Discerning Texts from Past to Present:
Art History as Liberal Arts Bridge

Catherine Carter Goebel, Professor of Art History and Paul A. Anderson Chair in the Arts

Liberal Arts through the AGES is an important part of a unique first-year and general education learning experience. While many colleges have first-year readers, Liberal Arts through the AGES not only includes written texts but also utilizes the rich resources of the Augustana College Art Collection. These texts provide a foundation for general education courses. They have been selected by faculty teaching the courses as cornerstones for your studies.

Liberal Arts through the AGES offers students immediate access to primary documents—original texts— dating from various periods, cultures and disciplines through the history of civilization. The texts that are included present a wide perspective on human thought and come from many different disciplines. While we often think our view of the world is one that has always been common, the texts in this publication help us realize that our contemporary worldview has actually evolved over time. Reading words, some dating back to oral traditions, written by great thinkers of the past, enables us to better discern our present. It is also an integral step toward becoming fully educated in the liberal arts—and “in the deepest sense happy: fulfilled in mind, body, and spirit” (Banks). The fundamental questions of the Liberal Arts are touched upon in these readings. As described by two former Augustana first-year students, this book “looks at history through firsthand accounts. And some of these accounts happen to be works of art,” since “predating the written word, art transcends all language barriers” (O’Connor and Petry).

Works of art—original texts—offer an ideal historical and multidisciplinary lens through which we might examine the past as it relates to the various eras and themes under investigation. Diverse scholarly approaches are used to explicate artwork, including stylistic analysis, iconographic (symbolic) language, sociological and psychological interpretation, as well as scientific and technical consideration. Art historians increasingly account for the context in which works of art were created and the manner in which such accomplishments mirror their time periods. By studying artwork from a given epoch, we can learn more about that time. Furthermore, as we trace the development of art along a timeline, we may note places where traditions and past styles (web gallery 2—ca. 340-320 BCE) have impacted the present (web gallery 143—1898) as well as innovations that occur that are particular to a specific period.

Liberal Arts through the AGES is thus a major pedagogical resource for teaching critical thinking, comparative analysis and chronological developments. Studying original works of art, rather than merely consulting photographs or electronic images, is crucial because reproductions cannot adequately present perceptual subtleties of scale, surface, color and line quality or conceptual details found within the work’s content. Augustana’s art collection has been carefully developed in order to effectively complement the liberal arts curriculum of the college; it therefore establishes an important visual education resource for students and faculty. As evidenced by this publication, professors and administrators, as well as alumni and undergraduates ranging from the first through senior year with a multitude of majors and minors, have benefited from the opportunity of directly studying these works of art in person. And the benefit increases, as their writing further informs as you utilize this book for your own research. This dynamic creates an ongoing dialogue with the work of art and with others who interpret it, designed to facilitate both contemplation and action.

You are likely, historically, one of the most visually adept generations, capable of quickly assessing a variety of images, as you input and access data. But don’t settle for the immediate satisfaction of the quick read. Instead, learn to carefully examine primary texts, consult secondary sources, discuss your ideas and interpretations with other students and with your professors (specialists in a number of fields, many referenced in this book) and look for larger patterns. Countless new ideas trace their origins in creative interpretations of the past. Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci, for example, carefully sketched the famous Vitruvian Man (web gallery: editor's essay—ca. 1492). Yet the concept was not his own, but stemmed instead from Leonardo’s reading of a theory on ideal mathematical proportions for the human figure by first-century BCE Roman architect Vitruvius: “For if a man be placed flat on his back, with his hands and feet extended, and a pair of compasses centered at his navel, the fingers and toes of his hands and feet will touch the circumference of a circle described therefrom. And just as the human body yields a circular outline, so too a square figure may be found from it” (Vitruvius 690). Leonardo’s drawing after Vitruvius, in turn, stimulated contemporary novelist Dan Brown, centuries later, to reproduce the Vitruvian Man in a very different medium, as a complex symbol to launch the plot for his fictional bestseller, The Da Vinci Code.

