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Marsha K.

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Art History General Characteristics
Compiled by Liz Ketner, May, 2003

African
• Jijora- combination of realism and abstraction
• Symmetry around vertical axis
• Curving cylindrical forms
• Frontality and static poses; rigid, upright
• Calm facial expressions
• Use of negative space
• Odo- prime of life
• Parts of body that are considered most important are emphasized

Example: Dogon Primordial Couple

Indian
• Sensuality, eroticism
• Smooth, simplified body volumes with little muscle
definition
• Idealized figures based on forms in nature
• Overall decorative quality with profusion of images and
ornament (horror vaqui)
• Use of symbols
• Mudras- hand positions
• Attributes to identify deities
• Narrative
• Architectural settings

Example: Shiva Nataraja

Egyptian
Example: Palette of Narmer
• Extreme conservatism: very little change in art for 3000
years (exception: Akhenaton & Amarna Pd)
• Hieratic scale
• Combination of text and images
• Use of registers
• Things may be seen from the front, the side, or above
• Rules for depicting pharaoh and family; very stylized and
idealized
o Shown in prime of life
o Broad shoulders, narrow hips, some muscle
definition
o Calm face
o Limited poses include composite view and Egyptian sculptural stance
• Naturalism for depiction of non-royalty, landscape, and animals in natural surroundings
• Men are dark, women are light
• Continuous narrative
• Sculpture serves as a home for the spirit/ka
• Symbols
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• Architecture
o Old Kingdom : mastabas; pyramids serve as burial sites and monuments
o Middle Kingdom: cliff side tombs and temples with reserve columns
o New Kingdom: funerary temples; corridor axis approach
• Amarna Period (Akhenaton): Exception to all the Egyptian art rules; shows naturalism
Predynastic: 3500 - 3000 BCE
• Palette of Narmer (above)
Old Kingdom: ~3000 - 2200 BCE
• Khafre
• Menkaure and Khamerernebty
• Seated Scribe
• Ti Watching a Hippo Hunt
• Prince Rahotep and his wife Nofret
• Pyramid of King Djoser by Imhotep
Middle Kingdom: ~2100 - 1600 BCE
• Rock-cut tomb
New Kingdom: ~1500 - 40 BCE (includes the Amarna Period* 1355 – 1325 BCE)
• Funerary Temple of Hatshepsut
• Temple of Ramses II
• Temple of Amen-Re at Karnak
• Akhenaton*
• Akhenaton and His Family*

Mesopotamian
• SANTA ANNA NEVER BAKED A NUTTY PANKAKE (Sumerians, Akkadians, Neo-Sumerians,
Babylonians, Neo-Babylonians, Persians)
Sumerians ~3500 - 2300 BCE
• Example: Standard of Ur
• Votive figures
• Stylized figures with large eyes
(reflecting sense of fear), curly
hair and beards
• Gestures of humility
• Cylindrical, curving figures
• Heraldic arrangement
• Use of Egyptian characteristics-
registers, repeated figures,
composite view, slight hieratic
scale, linear and flat
o Ziggurats; bent axis
approach
o Standard of Ur
o Ram offering stand
o Bull-headed lyre
o Bull holding a Vase

Akkadians ~2300 - 2200 BCE Example: Victory Stele of Naram-Sin


• More confident, arrogant attitude; claims kings are divine
• Use huge hieratic scale
o Victory Stele of Naram-Sin
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Neo Sumerians ~2200 - 2000 BCE - bring back Sumerian characteristics: King
Gudea shows humility toward gods
Example: Seated Gudea

Babylonians ~1900 - 1600 BCE Example: Stele of Hammurabi


• Symbolism
• Heraldic arrangement
• Composite human animal form
o Stele of Hammurabi

Assyrians ~900 - 600 BCE


Example: Lamassu
• Use general Mesopotamian characteristics in
addition to a mix of naturalism and abstraction
• Common theme of the royal lion hunt
o Lamassu (Winged Human-Headed Bull)
o Lion Hunt Bas Reliefs

