Brainstorm for Take-Home Exam

"Art history graduates can bore you rigid with talk about Derrida, Lacan,
Merleau-Ponty and Foucault, but few can tell you about the carpentry employed
in a 14th century Sienese altarpiece... Fewer still are trained to produce a
catalogue raisonne, the basic compilation of an artist's work and
history... They're incapable of even recognizing what they're looking at."

Discuss Frank Whitford's polemical reading of current art historical
scholarship, building your argument by citing material from your course notes
and readings.

Whitford’s reading of current art historical scholarship criticizes that art history graduates do not possess the very basic skills once essential to membership in the art historical community – they cannot recognize the carpentry in a Sienese altarpiece and are incapable of producing a catalogue raisonne. However, Whitford claims they can talk extensively about recent theorists and can ‘bore you rigid with talk about Derrida, Lacan, Merleau-Ponty and Foucault’. Whitford is critical of new art historical scholarship and its departure from a practical to a theoretical foundation.

Nature of critical theory of the new art history
Questions everything – takes away legitimacy of traditional art history
Questions the structure so doesn’t want to adhere to structure (to create a catalogue raisonne)
Very ideological, rather than practical perhaps, cognitive rather than material
Cant just accept a piece of art ‘for arts sake’ – must psychoanalyze or deconstruct… because we are no longer ‘innocent’ – cant be ignorant of the innocent eye anymore, but are forced to take responsibility and reconcile it

The twentieth century saw the questioning of the very nature of art when artists like Picasso, Duchamp, and Sherrie Levine challenged established art historical discourse, ultimately resulting in the redefinition of art itself. Traditional notions of ‘art’ are just that – traditional, and a thing of the past. Critical theory has opened up art historical scholarship, giving birth to a new type of art history which promotes an interdisciplinary approach and relies highly on thoery - it is intertwined with philosophy, anthropology, politics, and social theory etc.

The term 'art' is transitory and unstable, shifting meanings as it manouevers through time and space, from place to place. So 'art' was once 'art as craft' (to serve a practical purpose, ancient times Cyclades), 'art as a trade', (guilds, technique a conditioned skill [like woodwork], to get paid by a patron, middle ages and renaissance), 'art of the individual' (art for arts sake, expression, modern age). I propose the 21st century has again seen a shift and redefinition of this transitory term – 'art as life'. It’s sooo tied to everything else – postmodern thinking does champion complexity and interdependency! We are in a climate of postmodernity. In vis120 we were given a sequence of slides and were to categorize them as ‘art’ or ‘not art’. Catherine Heard deemed those ‘art’ that were ‘art of the individual’.
Shows the shift of the discipline – it is one of the few disciplines that critiques itself (like anthro).
Talk about post modernism for this q
Art history as this new hybrid critical approach
We must be of our times – it would be against our times to go back to the way it was before and pretend that all this crazy thinking didn’t affect us and our approach to art. Would be against our times to obsess about the carpentry of a Sienese altarpiece – traditional.

Traditional AH

- gives us a handle to judge what is in the canon (masterpieces, genius, value)
- helps us grasp a body of ideas (art history)
- auras and essences of artworks
- transcendental, timeless, truth

The canon
- superstructure that relies on discourse and hierarchy

- Foucault defined as “A language that functions to control the order of things via a collective. It is a will to truth creating the effect of transparency”
- Relies on repetition (what is important is repeated), rarefication (forming of a discrete community), selection, exclusivity (not everyone can be included), coherence (through rule of the author certain claims gain coherence (determines who we’ll study - the name Shakespeare connotes value because of the author function)

Artist as genius
- a visionary – gives him authority

- art critic
- supposes you’ll never understand the art work without a Berger, the critic is in charge of what’s important – Bryson ‘Vision and Painting’ (reveals the story of art is a fiction)

- assumes they are present in culture and art works

Innocent eye
- Titian’s ‘The Venus of..’ we are asked to overlook fact we are looking at a naked woman, children will see the nakedness, but passed off in art world as the ‘nude’
- asked to suspend disbelief

