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Narrative Time in the Visual Arts. Lets reiterate : A narrative is an organization of the events in a story.

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Presentation on theme: "Narrative Time in the Visual Arts. Lets reiterate : A narrative is an organization of the events in a story."— Presentation transcript:

1 Narrative Time in the Visual Arts

2 Lets reiterate : A narrative is an organization of the events in a story

3 Lets repeat: Time in any narrative medium may be expressed: Through sequencing of events (we assume that an event which follows is caused by the previous event) Through elisions and omissions (we dont include everything in our stories) Through explicit and implicit references (would a nineteenth century novel include references to Coke?)

4 Narrative in the visual arts One representation of one event One representation of a series of events in chronological and linear order One representation of a series of events in non-chronological but linear order One representation of a series of events presented in one frame or composite item A series of representations of a series of events

5 Already we have a problem: What constitutes one representation?

6 One artwork/representation of one event Seems least complicated and most obvious What do we mean by one event? What do we mean by one artwork? 5 Examples: Nighthawks, Rouen Cathedral, The Third of May 1808, Arhat giving alms, The Holy Trinity

7 Edward Hopper, NightHawks (1942) One painting captures one moment in a café Use of color and space to depict mood and isolation Real time captures emotions outside of time or in eternal time

8 Claude Monet, Rouen Cathedral, The Portal (in sun), 1894 About 40 views of Rouen at different times of day Time as a fleeting moment captured in a series of paintings Reality of our own sensations, subjective response to color and light What is the event? What do we consider a series? Is this one in a series?

9 Francisco Goya, The Third of May 1808, 1814 One painting capturing one historical event Napoleons intervention in Spain Faces only of victims, lighting not naturalistic, distortion of bodies Most emotionally vivid moment in event Thematic contrasts between civilians & French soldiers and between humans without power and those with (the church/ Napoleons troops) Thematic contrasts reflected in light and dark contrasts

10 Zhou Jichang, Arhat (Boddhisattvas) Giving Alms, Southern Sung Dynasty, 1184 No linear/aerial perspective One scene on top of another: bands of simultaneous activity Size and color express importance Multiple POVs Patterned landscape and detailed humans

11 Massacio, The Holy Trinity, Early Renaissance One painting and one event (sort of) Trinity (God, Jesus Christ, Dove of Holy Ghost) = outside of time Virgin Mary and Saint John = Biblical figures Donors kneeling = early Renaissance figures Figures form a mixture of time periods in a precise architectural setting Skeleton of Adam (I was once what you are, and what I am you will become) Elision of time periods

12 One representation of a series of events in chronological and linear order Potentially least interesting approach Is linear always left to right? And why pick that direction? Chicken and egg problem: how do we determine accurate chronology? 5 Examples: Bayeux Tapestry, Dionysiac Mystery frieze, Olowe of Ise doors, Muybridges photographs, Window of Abbey Church of St. Denis

13 E. Muybridge, Handspring, (1887) Precursor to film Breaks down movement of body into parts Motion is one unit, but art is a series of events

14 Bayeux Tapestry, 1070-1080 Norman defeat of Anglo-Saxons at Hastings, 1066 Tapestry Continuous frieze approach Direction of reading? Historical details and accuracy

15 Dionysiac Mystery Frieze Wall murals read around the room Villa of the Mysteries Rites associated with Dionysiac initiation, but how do we know this? Function of room? Public or private?

16 Olowe of Ise, Door of Kings Palace at Ikere, Yoruba, Nigeria, c. 1910 2 panels wooden door on kings palace Records the visit of a colonial officer to the Ikere King in 1897 Note use of panels to depict status and events Historical record represents complex history

17 Window, Abbey Church of St. Denis, 1140-44 Reading from bottom to top toward God But each window a complex narrative (compare with examples D)

18 One representation of a series of events in non-chronological but linear order Visual time-shifts, so can juxtapose important images How do we determine chronological order? Previous examples might better fit here 3 Examples: Trajans column, Tribute Money, Sistine Chapel

19 Trajans Column Continuous spiral / narrative frieze About 150 episodes from Trajans successful campaign against the Dacians Ancient illustrated scrolls vs. Parthenon frieze and triumphal arches Read from bottom to top? Not reliable chronological record

20 Masaccio, Tribute Money, 1427 Brancacci Chapel 3 episodes in the story Ancient (Christ & Disciples) vs. Renaissance (taxman) Reading right to left: first – middle of story second – beginning of story third – end of story

21 Michelangelo, Ceiling (main vaults), Sistine Chapel, 1508 -1512 Above altar is the story of creation of light and dark Above entrance = drunkenness of Noah Enter at end of story and, as we get closer to altar/God, closer to the beginning of the story

22 A series of events presented in one frame or one composite item No explicit sequencing Events meant to be read together 3 Examples: sacrifice of Isaac on Ghibertis Doors in Florence, Apse mosaics from Saint Apollinare in Classe, Prima Porta Augustae

23 Lorenzo Ghiberti, sacrifice of Isaac, east doors, Florence Baptistery, 1425-1452 Medieval narrative impulse/ Renaissance technology Unified by architecture and illusion of space Several episodes presented together Birth of Esau and Jacob Isaac sends Esau on mission Isaac blesses kneeling Jacob

24 Apse mosaic from SaintApollinare in Classe, c. 549 CE Imagery suggests numerous stories Transfiguration of Christ Transfiguration of his martyrs Transfiguration of Saint Apollinaris Placement of mosaics and bones of the saint important Cross of Constantine, 12 sheep, triumphal arch to altar

25 Portrait of Augustus from Primaporta, copy of bronze original c. 20 BCE Idealized Portrait Augustus story on breastplate Historical events Parthian standards restored Mythical events Cupid/Venus/Aeneas/ Julio-Claudian descent Conflation of myth and legend

26 A series of representations of a series of events This will be explored in greater detail in a later section Example: Ara Pacis Augustae (the Altar of Augustan Peace/Pacification)

27 Ara Pacis Augustae, 13- 9 BCE Multiple panels that talk to each other Legend/historical events Augustus campaign success Religious and political events sacrificial processional w/Augustus vs. sacrifice of Aeneas Roman vs. non-Romans Compare with the Vietnam War Memorial

28 Here the narrative ends


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