be Fragonard's most recognizable and fruitful painting. 

     Fragonard was born in Grasse, Alpes-Maritimes and later moved to Paris with his family in 1738. In his youth, he spent most of his time in the studio of François Boucher, a known French painter, and draughtsman. After competing for the Prix de Rome, a French scholarship for art students, in 1752 Fragonard studied at the École Royale des Elèves Protégés in Paris. Between 1756 to 1761, he lived in Italy where he developed an appreciation for Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. In 1761 Fragonard also found commercial success in marketing cabinet pictures, which was heavily influenced by both 17th Dutch landscapes and Italian Baroque paintings. “During this period, he further developed the painterly surface of his canvases, working with great rapidity and little blending, giving pictorial form to the qualities of “fire” and “genius” so admired by contemporary collectors.” (Stein, 2004).  

     Fragonard specialized in historical paintings however when he returned to Paris; he started embracing and focusing on painting erotic subjects and Vogue, which can be seen in The Swing. This oil painting was created in 1967 and was an instant successful for its technical excellence (Jean-Honore, N.D.). It stands 81 centimeters high and 64.20 centimeters wide. The Swing was commissioned by the French libertine Baron de St. Julien and is a portrait of his mistress. “The Swing was to be painted to the following specificity: "I should like you to paint Madame seated on a swing being pushed by a Bishop." (Jean-Honore, N.D.). Baron’s request was denied by numerous known French artists including Gabriel François Doyen. Fragonard however accepted the offer and developed what is now one of the most iconic works of the French Rococo. 
     The Swing is represented in a triangular shape, where Baron and the husband are seen forming the bottom of the pyramid. The maiden is displayed on a swing sitting in the air at the top of the triangle. “She is illuminated by the soft lighting coming from above, and the fanciful trees form an oval frame for the action in the center.” (The Swing, 2015). In Fragonard’s painting are several hidden details including two putti embracing, a stone statue of Cupid, a lap dog, and dolphin. Additionally, most noticeable is that this painting represents a playful scene. “The lady's slipper, which flies off her foot as she swings so easily, is another playful touch which helps accentuate the erotic subject matter, as well as providing a visual focus in the splash of sunlight.” (The Swing, 2015). 

     The Rococo style appeals to the sensual and thus Fragonard utilized a pastel color palette. This technique also provides an overall effect of erotic amusement and lightheartedness. In this outdoor scene, Fragonard used a soft rounded patches sunlight shining through the trees and backlighting them. This technique fills the scene with a gentle and charming glow. “The light hits the young lady on the swing, highlighting her fair skin and the creamy billows of fabric that swirl around her.” (The Swing, 2015). The mood of this painting is lightsome and joyful.  

     Fragonard expresses the importance of the free and easy nature of the subject. “[He] uses a fluid, loose brushstroke, keeping the edges soft with regards to his main figures.” (The Swing, N.D.). Today, Fragonard's The Swing is still admired in pop culture and mostly in high fashion, because it serves a manifesto to the lightheartedness of the Rococo era. “To many, this painting embodies the entire spirit of the ancient regime on the eve of the revolution.” (Stein, 2004). This painting also share the same style and tone as his other scenery paintings: The See-Saw, Blindman's Bluff, The Stolen Kiss, and the Meeting (Stein, 2004). 

     It is still unclear who were the original owner of this painting. There is a possibility that either the Marquis des Razins de Saint-Marc or the Duc de Morny once owned it. His work was purchased at an auction in Paris by Lord Hertford, who is the main founder of the Wallace Collection. Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s The Swing can be seen in the Wallace Collection in London. 


"Jean-Honore Fragonard: The Swing." The Swing - Jean-Honore Fragonard. N.p., n.d. Web. 23  Apr. 2017.

Stein, Perrin. "Jean Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806) | Essay | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art  History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art." The Met's Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.

"The Swing." Artble. N.p., 12 June 2015. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Innovations in art and architecture made by the Greeks

Throughout history, the Greeks have been responsible for innovation in both art and architecture. Greek architecture inspired many of Roman architecture and architects. They took science to new heights with their discoveries in the area of astronomy, geography, and mathematics Greece is considered the father of medicine. Various inventions and findings contributed by ancient Greece are still used to this day.

