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Australian Modernism, similar to European and American Modernism was a social, political and cultural movement that was a reaction to rampant Industrialisation, associated moral panic of modernity and the death and trauma of the World Wars. This movement was predominately a reaction of female artists towards the male dominated art style of naturalism. It is also important to note the presence of Indigenous Art during this time of modernity. Indigenous Modernism refers to the unique experience of modernity of Aboriginal people that is vastly different to the White Australians experience of Modernity. The mainstream movement began in Australia approximately in 1914 and continued until 1948. Throughout these years tensions continued between the conservative and the Avant-garde schools of thought. The years following the Second World War is when Australian Modernism gained notability in the art world of Australia. Nationalistic pastoral painting of the Australian landscape were superseded by abstracted, colourful distorted images of Modernist works. After the World Wars the dynamics of society in Australia and overseas changed dramatically causing increased acceptance and attraction towards Modernism. Social and political unrest continued due to the devastation of war and increased immigration occurred. This caused a subsequent amount of European artists to travel to Australia to live. This contributed to the introduction of further art styles to Australia such as Surrealism, social realism and expressionism. Additionally, continued technological progress in the later 20th century contributed to an increase in cubism and print making. The first Indigenous Modernist or Modern Artist is said to be the Artists Albert Namatjira. He created art that aligned with the styles and techniques of western Modernism in Australia and Europe. It was not until the 1960s and 1970s that scholars began to call Indigenous Art Modern as there was a distinction made between Modern and Contemporary art to traditional Indigenous art. However, it is argued that all types of Indigenous Art is Modernist as it is all an aesthetic expression of Indigenous experiences of modernity.
28 Sep 2022
T’amar Bagrationi (1184–1210)
T’amar Bagrationi, Queen of Georgia (1184–1210). T’amar Bagrationi was the ninth monarch from the royal house of Bagrationis who ruled over the united Georgian Kingdom. She reigned as a co-monarch alongside her father, Giorgi III, from 1178, assuming full authority in 1184. During her reign, dynastic legitimacy necessitated the appearance of the monumental royal portraits displaying the monarch with immediate predecessors and heirs. T’amar’s gender required introduction of meticulous visual language that would re-gender her with all signs of a male ruler and justify her status and sole right to rule. This notion was embodied in her portraits that were carefully incorporated in the overall programmes of the churches. T’amar’s five monumental depictions survive where she is identified in inscriptions; two other monumental images are presumed to depict her. Of all the depictions, only one can be determined to have been commissioned directly by her. T’amar’s imagery relies on Byzantine elements and adheres to established Georgian models for the local royal portraiture; however, it also adopted sophisticated visual means that was aptly used for manifesting royal power and manipulating authority over the nobility.
18 Aug 2022
The Modernity of Ancient Pigments
Naturally occurring and synthetic ancient pigments have a history of use spanning thousands of years. Curiously, some of their newly discovered properties make them excellent candidates for semiconductors, anticounterfeiting agents and so much more.
21 Jul 2022
Louis XI of Valois (1461–1483)
Louis XI (1461–1483) was the sixth king of the Valois branch of the Capetian dynasty in France; he ruled from 1463 until his death in 1483. Louis was the son of Charles VII (1403–1461) and Marie of Anjou (1404–1463). While Dauphin, he married first Margaret of Scotland (1424–1445) and then Charlotte of Savoie (c.1441–1483), who bore him four surviving children: Anne de France, Jeanne de France, François de France, and the future Charles VIII. Louis’ key challenge as monarch was to pick up the pieces of a kingdom ravaged by the Hundred Years War between England and France (1337–1453). His legacy was to have repaired the kingdom’s depleted coffers through a combination of frugality and territorial expansion. His historiography paints him as a paranoid, manipulative, and obsessively pious ruler, a simplistic portrait that is undermined by a close examination of his artistic patronage. This entry will focus on the iconography he employed across a variety of media to promote the sacred legitimacy of his rule and to unify the peoples of France’s newly acquired territories.
07 Jun 2022
Khosrow II (590–628 CE)
Khosrow II (r. 590–628 CE) was the last great Sasanian king who took the throne with the help of the Romans and broke with dynastic religious preferences as he became married to a Christian empress. It was under his rule that the Sasanian Empire reached its greatest expansion. From the standpoint of iconographic studies, Khosrow II is among the most influential Persian kings. Although he was literally occupied by rebels and wars within the borders of the Sasanian territories and beyond, Khosrow managed to create a powerful image of himself that emphasized the legitimacy of his monarchy. Indeed, Khosrow Parviz (the Victorious) drew upon royal iconography as a propaganda tool on a wide range of materials such as rock and stucco reliefs, coins, seals, and metal plates. His image (created both visually and verbally) not only revived the traditional iconography of the Persian kings but also evolved it in a way that transcended his time and was passed on to the early Islamic Caliphates after him. Khosrow II imitated and manipulated the traditional royal iconography of his predecessors in order to display his legitimacy, piety, and valor.
17 May 2022
William II of Hauteville (1171-1189)
William II of Hauteville King of Sicily (1171–1189). William II of Hauteville was the third king of the Norman dynasty on the throne of Sicily. He ruled independently from 1171 (from 1166 to 1171 he was under the regency of his mother) to 1189. From an iconographic point of view, he is particularly interesting because he was the first king of Sicily who made use of monumental images of himself. In particular, we have five official (namely, commissioned directly by him or his entourage) representations of him: the royal bull, the royal seal, and three images from the Cathedral of Monreale (near Palermo): two mosaic panels and one carved capital.
