Art & Culture

Anth 306 - Prof Plasencia

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Art & Culture by Mind Map: Art & Culture

1. Origins of Art

1.1. "In many situations, art and craft can be more or less the same thing. One word derives from Latin, the other from German, and English dictionaries define both in terms of the application of specialized skill. The terms can be used interchangeably of activities from warfare to writing, and of artefacts from sculpture to pottery. Even so, the individual creativity attributed to artists makes an important difference—works of fine art are unique, decorative art is scarce, craft is common and, at the bottom of the scale, most industrial products are ubiquitous. Art in the Western tradition is not simply a matter of artistic qualities, however these are judged, but also a matter of rarity and collectability." Burt, Ben. World Art (p. 20). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

1.2. The relative value of various types of art, and even items of craft, were often influenced more by their “strangeness” to western imperial civilization than by the actual creativity expressed.

1.3. As an initial concept, art was most often simply a subjective category used to organize and describe items of human creation which had no readily apparent utilitarian purpose, such as paintings and sculpture.

1.4. Cultural Anthropology

1.4.1. Most likely to engage with things like the effects of the museum connection to the construction of identity.

1.5. Carl Linnaeus: developed a system of classifying God's creations, which later influenced the classification and hierarchy of artistic expression.

2. Classical Art

2.1. European obsession with ancient Greek art. Defined as one of the artistic "high points" of civilization.

2.2. The Parthenon Marbles: Removed from Greece and exhibited in the British Museum.

2.2.1. Their orientation and position removes much of the meaning.

2.2.2. Greeks consider these cultural history.

2.3. British "Liberation" of Ottoman artifacts. Believed they were "saving" these items from a "savage" culture that was incapable of properly appreciating them.

2.4. Important Biblical Connections: Egypt & Mesopotamia

2.5. Zeitgeist: Spirit of the age, spirit of a culture.

3. Oriental Art

3.1. "Traveling writers and painters brought home accounts and images suggestive of a timeless way of life, reminiscent for some of biblical antiquity, of the luxury and decadence of Oriental despots and harems, and abandoned monumental ruins." Burt, Ben. World Art (p. 40). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

3.2. "Although Chinese (and Japanese) pictures were dignified as art by inclusion in the British Museum’s Department of Prints and Drawings in the nineteenth century, Chinese collections there and in the Victoria and Albert were dominated by decorative art, particularly ceramics, and even this was not highly regarded." Burt, Ben. World Art (p. 50). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

3.3. "Chinese painters were praised for capturing the essential qualities of their subjects, not through the imitation of visual appearances as in the Western Classical tradition, but through the mastery of techniques, which also represented the essential character of the painter. This derived from a tradition of calligraphy in which the painter was embodied in his brushstrokes, and there was an expectation that master painters were also the calligraphers who painted the accompanying texts." Burt, Ben. World Art (p. 48). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

3.4. A broad classification by Europeans of art and artifacts from Islam, Indian, and Chinese cultures.

4. Primitive Art

4.1. Winter perceived as a sacred time when the spirit world intersects with the living world.

4.2. Clive Bell & the aesthetic hypothesis: art should generate an emotional response.

4.3. Augustus Lane Fox Pitt-Rivers

4.3.1. Typology: The belief that you can arrange artifacts and establish evolution of humanity.

4.4. Definitions

4.4.1. Formlines: Primary formline structures, well developed and continuous pattern of main shapes. Often accentuated by secondary elements, complexes, and formalized color usage.

4.4.2. Formalism: A method of interpretation at the end of the 19th century which focused on organic unity, symbols and shapes, and symmetry.

4.4.3. Ethnography: 1861. "A residual category, covering all those cultural traditions that had not produced antiquities then of scholarly interest." Burt, Ben. World Art (p. 17). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

4.4.4. Diffusion: The concept that artistic elements of culture can be transferred from more developed civilizations to less developed civilizations. Attempts by colonialists to take credit for cultural elements of exotic peoples.

