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The Classic/Romantic Model for Understanding Artistic Temperament

During my first or second year studying the history of art, I experienced one of those moments in which the discrete bits of knowledge I’d been acquiring in my courses suddenly congealed and connected to the larger context of human experience. Specifically, I began to consider that stylistic notions of Romanticism and Classicism as they had been taught in art history were not just artistic movements, styles, or even broader attitudes toward the nature and purpose of art. They were individual temperaments through which artists see the world, and artists throughout history—not just those of the late-eighteenth or early-nineteenth centuries—were all either classical or romantic.

As I dwelled on this idea, I came to think of these concepts not as polar opposites, but as zones on a continuum. It was intriguing to ask where I thought different artists fit on this spectrum, whether toward one end or the other, extremely (like David or Delacroix), or ambiguously in-between (like Degas). In time, my thinking matured, and I realized that art and artists are more complex than simple schemas can accommodate. But that mental model helped me organize my thoughts and understand not just artists, but people, in a way that was clarifying and systematic.

Explore whether traditional notions of "classic" and "romantic" are accurate models for understanding artists’ temperaments or mindsets, or whether they misrepresent artistic nature. To what artists might this model apply, either in ways that clarify or ways that distort? What artists or entire cultures might fall outside this model or defy it (if any)? If applicable, consider how the classic/romantic schema relates to other dichotomies such as Apollonian/Dionysian, the Ancients and the Moderns, or the like.

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    The Influence of Mexican Art in the 1920s & 1930s

    Analyze the influence and impact of Mexican artwork in the 1920s and 1930s. Specifically, analyze the political messaging the art, the new indigenous themes and influences, the artists themselves (Kahlo and Rivera come to mind) and their influence on the greater art world and their contemporary artists (Picasso et al.).

    • This is an interesting topic, when analysing the political message in art we can look at the Mexican peoples uprising against the oppressive dictator Porfirio Díaz Mori. Artists (like Diego Rivera) and their involvement with the muralist movement and the ‘masses’ was very influential too. Your onto a good thing. – tahliawhitfield 12 months ago
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    Action Painting: Conception and Legacies

    Analyse the birth and develpment of action painting as an art movement and look at some of the examples which followed on from it. Jackson Pollock is the person primarily associated with this movement but there are a lot of other artists who were working in this mode as well. Raise questions about its form, concepts, potentialities and the critical and effective work which are inhabiting this style.

    • I do recall that the newspaper “The Guardian” had a whole article devoted toward these types of avant-garde artistic styles. It was published in 1990. This may prove helpful. – J.D. Jankowski 12 months ago
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    Supporting problematic artists

    Many celebrated artists have been involved in scandals or socially problematic situations. From today’s Chris Brown to the deceased David Foster Wallace, many popular artists of their trade have been tangled up in scandals and/or crimes. Is it possible to separate the art from the artist? Is it possible to celebrate someone’s work without supporting the artist, too?