One of most popular device that is used every day by many people across the world is the alarm clock. The alarm clock’s origin is from ancient Greece, and it went through a series of changes throughout history. The original alarm clock developed in Greece is different from the one we use today. The people of Greece combined machinery components to trigger the alarm, and water organs or pebbles went into drums which created a loud sound. Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher, used a water alarm clock at night as a signal for the start of his lectures. Another significant  finding is cartography, which is the science and practice of creating maps. Anaximander, a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, was the first pioneer to bring mapping into new possibilities with his creation of the map of the world.

Greeks valued the power of communication through storytelling. Ancient Greek theaters started with festivals to honor their gods. The theatre buildings were called a theatron, and were massive open-air structures built on the hills. They consisted of three main elements which were: the orchestra, the skene, and the audience. Acting plays, religious rites, and dances were held in these large spaces and could hold up to 14,000 people in the audience. Ancient Greek was responsible for creating stadiums which held running races. Also, they built gymnasiums as a training facility for athletes who participated in public games. Ancient Greek houses included ground floor rooms that consisted of kitchen and storage rooms. These houses created with walls of mud bricks, stone socles, tiled roofs, and clay.

The earliest practices of medicine can be traced back to ancient Greece. Hippocrates II was a Greek physician, who is the most recognized, and respected figure for his contribution in the field of medicine. In ancient Greece, diseases were often viewed as god’s way of punishing. However, Hippocrates II changed that by conducting experiments and collecting data that eventually proved that diseases were a natural process in the human body. He is also known for the Hippocratic Oath, which are Greek medical texts that include a foundation for the belief that is still used by today’s practitioners. Peter Tyson, former Editor in Chief of NOVA Online, revealed, “Written in antiquity, its principles are held sacred by doctors to this day: treat the sick to the best of one’s ability, preserve patient privacy, teach the secrets of medicine to the next generation, and so on”. 

The temple is the most known Greece architectural structure. Temples in Greece is referred to as ναός, which means to dwell, and was created to honor divinities. The first temples were made of wood, sticks, and mud, but due to these weak materials, the early temples didn’t survive especially during heavy rainstorms. In the 8th century, the people of Greek made the decision to create temples made out of stone instead. The most recognized and classical architecture is the Parthenon, the former temple in Athens, Greece. This magnificent old temple was entirely built in 432 BC to honor the goddess, Athena. 

Over thousands of years of its existing, the Parthenon was used for religious purposes such as A Christian church, a Catholic church, and a mosque. The people of ancient Greece did not worship their gods inside their temples. Instead, people gathered and worshiped outside, and entered the temples to bring offerings to the statue. The interior room was too small to hold a group of individuals, so inside of the temples only housed statues of the deity that were honored.

The Parthenon includes metopes on each side of the building (western, eastern, southern, and northern walls) and each side has its subject which represents an epic battle in Greece history. According to classical architecture, a metope is a rectangular architectural structure that fills space between two triglyphs in a Doric frieze. The southern wall displays the Battle of the Lapiths and Centaurs. This historical battle was fought between the people of Greek mythology, the Lapiths and the centaurs, half-human, half-horse creatures. What caused this fight was Centaurs’ attempt to abducted Hippodamia, the daughter of Atrax, at her wedding. Legendary Athenian king Theseus was a founder of cities in Athens, won the approval of the Athenian citizens led King Pirithous to victory by destroying the Centaurs.

Unfortunately, the Parthenon building damaged over the years due to epic battles and explosions that occurred at this site. In the 17th Century, General Francesco Morosini, a sixty-four-year-old veteran, led an army of his warriors into Greece. He wanted to reclaim a portion of Greece and redeem himself after losing the Venetian colony of Crete to the Ottoman Empire. General Morosini and his men struck the Parthenon by detonating gunpowder that was held inside the building and caused a massive explosion. This explosion killed 300 people in Acropolis and damaged the historic building. 

The Parthenon Marbles, a collection of Classical Greek marble sculpture were built by the people of Athens, Phidias, an ancient Greek architect and his assistants. Phidias is also known for his notable works: The Athena Promachos, The Lemnian Athena, The Athena Promachos, The Amazzone Ferita and The Statue of Zeus at Olympia. The Statue of Zeus at Olympia took 12 years to be built. Zeus, the thunder god in ancient Greek religion, was viewed by many as the king of all of the Greek gods and this marvelous statue was built in honor of him. This masterpiece was placed in the Temple at Olympia where Olympic Games held every four years. It stood about 42 feet tall, was made out of a wooden frame, and covered in gold and ivory panels. 

