Bard College ART HISTORY PROGRAM

Posted in September, 2010

Faculty News

Prof. Simeen Sattar: Artists’ Materials: Metals and Prints

I’m a physical chemist in the physics program with a long-standing personal interest in art history.  I’m teaching a new course this semester about the chemistry of photography.  Since the goal of the course is to understand the chemistry of light-sensitive materials, the first four weeks have stressed light and color, ionic and covalent compounds, and chemical reactions.   Alongside these topics, we’ve studied, and made, dichromate prints, cyanotypes, and diazo prints.  In contrast to conventional photography, none of these processes involve silver.

Student making diazo prints

Diazo Prints

In the cyanotype process, a paper coated with a yellow light-sensitive solution is exposed to sunlight.  Within a few minutes, ultraviolet light induces the formation of an iron compound known as Prussian blue in exposed areas.  It’s quite magical.  The cyanotype process was invented by the renowned astronomer Sir John Herschel in the 1840s.  Prussian blue itself is part of another story.  Discovered in the early 1700s, it is the first modern artificial pigment and displaced ultramarine and cobalt blue from artists’ palettes.

A stunning cyanotype made from a black and white negative.

We’re now moving on to the chemistry of silver-based photography using a wonderful book by Roger Bunting called The Chemistry of Photography.  The highlight of this week’s experiment is making a silver mirror.  Next week, we’ll make salted paper prints, the precursor to silver/emulsion photography.

Photos and cyanotype: Kazio Sosnowski

Man About Town

Tom’s Picks

After looking at Judy Pfaff’s exhibition in Chelsea, don’t miss Dan Flavin’s light pieces at Paula Cooper (534 W. 21), and Sue Williams’ mini-retrospective the at 303 Gallery (547 W. 21).  It omits some highlights from her career, but she is a fine painter.  As much as she tries to gross you out, she always brings along her painterly finesse.  And check out Bard Prof. An-My Lê’s luminous, large-scale photographs taken from the decks of battle ships by this world traveler, at the Murray Guy Gallery (453 W. 17).

Manning the Rail, USS Tortuga, Java Sea, 2010

You can see an earlier example of An-My’s work front and center at the critically praised The Original Copy:  Photography of Sculpture, 1839 to Today at MoMA (11 W. 53), a wide-ranging and original exhibition that also includes Bard Prof. Larry Fink.  The show is right next to MoMA’s Matisse, Radical Invention 1913-1917, a not-to-be missed survey of one of the modern master’s most daring artistic periods.

Faculty News

Summer 2010 – Julia Rosenbaum

Photograph from a "strip map" of the Hudson.

An NEH Summer Institute Fellowship took me to Chicago for most of the summer for research at the Newberry Library. I am working on a couple of new projects related to mapping and art (one focusing on the Hudson River and tourism in the early 1800s) and the Newberry has an extraordinary collection of European and American maps from all periods as well as rich historical materials. Chicago is also a city rich in 20th-century American art and architecture so I was also able to look closely at artwork I teach and work on. (The other great thing about Chicago is its food scene, so, as a confirmed foodie, I “studied” it very thoroughly.) Other projects that kept me busy were finalizing the text for a volume of essays on class identity that is being published this winter and writing a paper focusing on artistic responses to new mid-19thc. technologies for the Association of Historians of American Art symposium  I’m speaking at this fall.

Faculty News

Summer 2010 – Prof. Tom Wolf

Lady Archer Soapine Card

I continued my research about Asian-American artists by visiting a descendant of a fascinating, overlooked Japanese American set designer in Seattle.  But most of my summer was devoted to writing an article about the famous feminist writer, Charlotte Perkins Gilman.  Early in her career, in the 1880s, she worked as an artist, and her first husband was an painter.  Although a tremendous amount has been written about her (over 40 books) no one has really analyzed the art of her formative years:  the significance of the art she made in terms of gender issues, and the relation between her artistic concerns and those of her husband.  They lived in Providence, Rhode Island, which I visited several times to do research about their artistic context, and which will be incorporated in the essay I plan to submit for publication soon.

Faculty News

Summer 2010 – Noah Chasin

Lagos

Summer is a very conflicted season for academics. On the one hand, we are “not working” in the conventional sense, leading many friends and family members to believe that we have a guilt-free three-and-a-half-month vacation. The reality is that summer is when academics get the chance to focus on their own research in the absence of preparing class lectures, grading, committee work, and meeting with students. I was able to get away for a couple of weeks to Costa Rica with my family, but even there, writing continued on my most pressing project, a book-length manuscript on Team 10 and the ethics of participatory urbanism. My research focuses on the immediate postwar period in Europe where architects (working on the urban scale) undertook an approach to urban reconstruction that was radically different from their predecessors. Different because instead of assuming that the architect/designer was the supreme hand guiding the development of urban morphology, Team 10 felt that eliciting the input of once and future residents of a city would ground the metropolis both historically and functionally in a more ‘user-friendly’ format. My argument holds that Team 10’s work in the 1950s-70s foreshadows a lot of contemporary urban design practices that advocate for ad-hoc, self-organized, and participatory urban interventions. I also began working on an article derived from the aforementioned project on John Turner’s sites and services projects for the World Bank in the late-1960s. I published an article in the Journal of Architectural Education entitled “Democracy, Deliberation, and Hybridity in Three Contemporary Architectural Practices: Interboro, Apolonija Šuštersi?, and Stealth,” and just at the end of the summer completed an article for ArtForum entitled ““STEALTH.unlimited: What It Takes To Make (And Un-Make) A City.”