Proto-Greek
Cycladic plank idols - continuation of the ancient fertility figure; abstract, simple,
geometric, tubular

Minoans ~2000 - 1500 BCE


• Images of animals, recreation, marine life, flora and fauna
• Playful, curving lines; “Minoan swirlies”
• Bright, rich colors
• Happy mood
• Stylized, idealized human form; tall, slender, broad shoulders
• Celebration of youth
• Men are darker, women lighter
• Continuous narrative
o Snake Goddess
o Palace at Knossos
o Dolphin Fresco
o Toreador Fresco
o Octopus Vase

Myceneans ~1500 - 1100 BCE


• Weapons, death masks, walled cities and palaces (war-like)
• Adopt Minoan writing and art forms
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• Use repoussé
o Corbelled vaults, beehive tomb "Treasury of Atreus" with its corbelled vault
o Repoussé masks
o Lion Gate at Mycenae
o Inlaid dagger blade with lion hunt

Greek
Geometric ~900 - 700 BCE
• Vases- huge pots that function as grave markers
• Stylized, triangular human form
• Very little detail
• No text b/c writing disappeared
o Diplyon Vase

Archaic ~700 - 480 BCE


• Egyptian influence
• Kouros/Korae figures: stylized and
idealized; goofy smile/Archaic smile;
curly ravioli hair; nudes in the prime of life;
Egyptian sculptural stance
o Kouros Figures
o Temple of Artemis in Corfu with
pediment relief of Medusa
o Siphnian Treasury with frieze of the
battle of the giants
o Black-figured then red-figured vases

Classical 480 - 323 BCE


• Severe Style 480 - 450 BCE: calm faces; contrapposto stance (Kritios
Boy); realistic but idealized male nudes; focus on mastering body mechanics and
showing motion
o Kritios Boy—contrapposto stance
o Warrior
o Poseidon or Zeus
o Discobolos by Myron

• High Classical 450 - ~370 BCE: use of earlier characteristics + focus on perfect
proportions
o Doryphorus by Polykleitos
o The Parthenon by Iktinos and Kallikrates, sculpture by Phidias
o Temple of Athena Nike

• Late Classical ~370 - 323 BCE: Praxiteles does 1st female nude; subtle changes that lead
to Hellenistic
o Cnidian Aphrodite by Praxiteles
o Hermes and Dionysos by Praxiteles

Hellenistic 323 - 31 BCE


• Loss of Greek independence leads to different mood
• Wider range of subject matter
• Art expresses emotion, especially negative ones
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• Intentionally erotic art
• Realistic and naturalistic
• Eastern influences
o Dying Gaul
o Seated Boxer
o The Altar of Zeus at Pergamon
o Venus de Milo
o Laocoön and His Sons
o Nike of Samothrace
Greek Architecture:
• Doric and Ionic columns (Corinthian on inside)
• Peristyle (or peripteral) temples with entry from all sides
• Decorated pediment
• Triglyphs and metopes (Doric temples); frieze
(Ionic temples)
• Vertical and horizontal lines; balance and proportion
• Post and lintel system
• Religious structures
• Focus on exterior decoration
• Significance of location of buildings

Etruscans 800 - 500 BCE


• Tuscan columns - bases but no flutes
• Round arch
• Tombs arranged in cities called
necropolises
• "Happy" wall paintings w/ curving
lines, sense of vitality
• Temples: made of wood; solid walls
with columns only in front on a
portico; plain pediments
o Apollo of Veii
o Sarcophagus from Cerveteri
o Tomb of the Reliefs
o Tomb of the Leopards with Banqueters and Musicians
o Capitoline Wolf (or She-Wolf of the
Capital)
Romans

