Maya Civilization

Maya Civilization

Bonampak Painting, Mexico, 700 B.C.

Bonampak Painting, Mexico, 700 B.C.

The Maya people are a civilization that began around 2000BC in Mesoamerica. The early Maya natives are recognized for their architecture, art, mathematics, astronomy and written language.  They had strong religious beliefs and rituals. To this day large populations of Maya descendants continue to live in the Maya region of Mesoamerica where they continue to maintain many of those same traditions, beliefs and speak the native Maya language.

Mesoamerica

Mesoamerica

Maya CivalizationTimeline –

The Maya civilization lasted for centuries and to keep track of their length of existence their timeline was categorized into three distinct eras. There was the Pre-Classic Maya period (c 2000BC to 250 AD), the Classic Maya period (c AD 250 to 900) and the Post Classic Maya period (AD 900 to 1500) or until it collapsed.

Maya architecture

 Chichén Itzá

El Castillo, Chichén Itzá archaelogical site

It was the Classic period  that scholars say the Maya civilization reached it’s peak for large scale construction, However above is a beautiful stepped pyramid from pre-classic period. El Castillo has four faces and each face contains 91 steps. All toghther with the steps on top this pyramid it has 365 steps which is the number of days in a year. Therefore, this pyramid is believed to have been built for astronomical purposes.  In 2006, a woman fell to her death and people are no longer allowed to walk the steps of El Castillo one of the Maya civilizations most magnificent pyramids.   Here’s a link to some more of their amazing structures http://www.touropia.com/ancient-mayan-temples/

Maya Sculptures

Mayan Woman Figurine from Jaina, ca. 800-1000 AD, Ceramic figure of an ancient Maya woman from the island of

Maya Woman Figurine from Jaina, ca. 800-1000 AD,

The Maya artists over the centuries really captured the essence of being a Maya Native through their 1000’s of sculptures large and small found at various archaelogical sites.  Above is a beautiful ceramic figure of an ancient Maya woman. The sculpture was made from a mold and then decorated by hand.  It was found just off the Yucatan Peninsula on a small Island called Jaina.Jaina was a Maya burial site. It is estimated there are over 20,000 graves there. Each grave containing human remains had one or more ceramic figurines like the one above on their chest or in their hands along with other objects. I really like this little figurine, because of it’s intricate details and beautiful colors. I wonder what the little emulate in her hand is and what it is for?

Maya Art/Ceramics

Vase with Eleven Figures Large vase with pseudoglyphs and eleven characters. Guatemalan Highlands, Nebaj region. Maya, AD 600–900. Polychromed orange-gloss ceramic. Jay I. Kislak Collection, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (8) Photo ©Justin Kerr, Kerr Associates

Vase with Eleven Figures
Maya, AD 600-900

Above is a beautiful example of Maya ceramics. The characters are walking around with bloody heads in hand and some sort of weapon in the other.  I find the imaging very disturbing. However, this vase depicts a clear example of the Maya peoples way of life. They were known to be very savage and practice sacrificial ceremonies.  The artist who painted this vase used wonderful detail and used some absolutely magnificent colors. Look closely to the top and there are multiple pseudoglyhs. Pseudoglyphs are symbols that usually represent some sort of meaning. I’m not sure what kind of meaning these are trying to represent, but I imagine if it has any relation to what is depicted it is most likely meaning something gruesome in nature.

