2009年12月11日 星期五

Art History 7: Greek Art VI (Hellenistic period)

-Alexander the Great died as the Hellenistic period started
-heroic city-states passed away, and the power of Athens also passed away
-more into a cosmopolitan (citizen of the world ) civilization
-sculptors played with traditional subjects in new ways, and also portray new subject matters

Nike alighting on a warship from Samothrace, Greece, ca 190 BCE. Marble. 8'1"high.
-wings still beating
-winds sweeps her drapery
-placed in a fountain of splashing water -->heightened the dramatic visual effect
-water: the sense of lightness and movement
-Hellenistic statues: interact with the environment, as living, breathing, emotive. (Classical statues: ideally proportioned, and more self-contained)


by Alexandros of Antioch-on-the-Meander, Aphrodite (Venus de Milo) from Melos, Greece ca 150-125BCE. Marble 6'7"high.
(right: restored view)

-originally: her left hand holds the apple Paris awarded her when he judged her the most beautiful goddess, and right hand may have lightly grasped the edge of her drapery near the left hip
-displaying eroticism
-slipping garment to tease the viewers

Old Market Women, ca 150-100BCE. Marble 4'1/2"high.

-realism in the Hellenistic art
-lowest class (never was a suitable subject in the earlier Greek statuary
-different ethnic types (more foreigners in Greek, more cosmopolitan)

Art History 6: Greek Art IV (Late Classical Period)

Characteristics of Greek Art in this late classical period (4th century BCE):

-in the Classical period(5th century BCE): they believed that rational human beings could impose order on their environment, could create "prefect" statues and discover the "correct" math formulas for constructing temples

-BUT Wars and unstable political environment in the last Classical period affected the art Greeks produced: an end to the idealism of the previous century
-Here, Greeks art focused more on the individual and on the real world of appearances rather than on the community and the ideal world of perfect beings

by Praxiteles, "Aphrodite of Knidos" Roman marble copy of an original of ca 350-340 BCE 6'8"high.

-Praxiteles: a famous sculptor in the 4th century BCE
-Aphrodite of Knidos: represent the goddess of love completely nude
-Female nudity was rare in earlier Greek art (only on vases designed for household use, and only for slave girls, but not noblewomen or goddesses)
-the goddess engages in a trivial act of everyday life: removing garment and draped it down to a water pitcher, so to prepare for her bath
-though sensuous, but not erotic (right hand covers her pelvis)


- by Lysippos, Apoxyomenos. Roman marble copy of a bronze original of ca 330 BCE. 6'9" high

-new proportion system: thiner
-not as balanced
-break down the dominance of the frontal view: with his right arm forward (encourage multiple angles in view)

Art History5: Greek Art III (High Classical Period-- Parthenon)


-ideal solution to the Greek architect's quest for perfect proportions in Doric temple design

-short ends have 8 columns and long sides have 17 (can be expressed algeraically as x=2y+1 -- 17=2(8) +1 )

-with harmonious design and mathematical precision of the sizes

-but also have irregularity: for examples:

1. the stylobate (the base) curves upward at the center on the sides and both facades

2.the columns lean inward slightly

--->contrapposto (shifting of weight) in architecture

East and West Pediments

left hand side of the East Pediment:
the horses of Helios (the Sun) emerge from the pediment's floor, suggesting the sun rising above the horizon at dawn.

right hand side of the east pediment: the statues conform perfrectly to the slope, and the thin and heavy folds of the garments reveal the body forms nicely

Art History 2: Egyptian Art

Right: Palette of King Narmer

(left: back; right: front)

from Hierakonpolis, Egypt, Predynastic, ca. 3000-2920 BCE. Slate, 2'1"hight.

-earliest preserved labeled historical reliefs
-a utilitarian object used to prepare eye makeup
-commenmorate the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt. (signified by the two interwined necks of the animals)
-Narmer, the largest figure, defeating a foe on one side, and on the other survys the beheaded enemy

Great Sphinx:

-the largest statue in the Near East
-carved out of stone directly
-represents a pharaoh
-associated with the sun god
-combination of human intelleigence with the immense strength and authorith of the king of beasts

The Papyrus Scroll of Hu-nefer's Last Judgment.

The book of the Dead contained spells and prayers. This scroll depicts the weighing of Hu-Nefer's heart against Maat's feather before the deceased can be brought before Osiris, god of the Underworld.

Art History 1: Art Before History

No one knows why humans began to paint and carve images or what role those images played in the lives of earlier hunters. Women were far more common subjects than men, but animals, not human, were the major themes in many of the panitings or 3-d works in stone age.

