Panorama view of exhibition in Jedlitschka Gallery, Zurich.

Panorama view of exhibition in Jedlitschka Gallery, Zurich.

16 September 2018

Dr Great Art Episode 42: Defining of Visual Metaphor




The new Dr Great Art Podcast. Episode 42: Defining Visual Metaphor. Images can be Tropaic, Not Just Words. This episode, I give my definition of visual metaphor. This is a new area of scholarly interest, and there have been few attempts to clearly describe visual metaphor or trope. This is an important foundational action and idea for the book on visual metaphor and contemporary art I am in the process of writing.

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Script

Dr Great Art Podcast 42 42

Defining Visual Metaphor

Hi this is Mark Staff Brandl, with the 42nd "Dr Great Art" brief podcast.

This episode, I wish to give my definition of visual metaphor. This is a new area of scholarly interest, and there have been few attempts to clearly describe visual metaphor or trope. Instead most theorists simply take it for granted that this is the same as verbal, textual metaphor, or at least have not seen clear to separate the two.

The most important, and indeed, first such attempt is by the wonderful philosopher Noël Carroll in his chapter "Visual Metaphor" in his book Beyond Aesthetics. I greatly recommend it! He has stimulated me to write my own, an important foundational action and idea for the book on visual metaphor and contemporary art I am in the process of writing. Here it is (with a rather typical philosophical "style." I'll try to make it into more normal speech as well as I go along.)

A visual metaphor is an image that suggests a particular association, similarity or analogy between two (or more) generally unconnected visual elements.

This often functions in a roughly comparable fashion to the better-known concept of verbal metaphor, but not always, and visual metaphor has developed many of its own unique characteristics.

This "presence," artwork, whether 2D, 3D, filmic or whatever, is primarily optical. It is a nonverbal embodiment of a conceptual metaphor. As Noël Carroll describes it, visual metaphors "prompt insights" in the viewer by depicting "noncompossible" (generally impossible to combine) elements in a "homospatially unified" image. That is, two or more visual images or ideas, ones usually not able to be seen together, as combined anyway into one image.

Furthermore, the optical tropes are typically intended for the viewer to recognize as having heuristic value, not a representation of an actual previously unknown entity, such as a god, mythical creature, strangely surfaced object or the like. That is, the artists create images in this way that will however NOT be seen by viewers as realistic representations of some previously unknown yet existent thing, like a real god, or mutant or some such thing (Surrealism). Or such as an object that is composed of a bunch of weird chunky textures on its surface (Impressionism). Rather, they are seen as opportunities to contemplate possible new insights. In what way IS the sky like swirling comets and flaming energy? What can I learn about life when I contemplate the head of an ordinary-looking man compared to, indeed replaced by, a floating apple? Why would someone compare or reduce all visible sights to horizontals and verticals and primary colors?

In cognitive metaphor theory, this would be described as an imagistic target compared pictorially to some visual thing from another category, the source. (In I. A. Richards's language, the tenor and vehicle, respectively.)

Comparable to verbal metaphor, these visual metaphors can, though, be dissected into various sub tropes including, metaphor, metonymy, simile, synecdoche, litotes, hyperbole, irony, allegory, symbol, metalepsis, and more. I will describe these in a future podcast.

I do not solely focus on pictorial, representational images as most theorists currently tend to do. I seek an understanding of visual trope in the formal, technical and stylistic aspects of visual art most of all! --- composition, surface, paint-handling, color, placement, editing cuts, context, etc., the nuts-and-bolts of creation.

Importantly, as a follower of cognitive metaphor theory, I see visual trope as a thought process, involving the fact that metaphors are embodied. That is, that mental concepts are constructed tropaically from bodily experiences. These foundational perceptions can furthermore lead to what George Lakoff terms "image mappings" and "image schemas," which can then be used to structure somewhat less physical events. Image schemas generally rely on an abstracted sense of space and vision and can be described with prepositions or simple directionality: out, inside, from, along, up-down, front-back, etc. In the arts, both these image-metaphor activities shade into one another along a vast spectrum of possibilities.

The discovery animating all of this is that trope is the basis of thought, thus language is one instance of it, not the other way round. And contemporary visual art contains other, highly intriguing instances. (Additionally, visual metaphors are used in advertising, political cartoons, and elsewhere, but my interest and discussion revolve around their application in fine art, particularly contemporary art.)

I will explain this more concretely in the next podcast, on the Metaphor(m) and Foundational Metaphors in Vincent van Gogh's Art.

Thanks for listening. Podcast number 42.

Defining Visual Metaphor

If you enjoy my podcasts, please go to Apple podcasts and give me 5 stars and a recommendation! It helps others find this podcast. Additionally, if you have any questions or requests for topics, please feel free to contact me with them! I'd truly enjoy covering them!

If you wish to hear more cool, exciting and hopefully inspiring stuff about art history and art, come back for more. Also, I, Dr Mark Staff Brandl, artist and art historian, am available for live custom Performance-Lectures. In English und auf Deutsch.

I take viewers inside visual art and art history. Entertainingly, yet educationally and aesthetically, I analyze, underline, and discuss the reasons why a work of art is remarkable, or I go through entire eras, or indeed through the entirety of art history, or look at your desired theme through the lens of art history. The lectures often take place with painted background screens and even in my room-filling painting-installations with accompanying paintings.

Some recent ones were on the entire history of Women Artists throughout history and a taster of many of my presentations Once again, I'd like to thank Chloe Orwell, Brad Elvis, and the rock band the Handcuffs for composing, performing and recording my theme song, "Shut Up and Paint," a tiny portion of which begins and ends every Dr Great Art Podcast.

You can find or contact me at

www.drgreatart.com/ (spell)

book me at www.mirjamhadorn.com (spell)

or find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all as Dr Great Art.



