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HUM389: Research Paper And Critical Examinations

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  • Course Code: HUM389
  • University: Seneca College
  • Country: Canada

Question:

1.Getting Started:

a.Select a work of art (all media are acceptable; painting, sculpture, mixed media, etc.) that you find particularly interest. Remember, this will be the topic for both the annotated bibliography and research paper!

b.Do some general reading. Attempt to locate strong critical examinations in scholarly literature. Avoid texts that merely provide basic facts (i.e. general textbooks) as well as general websites such as Wikipedia. The library is a great place to start!

2.Once the Ball is Rolling:

a.Formulate an interesting argument (thesis statement) that sinks deeper than the purely visual or the general biography of the artist!

b.Consult with me on your topic to ensure it is manageable and appropriate. This step is mandatory!

3.Objectives:

a.Contextualize the work within broader art historical developments. For example, does the work belong to an established stylistic category or does it break from tradition? If so, to what extent?

Consider the work within the space of social, religious or political history? For example, to what degree does the work embody broader social concerns, values, conflicts and ideologies that lie beyond the purely aesthetic field?
 
 

Answer:

Introduction:

Thesis Statement: Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Ecstasy of Saint Teresa is a symbolism of how religion played a crucial role in influencing Baroque architecture as it contains elements of Counter-Reformation movement of the Catholic church.    

Gash, John. “Counter-Reformation Countenances: Catholic Art and Attitude from Caravaggio to Rubens.” Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review 104.416 (2015): 373–387. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/24640788. John Gash holds a master’s degree in history from the University of Oxford, and is the author of several articles, especially related to Caravaggio. Gash provides a detailed narration of popular Baroque artwork from a historical perspective. Gash provides information on the canonisation of four saints in the process of Catholic reformation and emphasises the influence of Catholicism on the Italian society. Gash’s article is of special importance as it outlines the characteristics of Counter-Reformation. By Counter-Reformation, Gash highlighted three characteristics: the paintings both main figures in the counter movement and of artists who articulated Counter-Reformation authoritative opinion in paint or stone; the solid substance of that belief system from the artwork delivered to fortify it; and the shifting paradigm of Catholic faith, as it explored its reactions to the Lutheran and Calvinist ideologies and opposition. Gash uses numerous references and illustrations to highlight the attitude and representation of Counter-Reformation in his article. Bernini’s sculpture Ecstasy of Saint Teresa special position in reflecting spiritual ecstasy as explained in Kleiner’ reflection is evident in Gash’s article. However, the title of the article is little misleading. While Gash claims the countenances of Catholic art from Caravaggio to Rubens, majority of the article is focused on Caravaggio, with little emphasis on Bernini or Rubens. Nevertheless, the article can be used to highlight how Bernini’s sculpture Ecstasy of Saint Teresa plays a crucial role of Catholic church’s efforts towards Counter-Reformation.

Kleiner, Fred. S. Gardner's Art Through the Ages. 15th ed., Boston, MA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning, 2016. Fred Kleiner holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University. Kleiner has authored more than hundred books/articles and is the winner of Boston University’s Metcalf Award for Excellence in Teaching. In the 24th chapter of the book, Gardner's Art Through the Ages, Kleiner illustratively explains the progression of Baroque art in Italy and Spain. The author provides an account of Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s works in Italy, including the sculpture Ecstasy of Saint Teresa in the Cornaro chapel. Regarding Bernini’s work as a representation of “motion and emotion” of Baroque art, Kleiner reflects on how Bernini did not confine himself to the limits of spatiality and settings. Rather, he recounts on how Bernini used the entire church to depict Saint Teresa’s emotions of spiritual ecstasy, reinforcing Bernini’s devotion to Catholicism in his sculpture. Kleiner claims that Bernini added value to the Counter-Reformation belief that the re-introduction of spiritual experience would energize commitment and devotion. This can be used to emphasize the role of religion in influencing Baroque architecture. Kleiner’s explanation of Bernini’s contribution towards Counter-Reformation can be validated through Gash’s explanation of the characteristics of Counter-Reformation. Gash explains the use of leading religious figures in sculpture as one of the characteristics, which is evident in Bernini’s sculpture. Bernini used Saint Teresa’s writings in his representation of the sculpture. Although the book is a symposium of historical contributions of artists across generations, Kleiner, however, could have emphasized on how Bernini created the masterpiece, which bordered on sexuality, yet reflected Catholicism in the 17th century Italy. Nevertheless, Kleiner’s reflection of the sculpture Ecstasy of Saint Teresa along with a history of Bernini, validates the role of religion and Catholic patrons in influencing Baroque architecture.

