Friday, March 25, 2011

Call for Submissions for the April Issue of the Art History Carnival

Well, Spring is here (officially, anyway - we are still under snow here in Alberta) and it's time for the next issue of the Art History Carnival! The April Art History Carnival  will be posted on Tuesday, April 5, 2011. You can submit articles for inclusion in the carnival until 48 hours before the issue comes out (in this case, Sunday, April 3). 

What kind of blog articles will be included? 
Posts covering all periods and art mediums are welcome, as are posts discussing art criticism, architecture, design, theory and aesthetics. All submissions will be carefully reviewed. 

What is a Blog Carnival? 
According to Wikipedia, a blog carnival is "a type of blog event...similar to a magazine, in that it is dedicated to a particular topic, and is published on a regular schedule, often weekly or monthly. Each edition of a blog carnival is in the form of a blog article that contains permalinks links to other blog articles on the particular topic." 

Blog Carnivals are a great way to help your blog reach a new audience and to make new friends in the blogosphere! 

Who can submit? 
Anyone, as long as you have a blog! And If you don't blog, you can submit one of your friend's articles (except they better be good--I'll be reading them!). 

Can I host a carnival? 
Absolutely! Please let me know if you'd be interested in hosting the next issue of the carnival. 

How to submit articles
You have two options:

1. Use the submission form provided by Blog Carnival (this is easiest!). 
2. Send me an email. Include the title and permalink URL of the post you are nominating for inclusion in the carnival, along with the name of the blog. Please put "Art History Carnival" in the title of your email to help me recognize it in my inbox! 

One final thing to keep in mind: 
To keep things current, posts should have been written after the date of the last Carnival. If a post is six months old, I won't be able to include it in the Carnival, no matter how great it is.

Thank you for your participation! Share the news if you know someone who likes to write about art!

Friday, March 18, 2011

It's all about perspective...

It's fascinating how perceptions of art change over time.

As you may recall, the Pre-Raphaelites were so named because they rejected the Royal Academy's unquestioning devotion to Raphael's style of painting. There is still some question as to whether the Pre-Raphaelites were primarily focused on rejecting Raphael himself (less likely), or whether they merely disdained the Academy's insistence that they ape the Rapahel-like style of painting. Either way, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood rejected slavish devotion to the artistic heroes of the past, and Raphael was one of the most obvious targets.

The Miraculous Draught of Fishes, 1515 is a perfect example of what irked the Pre-Raphaelites about Raphael. It is unquestionably a lovely work, but also seems a tad insincere. The subjects are posed in an unnatural way, and their grand gestures seem a bit overwrought, though you have to love the fellow on the far right who seems determined to show off his abs and bulging triceps. But on the other hand, Raphael's work was also dignified, beautiful and graceful, which is doubtless why the Academy used him as a standard example for their students.

Of course, it's ironic that one of the chief contemporary criticisms of the Pre-Raphaelites is that their work is chocolate-boxy and picture-perfect (the shoe is on the other foot now, eh?). I'm sure most members of the PRB would be stunned that their work, once so controversial, is now decried as downright twee (in the future will we look back on the work of the Young British Artists and think of their work as cute? That's a scary thought...).

Stimulating...or saccharine?

Over time, I have grown to appreciate (and often prefer) contemporary art, and although I still enjoy the work of the Pre-Raphaelites, I probably wouldn't display it in my home. From my perspective, the work of the PRB is an important part of art history that was very influential for generations of artists (whether they want to admit to it or not), and I love to study it. But I wouldn't like to see artists today imitating the style of the PRB or - for that matter - the style of any other artists or historical period.

What do you think? Would you like to see the artistic style from one of your favourite historical periods come back in fashion? Or do you prefer to keep the past in the past?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

There has been a lot of exciting news over the past few months about art on the web. Google recently launched their Art Project, Twitter is teeming with artists, art lovers and art historians, and H Niyazi of Three Pipe Problem just launched the Art History Database, which permits visitors to search some of the best art and history sites on the web for relevant art-related content.

Yesterday, another exciting entrant launched the beta version of their site. aims to connect visitors to new art through their website. Many of you are likely familiar with Pandora - the music service that automatically builds playlists for listeners based on their preferences. aims to offer the ability do something similar, helping visitors discover new artists by using their "magic tour."

The magic tour works by showing you a set of four paintings, from which you choose your favorite (or you can skip the entire set if you don't like any of them).  This is done 3-4 times, after which a slide show is created based on your earlier choices.

The site mentions plans to develop applications for mobile and tablet devices, with the goal of sharing profits with the museums, galleries and artists featured on the site. Since there will be no cost to museums and galleries, this could be a really wonderful way for museums to increase revenues - especially when times are tough and arts funding is in so much jeopardy across the globe.

I was a bit disappointed that the website is weighted so heavily in the direction of pre-20th century art, although there are works by early 20th century artists like Matisse. Of course, as anyone who blogs knows all too well, it can be tough to get permission to show modern and contemporary works. This is a shame, but I hope things will change going forward. Obviously, Artfinder doesn't want to get slapped with a copyright suit their first day in business! Hopefully once artists (or their estates) are aware of the site, they will be willing to consider allowing their images to be displayed.

I really like the concept. The website has begun with 250,000 artworks, and you have the option to share paintings (right now it's just paintings and sketches, though they have said that they will be adding sculpture in the future) with friends through social media, such as Facebook and Twitter.

I was a bit disappointed with the magic tour, which is probably largely due to the fact that I am in a bit of a modern/contemporary art mood at the moment, and there is little of that on the website. So, I chose a few 19th century paintings. The results seemed a bit random, but I did find a few artists I was not familiar with. I liked most of what I saw, but I'm not sure if that was because of the accuracy of the "magic tour", or because I'm not that picky!

Overall, I think it's a great site and I'm very impressed with what Artfinder is trying to do. It's still in beta, so there are some wrinkles to be sorted out. However, I would definitely recommend it to readers of this blog, and I am very excited to see that art is alive and thriving in our web 2.0 world.

St. George and the Dragon, 1811 by Franz Pforr, Image courtesy Wikimedia