Conclusion

The Maya civilization was a very successful civilization with a population in the millions. Why their society collapsed is still being talked about to this day. Some believe it was drought, wide-spread disease, over population or that there was some sort of revolt by the underclass. Whatever the reason may be for the decline in their society the beautiful art, architecture, sculptures and mystery they’ve left behind will forever captivate the world.

http://www.docstoc.com/docs/77903499/Mayan-civilization

http://science.nationalgeographic.com/science/archaeology/palenque/

http://0.tqn.com/d/create/1/0/K/r/D/-/El-Castillo-Chichen-Itza-original-3.jpg

http://www.authenticmaya.com/maya_writing.htm

http://facstaff.gpc.edu/~shale/humanities/literature/world_literature/classprojects/mexico/maya.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_civilization

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Latin American Art

Latin American Art

There were so many wonderful Latin American Artists to choose from. However, I could only chose a few, so I chose to write about Tamayo Rufino, Gunther Gerzso and Carmen Lomas Garza. I chose these artist because there work is truly unique, completely different from each others and they didn’t show the typical art one would think of when thinking of Latin American Art. For instance most people have seen the traditional Mexican painted pottery, Day of the Dead images and Murals. These artists capture something very personal to them and their lives.

Tamayo Rufino  (August 26,1899 – June 24, 1991)

Tamayo Rufino was born in the city of Oaxaca, Mexico in 1899. When he was 12 years old in 1911 his parents died and he ended up moving to Mexico City to live with family.  In 1917, Rufinos aunt enrolled him into the Escuela Nacional de Artes, Plasticas.  It was there that his first official studies of the arts began.  Later, he left to study art on his own and began working for Jose Vasconcelos at the Department of Ethnographic Drawings in 1921, where he eventually became head of department of Ethnographic drawing and the Archaeological Museum.

Moon and Sun, 1990 Rufino Tomaya

Moon and Sun, 1990 Rufino Tomaya

Perro ladrandole a la luna, 1988

Perro ladrandole a la luna, 1988

 Rufino’s Art

Above are two works by Rufino Tamayo done later in his art career. Perro Ladrandole a la luna (Dog Barking at the Moon) has very little cubism to it compared to his earlier work, but still has some beautifully rich, warm and vibrant colors. I personally like his later work better. Out of all of his paintings these two really stood out to me.  To see some of Tamayo’s earlier work with strong cubism here is a link http://www.adanigallery.com/Tamayo/main.html .

Gunther Gerzso (June 17, 1915 – April 21, 2000)

Gunther Gerzso was born in Mexico City. His dad was an immigrant from Hungaria and his mother was German.  While Gunther was an infant his father died and his mother remarried a German Jeweler. Eventually her Mother divorced her second husband and sent Gunther to live with his uncle in Lugano, Switzerland. It was there that he was exposed to the world of Art and Theater.  In 1931 Gunther was sent back to live with his Mother in Mexico City where he began work in set designs and writing plays. It wouldn’t be until the late 1930’s when he would start to paint as a hobby. Friends impressed with his work encouraged him to submit his paintings for an art show. Thrilled that two of his works were selected for the Cleveland Museum of Art he eventually  considered himself more of a painter than a set designer.

Paisaje Espejismo, 2000, Gunther Gerzso

Paisaje Espejismo, 2000, Gunther Gerzso

Na-Bolom, 1993, etching printed in color, Gunther Gerzso

Na-Bolom, 1993, etching printed in color, Gunther Gerzso

Gerzso’s Art

I’m not a big fan of Abstract art, but Gerzso’s art is truly fascinating. I really enjoyed looking through all of his work and to me I think the reason his work appeals to me is because of the way he uses his colors. For example in the painting Paisaje Espejismo (Landscape Mirage) the colors don’t look solid, but instead more of a blend of colors to make a single color and shadows. It’s difficult to explain, but I hope you can see what I mean.  Here’s link to some more of his beautiful work http://www.midcenturia.com/2010/12/gunther-gerzso-paintings.html.

Carmen Lomas Garza (1948 – present)

Carmen Lomas Garza a native Texan born in Kingsville.  Like many Mexican American homes, family and traditions run deep and it was no different in Carmen’s home. Despite living in a very close knit, supportive home, life was not easy when she ventured outside of the protection of the Mexican Community she lived in. Outside she was exposed to racism and prejudices and the Chicano movement during the 60’s and 70’s helped gravitate her to take pride in her Mexican and Native American Heritage and it was then that she decided at the young age of 13 that she wanted to be an artist. Her goal was to paint positive art about Mexican families to support the Chicano movement.  She ultimately went to College studied art education and studio art, where she eventually received her Master of Education from Antioch Graduate School from Juarez Licnoln Center and her Master of Art from San Francisco State University.  She currently resides in San Francisco, California.