Reflection theory
- believe what others pronounce to be important, because they have more authority, retinal sensation, and knowledge
- promotes a passive viewer

- craft objects are pumped out in masses
- a singular art piece has special status
- like Antiques Road Show and connoisseurship

- traditional art history vs. new critical art history

The object is a thing through which meanings and intentions of the artist pass

Traditional AH assumptions:
- knowledge is linear
- developmental progression
- differential articulations over time, space, biography – establishing a common space of beliefs is the formation of myth
- willingness to accept myths of culture as part of the natural order (Bryan Wolf)
- situates the past relevant to the present so it sees style as evolving from an earlier one
- locates works within a set time so it defines them as belonging to the ‘spirit of the times’ and creates a chronological order
- looks at a painting as if it’s an extension of our own world (Alberti) and not a cultural construct > I think I just understood the gaze! The gaze is linked with this idea of paintings as extensions of 3-dimensional reality – Ah Ha! Gazing into 3D space, a ‘window’. Then summons the innocent eye to suspend the disbelief and walk into illusory space.

What we consider is dependent on what we see as culturally important and what will be legitimized by those around us (what people perceive to be meaningful and relative)

Formalist theory – Greenberg… art in vacuum

Texts as historical objects – belong to time and place in history


Week 10, Deconstruction

➢ Language Vs. Language - One is attached to a mode of communication to the point of critiquing a language using that same language. Critiquing a culture being attached to that same culture and its elements.
Example: Yinka Shonibare Victorian Couple

➢ Cultural Constructs - Structures are not deep truths waiting to be discovered, they are cultural constructs. There is no objective universal truth. Subjects do not communicate consistent, intentional, and rational views, and unified meanings that mirror the reality outside them. Binary opposites are the main tools in human constructions of meaning, they are not essential truths. They serve as pieces of an argument for a particular truth. We must question why these constructs are applied, and why they are accepted.
Example: T.S Eliot The Wasteland

➢ Differance - Signifiers and signifieds are not identical they differ from each other and point to other signs to gain meaning. No ultimate truth exists because all truths are based on difference and comparison, not unity.
Example: WWII Propaganda Poster

➢ Meaning & Non-Meaning - Language can simultaneously convey the presence and absence of meaning. What a statement doesn’t say may be as important for interpretation as what it does say. Reading a work means looking at what the artist intends to convey with his language and what his language conveys to us without his intention. A piece gains meaning by how we read the constructs as well as by how they are written.
Example: Fred Wilson Mining the Museum

➢ Irreducibility of Art - Art is the ultimate deconstructor in culture. The variety/differences in art means that it resists totalitarian interpretation and categorization, transcending the concept of sameness and therefore the idea of an underlying presence and of an ultimate truth.
Example: Greg Curnoe View of Victoria Hospital

➢ Ownership - The competition between interpretations of truth in a work brings up the question: to whom does art belong. Does it belong to the subject it represents, the artist who made it, or the viewer?
Example: Leonardo da Vinci Mona Lisa

➢ Importance of Reception - The effects or meanings of works of art are ultimately in how they relate to those who read them, and not in any innate essence.
Example: Tracy Emin My Bed

Week 6, Study Notes and Thoughts for Midterm

The canon cherry-picks history
- Selective
- To support a unilinear, progressive Enlightenment story

Universality – I’m confused about this
Immutable = unchanging through time, ageless, constant
- So the idea that artworks make statements that are unchanging through time
- Relies on a fixed scale to judge works and relies on academics who make their beliefs common knowledge
*So basically critics and art historians make their beliefs seem like obvious common ‘knowledge’ or ‘truth’ even though its their own opinions, supported by a criteria to judge artworks that they made up – that’s ridiculous!
- Universality then cretes a criteria which helps to determine what works are masterpieces, which artists are geniuses and then we can slap a value on it
- So is universality saying ‘this artwork is a masterpiece because it transcends time and space’ ? > I think so

Transparent = clear, easy to understand, obvious
Opacity = hard to understand
*Makes us think! So that we must make sense of it for ourselves
Subjective = subject, the person’s thoughts and emotions
Like someone’s opinions, their own perspective which varies from person to person
Objective = reaching ‘truth’ through formal facts
Like science claiming it can 'prove' anything, ‘knowledge’

Art critics made up a myth that masterpiees should be easily recognized by their aura of worth. They constructed stories and ideologies like universality and objectivity which support their claims. Really seems to be a big conspiracy and art critics have hidden agendas > power and money
-Like Greenberg telling Pollock what was good and what was not. By promoting something specific he can have be the ultimate authority on the subject.

