I’m sure I’ve already mentioned it but just in case I haven’t, my first module with the OU is called ‘The Arts Past and Present‘ it’s supposed to introduce you to a wide area of topics in the arts (history, classics, art history, religion, literature etc…).
I don’t officially start the module until 4th October but I decided to get as much initial reading out of the way so I can participate fully without getting left behind. Book 1 is all about ‘Reputations’ and the first TMA* is about Cleopatra and Cézanne (in two separate questions, combining them would be a bit of a headfuck methinks ;-)).
I read through the chapter on good ol’ Cleo and did the activities (quite fun), feeling confident I decided to move onto the chapter on Cézanne for two reasons (1) I know nothing about art and get a little intimidated by those clever boffins who understand it all, and (2) I fucking hate ‘modern’ art. With a passion. I mean it.
I like grand sweeping paintings where there’s a story or something interesting going on, where everything has been put there for a reason and is full of little details… modern art seems to be all squiggles and not bothering to put character or personality into things (I like some of the surreal stuff [Salvador Dali and George Grie mainly]). Doesn’t mean I’m not going to put the effort in, I have a feeling I’m going to put more effort in just to annoy myself… even planning to go to the National Gallery to see some Cézanne’s pictures in the flesh (I’m in London, I may as well take advantage of all the free stuff).
So with that in mind, I settled down tonight to put in a few hours reading (and looking at pictures) and as I got towards to the main focus of the chapter (art history) I’m becoming more and more aware of something: art history is all about talking bollocks. Seriously. Just look at some of the terms:-
Delineation: the representation of shapes and details by means of drawing.
Picture Space: the virtual world within which all a picture’s represented contents are contained.
Picture Plane: the frontier between the virtual world and the actual world in which the viewer stands.
(I did rather like the explanation of shading, as someone who has spent a lot of time studying lighting design and the ways of lighting objects it did make me chuckle. The most complicated terms we have in theatre involve breasts. I kid you not.)
The question I have to answer is: Look carefully at ‘The House of the Hanged Man at Auvers’, 1872 – 1873, by Paul Cézanne. In not more than 500 words, explain why you think this painting was dismissed so scathingly by some critics when it was exhibited with the Independents in 1874.
I really don’t like the idea of forming an answer that talks about picture planes and picture spaces, I know that’s what they’ll want to see (a demonstration that I understand and can use the terms and language appropriate to the field of study) but I’m not sure I can go there :-S
I wonder if “because it was crap” is a valid answer…. ummm…
*tutor marked assigment — oooh er missus, get me and the official lingo 😛