In similar manner, students can make connections through art historical comparisons (note examples of first-year student comparative essays—pages 20-29). For example, they might discover origins in ancient Greek pottery (web gallery 1—ca. 520-500 BCE) for artist Pablo Picasso’s modern ceramic designs (web gallery 194—1963). They can examine the emerging empowerment of women as defined during the French Revolution (web gallery 56—late 18th century) and reinvestigated through pop imagery from the 1960s (web gallery 200). Capricious (web gallery 38—late 18th century) as well as tragic female roles (web gallery 62—18th century) are apparent. Themes on mortality might be traced centuries back to a Renaissance woodcut of a skeletal figure of Death seizing a child within a domestic interior (web gallery 20—1538) and re-investigated in a Romantic image of Shakespeare’s tragic hero, Hamlet (web gallery 68—1801), holding the skull of his former court jester and ruminating over the fragility of life. Yet in sharp contrast, Impressionist Mary Cassatt depicted blissful maternal bonding (web gallery 95—1908), unchallenged by such heartbreaking realities of life. Renaissance master Raphael Sanzio centered his composition on great men as philosophers (web gallery 17—1509), yet Rembrandt van Rijn focused on Christ as illumination (web gallery 26—1652). Realist Honoré Daumier saw the future in science and technology (web gallery 77A—1862) while Andy Warhol illustrated the dehumanization that modern technology increasingly facilitates (web gallery 199 A & B—1982-84). Symbols of peaceful meditation (web gallery 35—n.d.) may be contrasted with sobering realities of war (web gallery 80—19th century). Exploring the past through such juxtapositions enables students to recognize significant links that deepen our understanding of the human condition.

The origins for our present may thus be traced through a number of cultural and historical movements. In fact, the very nature of being modern may pertain to such a wide range of artistic periods that one must repeatedly attempt to frame modernity within its appropriate context. Many art historians, for example, feel nineteenth- century American expatriate artist James McNeill Whistler (web gallery 116—1897) effectively defined the position of the modern artist. Whistler was a highly original individual who transformed Romantic alienation into a virtue and indeed made it a necessity for success. One cannot imagine a better role model for the modern pose than Whistler, an artist who flaunted patrons, sued a critic, enjoyed being incomprehensible and wrote a book to celebrate it all. In fact, his publication, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, has long been hailed as a virtual sourcebook for modern artists.

In applying this term through the liberal arts model, itself a concept representing, according to Thomas Banks, Professor Emeritus of Classics and Dorothy J. Parkander Professor Emeritus in Literature, an “evolving human achievement, not a motionless given” and across various disciplines within the liberal arts program, varied diverse definitions and interpretations result. Such complexity furnishes “introductions to the fundamental questions of the liberal arts...an ever-new resource for an unknown future.” And as with the classical basis for such examination, this publication begins with Greek civilization. Perhaps the very nature of being modern, implies constant flux as the new is evaluated, and often replaced, by the next generation.

In defining the historical modern age, productive interpretative disagreements ensue. As David Ellis, Associate Professor of History, states: “Many historians in the west consider the modern era to have begun sometime around either 1500 or 1789. Those in the first camp point to a number of crucial developments that occurred within fifty years or so of 1500. These include the introduction of the movable printing press, European voyages of discovery and subsequent transcontinental exchanges, significant expansion and solidification of the Ottoman Empire...[and] the beginning of the Protestant Reformation(s)...Those who favor the time around 1789 (give or take fifty years) as the beginning of the modern era point to another cluster of comparably important events and processes that start around that time. These include important developments in imperialism..., the American Revolution..., the various phases of the French Revolution [and]...the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution...Historians of Europe often resort to a modus vivendi [an accommodation] that partly reconciles the two positions...[into a] distinction between the early modern and the modern eras.”

The so-called early modern period might be traced in such Renaissance works as Giorgio Ghisi’s engraving after Michelangelo’s The Erythraean Sibyl (web gallery 16—1508-12) at the Sistine Chapel in Rome. As he did in the famous scene of the Creation of Adam, from the same location, Michelangelo sought to reconcile classical idealism and anatomical investigation with Roman Catholicism. Such renderings reflect a careful balance of art and science with theology, reinforced by the artist’s own deep faith and belief that if indeed man was made in God’s image, then by studying cadavers the artist could both learn how to accurately portray the human figure and spiritually gain greater insight into the nature of God. In the same manner, Northern Renaissance master, Albrecht Dürer (web gallery 19—1510), utilized architect Filippo Brunelleschi’s mathematical invention of linear perspective, which improved upon ancient illusionism by effectively creating the look of a third dimension through a logical system of parallel and perpendicular lines on an otherwise two- dimensional surface.

