Substantive Education

May 28, 2009

Roman Art History Part 3

Filed under: Ancient Rome,Art — kbagdanov @ 2:15 am
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Last but not least.  Here is the end of the pieces that will be on the test.  They all should be familiar to you students.

Another famous Arch is the Arch of Constantine.  I’m going to just quote the description of this arch from Art History by Stokstad cause it’s perfect.

Constantine's Arch

Constantine's Arch

“In Rome, next to the Colosseum, the Senate erected a memorial to Constantine’s victory over Maxentius, a huge, triple arch that dwarfs the nearby Arch of Titus.  It’s three barrel-vaulted passageways are flanked by columns on high pedestals and surmounted by a large attic story with elaborate sculptural decorations and a traditional laudatory inscription.  The “triumphal insignia’ were in part looted from earlier monuments made for Constantine’s illustrious predecessors, the Good Emperors Trajan, Hadrian, and Marcus Aurelius.  The reused items visually transferred the old Roman virtues of strength, courage and piety associated with these earlier emperors to Constantine.  New reliefs made for the arch recount the story of his victory and symbolize his power and generosity.”

A new style of art was instituted with Constantine. “This style, with its emphasis on authority, ritual and symbolic meaning rather than outward form, was adopted by the emerging Christian church.  Constantinian art thus bridges the art of the Classical world and the art of the Middle ages.”

Constantine also commissioned a colossal, 30 foot statue of himself.  This statue was on a wooden frame.  The sculptor carved thRoman Art 88 head, arms, and legs out of marble and then used bronze for the drapery of the fabric.  All that remains of the statue is the marble pieces.  This statue was supposedly used as a stand-in for the emperor whenever the conduct of business legally required his presence.   The sculpture combines traditional Roman practices of portraying people as they truly looked, with his heavy jaw, hooked nose, and jutting chin….with a rigid symmetrical simplicity that illicits power and imperial dignity.  There is no hint of frailty or imperfection in the sculpture.

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Roman Art History Part 2

Filed under: Ancient Rome,Art — kbagdanov @ 1:38 am
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Roman Mosaic, Here a floor after a dinner party

Roman Mosaic, Here a floor after a dinner party

So here is the continuation of pieces for the art history test.

Mosaics were used by the Romans to decorate floors, ceilings, walls, patios, and public buildings.  This mosaic is the floor in a Roman Villa.  It is supposed to show the debris that would be on the floor at the end of a dinner party.  The bones and shellfish give indications of the lavish feast that has been served and are a reminder of the homeowners wealth.  You will notice the detail of the mosaic work including shadows and a little mouse scurrying in for a taste. Mosaics could be of such fine detail that from a distance it was hard to distinguish them from paintings.

Roman Theatre

Roman Theatre

Roman Theaters were generally built into hillsides to make construction of the seating areas easier.  The theatres were built into semi-circles much like the earlier Greek theatres.  One of the main differences is that the Greek theatres stage area would be open to whatever was behind the theater –  such as a grove of olive trees, the sea, or mountains.  The Romans, on the other hand, built a back to their theaters similar to what we do today.  This area would have several places for actors to enter and exit.  There were also many alcoves and niches around the theater where statues of current leaders were displayed.  Roman theaters similar to this one were built throughout the Roman empire and many were still being used into the 1980’s although most have closed in an effort to preserve the sites.

Roman Coliseum

Roman Coliseum

Easily recognizable is the Roman Coliseum.  This structure was so named because in ancient times there was a giant statue of Colossus next to the arena.  In Latin the word arena means sand, and since sand was spread on the floor of the coliseum to soak up the blood of combatants theses structures came to be called arenas.

The Coliseum is an outstanding example of the Roman use of arches.  Here we see three levels of arches with a fourth solid level on the top.  Between each arch is a column.  On the first level the columns are of the Doric Order, on the second level the Ionic Order, and on the third the Corinthian Order.  The top level had niches

Interior of the Roman Coliseum

Interior of the Roman Coliseum

where statues were placed.  The inside of the Coliseum was set up much like our stadiums are today, with arched tunnels leading spectators into the stadium.

A floor was placed over a maze of rooms at the base of the stadium.  Here you can see what the Coliseum looks like without the floor in place.  These rooms were used to house the wild animals that would be used in the games.  There were also areas for the gladiators, doctors, weight rooms, etc.  Lavish games were hosted by the leaders of Rome to garners support and favor with the general population.  The Coliseum could also be flooded to stage mock sea battles.

