Archive for December, 2005

The Dynamic Field of Art History

Wednesday, December 14th, 2005

Art history is “a dynamic and evolving field” as new discoveries are made and old interpretations are reconsidered. Current events, such as conflicts in the Middle East, affect the study and preservation of historical art, and past events, such as looting during World War II, are still being set right. Ancient art continues to draw a crowd. Exhibits, such as Pompeii: Stories from an Eruption and Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs at the Field Museum in Chicago, educate and inspire new and renewed interest in art that is a portal to man’s past.
The market for antiquities also remains dynamic. Individual collectors and museums sell and acquire pieces to expand and refine their collections, such as the second-century classical marble portrait acquired by the Milwaukee Art Museum. Fine art sales can have the their problems, though. The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles has had its share of troubles with recent acquisitions. Authorities in Italy accused the Getty- as well as other museums including 20 suspicious objects at the Metropolitan Museum of Art1- of purchasing works stolen or illegally excavated from Italy. The Getty is not the only museum under fire, but Italy demands that 42 objects in the Getty’s collection be returned. The Getty has already returned objects that were previously under debate, including a Trojan War kylix and a youth head.
Stolen works are not the only objects that are questioned. The Getty acquired a kouros statue in 1983, but it was accompanied by forged provenance. A dispute has arisen as to whether the piece itself is also a forgery. The kouros is in remarkable condition considering its supposed age of 2500 years. It also combines characteristics of more than one style. The status of this piece has not been determined, but it does raise the point that forgery of art and provenance remain an issue in art history today. Christie’s had a similar problem when they sold a portrait of Roman Emperor Trajan, listed as an antiquity. Evidence shows, though, that the portrait was stolen and that it was a 17th century reproduction.
War also has a profound effect on art history. Currently, a military base has been built around the ruins of Babylon and the Ziggurat of Ur in Iraq. Looting is epidemic at the closed National Museum in Baghdad, and it is too dangerous for art historians and archaeologists to return to work. Past wars also have damaged art that may have survived in better condition. The Parthenon remained reasonably in tact for 2100 years until it was used as a powder magazine and subsequently blown up during a battle between the Turks and Venetians in 1673. As recent as 2001, art museums formed a plan to identify and return works of art that had been confiscated by the Nazis during WWII. Art historians still remain vigilant in their resolve to preserve historic art. Italian experts are now helping rebuild the Iran National Museum2.
New excavations and discoveries continue to be made. Recently, 76 Roman statues were uncovered at Cyrene in Libya. Just this week, archaeologists reportedly discovered the oldest known Mayan painting3, dating from 100 B.C.E. Aside from new discoveries, new interpretations of previously discovered objects also shed new light onto ancient art. A bronze statue of Zeus was originally thought to be Poseidon because it had been discovered in the sea off the coast of Greece. A bronze statue of the pagan Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius survived destruction by early Christians when it was mistaken for a likeness of Constantine. In many ways, art history is a changing and growing field.

Exams – Day 2

Tuesday, December 13th, 2005

3-1/2 exams down
2-1/2 exams to go

I can breathe now.
My first exam was average for that class, which isn’t so hot.
The second exam was not so good for that class, but I slacked on a lot of the reading, so it’s totally my fault.
The third exam was average for that class, which is pretty good.

Now I’m off to dinner with my mom.

Exam Week

Tuesday, December 13th, 2005

1/2 exam down
5-1/2 exams to go

Monday, I had an exam, but the long take-home essay is due Friday, which means it’s not done (or started).

Tuesday, I have three exams. I have been pitiful about studying, so even though I was home at 4pm, I did not start studying until after 7pm. For *three* exams. I am a lamebrain sometimes. See, I am writing in this blog and not studying. I will probably be up all night.

Wednesday, I only have one exam, in the evening, so I will study for that one thoughout the day and writ the short take-home essay for it.

Thursday, I have no exams, which means I will write my large take-home essay and study for my last exam.

Friday, I have one exam and will be happy when it’s over.

But small steps. First I will look forward to Tuesday at 3pm, the end of seven straight hours of exams.

Stolen Links

Saturday, December 10th, 2005

In case you do not frequent SteelBuddha’s website, I have decided to repost some of his finds/shares for your entertainment.

Christmas Letter to Christopher Walken

Stephen Colbert: War on Christmas

Hilarious WoW musical number about the nature of the internet. Probably shouldn’t watch this at work.

10 Reasons Why Gay Marriage Should Be Illegal

Enjoy, enjoy. I know he would want you to.


Saturday, December 10th, 2005

Today was my last day of classes for the semester.
I received all of the papers back, and I did quite well overall, at least for undergrad level papers. I found them lacking, but I also know what I *wanted* them to be and how I rushed and didn’t have time to perfect them.
Anyway, next week are exams.

I have have some letters of recommendation coming in, so I can “complete” my application to the grad school I turned in ages ago. I just hope they are able to review it in time to admit me (or not) before the spring semester.

I chatted with one of my professors on the bus today. It’s nice to chat outside of the weird classroom setting. I always want to have discussions on class, which doesn’t always work in lecture classes. Anyway, I’m looking forward to grad classes because I think they will be more proactive, but I’m still intimidated by being so behind in the field.

I’m not sure why I’m writing now. I don’t have much to say and I have sewing to do (for S.B.’s fencin students). Maybe I’m just avoiding work again. Damn you blog!!

