the first year we launched GRAPHITE, one of the successful artist submissions was work by emerging artist Allison Schulnik — already known for her directorial efforts with band Grizzly Bear in their video Ready, Able. her pieces were incredibly animated with their layers of impasto.
My favorites of her Orthodox Eros series: erotic and homosexual undertones but photographed in an Old Masters’ light that is romantic and yet uncomfortably real. They are nostalgic, dramatic and very baroque. The last, with it’s clown collar, mocks the institution of religion as fanaticism. It also goes a step further as a reference to the Shakespearean collars of a by-gone era. We are at once reminded of how antiquated some of these systems are and how silly they may appear to outsiders.
Israeli choreography Noa Eshkol was recently rediscovered by Los Angeles-based artist Sharon Lockhart. Eshkol’s Wachman notation system was largely dismissed by contemporaries. And yet, her dedicated followers continue to practice her meditative dances to the rhythm of a metronome. The performances are stoic and spiritual in their monotony. We get a better sense of Eshkol’s strict discipline and extraordinary preliminary processes through Lockhart’s presentation. The images above were presented alongside videos of Eshkol’s troupe dancing. The small spherical objects are sculptures meant to emulate the movement of particular joints in the body. The posters are drawings that bring these visuals into a context that is easier to interprete. Lockhart photographed the miniature models and elevated them to the status of sculptural artworks in their own right. Lockhart also documented Eshkol’s dances for the first time. In an effort to preserve and continue the choreographer’s legacy. Projecting them onto huge blocks acting like blank canvases, Lockhart beautifully captures this rhythmic and ritual-like language. At the foreground, the dancers entrall us with their slow, exacting interpretations. Behind them are displayed tapestries, or “wall carpets,” as Eshkol calls them. They are composed on found materials, but laid out precisely by Eshkol herself. She then would have her community of followers sit and sew them together in a gathering reminiscent of the work ethic of early kibbutzes.
Discussion of Joanna Woods-Marsden’s “Ritratto al Naturale”:
Questions of Realism and Idealism in Early Renaissance Portraits
“Find the painter who could be trusted to produce an acceptable image,” says Italian writer Matteo Bandello, however, the trick, according to Woods-Marsden, was to appease the commissioner. As portraiture became a norm within the spheres of the elite, artists were still pressured by their patrons to render these likenesses under an idealized guise. In rejecting mimesis, these representations were somewhat dishonestly embellished. Garish facial features were muted, distinguishing characteristics were accentuated, and depictions in profile harked back to ancient imperial images.
[Left] Andrea Mantegna, Portrait of Cardinal Lodovico Trevisano
c.1459-1469, Tempera on wood, 44 x 33 cm
Gemдldegalerie, Staatliche Museen, Berlin, Germany
[Right] Antonio Pisano (Pisanello), Portrait of Leonello d’Este
1441, Tempera on wood, 28 x 19 cm
Accademia Carrara, Bergamo, Italy
Andrea Mantegna, in example, with his “relentless realism” was dismissed as a proper portraitist. His sitters did not earnestly receive his brutally accurate illustrations. Contrariwise, the contemporary Antonio Pisanello captured his upper class clients “in heroic and panegyric terms.” Although Italian noblemen praised Flemish naturalism for its verisimilitude, they most assuredly preferred the pretentious and glorified flair of the Italians.
Function must also be considered in the complete understanding of these works. Many portraits served as a means of propagandizing the reigns of these rulers. Adorning walls of palaces, castles and those of their allies, they also had a tendency to serve as surrogates in the absence of the sitter. Portraits worked to placate political ambitions and social magniloquence.