Following on the heels of such innovations, the Reformation brought about profound changes in seventeenth- century Baroque subject matter. For example, Dutch etcher, Rembrandt van Rijn, although illustrating a religious event in Christ Preaching (web gallery 26—1652), adopted an approach which reflects less interest in the visionary side of religion and instead presents an approachable holy figure who, although emphasized through chiaroscuro (the contrast of light and shadow), seems to compete with the assemblage of interesting personalities surrounding him. Rembrandt was a master of atmosphere and characterization and his works responded to a growing interest in searching beyond classical idealism toward individuality. In similar manner, artist and diplomat, Peter Paul Rubens in The Hunt of the Hippopotamus and the Crocodile (web gallery 28—1615-16) illustrated the quest for exoticism based in further voyages of discovery. The privileged humanistic position of man over nature is fragile, lending itself to a more emotional and precarious depiction, with a similar sort of modern appeal as today’s action movies. Even the medium of printmaking reflects an increasing democratic approach to art by making it more accessible to a larger number of people, both by virtue of its multiple images as well as its resulting lower price.

In most recent art historical studies, however, the modern period seems to be most broadly defined by the eighteenth-century Enlightenment and the various important events that followed in its wake. In an era marked by a return to classicism and order, further fueled by the rediscovery of the lost Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum and the consequent Neoclassical movement, Rococo images of decadent, pampered female Parisian aristocrats engaged in recreation (web gallery 38—ca. 1767) or depicted as goddesses such as Hebe (web gallery 40—mid-18th century) would soon be replaced by desperate women in revolt (web gallery 56—late 18th century), demanding a means by which to feed their children. Artists pursued the Grand Tour, considered an essential finishing element to gentlemen’s formal education, and sculptors found a ready market for marble copies of ancient Greek and Roman works such as Minerva (web gallery 58—n.d.). British entrepreneur Josiah Wedgwood effectively marketed the classical for popular consumption through his invention of jasper ware (web gallery 59—1791) which imitated ancient Roman glass. At the time, the so- called father of art history, Johann Winckelmann, encouraged young enthusiasts: “There is but one way for the moderns to become great, and perhaps unequaled; I mean by imitating the ancients” (Winckelmann 6). Yet through such historical example, the French Revolution was fueled (web gallery 54—ca. 1784).

Furthermore, Denis Diderot and Jean d’Alembert co-authored their Encyclopédie, which aimed at presenting a rational compendium of past and present knowledge ranging from astronomy to zoology (web gallery 48 A & B—1751-72). Such publications attempted to portray a rational new world devoid of superstition. At the same time, they made information more precise and available to a larger number of people. Artists such as Sebastiano visited Athens and Rome on the Grand Tour in order to examine and record such antiquities in person (web gallery 49—late 18th century), while academies in France and Britain, patronized by royalty, developed to reinforce appropriate artistic training and exhibition (web gallery 44—1787) of didactic artwork. These art academies also determined the types and hierarchy for works of art. History was deemed the highest level and consisted of stories from ancient or recent history, including religious or mythological subjects. It was the most prestigious since it was generally considered morally edifying. Also in descending order, the hierarchy included portraits, genre (scenes of everyday life), landscape and still life.

It seemed that the American Revolution would provide the perfect Enlightenment subject for artists of the day. Yet in a young country which prided itself on freedom from oppression, dramatically illustrated by Paul Revere (web gallery 50—ca. 1770), there were inherent challenges as to how to appropriately portray grand history painting related to the revolutionary cause. John Trumbull’s image of the Declaration of Independence (web gallery 51—1786-94), representing perhaps the triumph of Enlightenment philosophy, suffers from the very nature of the newly created country where straightforward Yankee realism and accuracy outweighed bombastic historicizing. Another problem arose in this new republic, without princes and popes, as to who would patronize such large, expensive works? The same quality might be seen in the consummate if unfinished portrait of George Washington (web gallery 53—1796), which retains its credibility by portraying a simple, straightforward interpretation of the first president of the United States.