Sandia, 1986 Carmen Lomas Garza

Sandia, 1986 Carmen Lomas Garza

Tomalada, 1988 Carmen Lomas Garza

Tomalada, 1988 Carmen Lomas Garza

Garza’s Art

I absolutely love her art and I mean that. Her art has a very folk art feel to them. I really like the colors and the details in her work really capture the Mexican American home. All of her art was memories from her childhood, but being Hispanic myself she also captured my childhood in her art. When I saw these paintings for the first time it brought me back to all those nights my family would sit outside on a hot summers night eating watermelon and all the holiday family gatherings in the kitchen making Tamales. Tamales was truly a family affair, because of the amount of work involved, it was so much fun and what wonderful memories.

 Latin American Art

Latin American Art is very colorful, full of tradition, genuine to their heritage and these three artists truly capture that diversity.

http://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/carmen-lomas-garza

http://americanart.si.edu/education/corazon/artistas_01.cfm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunther_Gerzso

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rufino_Tamayo

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The Great Depression and The Works Progress Administration (WPA) Art for Alaska

"Street in Ketchikan" - Prescott M.M. Jones (Massachusetts), WPA Alaska Project, 1937, Book Cover Photo

“Street in Ketchikan” – Prescott M.M. Jones (Massachusetts), WPA Alaska Project, 1937, Book Cover Photo

Above is a wonderful painting from Alaska named Street in Ketchikan by Prescott M. M. Jones (c 1937). This painting was made by one of the twelve artists who were sent to capture Alaska in art through the Works Progress Administration (WPA). This art is one of of thousands produced by various artists in the early 1930’s to help combat the economic downturn called The Great Depression.

The Great Depression-

The Great Depression was believed to have begun when stocks began to fall September 4, 1929 and eventually crashing on October 29, 1929, also known as Black Tuesday.  This in turn caused a ripple effect globally and cities worldwide were eventually affected.  Hundreds of thousands of people became unemployed and many of these people eventually became homeless. The American government was desperately trying to combat the effects of the depression. They began by asking business owners to continue paying employees and asked big banks to help the failing smaller banks, both requests didn’t work. Eventually the government had to come up with a plan to create jobs. They came up with a number of programs  called the New Deal to help stimulate the economy.  A few examples were the Federal Home Loan Bank Act, Emergency Relief Act, Construction Act, Emergency Banking Act, The Securities Act, The Agricultural Adjustment Act, The National Recovery Administration, The Public Works Program and eventually the Works Progress Administration (WPA)’s

The Works Progress Administration (WPA)- Federal Arts Project

In 1933 and 1934, the Federal Governments Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.) was developed under The New Deal.  The WPA was a way to put back to work the artistic community. They were artists from all over the United States that were assigned to various areas. They would be placed to work in parks, large cities, rural towns and tiny villages.  This program created over 5,000 jobs and produced over 225,000 various works of art.

WPA in Alaska

In 1937, twelve artists were brought to Alaska. They came from Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Minnesota and Washington.  They were paid $135/month plus given travel money of $100. Their job was to paint and capture the region they traveled to by painting murals or posters for their local areas and create paintings to bring back for a touring art exhibit, displaying their Alaskan work and promoting Alaska. However the exhibit never took place and the art work was dispersed to various location, many of the art works were lost or destroyed.Many of their works were placed in public buildings such as the courthouse, post offices, public schools and hotels for the public to enjoy.  The others paintings or posters were sent to various places in the lower 48.

Alaskan Fishing Village Dawn by Karl Fortess (c 1937)

Alaskan Fishing Village Dawn by Karl Fortess (c 1937)

Finding The lost WPA Alaskan ART

Above is the painting Alaskan Fishing Village Dawn by Karl Fortess.  This painting was recently discovered after 70 years of being lost. Karl Fortess eventually headed the WPA art program in New York State.

