Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Episode 102: Blue

Azure, indigo, sapphire, cobalt, beryl, cerulean, cyan, ultramarine. Incase you didn't get our little hint, on this week Julia and Carolyne will be talking about the color blue and its influence in art history. Our topic was inspired by the Blue episode of the BBC documentary The History of Art in Three Colours. If you would like to watch the episode, click the link below:


Lapis Lazuli
In the Western world blue was a latecomer to be used in art, design and even dying fabric. Making good blue dye was difficult. For centuries plants were most commonly used to create blue dyes, plants like woad and indigo were popular in Europe and Asia. The arrival of lapis lazuli in Venice changed everything.

Ancient Egyptian figurine in Egyptian Blue

Ancient Egyptians created the very first synthetic blue known as Egyptian Blue by grinding lime, silica, copper and alkali together.

For the Ancient Egyptians blue would protect the dead from evil in the afterlife. It was used for funerary urns, statuary and figurines. They also dyed the fabric a mummy was wrapped in blue.

Saint Denis Basilica, Paris
Blue wasn't typically used in stained glass windows until the middle ages, when the Saint Denis Basilica was rebuilt in Paris. They used cobalt in the windows which when mixed with the red glass created a bluish violet light that filled the cathedral. That particular color came to be known as bleu de Saint Denis.

Mausoleum of Galla Placidia in Ravenna, Italy
While blue had been used extensively by the Byzantines, particularly in mosaics it had not been used in clothing.
Bellini, Lochis Madonna, abt 1470-75
Pretty soon blue was the color of royalty, wealth and religion. Of course this kind of made sense since they were the only ones who could afford to buy it. When ultramarine began to be used in depicting the Virgin Mary, the color blue became a symbol of virtue, holiness and humility. The church even tried to make blue it’s own, saying it could only be used for religious symbolism.

Giotto, Arena Chapel, 1305
Giotto was one of the first Italian Renaissance painters to use ultramarine. The barrel vaulted ceiling is painted blue, not to represent the sky, but heaven. The portraits on the ceiling, encased in circles are God and Saints looking down from heaven. The Arena Chapel is considered one of the masterpieces of western art.

Titian, Pesaro Altarpiece, 1519-1526
The church tried to control ultramarine by inflating prices, at one point is was more expensive than gold. Since blue was the color of the divine, it was only used for the Virgin Mary. Titian, bad ass that he was, broke the churches control and rules associates with it in the Pesaro Altarpiece.

Some examples from Picasso's Blue Period
In Picasso’s case, his Blue Period had to do with sadness and mourning. Picasso sank into a depression in late 1901 and began painting in blue tones because of the death of his friend Carlos Casagemas. His blue's were not ultramarine, but darker more melancholy tones.

Other artists, like Gauguin and Van Gogh, used blue to represent “deepest emotion”.

Kandinsky, Der Blaue Reiter,1903 & Marc, Tower of Blue Horses, 1913

The Movement is also the title of a Kandinsky painting from 1903. The name Blaue Reiter (“blue rider”) refers to a key motif in Kandinsky’s work: the horse and rider, which was for him a symbol for moving beyond realistic representation. The horse was also a prominent subject in Marc’s work, which centered on animals as symbols of rebirth.

For Kandinsky, the properties of Blue were deep, inner, supernatural, peaceful “Sinking towards black, it has the overtone of a mourning that is not human.”

Klein, Various art pieces, Pompidou Center, Paris
Yves Klein believed that blue could change the world. He approached the chemist, Edouard Adam to help him develop the perfect shade of blue and in 1957 he trademarked the color as International Klein Blue. Everything he painted was blue! Klein made his first monochrome painting in 1949 and began his so-called 'blue period' in 1957; he then continued to make blue monochrome paintings called mono paintings which he called OPEN WINDOWS TO FREEDOM.

The Leap Into the Void, 1960

In conclusion, is it any wonder that we as human beings are so entranced by the color blue, it is after all, the color of our planet.