Dr Great Art Podcast Episode 41: Lawrence Weiner, Conceptual Art, and Metaphor







Dr Great Art Podcast. Episode 41: Lawrence Weiner, Conceptual Art, and Metaphor
Conceptual Artist Lawrence Weiner is quite fond of formulating statements in which he claims to have dismissed metaphor from his artwork. He is completely wrong. No matter what is claimed, Lawrence Weiner's art, and most Conceptual Art and Neo-Conceptual Art, whether good or bad, is deeply grounded in interlocking base metaphors; metaphors commonly ignored because they are so transparent.
http://drgreatart.libsyn.com/episode-41-lawrence-weiner-conceptual-art-and-metaphor
#arthistory #metaphor #conceptualart

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Script:

Dr Great Art Podcast 41

Lawrence Weiner and Metaphor

Hi this is Mark Staff Brandl, with the 41st "Dr Great Art" brief podcast.

My podcast this time is a week later than my general biweekly schedule.

I just returned to Switzerland, where I chiefly reside, from a two week visit to the US. I visited my family (Hi Mom and Marcia!), did some artworld meetings including a visit with Amanda Solley, the exciting director of Mobile, Alabama's Kunsthalle, the Alabama Contemporary Art Center, several others, and most of all visited with two wonderful artists who have been close friends for 40 years. Raoul Deal who does amazing Community Art including murals with young Latinx and African-American artists, and his own socially critical art, and Dan Brinkmeier who is an artist and farmer and does a unique form of painting mixing Magic Realism and Regionalism. And I finally visiting the incredible project named Wormfarm Institute in rural Wisconsin, which has existed for more than a decade and is quite renowned and prize-winning. It is run by long-time friends Donna Neuwirth and Jay Salinas. They unite fine art, responsible farming, extensive visiting artist residency programs, and some superb art events in their rural region, such as Fermentation Fest. I will talk with and about these artists in future Dr Great Art podcasts.

But this podcast episode is a more restricted and critical one.

My artecdote this time concerns the false claim that Conceptual Art has eliminated metaphor. I will show this by discussing one Conceptual artist, Lawrence Weiner.

As my regular listeners and readers know, I find all art, language and most expression at all to be based in tropes, 'metaphor' as it is called in common parlance.

Theorists involved in the Lakoffian, embodied Cognitive Theory approach, including me, advance the hypothesis that metaphor is the foundation of all thought, that linguistic elements are conceptually processed and that language is chiefly determined by bodily and environmental experiences. Metaphor as a thought process, with language being only one result of that. Art being another.

Conceptual Artist Lawrence Weiner is quite fond of formulating statements in which he claims to have dismissed metaphor from his artwork. This is a very short podcast to point out that he is completely wrong. In fact, his use of vinyl lettering, called 'text' in the artworld, is an obvious combination of tropes, masking itself as non-tropaic, which is in itself another metaphor.

Art critic Barry Schwabsky writes of the influential New York painter Jonathan Lasker in ArtForum magazine:

"Jonathan Lasker once told me he thought the Minimalists had been trying to make an art without metaphor, and in fact had succeeded; but the point having been proved, he continued, there's no longer any urgent motivation to produce more metaphor-free work."
---Barry Schwabsky1

It can now be seen that the Late Modernist attempt to undermine metaphor, whether in Minimalism, as described by Schwabsky and Lasker above, or in Conceptualism, as mentioned above with Wiener, although necessary at that time, did not actually function as expected, but was rather a negational, metaleptic trope in itself. One of Minimalism's chief metaphors was that of theatre as/for presence, others included industrial furnishing and factory production as anti-decorative, and objecthood as anti-painting --- thus anti-(art) history. One might assert that minimalism was in truth an assemblage of similes. Likewise, Conceptualism can be shown to be based on a tapestry of metaphors and metonymies.

However, at this point let me simply discuss one small example in one Conceptualist's work, Lawrence Weiner.

Weiner's early Conceptualist works were both pseudo-pragmatic and the art object themselves. He presented instructions or descriptions such as "A Square Removal from a Rug in Use." (The work of that title is indeed that phrase, as an instruction, much like notation for a musical performance. A SQUARE REMOVAL FROM A RUG IN USE, Nr. 054, 1969.)

Since then his work has developed into purely abstract language, such as fragmentary lists of prepositions. It has become an often tedious variation on concrete poetry, losing the strength it had earlier as vague potentiality.

Yet this vagueness, presented in vinyl letters on walls appearing for nearly almost 50 years, on the walls of galleries and museums and Kunsthallen around the world, Weiner sees as free of metaphor. There are in reality two chief metaphors in use. The Conceptualist elephants in the gallery, so to speak, as they are easily perceived yet never acknowledged.

First, the use of text itself. Text is a metonymy of intellectuality. Intellectuals, especially scholars, tend to write papers, write books, and the like. They (we) often generate reams of pages of text. It is an important part of their activity (thus indeed a synecdoche of intellectuality). Creating them is an important activity of such people and one of the foremost things others picture when they consider scholars, philosophers and other intellectuals. Therefore, it makes an ideal stand-in for them, as it is contextually related to their thoughts. Thus, text is a metonymy of intellectuality and intellectuals.

(As a reminder: Metonymy is a trope in which one word or phrase is substituted for another with which it is closely associated; describing something indirectly by referring to things around it or from the context. "The White House spoke of 77 injured soldiers." Simile is
a stated comparison --- usually formed with "like" or "as" --- between two fundamentally dissimilar things that have certain qualities in common. Like a metaphor that points out its own activity. "My love is like a red, red rose.")