5. Prehistoric Art

5.1. "The general conclusion of archaeologists is now that, during the Upper Paleolithic between 35,000 and 10,000 BP, people who were biologically similar to us began making artefacts now recognized as art, including cave paintings, bone and ivory implements, and sculptures." Burt, Ben. World Art (p. 73). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

5.2. "Interpretations of archaeological artefacts are as much cultural and historical products as the artefacts themselves." Burt, Ben. World Art (p. 77). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

5.3. Link: The Life and Times of Sara Baartman: The Hottentot Venus

5.3.1. "The “Willendorf Venus” figurine, discovered in 1909, was the first Paleolithic female figure to attract popular attention and one of those proposed as mother-goddess images. The name Venus derived from a prurient interest in its sexual characteristics, evoking a similar reaction to the “Hottentot Venus,” a woman from South Africa who was exhibited in Europe and died in Paris in 1816. Both were used to represent ideas of primitive sexuality, associated with Africans and lower forms of humanity in contrast with the current puritanical sexual morality of Europe. Prehistorians imputed their own cultural values to the peoples they studied." Burt, Ben. World Art (pp. 74-75). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

6. Form

6.1. Franz Boas

6.1.1. Boas arrived at a theory of art as the appreciation of humanly created form by demonstrating the importance of basic formal qualities that were influenced by technical processes and enhanced by virtuosity and symbolic associations. Burt, Ben. World Art (p. 87). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

6.2. Northwest Coast Art

6.2.1. Formlines

6.2.1.1. Continuous patterns with primary shapes and secondary complexes - use of geometry

6.2.2. The rich artistic traditions of the Native Americans of the Northwest Coast were a particularly valuable field of research. Burt, Ben. World Art (p. 85). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

6.2.3. In using the Northwest Coast art as a case study, Boas distinguished men’s “symbolic” from women’s “formal” art. Burt, Ben. World Art (p. 88). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

6.2.4. Structure

6.2.4.1. In the 1960s, the formal qualities of Northwest Coast designs identified by Boas were among the examples used by the influential French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss (1963) to demonstrate structural principles for which he claimed underlying cultural meanings. Burt, Ben. World Art (p. 90). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

6.2.4.1.1. Claude Lévi-Strauss (1963)

6.3. An early-twentieth-century British exponent of formalism was Clive Bell, who maintained that “ ‘significant form’ is the one quality common to all works of visual art.” What he regarded as significant was the form itself, not its representational content, if any: “certain forms and relations of forms, stir our aesthetic emotions” and “All systems of aesthetics must be based on personal experience—that is to say, they are subjective.” This experience was not the same as viewing natural beauty, nor illustrations that arouse interest and emotion by their content, as photographs can do, for what was represented was irrelevant to the significant form. “Art transports us from the world of man’s activity to a world of aesthetic exaltation” (Bell 1913). Burt, Ben. World Art (p. 86). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

7. Meaning

7.1. The explicit meanings and implicit connotations of images can be read and explained by those versed in particular art traditions, such as official and religious iconography. However, visual symbols also seem to communicate more than people can explain in words, raising questions about the level at which we can understand the iconography of unfamiliar cultures. Burt, Ben. World Art (p. 97). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

7.2. Stems from the theories of form and structure which were part of the form area. Based upon some of the basic understandings of formalism and the structural approach.

7.3. Symbols & Symbology

7.3.1. Iconography

7.3.1.1. Moche Pot Iconography

7.3.1.1.1. Depictions of "scenes" that tell stories. For the Moche, much of it dealt with sacrifice and ritual but this was based on their understandings of the gods and divine will.

7.3.2. Hidden meanings & interpretations

7.3.2.1. Heraldry and Coats of Arms

7.3.2.1.1. the tradition of graphic emblems that represent the histories and prerogatives of high-status individuals, families, and corporate bodies in Europe. Burt, Ben. World Art (p. 98). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

7.3.2.2. Sepik of Papua New Guinea

7.3.2.2.1. Sanctum Houses and Rituals

7.3.3. Explicit Meanings

7.3.3.1. Different types of symbology used the same way by multiple different cultures

7.3.3.2. In the 1960s, Roland Barthes introduced a further distinction between the concepts a sign “denotes” at the obvious level of description, and its “connotation” of other symbolic meanings within the wider cultural system. Barthes used the example of commercial advertising, in which images of commodities are contrived to represent appealing social values. Burt, Ben. World Art (p. 98). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