18 Apr 2022
John II Komnenos (1118–1143)
John II Komnenos was the son of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos and Eirene Doukaina, and brother of Princess Anna Komnene, the author of the Alexiad. Born in 1087, he was crowned soon after his fifth birthday as co-emperor with his father, and in 1105, he was married to Piroska Árpád, daughter of King Ladislaus I of Hungary and Adelaide of Rheinfelden. He is principally known for continuing his father’s work of stabilising Byzantium after the crises of the eleventh century. This included major wars of defence and conquest in both the Balkans and Anatolia, and especially a major eastern expedition in 1137–1139. During this campaign, he conquered Cilicia, but he was recalled to defend his borders against the Turks before he could make further conquests in Syria and bring the crusader states under his aegis. He died in a hunting accident just before he returned to Syria, with intentions to go to Jerusalem as well. His best-known iconographic representation is a mosaic of him and his wife in the Great Church of Sophia. Whilst there is also an image of him in a contemporary ornate gospel book, his most common representations are found on his many coin issues and seals.
13 Apr 2022
Ladislaus II Jagiełło (1386–1434)
Ladislaus II Jagiełło (1386–1434). Ladislaus II Jagiełło is the founder of the Jagiellonian dynasty that had ruled over Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (until 1572), Bohemia (1471–1526) and Hungary (1440–1444, 1490–1526). A Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1377, and from 1386 a king of Poland and lord of Lithuania, which he ruled jointly with his cousin Witold (Vytautas), the son of Kęstutis. Five medieval portraits of Jagiełło survive, four of which date from the period of his reign in the Polish–Lithuanian state and one was executed posthumously. The earliest image, on Jagiełło’s Great Seal, was made in connection with his coronation as king of Poland (1386). Two portraits in the Holy Trinity Chapel at the Castle of Lublin (1418) are part of a wall paintings scheme commissioned by the monarch and executed by a team of painters brought from Ruthenia. Furthermore, the sumptuous tomb (before 1430) in Cracow was commissioned by the king. Its top slab bears an effigy of Jagiełło with his suggestively rendered countenance, which undoubtedly reflects the actual facial features of the elderly monarch. An image of the king represented as one of the Three Magi in a panel of an altarpiece in the tomb chapel of Casimir IV Jagiellonian, Jagiełło’s son and his successor on the Polish throne, dates from 1470. The chapel dedicated to the Holy Cross, erected at Cracow Cathedral, was in all likelihood commissioned by Casimir himself and his consort Elizabeth of Austria.
13 Apr 2022
Henry II of Trastámara (1366–1367, 1369–1379)
Henry II of Castile, also known as Henry of Trastámara, from the Latin “Tras Tamaris” (or beyond the Tambre River), King of Castile and León (1366–1367, 1369–1379) was the first king of the Trastámara Dynasty. In summary, it was a minor branch of the house of Burgundy (or an “Iberian extension” of it), with presence in the kingdoms of Castile, Aragon, Navarre, and Naples. Most notably, it began playing an essential role in the kingdom of Castile, but after the Compromise of Caspe, its power extended decisively to the kingdom of Aragon (1412). Henry II was the illegitimate son of Alfonso XI and his lover Leonor de Guzmán. He waged a civil war against his stepbrother, Peter I, legitimate heir to the throne, as the son of Alfonso XI and Maria of Portugal, Queen of Castile. Henry’s determination to be recognized as king led him to employ the arts in a campaign to discredit his stepbrother and tarnish his image, portraying himself as a defender of the faith with the right to rule. He built the Royal Chapel (1371) in the main church of Córdoba (today’s Mosque/Cathedral) for the burial of his father and grandfather, Ferdinand IV, in order to underscore his connection to the royal line, and refurbished the Puerta del Perdón (Gate of Forgiveness) in 1377, the main entrance to the church, for use as a dramatic stage for public events.
13 Apr 2022
Stefan Uroš II Milutin Nemanjić (1282–1321)
King Stefan Uroš II Milutin Nemanjić (1282—Donje Nerodimlje, October 29, 1321) was a Serbian medieval king, the seventh ruler of the Serbian Nemanide dynasty, the son of King Stefan Uroš I (r. 1243–1276) and Queen Helen Nemanjić (see), the brother of the King Stefan Dragutin (r. 1276–1282) and the father of King Stefan Dečanski (r. 1322–1331). Together with his great grandfather Stefan Nemanja, the founder of the Nemanide dynasty, and his grandson, Emperor Stefan Uroš IV Dušan, King Milutin is considered the most powerful ruler of the Nemanide dynasty. The long and successful military breach of King Milutin, down the Vardar River Valley and deep into the Byzantine territories, represents the beginning of Serbian expansion into southeastern Europe, making it the dominant political power in the Balkan region in the 14th century. During that period, Serbian economic power grew rapidly, mostly because of the development of trading and mining. King Milutin founded Novo Brdo, an internationally important silver mining site. He started minting his own money, producing imitations of Venetian coins (grosso), which gradually diminished in value. This led to the ban of these coins by the Republic of Venice and provided King Milutin a place in Dante’s Divina Commedia. King Milutin had a specific philoktesia fervor: He built or renovated over three dozen Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries not only in Serbia but also in Thessaloniki, Mt. Athos, Constantinople and The Holy Land. Over fifteen of his portraits can be found in the monumental painting ensembles of Serbian medieval monasteries as well as on two icons.
13 Apr 2022
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