Second, such vagueness as Weiner uses nowadays in his texts can be seen as poetic (an interpretation he resists), yet even more so as either an inadvertent parody or a travesty of the texts that intellectuals create. Scholarly writing is all too often extremely difficult to read, densely packed, seemingly on the edge of comprehensibility. Purposeful vagueness is thus overly artsy (a metonymy of the avant-garde) or dreadfully opaque (a distorted synecdoche of intellectuality). In short, it simply screams "ain't I smart!"

I could continue with the metaphors underlying the physical materiality of Weiner's presentations. Such as --- work done by (usually unpaid or underpaid) assistants: metaphors of corporate production; machine-cut letters: metaphors of brain over body (anti-handicraft); vinyl: metaphors of "contemporary materials"; and so on. All of these playing hidden metaphors against suppositions of the metaphors of earlier Modernists, thus also making them metalepses!

However, my purposes have been served. It is clear that no matter what is claimed, Lawrence Weiner's art, and I assert, most Conceptual Art and Neo-Conceptual Art, whether good or bad, is deeply grounded in interlocking base metaphors; metaphors commonly ignored because they are so transparent.

Thanks for listening. Podcast number 41.

Lawrence Weiner and Metaphor

If you enjoy my podcasts, please go to Apple podcasts and give me 5 stars and a recommendation! It helps others find this podcast. Additionally, if you have any questions or requests for topics, please feel free to contact me with them! I'd truly enjoy covering them!

If you wish to hear more cool, exciting and hopefully inspiring stuff about art history and art, come back for more. Also, I, Dr Mark Staff Brandl, artist and art historian, am available for live custom Performance-Lectures. In English und auf Deutsch.

I take viewers inside visual art and art history. Entertainingly, yet educationally and aesthetically, I analyze, underline, and discuss the reasons why a work of art is remarkable, or I go through entire eras, or indeed through the entirety of art history, or look at your desired theme through the lens of art history. The lectures often take place with painted background screens and even in my room-filling painting-installations with accompanying paintings.

Some recent ones were on the entire history of Women Artists throughout history and a taster of many of my presentations Once again, I'd like to thank Chloe Orwell, Brad Elvis, and the rock band the Handcuffs for composing, performing and recording my theme song, "Shut Up and Paint," a tiny portion of which begins and ends every Dr Great Art Podcast.

You can find or contact me at

www.drgreatart.com/ (spell)

book me at www.mirjamhadorn.com (spell)

or find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all as Dr Great Art.

10 August 2018

Dr Great Art Podcast 40: Goya's Anti-Academicist Speech





Dr Great Art Podcast, Episode 40: Goya's Anti-Academicist Speech. Goya's amazing speech to the newly founded Spanish Art Academy School. He was invited to speak to them as he was well-respected and was interested in helping other artists learn. Yet he had a profound dislike and fear of Academicism. Not only one of the best artists of all history, but was an independent and socially critical thinker, although he was court painter. Academics are scholars, and he and I are not criticizing them or their practice, rather AcademICISM, which is the worship of the Academy, the belief in Rules for Art and Creativity. And that these can be memorized.
http://drgreatart.libsyn.com/episode-40-goyas-anti-academic…
#arthistory #Goya #academicism

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The Script

Dr Great Art Podcast 40

Goya's Anti Academy Speech

Hi this is Mark Staff Brandl, with the 40th "Dr Great Art" brief podcast.

My artecdote this time is Goya's amazing speech to the newly founded Spanish Art Academy School. He was invited to speak to them as he was well-respected and apparently was interested in helping other artists learn. Yet he had a profound dislike and fear of Academicism. He is not only one of my favorite artists of all history, but was an independent and socially critical thinker, although he was court painter. Academics are scholars, and he and I are not criticizing them or their practice. AcademICISM is the worship of the Academy, the belief in Rules for art and creativity. And that these can be memorized.

In the academies, certain "classical" art models were and are identified and enforced as prototypes artists had to study and emulate if they wished to succeed. Academicist art, in whatever form, has thus inevitably come to be linked with the power-structure and the power-relations of society and its artworld(s). Academicist art contains a hardly veiled regulation of values, usually having some relation to the maintenance and reproduction of social power, even if only within the artworld, yet this may reach into the educational system and government, especially as younger academicians are usually recruited from the ruling classes. Goya, in this speech presented at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando, he expressed his concern about the future of art, urging the freedom of the artist, which should not be narrowed by a set of rules.

There are here incredibly long sentences and some odd and questionable choices of vocabulary by the mores of our time, but granting that, he has some deep insights that still ring true. He gave the speech in Madrid 14 October 1792. Please make direct analogies to our time (substituting Minimalism of Conceptualism for Greek statues and 'lived experience' for Nature with a capital 'N' and so on). You will be surprised.

Now I leave the floor to Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes.

ADDRESS TO THE ROYAL ACADEMY OF SAN FERNANDO REGARDING THE METHOD OF TEACHING THE VISUAL ARTS, 1792

MOST EXCELLENT SIR

Fulfilling on my behalf Your Excellency's order that each of us explain what he thinks opportune about the Study of the Arts, I say: That the Academies should not be exclusive, or serve more than as an aid to those who freely wish to study in them, banishing all servile subjection of the primary school, mechanical precepts, monthly prizes, financial aid, and other trivialities that degrade, and effeminate an Art as liberal and noble as Painting; nor should a time be predetermined that they study Geometry, or Perspective to overcome difficulties in drawing, for this itself will necessarily demand them in time of those who discover an aptitude, and talent, and the more advanced in it, the more easily they attain knowledge in the other Arts, as seen from the examples of those who have risen highest in this aspect, who I do not cite since they are so well known.

I will give a proof to demonstrate with facts, that there are no rules in Painting, and that the oppression, or servile obligation of making all study or follow the same path, is a great impediment for the Young who profess this very difficult art, that approaches the Divine more than any other, since it makes known all that God has created; he who has most closely approached will be able to give few rules concerning the profound operations of the understanding that are needed for it, nor explain why he has been happier perhaps with a work where less care has been taken, than with one of greater finish; What a profound and impenetrable arcanum is encompassed in the imitation of divine nature, without which there is nothing good, not only in Painting (that has no other task than its exact imitation) but in the other sciences.