Right: Nude Woman (Venus of Willendorf)
ca 28000-25000 BCE

-it is one of the oldest and famous prehistoric femal figure
-tiny limestone of a woman
-a ball-like shape
-the exageeration of the breasts: celebration of fertility and emphasis of the child-bearing capabilities that ensure the survival of the species
-not aim for naturalism
-not trying to represent a particular person, since the facial features are not shown and covered up by a mass of curly hair


Hall of the Bulls (in the cave at Lascaux, France, ca. 15000-13000 BCE. Largest bull: 11'6"long

-the hunters in the Stone Age believed they were bringing the beasts under their control.

-dance or rituals might have been performed in front of the cave paintings

-some historians guested these images served as teaching materials for teaching new hunters

2009年12月10日 星期四

Art History 4: Greek Art II( Early and High Classical Periods)

“Kritios Boy” from the Acropolis, Athens, Greece. Ca. 480 BCE. Marble, 2’10” high
First statue to show how a person naturally stands. The sculptor depicted the shifting of weight from one leg to the other (contrapposto). The head turns slightly and the Archaic smile is gone.

From the end of the Archaic Period:


By Polykleitos, “Doryporos” (Spear Bearer) Roman marbel copy from Pompeii Italy.

Like harmonic chords in music: intervals: 2:1, 3:2, 4:3
Look for the ideal: “standard of perfection” Canon
Cross balance, weight shifting
Asymmetrical balance:
Right arm, left leg: relaxed
Supporting leg and left arm: tensed
Head: turn to the right, hips twist to the left

Ratio of head/body: 1/7


Aesthetic Philosophy:

'Beauty, Chrysippos believes, inheres... in the commensurability of the parts, such as that of finger to finger, and all these to the palm and wrist, and of these to the forearm, and of the forearm to the upper arm, and of everything to everything else, just as it is written in the "Canon" of Polykleitos. For having taught us in that treatise all the commensurate proportions of the body, Polykleitos made a work to support his account; he made a statue according to the tenets of his writing, and called it, like the treatise, the "Canon". '
written byGalen, a physician who lived during the second century CE


Golden Section: AB/AG=AG/GB. If AB=1 and AG=x then GB=1-x and 1/x=x/(1/x) and it follows x2 =1-x, ie. x2+x-1=0

By Pythagoreans. Pythagoras might have visited Egypt which might found this ratio there earlier already.

2009年12月9日 星期三

Art History 3: Greek Art I (the early Geometric Art and Archaic Period)

Cultural values of the Greeks: fundamental elements of Western civilization (e.g. concept of democracy ) (but also had slavery/ women were not treated equally as men etc.)
-The Greeks or Hellenes (as they called themselves) never formed a single nation, but independent city-states
-they also borrowed ideas, motifs, conventions… from older civilization, like Egypt


Geometric krater from the Dipylon cemetery 740BCE. 3’4.5” high
Abstract angular motifs
(most early Greek painters decorated vases this way)
-the mourning for a man laid out
-figures: 2 dimensional, triangular frontal torsos
-bottom: the horses have the correct number of heads and legs, but share a common body-> there is no sense of overlapping or depth


Mantiklos Apollo, statuette of a youth
dedicated by Mantiklos to Apollo,
ca.700-680BCE. Bronze 8” high

Orientalizing Art
-long hair, unnaturally elongated neck
Muscles, triangular torso and face..
-motifs borrowed from or inspired by eastern artworks from Egypt, Iraq etc.

The start off of the Archaic Period
-Lady of Auxerre 650-625BCE 2’1.5”
-Daedalic style (Daedalus used to work in Egypt and learnt a lot form Egyptian Art)
-impact of Egyptian Art
-triangular face, hair
-geometric fondness for abstract pattern

Statuary from the the Archaic Period
Above: Kouros, ca.600BCE. Marble, 6' 1/2" high.
Bottom: Kroisos, from Anavysos, Greece, ca. 530BCE. Marble 6'4"high

-In both Egypt and Greece, the figure is rigidly frontal
-with left foot advanced slightly
-the arms are held beside the body, with the thumbs positioned forward.
Kourous on the left:
-triangular shpae of head and hair
-flatness of the face
-slim waist
-V-shaped ridge of the hips suggest the muscle of the body (though doesn't reproduce very well)
Kroiso on the right:
-Archaic smile
-a more naturalistic manner
-head is not too large/ face is more rounded, with swelling cheeks
-rounder hip instead of the V-shaped ridges
Doric and Ionic Orders of Greek Temples in the Archaic Period
Temple of Hera I, Paestum, Italy ca 550BCE
- early Doric Temple with heavy, closely spaced, columns
** Transition from the Archaic Period to the Classical Period
Both are from the Temple of Aphaia, but the one at the top was installed earlier.
Top: Dying warrior, from the west pediment of the Temple of Aphaia, Aegina, Greece. ca 490 BCE. Marble 5'1/2"long
Bottom: Dying warrior from the east pediment of the Temple of Ahpaia, Aegina, Greece. ca 480BCE. Marlbe 6'1"long.

