In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Seattle Squeeze: New Urban Living
  2. Checking In
  3. Ben Aronson's Representational Abstractions
  4. Rock is ... Forever?
  5. We Need the Arts: A Sob Story
  6. Form Following (Commercial) Function
  7. Two Humorous Items from the Financial Crisis
  8. Ken Auster of the Kute Kaptions
  9. What Might Representational Painters Paint?
  10. In The Times ...

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« Elsewhere | Main | Only One Bumper Sticker »

May 08, 2006

Art Innovation Bleg

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

A "bleg" is a case of begging for something via a blog post.

Well, I've come a'blegging.

One major source of the blogosphere's power is its ability to quickly marshal information from knowledgeable sources. So here I am, tin cup in hand, to ask about artists who are considered to have made innovations in painting.

I took a year of art history classes back in the days when cars had tail fins. One of my main memories of those classes was that the instructor cast art history in terms who who innovated what. Alas, my memory is now hazy regarding just who all those who's were, as well as which what's were whose.

For the last year or so I've been focusing my reading on the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the period when art began its transformation to what we have now. My knowledge of art history before that period, while okay, is less solid than I'd like.

But I have a full-time job plus a wedding coming up soon, and don't have the free time to read half a dozen books on art history to dredge up the needed details. I won't tip my hand as to where this will lead (though some of you will guess correctly), but I assure you the information I need is important to me.

Okay. The scene is set. Now to refine my request.

I am not interested in painting innovations since the time the Impressionists got going -- call it 1870, in round numbers. Nor am I interested in art created before, say, 1370 or thereabouts because documentation tends to be too sketchy. Call it the 500 years 1370-1870, though you have my permission to fudge on either end if you have something really important to mention. Rediscoveries of Greek/Roman innovations are okay to include.

Another thing I'm not really interested in is technological innovations such as the introduction of oil paints.

Innovations in subject matter are of interest, provided such can be strongly linked to one or a few artists.

To get the ball rolling, here are some innovations I'm interested in. Others are welcome.

  • One-point perspective.

  • Two-point perspective.

  • Three-point perspective.

  • Atmospheric perspective.

  • Chiaroscuro.

  • Conscious use of scientific color theory.

Also welcome are citations of books or articles. Bookwise, I'd probably be most interested in one whose focus was similar to that of my art history classes -- who did what first.

All contributions will be studied, though I can't promise that all will be used when I get around to writing the post(s) based on the information gathered.

Thank you for your interest in this matter.



posted by Donald at May 8, 2006


You want to look at:

Crosby, Alfred W., The Measure of Reality: Quantification and Western Society, 1250-1600, reviewed . Crosby has a lengthy discussion of the origins of perspective in European painting, tied in to other developments at the time.

Alan Macfarlane's Glass: A World History, reviewed here discusses inter alia the impact of mirrors, lenses and other technological improvements in glass as critical to the development of renaissance art.

You ought to look at Bright Earth: Art and the Invention of Color to understand the material foundations of painting. Reviewed here.

You may be familiar with David Hockney's book Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters. While Hockney's more sweepings claims have apparently been rebutted, the discussion of the use of technical means to aid in the production of paintings is interesting. Some discussions here.

Posted by: Lexington Green on May 8, 2006 11:34 AM

Try Kenneth Clark's "Civilization." This book was a spinoff of the spectacularly successful TV series of the same name. Actually, if you haven't seen this series in a long time, I heartily recommend buying it. Alas, it's only available in VHS form at the present time (someone correct me if I'm wrong). You'll find much of what you wish to know in the episodes/chapters following his discussion of the middle ages. Art history has never been as entertaining as it has here.

Posted by: Charlton Griffin on May 8, 2006 3:45 PM

Giotto's innovation was to represent religious dogma with a greater sense of natural reality. He conceived a painted architectural framework, or grisaille, using trompe-l'oeil effects, which influenced Masaccio and also Michelangelo in his scheme for the Sistine Chapel.

by Moshe Barasch
Cambridge University Press, 1987

Posted by: winifer skattebol on May 8, 2006 4:55 PM

Charlton Griffin: Speaking as a voice expert, can you think of anyone who says the word genius with more gusto than Kenneth Clark? 'Cuz I can't.

Posted by: Brian on May 8, 2006 11:36 PM

Oh, so you're not interested in the great advances that the revolution of the proletariat and the exposure of the patriarchal conspiracy have brought to visual art? Damn.

Posted by: J. Goard on May 9, 2006 3:24 AM

Brian: Actually, the way Clark says "Don Juan" is what always catches my attention. It's in the episode where he discusses the penchant for opera in the 18th century.

Posted by: Charlton Griffin on May 9, 2006 8:55 AM

These might be a too shallow for what you want but William Kloss has 2 Teaching Company lectures out.
Great Artists of the Italian Renaissance
A History of European Art

I have the Renaissance title and find it a nice, wacthable introduction and it includes a bibliography for further reading.

Posted by: Sam on May 9, 2006 10:41 AM

Giotto is a good choice.

How about Carravagio, and the high drama of intense light and shadow, that he brought into Western Art?

Posted by: ricpic on May 9, 2006 11:05 AM

All -- Thank you for the tips. I'll check 'em out after the dust settles from the May 20th wedding.

Posted by: Donald Pittenger on May 9, 2006 12:44 PM

Sorry, flipped books on my shelf, found no relevant material, but,congratulation on your coming soon wedding.

look fr studio LDA

Posted by: look on May 12, 2006 9:36 AM

Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?