Traditional art history seems very selective and manipulative to prove a point, or fulfill other hidden needs – the ‘mastering gaze’

Relative = in relation to other things, not absolute

In traditional AH, audience is not doing enough active thinking! Not questioning what they are told – they are told what works have value, knowledge as ready to absorb, consensus of opinions about works and what is meaningful
Traditional AH seems fishy… too easy. May be easy for me to say in retrospect from a contemporary eye, but traditional AH was very particular, very constructed to something specific

Traditional AH informed by Enlightenment ideals, just like traditional anthropology
- Categorized, classified, unilinear evolution with the aim to communicate universal meaning that defies time and space
- So, the old AH was informed by concepts of order, development/progress, and rationality

Transcendental = goes beyond, mystical, goes above
dualism? > mind and body division, like Descartes and Cartesians
Bryson – scrutinized art history as a discipline
Artifice = artificial, not real
Telos = moving towards an end, traditional, linear AH

Seems like with new AH we are now aware of how old art history made us think. It gave us the easy way out – reception theory and passivity. Were we just ignorant of the power of discourse and its massive construction of the AH community? Were we just ignorant and unaware we were seeing art as ‘reading texts’ rather than thinking for ourselves and ‘writing text’? looking back on this, seems we should now know better, that we should’ve learned a lesson from this with our new awareness. We should be thinking about art and images and making sense of them for ourselves.
- Or is this new thinking just another construct from a new generation of art
people; making us think this way to fit into their plans?
BUT, as Marshall McLuhan said, MTV culture and fast images condition us to lose our ability to look and think about images and art – ‘image saturation’
- So is our emancipation short lived? Have we now been conditioned to take images for granted? Have we become lazy from image consumption?
- I feel like for the most part we aren’t doing any more thinking than before – maybe we like the easy way out!

Role of theory as a creative force in relation to images
- Theory is a realm of ideas or opinions, a type of approach
- So, it can influence our experience of an artwork by directing our attention to certain aspects of the work – it guides our thinking and experience of images

We used to be passive, forced into an inactive role by the system of AH. Looking back we recognize this and now accept a more active role, asking questions and trying to create meanings - critical theory
- But is the new AH just constructing this view of the old AH to serve its own purpose? It seems like it always comes down to this!
- Are we always selecting and manipulating to support our current views?

People make a bunch of crap up. Then they make up a bunch more crap to prove the crap they made up. Then through a carefully crafted system and community they can perpetuate the crap and legitimize it, eventually convincing the average person this is common knowledge
- I need to make up a new discipline and then a bunch of crap to support it – I could be rich!

Reproductions and information age, MTV culture and fast flashing images condition us to be desensitized to images. Our Western culture privileges images so much the saturation of images is making us not think, puts us in that low, passive position again, or so it seems to me!
- Maybe we are always choosing the easy way out or perhaps we are ignorant or
lazy. However you want to put it, it seems like the submissive role, on the back, thighs spread
Privileging sight as medium – ‘if it work its obsolete’
- Like what Rachel was saying about the quote from McLuhan, as soon as the medium works and you understand it, someone else already has too and moved on, so you’re behind the times

It seems like the structure uses force to put us in a subordinate position. The old AH system promoted a passive viewer, reception theory. The new AH seems to promote an active, questioning viewer. But I feel like the culture the new AH exists in is dominated by advertising, TV, computers, and info using lots of fast images and reproductions that promote a non-thinking, lazy viewer.
- So then how does all this line up? ‘History’ has not taken its toll for ‘truth’ to come out about new AH and its culture. But then what is history but a selected, narrative of past events used to serve some purpose?
- Its all about using information to serve a purpose

Why would theories make art history into nonsense?
- Because everything is a subjective idea that uses cherry picked info to support it and there are no ‘truths’ and art history can’t be one coherent thing. Everything is people’s ideas about things and peoples ideas about peoples ideas about things. AH seems so far removed from art at all it seems more about people. The history of people thinking about peoples ideas about something called art, whatever that might be.

