Thursday, 2 August 2012

'Not Praising, Burying': Cambridge Workshop

The acquisition of figure-decorated Greek pottery by museums and its display alongside fine art raises certain issues about the ancient status of such ancient objects. Even Athenian pots attributed to "high status" artists can be shown (from ancient trademarks) to have had relatively low status. So when a museum pays $1 million for an Athenian krater, does it distort our perception of ancient "art"?

Issues such as this were explored in Artful Crafts, co-authored with Professor Michael Vickers, formerly of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

A workshop on the theme will be held at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge on Friday 2 November. Details are available from the McDonald Institute website.
A workshop/symposium, to be understood as an artwork, that brings together archaeology, art practice, art history, philosophy, classics and history to interrogate assumptions about status, art and culture through classical Greek pottery will take place at the Fitwilliam Museum. This talk will describe this type of art practice and its processes. A few of the workshop participants including artist and Arts and Humanities Research Council Fellow in the Creative and Performing Arts with the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge, Alana Jelinek, archaeologist David Gill, and Kettles Yard's Sarah Campbell will present their impressions.
The following week (Thursday 8 November, 5.30 - 7.00 pm) there will be a discussion:
Alana Jelinek and Prof David Gill plus other participants will discuss the workshop process and the potential for relationships between art and archaeology and the potential of this methodology for art practice.

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kyri said...

hi david,i think the main problem archaeologists have is having antiquities labled as "art" in the first place.we can use your words for any other number of art mediums.
so when a museum pays $100,million for a van gogh
[who like some athenian painters was of "relatively low status and couldnt give his paintings away when he was alive] does it distort our perception of "art" of course it doesnt.
my mother commissioned a preist to paint an icon for our local greek orthodox church last year,she presented the icon to the church as a gift,it doesnt have any intrinsic value now and would probably fetch £100 at auction,it is the spiritual value that is important to her,as it was for the people that painted the byzantine icons of 1000 years ago that in some cases are now priceless,at the time they were painted they were anything but.
personally i believe the greek figured pots are exactly the same as these icons,they were painted to order by the deceased or the family of the deceased and placed in the tomb for spiritual reasons and its obvious that they were not high status objects but they were very high status when it come to the religeos beliefs of the people that were buried with them.
for me some of these everyday objects of the ancients are great works of art,whether they are sold for $1k or one million,why does a price tag ,that is created by economic markets of supply and demand distort our many euphronios kraters are there,not many,so this is reflected in the price people are willing to pay now.whatever the value was 2000 years ago is totally irrelevant,is it not.
when i see a bed made by tracy emin sell as "art" for hundreds of thousands i cant get my head round it but when i see a volute krater with maybe 20 figures painted on it and it sells for 100k i can understand exactly why the buyer is paying the money.just like beuty is in the eye of the beholder,so is art,in whichever forms it comes in,including antiquties.

kyri said...

hi david,i wrote the last comment after a 13hr shift.i wanted to say that i believe these pots were commissioned by the familys,not done by them.there must have been ready made examples but the really special ones are totally unique and these are the ones i believe were commissioned.we have plenty examples of votive steles commissoned,to everyones individual needs,why not pots.
why is it so hard for michael vickers and yourself to believe that some painters may have been famous and sought after above others.the ancients were not much different from ourselves,we have many people who desire a certain brand or work by a certain artist,i dont subscribe to the idea that everything in clay was a poor mans version of an example in silver or gold,just the shear size of some of these pots,volute kraters especially makes that idea to simplistic.

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