Roman Republic: ~500 - 40 BCE


o The Battle of Issus Mosaic
o First Style Wall Painting
o Second Style Wall Painting
o Third Style Wall Painting
o Busts—Verism, Head of a Roman
Imperial Rome: ~40 BCE - 476 CE
o Augustus of Primaporta
o The Pantheon
o The Colosseum
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o Basilica of Constantine
o Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius
o Colossus of Constantine
o Four Tetrarchs
• Mosaics: earth colors; tesserae (flat tiles)
• Cities laid out according to ideal grid plan
• Use arch (round), vault (barrel, groin), dome, concrete in monumental ways
• Basilicas: rectangular; apse; entrances on sides;
roof higher than side aisles; barrel and groin vaults; coffered
ceiling; clerestory windows; Corinthian columns
• Exterior and interior decoration
• Triumphal arches
• Wall painting
o 1st style: emulates
marble
o 2nd style: illusion of 3D
space- atmospheric and
linear perspective, diminution, foreshortening, overlapping (all not
perfected)
o 3rd style: reasserts primacy of the wall;
framed pictures
o 4th style: combines earlier 3
• Sculpture
o Roman Republic:
super-
realism/verism
o Early Empire:
idealized
o 3rd Century:
expressionistic

Early Christian ~30 - 500 CE


• Art in catacombs and on sarcophagi
• Jesus shown as good shepherd and later as
Pantocrator
• Use of lunettes
• Denaturing - moving back to conceptual art
• Architecture: basilica plan; clerestory windows; post and lintel (wooden ceiling);
triumphal arch over apse; round arch/arcade; very light
• Continuous narrative
o Painted catacomb ceiling of Jesus and Jonah
o Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus
o Old St. Peter's
o Christ the Good Shepherd mosaic in Ravenna
o St. Michael the Archangel
o Illumination of Rebecca and Eliezer at the Well from the Vienna Genesis

Byzantine ~500 - 1300 CE


• Architecture: central and quincunx
plan churches
• Mysterious, irrational, very
decorative
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• Columns with basket capitals
• Mosaics with lots of gold
• “Too many peopleism”
• Stylized forms: large eyes, long thin fingers and noses
• Central, frontal, symmetrical
• Figures lack mass and have down-pointing feet
• Hieratic scale
• Flat, linear; no shadows, no landscape background, little modeling
• Isocephalic- heads at same level
o San Vitale (in Ravenna) with Emperor Justinian and his
Attendants mosaic
o Hagia Sophia commissioned by Emperor Justinian
o St. Mark's, Venice

Islamic: About 700 CE on


• Hypostyle halls with lots of open space for communal prayer
• Wall of a mosque that is closest to Mecca is called the qibla; it is marked
by a domed niche called a mihrab
• Tower called minaret marks the entrance
• Courtyard that serves as preparatory experience
• Horseshoe and lobed arches
• Gold color; bands of geometric figures; Arabic
calligraphy; stylized intertwining plan forms
o Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem
o Mosque at Cordoba, Spain
o The Alhambra, Granada, Spain
o The Taj Mahal, Agra, India

Medieval
Germanic, Hiberno Saxon, and Viking:
~400 - 800 CE
• Interlace patterns
• Imaginary animals
• Appears on small portable objects, usually with
a practical purpose
o Purse Cover from Sutton Hoo Ship Burial
o Animal Head Post from Oseberg Ship Burial
o Lindisfarne Gospel

Carolingian (ca 750-900, period around rule of Charlemagne)


• Evidence of Classical Illusionism: modeling, landscape background, attempts at
perspective
• Expressionism: intensely emotional, with energetic lines, emphasis on
expression of inner emotional state
o Ebbo Gospels,
Illumination
of the evangelist Matthew
o Palatine Chapel
Ottonian: ~900 - 1000
• Stylized figures with big eyes
• Completely linear and flat
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• “Too many peopleism”
• Hieratic scale
• Composition: central, frontal, symmetrical
• Isocephalic
o St. Michael's at Hildesheim, Germany
o The Annunciation to the Shepherds illumination from the Lectionary of Henry II
o Otto III Enthroned … illumination from the Gospel Book of Otto III