The west pediment's warrior (above) is still in the Archaic mode:
-His torso is rigidly frontal
-he looks out directly at the viewers
-with the Archaic smile, even though he has got an arrow in his chest.
The east pediment's warrior is very different
-more natural and more complex
-his torso placed at an angle to the viewer
-he reacts to this wound more naturally
-he is not looking at the viewers, but is concerned with his own pain
**** This statue belongs to the Classical world, where statues move as humans move and has the self-consciousness of real men and women. *****

2009年11月12日 星期四

Why write about art?

Arthur C. Danto said in "Embodied Meanings" (1994)

"Until one tries to write about it, the work of art remains a soft of aesthetic blur... After seeing the work, write about it. You cannot be satisfied for very long in simply putting down what you felt. You have to go further" (p.14)

The Function of Critical Writing:

"1. Introduce me to authors or works of which I was hitherto unaware.
2. Convince me that I have undervalued an author or a work because I had not read them carefully enough
3. Show me relations between works of different ages and cultures which I could never have seen for myself because I do not know enough and never shall.
4. Give a "reading " of a work which increases my understanding of it.
5. Throw light upon the process of artistic "Making"
6. Throw light upon the relation of art to life, to science, economics, ethics, religion etc."

by W.H. Auden, from "The Dyer's Hand" (1963) pp. 8-9

2009年11月11日 星期三

Reference Book on Art History

Some of you may find it handy to have an art history book showing you a more comprehensive picture of the world art history.

Please do let me know, if you'd like to order. We probably can order in a group and get a discount.

Here is the suggested title:
(about HK$519 @ Swindon Book Shop in Hong Kong)

Author: Fred S. Kleiner

Pages: 1104 pages
  • Publisher: Wadsworth Publishing; 13 edition (January 3, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0495093076
  • ISBN-13: 978-0495093077
  • Product Dimensions: 11.7 x 9.4 x 2.2 inches

4 steps in Art Criticism 1 --- Links

on 31 Oct, we've talked about the 4 steps in art criticism:

1. Description

2. Analysis

3. Interpretation

4. Judgement

Here is a useful link on this topic: (I've also handed you the printouts last time.)

1. A Comprehensive handout on this topic by Mrs. K. Wood:


4 Steps in Art Criticism 2 --- Sample

The following is a sample using the 4 steps.


This is an oil painting on canvas by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) in the impressionist period. This was painted in between 1890 and 1895, and was titled as “Reading (La Lecture).”

It was painted with short and casual brushstrokes, without strong texture. The color tone of the background in general is quite cold, with a lot of fuzzy and short strokes in many different values of green and brown. The foreground mainly consists of the half body portraits of two girls in a warmer color hue. The focal point of the painting lays the faces of two girls. The girl sitting closer to the viewers is in a pale yellow dress, while the one next to her is in a pinky-orange dress. Following the gazes of the girls, a viewer can find a book at the bottom right corner. The book is held by the girl in the front. The other girl in pinky-orange has her right arm across the back of the girl in yellow, and has her left hand holding her chin.


The painter has positioned the two subjects in a triangular shape, with the two faces as the top of the triangle, the book at the bottom right and the end of the hair at the bottom left as the bases of this triangle. This triangular shape, sitting in the very front, occupies almost one-third of the painting. Besides, this triangle is well balanced and symmetric. In spite of the causal brushstrokes, the girls are in good proportions and comparatively realistic. While the subjects in the foreground formulate a stable triangular shape, the brushstrokes in the background seem to be in a flowing movement. The color chosen for the background on the left-hand side is darker (mainly in dark green and brown) in order to allow the girl on the left front becomes more outstanding. In contrast, the color for the background on the right-hand side is lighter (mainly in light green and muddy yellow) in order to allow the girl over the right foreground to stand out.


With the structural composition and careful layout of the subject matters, this painting depicts a quiet moment of reading. The girls concentrate very much at what they are doing. The brighter and warmer color tone of the subject matters seems to convey a comfortable reading atmosphere. However, the two girls are not facing the light when they are reading. The light, in fact, is only shinning on the backs of the girls. Despite the comfortable atmosphere, the girls seem be trying to read in secrecy. This interesting scene perhaps reminds a lot of viewers about their childhood in which everyone probably have had some little secrets hidden from the adults around them. Many Renoir’s paintings embrace and celebrate different small moments from lives. By focusing on the ‘here and now’ of his time, Renoir has captured these fleeting moments and turned them to be nostalgic memories.


