City-spaces

We’ve repeatedly discussed in class how the space of the artist affects the art. The artist incorporates his surroundings and depends on them as a facet of his art. For instance, the cave-paintings at Lascaux are located on a hill and they utilize the shape of the caves themselves to better depict the animals on the walls. The megaliths of Morbihan are made from the available stone. They stand in fields, making them more prominent. The tumuli of the region are found near the sea. The space used by the artist both restricts and influences the art itself. The space must be selected, and the art moves with the land.

But as we move forward in time and south in geography to mid-3rd century BC Lattara, a new development in space changes how art relates to the land: permanent cities. The people at Lascaux were predominately nomadic; those at Morbihan do not seem to have any sort of settlement rivaling those at Lattara. Here are streets, lasting houses with multiple rooms, courtyards, and most interestingly to me les lieux de culte – places of ritual worship.

What changes do these designated spaces bring to art? Now instead of the space shaping and influencing the identity of the art the art is allowed to influence the identity of the space. Instead of the artist saying “This cave is a suitable place for my art, I will create it here,” he is now able to say, “I will make this art. And I will place it in this designated space.” The cause and effect are reversed. Tumuli (the art) are sacred because they are by the sea (the space), which invokes a sense of eternity. In contrast, at Lattara the lieux de culte (the space) are sacred because they are ordained things such as the statue de guerrier – the statue of a warrior (the art).

In a sense, this is one of the first intentional art displays. The Lascaux paintings are displayed, but their location is dictated. The lieux de culte are freely chosen; their space is contingent upon man’s will not natures circumstances. I feel that this is the state of many artists today – the restrictions of Lascaux seem to have far less bearing. The artist (speaking now mainly of the visual artist) determines his space. Lighting may be fine tuned, wall color chosen; certain music may even be added. Whoever picked the décor, statues, and locations of the lieux de culte was, in a sense, the first museum curator.

 

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