Annibale Carracci, revived Painting that since the time of Raphael had fallen into decline, with the liberality of his genius, he gave birth to more disciples, and better than as many practitioners as there has been, leaving each to proceed following the inclination of his spirit, without determining for any to follow his style, or method, putting only those corrections intended to attain the imitation of the truth, and thus is seen the different styles, of Guido, Guercino, Andrea, Sacchi, Lanfranco, Albano, etc.

I cannot omit another clearer proof. Of the Painters known to us of greatest ability, and who have taken the greatest pains to teach the method of their tired styles (according to what they have told us). How many students have resulted? Where is the progress? the rules? the method? From what they have written, has any more been attained than to arouse the interest of those that are not, nor cannot be Artists, with the object of more greatly enhancing their own [that is, the Artist's] works, and giving them broad authority to decide even in the presence of those versed in this very sacred Science that demands so much study (even of those who were born for it) to understand and discern what is best.

It is impossible to express the pain that it causes me to see the flow of the perhaps licentious, or eloquent pen (that so attracts the uninitiated) and fall into the weakness of not knowing in depth the material of which he writes; What a scandal to hear nature deprecated in comparison to Greek statues by one who knows neither the one, nor the other, without acknowledging that the smallest part of Nature confounds and amazes those who know most! What statue, or cast of it might there be, that is not copied from Divine Nature? As excellent as the artist may be who copied it, can he not but proclaim that placed at its side, one is the work of God, and the other of our miserable hands? He who wishes to distance himself, to correct [nature] without seeking the best of it, can he help but fall into a reprehensible [and] monotonous manner, of paintings, of plaster models, as has happened to all who have done this exactly?

It seems that I stray from my original subject, but there is nothing more necessary, if there were to be a remedy for the actual decadence of the Arts but to know that they must not be dragged down by the power or knowledge of other sciences, but rather be governed by their own merit, as has always been the case when talents have flourished: then the despotic enthusiasts cease, and prudent lovers are born, who appreciate, venerate and encourage those who excel, providing them with work that can further advance their talent, helping them with greater force to produce all that their inclination promises: this is the true protection of the Arts, and it has always been shown that the works have made the men great.

In conclusion, sir, I do not see any other means of advancing the Arts, nor do I believe there is one, than to reward and protect he who excels in them; to hold in esteem the true Artist, to allow free reign to the genius of students who wish to learn them, without oppression, nor imposition of methods that twist the inclination they show to this or that style, of Painting.

I have given my opinion in response to Your Excellency's charge, but if my hand doesn't govern the pen as I might wish, to explain that which I understand, I hope that your Excellency will excuse it, for my entire life has been spent in attaining the fruit of that of which I am now speaking.

Thanks for listening. Podcast number 40.

Goya's Anti-Academy Speech

If you enjoy my podcasts, please go to Apple podcasts and give me 5 stars and a recommendation! It helps others find this podcast. Additionally, if you have any questions or requests for topics, please feel free to contact me with them! I'd truly enjoy covering them!

If you wish to hear more cool, exciting and hopefully inspiring stuff about art history and art, come back for more. Also, I, Dr Mark Staff Brandl, artist and art historian, am available for live custom Performance-Lectures. In English und auf Deutsch.

I take viewers inside visual art and art history. Entertainingly, yet educationally and aesthetically, I analyze, underline, and discuss the reasons why a work of art is remarkable, or I go through entire eras, or indeed through the entirety of art history, or look at your desired theme through the lens of art history. The lectures often take place with painted background screens and even in my room-filling painting-installations with accompanying paintings.

Some recent ones were on the entire history of Women Artists throughout history and on Mongrel Art. Once again, I'd like to thank Chloe Orwell, Brad Elvis, and the rock band the Handcuffs for composing, performing and recording my theme song, "Shut Up and Paint," a tiny portion of which begins and ends every Dr Great Art Podcast.

You can find or contact me at

www.drgreatart.com/ (spell)

book me at www.mirjamhadorn.com (spell)

or find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all as Dr Great Art.


Dr Great Art Podcast 39: Copying in Art



Dr Great Art Podcast Episode 39: Copying in Art
My artecdote this time is about the phenomenon of artists copying each other and themselves (not forgeries, copies). Something thoroughly disdained since Modernism, yet an activity that was important before that, for learning, out of admiration, for expanding an audience, for additional income. And some thoughts about the situation now.
http://drgreatart.libsyn.com/episode-39-copying-in-art
#arthistory #copying #drgreatart

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The script.

Hi this is Mark Staff Brandl, with the 39th "Dr Great Art" brief podcast.

My artecdote this time is about the phenomenon of artists copying each other and themselves. Something thoroughly disdained since Modernism, yet an activity that was important before that, for learning, out of admiration, for expanding an audience, for additional income. And some thoughts about the situation now.

First, I am talking about COPIES, not forgeries. A forgery is an object created with the intention to deceive, usually for profit, but also sometimes with the aim of ruining the reputations of ostensible experts. Many, even most, forgeries of art are not direct copies, but rather the creation of works "in the style" of a famous artist, artificial aged and so on, in order for them to be taken as lost works. To my mind, excellent forgers are not really artists, but actually are excellent art historians and technical experts, who play on the vanity and ignorance of their targets. Something I have trouble being upset about, but that is a subject for another podcast.

Copies are one-to-one facsimile reproductions of a specific artwork. However, they may later become forgeries through knowing and willful misrepresentations by others. Replacing the signature of a lesser-known artist with that of a more famous and pricey one is common. This being done on a painting created in the style of the master, perhaps by a student or follower.

