Art Institute Paper

Art Institute Paper


Brent Lewis Midterm Paper

El Greco’s “The Feast in the House of Simon” sparked my attention due to its similarity to the image in the Christian religion of the Jesus and the last supper. The layout differs from many of the other versions especially, Da Vinci’s version because of the circular layout of the image and the extra disciples. It places Jesus in the center of the image still much like the rest but the saturation of color and the emotions on the faces of the people in the image leads one into the story of the last supper. Still the most thought provoking part that makes me look into is the addition of the women, which I guess is Mary Magdalene.

The design of this image falls into atmospheric perspective with the capital in the background, yet still leading the viewer into the center of the frame which is Jesus. This allows the viewer to understand the important characters of the story.  The color that he is found in, grabs attention of the viewer. Judas also, is the only character, who dawns bright red clothing, pointing him out also as an important player in the image and story. The size of this image also brings the viewer into the painting allowing an intimate situation. Greco’s detail also bring another layer into the image because of the facial expression and the detail that was applied to the face and hand motions of Jesus allows the viewer to actually understand the moments happen and not have to think or wonder.

I consider El Greco, to take a small twist on this story by having 14 members involved and a woman. This varies greatly from the images and the story of this that I have grown up with. The usual is 12 disciples and Jesus in the center and also being Judas shown in some way shape or form. Still the basic elements are there, but the twist can almost change the idea of the moment if not for the standard Jesus in the middle. Also, with this image there is no bread or wine on the table and looks as if it is taking place feet away from the “School of Athens’ with the arches and concrete workmanship. This is different from my original idea of this, as well as the Da Vinci version.

El Greco’s circle style of this image brings an entire different realization to this. It still has the ability to circumvent the eyes of the viewer to come back to the center of the image and not flying off the canvas in a linear sense the ways that others present, but what I am getting from it, that El Greco wanted present a different take on this. By places these figures around him in this way, it rather lets Jesus seem as if he is not only the center of attention for the viewer but as well as figures that are in the image, which I feel many others leave on the way side. This feels as more of an accurate description of the moment. I mean, in the Da Vinci version, would everyone really be sitting on one side of the table, with the exception of Judas, staring off into space or would they be gathering around with the ability to look Jesus in the face at all times. The image feels more realistic and natural, not as if it is placed to become a work of art, but an accurate description of what took place.

El Greco’s version of the Last Supper, draws attention because of the colors, circular design and the natural view of this moment. It draws attention to itself for the before mention reasons and because it is a signature moment that everyone that has owned a paint brush and become something has at one time or another tried to conquer in some new way that fits their wants. El Greco successfully does his in all the right ways that not only bring attention to it, but also the story inside of the story.

Non Western Cultures Contemporary Influence

Practices from the India like yoga have become widely popular and commercialized in our culture today.  Who hasn’t had a friend come up to them, with great excitement, and almost demand they come to a yoga class with them?  Most girls are usually very intrigued and check it out, but guys seem to view it as more of a female activity and usually decline.  However, once you finally give in and go to a class it’s like a drug and you’re addicted.  You leave after that first class and feel the most relaxed you’ve felt in a long time, probably ever.  This ancient practice of yoga is thousands of years old, and has vastly grown in recent years to be a large part of our culture.  Today yoga isn’t just for the hippies, it has become a part of many peoples everyday lives.  The practice of yoga teaches you to connect with yourself, and to relax and release all the frustrations and difficulties going on in your life.  Like many other simple practices that our culture adopts, yoga to has become brutally commercialized.  This is the exact opposite of what the practice is attempting to achieve.  Yoga is about finding yourself through meditation and self-discipline, not by wearing the newest pants from lululemon or being able to bend your body in shocking ways.  Sadly, our culture has taken something that was simple and truly had a purpose, and we have picked at it to find what everyones main concern is, the almighty dollar.

~dayton t. watts

This Is A Paper About A Coronation Stone, Even Though It Seems Boring and Grey and Lame, It’s Actually Pretty Interesting, So You Can Keep Reading For Another 500 Words Or So

Iasmin Omar Ata

Jenn Wilson

Art History II

Midterm Paper

1st November 2010

When you go to the Art Institute of Chicago, there’re literally hundreds of pieces of art surrounding you, trying to capture your attention. There are classic paintings, modern sculptures, and ethnic carvings abound, each special in its own way. The “ethnic carving” category seems to be my forte, though, and I found myself drawn to a certain Aztecan stone. According to the information provided by the Institute, it’s the coronation stone of Motecuhzoma II, also known a the Stone of the Five Suns, carved in 1503 in Tenochtitlan. But all the historical facts aren’t what made my curiosity spike when I saw it.

The thing that really strikes me about this piece is the intricacy of the patterns. Even though it’s monochromatic, the designs that decorate this basalt structure make it an eye-popping work of art. It has compositional balance, yet still maintains viewer interest. I mean, I love all cultures, but Aztecan art always grabs me for some strange reason. I think it’s the combination of right angles and swirls that give art from that culture a very unique look. It’s almost an early ancestor of modern-day tattoo art. Another thing that stands out about The Stone of the Five Suns is the texture of the piece — something that wouldn’t be able to be replicated. The markings and grooves that are carved into the stone are very real, even from a distance away, and they stand out quite a bit. This makes the Stone of the Five Suns an individual piece of art, and makes you feel like you’re looking at a piece of history (which, of course, you are) — the texture makes it feel very human.

