uffizi: arcadia cash n’ carry

Zoffany, in the 1760’s was commissioned by Queen Charlotte to created a canvas that would immortalize the Uffizi, Florence’s major museum, and in particular the Renaissance treasures of the Medici collection. The visit to the Uffizi was a major goal of the Grand Tour, With the unprecedented wealth from colonialism, the most wealthy, as a sign of prestige, breeding and class distinction would send their sons to the continent to be exposed to the great cultural moments of Europe, with Italy being the most prestigious. In fact, the Grand Tour, catalyzed the collection and sale of art on a commercial scale that we know today.

Read More: http://www.q-artlondon.com/articles/2-articles/34-in-what-ways-does-feminist-art-history-contribute-to-the-understanding-of-works-of-art---Interestingly, in the revised edition in 1989 of Gombrich’s The Story of art there was still no mention of artists such as Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keefe, Vanessa Bell or any other woman artist of note. Art and its histories appear to remain male. One can conclude that part of the reason for this was the slow, insidious gendering of the academies over the centuries, firstly by denying entry to women, or secondly by allowing women entry into the academies, but then denying them the right to paint the most respected, and admired genre of history painting. In other words the academies were nothing more than a gentleman’s only club where male artists created work mainly for other men to view. This could be the view portrayed in Johann Zoffany’s The Tribuna of the Uffizi. Here we can see rich and talented men, viewing works of art by other men. However, there is something else at work here, something that feminist art history has helped us to understand more deeply. The men are looking at works of art that contain women, generally in the forms of ‘Madonnas, Venuses or Bacchantes’ and often nude. Laura Mulvey has called this kind of viewing ‘the male gaze’ in other words the objectification of women through the pleasure seeking stare of the male. It could be argued of course that the painting also contains naked men, the wrestlers and Raphael’s Saint John for example. However, close analysis, shows that most of the viewers in the painting are only interested in the paintings containing women, and furthermore, they are women of physical or spiritual perfection.-----

The main narrative of “Uffizi” is the prominent role, a “natural law” whereby the English gentlemen represent the rightful inheritors of a Western tradition going back to Antiquity and through the Renaissance, bypassing Catholic theology. Zoffany’s painting also underscores the concept of the artist and his work as a part of a cultural fetish, an object fetish, and the implied “male gaze” as seen by the central position of the nude woman in Titian’s Venus of Urbino. There is an evident connection between the men and their social status and this collection of the finest examples of Western Art. The English gentlemen’s assimilation of the tradition is ego-centrically represented in that they are integrated as objects of culture and works of art themselves; a kinetic commodity among others. All this crassness and vulgar commerciality was made swallowable through the newly minted study of aesthetics as a branch of philosophical thought; an endless examination of the theory of taste and construction of the intellectual baggage needed to ruminate on the beautiful in nature and art.

Read More:http://www.artchive.com/artchive/W/watteau/gersaint.jpg.html---PURE PLEASURE! The notion that a work of art should evoke such a response seems to us slightly improper and very old-fashioned. It takes us back to the last whispers of the aesthetic movement, when critics debated the meaning of the term 'pure poetry'. Well, if anything can be called 'pure painting' it is L'Enseigne de Gersaint. Before it I find myself thinking of Pater's essay on Giorgione, and groping for his words 'the sensuous material of each art brings with it a special phase or quality of beauty, untranslatable into the forms of any others'. My first impression of the Enseigne is of an interplay of tone and colour so breath takingly beautiful in its own mysterious domain that to attempt an analysis would be foolish and indelicate. But as I sit enraptured by these areas of shimmering light and shadow I fancy that I can understand some of the principles on which it is constructed. To my astonishment I find myself thinking of Piero della Francesca's fresco of the Queen of Sheba. There is the same silvery colour, the same processional dance of warm and cool tones, even some of the same detachment....----

Whatever Zoffany’s result,he was not working in a vacuum. The heavy lifting had been done forty years earlier by Watteau, the first whiff of a new age after the death of the Sun King. For Watteau, in 1719, this crisis manifested itself in two ways: a need for new subjects and a search for a new ways of compositional organization that would not submit to the temptation of golden means and divine ratios. Watteau, unlike Zoffany was a poet of illusion; his subjects are make believe, and  his figures are half in fancy dress, with his  most realistic works being those which represent actors, harlequins, performers. masks. Because of Watteau’s ability in articulating the  reality of details , these illusions attained a a believability, a plausibility , an escape within an escape. The Sign uses the schematic perspective of fifteenth-century Florence, which resembled a stage and the theatre. Here, the setting is a box: walls converging on a vanishing point,  with a check foreground as point of departure. But this box is also a stage  and in the disposition of the figures, which Gersaint found so natural, Watteau has used the arts of the stage director. The packing up was the narrative of the end of an epoch and a new way of life. Watteau, by establishing his actors on a stage maintained his detachment, but the gaze is not the `”make gaze”; This, although the actors are no longer creatures of illusion, but real and familiar, representing the emerging archetypes. The circle is completed,  connected to  masters such as of Titian and  Rembrandt by projecting a vague but tangible mystic union between the artist and his art.