Theory can shape our thinking by focusing around specific questions to understand specific things
Transparency was promoted by traditional AH, the ‘easy’ approach
It is mumbo jumbo cause everything constructed to promoted certain thinking. Now, new AH takes a critical approach by using critical theory to scrutinize traditional AH. Its creative because of its interdisciplinary approach – anthropology, psychology, gender, and social roles provokes an active viewer, reflection theory, writerly text, opacity, complexity

Week 5, Antiques Road Show

- HMS Victory Ship, in the Battle of Trafulgar
- Ostrich eggs with pictures of ship - 2000 each
- 400 year old cup – only worth 100 pounds:
  • Antiquarium thinks it should be worth 1000 because it’s so old and exquisite, and in good condition, but it has no ‘special status’
  • So then, what gives something value? Maybe this ‘special status,’ an event, its ability to survive time, or how high it is in demand
    • Reminds me of Cycladic figurines - became very popular for a time with the interest in ideas of the ‘primitive’ and ‘pureness’
- Sword from Napoleonic wars (1796):
  • Officer’s name is inscribed; this is attractive to collectors. A name and a face to be associated with, not just an object in itself
  • Used for crowd control by people on horses
  • Exceptional condition
  • Since there’s popular interest in the Napoleonic wars, its attributed a value of 3000-4000 pounds!
- Bishop’s ring
  • An extraordinary thing to find in a marketplace, usually retained by the church
  • 19th century, scenes of the crucifixion
  • Purple colour stone – purity
  • Its rareness gives it a value of 1000 pounds
    • So maybe rareness creates value
*How do they know so much about the objects? They would need such a vast knowledge base about everything. Do they examine the objects beforehand, like with a team? Or do they get the objects and then call in experts in that area to come in and tell the object’s story and report its value?

Emerald brooch – jungle green
  • Synthetic emeralds worth nothing, God’s emeralds worth lots!
  • 10,000 – 15,000 pounds! Again, rareness creates value
- Cast bronze figurine (humorous – cats in a boat)
  • Turned out being worth 500 pounds. After finding out its value, owner declared “I will look at it in a totally different way”
- A cult of all things to do with Nelson
  • Raises the issue of fakes (again reminding me of Cycladic and Cypriot figurines)
  • Box > worth 10 – 20 pounds, but if it’s associated with Nelson it’s worth around 800 pounds!
*So it seems the story is important to attributing value, its history and associations
- Woman’s skull collection: dolphin, human skull, mouse – no commercial value

Relevant class notes:

- Value based on consensus and quality
- Revelation, only the antiquarium could discover
- Just like the art critic and his authority! Sounds like art historical discourse again
- Pedigree, trying to establish provenance
- Looking for hallmarks of authenticity
- Aspect of education as well

- Relate to the domain of objects
- Decipher images
- Polish up totems of ancestry
- By means of the canon of quality and more precisely pedigree or provenance
- Tells us about symbolic capital (social value) – the individual who possesses these objects, especially when its on TV
-This symbolic capital is as important as the economic one – you are elevated in the community because you possess it
- Works acquire value as they fit into a marketplace


Week 9, Nanette Salomon, "The Art Historical Canon: Sins of Omission"

Nanette Salomon traces the roots of the art historical canon from H.W. Janson’s The History of Art of nineteen-sixty-two, back to Giorgio Vasari’s book Le Vite De’piu eccellenti Architetti, Pittori et Scultori Italiani, of the sixteenth-century. Here, she argues, Vasari created notions of the artist, art critic and canon that persist to current times, as can be seen in the text by Janson. Salomon investigates how the canon has worked to disclude women and perpetuate hierarchical structures.