The Coliseum is an oval that measures 615 feet by 510 feet and is is 159 feet high.  The opening ceremonies to dedicate the Coliseum lasted 100 days and according to some counts 9,000 wild animals and 2,000 gladiators died for the amusement of the spectators. Unfortunately much of the Coliseum was dismantled in subsequent generations for materials.

Pantheon

Pantheon

One of the other amazing architectural feats of the Romans is the Pantheon.   This is a temple to ‘all the gods’.  Originally the Pantheon stood on a podium and was approached by stairs from a square with colonnades.  Passing centuries have buried the podium and stairs.   The entrance to the Pantheon resembles a Greek temple but then the porch gives way to a massive rotunda with 20 foot-thick walls that rise 75 feet in height.  These walls support a dome that is 143 feet in diameter and 143 feet from the floor to the summit.

In the center of the rotunda is an oculus, or central opening that

Ceiling of the Pantheon

Ceiling of the Pantheon

allowed in sunlight (and rain).  This massive structure was made possible by a very important invention of the Romans…cement.  Cement allowed the Romans to construct large buildings cheaply and efficiently all over their empire.  Once constructed, concrete buildings could then have a facade of marble, stucco or other material attached.  In the case of the Pantheon the use of concrete allowed the builders to make the ceiling out of sunken panels or coffers.  This reduced the weight of the ceiling considerably.  Marble veneers, architectural details,  richly colored marble, columns, pilasters, and entablatures hide the concrete work inside of the Pantheon.

Arch of Titus

Arch of Titus

The Romans effectively used a simple design of square against circle to create a sophisticated design that imparts of sense of awe and of being able to commune with the gods.  Maybe this is why in later centuries the Pantheon was converted into a Christian church.  It was this use of the building that helped it to survive the middle ages when most pagans structures were destroyed in an effort to rid the city of their influence.

Another unique feature of Roman architecture is the Monumental Sculpture.  These often took the form of the Triumphal Arch.  These freestanding arches commemorated a military victory and were part of the victory celebration.  Here we see the Arch of Titus in Rome.  After Titus died and was deified his brother commissioned the construction of this arch as a memorial of Titus’s conquest and defeat of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

The arch is constructed of concrete and covered in marble.  Originally the arch served as the base for a statue of a horse and charitot driver that was 50 feet high.  The reliefs on the arch depict Titus’s capture of Jerusalem.  This capture ended a campaign to crush a rebellion of the Jews in Palestine.  The Romans sacked and destroyed the sacred temple and carried off it’s sacred treasures to display in a triumphal procession through Rome.  One portion of the relief shows Titus with an eagle carrying him skyward to join the gods, an acknowedgement that Titus was deified, or declared a god at his death.

May 27, 2009

Roman Art History Test

For my Art History students, here are the pieces that will be on your test and just a few notes to jog your memory.  Hopefully you will know more details.  As a note, I’ve tried to use pics that are public domain, but it is sometimes hard to determine and/or get permission.  I’d sure like input from anyone on how people handle using images on the Internet of things like art pieces…it seems everyone has the same ones…..Are there guidelines somewhere?

In no particular order on this post here are the pieces you will need to be familiar with.

Bronze of Romulus and Remus and the she-wolf.  Etruscan

Bronze of Romulus and Remus and the she-wolf. Etruscan

A Bronze piece from the Etruscans.  Legend has it that Rome was founded by twin boys Romulus and Remus.  The details vary but the basic story is that the boys father was king, their uncle overthrew him, and then ordered the boys to be killed.  They were abandoned by the river, adopted by a wolf who raised them as her cubs.  They were then discovered by a shepherd who had no children of his own and so he and his wife raised the boys.  They learned of their royal birth, attacked their uncle, restored their father to his kingdom, and then set out to make their own kingdoms.  The twins settled in on the Palatine Hills and here there are several stories, but basically, as with their father and uncle before them,  they were not capable of sharing and so contest and battles ensue leaving Romulus the victor and Remus dead.  Romulus then goes on to found the city of Rome.

An Etruscan town

An Etruscan town

This is an example of Etruscan architecture.  By taking note of the car in the bottom of the picture you can see the size and grandeur of the cities built by the Etruscan’s.  Also you are given an example of an arch.  The arch will become a trademark of Roman architecture.  This wall that surrounds the city provided security and also told visitors of the might of the people who dwelt there.