The museum pretty much left no clues as to what this stone means, besides the bit of info that it is a coronation piece for Motecuhzoma II made in 1503. With that in mind, it seems to me that the piece represents the prosperity that the Aztecan people hoped would flourish under Motecuhzoma II, with the five suns acting as five shades of light that would shine over the kingdom and its people, taking the shape of people, animals, and plants. They’re all facing a center, which would be the new ruler, presiding over all aspects of the land. The way these figures are drawn seem to represent growth, or a sort of dawning of the Aquarian Age.

For me, The Stone of the Five Suns is a very inspiring work of art. Even though, again, it’s all carved into seemingly dull-colored stone, the individuality, humanity, and uplifting theme of the piece make it eye-catching and completely unique. It certainly made looking into the Art Institute of Chicago more worthwhile, that’s for sure.

Elizabeth’s midterm paper

Elizabeth Scheiner
History of Art II – 12:30 pm
Jenn Wilson
November 1, 2010
Midterm Paper

I went to The Art Institute of Chicago with little idea of what I would be writing about. There was just so much to choose from. Everything from Early Renaissance art all the way to Modern art was at my disposal. It is a bit overwhelming. I knew, though, that I wanted to write about a genre we had already covered in class. I did not want to delve deep into a genre of art that we had not learned at least the basics of first. That left me mostly with Renaissance, Baroque, Mannerism, and Rococo art. I wandered the hallways of the Art Institute for a little bit and ultimately settled on a painting by Colyn de Coter (sometimes spelled Colijn de Coter) from 1450/55 entitled Virgin and Child Crowned by Angels.

At first glance, the first thing you see is a woman, presumably the Virgin Mary holding a child, surrounded by 3 angels. Upon closer inspection, the viewer will notice the child has a halo; it is undoubtedly baby Jesus, flipping through what looks like the Bible. One angel is kneeling next to Mary with arms outstretched presenting a basket to baby Jesus. Above Mary two angels are about to place a crown onto Mary’s head. Each angel is complete with wings and flowing robes.

The painting is large, approximately 152x88cm. Coter painted this as oil on a wood panel, a popular medium of Netherlandish and Flemish painters of the time. It is intricately detailed and extraordinarily painted. Seeing it in person, I was floored by how beautiful everything on it looked. Every brush stroke stood out and all of the colors were so vibrant. It was hard to look away. That is probably what struck me most about it. I do not know a lot of the religious history to this painting but I was so busy looking at the beauty of how Coter took the time to paint every last diamond on Mary’s cloak and every word on the scroll in the bottom right corner that it did not matter. My eye traveled around the painting, to all corners of it. Mary is sitting in a bedroom. There is a green curtained-off bed behind her and a window in the back, beside her. Next the bed and behind the chair Mary sits on is a table complete with a pitcher of water and an apple. In the foreground, a decadent vase sits next to Mary and the scroll.

This is one of those paintings that must be seen in person. I took a photograph of it as reference for writing this paper and I found several more online and they do not do it justice. A reproduction would lose so much detail and the quality of this painting would drop drastically. The size plays a huge role, as well. One must view it at its full proportions. Any smaller and it’s grandness simply disappears.

The painting is busy. There is a lot to look at. And I do not think it should be any other way. If Coter had left out some of the objects in the background or not put in quite as much detail, it would not be an interesting painting. In my opinion, all of the aspects of the painting work really well together.

I was never really a fan of art from this era. Every time I would go to the museum, I always skipped over the artwork from these time periods. It was not until I took this class that I began to see the beauty in it. I never would have looked twice at Colyn de Coter’s Virgin and Child Crowned by Angels in the past. But that was before I actually got up close to the painting to see every brush stroke outlining Mary’s grand robes, before I actually took the time to see something new, something beautiful. And I am really glad that I did.

Elizabeth’s October post

On Non-Western culture’s contemporary influence:

I think all contemporary art comes from somewhere.  There is little these days that is original.  Everything we do, whether it be painting, photography, digital art, etc. has origins in ancient non-western techniques.

For example, I found an article online through Yale University (  It talks about the art of Japan, specifically the ukiyo-e print and it’s influence on some French Impressionistic artists.  The article mentions 5 Impressionist artists in particular:  Edgar Degas, Mary Cassatt, Paul Gauguin, Vincent Van Gogh, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, each of their work was greatly impacted by this type of Japanese print.  Degas, for example, collected the ukiyo-e prints, which “gradually influenced his painting style. His figures are placed asymmetrically and on a diagonal with partitions.”  Likewise, Van Gogh tried to identify with Japanese artists, “he drew with the reed pen, and attempted the Japanese concept of a community of artists mutually assisting one another.”

Example of ukiyo-e print:


Example of Degas painting:


Scientific Perspective

1 point perspective:

In one point perspective, there is one vanishing point.  In our example, the rectangles’s right side seems to go back to the horizon line.

2 point perspective:

In two point perspective, there are two vanishing points.  In ours, both sides of the rectangle go back into the horizon line.

3 point perspective:

In three point perspective, there are 3 vanishing points.  Often, it’s as if you’re looking down on it (birds eye view) or up on it (ants eye view).  In ours, both sides go to the horizon line and the top goes into the “sky”

Example of atmospheric perspective:

Atmospheric perspective is where, in a painting/photograph/drawing, the subject fades away as it goes back into the distance.  In our example, the mountains get lighter and fainter as it gets farther away.  It gives a sense of space.