Making copies was an integral aspect of learning until Modernism. In the Renaissance and Baroque, in particular, if a painting were a big success (usually due to word of mouth, as there was no real mass media), a master artist would often have his apprentices make copies of it. He would generally go around the room as they did this, over months, advising, teaching, even correcting by painting directly on the students works. The finished pieces were then sold and were clearly and not deceptively explained as student copies. "School of" is one such designation. They were cheaper and an opportunity for more people to see the painting, as the original may have been sequestered in a noble's palace or the like. There were no museums. The copies were also opportunities for the shop and the apprentice to make some money. Most importantly, they were good learning experiences, as a way to refine personal technique. And if the master helped, what was the exact status anyway?

Before photographic reproduction, this was very important. There were no photos, no posters, no online digital images, etc. A generation after Raphael’s death, Andrea del Sarto was making excellent copies of his paintings; often ones that are great on their own terms. Peter Paul Rubens a hundred years later made the only surviving copy of Leonardo's lost Battle of Anghiari, a work Leonardo had only partially begun before abandoning it for Milan. This shows the value of copies to the historical record.

Ingrid Rowland and Noah Charney write, "When painters as talented as Andrea or Rubens made a copy, those works became masterpieces in their own right: in effect, they are conversations carried out in pigment — an homage, a learning tool, and a means of competition, demonstrating that the later artist’s skill is comparable to that of the great master of the original work."

Painters and sculptors themselves would on occasion produce multiple versions of their own works. Usually with variations, but sometimes almost identical. Titian painted 4 highly similar versions of the penitent Mary Magdalene. We Modernists and Postmodernists are not bothered by this, as we appreciate the very Modernist invention of the Series.

"Leonardo, who rarely finished anything, nonetheless completed two versions of his Virgin of the Rocks," as Rowland and Charney also write. In some of these cases, a painter discovered a successful composition that collectors specifically asked him to reproduce.

Caravaggio painted two or three versions of his Lute Players, and even two Conversions of Saint Paul for the same church in Rome. The first version was judged (probably by the artist himself) to be too cramped and busy when it was set in position in the narrow chapel for which it was painted. Caravaggio replaced the work with a somewhat simplified, thus more dramatic, composition.

Bronzino made an exact copy of his Altarpiece of Eleonora di Toledo because a visiting luminary loved the original in Eleonora's private chapel in the Palazzo Vecchio.

Painters also copied one another; everybody copied Michelangelo, even his cartoon for the Battle of Cascina, which seems to have been traced so frequently that it fell apart. Titian copied Raphael, Rubens copied Titian, Delacroix copied Rubens. Picasso, in lieu of school, painted a slew of works in the styles of his Early Modernist heroes.

Giorgio de Chirico the renowned precursor of Surrealism is controversial today for his provocative practice of copying and backdating works of his Metaphysical period.

By the mid-1920s there were only a few Metaphysical paintings by de Chirico one could buy. He had begun to create works of a dramatically different style in the 1920s, a rather kitschy style still today rather disliked, surprising for PoMo. The original version of Le muse inquietanti from 1918 was already owned by the art historian and critic, Giorgio Castelfranco. The Surrealist poet Paul Éluard wanted to buy it, but Castelfranco wanted too much money for it. So the Éluards went to de Chirico hoping to purchase another Metaphysical work. However, de Chirico offered to make a copy of it for a reasonable price, terming these reproductions verifalsi. The term verifalsi translates to "true-fakes." He felt it was his right, as he needed money and they WERE his works (in fact nowadays we would remember that the copyright still belonged to him). Such verifalsi came to be standard practice for de Chirico. He created numerous copies of the Metaphysical works, --- although it must be added that none was an exact replica of the original. Inspired by this, other Surrealists created some of their own de Chirico replicas, forged by artists like Óscar Domínguez, Max Ernst, and Remedios Varo. Some even with de Chirico-like (but not identical) signatures.

Marcel Duchamp expressed admiration for de Chirico's self-copying and famously stated that we must let history be the judge if that is terrible or not, that de Chirico might have the last laugh.

Andy Warhol also stated his admiration for de Chirico’s serial replication of his own works.

When the Louvre was first opened to the public in 1793, many days were reserved for artists to study and copy works in the collection. You can still see people doing that now there, but far fewer. At that time, this was a handy source of income for young artists, as many museums, such as in the US, could not then afford major works, and wanted good copies to exhibit. Samuel Morse, the painter and inventor of the Morse code, made a living by copying in Europe for America for a number of years.

In High and Late Modernism, copying is and was seen as a sin. A great fear of the boring, soulless works of Academicism in pre-Modernism probably caused this. Those artists all did slick, glassy, inexpressive works in an art academy-enforced plagiarism of Raphael. And while copying in that sense can indeed be dangerous, there are ways of making it creative and useful as we have heard.

From that time on, and in our own, copying became a kind of conceptual even philosophical position, rather than one of homage, learning, publicity or academicism. For example, Mike Bidlo, Sherrie Levin and Elaine Sturtevant became famous for copying other artworks. Mike for the amazing exactness, Sherrie for her odd alterations and Elaine for her unique approach. Sturtevant made works by memorization only, manually reproducing paintings and objects created by her contemporaries. They are immediately recognizable, although "copies." Andy Warhol enjoyed hers so much, he gave Sturtevant one of his silkscreens so she could produce her own versions of his paintings.

