Western Art No.5
Shuji Takashina / Ken-ichi Sasaki / Shigetoshi Osano
Images of Meditation,
Uncertainty and Repetance in Ancient Art
While the language of gesture was formed in real life, it is imbued with specific meaning once it is incorporated into artistic iconography. Although this meaning must necessarily be condensed into a sign of stylistic integrity, once it has been thus schematized, it enters as iconography into the plastic arts broadly defined. Its point of arrival is the pictorial image-as-sign. This article attempts to follow this process while examining concrete examples of the iconography of meditation, uncertainty and repentance in ancient art.
Maria Luisa Catoni
When a Youth becomes a Satyr
In ancient Greece the comos and the symposium were clearly distinct
occasions, in origin. The former, associated with satyrs, were characterized
by immoderate drinking, disorderly music, and especially a particular
gesture that derived from the satyric dance, sikinnis, formularized
during the sixth century B.C. The latter was the privileged occasion
for discourse held by good citizens, which was characterized by moderate
drinking, games and measured music.
The Usefulness and
Limitations of Interpreting Gesture in Painting
The article opens with an overview of the limitations imposed on the
pictorial representation of gesture by both painting style and subject
matter. The opening section is followed by a reconsideration of previous
interpretations of the signum harpocraticum and the gestures made by
the couple's hands in Jan van Eyck's Arnolfini Double Portrait. The
author then demonstrates both the polysemic and ambivalent nature of
gesture in secular representations of the later Middle Ages and early
Renaissance. This argument is made through a discussion of the four
woodbox tablets of bust-and three-quarter-size figures in secular scenes
in the early fifteenth-century sketchbook of Jaques Daliwe in Berlin.
Gesture plays an important role in the paintings of Caravaggio. In The Calling of St.Matthew, the problem concerning the identity of the saint relates to the gestures of the characters in the painting. The man with a moustache in the center of the table does not point to himself with his forefinger but to the young man next to him who drops his head. These two men seem to refer to the parable in the Gospel according to St. Luke of the good tax collector and Parisaian. The gesture of the open arms which I call the 'orans' type is found in many Caravaggio paintings. This gesture -- which reflects the current of palaeo- Christian culture -- seems spontaneous but imbues the work with profound meaning, suggesting the Crucifixion. The symbolic role of the expressive gesture seems to be one of the characteristics of Caravaggio's art.
The Actor's Performance
In 1795, a theoretical treatise concerning the gesture and performance of theater actors by the 18th-century German philosopher, professor and playwright Johann Jacob Engel was translated into French as Idees sur le geste et l'action theatrale. Whereas previously the corporeal language of the theater had been based on painting and oratorical skill, this treatise reconceptualized it along with the relationship between mind and body. In addition to its portrayal of the actor as an artist who explores the end results of this relationship, Engel's text ultimately asserts that the actor's performance takes music as its model and intends to move from description towards expression. Art historically, this theory originates from a different starting point than Le Brun's classicist theory concerning the expression of emotions. Furthermore, while sharing some similarities with Diderot's theory of acting, which has a closer connection to painting, it nevertheless can be differentiated from it, and demonstrates a unique aesthetic stance. As a treatise which examines the theory of gesture, which lies at the core of not just theater history but the history of the arts as a whole, Engel's text is an important work that can be situated at the transition between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
The Pose of Ariadne and Voluptas
This article examines the meaning of the typical pose of the reclining
female figure with an arm cast back over the head, of which the best
known example is the famous Hellenistic statue of Sleeping Ariadne in
the Vatican. Through a discussion of the "misreadings" of
the subject of the Vatican statue, such as "Cleopatra" and
"Sleeping Fountain Nymph," and the associations drawn from
these readings, I argue that the pose can be related to the concept
of voluptas, which in ancient and Renaissance thought indicates spiritual
union with god and calmness and liberation from agonies. During the
subsequent development of Western art the pose became a common expression
of sexual desire, the earthly and vulgar Voluptas. This slippage from
the heavenly to the earthly possibly led to the use of the gesture in
images that explicitly or implicitly invoke a voyeuristic desire. It
can be argued, however, that the connection between the pose of Ariadne
and the spiritual and noble Voluptas reemerges in Matisse's works.
The Gesture by the maid in Vermeer's The Milkmaid
Although Lessing defined painting as the art of space, numerous painters
have tried since ancient times to incorporate movements into their artworks.
Vermeer has been admired for his ability to depict photograph-like moments
of subtle movements of the human figures in his paintings.
Giovanni Bonifaccio, L'arte de'cenni, Vicenza, 1616
Guglielmo Ebreo, Trattato dell'arte del ballo, 15c.
Gesture and Rank in Roman Art
Daniel Arasse, Le
sujet dans le tableau
Harry Berger Jr.,
Fictions of the Pose
Kikuro Miyashita / Hiroaki Nakata
Raphael Collin（Sizuoka / Fukuoka / Simane / Tokyo / Chiba / Ehime, 1999-2000）
Raphael und der klassische Stil in Rom 1515-1527（Mantova / Wien, 1999）
The Public and the
Private in the Age of Vermeer（Osaka,