You think your shopping trip was bad…

Friday, December 9th, 2005

Chicago Today

I needed to go to Chicago to pick up a Christmas present that would cost a lot to ship. I had some smaller things to get as well, two at stores within a few blocks of the first store, and one a few miles away. It took me one hour to get from Milwaukee to the first store, arriving shortly after noon. I shopped for 45 minutes, because the store was huge, awkward and difficult to find anything. I then stood in the checkout line for 45 minutes. I then drove around for a while looking for the next two store, but I couldn’t find them. I grabbed a bite to eat while I was searching, but ended up stopping at a totally different place. It was a cool store and I was hoping to find alternatives so that I didn’tneed to make any more stops, but I shopped for an hour and found nothing.

It was now 3pm and it had started to snow. I thought I’d try to hit the fourth store, but after I sat in traffic for 30 minutes getting nowhere, I decided to just head home. The first 8 miles took 2.5 hours. The next 10 miles took 2.5 hours. I decided at this point to take a 5-mile detour to take a “sanity break” with some friends. The 5 miles took about 30 minutes. We hung out for about 45 minutes. At about 10:30, I left. The 84-mile trip took only 2.5 hours, so that was good, I guess.

I’m lucky that I wasn’t in any accidents, and I didn’t come across anything more than a car in a ditch. Some people had it much worse today. But it’s difficult not to be entirely selfish and think, “What a freaking waste of my time. Maybe it was worth the $90 shipping.” I mean, it used up at least $20 worth of gas…

Caltrops & Bongs

Thursday, December 8th, 2005

So I just watched some movie about Rudolph saving New Years. Weird as hell. Totally drug-induced. Rudolph takes a caveman, Ben Franklin and Don Quixote to ride on a whale to find a lost baby with big ears. Then a giant vulture causes an avalanche and smothers them. But in the end, they are able to “get Happy before the last bong.” Besides what it sounds like, it means they find the baby named Happy and get him back to Father Time before the clock finishes chiming midnight. So wrong.

Had another funny conversation while waiting for the bus. It started out about altering space-time, but then I claimed I could do that, but only one person at a time. I explained that really I alter a person’s perception of space-time, so essentially I *do* alter it. Conversation shifted to complaints about driving and how we need digital marquises to tell people what they are doing wrong. JM wanted to install a system to spew caltrops out of his car. I said that I would want to spew caltrops out of my mouth at will. JM noted that I would need some sort of protective mouth lining from the sharp bits. I said maybe if a just had caltrops pouches in my cheek, like snakes have venom pouches, but then I’d look like some crazy squirrel. I determined that caltrop cheek-sacks of holding was the solution, because then I could also defy space-time. Maybe I should develop that, as my New Year resolution.

Freezing My Can

Tuesday, December 6th, 2005

I decided to have ravioli for lunch today. The can had been left in the car. It was entirely frozen. I decided to slice off a piece, like you would canned hash or cranberry jelly. I produced ravioli explosion. I stepped in some and ravioli ice melted through my sock. The can was so cold that my hands now have that burning sensation as they warm up. So if this ever happens to you, just let it thaw in the can…

Cockroach Vendor

Monday, December 5th, 2005

S.B. is currently playing WoW, and he came across a guy selling pet cockroaches. I think that marketing would be more successful if the monger called them “Palmetto Pals.”

I made it to all of my classes save for that 8am one (5 of 6 t’ain’t so bad). My two quizzes were so-so, but I was pretty delirious all day. I turned in my paper, and there was great rejoicing. I napped from 4-5pm before my night class, and my body almost didn’t let me move to get up for my night class. I’ve officially been up for 34 hours minus the hour nap that I forced myself to take, though it may have been better not to because it didn’t really do anything for me and it ruined my awake streak.

While waiting for the bus this evening, I had a conversation about Highland Winter Games, tossing giant boulders of snow and shovel tossing (which devolved into comments about throwing your knee or back further than throwing a caber). You see, here in Milwaukee, it gets pretty cold. It seems colder and snowier this year than recent Decembers, which bums me out a bit, but for a few years there, I enjoyed the luxury of safe driving over the holidays.

I’m chatting, but I’m not really saying anything. S.B. calls this non-versation.
Be quiet. Get some dinner. Get some sleep.
Chinese food has now been ordered, which is totally uncharacteristic, but I am pizza-ed out, and S.B. doesn’t feel like the Shuttle, and I surely will not cook. Listen to me continue to say nothing. Who cares what I am eating for dinner? Even *I* don’t.

“Palmetto Pals, now with fall off the curtain onto your head action! Playsets sold separately.”

Eleanor of Aquitaine

Monday, December 5th, 2005

Eleanor of Aquitaine was a remarkable woman, particularly considering the extent of her power and influence during the twelfth century, a time up to which women were seen only as saints, temptresses or baby-producing devices. She was queen of both France and England, in addition to governing her own inherited territories of Aquitaine and Poitou. She embraced the lifestyle of courtly love and repeatedly conflicted with her religious or war-mongering husbands and sons. The ideal of courtly love, born of Eleanor’s family in southern France, held women in higher esteem than in earlier times and other places, and so she garnered unprecedented power and adoration among her subjects, as well as animosity from both the English and French nobility who felt threatened by her. Eleanor, along with several of her children, was a fervent patron of the arts and enjoyed the lavish aesthetic that nobility could afford. For nearly 65 years, she wielded her administrative prowess, traveling throughout the continent to govern first hand and enjoy the adventure and liberty unknown to most women.