Bill Anders, Earthrise,1968

On December 24, 1968 as the astronauts of Apollo 8 were taking pictures of the moon, Bill Anders happened to look at the window and see the Earth and is rose over the moon's horizon. He took the picture above, forever changing humankind's view of Earth and our place in the Universe.

RECENTLY—Ken Murphy, a computer programmer  built a rig to photograph the sky once every 10 seconds for a year. The resulting time-lapse video collage is a kaleidoscope of shifting weather patterns. Murphy’s project is one of more than 150 featured in The Art of Tinkering. (link and video)

We hope you enjoyed this episode on the color Blue. Next week Alisha and Jo will be talking about Scottish Ruins!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Episode 101: Jacques-Louis David: Neoclassical Painter and Revolutionary

This week we have a special guest, our very own Courtney Davis, who is an Assistant Professor of Art History here at UVU. Courtney has been our special guest a couple of times now so she's a pro at this podcasting thing and it was lots of fun having her back, especially to talk about the subject of David.

Self Portrait, 1794, Louvre

Jacques-Louis David was quite a character. Not only was he a talented artist but he was also a political revolutionary who was very luck to have survived the French Revolution with his head still attached!

David was born in Paris in 1748 and died exiled in Brussels in 1825. His father was a prosperous textile merchant who was killed in a dual when David was only ten years old, leaving him to be raised by his uncles.
He studied the classics and drawing and was apprenticed to Joseph-Marie Vien who was a history painter.

At the age of 18 David entered the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. After four failed attempts to win the Prix de Rome he finally won in 1774 with his painting, Antiochus and Stratonice.

Antiochus and Stratonice, 1774,  École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts
The Prix de Rome sent David to Italy where he studied Poussin and Caravaggio. He was very taken with Caravaggio's use of light and shadow, but his style is more classical like Poussin. It was also in Italy where he became interested in neoclassicism, a style that he would make popular in France. While in Italy David visited Pompeii and Herculaneum as well as the Doric Temples at Paestum which greatly influenced his art.

Poussin, Et in Arcadia ego, 1637 & Caravaggio, Calling of St. Matthew, 1599

He returned to Paris and married Marguerite Pécoul in 1782. She would divorce him after he voted for the execution of Louis XVI in 1792 and remarry him after his imprisonment in 1794.

David, Portrait of Marguerite Pecoul David, 1813

In 1784 he was elected into the Académie Royale for his painting Andromache Mourning Hector. This same year he returned to Italy where he painted Oath of the Horatii.

David, Andromache Mourning Hector, 1783, Louvre

David, Oath of the Horatii, 1784, Louvre
Courtney's head in the blue hat!
Oath of the Horatii was painted while David was in Rome, it is said to be inspired by the play Horace, but there is actually nothing in the painting related to the play at all. The use of rich yet somber colors, bare cubic space, clear lighting and linear perspective are the epitome of David's neoclassical style.

David, Lictors Bring to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons, 1789

David, Portrait of Monsieur de Lavoisier and Wife, 1788
David is known for his historical paintings but his bread and butter was portraiture. This charming portrait of renowned French scientist Monsieur de Lavoisier and his wife is an excellent example of David's talent. You will have to listen to the podcast to get Courtney's full run down on this lovely painting, but I must say Monsieur de Lavoisier turns a fine ankle. :)

David, Death of Marat, 1793, Royal Museums of Fine Arts, Belgium

Jean-Paul Marat was a physician and radical politician during the French Revolution. He called himself a "Friend to the People" but he was responsible for thousands of beheading's at the guillotine, possibly including Monsieur de Lavoisier from the painting above. David was a friend of Marat's and is responsible for this fantastic work of propaganda. Marat was stabbed and killed by Charlotte Corday while he was in the bath.

David, Coronation of Napoleon, 1805-07, Louvre

Left: Show for scale. Right: A close up 
Napoleon was an ambitious young general who decided he wanted to be Emperor of France. This painting depicts the moment when Napoleon crowns his wife Josephine. The story goes that Napoleon brought the Pope from Italy to crown him Emperor, but as the Pope is placing the crown upon Napoleon's head, he takes it from the Pope and crowns himself.