    • A very timely topic. I think it's important to define what problematic means. It seems certain celebrities are "cancelled" for comparably minor offences compared to what is swept under the rug for others. There's also a difference between modern scandals that are known to be problematic as they occur, and generations past who do things that we now today see as problematic but were not considered so at the time. – Erin McIntyre 1 year ago
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    • I would argue that it is possible, especially if the artist in question is no longer alive. If you're simply reading (or watching or listening to) the work of someone who's dead, then they can't get any benefit from it. In that case, I'd argue, separating the artist from the work is a fairly straightforward process. Where it gets complicated is where the artist is still alive, and your purchasing the work would be rewarding their efforts (or lack thereof). – Debs 1 year ago
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    • I absolutely love this topic, and it's a discussion that I have often. Personally, I choose not to support artists, dead or alive, who have been tangled up in any crimes or scandals (although, Debs's comment above about the dead not necessarily gaining anything is quite insightful). I think that the tricky part with this conversation and the reason why I always opt for not supporting the artist or their work because I think that no matter the person, their actions need to be held accountable – sabinaramroop 1 year ago
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    • "The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science." Albert Einstein – AntonioFarfanFiorani 1 year ago
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    • I think this is a very important thing to discuss; unfortunately, almost any public figure will have their fair share of controversy. My mind immediately went to John Lennon. I am a huge fan of The Beatles, yet I feel a little bit uncomfortable when I think to his treatment of his wives and children. It is hard to ignore when a favorite writer, artist, singer, et cetera is problematic. I think maybe "celebrate" is the wrong word; you can still enjoy "Strawberry Fields Forever" without thinking John Lennon was infallible. The only distinction I will make is if someone commits a heinous act, especially one against children. – allisonhambrick 1 year ago
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    • There was a recent article posted by Rolling Stone in reference to the new Hulu original series High Fidelity. In one of the episodes, the owner, Robin, gets into an argument with her co-worker about whether or not it's okay for her to sell a customer Michael Jackson's "Off the Wall" record. Robin retaliates by arguing that her co-worker can't judge because she (a black American) still listens to Kanye West, who has been vocal about supporting Trump and "raps in a MAGA hat". You should check it out! I guess the question is, when do we stop supporting the artists, regardless of their accomplishments? Is it okay to outcast them because they disagree with our political, religious, social, or economic beliefs? Or do we stop supporting them when they are perpetrators of violent crimes? Or... do we separate the art from the artist, and if so, how can we justify the ability to do that? – hilalbahcetepe 1 year ago
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    What does conspicuous leisure look like nowadays?

    At the end of the 19th century, a sociologist named Thorstein Veblen argued that privileged people flaunt their wealth in three ways: conspicuous consumption (showing that they can afford to buy products); conspicuous leisure (showing that they can afford to waste time); and conspicuous waste (showing that they can afford to throw things away). Recently, conspicuous consumption and conspicuous waste have lost a lot of their worth as status symbols because goods have become more affordable and both practices are associated with environmental destruction, but conspicuous leisure (which can entail anything from sitting around and doing nothing to lavish vacations to memorizing pointless social rules and regulations) doesn’t seem to carry the same stigma. Classically, conspicuous leisure was embodied in an aristocrat who sits around in a large mansion and looks down on people who perform manual labor, but what are some modern equivalents, either in real life or in our media?

    • In my opinion, something that complicates the issue of what conspicuous leisure looks like nowadays is the idea of self-care. Individuals engage in activities that, in previous generations, would have been considered "leisure": video games, social media, even long bubble baths. Many of those who spend time practicing self-care would claim that such activities are not wasting time because it is helping them to relax and recharge in order to be rested enough to resume productivity. As someone who is a bit skeptical of many things labeled as "self-care," I have noticed that even people who claim their "self-care" is not wasting time still complain about not being energized enough for work or socialization, so is their leisure time really all that productive? I don't think so. I still would claim that the activities I mentioned, as well as other activities such as movie-watching and lazing around the house, are common types of conspicuous leisure nowadays. – rachelwitzig 1 year ago
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    • That's actually an interesting point; I hadn't thought about the connection between conspicuous leisure and self-care, but you might be right. People claim that self-care preserves their mental health, but the "self-care" they prefer tends to consist mostly of their favorite hobbies (some of which, like watching TV or playing video games, are neutral or even net negatives for mental health), and rarely something with any clear connection to improving mental health (i.e., CBT, religious services, joining a volunteer organization, etc.). – Debs 1 year ago
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    • I think in the modern world where we view everybody's lives through the lense of social media it's a persistent idea in many minds. The idea that everybody is living their best life and basking in the sun, strolling through cities and generally enjoying their time in a leisurely fashion is often a misconception for a lot of the social examples. In a world rife with social media influencers it would be interesting to weigh up both sides of the digital frame and see it from the "consumer" perspective as well as those posting online and the work that goes into it. – CAntonyBaker 1 year ago
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    The Need for School System Change

    Analyse how schools should upgrade their current material to better prepare students for the modern world. May include a change in curriculum, how social media is/may be taught to them, security control, etc.