Romanticism furnished many seeds for modernity. The image of the suffering artist found its source in such works as Francisco Goya’s The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (web gallery 63—1793-98), a self- portrait of the painter himself who, although a child of the Enlightenment, was disillusioned by intolerant rulers, peasant sorcery and ignorance as well as the Spanish Inquisition. An illness left him deaf, further isolating him from the aristocratic society of his patrons. This image breaks the barrier from the rational world to the imagination, which according to Goya, when accompanied by reason, was the “mother of the arts,” yet when abandoned, produced “impossible monsters” (Johnson 32). Goya’s fascination with the subject of dreams opened a realm of mystery that would be the focus of twentieth-century Surrealists. At the same time, painters like Thomas Lawrence explored mortality through literary sources such as William Shakespeare. Hamlet (web gallery 68—1801), for example, holds the skull of his former court jester, Yorick, a memento mori (reminder of death) in order to examine the frailty of the human condition. Both images and sources also touched upon the subject of depression and insanity, which would be further explored by twentieth-century psychology.

Multiculturalism—or perhaps orientalism—was increasingly probed through images such as the Burial of Atala (web gallery 69—1808), which illustrates the tug-of-war experienced in the New World by François-René de Chateaubriand’s literary figure of Atala. She could only reconcile the pull between her religious conviction, illustrated by the priest on the right, and her love for the young Native American boy on the left, by tragically committing suicide. The piece, having elements of both Neoclassicism and Romanticism, might also be seen as illustrating the competing schools of the time. In the same manner, exotic subjects reflecting colonization were also explored through Sir David Wilkie’s study (web gallery 65—1835) for Sir David Baird Discovering the Body of the Sultaun Tippoo Sahib, Eugène Delacroix’s sketches of lions (web gallery 66—1832-61) and the anonymous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe (web gallery 25—early-mid 19th century).

Romanticism also accompanied the age of modern nineteenth-century science. Dell Jensen, Associate Professor of Chemistry, has suggested: “Modernity cannot be defined without looking at the development of science, because it provided the basis for advancement and betterment of society through the understanding of the natural world. From this perspective, it can be said that modernity started with the great thinkers of the Renaissance (Leonardo da Vinci and Galileo Galilei (web gallery 29—ca. 1832 image of Galileo in 1632]). They were followed by many other individuals (Isaac Newton, Francis Bacon, Antoine Lavoisier and Benjamin Franklin) who made significant contributions to our understanding of the modern world...[Furthermore] John Dalton and Charles Darwin...laid the foundation for modern science. Dalton’s Atomic Theory (1807) provided the basis for much of our understanding of chemistry and Darwin’s book, Origin of Species (1859), solidified the concept of natural selection and evolution. During this four hundred year period, the world underwent profound changes and many of those changes involved the understanding of the natural world and its role in society.” Yet, such a narrative of progress often sat uneasily with Romantics, whose appreciation for the power, beauty and uniqueness of nature was coupled with a bitter sense of the loss of mystery, which many expressed with poignant irony.

Artistic parallels in science might be traced to John James Audubon’s series, including Whippoorwill (web gallery 71—1830), which aimed at recording all the native birds of North America depicted in their natural habitats. The illustrator attempted to capture the immediacy of the specimens, either drawn from life or freshly shot and wired into position, exhibited against a blank background allowing them to be read in a careful analytical manner, with some aesthetic interpretation for effect. Such scientific analysis is further illustrated in the images of Metamorphoses by Maria Merian (web gallery 133 A & B—1717). In similar manner, English Romantic painter John Constable beautifully combined the meteorological interests of his age with art through dozens of cloud studies, captured on sight through the invention of portable oil paints which allowed artists for the first time to paint outdoors directly from nature (web gallery 67—1813). Although Constable lovingly depicted the subtle nuances of cloud banks and individual trees; his scientific interest, like Michelangelo’s before him, was reinforced by a profound belief that such natural phenomena were aspects of God’s divine order. Yet never before had an artist so effectively captured the moods of nature, which would have immediate influence on the development of Realism and Impressionism in France.

American artist Thomas Cole would similarly straddle Romanticism and Realism. His Voyage of Life series raised landscape to the level of history through its predictable moral metaphor for the river of life, the meaning accessible to a large audience. In scene two of the four-part series, Youth (web gallery 73—1849), the baby from scene one is now a young man in the summer of his youth (as well as that of landscape) who optimistically steers his boat with the hourglass masthead toward a castle in the sky. By scene four, Old Age (web gallery 74—1849) is inevitable. Although the elements are carefully and scientifically rendered after nature, Cole’s greater purpose was to deliver the message of time’s passing and the consequent ages of man inherent in history painting.