So, what is copying's position now, or what will it be Post-Postmodernism? That is hard to say. I think it has a true heuristic function, can be great fun, and can even be incorporated into important dialogistic creations --- the last, an idea based on the work of theorist Mikhail Bakhtin. I think we should reassess it in contemporary instruction, but free it from any slavish exactness. Can you find some aspect of yourself in that work or artist you admire? That would be the question to ask. It would help in the re-skilling of our de-skilled time and help to get it out of one's system every-so-often, so that perhaps we could also be freed from the dreary "I-copy-but-will-not-admit-it" situation of so much current work, which is truly academicist as this duplicity is trained in art schools and enforced by know-nothing critics. Knowing what you are doing allows you to use it as a conceptual and formal material, as a part of your own agon, your own artistic struggle.

Thanks for listening. Podcast number 39.
Copying in Art

If you enjoy my podcasts, please go to Apple podcasts and give me 5 stars and a recommendation! It helps others find this podcast. Additionally, if you have any questions or requests for topics, please feel free to contact me with them! I'd truly enjoy covering them!

If you wish to hear more cool, exciting and hopefully inspiring stuff about art history and art, come back for more. Also, I, Dr Mark Staff Brandl, artist and art historian, am available for live custom Performance-Lectures. In English und auf Deutsch.

I take viewers inside visual art and art history. Entertainingly, yet educationally and aesthetically, I analyze, underline, and discuss the reasons why a work of art is remarkable, or I go through entire eras, or indeed through the entirety of art history, or look at your desired theme through the lens of art history. The lectures often take place with painted background screens and even in my room-filling painting-installations with accompanying paintings.

Some recent ones were on the entire history of Women Artists throughout history and on Mongrel Art. Once again, I'd like to thank Chloe Orwell, Brad Elvis, and the rock band the Handcuffs for composing, performing and recording my theme song, "Shut Up and Paint," a tiny portion of which begins and ends every Dr Great Art Podcast.

You can find or contact me at

www.drgreatart.com/ (spell)

book me at www.mirjamhadorn.com (spell)

or find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all as Dr Great Art.

18 June 2018

Dr Great Art Podcast 38: New Historicism in Art





Dr Great Art Podcast, Episode 38: New Historicism in Art.

New Historicism in Art New Historicism or alternately Cultural Materialism, and how its ideas are auspicious for visual metaphor, art history and conceptions of context in visual art. Art History consists of multiple histories, discontinuous and contradictory ones. The heretical response to authoritarian demand is important. Works of art express the problems and alienation of our or any time and place, but also frequently offer expressions of fullness that attack that alienation and help shatter the incrustations of belief forced upon us. Art History should discuss both.
http://drgreatart.libsyn.com/episode-38-new-historicism-in-art
#arthistory, #newhistoricism, #heretical

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New Historicism in Art

Hi this is Mark Staff Brandl, with the 38th "Dr Great Art" brief podcast.

My artecdote this time is about a direction of theory called New Historicism or alternately Cultural Materialism, and how its ideas are auspicious for visual metaphor, art history and conceptions of context in visual art.

Acknowledging the historic and social situation in which any cultural entity is embedded must be an integral aspect of any useful theory of art. One school of literary theorists who accentuate this is termed either New Historicism or, alternately, Cultural Materialism. These thinkers remind us of the social contextuality of all thought, including their own. This is something which has not often been focused on in the discussions of various Formalist and even Deconstructivist critics, from the exclusively object-oriented theorists who dominated in the 70s when I was first studying art and art history through the solipsistic denials of meaning and agency in Postmodernism of the early 21st century.

New Historicism tries to understand intellectual history and literature through its cultural context. This movement began in the 1980s, primarily in the work of the Stephen Greenblatt, gaining attention 1990s through today. It has not made a very deep impression on visual studies, and I strongly believe this should change.

(By the way, in a concrete application of his ideas I greatly recommend his book The Swerve, a literary detective story about the intrepid Florentine bibliophile named Poggio Braccionlini, who, in 1417, rediscovered a 500-year-old copy of De Rerum Natura and thereby helped launch the Renaissance and modern thought.)

Back to the theory. New Historicists assert that history is of primary importance, yet it is discontinuous and contradictory. Discontinuous and contradictory! Like my Braid-Model of Art History. That is important! It, history, is in fact not an it at all --- rather a they.

History consists of multiple histories. As I developed my own theory of metaphor(m), I felt it crucial to propose the necessity of multiple personal and social histories. Each person's history is invented. It cannot be viewed in a detached fashion, as it is rooted in desire. Furthermore, every individual history is actually an interwoven cable of multiple histories, each representing a contextual role or relationship of that human (class, gender, profession, geographical origin, social position, and so on). The strands twist about one another under the tension of the agon of that specific individual. By person I mean here creator, perceiver, critic, historian and more, even though I emphasize visual artists in my thought, for each of us is all of these and much else at one time or another.

In New Historicism, cultural objects such as literature and art are studied in context in order to recover as many contextual relationships as possible. Basing their thought heavily on the late works of Michel Foucault, these theorists in the U.S. tend to view the situation pessimistically. However, I would concur with their British counterparts, the Cultural Materialists, in interpreting it more positively. Each context itself is a precarious human construct, not just the discreet objects situated therein.

This is manipulable material, too. As both New Historicists and Cultural Materialists have pointed out, there are three possible responses to every authoritarian demand. There is not only the "yes, yes" "I will do that" of the good subject or vassal, but also the "no, no" "I will NOT do that" of the bad subject or dissenter, and most importantly the third modality, the "not in that way" answer of the heretic.

In a similar modality, one may see all three such responses in the development of creators' tropes. There is the good subject who reiterates the accepted metaphors of a time and place, pasting together available tropes. Depending on the circumstances, this can be culturally affirming or it can lead to academic doggerel or kitsch. Second, there is the trope created by the bad subject, which actively denies or negates metaphors generally taken for granted. Such a rebuttal also may lead in two directions. Either it is a stirring criticism suggesting new options of thought, or it results in a clichéd expression of simplistic nihilism. Finally, there is the third modality, which I seek to emphasize in my theory. This creator repudiates the unacceptable metaphors by questioning and bending them into surprises of new insight. Such artists tell us "not in the way commanded" and then carry on, showing us a new way to conceive of the experience under discussion.