This painting shows the transition between old France and new France. You can see the blue and gold of the monarchy and the red and yellow of Napoleon as well as the old symbol of the fleur de lis and Napoleon's symbol of the honeybee. All the people to the left of Napoleon are his supports, all the people to the right are the Catholic clergy. David also added Napoleon's mother into the painting, she hadn't been at the coronation.

Here is the link for the Rococo episode: http://artsandfacts.blogspot.com/2013/01/episode-51-rococo-and-whimsical.html

We hope you enjoyed this weeks podcast! Next week Carolyne and I (Julia) will be talking about the color Blue.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Episode 100: Our Favorite and Least Favorite Pieces of Art

This is our 100th episode!  It is an exciting milestone for us and we want to thank all of our listeners for sharing this journey with us!  We also want to thank all of our alumni whose work in the podcast over the years we treasure!  We have included messages from some of them in this episode.  We miss you Marie, Kenna, Mary, Megan, Chloe, Zach, and Lauren!

In this episode we each chose an example of our most favorite and our least favorite artists or pieces of art and had a bit of a smackdown!   As we discuss art together, we often find that we have such differing opinions.  Yet none of them are wrong because there is no universally agreed upon example of "best" or "worst" art. What we gain from our debates is a better understanding and greater appreciation for artists and their creations. 

Alisha's Picks
Love:  Winged Victory, or Nike of Samothrace, Unknown Greek artist, c.200-190 BCE
Hate:  Russian Suprematism-- ie:  Red Square by Kazimir Malevich, 1913

Carolyne's Picks
Love:  Apollo & Daphne by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 1622-1625
Hate:  Mona Lisa (La Gioconda) by Leonardo da Vinci, 1503-1517

Jo's Picks
Love:  The Slave Ship by J.M.W. Turner, 1840
Hate:  Dada-- ie: Fountain by Marcel Duchamp, 1917

Carrie's Picks:
Love:  Antoni Gaudi-- ie: Casa Batllo, 1877
Hate:  Willem de Kooning-- ie: Woman V, 1952-1953

Julia's Picks
Love:  Red Room by Henri Matisse, 1908
Hate:  Street, Dresden by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 1908

Thank you for listening today, we hope you enjoyed our 100th Episode! Next week we have a special guest host, Assistant Professor Courtney Davis talking with Julia about the famous French Neoclassical painter David.

Have a great week!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Episode 99: UVU's Possible BA in Art History

Recently Julia and Lauren met with Dr. Steven Bule and Associate Professor Courtney Davis to talk about the Bachelor of Arts in Art History that is in the works at UVU.

Utah Valley University

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Episode 98: A&F Top 10 Churches

This week Carrie and Alisha list their Top 10 churches in an eclectic tour of the world.

Number 1: Crystal Cathedral (Christ's Cathedral)

The Crystal Cathedral, is known as Christ’s Cathedral
This modern beauty is a sight to behold in California. Designed by Philip Johnson in 1981, it is one of the largest glass buildings in the world!

We proudly award this church: Best Bling

Number 2: Salt Cathedral in Wieliczka Salt Mine, Poland

Yes that’s right, we said SALT Cathedral! This flavorful mine has an actual cathedral located inside, carved out of the walls of the mine. Life size statues and chandeliers of rock salt decorate the mine.

This cathedral earns the award of: Most Edible, yummm!

 In case you were looking for other buildings you can lick, here is a link for you:


Number 3: San Diego LDS Temple

This picturesque temple belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and is located in San Diego. By day the temple seems to sit like a delicate cloud on the beautiful manicured grounds. The stark white exterior lights up when the sun goes down and looks like a halo in the middle of the city!