Student Opportunities

Clark Art Institute Main Entrance

On Saturday, September 25th, Prof. Laurie Dahlberg will be taking her class, Arth 258 Manet to Matisse, to the Clark Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts. There are available seats on the school bus and the Art History Program invites you, for the nominal fee of $15., to take this opportunity to visit the Clark, http://www.clarkart.edu/ and experience its many exhibits. The school bus will leave Kline Commons parking lot at 9:00 am, the trip is under two hours, and the bus will leave the Clark at 3:00 to return to Bard. If you are interested, please visit the art history office, Fisher Annex 112, and sign up.

Student News

Summer 2010 – Miriam Natis

Chancellor Livingston Grand Lodge

This summer I worked for the Masonic Library and Museum in the Grand Lodge of New York.  It was an interesting experience, working for a not-so-secret secret organization, especially because I couldn’t know some things and wasn’t supposed to know others.  Despite being a touch surreal, it was definitely worthwhile.  I spent my summer in a temperature controlled room where they house the books and artifacts, doing inventory.  I handled artifacts dating from c. 400 CE to the present, and only cracked the surface of all that needed to be inventoried.  I worked for Catherine Walker, the curator of the museum part of the library, who previously worked at the Natural History Museum, and if I’ve learned only one thing this summer, it’s the importance of gloves.
http://lodgesonline.com/Lodges/NY/1/Images/gllogo.gif

Last summer I worked for Fly 16×9, a digital fashion art magazine.  It was a very small production, sharing an office with other companies in an intimate environment.  I spent my time photoshopping models, such as the above, and doing research on the Internet.  I also gave my input on videos and interviews they had done.  It was a much more hands on experience with the current art world, and gave me a good understanding of what goes on behind the scenes of popular media.
http://www.ozonweb.com/gr/files/2010/03/a-face-odyssey.jpg

Faculty News

Summer 2010 – Prof. Susan Merriam

Dutch Stone Houses, Hurley

I spent most of the summer in (very hot!) upstate New York working on two book projects. One, now in draft manuscript form, looks at representations of animals in early modern Europe. I’m particularly interested in exploring how the idea of the human was formed in relationship to the idea of the animal during this period. The second book, now in the research stages, is a hybrid of essays and cultural history. It examines the stretch of road leading from Kingston—New York’s first capital—to Woodbourne Correctional Facility, a medium security men’s prison located about 40 miles away. I made this drive once a week over the two semesters I taught in Bard’s Prison Initiative program, and was often struck by the number of settlements or places I came to imagine as utopias (early Dutch villages, summer camps, bungalow colonies) and dystopias (prisons, an abandoned reservation) along the route. The book examines both the road’s development (how this very rural area became the site of so many differing ideas about sociality) and theories about teaching as they relate to each place and moment in time. I also began an article on images of the Eucharist during the Catholic Reformation (forthcoming in an edited volume on Rubens’s Eucharist tapestries), and completed a book review to be published in Renaissance Quarterly (2011). I ended the summer with a research/pleasure trip to Stockholm and Berlin.

Student News

Summer 2010 – Sara Kornhauser

Eli Wilner

This summer I worked for Eli Wilner framing company in New York City. They have a gallery which houses their antique frames and an offsite studio space where reproduction frames are made as well antique frames are restored. I started with finishes–learning about the different layers that can be applied to the gilded frame to give depth and character to the color. Next, I learned how to guild and burnish frames.I also learned about the different layers of gesso and clay that are applied before the frame is gilded as well as how the clay and gilding water are prepared. I tried my hand at woodcarving, working with the master caver who was a 3rd generation carver from Ecuador.   I also learned about the process of restoring antique frames and made molds of frame sections that would be attached to loses on frames. In my final week at the studio I made my own small frame from start to finish.

Student News

Summer 2010 – Madeline Turner

Spider by Louise Bourgeoise

Before this past June, I really had no knowledge of contemporary art. I thought I couldn’t understand it and, therefore, I often chose not to deal with it. However, over the summer I had the amazing opportunity to immerse myself and develop my appreciation for the contemporary art world.  This immersion I speak of took place at the DIA:Beacon in upstate New York. At DIA, I interned for the education department and helped develop a proposal for a revamped tour plan for K-12 students. Our primary goal in creating this new tour was to make sure that we would never lecture the students. The artists exhibited at DIA, which include powerhouses Louise Bourgeoise, Andy Warhol, Michael Heizer, and Donald Judd, have created works that can take on so many different meanings to different viewers, that we decided the best way to let the students view the work was by emphasizing the individual experience. One of my favorite moments at DIA occurred when I was observing a tour for a group of eight year-olds. They just seemed to get it. The kids interacted with, played around, and experimented with works like Fred Sandback’s yarn installations and Richard Serra’s Torqued Ellipses. This singular experience and my experience at DIA as a whole exposed me to the idea that art is really for anybody as long as he or she has an open mind. This coming fall I will be continuing my work with the museum by guiding tours every Saturday. I am so grateful for not only having had this summer experience, but also for finding a place that will help me continue to grow as a member of the art world.

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