One of the most interesting concepts we discussed this last week was the concept of “meaning at the point of reception.” The reasons behind an artist creating their artwork will more than likely be completely different than our interpretations of the artwork. The meaning the artist conveyed could involve the area of the world the art was created in, the issues in the artist’s life, or even the media the artist had to work with. Likewise, on our end, the meaning we extrapolate from the art has to do with the area of the world we find ourselves in, our viewpoints on life, and the issues in our life. The relationship between the artist’s original meaning and our meaning at the point of reception is a complicated one. We will more than likely never completely know the artist’s original meaning behind a piece of art.
The Spivey reading was centered around this idea that we may never really know why the Altamira cave paintings were created. Spivey offered a few possible explanations for the cave paintings, and he mentioned the problems associated with the different theories. For example, assuming that the cave paintings were “art for art’s sake” encounters several problems, notably the absence of humans and other parts of the world, such as starts, trees, etc. If the artists were simply portraying the beauty around them, why wouldn’t they include things other than animals? Another theory for the presence of the cave paintings involves sympathetic magic: the idea that if the artist could paint the buffalo, the artist could capture the essence of the buffalo, and would have success at hunting the buffalo. The obvious problem with this theory is that buffalo remains were not found in the cave, suggesting that their food source was not the buffalo.
I am really excited for this class, as it will be a break in the norm for me. I am a pre-med student studying IPHY and psychology, and I have not had the opportunity to take any art history classes. I took art in high school, but I haven’t been able to dissect, digest, and think about art as a subjective language. I love what Cait said in section this week, that in this class we will challenge and question the canon and how it was formed, that we will shake up art history. That sounds so much more exciting to me than just simply memorizing which art works were done by whom, what media they were, etc.
I pledge… Taylor Hotz