 Signing Eskimos into The Alaska Territorial Guard Creator Jones, Joe

Signing Eskimos into The Alaska Territorial Guard
by Joe Jones, (origination date unknown)

WPA and WWII

Many artists that worked for the WPA ended up working with the War Department leading up to WWII. Above is the painting Signing Eskimos into The Alaskan Territorial Guard by Joe Jones.  His work along with other artists works were used on war time posters.

Saving and Exhibiting the WPA Alaskan Art

To this day there is no known number of exactly how many paintings were made through the WPA for Alaska.  Even though the original twelve artists plan to have a touring art exhibit of their Alaskan work never happened. Them and other artists who captured Alaska’s beauty on canvas was not in vain and nor will it be forgotten. Thanks to efforts made by the Alaska Museum of History, they began searching and tracking down WPA art and the museum currently houses 1800 prints, paintings, drawings and sketches.

http://www.wpamurals.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Depression

http://www.artistsalaska.com/federalArtProjects_WPA-FPA.htm

http://www.sitnews.us/0306news/031505/031506_painting.html

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Impressionism and the Renaissance

Impressionism -1870-1890

Impression, Sunrise (c1872)

Impression, Sunrise by Claude Monet (c1872)

Above is the famous painting named Impression, Sunrise by Claude Monet (c1872). This legendary painting is of the Harbour of Le Havre in France. In 1874, two years after he and a few French artists broke away from the traditional style of painting and began a new method of painting; they decided to display their work at an independent exhibition. Where they could show and explain their new style of painting. During the beginning of this original movement there was no name for this form of painting so when Monet was asked for a title for his painting he decided to label it Impression. He came up with the name Impression, because his painting wasn’t a landscape nor was it a view and it had no defined subject. Therefore to him his painting seemed to be more like an Impression. Despite how unique and creative the paintings were the style of painting was not well received by art enthusiasts, in particularly art critic Louis Leroy. In a review for a Parisian newspaper LaCharivari, Louis used Monet’s title “Impression” as a way to label all paintings of this nature. The term was not used as a compliment, but instead it was used as an insult and to criticize their work.  

My impression

These paintings remind me so much of my world without glasses. Anyone who is near sighted, far sighted or has astigmatism I’m sure can relate to this style of painting, because when I take my lenses off this is my world. A blurry shady blending of colors, truly an impression of things surrounding me. No clear definition and no clear lines. Objects sort of just fade together. For those who don’t were glasses here is a link on vision http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQ4rDNOX7So. Some of this work also reminds me of visual snow http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4KbBmZD2Qs . I wonder if some of these artists wore glasses and just took them off to paint.

Do I love it, or hate it?

I wouldn’t exactly say that I love or hate the Impressionist movement. I guess I would say that I’m in between, because I do enjoy the paintings to some degree and I respect the unique and creative ways the artists used their brush strokes and the way they were are able to create such beautiful ambiance with shadows and light.  It truly is unique.  

Impressionism Vs.Renaissance

Last Super by Leonardo da Vinci (c1495-1498)

Last Super by Leonardo da Vinci (c1495-1498)

The Renaissance was the rebirth from the middle ages it was a time when  art, science and philosophy flourished.  The development of perspective and the study of how light could affect the mood of a painting was discovered and refined. It was the foundation for future artists to learn from. The art however, was limited on it’s subject it was focused more on religion, telling the stories from the bible and Ancient Greece. For example, above is one of Leonardo da Vinci’s most recognized paintings the Last Super ( c 1495-1498).