Vasari founded an art historical structure which placed Florence high in the hierarchy, stressing accomplishments of High Renaissance artists Michelangelo and Raphael. By using biography and value judgments of influence, Vasari privileged the notion of individual genius, thus giving birth to the ‘artist’. Vasari’s ‘artist’ appears to be a white, upper-class male. Alongside the ‘artist’ is produced the critic, who possesses the authority to assert a ‘masterpiece’. Raffaello Borghini absorbs this idea, but writes from the position of a connoisseur in his book, Il Riposo.

Vasari is accredited with the creation of the art academy, the Accademia del Disegno, which allowed him to influence artists to privilege qualities he declared ‘great’. Drawing from live nude models was common, thereby placing women in the role as models and men as artists, and thus excluding women from creating ‘great’ art. Vasari’s age also saw the mechanical reproduction of works, which broadened the scope of viewers and further helped legitimize Vasari’s academies.

According to Salomon, Vasari and Janson strategized a standard which worked to create a hierarchy. This standard privileged art from central Italy and classical forms. For example, Renaissance art from central Italy was accredited high value, which contrasts art of the ‘North’ which was deemed as craft and insuperior. Art from the Middle Ages and use of non-classical forms were frowned upon. Similarly, the art historical canon worked to disclude and marginalize women from its structure. Feminists are now trying to change this exclusive system by strategies of recovering women as artists and women playing an active role as critics.

Salomon argues that biography has been used to celebrate men’s artistic genius as individual and mystical, whereas it has worked to bind women’s art as being inextricably linked and determined by biographical events. This point is exemplified in the fact Michelangelo and Caravaggio’s homosexuality has not played a dominant role in the viewing of their art, in contrast to Artemisia Gentileschi’s rape which has repeatedly been a point of discussion in regards to her artworks.

Salomon suggests an interesting notion: the heroic male nude and sexualized, and passive female nude have characterized classical works to fulfill men’s homosexual and heterosexual desires. This creates a male bonding experience for viewers to share in ‘high’ art culture.

In all, Vasari generated a structure, an art historical discourse, and canon that still persist to some degree today. Salomon sums this up:
While conditions have changed, the deeper stratifications of gender,
race, and class continue to operate within the culturally expressed
power relationships he articulated. Vasari thus furnished the discursive forms that remain potent in Janson’s moment-and ours (p.355).

Week 8, Saussure and the "arbitrariness of the sign"

I was confused by the question posed in the syllabus “What did Saussure, in his famous Course on Linguistics, refer to by what he called ‘the arbitrariness of the sign?’” namely because we did not read the Course on Linguistics. So, I am therefore assuming we are to base our answer on the limited account of Saussure in D’Alleva.

Saussure thought of the sign as a type of structure, consisting of a signifier and signified. For example, a photograph of my cat would be the signifier, and my cat would be the thing signified. With this said, Saussure argues that signs are not meaningful in isolation, but gain meaning only when interpreted in relation to each other. Binary oppositions such as ‘hot/cold’ or ‘night/day’ illustrate this notion.

To get to the point, signs are ‘arbitrary’ because they possess no inherent message illustrating one clear meaning. We construct the meanings through culture and in relation to other signs. For example, an alien visiting earth would not be immediately aware that a red light means ‘stop’. There is no universal message inherently encoded in the colour red that conveys ‘stop’. He may, however, learn that red means ‘stop’ after living in Western culture for a time and observing that people halt in response to this colour. He may also learn that red means ‘stop’ by seeing that another colour, like green, conveys a message of ‘go’. So, it seems signs are arbitrary because they are culturally constructed and gain meaning through binary oppositions.

Week 5, Schapiro on Style

To Schapiro, style is a type of system of constant forms in art used by individuals or groups. Schapiro takes great consideration of historical context, as he suggests style reflects a culture; their values, accomplishments, and illustration of their context in time and space. He suggests the importance of both form and expression; as styles have common form elements, like the arch seen in Roman, Romanesque and Renaissance architecture, but, the way such elements are combined and contextualized with other elements will define the style more than the element itself.

