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school of athens

@vaticanmuseums shows one of the coolest classroom images ever

When some think of art history, they think of dusty elders yapping pretentiously about Monet and Mondrian or, phrases like “oh his works really do speak to me Charlotte.” What many forget is that art IS history and learning about it can help us understand life and culture today.  Here’s a little glimpse into that long and fascinating history.

Wall Murals: So Easy A Caveman Could Do It

Cave paintings: we’ve all seen pictures or heard about them—but did you ever think about just how amazing they are? These paintings aren’t just pigment smeared on rock walls by Neanderthals thousands of years ago, but rather a document of humanity. One of the earliest cave paintings is located inside the Chauvet cave in France, and dates back to anywhere from 30,000-33,000 years ago.  The technical name for the paint used is “red ochre”, a natural earth pigment containing different metals and black pigment made from what other than, dirt!  These paintings are comprised mostly of animals with bears and horses showing up the most frequently. It’s believed that cavemen documented these images to suffice their need to “express themselves” or as a way to capture the animal’s spirit in picture form so they could hunt them easier. It’s truly amazing that a material from the ground could last so long and still look completely recognizable thousands of years later. Maybe makeup companies should take a lesson or two from those cavemen!

cave paintings

@sereniteeea showing off a cave painting at the ripe age of 30,000 years old

Eggs Just Aren’t For Sunday Brunch

One of the most popular mediums of art is egg tempera, which consists of color pigment and a binder (usually egg; hence the name). This medium has been around for centuries, but really shined during the Byzantine, Medieval, and Early Renaissance periods in Europe. The man that threw this medium on to the art communities center stage, was the one and only Michelangelo. This guy did all of his documented panel paintings in egg tempera, he was basically the spokesperson for the stuff.  Some other famous painters during this time that used egg tempera are Botticelli (The Birth of Venus), Raphael (Crowning of the Virgin), Giotto (The Arena Chapel), and many many more.

sistine chapel

Since all photos are banned from the Sistine Chapel, we’re happy to have @vaticanmuseums snaps

During the same time era, a medium called fresco also became a BFD. Fresco is kind of like an early papier-mache method.  The cool part about this is that the painting literally becomes a part of the wall, think along the lines of the most beautiful wallpaper you’ve ever seen. The Vatican in Italy is chock-full of fresco’s, including the Sistine Chapel and the “School of Athens”, making the museum walls even cooler than the art displayed within them. Most of these egg tempera and fresco paintings are still alive and well across the globe, but as many things do with old age, the color has faded so we don’t always get the full effect of the image.

The Medium We All Know & Love

Think of a famous painting. Now how many of you thought of van Gogh’s “Starry Night” or da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa”? Well if you did you’re a winner because those are oil paintings! A ton of the world’s most famous paintings are done with oil, which is because it’s been the medium of choice for  artists over the past few centuries.  Oil lets you mix colors into realistic hues which allows artists to depict truly stunning images of nature. This is the main reason why the oil painting medium has received the most use throughout history. Egg tempera and fresco, although revolutionary at the time, have faded away into the history books because they’re simply not as practical as oil painting. Name an artist, go ahead (PICASSO); yep Pablo dabbled in oil painting, (MONET), of course he did! There is not one artist, except for maybe the hip, groovy, modern ones, who hasn’t had to work with oil paint at some part of their career.  Oil painting is like a really great pair of jeans, it’s never going out of style.

picasso

@lets_talk_about_art capturing Picasso’s paintings good side

The Transformative Era

Like almost everything has, the art community has been going through a major transformation during the 21st century. It’s now all about making a statement and relaying a message to the world in a way that isn’t reliant on words. Currently artists are using mediums that push boundaries and force people to reconsider what “art” is—one type of medium that has evolved from this is the installation.  An installation is not a painting or a sculpture but rather an artist’s capture of a movement.  These can be found where you least expect them, or in the most conventional place possible like a museum. They can involve paintings or sculpture, but the aim is to send a message to the viewer rather than just giving them a pretty image to look at. Installations can be created from literally anything: paint, rock, metal, and the crazier the better.  They often come and go, but a really unique one was in New York City’s Rockefeller Center last Spring and entitled “The Masks” created by Thomas Houseago. These masks were set up in a Stonehenge formation and were unbelievably massive.  Each mask represented “a different approach to the stylized representation of the human face” and really spoke to the melting pot of people who live in New York City. Other famous installation artists include Dred Scott (a civil rights activist artist), Agnes Varda (a feminist artist), Ann Hamilton (multimedia artist), and Pepon Osorio (a Latino rights activist artist).

heads sculpture

The artist himself, @thomashouseago, giving us an aerial view of his creation

The Instagram Age

The best part about the evolution within the art world is that now it’s expanding to involve everyone, yes literally everyone. How, you may ask, well do you have an instagram? Yes? We figured as much. Now in the digital age, it is possible for everyone to be an artist through history’s most accessible art medium, Instagram. Photography has been a huge part of Art since the camera was created, and now that nearly everyone has a camera accessible (thank you iPhones), it’s an even bigger part of the art world. Instagram gives you the opportunity to create an artistic image and show it to the world, which is revolutionary. Think of all those artists who spent their entire lives creating masterpieces only to never actually see the day in which people appreciated their work! Now we don’t even have to go a minute without someone seeing our post. 

IMG_9174

Artsy Insta pictures are always #goals, check out @fluentcity for some awesome artsy images

Throughout history art has changed, the materials  artists use have changed, but in each and every generation the art is just as powerful as the last.  Art is history, and art is everywhere. So even though you may still have a bad taste in your mouth from those middle school trips to the town museum, it’s important to realize art is more than just a stuffy exhibit hall. It’s history, it’s culture, it’s an everyday occurrence—so keep your eyes peeled and look out for some of our exciting events coming up in the art world! Stay in the know here. 

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