What a great week in art news it has been! Sorry for another interruption to the coverage of Hieronymus Bosch but this is such an exciting article!
Below is a link to a wonderful article that appeared in the New York Times yesterday in a special sections of Museums about the new guard of museum curators in Manhattan. Very informative about the new directions of museums and how the new generation is scaling the problems faced by the current climate in the art world.
Enjoy! And we will be back Monday with Bosch... hopefully!
Please excuse this, but you have to cut and paste as my "add link" icon is currently not working!
Posted by Lydia at 2:03 PM
Hieronymus Bosch, Garden of Earthly Delights (1503) Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain. Central Panel: Garden of Earthly Delights
The central panel of Bosch's triptych is the Garden of Earthly Delights. This is meant to stand in for the earthly world that is full of the temptation and vice that pervade society. After the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden humans were left in the world with the new ideas of shame and sin and, as is blatantly portrayed by Bosch, loved both of these things. I will include more details for this work because its brilliance is in the detail and symbolism. The idea of the central panel is to depict the descent of man into sin. Lust is shown to be the cause of Man's downfall. The figures cavort in all levels of undress and sexual intercourse and have seemingly no shame in their actions or deeds. Some of the scenes are more graphic than others and some have more hidden meanings that are lost to us. It must be kept in mind that these are often proverbs or well-known idioms from the Netherlands and Netherlandish art around the turn of the fourteenth century.
This is a work that would take years of study to understand even a small bit about any one part. I will not attempt to explain this work to you because I think that it is something to be experienced in one's own way. If you have any specific questions about a scene or what some small piece of imagery might mean, please email me!
Enjoy the visual orgy of Man's descent into sin!
Posted by Lydia at 1:33 PM
Hieronymus Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights (1503-1504). Part One: Eve Joining Adam in the Garden of Eden
Hieronymus Bosch, Garden of Earthly Delights (1503) Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain. Left Panel: Eve Joining Adam in the Garden of Eden
Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1450–1516) was a Netherlandish painter whose work is most widely known for its exceedingly strange representation of religious subjects. The Garden of Earthly Delights is one of his most famous works and has been a source of much research in the field of art history for many many years. The triptych (a work composed of three panels that are connected either physically or in subject matter/content) displays three scenes meant to represent (from left to right:) Eve Joining Adam in the Garden of Eden, The Garden of Earthly Delights, and Hell. Today I will be presenting on the first or left panel, tomorrow I will present the central panel and Thursday will be on the right panel. I will use Friday to sum up the triptych as a whole and answer any questions people may have had about any of them! Please remember to post questions here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The left panel of the triptych depicts Eve being brought to Adam by God in the Garden of Eden. We see God about to place Eve's hand in Adam's while Adam looks on almost stupidly from his seat on the ground. The area surrounding them seems to be filled with animals and flora of all different species. There is also a large pink fountain structure behind the couple that symbolizes the Fountain of Life. To the left of Adam we also see the Tree of Knowledge that will ultimately lead to the Fall of Man and his entry into the Garden of Earthly Delights that exists outside of Eden. This panel can therefore be seen as the foreshadowing of Man's decline after the Fall and his ultimate punishment in Hell if he partakes of the temptations that the earthly world will offer. Though this panel foreshadows most of what follows in the next two panels it is by far the most simple and easy to understand symbolically.
I have posted a detail of this panel as well as a larger image of the whole triptych. This work was executed by Bosch later in his life and is thought by many to be his masterwork. It is indeed a very interesting piece and one that deserves a lot of thought and discussion. I will be back tomorrow with lots of images from the central panel, the Garden of Earthly Delight!
Posted by Lydia at 3:59 PM
Constantin Brancusi, Bird in Space (1923). Executed in marble seven times and cast in bronze nine times, 57 inches tall. Marble shown in the second picture currently in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Brancusi was a Romanian born artist who worked primarily in France during his lifetime. During his studies in Paris he was attracted to the realist styles but began working in more abstract manners to distance himself from the popular style of Auguste Rodin (see previous post on the Burghers of Calais, Friday, February 26, 2010). While studying in Paris he mingled with his peers and among them were Modigliani, Duchamp, Matisse and Leger.
"From the 1920s to the '40s, Brancusi was preoccupied by the theme of a bird in flight. He concentrated not on the physical attributes of the bird but on its movement. In Bird in Space, wings and feathers are eliminated, the swell of the body is elongated, and the head and beak are reduced to a slanted oval plane. Balanced on a slender conical footing, the figure's upward thrust is unfettered. Brancusi's inspired abstraction realizes his stated intent to capture "the essence of flight." - metmuseum.org from their page on the Bird in Space (the marble version shown above) in their collection.
The interest in birds for Brancusi was not new with this series. He had begun working on the ideas of birds and their movements with his Maiastra sculptures and then also worked through them from a new perspective in his Golden Bird series. With both the marble and bronze works executed, their polish and reflectivity is essential. Attempting to hide the materials in favor of the shape and curve of the sculpture, Brancusi wanted to show the idea of movement far more than any idea of a specific bird shape and so he uses these materials and their polished surfaces to make the sculpture move while light hits it from different angles as the viewer moves around it in a three dimensional space.
While Brancusi worked in Paris, he was surrounded by the sculpture of Rodin, and its representative qualities, but also by Matisse, and the artists who used abstraction to show how they wanted to express the feeling or idea more than a naturalistic representation. This idea is seen clearly in the Bird in Space sculptures, as Brancusi works to convey the freedom of wings and the speed of flight without the weight of a bird or the constraints of gravity that humans feel. However, it is not completely other-worldly. The top tip of the work is shaved an angle that makes a small indent. This small defect is a flaw that helps to humanize and ground the sculpture in real life. It takes the idea of flight, and its dream-like quality, and roots it in the here and now with a small but important defect that grounds the sculpture in the same way humans lack of wings ground them.
*Some information taken from the metmuseum.org website. A brilliant resource on all their works and very easy to navigate!
Posted by Lydia at 1:08 PM