7.3.3.3. Benin Brass Sculptures - Looted by the British during raids

7.3.3.3.1. The people of Benin, having a well-ordered hierarchical society in which everyone, from kings and nobles to commoners in various occupations, knew their place, saw the world as a whole in terms of different realms with their own rulers and laws. As elsewhere in West Africa, animals in history, storytelling, and proverbs acted as metaphors for human characteristics, acting out human situations. Burt, Ben. World Art (p. 103). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

8. Performance

8.1. Parades

8.1.1. Uniforms, military heritage - symbols of national pride

8.1.2. Papua New Guinea Highlands

8.1.2.1. Elaborate head dresses, feathers, bright colors, painted faces, shell ornaments

8.2. Costumes & Impersonation

8.2.1. At a basic level, people attire themselves and each other to help them perform their roles in society, enhancing their bodies artistically to communicate who and what they are. Costume is a virtually universal way of distinguishing men from women, and in taking the dominant public roles, men have used the most elaborate ways of differentiating their rank and status. Often the most obvious distinction among women is whether they are sexually mature or married, which is something men seldom have to show. Burt, Ben. World Art (p. 112). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

8.2.2. Body Ornamentation

8.2.2.1. According to O’Hanlon, Wahgi bodily adornment and display was understood to reveal the moral state of persons and groups more truly than what they said; hence it was used to bear out their claims to moral standing and was evaluated accordingly. Burt, Ben. World Art (p. 116). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

8.2.2.2. Solomon Islands

8.2.2.3. Contrary to Western expectations, color was not important in assessing adornment and display. Red and black had various significances in different situations, but more significant were distinctions between glossy, glowing, or fiery, and dull, dry, flaky, or matte, which judged colored objects by their tone rather than their hue. The value of gloss and shine was associated with the cosmetic use of pig fat, valued as food and crucial to ceremonial exchange, which contrasted with the dull, dry effect of mud used as body paint for mourning. Burt, Ben. World Art (p. 117). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

8.2.3. China

8.2.3.1. Hats & adorning stones as symbols of rank along with insignias on clothing, highly developed structure of display of rank and social status

8.3. Seasonal Associations

8.3.1. Winter as the time of spiritual connections, the spirit world intersects with the natural world

8.4. Theatrics

8.4.1. Shadow puppets are a popular form of theatre in Java. There are several kinds of performance based on local versions of Hindu epics, introduced centuries ago from India. Besides the shadow puppets, which appear as silhouettes on a cloth screen, the same characters can be represented by human actors in elaborate costumes and masks and by several other kinds of wooden puppets. Burt, Ben. World Art (p. 123). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

9. Archaeology

9.1. Moche & Nasca Artifacts

9.1.1. The problem with historical sources about Andean culture is that they postdate the Spanish conquest in the sixteenth century, and for the Nasca and Moche this followed about eight to eleven hundred years of life under other local cultural traditions, the latest being the Inca. Later accounts, including anthropological research from the twentieth century, add a further several hundred years of domination by the even more different Spanish culture. Burt, Ben. World Art (p. 131). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

9.1.1.1. Since the 1940s, archaeologists had been excavating burials with costumes and other artefacts which are recognizable on the pots. This eventually led in the 1980s to the identification of individuals in the graves, presumably high-ranking from their association with elaborate artefacts and other less elaborately buried bodies, with particular characters from the pots. Masks covering the faces of these important persons might have served to conceal their individuality, and as such burials recur in different places and times, the implication was that they represented roles in regularly enacted performances such as the Sacrifice Ceremony. Burt, Ben. World Art (pp. 132-133). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

9.1.2. The designs on Nasca pots are often quite difficult to discern, wrapped around circular or spherical vessels. The British Museum project followed the method of the UCLA Moche archive, photographing each pot from several angles, joining the photos together and tracing the design, to produce accurate roll-out images. With an archive of some seventeen hundred pots, the various motifs could be classified, correlated, and compared with the help of a computerized database. Burt, Ben. World Art (p. 135). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

9.1.2.1. Relationship of Motifs and Cosmology, beliefs about the nature of the universe

9.2. unless we are careful to specify the social and cultural contexts of our analogies, we risk assuming that our own cultural experience is sufficient to interpret images from other cultures. The history of archaeological studies is full of theories that were later declared ethnocentric and hence mistaken. Burt, Ben. World Art (p. 128). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