Model of an Etruscan temple

Model of an Etruscan temple

This model of an Etruscan temple shows an interesting mix of influences that the Romans would adapt and change to suit their own building projects.  The porch area resembles the ancient Greek temples that we have studied, although here the front steps are a small set of steps on the front of the temple as opposed the Greek style of stairs surrounding the entire porch or temple.  As with other ancient buildings the Etruscans painted their temples with bright colors.  Statuary was put on the roof and around the temple.  This temple has three cella’s, or areas that would have had a votive statue to a god or goddess within them.  Note that this part of the temple is closed, not open to someone just walking by.

Etruscan, terra-cota sarcaphogas.

Etruscan, terra-cota sarcaphogas.

This sarcophagus was made for an Etruscan.  Terra-cotta was a challenging medium to work in and demanded that it’s artist have precise control over the temperature and time as they fired items.  We can see in this piece a family enjoying an intimate moment.  There is none of the formality or obsession with the dead in this as we have observed in the Egyptians.  With the Greeks we often saw expressions of grief and loss…while in this piece we seem to have a fond remembrance of the deceased.  We are meant to celebrate their life.

Aullus Metellus, The Orator

Aullus Metellus, The Orator

This bronze of Aulus Metellus is life-sized. We know his name because it is inscribed on the hem of his clothing. The statue has been known since ancient times as ‘The Orator’ and the man stands as if addressing a crowd. He wears sturdy leather boots, an interesting thing to note…gods and goddesses were depicted barefoot and later on we will see that Augustus was sculpted barefoot, perhaps hinting at his deification.

Note the differences between this statue and similar Greek statues.  While both cultures made statues of their leaders to instill confidence there are marked differences.  Most notable at first glance, our Roman is clothed.  Secondly, he wears shoes, going barefoot was a sign that the statue was of a god.  Also, our orator appears to have been a real person.  The Romans generally presented their leaders with recognizable features as they appeared in life.  The Greeks presented idealized statues of their leaders showing them as gods with perfect proportions, bodies, and strength.

This piece was done during the Republican period of Rome when leaders in the Senate ruled (ideally) through reason and with the support of the people.  The Senate was the governing body and the ability to speak eloquently was paramount to success.

Caesar Augustus, Augustus Caesar, Octavian

Caesar Augustus, Augustus Caesar, Octavian

In contrast this bronze of Caesar Augustus was done at the beginning of the Imperial period of Romes History.  Augustus would become the first emperor of Rome and would make use of sculpture as a form of propaganda.  In this work Augustus is presented in the same pose as the orator, illustrating that he is a civilized ruler who rules with reason and the support of the senate.  But there are also marked differences between this work and the one above.

We see a more idealized portrayal of Augustus here, he is presented in his youth as the height of his strength with a calm, sure expression.  He is wearing his armor to show his skills as a general.  His feet are barefoot, a nod to his deification in later life.  At his feet rides cupid on a dolphin.  This is meant to remind the viewer that Augustus claimed to be descended from Venus. (Remember, Cupid is Venus’s son.)

This work was placed in the entry way of Livia’s villa.  Livia was Augustus’s wife and this statue would have greeted guests as they entered the villa.

Bust of Caraculla

Bust of Caraculla

Contrast the previous two works with this bust of the emperor Caracalla.  As Augustus had before him, Caracalla is seeking to send a message to his people as to what kind of a man he is.

Here we see a man who will be ruling with an iron fist.  He is hard, cold, and will do what needs doing.  He ruled during a time of anarchy and unrest with a constant turnover in leaders.  He had to be constantly vigilant against would be usurpers to his power.  All of this is reflected in his face. This is not a man who is going to tolerate any dissension in the ranks.

Due to the length of this post I’m going to have to do it in parts.  Part two should post shortly.

May 11, 2009

KaBoom

Filed under: Uncategorized — kbagdanov @ 4:56 am
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This is a cool organization and website.  I will let them describe their mission in their own words.

News KaBOOM! is the national non-profit that empowers communities to build playgrounds.

We passionately believe that play has purpose, and that unstructured play in particular helps make children happier, fitter, smarter, more socially adept and creative. Learn more about KaBOOM!.

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