Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tutor Report: Assignment 2

Overall comments

Your work is well written and presented. In some instances more depth/bredth of analysis would be good, as I will focus on in my subsequent feedback.

Feedback on Assignment
Annotation: Titian, 'Rape of Europa'
This is a very detailed description of what can be seen in the painting. You also considered the subject, the artist, the mythological story and the commissioner of the work. What I would recommend you start to think about with annotations (and indeed whe looking at artworks generally) is how the artist's technique, combined with the subject matter, creates a particular meaning - which in itself is absolutely embedded in the context and time in which the artwork was made and viewed.
So... you rightly said that Titian was working during the period of the Italian Renaissance. In that case, we might expect certain characteristics to be present in the work which represenmt the 'ethos' of that artistic period.
One is the use of mythology to 'speak' about more everyday matters - so, for example, such subject matter would at the time often have been read in ways we might find surprising. So a painting such as this one by Titian could have been read in terms of comflict between European countries, as representative of the 'rape' of a region or of a country, and so on. Given that this is a p[ainting within a larger cycle of commissioned works, and given that the commissioner was Philip II, his powerful presence in Europe has to be a factor in what these paintings might have represented at the time.
Secondly, the use of subject matter which required the owner of the works to have a deep understanding of classical mythology would reflect well both on the patron, as well as on the artist in the latter's ability to deal with such subject matter.
Thirdly, given the deep interest in classical Greece we would expect to see idealized bodies represented in such a painting. At the same time artists were concerned to produce credible scenes - hence the use of aerial perspective which you note in this painting - but this was often somewhat at odds with classical idealization. One example is the somewhat awkward depiction of Europa lying on the bull's back!
Annotation: Caravaggio,'The Calling of St. Matthew'
Most of my comments above apply here also. You have detailed what we see and addressed the subject matter, artist, patron, and this time also the artistic context - this latter paragraph could have been expanded a little to say more about the theatricality of such art. You are right in that observation, and this was one of the key aspects of the Baroque (particularly in relation to religious artworks) in the effort to engage worshippers through drama and presenting believeable figures. Hence Caravaggio's frequent use of 'ordinary' people as his models was very controversial - some patrons (as here) welcomed it as it made the religious figures more accessible to the contemporary viewer, however others regarded it as blasphemous.
Project 7: Coreggio, ' Venus with Mercury and Cupid' (formal and contextual analysis of a sixteeth century mythological painting)
Again, good observation of the formal aspects of the painting. What do you think is the effect of how the artist has dealt with this subject matter? The fact that the figures are all on one plae, and appear very close to us, is really significant. It means that hte viewer is encouraged to engage with them and feel part of the scene that is presented to them. At the same time, as you observed, the composition is very orderly - the use of a triangle was a popular way to provide an underlying stability of composition, within which the painter could then introduce as much naturalism as possible - as you noticed in the handling of Cupid. The lighting is also very dramatic, and gives the painting a theatrical effect, almost as if we are looking at figures on a stage. (I don't know whether there is a final page missing in your submission - the final pagebefore the bibliography appears to be incomplete. I'd check this if you submit this work for formal assessment.)

So far as your bibliography is concerned, using some internet sources is fine, but it would be good also to look at (in the case of project 7, and also the annotations) published books on the Renaissance, the Baroque and Mannerist periods. That will give you a much deeper and richer understanding of the times.

Assignment 2: Visit to 18 Stafford Terrace, Linley Sambourne House

Here you gave a detailed description of each room, supported by good photographs and helpful plans. It clearly gave a vivid sense of the sheer amount of possessions seen in houses of this period.

Again, where I would have gone a bit further was in the areas of architectural style and interior decor. An Italianate style in the second half of the ninteenth century was a fairly 'safe' and conventional approach - so it would suggest that both the developer, and the Sambournes, were fairly conservative on that front. However it is interesting that the interior shows an interest in the 'Aesthetic' movement, thus signaling a more adventurous approach within these rooms. You could also think about the rooms in such houses in terms of whether they performed 'private' or 'public' functions - as you note, the Drawing Room would be used to entertain guests, therefore we might expect it to have receive careful attention in terms of presenting the family in a way they wished.

Your postcard collection is coming along well.

Learning Logs/Critical Essays

I've had a look at your blog. I can see here that you are referring to some solid reference books - make sure that this is reflected in your assignment work as well.

What I think there should be more of is self-reflection, i.e. the learning log. This will matter if you do decided to submit for formal assessment at the end of the course.

In summary:
Your learning log should reflect on your work and progress all the time. Its aims can be broken down into several heading:
1. Knowledge - artists, periods, descriptions, definitions, quotes, notes about exhibitions
2. Learning - principles, skills, elements, attitude
3. Ideas/thoughts (not just visual impressions)
4. Exercises and experiments
5. Making connections and being reflective

Broadly the log has 4 main functions - exploration, investigation, reflection and rethinking (taking your studies further)

So some of this is evident in your course work, of course, but it would also be good to see some sense of you relfecting on WHAT you are learning, WHAT is changing in the way you approach artworkds, and so on.

Dr Pauline Rose


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