We bestow upon this temple the award of: Most Heavenly

Number 4: Washington National Cathedral

While part of the cathedral was under construction in the 80’s, a contest was held for school children to design Gargoyles and Grotesques to adorn the towers. One of the winners was Christopher Rader and his Darth Vader drawing, and then turned into a sculpture by Patrick J. Plunkett

Most Sci-Fi award we grant this

Number 5: Santuario de Las Lajas (The Shrine of Our Lady of Las Lajas) Columbia

The Shrine of Our Lady of Las Lajas
This Neo-Romanesque masterpiece was designed by the architects J. Gualberto Perez and Lucindo Espinosa and built between 1916 and 1949

We give this one the award of: Most Epic!

Number 6: Svyato-Spassky Convent in Kostomarovo 

Two churches are located in these caves, a Spassky temple and a smaller St. Seraphin Sarovsky church.  These churches dig deep into the cliff to provide surprisingly open interiors. These churches were also built as a way to protect parishioners in case of sieges or attacks

This cleverly disguised location earns it the Best Camouflage Award


Number 7: Hallgrimur Church, Iceland

This tall glass of water was designed by Guðjón Samúelsson who found inspiration from the basalt lava flows found throughout Iceland. The church is 244 feet tall.

We give this beauty the award of: Tall Awesomeness 

Number 8: Musée Le Secq des Tournelles, France

An ancient church turned museum of antique ornamental wrought iron? Talk about a dream come true! This church now houses a collection of wrought iron amassed by Jean-Louis-Henri Le Secq des Tournelles who was one of France’s leading architectural photographers to the 19th Century.

This amazing museum/church is granted the Sweet Transformation award

Number 9: Mont Saint-Michel

This miraculous monastery fortress is located on a tidal island in Normandy. The city plan of the island is based on the medieval feudal system, with God (the monastery) at the top, then the great halls, then shops and stores, and without the walls, the farms.

Obviously we have awarded this one: The most medieval town on an island looking!

Number 10: Süleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul

This amazing mosque houses the tombs of the Sultan Süleyman his wife Roxelana.
Roxelana was a highly influential and powerful woman in her day.

We give this Mosque the award for Inspiring Carrie’s future interior design projects!

Thanks for joining us today! Come back next week for Julia and Alisha's episode on Fairy Painting.
Have a great week!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Episode 97: Irish and Celtic Art

Happy St. Patrick's Day one and all! This episode focuses on the rich history of Irish and Celtic art. You may not know this, but there is more to Celtic art than just the color green, leprechauns, and the four leaf clover. Irish and Celtic art is full of intricate patterns and symbols. Its' art tells many wonderful stories and is beautiful in its own unique way.

There are four main identifiable patterns in Insular Art: Spiral, Key, interlace and knot work, and zoomorhic images. You will see these designs in almost all Celtic and Irish art especially in the High Crosses, and Book of Kells.
Zoomorphic Image
Key Design

Spiral Design

Irish Knotwork

 The Irish Trinity Knot has several meaning to many different people. To the Christians, it represents the Godhead: Father, Son and Holy Ghost. To the Pagans, it can represent the three main earthly elements being earth, wind, and fire.

Trinity Knot

 he Claddagh ring has a rich history with a heart warming love story. The heart symbolizes love, the hands symbolize friendship and the crown symbolizes fidelity. This ring has a very specific way of being worn and can identify a persons relationship status.

Claddagh Ring

 These crosses can be up to 20 feet high. They are filled with detailed designs and will be found in many mosque courtyards and cemeteries. They show the intermingling designs of pagan Celtic art and early Christian Insular art.

High Cross of Muiredach

The Book of Kells is perhaps one of the most celebrated books in all of history. It contains hundreds of full-page illuminations which are often painted with gold. It is essentially a book of illustrations. This particular page from the book is the opening page to the gospel of Saint Matthew. It is the initial letters of Christ's name in Greek. This page literally reads: "Now this is how the birth of Christ came about."

Chi-Rho-Iota, from the Book of Kells
Zoomorphic Design
We hope you enjoyed this episode. We will have a Bonus Episode going up next week with Dr. Bule and Courtney Davis from the School of the Arts at UVU with some exciting information about the future of our Art History program! See you next week.