Schapiro considers how contemporary attitudes have shifted to a more relative viewpoint, allowing for more flexibility in what styles are seen as ‘acceptable’. He says, “style is like a language” (p.148), and because of this attitude, works by children and the clinically insane are now considered legitimate. Schapiro thinks the influence of primitive art style is obvious in many modern works, although the structure and content have shifted, taking on new meanings in a new context.

Week 4, Michael Baxandall, "Patterns of Intention"

Baxandall discusses the complexities of describing a picture through language. Because of the linear nature of language and the simultaneous nature of sight, an incompatibility arises when trying to describe a picture using words. He recognizes this rift, and considers the influence of our own memories, experiences, and thoughts in constructing a visual image from a written description.

Baxandall asserts that, “a description of a picture is less a representation of the picture… than a representation of thinking about having seen the picture” (p.61). Baxandall here refers to Kenneth Clark’s description of Piero della Francesca’s, Baptism of Christ which reflects Clark’s awareness of a ‘geometric framework’ which may or may not be obvious to other onlookers.

Baxandall goes on to suggest that we explain a picture by describing it with certain words that reflect the effect the picture has on us, for example, blots become ‘excited’. The words we choose are indirect and gain their meaning through their relationship with the picture. For example, the description will have a different intention and effect depending on if the work being described is present or known, just as when speaking of a ‘big’ dog, the intention and effect will shift depending if the dog is present. Through this, the meanings that arise will point to certain interests we hold in the picture.


Week 3, "What guides your own interests and experiences of reading artworks?"

Past experiences and memories
- Something in the artwork may provoke a memory: something I've seen, heard, or touched before... reminding me...

What I have read or been told about the artist, or style of the work. 'Knowledge' I have about its context, purpose... Preconceptions and expectations built around this.

My personal sensory reaction to it
- Do I feel pleased or distraut when looking at it?

My place in time and space, my culture...

Week 2, Assumptions, Belief Systems, and Myths

Cynthia Freeland's "Art Theory"

museums 'elitist' - p. 62

when westerners collect non-western art or view it in a museum we miss lots of its original context - p.45

to understand art, you need knowledge of all the theories

art from community - agrees with Dewey - cognitive enterprise
seems to agree with David Anderson - p.117

not all theories apply to all cultures
open minded, but catches herself when she's not
> 'authentic aboriginal' dance, selling CD's
she comments, 'why should he stay trapped in his tradition but not me?'

seems to favor formalist and contextualist analysis

market can spoil artworks
> believes in artist as an outsider - chpt on art markets - artists have some 'special' status

art as a 'continuous examination of our perceptual awareness...' - p.138

art is life spirit of community

we've always had art and always will continue to
- sensuous medium - Kant and aesthetics
significant form
presumption of a shared system of belief between artist, their time, and the community

relationship between art and nature - p.20
> catharsis? - spiritual awakening, paradigm shift
---> Damien Hirst and idea of death

art must have an essence

why blood and guts? - sensation, to cause a reaction

western understanding of things
> a-historicism - doesn't deal with question of time, liquid

writes as art as expression - 'art is a catalyst'
> resorts to a number of myths

Freeland seems to agree with notion that there is a universal vision that is shared by all
Professor seems to disagree with much of what Freeland argues


Week 1, Notes from "Art Theory" by Cynthia Freeland

- like paint
- human essence
- can be holy/noble
- can be contaminated/dangerous
- can indicate loss of virginity/adulthood
---> many expressive and symbolic associations

Art as ritual
- art can create symbolic value through ceremonies, gestures, artifacts; many rituals of world religions use rich colour, design, and pageantry
- BUT modern artists do crazy things with blood
---> ritual is to reinforce community's relation to God/nature through gestures everyone knows and understands
---> audiences who see and react to a modern artist don't enter in shared beliefs and values, SO how valid is the theory of art as ritual?

