I think the way to start this is to mention that I never expected to enjoy it quite as much as I have – every section even though new was like opening a door to a whole new world of understanding and has started to make sense and help me appreciate art in all its forms and even those I didn’t think I liked.
The separate aspects and headings of the research were interesting as it filled in all the background history of each work – some expected and some unexpected and enabled me to see the art in a new light and really understand how art really is the photography and history of the past.
Unfortunately due to a combination of illness and conflict with our local library over my library ticket (now resolved) I have had to rely very much on the internet and often forgot about the great tome World History of Art! (I appreciate it is a matter of getting into the practice of using and reading it to its full advantage) and I have also changed newspapers and began to scan the one I get on a Saturday regularly for reviews – and more importantly have a stack of reviews that I am happily starting to read through.
Demonstration of subject-based knowledge and understanding
This heading I think I am beginning to achieve – I love all forms of history anyway and my fiance has a fascination for any medieval or classical history which is really helping as I can bounce ideas off him. The straight historical and cultural aspects I am understanding and I think able to demonstrate knowledge of much easier than the intellectual or institutional contexts as these are the newer aspects of art history to me. What I am still struggling with slightly is getting my knowledge into more note format rather than essay – I have tried on one question to write my notes up under Research in case there are points I want to keep for future reference and then condense them to answer the question under say ‘Part 1’ – I am however waiting on a programme to be set up properly that will enable me to take notes etc and then use Word more easily for getting thoughts and notes down or researched websites or articles and then condense them into a better text.
Demonstration of research skills
This is something I am really enjoying but I have been a little limited by ill health and so haven’t been able to use the library and therefore reference books etc in the way that I would have liked and therefore I have been reliant somewhat on the internet and certainly learning to use the right key words or try combinations to find the information that I am looking for.
For my first studies on the works of arts I found the headings enabled me to plan and carry out the research more easily along with the questions that had been posed before the assignment which I felt gave me a good overview even though looking back I am not sure if I understood absolutely everything! Locating the evidence required is taking time and is a huge learning curve at the moment but I do need to distinguish more between a primary and secondary source (and refer back to the OCA references to refresh this aspect).
I am not confident I have got the gist of the Harvard Referencing yet or where to reference in my blog or articles yet – there seem to be different types of Harvard Referencing and when it comes to websites or online research I am not sure if I have put the required information down correctly – please advise?
Demonstration of critical and evaluation skills
At this point I think I am lacking in confidence desperately and feel a little out of my depth at the moment – for example for the Critics, Thinkers and Historians on my piece on Saint Francis in Meditation I found it really frustrating as I could not seem to find information on critics and historians in 17th Century Spain and the Thinkers or scholars were very much those of the rest of Europe. I am aware that Spain was a very closed and strongly Catholic country at the time and trying to stave off the influence of the reformers but struggled to find texts or articles on the critics and historians particularly of the time.
I felt able to express my understanding of the concepts of the time and when I find it am able to hopefully show evidence of analysis etc but as I say this area I am struggling a little with my research and what or how to look for it? I am more confident that once I work this out and start to be able to find the necessary information I will be able to analyse and engage with all the necessary aspects. I am also aware that this area is something that will become easier with experience and knowledge but it is still frustrating as reading the reviews and historical backgrounds to current works how influential the critics etc were and want to include this information and also just to understand the whole picture rather than 3/4 of it.
This area my main problem is keeping it brief enough! I do have slight suspected Aspergers and am well known to use 1000 words when 100 will do so communicating is not the issue but the ability to get my ideas down and show the knowledge with brevity is something as I state above that I am desperately working on!
I did really love working on the study pieces and the 500 word of analysis even if unsure of the critics etc section and understood the aspect of trying to pick out the most relevant information from the various websites etc – the discovery of the Heilbrunn Timeline on the Metropolitan Museum site is gold dust for an overview of a period with significant dates, events, art etc. I have started to compile a list at the end of my Research Resources of useful websites etc that I may use repeatedly.
I am finding my points above refer to all of my chosen artists – particularly the critics and thinkers section. It seems though that some artists are very much favoured for art reviews over others particularly when there is an interesting background story such as with the slashing of the Rokeby Venus by a suffragette. I know that I am still finding my way research wise and definitely am intrigued about doing more research into the headings I find difficult – including with regard to 17th Century Spain! If I had to pick a favourite from the works I chose I think it would be Velazquez’s painting of Saint Francis for its starkness but also just love Suerrat’s Bathers at Asnieres too – probably because these are total opposites.
The section that surprised me was on the female nude – it is not so much the paintings but the cultural and historical aspects that surround them and in some cases the sensitivities or moralities of the eras. I find it fascinating how the attitude towards a male nude is very different to that of a female and how the attitudes have changed over the centuries and also how the depiction of the human body in art is still evolving and changing according to our times – you of course realise it and it seems logical but some aspects still come as a surprise. I think what I am trying to express is that sometimes you just look at the painting without really seeing but it is when you see it fully including understanding all the aforesaid background information that you really learn or see it differently – this same comment can also apply to many of the Old Masters or for me the Baroque style of painting that previously I have found heavy and oppressive due to the dark tones but now I understand the techniques it makes sense.
The last aspect of the Annotations – again I am unsure if I am getting these right at the moment but it is interesting to research an image or postcard further and understand the whole story behind them.
I did several bits of research on artists of my own choosing including my own brother which was a little wierd but it was also interesting to look at his work from an artistic and student point of view rather than just as his little sister. The other artists I have included so far are ones that I have admired for sometime or have come across their work directly and I have a local blacksmith in mind for a future piece on iron sculpture.
Even though tonight I feel a little unsure of whether I have got the assignment right or am on the right tracks I am reminding myself that it is a huge learning curve.
As a final point – the discovery of Seurat and Velazquez and even more de Zurbaran have been almost a revelation as the latter two are from periods I didn’t think I liked. My favourite of the works is the most stark – Saint Francis in Meditation as I find it incredibly emotional. I have always thought the Baroque period was quite oppressive in the style of the painting but I now at least understand the techniques and history and have a new appreciation. I however have always loved the Baroque architecture and trompe l’oeil work on the frescoes of churches and am ear marking an architect or two for further personal research.
Overall even though I am not sure I have got aspect right |I have just enjoyed the process of the whole of Part One.