Lagerlöf, Margaretha Rossholm. "Interpretation, Emotion, And Belief: Cognitive Dimensions in Art Historical Investigation, Featuring Examples from Jan Vermeer, Nicolas Poussin, And Gian Lorenzo Bernini". Word & Image 27.4 (2011): 366-377.  doi:10.1080/02666286.2011.553798. Margaretha Rossholm Lagerlöf is an expert in art theory and teaches Art History at the Stockholm University. She has published numerous books and articles, ranging from historic to contemporary art. In this journal article, Lagerlöf stresses on the need for accurate interpretation of artwork. The author uses the examples of popular artists Vermeer, Poussin and Bernini to contend that inappropriateness in art interpretation arises when interpreters fail to understand the art history. While validating her argument, Lagerlöf uses Bernini’s sculpture Ecstasy of Saint Teresa and validates the presence of Catholic influence on the artwork as emphasized by Gash and Kleiner. Lagerlöf primarily provides a physical description of the sculpture in simple terms while interpreting the angel and the Saint, and gradually progresses into emphasizing the Catholic ideals behind the sculpture. Lagerlöf’s explanation of Catholicism in the sculpture is useful. The center conviction is about ecstasy, its capacity, and its existential conditions. Body is regarded not as an element to smother or nullify in instructional Jesuit representation; rather, it is considered as an apparatus to accomplish religious realities, through conviction and practice. The dialectical collaboration is expected to lead into the extraordinary experience, where contrasts may begin to pacify or merge into one another. Although, Lagerlöf uses references to validate her inability to connect with the emotional state of the Saint Teresa from a spiritual ecstasy’s perspective, she fails to credit Bernini’s efforts in understanding Saint Teresa’s writing. Lagerlöf could have used this to connect Bernini’s sculpture of spiritual ecstasy, rather than discrediting it as “not even enlightening”.  Nevertheless, Lagerlöf’s analysis highlights the role of Catholic church in patronising Jesuit teachings in the 17th century art.

 

Nobus, Dany. “The Sculptural Iconography of Feminine Jouissance: Lacan’s Reading of Bernini’s Saint Teresa in Ecstasy.” The Comparatist 39 (2015): 22–46. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/26254717. Dany Nobus is a notable Professor of Psychology at the Brunel University, London. He has published several articles and has contributed to integration of three disciplines, history, arts and psychology. In this journal article, Nobus analyses the social condemnation that Jacques Lacan, a French psychiatrist and Bernini, the maker of the sculpture Ecstasy of Saint Teresa faced in understanding spiritual ecstasy. Nobus’s work is useful in two ways. Firstly, Nobus highlights the magnificence in Bernini’s artwork. A detailed description of the sculpture, the beauty of the facial expression, the nostrils and eyes of the Saint are provided in the article. Secondly, the author provides a description of the two key characters of the sculpture, the angel and Saint Teresa, and how the Saint surrenders her body and soul to the divine. Through Lacan’s viewpoint and counter-arguments, Nobus reflects on how the Saint’s pleasure in submitting to the divine is represented in the sculpture, despite being pierced by the angel’s arrows. Nobus’s analytical explanation of describing spiritual experience and its representation in the 17th century is different from Lagerlöf’s analysis, who fails to understand the presence of spiritual experience in the sculpture. Lagerlöf’s doubts can be cleared through Nobus’s periodic emphasis on the need for reading Saint Teresa’s writing to understand Bernini’s beautiful representation of divine love and pleasure in the sculpture. The article is a wonderful analytical rendition of the sculpture Ecstasy of Saint Teresa from the concept of spiritual pleasure. Through the voices of Lacan and Bernini, Nobus takes the readers to a journey of evidential difference between sexual pleasure and spiritual pleasure, and the contribution of Bernini’s religious ideology in re-emphasizing divine love as propagated by the Catholic church. The role of religion in influencing Baroque art can be validated.

Warwick, Genevieve. “Bernini (1598–1680): Sculpting Sainthood.” Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review 104.416 (2015): 444–455. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/24640794. Genevieve Warwick holds a master’s degree in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies and is the author of several books. In this journal article, Warwick presents a detailed analysis of Bernini’s visualisation of sainthood in his sculptures. Warwick regards Bernini’s works as “religious” and credits the 17th century art as a cultural reformation of the Catholic church because of Protestantism.  Warwick’s analysis of Bernini’s sculpture Ecstasy of Saint Teresa is like Kleiner’s analysis, which is twofold in nature. Warwick primarily provides an overall description of the sculpture and the decorative nature of the Renaissance art. Secondly, she details Christian mysticism and elaborates on the perceived analogy of human and divine union, evident in Bernini’s sculpture. Warwick further highlights the influence of Saint Teresa’s writings on Bernini’s depiction of spiritual ecstasy, highlighted by Kleiner and Gash. However, Warwick adds another dimension to Bernini’s sculpture and demonstrates the inauguration of new form of Catholic art representation of using the lives of saints as a form of religious idealism and expression. Warwick’s analysis is an exemplar of the patronage of the church in propagating Christianity, and the role of Catholicism in influencing 17th century Baroque art. Warwick’s historic background of Bernini and the social situation of the 17th century, enables the audience in understanding the grandeur of the sculpture in Cornaro chapel and the triumph of the Catholic church in restoring faith in Catholicism and countering reformation.

 

Works Cited

Gash, John. “Counter-Reformation Countenances: Catholic Art and Attitude from Caravaggio to Rubens.” Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review 104.416 (2015): 373–387. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/24640788.

Kleiner, Fred. S. Gardner's Art Through the Ages. 15th ed., Boston, MA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning, 2016.

Lagerlöf, Margaretha Rossholm. "Interpretation, Emotion, And Belief: Cognitive Dimensions in Art Historical Investigation, Featuring Examples from Jan Vermeer, Nicolas Poussin, And Gian Lorenzo Bernini". Word & Image 27.4 (2011): 366-377.  doi:10.1080/02666286.2011.553798.

Nobus, Dany. “The Sculptural Iconography of Feminine Jouissance: Lacan’s Reading of Bernini’s Saint Teresa in Ecstasy.” The Comparatist 39 (2015): 22–46. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/26254717.

Warwick, Genevieve. “Bernini (1598–1680): Sculpting Sainthood.” Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review 104.416 (2015): 444–455. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/24640794.

OR

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