Maybe using blood for $ gives them edge - being eccentric, shock value, provoking controversy
- Damien Hirst "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living"
- Chris Ofili "Virgin Mary"

Controversial work involving body fluids and religion
- symbols of pain/suffering central to many religions; can be shocking when dislocated from their community
- if they mix with secular symbols, their meaning is threatened

Hume and Kant
- basis of modern aesthetic theory
- both thought some works of art really are better than others and that some people have better taste

- men of education/experience would agree on 'the best' thus creating a universal 'standard of taste'
---> skeptics criticize - values acquired through cultural indoctrination

- beauty - good judgments in aesthetics are in features of artworks themselves, not just in viewer/preferences
- we label and categorize the world to function and for things to have purpose
*this reminds me of what we were talking about in anthropology, how we create categories to classify and understand the world, like "food" or "not food". in some cultures guinea pigs are categorized as food, and in others, they are categorized as pets.
- beauty has 'purposiveness without a purpose' - Kant's saying we label something beautiful because it promotes a feeling of 'rightness' or internal harmony for the mind
- special kind of pleasure - to appreciate beauty, our response must be disinterested
---> so if a viewer responds to Botecelli's "Venus" with sexual desire like a playboy bunny, they are not actually appreciating her beauty
- making beautiful art requires human 'genius'

Kant's 20th century successors
- aesthetic formalists
- Bell - 'significant form' particular combinations stir aesthetic emotions
- Bullough - sexual and political subjects block aesthetic awareness
- Greenberg - form - painting/sculpture refers to its own condition (flatness, boundaries of the canvas)

Serrano's "Piss Christ"
- a photo of crucifix bathed in golden fluid (artist's own pee)
- highly offensive to many
- critic Lucy Lippard attempts to explain/defend by emphasizing the art's content and Serrano's emotional/political commentary (contrasts Kant's followers like Greenberg)
- Serrano shows how contemporary culture is commercializing and cheapening Christianity and its icons, so it seems "Piss Christ" isn't denouncing religion, but its institutions
- ties to beautiful/violent Spanish art tradition

- secure place as 'genius' in Western art canon
- witnessed and depicted atrocities - American and French revolutions, French and Spanish Peninsular war
- made people confront the possibilities of human nature in moments of extreme crisis
- a moral perspective that Serrano didn't have?
---> no, because Goya supported the French revolution and so its assumed he has Enlightenment values, however, in works like "The Horrors of War" he makes clear there were no moral winners in the war, thus rejecting Enlightenment ideals of progress/human improvement
- Black paintings - REALLY disturbing
- Serrano not as good as Goya cause Goya showed violence to condemn it, not sensationalize it?
---> no, hard to compare a contemporary artist to a 'great master' - we don't know the ultimate judgment of history
- Goya may not be asserting a morally uplifting message, but rather saying human nature is dreadful
---> Serrano may insult religion, but coming from a moral motivation - photographing corpses to offer victims moments of human sympathy, not wallowing in own decay. So, Serrano's work has precedents in Western European canon, like Goya. Art includes works that are ugly/disturbing with negative moral content.

* Note to self - it will take way too long if you do such detailed notes, underline in texts and jot down main points and own ideas

Geometry ruled design of the church - form of cross
* I never really realized the symbolic significance of this, whoa! The place of worship actually was in form of an icon of worship; most important symbol of Christianity, the cross! Worshipping inside an item of worship!
- the square illustrates moral perfection
* everything is made of squares! ah! - a connection between everything being squares and showing moral perfection?

- argues that in each time and context, the artist creates something as art by relying on a shared theory of art that the audience can grasp, given its historical/institutional context
---> Andy Warhol's "Brillo Boxes" couldn't have been 'art' in the Middle Ages

George Dickie
- institutional theory of art - an object is baptized as 'art' if accepted by museum and gallery directors and purchased by art collectors

Information and knowledge of context helps enhance our experience of art
Dewey - experience art of other cultures; experience will be enhanced

'Primitive' art
- loses original context when displayed in museums or collected
- the idea of the 'exotic'
- MOMA exhibit (1984) 'Primitivism' and Modern Art
---> had no info about artists, eras, cultures, or original uses - just look or form

Anthropologist, Richard Anderson
- art as 'culturally significant meaning, skillfully encoded in an affecting, sensuous medium'