Friday, November 16, 2007

northern details

Northern Details
November 2007

My iTunes: Clair de Lune, Op. 46/2

I didn't get a chance to post yesterday because I was out of town (again). I seem to be doing that a lot this fall. I spent the day in Washington D.C. at the National Gallery and the National Museum of the American Indian. The National Gallery is one of my favorites, but I'd never been to the other museum, and since I'm taking a course in European-Indian relations in the 16th and 17th centuries, I thought it would be a good idea to go. I'm not entirely sure I liked the museum -- there was a lot of empty space and relatively little artwork. When I have a bit of free time (haha -- what's that?), I'd like to look up some reviews for the museum and see how people have liked it. It's a relatively new museum, too. The best part about it was finding wampum. (If you don't know what it is, go look it up.)

But anyway, this picture is of a detail of "Madonna and Child with Saints in the Enclosed Garden" by a follower of the famous artist, Robert Campin. It was painted in the Netherlands in the mid-1400's. Northern "Renaissance" is such a fascinating time period to study. Most people focus on the art of the Italian Renaissance, but the art of the North at that time was extremely influential. One of the quickest ways to tell the difference between a Northern work and an Italian work at this time is to see how much detail there is. Northern artists are known for their attention to detail. After seeing something like this, you can begin to understand how the telescope and the microscope were both invented in this area of Europe. Art historians refer to the Northern perspective on detail as the "telescopic-microscopic view" sometimes because everything, whether in the distance or up close, is seen in great detail.

And there is your art history lesson for the day!

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