Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Polynesian art was used only for decoration and was symbolic for mythological significance
Objects from different Islands have found to be unique
In Tahiti it was simple wooden and stone images that had no pattern as on Easter Island, where as, in Rorotonga, the human statues were stylised and generic.
In Samoa the only decoration is normally two narrow bands around an artwork
A point to remember is all around Polynesia most patterns have human figures as a basis
The nineteenth century brought large changes in Polynesian Art the change to Christianity brought a decrease and cease of sculptural heritage more secular artistic tradition became more important such as: women’s artwork, bark cloth, intricate plaited mats and men’s art forms, headrests, food pounders and bowls
Western technology sparked a renewed interest with acquiring steel carving tools making artistic carved paddles, ceremonial adzes, bold figurative painting traditions and Maori rank insignia and luxury goods of the Hawaiian monarchy.
Pictured is a early 19th century sash known as a lafi worn over one shoulder and secured at the waist it is 363.9 cm, created on the Island of Futana
Materials: plant fibre
Textile plant fibre
Pigment L
Made of bark cloth and decorated the ends of the sash are adorned with geometric patterns and painted freehand the central part of the sash is sparsely decorated with motifs this sash is worn with a headdress and a large skirt for dancing. Also pictured is a bark cloth panel
Designs were very structured a lot of thought process went into the pieces. Colours are earthy with geometric designs contrasting light and dark carvings were short or squat with bold patterns but also intricate.


Mosaic is the art of creating images with small pieces of colored, glass, stone or other material Small tiles or fragments of pottery (known as tesserae, diminutive tessellae) or of coloured glass or clear glass backed with metal foils are used to create a pattern or picture.
Mosaics of the 4th century BC are found in the Macedonian palace-city of Aegae, and they enriched the floors of Hellenistic villas, and Roman dwellings from Britain to Dura-Europos. Splendid mosaic floors are found in Roman villas across north Africa. In Rome, Nero and his architects used mosaics to cover the surfaces of walls and ceilings in the Domus Aurea, built AD 64.
The mosaics of the Villa Romana del Casale in Sicily are the largest collection of late Roman mosaics in the world and are protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other important examples of Roman mosaic art in Sicily were unearthed on the Piazza Vittoria in Palermo where two houses were discovered. The most important scenes here depicted Orpheus, Alexander the Great's Hunt and the Four Seasons.
The floors of Roman buildings were often richly decorated with mosaics, many capturing scenes of history and everyday life. Some mosaics were bought 'off the shelf' as a standard design, while the wealthy villa owners could afford more personalised designs. Some of the finest Roman mosaics in Britain can be seen at Fishbourne Roman Palace and Bignor Roman Villa.
Romans were using basic elements of design in patterns of dots creating line tone and using colour to make it look 3 dimensional imagery and border pattern that surrounded people animals gods, nature, angels, cupids, creating exquisite art works and images, they not only did these mosaics on the floor but on ceilings walls entrances motifs. All these marvels were made from basic materials. Inspiring building a design for many future generations past and present.


Friday, May 2, 2008

Oceania - Aboriginal painting

Aboriginal painting

Ancestral Rock Paintings The Wandjini figures
Australian Aboriginal art is the oldest living art tradition in the world. It dates back to over 20,000 years and since a lot of the painting was done in rock shelters it has been protected and is still exists today.

The Wandjini figures painting includes the naturalistic painting of humans or spirits and animal figures such as emus and goannas. It also has non-naturalistic, or "abstract" designs with concentric circles, "u" shapes and lines. This art with its symbols and figures has influenced modern Aboriginal art.
The colours of Aboriginal rock paintings are reds, yellows, browns and black and white and come from hard rocks coloured by iron oxide.