Compared to the style of painting during the Renaissance, Impressionism is a sharp contrast to it. Impressionism was not focused on religion nor Ancient Greece. Impressionism was primarily focused on capturing an individual moment in time and no one in particular. It was more about mood and feeling not so much about the subject or the telling of a story.  Impressionist artists did however, use perspective in their paintings, a technique that can be contributed  to the Renaissance era. Also, Impressionists had no defined lines or lighted subjects like in the Last Super by Leonardo da Vinci. Instead they focused more on luminance.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impressionism

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:%C3%9Altima_Cena_-_Da_Vinci_5.jpg

 

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Art and The American Revolution

The American Revolutionary war was between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen united British colonies living on the North American Continent. The colonists wanted to no longer be under the rule of Britain and refused to pay their taxes. The American Revolutionary war began when Britain sent troops over to force the colonists to pay and in Lexington April 19, 1775 the first battle of many began. Over 10,000 battles continued across nearly every state in the Americas until it ended around September 3, 1783. It is estimated that more than six hundred thousand people perished.  Not only were the lives of American Colonists lost, but citizens from France, Spain and Dutch Republic were also lost fighting for America’s Independence.

During the eight years the war raged on there were many artists who documented the American Revolution with art, forever capturing the images of war, its soldiers and important political individuals who help deliver North America to gain its Independence.

Music also became an important part of the Revolutionary war with songs such as The Concord Hymn composed by Emerson, but the most famous and most recognized is Yankee Doodle Dandy. Yankee Doodle was a song derived from the pre-revolution days, but the tune stayed the same as it was the lyrics that would change throughout the war.

Below are two well renowned artists who helped document and capture the History of the Revolutionary war in their paintings.

Charles Wilson Peale (April 15, 1741- February 22, 1827)

Charles was born in Maryland 1741. He moved to Annapolis at the age of 9 and worked for a saddle maker, eventually gaining skills as a saddle maker, watch maker and silversmith. However, as a youth his true passion was in painting. He enjoyed painting so much he would teach himself painting techniques or trade saddles for lessons. As an adult he opened his own saddle maker shop, but once his creditors realized he was a part of the Sons of Liberty, they forced him out of business. Sons of Liberty were a group of people who protected the rights of the colonists. After being forced out of business some local supporters sent Charles to London to study and master Portrait painting under Benjamin West.  He returned to America in 1769, where he traveled for six years painting portraits of colonial leaders, eventually he enlisted as a private in the city militia. Quickly he advanced to 1st lieutenant, became proactive in politics, served on numerous committees and the General Assembly of Pennsylvania. During his career, he painted over 1100 portraits and paintings of the American Revolution. He would become known as the “American Revolution Artist“.

"George Washington at the Battle of Princeton," oil on canvas, by the American artist Charles Willson Peale. 1781

“George Washington at the Battle of Princeton,” oil on canvas, by the American artist Charles Wilson Peale. 1781

Capturing History through Art

Above is a portrait of George Washington by Charles Wilson Peale during the early days of the Revolutionary war. This portrait was meant to glorify George Washington as the new hero.  Even though Peale was criticized for painting George Washington’s head to small and for showing him a little too relaxed by leaning on a cannon with a hand on his hip, George Washington’s image standing above the British flags that rested beneath him was meant to motivate and inspire the colonists.

Gilbert Stuart (December 3, 1755-July 9, 1828)

Gilbert Charles Stuart was born in Saunderstown, Rhode Island. 1755.  At the age of 6 his family moved to Newport, Rhode Island and at the young age of fourteen he became friends with a Scottish artist Cosmo Alexander. Alexander would visit colonies and paint portraits of the local patrons. Alexander became Stuarts tutor and eventually they moved together to Scotland where Stuart could refine his skills. Unfortunately, Alexander died a year later leaving Stuart alone. Unable to support or provide for himself he moved back to Newport. In 1775 at the beginning of the Revolutionary war Stuart left for England where he also studied under Benjamin West. He worked with West for six years. Stuart soon became a successful painter, but he was always in financial debt and had to leave the country for fear of being taken to prison. In 1787 he moved to Dublin, Ireland where his debt problems followed him. Eventually he moved back to the states and painted the famous Anthenaeum.

