The Art of Everyone

As we explore new ways to incorporate art into everyday life, we would like to share art of different cultures. The art of your ancestors may be something you think about very little on a day to day basis. You may not live in the same place as your past generations so you may rarely see your culture celebrated in your neck of the woods. Most places cherish their local heritage through museums and cultural festivals. Even if your unique heritage is not the same as the local one being celebrated, we would encourage you to go out and explore it. Learn more about the people who walked the same ground beneath you. Think about their stories, their struggles, and their everyday life. This knowledge combined with what you know and can learn about your own unique past can enrich your life. We never know where we are going until we know where we have been.


Russia

Early Russian works centered on Icon Paintings. These painters wanted to share God’s doctrine. The first major icon associated with Christianity was Jesus. The most famous piece from this time was called the “Holy Face.” It is also referred to as “Veronica’s Veil” based on its origin story. It was said to have been imprinted by Christ himself. These icons were thought to heal and work miracles.

 "The Holy Face"

"The Holy Face"

Starting in the middle of the 16th century, Russian paintings start to become influenced by Western European culture. During this period, Stroganov’s school was established. This work focused mostly on the tsar’s court masters. These pieces were created to be decorative and pretty. In the second half of the 17th century oil paints, light and shade modeling, and a greater focus on people and nature became en vogue. Simon Ushakov is one of the most famous artists of this time. Secular works began to appear during this time.

As we move into the 18th and early 19th centuries, paintings began to embrace all stages of Western art. Foreign painters and sculptors were invited to Russia and highly skilled domestic masters were formed. Academism was very trendy and involved austerity of drawing, strict rules of composition, and conventionality of palette. The greatest accolades during this period were given to portraits. The major Russian master to emerge from this time was F. Shubin.

 E.M. Chulkov by F. Shubin

E.M. Chulkov by F. Shubin

In the late 18th century there became an increased interest in folk life. This turned to a trend to paint national themes involving historic and military paintings. This was the time when the first national galleries were created. Russian artists began to be recognized around the world at international exhibitions and foreign art shows. Landscape painting became extremely popular and impressionism began to influence Russian works.

 "The Taking of the Snow Town," V. Surikov,

"The Taking of the Snow Town," V. Surikov,

By the 1910s, Russian avant-garde works began influencing the rest of the world. Artists were working to transfigure the very basics of art itself. New schools and trends were created as this art was developed. The improvisational style and abstractionism created by V. Kandinsky were probably the most famous. Many artists took on the task of constructing material space for the creation of logical and functional forms. This led to many changes in industrial design.

 "Composition VI," V. Kandinsky

"Composition VI," V. Kandinsky

By the 1930s avant-garde artists were running into issues caused by Soviet ideological pressure. Many artists of the time tried to combine realistic traditions with achievements of modern artists. In the 1960s there was a revival of Russian avant-garde. Some explored previous principles while others created new ones like conceptualism. [1]

 "The Palace of Projects," Ilya Kabakov

"The Palace of Projects," Ilya Kabakov


Thailand

The history of art in Thailand covers many periods and regions. Settlement in northern Thailand dates back 500,000 years ago. The early settlers were hunters and gatherers. These settlers used river stones as tools. It was not until around 5,000 years ago that they began to settle in villages, grow crops, and make pottery. Around 2,500 years ago, bronze and iron tools appear.

 Prehistoric Hand Painting

Prehistoric Hand Painting

Around the 1st Century Indian culture began to permeate Thailand. The writing system is based on Indian script. Pali became the language of Buddhism. The basis of law and political administration was based on Indian Dharmasastras. Indian literature influenced theatre, dance, and art. From the 7th to the 11th centuries Dvaravati art was on trend. This kind of art refers to the Mon communities who ruled over Thailand. It was focused on Hinayana Buddhist, Mahayana Buddhist, and Hindu religious objects. The style is influenced by India but local elements were included like Southeast Asian facial features. It was around this time that Buddhist clerics dictated that 32 features be included in any representation of Buddha so that he would be instantly recognizable. Hindu gods differed because they were given kingly status. They were usually portrayed with jewels and crowns.

 Mon Dvaravati Bronze Buddha

Mon Dvaravati Bronze Buddha

Thai Sukhothai, which translates to the dawn of happiness, features mostly sculptures inspired by Theravada Buddhism. This new style celebrated spiritual serenity merged with human form and mainly focused on images of Buddha. The artists worked to feature the compassionate and superhuman nature of Buddha. Sukhothai became famous for ceramics. They were usually dark brown or black and had a clear glaze.