By the second half of the nineteenth century, artists had largely abandoned such themes and focused, with Impressionism’s interests in capturing everyday life, on utilizing new theories such as the physics of light. Michel-Eugène Chevreul published his law of simultaneous contrasts in 1839, which likely influenced Impressionist and Post-Impressionist approaches to color. Impressionist paintings including Berthe Morisot’s Young Woman and Child in a Garden (web gallery 93—ca. 1888-94) reflected these new ideas, as well as the utilization of atmospheric perspective based on the scientific observation that colors appear cooler and details less distinct in the distance. Such imagery also offered no apology for simply representing modern life, with no pretense of greater purpose.

By the mid nineteenth century, following the Industrial Revolution, city populations were growing at rapid speed, as people moved from the countryside. This new middle class was accommodated by urban adjustments. Thomas Bengtson, Professor of Mathematics and Earl H. Beling Chair in Mathematics, has noted: “The fine arts were greatly affected by advances in technology and gains in wealth. Art came to be produced not only for the aristocracy, but rather for those with the means to pay for it. Subjects depicted in art changed to include themes of interest to a growing middle class. Entirely new subjects became available, too, such as railroads and buildings of inexpensive iron and steel. Technology provided new means, such as photography [web gallery 117 A & B—1887] and steel engravings, with which to produce art...Consider The Railway Station [web gallery 114—1866], an engraving after an original painting by William Powell Frith. The subject includes a train and a train station. Fifty years earlier, trains did not exist and neither did the architecture of an open iron lattice for the station. Steel engraving techniques had only recently become available, making the print affordable to a growing middle class.”

In response to the growing bourgeoisie (middle class), newspapers and journals multiplied to educate and entertain the masses (web gallery 137—1896 and web gallery 131—1898). Artists such as Honoré Daumier (web gallery 77A—1862), Charles Keene (web gallery 111—1884), George du Maurier (web gallery 113—1891) and Phil May (web gallery 112—1896) delighted their audiences with narratives, astutely drawn and engraved, that illustrated the many facets of modern urban life. Yet their field, based on quick and brilliant sketches, would soon be eclipsed by photography.

Many artists and writers regretted the sweeping changes that accompanied urban modernity. As the new Paris was being designed by Baron Haussmann for Emperor Napoleon III, clearing away much of the historic medievalism of the city, artists such as Charles Meryon in La Galerie Notre Dame (web gallery 75—1853) recorded national treasures that were now in jeopardy. In like manner, James McNeill Whistler depicted the colorful dockside views along the Thames River in London, such as Black Lion Wharf (web gallery 76— 1859), destined to be irrevocably erased through the building of an embankment. Although such changes brought large boulevards (web gallery 90—n.d.), well-engineered bridges (web gallery 88—ca. 1860- 70) and better living conditions (web gallery 94—1872), there was a wistful sentimentality as to the price of progress. Decorative arts even reflected rejection of the mass production of post-Industrial Revolution society by designing functional art that retained careful craftsmanship, part of the Arts and Crafts movement, with results such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s elegant and reductive music book cover (web gallery 129— 1893) and the elegant Tiffany Favrile Glass Inkwell (web gallery 139—1899).

With such renditions of modernity initially aided by technology, many artists further questioned the advances that they enabled. Whistler suggested: “The imitator is a poor kind of creature. If the man who paints only the tree, or flower, or other surface he sees before him were an artist, the king of artists would be the photographer” (Whistler 128). Portraits (web gallery 77B—1877) and landscapes (web gallery 168— 1882) could now be captured on film, so what was left for an artist to do? Such modernist dilemmas might be illustrated by comparing Eugène Boudin’s Beach at Trouville (web gallery 86—1864) with James McNeill Whistler’s Early Morning (web gallery 85—1878). On the surface, though similar in composition and atmospheric effect, they both emerge from very distinct philosophies which ultimately defined the course of modern twentieth-century art.

Both artists were initially influenced by writer and theorist Charles Baudelaire (web gallery 84—1865), who postulated in his 1845 essay on the heroism of modern life: “We do not lack for subjects or colors with which to make epics. The painter, the true painter for whom we are searching, will be the one who can seize the epic quality of contemporary life and make us see and understand, with brush or with pencil, how great and poetic we are in our cravats and patent-leather boots....the true seekers may grant us the extraordinary joy of celebrating the advent of the new!” (Baudelaire 37).