The Ancient Olympic Games originally began approximately 2,700 years ago in Olympia, Greece, a sacred place of ancient Greece. The Olympic Games were a part of a religious festival, and representatives of city-states participated in a series of athletic competitions. The Greek Olympics were held in honor of Zeus and have begun in 776 BC. The original Games inspired the modern Olympic Games which began in 1896. Before and during these games, an Olympic Truce was announced to make sure that participate athletes could travel from their cities to Olympia safety. Politicians used the Ancient Olympic Games as an opportunity to make an announcement relating to political alliances during times of war. The Games also featured religious celebration where priests would offer sacrifices to the ancient gods.

Many people believe that French sculptor, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, who is most recognized for designing the Statue of Liberty, was inspired by the Colossus of Rhodes. The Colossus of Rhodes was a statue that stood 108 feet high, which is approximately the same height as the Statue of Liberty. It’s also one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. This magnificent statue portrays the Greek Titan god of the sun Helios, son of the Titaness Theia and the Titan Hyperion. This figure was considered the tallest statue in ancient history. It was built by Greek sculptor and Rhodes native, Chares of Lindos in 280 BC to celebrate Rhodes' victory over Cyprus. Similar to the Statue of Liberty, the Colossus of Rhodes carried a light to guide ships that entered the land. 

Most of the ancient Greek sculpture, even if the statue represented a God, were created in human form and were nudes. The people of Greeks saw the naked human body as beautiful. Through history, Greek statues adopted a natural, more relaxed pose such as hips thrust to one side, head turned to the opposite side, and their knees slightly bent. Some sculptures displayed human action as the "Diana of Versailles," which portrays the goddess grabbing for an arrow during a stag jump towards her. The Venus de Milo, which is one of the most famous Greek statues was created in the second century B.C.E. and Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. 

Classical Greek pottery provided a unique vase shapes, a beautiful representation of the heritage and practices of ancient Greece. Their ancient pottery is one of the standard archaeological surviving artifacts and is a critical tool used by both historians and archaeologists when understanding the chronology of ancient Greece. People of Greece created tiny terracotta figurines and offered it as gifts to their gods and goddesses. Also, they buried these figurines with the dead and gave it to their children as toys.

Their pottery was different from West Asian, Egyptian pottery, and Chinese pottery. People of ancient Greece used clay jars, pots, and vases for everything. All clay jars, bowls, and vases were displayed paintings of religious and mythological scenes. Etruscan who conquered and ruled most Italy in the 500s and 400s BC, was heavily influenced by Ancient Greek because they created similar red-figure potteries. The red-figure technique which created by painting their outline with a black slip background continued 130 years. 

When the Roman Republic conquered the empire of ancient Greek, the Romans captured Greek slaves. A few of the slaves became teachers for Roman children. Their teaching had a huge influence on Roman Republic’s educational system and culture. Roman education depended heavily on Greek writers such as Homer, the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey. The ancient Greeks considered Homer as the first and greatest poets. Along with that, multiple components of Roman culture mimicked Greece culture. The Roman religion borrowed gods similar to ancient Greek religion, but instead have different names. People of Greeks didn’t believe their gods created the entire universe but followed laws and orders that the gods created. Immortals and humanity were both determined by fate. 

Roman architecture has the same temple design in comparison to ancient Greek. Roman architects followed the blueprint that developed by classical Greeks such as Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. The architects of classical Greece used proportion and perspective in their work. They developed advanced techniques to make their structure look even. They created horizontal U-shape planes and columns that were much wider in the middle. Without these innovations, Roman architecture buildings wouldn’t have looked majestic. Along the way, the Romans modified Greek’s architectural blueprint because they favored monolithic columns instead of the many drums that were stacked on top of one another. Greek influence Roman innovation, with the basilica and bath buildings which was first seen in Italy in Campania.

Ancient Greek democracy played a significant role with the influence on the creation of political institutions in the United States. Founding members of the United States seen ancient Athens, Greece, the cradle of democracy because this is where development process of democracy started. Ancient democracy created in Athens following was a system of direct which gave every male adult that was an Athenian citizen the right to participate in deliberations and voting in law-making assembly and institutions. Through art, science, and architecture, ancient Greek has paved the way for western civilization.


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