Thursday, January 26, 2012

Representing Art Theories

One of the most, maybe the most, time consuming parts to preparing a lecture for the course "Theories of Art" is searching for decent digital reproductions of paintings and sculptures. Even when you can access a resource like ARTstor, I spend a lot of time considering what images are most appropriate (is an image verging on cliche? if less known, is it still formally interesting? etc.). Note that ARTstor is not complete, which leads to the next paragraph:

If you don't have access to these resources via a library, things get tougher. As long as a work is in the public domain (more or less), Wikipedia is fairly reliable, although you often have to switch between languages to find your way to the more extensive galleries (often this requires going to the page in the artist's native language, where there is often the most interest in his or her work). When the work is still under copyright, things get much trickier. I spent the last two days working on a lecture on Max Raphael's Proudhon, Marx, Picasso, on excerpts from the chapter on Marx. Overall the book was a pleasure to read--too bad it's faded into obscurity (I discovered it  while researching Walter Benjamin's sources).

Every lecture starts with an image of the critic if possible. This lead me to MoMA, where I discovered a watercolor by Max Pechstein, Max Raphael, 1910:

But when I wanted to address some of the questions posed by Raphael, and pose them through the interpretation of visual arts, I had some difficulty finding the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Diego Rivera. To save you some time, if you like, and if you would like a source for images for teaching some contemporary work under copyright, here are a few links:
  • Diego Rivera's murals from 1931-1932 at MoMA are here.
  • Basquiat, at Potomitan, a resource for créole culture.
  • And from my research last year, the gallery Latin American Masters. I found the site while looking for José Bedia, whose work figures prominently in Gerardo Mosquera's article "The Marco Polo Syndrome."

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