One method to imprint a hand onto rock wall, different coloured rock (ochre) was crushed up and ground to a smooth texture and then the hand would be pressed down onto the colour and then would be pressed up against the rock wall.
This hand is in a square shaped light background which contrasts with the dark red shape of the hand. This colour contrast of light and dark makes the hand stand out. The hand, as the only shape, looks powerful and significant. The painting takes on the texture of the cave wall.

Aboriginal Rock Art of Northern Australia
Another method to imprint a hand art is to use a object as a stencil. In the above painting a hand and two half boomerangs were used as stencils and ochre with water was blown from the mouth over and around the stencil.
Red ochre was used on white rock creating a contrast in colour which highlights the white. The texture is again that of the rock wall.












Monday, April 28, 2008

Tanes Easter Island


Easter Island, or Rapa Nui by the natives, situated in the southeast Pacific over 1,000 miles from the other islands of Eastern Polynesia and some 1,400 miles west of South America, is one of the most remote inhabited places in the world.

The art of Easter Island mostly
centers on the creation of religious images. The
most recognizable art form from Easter Island are
its colossal stone
figures, or moai, images of ancestral chiefs whose
supernatural power protected the community.Other art forms
on the island include
many depicting birdmen
and other
fantastic creatures,
(bottom left)
as well as a
variety of wooden
sculptures (left).
One type of
wooden image,
the naturalistic
male figures known
as moai tangata,
may depict family
ancestors.. With
their enlarged heads, frontal
orientation, prominent
stomachs, and arms
that extend down the
sides of their bodies, both types of image
embody a classically Polynesian conception of the human form.

Easter island cultural art is distinctively Polynesian,
as organic lines and shapes are dominant; possibly as
a reflection of the abundance of water and bountiful
nature of their land (island paradise!). 
The religious Birdman forms seen here employ
stark contrast as methods of standing out legibly from the rock (top right uses shadows). We can see there is rhythm flowing in the organic lines as they curve and
twist with no apparent straight edges.
Easter island native art stands out among the island crowds with their big stone moais, yet draw their art culture from much of the Polynesian art styles surrounding them, including Tahiti and the Cook Islands. The art
characteristically mirrors the organic beauty of
human and natural forms.

Easter Island art also includes barkcloth images, wooden
ornaments, and featherwork. Apart from the stone figures
and petroglyphs, virtually all surviving works from the
island date to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

SOURCES - www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/cais/hd_cais.htm
VERY GOOD LINK - www.janesoceania.com

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Leilani; Samoan ie-Toga


The term "fine mat" is not an accurate English translation for the word Ie-Toga, a most valued possession of the royal families of Samoa. The Ie-Toga is never used as a mat; it never was and it will never be, it is much too valuable. The wealth of the chief is measured according to the number of Ie-Togas he has and the history attached to each robe in his collection.

The Ie-Toga is woven by hand from cured leaves of the finest grade of the pandanus plant. Like siapo (bark cloth), the production of Ie-toga (fine mats) remains firmly within the domain of Samoan women. In fact, the Ie-toga is unequivocally the most culturally valued artistic product created in Samoa. To achieve the mat's incredible softness, women remove the dull underside of the leaf before plaiting, then use a double-layered weft technique to give a smooth finish to both sides. The production, use and exchange of all fine mats reinforce social position and gender roles, while allowing the artistic creativity of women to flourish.

Made and controlled by women, Ie-toga are given as gifts at events marking major life events (births, weddings, funerals, title taking). While lesser mats are also exchanged during these events, fine mats hold the most prestige. If fine mats are included in the gift exchange, it bestows great honour on the recipient, and increases the standing of the gift-giver. Ie-toga are quickly noticed and appreciated by event spectators. Women gesture gracefully during the presentation, signalling the mat's importance and bringing attention to its beauty.

http://www.abc.net.au/arts/artok/issues/s195630.htm http://www.janesoceania.com/samoa_finemats/index.htm http://www.tepapa.govt.nz/TePapa/English/Galleries/SampleShow/ManaPasifika/LeToga.htm http://www.oma-online.org/worn_with_pride_07.html http://www.tv3.co.nz/News/EntertainmentNews/PreservingtheartofmakingSamoanfinemats/tabid/418/articleID/41504/cat/55/Default.aspx