Boudin’s works directly relate to such ideas as he was one of the first French artists to paint en plein air, before an outdoor subject, at fashionable bourgeois resorts. He aimed to capture the climatic effects of the landscape, as well as the fashionable participants who inhabited it. Like Constable, Boudin focused on the transient qualities of the atmosphere, yet in a more secularized Impressionist manner. His works would inspire his most direct follower, Claude Monet, the leader of the French Impressionist movement, who described the influence of Boudin: “Suddenly a veil was torn away. I had understood—I had realized what painting could be. By the single example of this painter devoted to his art with such independence, my destiny as a painter opened out to me” (Seitz 13). By capturing instantaneous views, further informed through photography, portable tube oil paints and new scientific theories on light and color, such works epitomized the epic quality of modern life. Sketches and finished paintings now expressed the same sort of unfinished quality that invited the viewer’s eye to complete the impression, ultimately leading to Paul Cézanne’s description of Monet: “He is only an eye, but my God what an eye!” (Parsons and Gale 45). Monet himself admitted the difficulty of achieving his goals: “It is enough to drive one raving mad, to render the weather, the atmosphere, the ambience...the sun sets so fast that I can’t follow it” (Monet 138). Boudin and Monet thus shared the naturalist passion of Constable, devoid of his spiritual associations.

Whistler, on the other hand, by 1878 had evolved away from such Realist concerns and increasingly withdrew from competing with technology. Instead, he advocated the theory of Art for Art’s Sake, a more elitist philosophy that placed aesthetics above replication. Analogies were made between the parallel connections of music, poetry and art, as he stated: “As music is the poetry of sound; so is painting the poetry of sight, and the subject-matter has nothing to do with harmony of sound or of colour” (Whistler 127). In this manner, he reasserted his traditional position as an artistic genius who would improve the scenery: “Nature contains the elements, in colour and form, of all pictures, as the keyboard contains the notes of all music. But the artist is born to pick, and choose, and group with science, these elements, that the result may be beautiful—as the musician gathers his notes; and forms his chords, until he brings forth from chaos glorious harmony. To say to the painter, that Nature is to be taken as she is, is to say to the player, that he may sit on the piano” (Whistler 142-43).

Given his modern sense of aesthetics, we can see Whistler’s landscape, along the Thames River in London, softened and made more elegant through an atmospheric envelope. A critic at the time, in response to such effects, humorously suggested that perhaps there was no fog in London until Whistler created it. Whistler thus transformed the murky urban industrial landscape, as he described in his publication The Gentle Art of Making Enemies: “And when the evening mist clothes the riverside with poetry, as with a veil, and the poor buildings lose themselves in the dim sky, and the tall chimneys become campanile, and the warehouses are palaces in the night, and the whole city hangs in the heavens, and fairy-land is before us...Nature, who, for once, has sung in tune, sings her exquisite song to the artist alone, her son and her master—her son in that he loves her, her master in that he knows her....In all that is dainty and lovable he finds hints for his own combinations, and thus is Nature ever his resource and always at his service, and to him is naught refused” (Whistler 144-45).

Whistler and Boudin were thus two leaders of the nineteenth century who developed works of art that were highly original, yet at the same time reflected the theories of artists and writers of their age. As in the case of these works, at times their images bore striking similarities to one another, yet in theory, they were at opposite ends of the spectrum. Boudin represented the scientific and technological advancements of the day that enabled artists to better portray perceptual realities of nature on their canvases. Whistler, on the other hand, offered a more conceptual response which encouraged the development of twentieth-century abstraction. Both clearly were beacons for the modern era.

Along with reactions to technology and science, new viewpoints were inspired from interactions with other cultures. In particular, the reopening of trade with Japan, virtually isolated from the West for one hundred fifty years, introduced Oriental porcelains, and perhaps more importantly, Japanese woodblock prints to an appreciative western market. The influence that such bold, cropped and flattened images had on nineteenth- century approaches might be demonstrated by comparing a Japanese pillar print (web gallery 97—ca. 1822) with Impressionist Edgar Degas’ etching of Mary Cassatt at the Louvre (web gallery 98—1879- 80). Degas’ work acknowledged not only the subject of women in museums, and the Louvre (web gallery 115—1894) as Parisian art center, but their training and acceptance as artists (web gallery 163—1890- 1900). Such Japonisme (European adaptation of Japanese aesthetics) revolutionized modern art. Renaissance perspective was abandoned in favor of more abstracted artforms. Japanese ukiyo-e (images from the floating world) subjects also encouraged artists to pursue more common everyday scenes in a bolder manner, exemplified by Cassatt’s straightforward approach to bonding in Maternal Caress (web gallery 101—1891) and Degas’ suggestion that the modern Venus, as a female nude, might be found in bourgeois households and houses of prostitution, as in Le Bain (web gallery 106—1889). Edouard Manet furthered this implication in his infamous Olympia (web gallery 83—1865).

