Week 2 Lecture Notes

Week 2 Lecture notes – July 23rd, 2015

Revision of work covered last week

Assessment tasks – as on sheet distributed.

Mona Lisa image – we all bring our preconceived notions to images – this one may have lost its original intent and power – has become an icon – originally a private portrait – but now has been injected with lots of other mediums.

Portraits – ‘There is no history for the poor’ – because there were not images/histories written about them and their culture

Art is status – related –

Discussion of Mona Lisa smile

Mona Lisa disrupts the eyes as being the window to the soul – the mouth is what one focuses on

Image – smile, frown emoticon – the mouth, rather than the eyes gives meaning/context

Mona Lisa is now seen as an icon of art –

(Merinda’s notes on Post Modernism and terminology of Post-modernism

Mona Lisa is often appropriated – not in copyright – e.g. Andy Warhol, Marcel Duchamp, Jeffrey Smart, advertising, e.g. http://www.etchinghouse.com.au/images/2026.jpg

Jeffrey Smart, Corrugated Giaconda, 1976

Marcel Duchamp, L.H.O.O.Q., 1919 ( Duchamp gives a loose translation of L.H.O.O.Q. as “there is fire down below”)  Image source https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/6/6e/Marcel_Duchamp_Mona_Lisa_LHOOQ.jpg

Artwork advertising an art history book in the “for DUMMIES” series.  Image source http://www.studiolo.org/Mona/images/BookCovers/MonaForDummies.gif

Mona Lisa in Lego

From an article in The Telegraph on the 40th anniverary of Lego.  Image source http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/culturepicturegalleries/10029906/Creations-in-Lego.html

Global world has led to a globalised view of the world – not a style related to the particular culture.

  • We are globalised – we have lots local/nation culture signifiers.
  • Signage – may not be globalised – writing can be in another language – but there are universal icons – e.g. ladies/gentlemen toilet signs.

Visual culture and visual literacy allow us to look at imagery in a number of ways, to be critical and sceptical. E.g. Mona Lisa –has moved from being a portrait for family viewing (a private image) to a highly valuable work of art – has now been transformed – we can see her in many places – in this age of reproduction. Reproduced (See Walter Benjamin) – Reproduction on this scale may suborn the original intent of the art work – and allows for commodification of an image.

  • Visual images are now endemic in our society – paintings were not easily seen – no public galleries, no reproduction with ease, only in churches would the masses see images (possibly some signs would have been pictures as literacy was unheard of except for scholars and educated males.

Marx – influenced Berger (see the series of videos)

The Gaze

Berger has a very strong stance on the nude in painting 16th – 19th century Europe.

Reproduction is now common for paintings of nudes – also pornography – especially on the internet – despite the fact of feminism and empowerment of women, the objectification and subjection of women for sexual purposes is as rife as it ever was.

In 1980s – Berger was a somewhat refuted – relativism – (research this)

Reiteration that each person has a unique view of an image

Back to Mona Lisa – when the original painting is viewed – in a hugely crowded Louvre gallery – it is small, behind bullet-proof glass – the object is priceless – but the original may be a let down – it’s small, ill-lit and hard to get more than a distant view.

The advent of photography changed how we can view art – the chance to reproduce images-

  • Prior to photography copying, making etched copies and other printing methods were the only way to make reproductions – time consuming and limited in number of copies which could be produced.  (e.g. the painting The Last Supper – even the reproductions we see are more often reproductions of a copy (the original fresco is very discoloured and cracked).
Reproduction of the original fresco by Leonado Da Vinci (c.a. 1520) https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4b/%C3%9Altima_Cena_-_Da_Vinci_5.jpg/1280px-%C3%9Altima_Cena_-_Da_Vinci_5.jpg
The Last Supper, ca. 1520, Andrea di Bartoli Solario, after Leonardo da Vinci, oil on canvas, currently in the Leonardo da Vinci Museum, Tongerlo Abbey.


This image has been appropriated widely.  I particularly appreciate this one by Annie Leibovitz of the cast of The Sopranos

Image source http://losarciniegas.blogspot.com.au/2013/08/annie-leibovitz-sopranos.html

Church art – to tell stories, for worship (e.g. idols brought out only for annual church festivals)

  • Reproductions, however good, never show the whole story – e.g. distortion of colours, size, context, deliberate manipulation
  • Film – use of editing – zoom in and out – editing for the impact required – e.g. when someone is about to be attacked in a thriller, there is often an image of the unprotected back – or parts of the background is hidden, cropped out, shadowy.

Images are so endemic today, that most of those we see are not processed by the mind –

Images to show social status

Berger – the nude in western art systematically objectified women – including in the media – body image – the use of the female image to sell things – destabilising of the self so a ‘need’ for a product is generated.

Berger – nude images were like property – e.g. images of one’s mistress on display to my close (male friends)

Oil painting could look so real – so were the best way to show status (also were durable over time, unlike works on paper).

The cycle of commodification – creating the need for the latest fashion, product, using guilt – using avarice, using ‘keeping up with the Jones’s’) – the ad sells an idea –

Marshall McLuhan – The medium is the message https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_medium_is_the_message

the aim of Visual Culture is for people to be active, critical viewers – and to allow artists to use this knowledge for their own work.

The film maker – can edit the way people view an image – by cropping, order of imagery etc. Every documentary photographer presents a view from his/her own bias.

Assignment 1

Written statement

What is art? How would you define art? Has art changed – or its purposes – anti-aesthetic art – art is (in Merinda’s opinion) changing – is there some overlying purpose/meaning for art

What is art history? Who writes it?/defines it?

What is Visual Culture?

Short written statement – use references (e.g. from Cloud)

Activity 1– create a collage (postcard size) to encapsulate visual culture – reference images –

Berger video – Part 1


You Tube – The Dove onslaught (also on ABC the checkout)

3 hours contact – and extra 6 hours. Each week.

Dove ads deconstructed – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zKfF40jeCA on the Checkout ABC https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIyP9WsVPNg


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