George Washington (Antheneum portrait)  Gilbert Stuart  1796

George Washington (Antheneum portrait) Gilbert Stuart 1796

The One Dollar Bill

Above is the famous George Washington (Antheneum Portrait) by Gilbert Stuart, This painting despite being unfinished was celebrated for its remarkable resemblance of George Washington and became the famous picture still used to this day on the one dollar bill.  Gilbert Stuart will always be remembered as one of the renowned Revolutionary Portraitists  who painted over a thousand portraits, including the first six presidents of the United states.

 

Yankee Doodle – Published 1770

Yankee Doodle Tune

The origination of the lyrics and tune are still controversial, but one story is that a Dr. Richard Shuckburgh a military surgeon commissioned by the British created the traditional song and lyrics to make fun of the New Englanders who served in the French and Indian war in Canada.  Another thought is it is believed a man named Edward Bangs, a sophomore at Harvard who served in Lexington as a minuteman created a fifteen verse song.

What Do the Lyrics Mean?

The term doodle is thought to derive from dudel or dodel that means fool or simpleton. The Macaraoni wig was a fashion that became a slang term for foppishness, vain or dandy. The Macaronis were supposed to be young English men who wore extravagant clothing and thought to have feminine qualities. The joke was if they placed a feather in their hat it would make them fashionable and insinuated that they were not very masculine and feminine in nature instead.

 Yankee doodle

Yankee doodle- Below are links to two variations of Yankee Doodle

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b2/Violinist_CARRIE_REHKOPF-YANKEE_DOODLE_VARIATIONS.ogg

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c4/Yankee_Doodle_%28choral%29.ogg

The Lyrics Revolution

The song’s lyrics changed over the years and numerous variations of the song have been composed. Even during the Revolutionary war the lyrics were changed and played after many monumental events. For instance, after the battle of Lexington in 1775, during Cornwallis surrender in 1781 and when the British surrendered in Saratoga. However, the British would also partake in making it’s own variation of the song for instance after the  Battle of Bunker Hill the British had create another set of lyrics.

Despite its controversy in origin the song has withstood centuries and has become the state song for Connecticut and whenever heard will always be associated with Patriotism and the Revolutionary War.

Conclusion

During the Revolutionary War artists found it very important to capture true likeness of their subjects and or depictions of the war. Both music and art of the time seemed to be used for patriotic motivation and it worked.

http://www.archives.gov/research/military/american-revolution/pictures/index.html

http://library.thinkquest.org/TQ0312848/music.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilbert_Stuart

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yankee_Doodle

http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/albany/bios/s/rishuck.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Wilson_Peale

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/447894/Charles-Willson-Peale

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Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610)

David with the Head of Goliath, (c1609–1610)

David with the Head of Goliath, (c1609–1610)

David with the Head of Goliath

At first glance this painting didn’t have much meaning to me, it looked like any other painting of the time. Another classic Baroque  painting style with beautiful chiaroscuro, tenenbrism techniques and religious theme. However, once I read the head of Goliath was actually a self-portrait of the artist himself and the painting was made to be given as a gift in hopes for a pardon in Rome. This painting instantly became more interesting and made me ask the question, “Why would an artist depict himself in such a manner and why would he need a pardon?”.

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

To answer the question we first have to know where he came from. Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) grew up in the country with his mother and father. Sadly his father died when he was 5 or 6 yrs old and his mother passed when he was either 13 or 19 (conflicting data). The same year his mother passed Caravaggio began to study under the painter Simone Peterzano.  At the age of 21 he left Caravaggio for Rome. He arrived homeless and needy and the only way for him to survive was through his paintings. Rome was the beginning and the end for Caravaggio.