Romanesque ~1000 – 1150


Sculpture:
• Attached to churches, completely
dependent on the architecture
• Stylized, elongated
Architecture:
• Use of Roman
round arch and barrel vault
• Larger churches
built to accommodate
pilgrimages: second aisle,
ambulatory, radiating
chapels
• Stone barrel vaults replace flammable wooden roofs, cause walls to be
thicker, w/ smaller windows so darker
o Gislebertus, tympanum at St. Lazare, Autun, France
o St. Sernin, Toulouse, France
o Durham Cathedral, England
o Churches with round arches, stone barrel vaults, buttresses, etc.
o Cathedral complex in Pisa, Italy
o Bayeux Tapestry (commemorating Battle of Hastings, 1066, victory of William the Conqueror
over King Edward)

Gothic ~1150 – 1300


Sculpture:
• Increasingly less stylized and more naturalistic
• Increasingly Classicistic: Gothic sway is close to contrapposto
stance, Classical proportions, idealization
• Becoming more independent from the architecture, moving out
from the walls behind it.
o The Virgin of Paris (Gothic sway)
o Sculpture at Pisa by Giovanni Pisano
o Rottgen Pieta
Architecture:
• POINTED arch +
Ribbed groin vault
makes ceilings much
higher
• Flying buttresses take
weight out, can make
big stained glass
windows
o Notre Dame,
Paris
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o Chartres
o Gloucester Cathedral, England (Perpendicular Style)

Late Gothic/Proto-Renaissance aka TRECENTO: ~1300 – 1400


Giotto re-introduces naturalism to painting:
• shading
• shadows
• individualization
• landscape settings
• moving away from hieratic scale
o Madonna Enthroned by Cimabue
o Madonna Enthroned by Giotto
o Maestá Altarpiece by Duccio
o Arena Chapel in Padua painted by Giotto (the
Lamentation)
International Gothic Style ~1350 - 1400
• Commingling of Northern European and Italian style
• Tons of gold and bright rich colors
• Processions of wealthy looking people who are richly
dressed
• Very crowded canvases- horror vaqui
• Intentionally ornamental and decorative style,
meaning a loss of realism
• Thin, two dimensional, flatter figures; less modeling
and shading
o Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry by the
Limbourg Brothers

Early Italian Renaissance ~1400 – 1500


1st half of 15th century
• Humanism
• Illusion of depth- linear and atmospheric
perspective; unified light source
• Contrapposto stance
• Heavy modeling
• Realistic arrangement of figures in space
• Individualized, realistic, often idealized figures
• In architecture, a return to Classical architectural vocabulary, more human
scale, more rational design based on mathematical ratios, balance, and
proportion
o David, St Mark, Mary Magdalen by Donatello
o The Holy Trinity by Masaccio
o The Tribute Money by Masaccio
o Florence Duomo Dome by
Brunelleschi
o San Lorenzo by Brunelleschi
2nd half of 15th century
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• All earlier features PLUS
• Focus on motion and emotion
• Foreshortening, middle ground
o The Resurrection of Christ and The Flagellation of Christ by Piero della Francesca
o The Dead Christ by Mantegna
o The Birth of Venus and La Primavera by Botticelli
o Delivery of the Keys by Perugino
o Alberti: Palazzo Rucellai, façade of Santa Maria Novella in Florence