Louis A. Montrose in "Professing the Renaissance," has described the New Historicism as the "poetics and politics of culture," and shown how this quickly leads to questions of political power and its effects on literature and art. The Marxist Fredric Jameson is the theorist most rigorously analyzing the political aspects of culture, and he has originated an especially astute form of dialectical criticism. He attempts to view the individual, whether author or reader, within a larger context, particularly within social structures, while keeping an eye on the present and his own ideological position. Jameson has suggested that positions taken in postmodernism "can be shown to articulate visions of history, in which the evaluation of the social moment in which we live today is the object of an essentially political affirmation or repudiation."

According to Jameson, perceivers as well as creators of art works are clearly subjective, even fragmented and suppressed. Nevertheless, works of art and literature express the alienated condition of our time and yet also compensate for certain aspects of this loss through alternative offerings of fullness. This can be interpolated to be true of reception and interpretation as well. It is impossible to completely step outside the fact of our subjective perception, but works of art can assist us in rupturing the casings which continuously threaten to surround us --- formed from the incrustations of our unquestioned assumptions. This action can bring about a widening of our subjective experience,

Thus, I believe such perceptions inNew Historicism, offers some fresh vantagepoints from which to study and create visual art and visual metaphor.

Art History consists of multiple histories, discontinuous and contradictory ones.
Context is all-important.

The heretical response to authoritarian demand, the "not in the way you want" respond, is more useful than simply following orders or even simply saying "no."

Ones own position and history must be clearly expressed and critiqued when critiquing others.

Works of art express the problems and alienation of our or any time and place, but also frequently offer expressions of fullness that attack that alienation and help shatter the incrustations of belief forced upon us. Art History should discuss both.

And this, I assert, artists accomplish through visual metaphors and visual metaphor(m)s in visual works of art.

Thanks for listening. Podcast number 38.
New Historicism in Art

If you enjoy my podcasts, please go to Apple podcasts and give me 5 stars and a recommendation! It helps others find this podcast. Additionally, if you have any questions or requests for topics, please feel free to contact me with them! I'd truly enjoy covering them!

If you wish to hear more cool, exciting and hopefully inspiring stuff about art history and art, come back for more. Also, I, Dr Mark Staff Brandl, artist and art historian, am available for live custom Performance-Lectures. In English und auf Deutsch.

I take viewers inside visual art and art history. Entertainingly, yet educationally and aesthetically, I analyze, underline, and discuss the reasons why a work of art is remarkable, or I go through entire eras, or indeed through the entirety of art history, or look at your desired theme through the lens of art history. The lectures often take place with painted background screens and even in my room-filling painting-installations with accompanying paintings.

Some recent ones were on the entire history of Postmodernist Art from 1979 through today and on Mongrel Art. Once again, I'd like to thank Chloe Orwell, Brad Elvis, and the rock band the Handcuffs for composing, performing and recording my theme song, "Shut Up and Paint," a tiny portion of which begins and ends every Dr Great Art Podcast.

You can find or contact me at

www.drgreatart.com/ (spell)

book me at www.mirjamhadorn.com (spell)

or find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all as Dr Great Art.







04 June 2018

Dr Great Art Podcast episode 37: Originality in Art





The new Dr Great Art podcast. Episode 37: Originality in Art, Tradition vs. Innovation
Does originality in art even exist? A Matt Ballou listener request. "Make it new!" has certainly become old. Yet, the Postmodernist demand that a lack of originality be heralded as something new is duplicitous. A discussion of originality in art.
http://drgreatart.libsyn.com/episode-37-originality-in-art
#arthistory #originality #drgreatart #markstaffbrandl



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Dr Great Art Podcast 37

Originality in Art

Hi this is Mark Staff Brandl, with the 37th "Dr Great Art" brief podcast.

My artecdote this time is a complex one. It is about originality in art. It arises from a request from listener Matt Ballou. Matt is a very good painter as well as a Professor of Painting and Drawing at the University of Missouri. First let me say, I appreciate his request very much! Please feel free to do so yourself about other topics.

Matt Ballou‎ to me on Facebook:

He wrote,
"Mark, I’m still loving Dr. Great Art! Topic suggestion: the myth of originality. You’ve used the term in a basic way before, but I’m sure you have more nuanced things to say. Personally, I find the very idea of originality odious and mistaken; we may impart a unique inflection to received knowledge, remixing and repurposing ideas/associations/structures, but any claim of complete newness or originality is meaningless for a lot of reasons. I’d love to hear you explore some of these ideas."

Thanks Matt. A great question, and indeed and old and important one. Tradition vs. innovation. First, yes I believe in originality. But it IS much more complex than usually imagined. I suspect you are objecting to the standard way the idea is bandied about, in a Romanticist, misty, silly fashion.

The common question is "Should artists bow to tradition, or should they break all the rules?" it is not as binary and simple as that! Other important questions immediately arise: Do they mix these? What is up with all that? Are there degrees of originality? And many more questions. Each of which could make a fun podcast.

The basic question is murkier now than ever before. One problem is that much contemporary art isn't original. Even copying has been done before, as Jonathan Jones has wittily written. Modernism worshipped originality, and often succeeded in reaching it. Yet it led to an impasse in many ways.

As I said in my podcast on art mottos, episode number 2, "Make It New" became a model of change, of renaissance and renewal. It brought us revolutionary techniques, composition and thought. No demonstrations of boring old academic ideas in stolen Raphael clothing, no endless kings, history, mythological or religious pantomimes. Indeed, they really meant "Make it original! Make it now!"

And YET! "Make it new!" became old. Even new was no longer new. The endless striving for newness in many artists became mere production of novelties in the worst sense.

