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Art History - Final Exam Study Guide

Chartres Cathedral
• Located in France
• Iconography – a system of visual images the meaning of which is understood by a given culture or
• Christian images that tell the story of Christ.
• Lower nine panels of the center window in the west front of the Cathedral
• The window was made about 1150
• One of the oldest / finest surviving stained-glass windows in the world
• The story can be read like a cartoon strip, beginning at the bottom left and moving right and up
from the Annunciation (the angel Gabriel announcing to Mary she will bear the birth of Christ)
through the Nativity, the Annunciation to the Shepherds, and the Adoration of the Magi.
• The window is considered the work of the same artist who was commissioned by the Abbot Suger
to make the windows of the relic chapels at Saint-Denis, which portray many of the same
• The pictures in the window are there for the sole purpose of showing simple people who can’t read
the Holy Scriptures what they must believe.

The Book of Kells

• Is an illuminated manuscript Gospel book in Latin,
• Containing the four Gospels of the New Testament together with various prefatory texts and
• It was created by Celtic monks ca. 800 or slightly earlier.
• It is a masterwork of Western calligraphy and represents the pinnacle of insular illumination.
• It is also widely regarded as Ireland's finest national treasure.
• Figures of humans, animals and mythical beasts, together with Celtic knots and interlacing
patterns in vibrant colors, enliven the manuscript's pages.
• Many of these minor decorative elements are imbued with Christian symbolism
• It was written on vellum (calfskin), which was time-consuming to prepare properly but made for
an excellent, smooth writing surface.
• 680 individual pages (340 folios) have survived
• In addition to incidental character illuminations, there are entire pages that are primarily
decoration, including portrait pages, "carpet" pages and partially decorated pages with only a line
or so of text.
• As many as ten different colors were used in the illuminations, some of them rare and expensive
dyes that had to be imported from the continent.
• The workmanship is so fine that some of the details can only be clearly seen with a magnifying

Michelangelo’s David
• One of the world’s finest sculptures and considered to be a masterpiece of Renaissance art
• It did not meet with universal approval when displayed in Florence, Italy in 1504.
• The sculpture was commissioned in 1501 by the Opera del Duomo (“Works of the Cathedral”)
• It was to be a public piece designed for outdoor display in the Piazza della Signoria.
• It represents David’s triumph over Goliath and was meant to symbolize Republican Florence, the
city’s freedom from foreign and papal domination, and the rule of the Medici family.
• It was carved from a giant 16 foot high block of marble that had been quarried 40 years earlier

Nike of Samothrace
• Fourth century BCE
• Is a masterpiece of Hellenistic realism
• The goddess has been depicted as she alights on the prow of a victorious war gallery, and one can
almost feel the wind as it buffets her, and the surf spray that has soaked her garment so that it
clings revealingly to her torso
• The depiction of physical beauty becomes an end in itself, and sculpture increasingly seems to be
more about the pleasures of seeing than anything else.
• Artists strove for an ever-greater degree of realism, and sculptures of the Hellenistic Age we find
and dramatic treatment of the figure.

Jackson Pollack’s Autumn Rhythm #30

• October 1950 = captured in a series of photographs by Hans Namuth
• Action painting that prompts the viewer to become actively engaged in it
• The lines that trace themselves out across the sweep of the painting to chart the path of Pollack’s
own motions
• The drips and sweeps of paint record his action as a painter
• Pollack wanted to be completely involved in the process of painting, to become absorbed in the

The Merode Altarpiece – Robert Campin

• 1425-1430
• Oil on wood
• The Christian story of the Annunciation of the Virgin, the Revelation to Mary that she will give
birth to the Son of God takes place in a fully realized Flemish domestic interior.
• Archangel Gabriel approaches Mary from the left, blocking the view of the couple dressed in
fashionable 15th century clothing standing outside left of the painting.
• Seven rays of sunlight illuminate the room and fall directly on Mary’s abdomen
• One of the rays is a mini Christ carrying a cross flies into the scene.
• On the right panel Joseph the carpenter works as a real 15th century carpenter might have working
on a mousetrap.
• Small in size making it portable

The Rape of the Sabine Women - Giambologna

• Sculpture completed in 1583
• Made of marble, 13 feet, 6 inches in height
• Loggia del Lanzi, Florence
• It is a sculpture in the round that demands movement.
• It’s designed to be seen from all sides and the viewer must move around it.
• It is impossible to represent it in a single photograph.
• It involves us both physically and emotionally in the scene it depicts.
• It is in part horror of the scene that lends the sculpture its power, for as it draws us around it, in
order to see more of what is happening.

Botticelli’s Primavera
• Painted in 1482
• Tempera on a gesso ground on poplar panel
• Consists of eight poplar panels arranged vertically and fastened by two horizontal strips of spruce
• Support was covered with ground gesso that hid the seams between the panels
• Outlined the trees and human figures on the gesso, painted the sky, laying blue tempera on the
• Figures and trees were painted on an undercoat – white for the figures, black for the trees.
• Transparency of the drapery achieved by layering thin yellow washes of transparent medium over
the white undercoat.
• 30 coats of color – transparent or opaque – depending on the relative light or shadow of the area
being painted were required to create each figure.
• Detail was achieved using egg tempura.