Northern Renaissance ~1400 – 1600


• Disguised symbolism
• Miniature detail
• Surface realism
• Patterns, textures
• Bright oil colors
• Combination of everyday and supernatural
• Frail, pale, elongated figures
• Realism of everyday details, actual unidealized human
faces, and landscapes (when depicted)
• Puddles of drapery with angular golds
• Humanism: artists’ signatures, secular subject matter,
depiction of donors in paintings, frontal portraits,
personality in portraits
o Arnulfini Portrait (Wedding Portrait) by Van Eyck
o Merode Altarpiece by Campin
o The Ghent Altarpiece by Van Eyck
o Escorial Deposition by Rogier van der Weyden
o Portinari Altarpiece by Hugo Van der Goes
o Garden of Earthly Delights by Bosch
o Isenheim Altarpiece by Grunewald
o Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse by Dürer
o Henry VII by Holbein
o Peasant Wedding by Bruegel
High Renaissance 1500 – 1520
• Many Classical characteristics
• Balance, harmony, proportion
• Calm dignity and rationality
• Central, symmetrical
• Realistic but idealized human figures;
proportionate
• Figural pyramid
• Realistic deep space
o Mona Lisa by Leonardo
o The Last Supper by Leonardo
o School of Athens by Raphael
o David by Michelangelo
o Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo
o The Tempietto and the design of St. Peter's by Bramante (St. Peter’s altered when redesigned
and constructed by Michelangelo)
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Venetian Style 1500 – 1600
• Rich oil colors- red, gold, green
• “Miller Time”- soft late afternoon light
• Pastoral Arcadian landscape
• Painterly style
• Plump figures with golden skin; often in
motion
• Dynamic composition
• Asymmetrical with asymmetrical balance
• Diagonal lines
• Lightheartedness, sensuality, worldliness
o Feast of the Gods by Bellini
o Pastoral Concert by Giorgione
o Bacchanal by Titian
o Venus of Urbino by Titian
o Madonna of the House of Pesaro by Titian

Mannerism 1520 – 1600


• Anti-naturalism; trying to
make viewers uncomfortable
• Intentionally distorted,
disproportionate figure -
elongated with small heads
• Figura serpentinata - twisting
figures
• Chaotic sense
of space- too many
peopleism
• Centrifugal
composition; no focal
point; figures pushed out around edges and to front
• Clashing colors
• Overly dramatic; theatrical hand gestures
• Phase I: intense emotionalism
• Phase II: hyper-elegance; CHEESUS!
o Deposition or Decent from the Cross by Pontormo
o The Madonna with the Long Neck by Parmigianino
o The Rape of the Sabine Women by Giovanni da Bologna

Proto-Baroque: late 1500s


• Combines elements of Venetian Style and Mannerism for dramatic Counter Reformation art
o The Last Supper by Tintoretto
o The Burial of Count Orgaz by El Greco

Baroque 1600 – 1700


• Matter in motion through time, space, and
light
• Action, drama, motion, tension
• Chiaroscuro, tenebroso
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• Snapshot in time
• Emotional involvement and intensity- lots of diagonals, emotional faces, figures in motion
• Space is outward and expansive; comes out towards us, involves us
• Profusion of ornament; “more is more”
• First style: Baroque naturalism- images of a realistic,
uncleaned-up natural world; Caravaggio, Artemesia
Gentileschi, Velasquez, Rembrandt, Hals
• Second style: Baroque classicism- idealized natural
world; more resembles Renaissance art; Carracci,
Bernini, Poussin, Claude Lorrain
• Third style: Proto-Romantic- hyper dynamic natural
world; spiraling composition; Rubens
• David and Ecstasy of St. Theresa by •
Bernini The Elevation of the Cross by Rubens
• The Conversion of St. Paul by Caravaggio • The Nightwatch by Rembrandt
• Judith beheading Holofernes by • Still Life by Heda
Artemisia Gentileschi • The Kitchenmaid by Vermeer
• St. Peter's extension and façade by • Fortune Teller by La Tour
Maderno • Burial of Phocion by Poussin
• San Carlo at the Four Fountains by • The Palace at Versailles
Borromini • St. Paul's in London by Wren
• Las Meninas by Velazquez
Rococo 1700 – ~1750
• Rich people doing rich people things
• Light-hearted, sensual, indulgent, playful
• Pastel colors
• Painterly style
• Nature is wild but nice, metaphor for the
carefree lives of the nobles
• Curvy lines
• Frivolous
o The Pilgrimage to Cythera by
Watteau
o The Swing by Fragonard
Reactions against the Rococo ~1700 – ~1750: Patrons were often the middle class, who
sought art of a more serious nature, usually in the Academic Style
o Grace at Table by Chardin
o Marriage a la Mode by Hogarth
o Robert Andrews and his Wife by Gainsborough
o The Death of General Wolfe by Benjamin West
o Watson and the Shark by Copley