Further multiculturalism—or orientalism—can be found in Post-Impressionist Paul Gauguin’s intentionally primitive woodcut, Spirit of the Dead Watching (web gallery 132—1894-95), inspired by his life in Tahiti and his response to native mythology. In like manner, African art (web gallery 203 A & B—n.d.) and its magical brutality would stimulate twentieth-century leaders such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse to pursue more conceptualized and abstract directions. Matisse explored the emotive, expressionist qualities of such images, and Picasso, the more formal and geometric patterns. Lyric poet Guillaume Apollinaire (web gallery 156—1952), one of the great critics of the early twentieth century, encouraged interpretation of such sources: “Consequently the artistic ‘handwriting’ of all kinds of styles—those of the hieratic Egyptians, the refined Greeks and the voluptuous Cambodians, the works of the ancient Peruvians, the African statuettes proportioned according to the passions which have inspired them—can interest an artist and help him to develop his personality” (Apollinaire, La Phalange, 483-84).

Artists Picasso and Georges Braque advanced the style of Cubism, as beautifully depicted in Perle Fine’s Sketch for a Cubist Still Life (web gallery 158—1938). Apollinaire recognized that these innovators built upon Whistler’s aesthetic model and were “moving toward an entirely new art which will stand, with respect to painting as envisaged heretofore, as music stands to literature. It will be pure painting, just as music is pure literature” (Apollinaire, Art History, 1036). Although still based in natural observation, the pieces of the still life are seemingly broken into parts and built along a mathematical grid. Color is secondary to form, the whole rejecting linear perspective, in favor of a sort of composite view consisting of the intersection of multiple viewpoints—presumably adding time, as a suggested fourth dimension, to the ensemble.

Although nearing abstraction, it was the German Expressionists who accomplished the momentous break with reality. Apocalyptic imagery often appeared in the works of Blue Rider painters, German Franz Marc (web gallery 154—1914) and the improvisations of Russian Vasily Kandinsky (web gallery 153—ca. 1909-1914) during the years preceding World War I. They responded to world events, not with the careful, mathematic precision of the Cubists, but instead with the expression of full emotive color and imagery, continuing the course of Whistler’s philosophy. Kandinsky wrote in Concerning the Spiritual in Art (1911): “Color directly influences the soul. Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another purposely, to cause vibrations in the soul” (Kandinsky 1028). Such interpretation led Kandinsky to ultimate abstraction based on pure color and line as perhaps taken to its ultimate conclusion in the work of Josef Albers (web gallery 196—1962) and Sonia Delaunay (web gallery 197—ca. 1970).

In contrast, events leading to America’s involvement in World War II encouraged artists to reject such European modernism in favor of familiar scenes of American genre, as illustrated in Grant Wood’s Seed Time and Harvest (web gallery 182—1937), John Bloom’s Seining on the Mississippi (web gallery 184— 1938) and Thomas Hart Benton’s Sunday Morning (web gallery 181—1939). These works continued the comfortable realism of nineteenth- century depictions by artists such as Boudin. Wedged as they were between the Great Depression and the Second World War, they presented a sort of predictable pattern and perhaps even escapism during an age of profound uncertainty. These traditional images could just as well have been based on nineteenth- century imagery as twentieth and reflect a national preference for the observed fact, traceable back to such benchmarks as the Declaration of Independence (web gallery 51—1786-94) and portrait of George Washington (web gallery 53—1796). Benton, in contrast to African American artists such as Charles Alston (web gallery 179—1934) and Romare Bearden (web gallery 202—1972), illustrated a more traditional approach that ignored the inequalities illustrated by Alston as well as the roots of African heritage (web gallery 203A & B—n.d.) embraced by Bearden.