Marcel’s Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase

• Painted in 1912
• Oil on canvas
• Exhibited at the Armory Show in NYC in 1913
• It was a scandalous success, parodied and ridiculed in the newspapers
• Called an explosion in shingle factory, called a Navajo blanket by Teddy Roosevelt
• Duchamp explained how he saw an illustration of movement with a system of dots delimiting the
different movements
• Chronophotographs – photographs of time

Andy Warhol’s silkscreen prints of Marilyn Monroe

• Created in 1967
• Used silkscreen to comment on American culture
• Made within 3-4 years of her death in 1962
• Depicted in garish and conflicting colors
• Think of Marilyn as both a person and a Hollywood image.
• What does it mean to be an image?
• How does color affect the meaning of the work?
• Warhol was a social critic intent on challenging the values of mainstream America

Claude Monet’s Water Lilies

• 1916-26
• Installed in the Orangerie in Paris in 1927
• Designed to compel the viewer to move around and view from all sides or see from a number of
vantage points to view them over time.
• In the middle of a world that has been turned inside out
• Painted from the shoreline but the viewer seems to be surrounded by water, as if the room were
an island in the middle of the pond
• The painting can’t be seen all at once.
• There is no focal point, no sense of unified perspective, seems to organize itself around and
through the viewer’s own acts of perception and movement.
• A simple representation of the natural world
• The viewer’s eye is driven randomly through the space of the paintings; there is no place for the
eye to rest.

Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night

• Painted in 1889
• Oil on canvas
• Swirling turmoil of lines
• It’s like Endless Movement
• Use of line is loose and free, it seems out of control
• Life and death – the town and the heaven collide and are connected by the church spire and the
swaying cypress.

Georges Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte


Artemisia Gentileschi’s Judith and Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes

• Painted in 1625
• Oil on canvas
• Chiaroscuro techniques
• Utilizes the technique known as tenebrism, from the Italian tenebroso meaning murky.
• Tenebrism uses large areas of dark contracting sharply with smaller brightly illuminated areas.
• Competing against the very deep shadows are the dramatic spots of light.
• Based on the tale in the book of Judith in the Bible in which the noble Judith seduces the invading
general Holofernes and kills him saving her people from destruction
• Figures are heroic, illuminated in a strong artificial spotlight and modeled in their physical
features and folds of their clothing with a skill that lends them astonishing spatial reality and

Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper

• 1495-98
• Mural (oil and tempera on plaster)
• Fully frontal one-point perspective system
• The system focuses our attention on Christ, since the perspective lines appear almost as rays of
light radiating from Christ’s head.
• A wall painting created in the refectory – dining hall - of the Monastery of Santa Maria delle
Grazie in Milan, Italy.
• The painting’s architecture appears to be continuous with the actual architecture of the refectory,
it seems as if the world outside of the space of the painting is organized around Christ as well.
• Everything in the architecture of the painting and the refectory draws our attention to him and his
gaze controls the world.

Pablo Picasso’s Guernica

• Painted in 1937
• Oil on canvas
• It represents an event in the Spanish Civil War that occurred on April 26, 1937.
• Republic Basque troops who were fighting the Fascist forces of General Francisco Franco were
retreating toward Bilbao on the northern Spanish coast.
• A bridge over the Mandaca River at the edge of a town of 7,000 people called Guernica was the
last escape route for vehicles in that area, and the German Air Force, who come to aid Franco was
determined to destroy it.
• The first bombs were dropped near the railroad station – the bridge was ignored – the planes
released bombs into the smoke and dust raised by the first explosion.
• The entire central part of the town – 15 square blocks – was totally destroyed.
• Nearly 1,000 people were killed.
• Picasso who was sympathetic to the Republic and who considered himself exiled in Paris was
outraged at the events.
• Many elements of the painting refer to surrealist dream symbolism.
• The horse at the center left, speared and dying in anguish represents the fate of the dreamer’s
• The entire scene is surveyed by a bull, which represents at once Spain itself, the simultaneous
heroism and tragedy of the bullfight
• The Minotaur – the bull-man who for the Surrealists stood for the irrational forces of the human
• The electric light bulb at top center of painting, and the oil lamp held by a woman reaching out of
the window represents the old and new ways of thinking.

Rene Magritte’s The Treason of Images

• Painted in 1929
• Oil on canvas
• Reproduced image of a pipe similar to that found in tobacco store signs and ads of his time.
• The caption under the pipe translates into English as “this is not a pipe” which at first seems
• We tend to look at the image as if it were a pipe, but of course it isn’t; it is the representation of a
• Both images and words can refer to things that we see, but they are not things themselves.
• Invites us to think critically about the representations that bombard us in daily life.

Edouard Manet’s Dejeuner Sur L’Herbe

• Painted in 1863
• Oil on canvas
• Luncheon on the Grass
• It was rejected along with other paintings considered modern
• It was a copy of the painting the Judgment of Paris
• Painted in broad visible strokes
• The body of the seated nude was flat.
• The painting’s sense of space was distorted, and the bather in the background and the stream
both seemed to spill forward on to the picnic.

The Lumiere Brothers’ Cinematographe films

• The first projected motion picture made public debut to a large audience on December 28, 1895 in
• The brothers showed 10 films projected by the cinematographe that lasted for 20 minutes.
• The most popular of their early films was Waterer and Watered in which a boy steps on a
gardener’s hose, stopping the flow of water; when the gardener looks at the nozzle, the boy steps
off the hose and the gardener douses himself where the gardener chases the boy.
• To the silent image sound was added
• To the talkie was added color
• Film developed in its audience a taste for live action.