    • Thank you for the recommendations! I meant more academic focus, so instead of algebra, living environment, and history, more diverse, modern courses. – Yvonne T. 2 years ago
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    • I'd say the system should change its focus from past literature and writing, such as Shakespeare material, to more modern writing (perhaps much more modern books). It is evident that times have changed, and the current system is outdated. – Yvonne T. 2 years ago
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    • I have an education degree to teach high school in the U.S., and I purposefully steered away from this career path because of the lack of progressive initiative taken in updating the curriculum and teaching methods. I think the desire is present among educators (which would be important to examine for this topic), but the structural and economic factors would need to be addressed. My specialization is in English, so I shy away from the idea of forgoing classic texts and writing practices entirely, but there are certainly better approaches to incorporate more modern writing and modes of composition. Universities seem to be taking the steps more quickly, but grade schools need more attention to prepare those who may not pursue a college degree. I think a modernized curriculum could create more life-long readers and writers as well as more well-rounded and driven students that are culturally aware and capable of higher levels of critical thought. I hope this topic is expanded is and explored thoroughly! – Aaron 2 years ago
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    • This is a really interesting topic to talk about. Usually, high school students/secondary students always ask the dreading question of 'Why do I have to learn this stuff, what am I going to do with it in the future?' Some subjects they're referring to could be subjects they think are 'useless' such as English ONLY because of the period of writing that is taught in schools. I agree 100% that the school curriculum needs to become modernised. Taking the subject of 'English' for example, it would be wise to expand on more modern forms and styles of writing such as the difference in language when texting, when socialising with different groups of people such as parents, friends or even royals! In the UK, there are PSHCE (Physical, Social, Health, Citizenship Education) lessons taught which involves having open discussions about crime, drugs, social media, bullying and safe sex. But it would be interesting to see a developed curriculum which introduces the need for independence and originality which is required in the working world. Some ideas that could be explored could be the secret business world and networking events to encourage students to engage in activities they genuinely enjoy and are interested in, rather than sitting in class, wasting time and being forced to answer a dull, repetitive Shakespeare question. I really like this topic and hope someone writes an article on it! – JAbida 2 years ago
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    • Super interesting topic! Personally, I think that home economics should be re-introduced in school curriculum; common skills like cooking, balancing a checkbook, appropriating finances, and taking care of clothing seem to be becoming more obsolete. As for courses such as composition, spelling, and reading, I actually think that we may benefit by going back in history; I've dabbled in some research of 19th century textbooks, and the level of rigor that they require of students puts our school systems to shame. In addition, many of them (such as Murray's 1827 "The English Reader," Goodrich's 1839 "Third Reader for the Use of Schools," and Sanders' 1862 "High School Reader") stress the teaching of virtue, morality, and piety. Students rise or fall to our expectations; if we structure our curricula to emphasize true knowledge-building and to encourage virtue and morality, our students will grow both in knowledge and in character. Modernizing a curriculum to include the most up-to-date scientific information, to reflect our current governmental or political system, and to extend history's timeline closer to the present could all be beneficial—however, the only changes that will be truly timeless are to cultivate an appreciation of knowledge and a love for virtue. – katiemartin 1 year ago
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    Algorithms and activist-communities

    I’m really interested in the barriers that algorithms may put up on social media in terms of finding like-minded communities, particularly around social justice and activism. Does the use of the algorithm and other tools like shadow-banning limit who is allowed to speak out and be seen within social media, and what impact might that have in our society? Who runs into these hurdles more than others, and why?

    • I think YouTube would be interesting to look at for this topic, as the independent political creators over there have had issues with this happening. – Emily Deibler 1 year ago
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    The Importance of Rosalia's Music in Modernising Traditional Flamenco

    Rosalia has undoubtedly become one of 2019’s biggest rising stars in the music industry. However, what is even more interesting is her ability to modernise the traditional Spanish music styles of Flamenco and bring them to a contemporary audience. It is important not only for the continuation of this culture but for representation of Spanish culture internationally.