Monday, April 14, 2008

Europe: Glass

Gold-glass alabastron, 1st century B.C.
Glass; H. 7 1/8 in. (18 cm)
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917 (17.194.286)

This vessel is made from alabaster, the soft, white, and see-through stone used in Egypt dating back 2000 B.C. to make bottles used to store the oils and perfumes. Over the next 2000 years the style became thin and beautiful. Except for the one-colour neck, the dark and light colours contrast and the shape of the bottle and swirl design give a flowing rhythm.

Gold-glass bottles, first half of 1st century A.D.
Glass; H. 2 15/16 in. (7.4 cm); H. 3 3/16 in. (8.1 cm)
Theodore M. Davis Collection, Bequest of Theodore M. Davis, 1915 (30.115.16)
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917 (17.194.259)

These Roman glass bottles of 50 AD were made to hold scented oils and perfumes. These bottles have thin necks and large rounded bottoms, vertical repeated line patterns are swirled and marbled with a shiny finish having eye-catching gold leaf inside the glass. This gold against the blue and earth coloured backgrounds adds to the texture.

Garland bowl, late 1st century B.C.–early 1st century A.D.; Augustan
Glass; H. 1 1/2 in. (3.8 cm), Diam. 7 1/8 in. (18.1 cm)
Edward C. Moore Collection, Bequest of Edward C. Moore, 1891 (91.1.1402)

This wide circular Roman bowl is from between 1st C BC and 1st C AD and was cast using the three primary colours and a fourth section of translucent glass. This bowl is a rare example of one using large sections of coloured glass with melted on decoration. These decorations are four hanging bunches of millefiori glass which have been melted onto each of the four coloured sections. The colours are contrasting and in the quarters give a symmetry to the bowl. After this period the glass making technique evolved into glassblowing rather than casting.












Americas: Ceremonial Vessels

Pair of Figure Vessels, 12th–15th century
Mexico; Mixtec-Colima
Ceramic; H. 9 5/8 in. (24.4 cm)
Louis V. Bell Fund, 1993 (1993.16.1,2)

Around two thousand years ago in the west of Mexico people buried the dead with ceramic vessels in human and animal forms. The shape of these vessels is very complex and detailed. The patterns are mainly made up of lines and circles that are repeated. Later the style of these vessels became simpler but with many different colours and designs.

Vulture Vessel, 15th–early 16th century
Mexico; Aztec
Ceramic; H. 8 3/4 in. (22.2 cm)
Gift of Carol R. Meyer, 1981 (1981.297)

Ceramic vessels were often made in the forms of animals and related to myths. Precolumbian people believed in the supernatural world, and birds were messengers which could bring messages from the supernatural world of the sun, moon and planets etc. to the world of the living. This vessel is in the shape of a bird with simple decoration
and interesting texture.
The vessel is well-balanced, with the lines of the wings matching the angles of the legs - and the chest of the bird is in the middle of the two legs. The shape is simpler than the earlier figure vessels of the 12th to 15th century. The smooth, shiny dark red and black surface contrasts with the rough, matte texture of the head and feet.

Jar with Ritual Scene, 15th century
Mexico; Mixtec/Nayarit
Ceramic; H. 10 1/2 in. (26.7 cm)
Purchase, Mary R. Morgan Gift, 1992 (1992.3)

A few centuries before the Spanish conquest vases of this style were made. They were ceremonial vessels large surfaces. These were decorated with red all over, including the neck, and complex designs of people in different positions in other colours with black outlines. The graphic designs and patterns are repetitious and this helps create unity and have become a lot more intricate than the earlier more simply decorated vessels. The shape of the vessel is simple compared to the earlier vessels.