Rather than making "Make it New" new again, many Postmodernists decided to use the fact of lack of originality as an element of meaning. Cynically, unfortunately, many hypocritically demand that their lack of originality be heralded as something great and new. It becomes all about the marketing of the illusion of newness.

Nevertheless, historically and contemporarily, there have been works of great originality and works lacking all originality. The second usually have more success in the moment. The first, more success over time. The artworld at the moment does not truly reward for originality. Or worse for quality. People in it CLAIM to do so, but in general they do not. Artists are rewarded for doing the opposite, for being highly consensus-correct with just a tiny, tiny dash of ever-so-microscopic difference. After all, "Society honors its living conformists and its dead troublemakers," as Mignon McLaughlin wrote.

To get back to Matt's thought, originality is far more than mere newness. The worship of newness in and of itself is what I think he is rebelling against. Originality is culturally contingent and personal. Thus, contrarily, always in a dialogue and with knowledge of tradition --- and I mean that in the widest form: history, techniques, metaphors and more.

David Hare has astutely observed that originality often "either passes unnoticed or is considered to be a mistake. In the arts it is noticed and approved, precisely at that moment when it is on its way to becoming unoriginal."

We must be careful not to impoverish art though by limiting it to current consensus-correct ideas of academistically-understood novelty. For example, Adorno (in contrast to Ortega) rather snootily asserts that whatever appeals to more popular experience, or anything not based on just his own specific context and definition of "being erudite" is relegated to a sub-artistic realm and pejoratively labeled kitsch or entertainment. He's wrong. Knowledge, especially of history and current approaches is important. Tradition. The problem is the exclusionary presumption that tradition mixed with novelty in his odd-ball way exhausts the realm of legitimate art.

The concept of originality became an ideal in Western culture from the 18th century till roughly the beginning of Postmodernism, circa 1979. In contrast, before that, it was common to appreciate the similarity with admired classical works, such as Michelangelo's Sleeping Cupid I discussed in podcast number 33. Shakespeare suggested avoiding "unnecessary invention."

HOWEVER, there are works, entire works or elements of them, that strike us for centuries as being of unique style and substance, springing creatively from what has come before or was around them in their time, yet taking it markedly farther in a surprising direction. As an example, this can be found in Rembrandt, "whose late works took [him] into realms even more daring than those [he] had penetrated earlier in [his] career," as Richard Cork has written.

This was, though, almost never the goal of the artists, if you trust their own writings and comments. It was usually a wonderful by-product of artists becoming ever-more-deeply themselves through the practice of creating art. Originality is one of those things like QUALITY, the word so many are afraid of, which are hard, if not impossible, to nail down, and yet with a developed, experienced eye, one sees their presence.

This is also how much law works. Indeed, In the Copyright Law of the United States, the work that is sought to be protected must satisfy a threshold for originality. This is then judged through argument by a group of experts. No hard and fast rules, but obvious presence. Right now, I assert, it is innovative to use tradition! As odd as that sounds.

Brian Sherwin perceptively declares that in his opinion, "the reality of art in general is that it is a process of building from one generation to the next. …Every work of art is a continuation of our collective story -- and as any avid reader knows... some stories are better than others."

And YET, there are stories and works that are surprising. That feel unique AND "of the tradition." We feel their subtle, personal, "dues-been-paid" individuality. Their "unique inflection" is important. This often comes of the indirect process of finding new tropes, startlingly unexpected metaphors and metaphor(m)s.

"If a new metaphor enters the conceptual system that we base our actions on, it will alter that conceptual system and the perceptions and actions that the system gives rise to. Much of cultural change arises from the introduction of new metaphorical concepts and the loss of old ones." As George Lakoff and Mark Johnson have written.

So, Matt, yes, I think originality exists and is wonderful. But it is not a Romanticist-envisioned lightning-bolt from heaven, so I appreciate your mistrust. It is rather an important uniqueness that derives, certainly not by design, from a dialogue with, toward and against tradition, both cultural and personal. It is smaller than the Romantics thought, but far important that Postmodernists think.

"Make it your OWN, make it matter." Make it personal, but with the call-and-response acknowledgement of those before, and a vison of those after, you --- as in jazz. And that will be dialectical dialogue with tradition and with innovation. This is the agonistic, quintessentially antithetical stance of much art, that I discussed last podcast episode. I hope this circuitous (sir-que-it-tus) discussion comes close to what you wanted Matt! Thanks for the GREAT suggestion!

Thanks for listening. Podcast number 37.
Originality in Art

If you enjoy my podcasts, please go to Apple podcasts and give me 5 stars and a recommendation! It helps others find this podcast. Additionally, if you have any questions or requests for topics, such as Matt did, please feel free to contact me with them! I'd truly enjoy covering them!

If you wish to hear more cool, exciting and hopefully inspiring stuff about art history and art, come back for more. Also, I, Dr Mark Staff Brandl, artist and art historian, am available for live custom Performance-Lectures. In English und auf Deutsch.

I take viewers inside visual art and art history. Entertainingly, yet educationally and aesthetically, I analyze, underline, and discuss the reasons why a work of art is remarkable, or I go through entire eras, or indeed through the entirety of art history, or look at your desired theme through the lens of art history. The lectures often take place with painted background screens and even in my room-filling painting-installations with accompanying paintings.

Some recent ones were on the entire history of Postmodernist Art from 1979 through today and on Mongrel Art. Once again, I'd like to thank Chloe Orwell, Brad Elvis, and the rock band the Handcuffs for composing, performing and recording my theme song, "Shut Up and Paint," a tiny portion of which begins and ends every Dr Great Art Podcast.

You can find or contact me at

www.drgreatart.com/ (spell)

book me at www.mirjamhadorn.com (spell)

or find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all as Dr Great Art.