Wednesday, July 25, 2007

New Suggestions For CSU-Long Beach's Art 110 Class

Back in April I reported on an art appreciation class at CSU-Long Beach which features the fantastic assignment of painting reenactment. I suggested a few works for the fall semester - Washington Crossing the Delaware, a painting of John Brown, and a Botticelli Annunciation, which is basically the ecumenical inverse of that scene in Nightmare On Elm Street III when Freddy Krueger is leading Johnny Depp around by his tendons. I think I'd be equally frightened by either scenario, wouldn't you? Someone write me an essay on the role of horror films as an existential response to ecstatic experience in a post-religious culture, stat!

Anyway, I was thrilled when instructor Glenn Zucman found the post and basically shot all my ideas down. Well, not exactly. As it happens, works need to be on permanent display in Los Angeles in order to be considered, because the students have to go look at the actual artwork, not just some crappy photos on a website somewhere. The gall! But he invited me to come up with some alternatives. I had a lot of fun browsing the LACMA permanent collection online, and have come up with a bunch of options that may or may not be on display at any given moment.

The following selections have been made based on their intrinsic beauty, compositional complexity, pathos, aeronautics, or other challenges.

Leonard Bramer (Holland, 1596 - 1674)
The Liberation of Saint Peter, circa 1625
Getting the lighting right here could be a challenge. This picture has always looked demonic to me. All those blacks and browns.

Jean-Hippolyte Flandrin (French, 1809 - 1864)
The Sacrifice of Isaac, 1860
Man, that color!

Rutilio Manetti (Italy, 1571 - 1639)
Dido and Aeneas, circa 1630
Selected for pathos, and for having so many faces in such different relationships and layers.

Charles-Joseph Natoire (French., 1700 - 1777)
Psyche Obtaining the Elixir of Beauty from Proserpine, circa 1735
How would you represent that dragon? No teddy bears allowed!

Carlo Saraceni (Italy, 1579 - 1620)
The Martyrdom of St. Cecilia, circa 1610
Beautiful and hard to do!

Joseph Marie Vien (French, 1716 - 1809)
Venus Emerging from the Sea, circa 1754-1755
Venus and the mermaid are permitted to wear bikinis, but I'd like to see them pull off that arc of fabric and the diving cherub!

By the way, if you haven't been to Glenn's Art 110 wiki lately, check out their great selection of photos of students striking poses with or near museum security guards!


Glenn Zucman said...

Thanks for your suggestions!

(Oh, BTW, it's not "USC-Long Beach" - which sounds like some collaboration between the University of Southern California and Cal State Long Beach... rather it is CSU-Long Beach... or California State University, Long Beach... or, just plain, old, CSULB.

Sorry for "shooting down" your previous list! And thanks for digging up more.

_The Sacrifice of Isaac_ is indeed fabulous... but the nudity and the flying are both sort of problematic.

_Venus Emerging from the Sea_ is too many characters - harder for them to pull off and most of them won't choose it. Plus, while I personally prefer abstraction over representation, the more abstract, or "looser," the work, the "looser" the effort on reproducing it tends to be.

Note, in general, that because you haven't picked LACMA's most famous paintings, the chances of them being on exhibition go down somewhat. Also, LACMA is currently doing a big renovation and even some of their most famous holdings aren't always viewable at this time.

On the other hand... paintings at The Getty Center, The Norton Simon, and The Huntington Library all work well for us. These are all "photo friendly" museums where my students tend not to have problems taking photos. MOCA and The Hammer are both great museums, but they both get an "F" for their photo-friendliness grade, so we wouldn't use them.

_The Liberation of St. Peter_ I'm actually not familiar with it. If it's on display I'll have to go see it. It's hard to see what's going on the image is so dark, but that means it could be a great painting to do - torchlight rocks!

On that theme, _Magdalene with the Smoking Flame_ is an amazing work at LACMA. I took it off their list because it only has 1 character and we really like paintings with 2 or 3 characters... but it's so great I might put it back. _The Mocking of Christ_ is also amazing, but I took it off the list for the opposite reason - too many characters.

_Dido 'n Aeneas_ - hmm... a lot of characters... but pretty cool... I'll have to think on this one... and, of course, check on exhibition...

_Psyche Obtaining the Elixir of Beauty from Proserpine_ - I'd probably cut the dragon (would be a disaster :+( and the foreground pair... and have them do the central 3. Even just those 3 would be a fantastic project... but there's a lot of flesh which, again, is problematic.

_The Martyrdom of St. Cecilia_ yes beautiful. Yes hard to do. Have to think on it.

Sorry for "shooting down" your suggestions again!! :-[

But hey, even if my students don't know how much work I put in just trying to come up with paintings for them... I guess you begin to see some of the dilemmas.

OH BTW, Class starts Sept 4... and... as it happens... Manet's _A Bar at the Folies-Bergere_ is at The Getty Center till Sept 9... so I'm forcing them all to run over the 1st week and everyone's going to do that painting. This rare loan is the first time the work has ever been on the west coast of N. America and it's certainly possible the work won't return to N. America in any of our lifetimes... so I'm very excited about that!

Thanks for your interest in our projects! If you have any more suggestions from LA "photo-friendly" museums, definitely let us know. I'll meditate on your LACMA suggestions the next time I have a chance to drop by.

Thank You!

Jeremiah McNichols said...

Ah, a silly error, now corrected!

I will check in on the permanent collections at the Getty, Norton Simon, and Huntington Library... I'm not giving up yet!