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Article

Kirk Ambrose

(b Moscow, May 7, 1903; d Paris, Jan 25, 1988).

Lithuanian art historian, scholar of folklore and Egyptology, and diplomat of Russian birth. Son of the celebrated Lithuanian Symbolist poet of the same name, Jurgis Baltrušaitis II studied under Henri(-Joseph) Focillon at the Sorbonne and earned the PhD in 1931. The concerns of his mentor are evident in La stylistique ornementale dans la sculpture romane (1931), which reprises and extends arguments for the ‘law of the frame’ in Romanesque sculpture. Accordingly, the shapes of architectural members, such as capitals and tympana, determined the articulation of sculptural forms. This theory could account for the genesis of a wide array of monumental carvings, from foliate capitals to narrative reliefs, but ultimately it had a rather limited impact on the field of Romanesque sculptural studies. In a scathing critique, Schapiro argued that Baltrušaitis’s book—and by implication Focillon’s methods—robbed Romanesque sculptors of agency and neglected the religious and expressive meanings of this art form....

Article

L. Glynne Davies

(b Amsterdam, Feb 24, 1897; d London, July 16, 1954).

Dutch archaeologist and cultural historian. After studying at the University of Amsterdam and under Flinders Petrie at University College, London, he directed the Egypt Exploration Society’s excavations at Akhenaten’s city of Amarna, (Tell) el- and elsewhere (1925–9). He was Field Director of the Iraq Expedition of the Oriental Institute of Chicago from 1929 to 1937 and conducted excavations at the Assyrian site of Khorsabad and in the Diyala region; the latter made an important contribution to knowledge of the art of the Sumerians, particularly of their architecture and of the Early Dynastic period (c. 2900–2500 bc). He held professorships at Chicago, Amsterdam and London and was Director of the Warburg Institute from 1949 to 1954. In 1954 he was elected a Fellow of the British Academy and he was also Corresponding Member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences.

Frankfort was a scholar of immense range, insight and artistic sensibility, with an abiding concern for the interrelations of the cultures of the ancient Aegean, Egypt and Mesopotamia, and he was instrumental in defining a structure for the integrated study of early Near Eastern civilizations. It was characteristic of his approach to see artefacts as works of art that could lead to a deeper understanding of ancient cultures, rather than merely as sources of historical data: his ...

Article

John Baines

(b Berlin, Oct 29, 1868; d Hessisch-Lichtenau, April 6, 1957).

German Egyptologist and writer. He studied Egyptology at Berlin University and began work in the Ägyptisches Museum, Berlin, before completing his doctorate in 1892. He remained in the museum all his working life, travelling principally for fieldwork in Egypt, which included seasons at Abu Ghurab, Abusir and Philae.

Schäfer was an outstanding historian and analyst of Egyptian art and made a vital contribution to the general theory of art. He published studies of individual works and made Egyptian art accessible to the public, as well as collaborating with Walter Andrae (1875–1956) on the standard history of Ancient Near Eastern art, Die Kunst des alten Orients. More important is his work on representation, on which he wrote many articles and smaller works, synthesizing his results in Von ägyptischer Kunst. The first two editions are concerned with two-dimensional representation, the third and fourth with two and three dimensions and with the general character of Egyptian art. The two-dimensional studies are the most important. Schäfer showed in detail how a non-perspectival system operates, and he examined Egyptian art primarily from the viewpoint of the ancient Egyptians themselves. He proposed two universal representational strategies, which he termed ‘pre-Greek’ (non-perspectival) and ‘Greek’ (incorporating foreshortening). His explanation of the character of ‘pre-Greek’ representation as based on mental images is not ultimately satisfactory, and there is still no convincing solution to this question, but his analysis of and insight into the problems remain fundamental....

Article

In its most general sense, spolia (pl., from Lat. spolium: ‘plunder’) denotes all artifacts re-employed in secondary contexts, from building blocks reused in a wall to pagan gems mounted on a Christian reliquary. It is a matter of debate whether this broad application of the term is justified, or whether it should be restricted to the relatively small subset of reused objects that were taken or ‘stripped’ (like spoils) from their original context, rather than found, purchased, inherited or otherwise acquired by non-violent means. It is likewise debated when the use of spolia should be considered meaningful, if at all. Arnold Esch defined five possible motives for using spolia: convenience, profanation, Christianization, political legitimation and aesthetic attraction. Michael Greenhalgh has argued for reducing the motives to three (at least with regard to marble): pragmatism, aesthetics and ideology; while Finbarr Barry Flood cautioned against reductive interpretations generated by any taxonomy, insisting that reused objects are mutable in meaning and capable of multiple interpretations during their life cycle....

Article

Nadia Erzini

(b Vrigny-aux-Bois, Aug 8, 1895; d Grenoble, Oct 11, 1971).

French archaeologist, art historian and historian. After active service in World War I, he studied history and geography at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, where one of his teachers was Emile Mâle. In 1921 Terrasse emigrated to the French protectorate of Morocco, where he taught first at the Collège Moulay Yusuf and later at the influential Institut des Hautes Etudes Marocaines in Rabat, lecturing on Islamic history and art. In 1932 he published his doctoral thesis for the Sorbonne, and in 1935 he was appointed inspector of historic monuments in Morocco. He became director of the Institut des Hautes Etudes Marocaines in 1941 and professor of Muslim archaeology at the University of Algiers in 1945. After Moroccan independence in 1956, he was director of the Casa de Velázquez in Madrid until his retirement in 1965. In addition to founding the Mélanges de la Casa de Velázquez, he published prolifically on western Islamic history, architecture, ceramics, metalwork, woodwork and jewellery, and wrote the first general history of Morocco. His interests also extended to Islamic art in the Middle East and the relationship between Christian and Islamic art. His work is sometimes characterized by misconceptions typical of the French colonial school of scholarship, such as the dichotomous interpretation of Moroccan history into Arab and Berber cultures. Nonetheless, his pioneering studies of the archaeology and architectural history of 11th- to 14th-century Morocco remain the foundation for most later art history of the region....