9.3. Links with Anthropology

9.3.1. societies everywhere organize relationships through birth, mating, and death; distinguish roles in terms of age and gender; share and transmit knowledge; make artefacts; set rules and break them; fight and kill, and so on. We also know that how they do these things varies in ways that can often be predicted by the scale and complexity of social groups and the regional distribution of shared cultural traditions. By making such observations, anthropology has supplied archaeology with examples, models and theories that allow more rigorous analogies to be drawn. Burt, Ben. World Art (p. 128). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

9.4. Peru & South Americas

9.4.1. European conquest so devastated the empires of Mexico and the Andes and their cultural traditions, that until the 1960s it was assumed that archaeological discoveries could only be interpreted by art-historical analysis of images. Then, with the gradual deciphering of the glyphs from Maya monuments (drawing on British Museum collections), the names and dates of rulers and historical events began to emerge, revealing political and cosmological meanings that no one had suspected. Researchers began paying more attention to the cultural context of the iconography, drawing upon anthropological approaches, and these insights were applied to the ancient cultures of Peru. Burt, Ben. World Art (p. 128). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

9.5. In archaeology, cultures are identified by complexes of artefacts that share a certain formal style. Changes in style in successive layers of cultural remains in the ground allow such styles to be put in a chronological order, as “periods” or “phases.” A period when artefact styles are shared over a range of localities becomes a “horizon,” indicating a time of widespread social integration. Burt, Ben. World Art (p. 128). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

10. The Art World

10.1. Banksy Does New York

10.1.1. Graffiti vs. Art

10.1.1.1. Legal

10.1.1.1.1. Private property owners have a right to not have their property defaced

10.1.1.1.2. Something which is created within the confines of private property should, by all rights, belong to the property owner

10.1.1.2. Ethical

10.1.1.2.1. Does adding beauty to an object deface it?

10.1.1.2.2. Do areas which make up the visual spectrum of a public arena really count as private when everyone has to see them? Example - walls on a public street

10.1.2. Who owns "art" created in public spaces?

10.1.2.1. Do people have the right to confiscate and sell art which was created in a public area?

11. The Work of Art

11.1. Anthropology & the understanding of art

11.1.1. The idea propounded by the art historian Clive Bell (1913) that art is based on “significant form” makes good sense, once we free ourselves from his ethnocentric definition of what is significant. Burt, Ben. World Art (p. 142). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

11.1.2. Nilotic Sudan and the appreciation of cattle, including decoration and ornamentation

11.1.3. Woodcarvings in the Trobriand Islands

11.2. In dealing with what they call art, anthropologists have usually focused on particular issues of formal development and structure, symbolism and communication, and so on, without proposing universal theories of art in society. Those who have attempted to do so have often been too bemused by Western art values to avoid falling back on them. Burt, Ben. World Art (p. 141). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

11.3. The "Patterning of Experience"

11.3.1. How we understand the world through patterns, and how art helps negotiate understanding in concepts and social relationships

11.3.1.1. Alfred Gell & the "Agency of Art"

11.3.1.1.1. Technology of enchantment

11.3.1.1.2. Art as a mediator of social relationships

11.3.2. Firth recognized as art the creation of patterns that give meaning to all kinds of human experience, of the mind as well as of the senses. From this point of view, art was present in most, perhaps all, human activity. Just as anthropology recognized long ago that religion played a part in all institutions in society, so Firth made this point by calling religion an art, Burt, Ben. World Art (p. 142). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

11.4. Treating art, in Firth’s terms, as the patterning of culture rather than as a particular kind of cultural activity or product, frees us from the invidious and obstructive Western distinction between “art” and “not art.” Beyond admiring works of art and analyzing their iconography or emotional impact, we can start to appreciate the meaning of art in societies that have little or no art in the Western sense, and to consider anew what art means in those that do. Burt, Ben. World Art (p. 143). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

11.5. Cosmological Interpretations

11.5.1. artefacts are particularly effective in helping to make basic cosmological principles visible, significant, and comprehensible to members of their societies of origin and, with interpretation, to others. Burt, Ben. World Art (p. 145). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

11.5.2. Australian Aboriginals and the "Dreaming Ancestors"

11.5.2.1. Plant and animal spirits that led the paths upon which people followed for food, trade, and general survival

11.5.2.2. Walibri designs utilizing shapes like lines, circles, and U shapes that represent pathways and objects but also more symbolic things