Although this painting may not be about any heroic stories, it does successfully build up a connection with the viewers in a subtle way. It reminds the viewers those interesting moments from childhood that they may have long forgotten. Besides, the painting does have a nice composition. First of all, the focal point with the girls’ faces is well organized. Following the gazes of the girls, one can find the book that is well connected with the arms and then the hair the girl in the front. The triangular shape does a nice job of keeping the viewers’ eyes looking around and around the subjects; therefore, able to build up a deeper relationship with the painting.

GuideLines on IB Visual Arts Assessment

l IB Assessment

Option A

Higher level (HLA) (240 hours)

Standard level (SLA) (150 hours)

Studio work (60%)

l Studio refers to the studio work the student selects for inclusion in the candidate record booklet. Studio work involves practical exploration and artistic production.

l External Assessment: The student prepares a selection of his or her studio work in the form of an exhibition. This is externally assessed by a visiting examiner following an interview with the student about the work.

144 hours

90 hours

Investigation workbooks (40%)

l Investigation refers to the selection of pages from the investigation workbooks for inclusion in the candidate record booklet. Investigation work involves independent contextual, visual and critical investigation and reflection, both visual and written.

l Internal Assessment: The student presents selected pages of his or her investigation workbooks that have been produced during the course. This selection is internally assessed by the teacher and externally moderated by the IBO at the end of the course.

96 hours

60 hours

An Interview with External Examiner

During the interview, the examiner will encourage the student to talk about the technical aspects of the studio works, his or her own aims or intentions, and the relationship between the studio works and the investigation workbooks. The discussion should focus on the student’s experiences in making the studio works exhibited and how these relate to the investigation work undertaken. The student is not expected to make a prepared speech.

30-40 minutes

20-30 minutes

l Candidate record booklet / Visual Journal

1. The candidate record booklet must contain:

I. · a statement by the student (no more than 300 words. Describe briefly in his or her artistic growth and development throughout the course. He or she should illustrate these insights with specific examples.)

II. related to studio work and the investigation workbooks

III. · a short written comment by the teacher

IV. · a photographic record of the selected studio work

V. · A4 copies of the selected investigation workbook pages.

VI. Two additional photographs of the overall exhibition should be provided for inclusion in the candidate record booklet. The two photographs can be taken at the time of the interview. This can provide a useful record of the exhibition.

VII. The student must select carefully the stated number of copied investigation workbook pages and ensure that the work meets all the assessment criteria. It is important that the student includes pages that demonstrate how his or her investigation led to the development of some of the studio works photographed for inclusion in the candidate record booklet. The selection can include some consecutive pages. It is also important that students demonstrate evidence of:

n · their investigation and strategies for organizing its content

n · first-hand responses to such content

n · exploration of ideas both visually and in writing.

Option A

Studio 60%

External Assessment

Investigation 40%

Internal assessment

Higher level

Selection of 12-18 photographs representing the works produced

25-30 A4 size copies of workbook pages

Standard level

Selection of 812 photographs representing the works produced

1520 A4/letter-size copies of workbook pages

GuideLines on 334 Visual Arts Assessment

S4 VISUAL ARTS Assessment Guides

334 ASSESSMENT (270 hours)



I. Public examination



Choose either Paper 1 or Paper 2.

Paper 1 – Visual presentation of a theme


Paper 2 – Design

In each Paper, candidates are required to attempt BOTH of the following sections:

(a) Written presentation on critical appreciation of reproductions of artwork provided (10%), and

(b) Art making (40%)



Submit TWO portfolios consisting of:

(1) Research workbook (Presentations on art appreciation and criticism in context in relation to art making/critical studies, and research process)(20%); and

(2) Artwork/Critical studies (Three pieces of work in each portfolio) of a theme (30%)

All through the course of learning, students should be engaged in the following activities:

(1) Building up and keeping their visual journal;

(2) Participating in research : searching, selecting and compiling materials for broad / in-depth


I. Gathering information, develop ideas and apply them to their own work;

II. Understanding the importance of planning and sequential development of ideas;

III.Learn from masterpieces the ways to express in relation to their origin, cultural background, personal inclinations etc.

(3) Participating in interactive dialogue;

(4) Developing personal views and concepts;

(5) Experimenting with ides, media and techniques;

(6) Reflecting on and adjusting their own learning.

l For each portfolio, students are encourage to:

(1) Discuss in groups and discuss with the teacher on proposed ideas,

(2) Show the idea development with reference books and pictures

(3) Show the process of thinking in used of Mind-Map

(4) Study the style and characteristics of the artwork of the famous artists

(5) Evaluate the process and the final artwork in groups before hand in to the teacher.