Panorama view of exhibition in Jedlitschka Gallery, Zurich.

Panorama view of exhibition in Jedlitschka Gallery, Zurich.

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

---------------------------------------------

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.