After reading and watching an hour-long movie about him. Caravaggio’s biography is very complicated and still to this day controversial. Most of what is known about him is through historical court records from when he was in trouble by the law. However, the best way for me to sum up his life’s story is that Caravaggio was a successfully brilliant painter whose life was filled with drunken brawls, chronic despair, mental illness, murder, exile and his life ended with a lonely and sad death. However, his paintings were a legendary success thanks in part to the Council of Trent

The Council of Trent

The Protestant Reformation believed that Churches should not be adorned in paintings or images to worship. However, the Council of Trent which included the Catholic Church and Jesuit argued that paintings and sculptures depicting religious stories from the bible were crucial. They were important in preaching and spreading the word of the Bible to the poorer, less educated, illiterate population. This argument was Caravaggio’s salvation for many of his paintings were commissioned by the Church in Rome. In turn the church and his high power friends protected him when he got into brawls and a drunken stupor.

My Analysis

David with the Head of Goliath, really impacted me. Not so much the story about David and Goliath, but the hidden dual meaning within is what really touches me. To me the true meaning of this painting is not only about conquering evil with God’s strength, but also about forgiveness. Despite having a successful painting career Caravaggio’s life was filled with drunken binges and brawls, which landed him in and out of jail and one of those nights ended with him killing a man, an ultimate sin. To forgive someone is difficult, to forgive oneself is that much harder.

This painting seems to tell a story spanning generations from his youth, to his life of torment, to his ultimate salvation death. David is suspected to be a self-portrait of a young Caravaggio which symbolizes his innocence. David carries the head of  a older image of Caravaggio which to me symbolizes disgrace and shame.  The boy looking at his future self disgusted, with pity on his face for the life Caravaggio lived. Goliath’s head or Caravaggio’s older self is one of the last self-portraits he painted before he died. Goliath’s eyes look down as if his shame and guilt keep him from being able to look up. His sins have caught up to him and the blood spilling underneath could mean the daily loss of life, loss of self. His mouth slightly open as if trying to say something perhaps, “I’m sorry”, “Forgive me” or “Thank you”, to his younger self. David also looks as though he is relieved and happy to have stopped the agony Goliath had been  enduring for so long.  To me this painting screams pain, despair and begs for forgiveness not only from the audience but for himself.

Conclusion

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was a brilliant artist with a sad story.  I would highly recommend reading more of him or watch this short movie about his life http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUeGRGLGXFY.  I guarantee his story will be captivating.

Sources:

http://www.artchive.com/artchive/C/caravaggio.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caravaggio

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Reformation_and_art

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Sandro Botticelli

09_Primavera_jpg

Sandro Botticelli Primavera (Allegory of Spring)

Primavera

This painting is from the early Renaissance period. It was painted on a panel (c. 1482) by Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi also known as Sandro Botticelli.

The Artist

220px-Sandro_Botticelli_083

Sandro Botticelli was born in Florence, Italy, 1445.  Florence during the 15th century was in the midst of the early Renaissance, the rebirth of the classic world and was the most envied place by artists, writers, painters, architects and philosophers.  Botticelli grew up surrounded by limitless amounts of history and beautiful art.  He was a bright and talented artist at a young age so it was no surprise that he became an apprentice at the age of 14 and one of the few artists who received a fuller education. By 1462 he was apprenticed to Fra Filippo Lippi. Under Lippi he learned more intimate and detailed manner of painting and was given great opportunities for mastering his work. Some of his best work can be seen in the Sistine Chapel.

The Medici influence

Some of Botticelli’s’ work was either financed by the Medici family (a very influential family of the time) or by someone close to them. For instance, Botticelli’s painting the Adoration of the Magi 1475 (c. 1475-1476) was commissioned by someone who worked with the Medici family and was made to be housed for the Santa Maria Novella. The Santa Maria Novella Church was a Church the Medici family regularly attended.  The painting had Cosimo de ’Medici, his sons Piero and Giovanni and his grandsons Giuliano and Lorenzo and three Medici as Magi that were dead at the time the painting was made.