Such interactions between conceptual and perceptual viewpoints, historical revivals and rejections as well as innovations and cultural influences might be noted throughout this book. One might discern renewed sources from the past, such as the beautiful patina of the ancient Roman glass bowl (web gallery 5B—4th-ea. 5th century), an accident of nature’s chemical process over time, scientifically replicated as an inkwell by decorative artist, Louis Comfort Tiffany (web gallery 139—1899). Also intriguing is the balance of the written word with visual imagery, as in the medieval illuminated manuscript (web gallery 12—1425-50) contrasted against Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s modernist advertising poster for the Moulin Rouge (web gallery 130— 1896). At the same time, the bold, clean elements of the Renaissance woodcut from Hans Holbein’s Dance of Death (web gallery 20—1538) might be traced in the disillusioned 1940s German workers of Erich Heckel (web gallery 152—1946). Or equestrians can morph from auspicious Chinese tomb effigies (web gallery 8A&B—7th century) toward aggressive vehicles in the court of Qajar Iran (web gallery 34A—ca. 1585) to American instruments for scientific discovery (web gallery 117A—1887). And the elegant figurative patterns originally carved in ancient Roman cameo glass (25 B.C.E.), lovingly reproduced in jasper ware in the Neoclassical period (web gallery 59—1791), were masterfully simplified and reversed in tonality through Henri Matisse’s deceptively simple Blue Nude I-IV (web gallery 191A-D—1952).

Within modernity, twentieth-century landscapes can vacillate between the brilliant evocations of Sven Birgen Sandzén (web gallery 169—1928), the ethereal visions of William Wendt (web gallery 170—n.d.), the classical metaphysical discomfort of Georgio de Chirico (web gallery 159 & 160—1921) and the abstracted signage of Robert Indiana (web gallery 201—1969). We might even note the manner in which Edward S. Curtis in his quest to establish photographic records for what, at the time, many thought was a vanishing breed, depicted Native American Fannie Nampeyo with an anachronistic lens (web gallery 171—1906) that belies the modernist originality of her traditionally based, yet abstracted, ceramics (web gallery 172—1920-25). At the same time, Frederick Remington effectively immortalized the image of the American cowboy (web gallery 176—n.d.), René Magritte additionally noted surreal anonymity in the Son of Man (web gallery 162—1964), further abstracted by a Russian artist (web gallery 161—1922), and seemingly consumed by his hat in Henry Moore’s unsettling Helmet Head (web gallery 195—ca. 1963). Finally, one can only marvel at the visual concordance between Gavin Hamilton’s elevated allegory of classical perfection in the Allegorical Figure of Painting (web gallery 55—1768-85) as it translates into a mechanistic Art Deco-inspired woman, machine-like yet whimsical (web gallery 157—1928) within a modern twentieth-century urban structure. What other comparisons, contrasts, distinctions and definitions might be observed? I invite you to examine the pieces in this book, digest the information written in the catalogue, investigate even further and draw your own conclusions.

As we confront our own diverse and changing world, we might observe twentieth-century newspaper and magazine illustrations, such as Norman Rockwell’s idealized American family from the Saturday Evening Post (web gallery 187C—1943), visually colliding with Abstract Expressionist canvases, constructed with dripping and flung paint (web gallery 188—1980). In the wake of the explosion of the first atomic bomb, it appears that artists found reality too difficult to confront, thereby producing descriptions that were either too good or narrow to be true, or simply avoided recognizable imagery altogether. Henri Matisse took a magic carpet ride to the “Arabian Nights” (web gallery 190—1950) as a form of escape from the times and his own physical agony while Marc Chagall created ethereal atmospheres, colored by memories of his Russian- Jewish heritage, further enhanced through hopeful imagination (web gallery 193—1963). The traditional privileged position of humanity, so powerfully immortalized in the Vitruvian Man, was clearly challenged by the twentieth century.

In our own more recent times, we are perpetually bombarded with photographic, computer- generated and video/film media, which have become primary texts as well. At the same time, such multiplicity allows us easier access to artifacts from diverse cultures including Aborigine (web gallery 207—1995), Inuit (web gallery 206—1986), Haitian (web gallery 204—1986) and Peruvian (web gallery 205—2009). Yet in an age dominated by I’s—I-Pads, I-Phones, I-Pods, I-Tunes and I-Ms—with communications swiftly disseminated and just as quickly eliminated, what archaeological records will I or you truly leave for future generations to examine? Many, I hope. Your liberal arts education at Augustana aims to provide you with the tools you need to critically read the texts of others, as well as to thoughtfully construct your own. Enjoy these college years—your historic moments at Augustana!