“The isms go; the ist dies; art remains.”
Vladimir Nabokov in his lecture on Gustave Flaubert, asserting the historic relativity and therefore the artistic irrelevance of academic terms like “realism” or “post-modernist.” (via mills)

(Source: mills)

“The teaching of art is the teaching of all things.”

I’ve been going back and listening to some old episodes of BBC’s wonder In Our Time podcast. I really enjoyed this one on the famous Victorian art critic John Ruskin and this quote from Ruskin’s writing stopped me dead in my tracks.

I took four art history courses in school (two general art, and two design-specific) and found that the best art history courses always teach you more than expected. I think learning about art also teaches you about cultures and people and religion and politics. I’ve found the more I learn about art, the more I want to learn about everything surrounding it.

One of my favorite professors in school was my first design history professor and the reason he was my favorite was because I found the most interesting things I was learning were not the things inside my design text book. He had an uncanny ability to make connections between cultures and images making for a more holistic history course that guided by design movements. Think James Burke or John Berger. Learning about art is learning about the world.

The Olduvai handaxe is largely believed to be the first great invention. A stone handaxe is like a prehistoric Swiss Army knife—an essential tool with multiple uses like drilling, cutting trees and meat or scraping bark. What’s most interesting about the handaxe, however, is that it is obvious there was a thoughtfulness and care put into it’s construction. It was intentional.
Maybe you could put it this way: the handaxe is the first glimpse in history of conceptual thought. Humans and animals have used found tools since the dawn of time, but with this axe, someone had to imagine something useful within a rough stone. And then craft it.
Looking at a handaxe, Sir James Dyson of Dyson vacuum cleaner fame observes:
What interests me about this is that it’s not really very practical. It’s double-sided, it has a sharp edge both sides, and it’s symmetrical. It’s almost as though it’s an object of beauty rather than a practical object. So I wonder actually if it’s a decorative thing, or even something like a ceremonial sword to make you look brave, powerful, and maybe to pull women.
The handaxe, of course, does have a practical use and has been found all over the world from Africa to Europe to East Asia to the Middle East. The handaxe shows human’s ability to see potential in the world around us but it also shows a desire for beauty, for decoration, for aesthetics. The handaxe is the first great invention and maybe, just maybe, the beginning of art.
See Also: The BBC’s History of the World in 100 Objects episode on the Olduvai Handaxe.

The Olduvai handaxe is largely believed to be the first great invention. A stone handaxe is like a prehistoric Swiss Army knife—an essential tool with multiple uses like drilling, cutting trees and meat or scraping bark. What’s most interesting about the handaxe, however, is that it is obvious there was a thoughtfulness and care put into it’s construction. It was intentional.

Maybe you could put it this way: the handaxe is the first glimpse in history of conceptual thought. Humans and animals have used found tools since the dawn of time, but with this axe, someone had to imagine something useful within a rough stone. And then craft it.

Looking at a handaxe, Sir James Dyson of Dyson vacuum cleaner fame observes:

What interests me about this is that it’s not really very practical. It’s double-sided, it has a sharp edge both sides, and it’s symmetrical. It’s almost as though it’s an object of beauty rather than a practical object. So I wonder actually if it’s a decorative thing, or even something like a ceremonial sword to make you look brave, powerful, and maybe to pull women.

The handaxe, of course, does have a practical use and has been found all over the world from Africa to Europe to East Asia to the Middle East. The handaxe shows human’s ability to see potential in the world around us but it also shows a desire for beauty, for decoration, for aesthetics. The handaxe is the first great invention and maybe, just maybe, the beginning of art.

See Also: The BBC’s History of the World in 100 Objects episode on the Olduvai Handaxe.

“Stendhal syndrome is a psychosomatic illness that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to art, usually when the art is particularly beautiful or a large amount of art is in a single place.”
I am now completely fascinated with Stendhal Syndrome