Two more paintings commissioned by the influential Medici family was the Primavera (c.1482) and The Birth of Venus (C. 1485) both by Botticelli. At the time the Primavera was seen by Art Historian Giorgio Vasari at the villa of Lorenzo de Pier Francesco de’ Medici in Castello in 1550. The Primavera painting had no name. Therefore, Vasari himself named the painting La Primavera for the springs in Florence.

My Analysis- La Primavera

What attracted me to this beautiful painting were the vibrant colors, delicate elegance and the luscious garden setting. This Painting carries all of the characteristics that I would have enjoyed in my own home. Many experts have contrived numerous possible meanings about this painting, but to me the primary meaning of this painting is fertility and the beginning of life.

The reason I picked fertility and the beginning of life for meaning is because to me the lady in the center looks very pregnant. Her belly looks heavy and low as if she is due to have the baby any second now. The way she slightly lifts her dress as to carefully not trip could mean that she is ready to deliver her new bundle of joy. She looks worried or anxious to me and possibly thinking about what lies ahead in her future and wondering what Motherhood will be like.  The people around her may be friends celebrating the beginnings of a new life that she is about to bring into the world.

The meaning of the flowers on the ground and and the orchard bearing fresh fruit on the trees confused me a little, because the title of the painting is called Primavera which means Spring. However, fruit on trees can take months to ripen and if this is indeed suppose to be based in Italy’s climate, I’m not sure if the winters are warm enough for fruit to be picked in the Spring. Therefore, I think this is the end of Summer and the beginning of Fall. Another reason I suspect the beginning of fall was because of the gray man. He seems to be taking one of the young girls almost kidnapping her from the picture,  Which could mean taking away the flowers and transitioning the season.

The young man playing with gray clouds on the right of the pregnant women looks very young. He could be the clueless father as to the life changing event that is about to happen. The gray clouds he plays with overhead could mean a warning of “dark days ahead”, fall is coming or implying parenthood is not going to be easy.

The three ladies dancing also seem to have multiple meanings. First of all they look alike as if they are triplets, possibly implying the Mother is going to have more than one child. Second, they could be the pregnant woman’s  sisters or midwives for the future baby, Third, the way  Botticelli was able to make their dresses very light, airy and almost transparent to me could mean soft, delicate and beautiful just like a newborn child would be to any new mother.

Expert Analysis

I really enjoy this painting, but most of all I like the mystery of what it means.  To hear some expert historians analysis please click on the following link. http://smarthistory.khanacademy.org/botticelli-primavera.html

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primavera_%28painting%29

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandro_Botticelli

http://smarthistory.khanacademy.org/botticelli-primavera.html

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Dahlia

Dahlia

Welcome to my very first blog and thank you in advance for taking a moment out of your day to visit. Above is a picture of a blooming Dahlia plant from my garden.
I usually don’t work during the summers which allows me plenty of time to spend working in my flower and vegetable gardens and extra quality time with my boys. I have two very active young boys ages 7 and 11 and I’m a wife of 15 years to a skilled carpenter who loves to work with his hands. A nice skill I hope is passed down to my boys. As a child creating and building things was not the norm in my home growing up, but listening and playing music was.
I come from a family of 6 siblings. The sibling order goes: sister, brother, me, brother, brother, brother. We don’t always get along, but we all enjoy music in some way, shape or form. Growing up my Father would sing and play his trumpet with my older brother and sister, because their voices were musical like my Mothers who enjoyed singing for the church choir. My two youngest brothers also were given the gift of a musical voice. However, they were also compelled to play the guitar at young ages.
The Music talent seems to have touched everyone in my family in some way or another, but for some reason skipped me and one of my little brothers. I would have the dogs howling whenever I attempted to sing and I never had any interest in playing an instrument either. A talent my oldest son seems to have acquired, “He is a natural”, according to his Violin Teacher. However, despite my lack of musical or artistic talents, I do enjoy all forms of art. When I can I’ll take the guys to an art show, to see a ballet or theater performance.  Just a couple of years ago we went to see Disney The Lion King when it was playing in Anchorage. What a great show and wonderful memories for the kids.

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