Read More: http://gibberandsqueak.blogspot.com/2009/03/zoffanys-cock-match-other-conversation.html---The scoundrel in Zoffany also made a tidy packet out of the desire of the prominent Englishmen visitin or residing in Florence to appear in the picture. He would paint them in on request, only to rub them out of the picture as soon as they had left Florence. And if any of the visitors should give him offence, he had his revenge by scrubbing the offender out of the picture! All this was to no avail, for when Zoffany got back to England after an extended trip to Vienna the King and Queen were not exactly pleased with the picture. For one thing, the artist got back to England only in 1778, after a long interval of 7 years plus. Secondly, the Royals thought the picture too crowded and with some perssons included in it who were not exactly very popular at court. Finally the Queen is said to have bought the painting after some years, paying 600 Guineas for it, far less than the 3000 that Zoffany had hoped for. It was never hung in the Queen's chambers but is now getting a revival.---

So, When the Beatles released their iconic Sergeant Pepper’s almost 250 years after Zoffany, there was precedent. Watteau boxing up an old world, Zoffany where art objects became a stratified market imbued with distinction and status, and with the Beatles, where commodity now in the age of celebrity, the individual themselves were merchandised, seen in Walter Benjamin’s analysis:

The sense of the aura is lost on film and the reproducible image itself demonstrates a historical shift that we have to take account of even if when we don’t necessarily notice it. What does it mean when the aura is lost? How does it function and how does it come about? Benjamin writes of the loss of the aura as a loss of a singular authority within the work of art itself. But what comes through in this new space left by the death to the aura? How does the mechanically reproduced work of art manage to make up for this void?

As Benjamin continues, a tension between new modes of perception and the aura arise. The removal of authority within the original work of art infers a loss of authority, however, in regards to mass consumption, this liberation is not necessarily contingent. The cameraman, for example, intervenes with what we see in a way which a painting can never do. It directs the eye towards a specific place and a specific story; at the same time it is radical and revolutionary it is also totalitarian. It guides us to a particular side of a story and leaves other parts out. It dulls our perception towards the work of art and introduces distraction as a mode of reception. The location of anything we might call the aura has to be moved into a mythological space; into the cult of genius. This cult of genius relates back to the cultish characteristic of the aura itself; in its absence there is a grabbling for a replacement. What does it mean to place an aura on “someone” or “something”? Is it even necessary to reclaim the aura in the first place? The mystical cult of the original in broken with the loss of the aura, and now every one can go to a gallery, a museum, the theater or the cinema. A whole new appreciation of art is introduced while at the same time, a whole new mode of deception and distraction also enters. Read More:http://frankfurtschool.wordpress.com/2008/02/28/summary-the-work-of-art-in-the-age-of-mechanical-reproduction/

Read More: http://rocknewsdesk.com/world-news/sgt-pepper-artist-felt-abandoned-by-beatles/2001/ ---Blake worked on the sleeve with his wife Jann Haworth alongside art director Robert Fraser and photographer Michael Cooper. The cover shot consisted of life-size cardboard cutouts of celebrities with the Beatles themselves, and the back cover was the first British album to feature song lyrics. But Blake says the musicians always failed to appreciate how important his contribution was to the success of the work. He tells TimeOut Hong Kong: “I still feel the whole thing was unfair. The cover is just as important as the music, and should be rewarded. “But either the Beatles have never really been aware of that – or they’ve consciously decided not to do it.” He admits he gets sick of being asked about the band, which, after all, was only one small part of his creative output in a lifetime of artwork. But Blake also thinks the pop art scene should have been allowed to die soon after it peaked in the psychedelic era. “It should have stopped in the sixties, but many American artists couldn’t move away from it – it was their ring and they were making a lot of money from it.”---

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Read More: http://www.acesandeighths.com/sgtpep.html---Parodies of the album cover have appeared now an then from other musicians, the most notable of which was Frank Zappa's, "We're Only In It For the Money". Frank Zappa accused the Beatles of capitalizing on the "flower power" movement for monetary gain, saying that he felt "they were only in it for the money." That criticism later became the title of the Mothers of Invention album (We're Only in It for the Money), which mocked Sgt. Pepper with a similar album cover. Originally planned as the cover, it was instead used on the inside of the album. Featuring Zappa and his bandmates in drag, it was a parody of the cover of Sgt. Pepper's, showing Zappa and the band standing before a Sgt. Pepper-like collage and fronted by a watermelon lettered "Mothers" mocking the flower lettering on Sgt. Peppers.---

 

 

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