Neo Classical: ~1750 - ~1820 (considered the 1st phase of Romanticism)


• Polished, linear academic style
• Idealized figures
• “Noble art” showing scenes from ancient Athens or Roman Republic
• Meant to teach a moral or lesson
• Classical architectural settings
o Cornelia Mother of the Gracchi by Angelica Kauffman
o Oath of Horatii by David
o Death of Socrates by David
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Romanticism ~1790 – 1850


• Dramatic historical scenes and contemporary scenes
• Images of heroism, suffering, the exotic
• Nature as vast, powerful, awe-inspiring
• Images of fear, cruelty, insanity
• Neo-Baroque techniques: intense color, intense drama, dramatic light, dynamic motion
o Third
of May 1808 by
Goya
o The
Raft of the
Medusa by
Gericault
o Death of Sardanapalus by Delacroix
o Liberty Leading the People by Delacroix
o Salisbury Cathedral across the Meadow by Constable
o Slave Ship by Turner
o The Ox Bow by Cole (Hudson River School)

Realism ~1830 – 1860


• Reaction against Romanticism
• Artists painted only what they could see
• Much of their art was used for calling attention to the
needs and problems of the working poor
• Everyday scenes, often of the lower class, who are
usually depicted sympathetically and with dignity
o The Gleaners by Millet
o Stonebreakers by Courbet
o The Burial at Ornans by Courbet
o Third Class Carriage by Daumier

Impressionism 1870 – 1890


• Influenced by Realists and French Barbizon School
• Paint only what they can see
• Wanted to capture fleeting impressions of light and color
• Loose, rapid brushstrokes (“the revolution of the color patch”)
• Paint everyday scenes, usually of the middle class at leisure
• Avoided blacks and grays
o Luncheon on the Grass (and) Olympia by Manet (precursor to movement)
o Impression: Sunrise by Monet
o Le Moulin de la Galette by Renoir
o The Glass of Absinthe (or ballet dancers or race horses) by Degas
o The Floorscrapers and Paris Street, Rainy Day by Caillebotte
o Pissarro
o Morisot, usually women and/or children
o Cassatt (Influenced by Japanese woodblock prints)
o Nocturne in Black and Gold by Whistler (also influenced by Japanese
woodblock prints)
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Post Impressionists 1880 – 1900
• SOUTH CAROLINA VEGETABLES GROW TALL (Seurat, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Toulouse
Lautrec)
• Feel Impressionism is too limiting with its focus on fleeting impressions of light and color
• Retain the bright color palette but explore aspects of structure/form (Seurat and Cézanne) or
expression (Van Gogh, Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec)

Symbolists 1890 – 1900


• Think realism is trivial
• Fascinated by the inner workings of
the mind
• Believe their task is seeing through
things to their deeper meaning and
reality
o The Scream by
Munch

20th Century (4 trends)


• Expressionism: artists use art to express their own emotional responses to the world; influenced
by Van Gogh, Gaugin, non-Western art
• Abstraction: artists explore the internal structure of forms in the visible world; influenced by
Cézanne and non-Western art
• Fantasy: artists explore the interior of the human psyche, focusing on the non-rational, such as
dreams, fantasy, imagination, fears; influenced by Symbolists and Freud
• Realism: artists reveal their life in the 20th century, focusing frequently on mechanization,
urbanization, war, and isolation; influenced by Courbet and Daumier