 Sukhothai Period Stucco Buddha At Chaliang

Sukhothai Period Stucco Buddha At Chaliang

From 1350 to 1767 the Ayutthaya Kingdom ruled Thailand. The art works included bronze, woodcarving, stucco, and sandstone. Many of these works were destroyed by Burmese invasions. Later in the 17th century, splendor became fashionable and you begin to see art works featuring Buddha with ornate crowns and robes.

 Ayutthaya Period Black Lacquer

Ayutthaya Period Black Lacquer

Modern Thai art can mostly be found in Bangkok. Many art galleries in Thailand only sell traditional Thai pieces. These kinds of artists are usually influenced by Buddhist beliefs and motives. Some artists are going against the curve and are tackling controversial issues. Silapakorn University is the most reputable art school in Thailand. The school got inspiration from an Italian teacher and artist, Corrado Feroci in the 19th century. Feroci came to Thailand after being invited by the Government in 1923. He decided to stay in Thailand and take on the name Silpa Bhirasri. As a professor he promoted westernization but also tried to preserve traditional Thai arts. [2]

  "Power and Might (after R. Lichtenstein)," Jirapat Tatsanasomboon

 "Power and Might (after R. Lichtenstein)," Jirapat Tatsanasomboon


Morocco

Morocco has a unique artistic history. Morocco was at the center of the Hispano-Moorish architectural movement for almost six centuries (11C-17C). Moroccans are known for ceramics, woodwork, books, textiles, jewelry, and weaponry. The art and culture in Morocco is a huge draw for tourists. The architecture in Morocco has suffered from political disagreements, mainly over religion. There have been several groups set on destroying or hiding palaces and mosques. Under the French Protectorate, there was a movement to preserve buildings in the nation’s cultural capital. This policy, which created the Department of National Monuments, continues today. There are many who are working on restoring older buildings and banning new buildings within the historic center.

Traces of humanity’s distant ancestors, going back about 2 million years, can be found in Morocco. Artistic remnants have been found from the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. Most of these were rock carvings depicting animals, weapons, geometric patterns, and human beings. Many of these carvings are being preserved in the Rabat Archaeological Museum, though some remain in the southern Moroccan mountains. Archeologists believe many pieces from around five centuries ago have been lost due to ransacking or the wares being sold to distant lands. Some fine pottery, possibly of Greek origins, has been found. There is evidence that shows the Romans dominated this area from 40 to 285 AD in the wonderful public buildings. They built forums, basilicas, thermal baths, theaters, and arches. The Roman lifestyle became very popular with local upper classes. They began building spacious houses around an atrium decorated with mosaic floors and murals. Morocco became well known for these beautiful mosaics. Some of them remain in these homes while others have been transferred to museums. Most of the mosaics are black & white or multicolored geometric patterns. Moroccan mosaics differed from other works due to the fact that most of the scenes were based on mythology rather than everyday life.

 Triton in the thermal baths at Banasa

Triton in the thermal baths at Banasa

In the 7th Century, Morocco was invaded by Arab nations who brought Islamic art to the area. In the field of architecture it brought simple spaces decorated by opulent works in stucco, wood carvings, and tiling. These homes were usually surrounded by orchards and pools. The first mosque was built in Morocco around this time and the basic layout has not changed since. Minarets, square-shaped towers, were added to call people to prayer five times a day. These minarets can be decorated with arches, interlacing, or tiling. Madrasah, or colleges of theology, were also built during this time. These buildings generally feature a central fountain, zellij floors, stucco fanlights, and carved cedar wood cornices. Mausoleums for Muslims who had achieved something akin to sainthood by their deaths were built with white domed roofs. The Islamic religion does not like to include representations of humans in artwork, so most decorative art of this time included geometric patterns, floral motifs, and cursive or kufic script.

 Koutoubia Mosque Minaret

Koutoubia Mosque Minaret

The 16th and 17th centuries were dominated by two figures, the Saadian sultan Ahmed el-Mansur at Marrakech and the Alawite, Moulay Ismail at Meknès. Ahmed el-Mansur started a building program to embellish his city, Marrakech. He built a grand palace based on ones in Granada, but it was later torn down to build a new palace. The tombs were left alone until they were discovered in 1917. Archeologists found delicate marble columns, stalactite domes, and stucco lace-work. Though the palaces in Meknès were destroyed, the ruins that remain are very impressive. There was a large movement of Jewish and Muslim immigration during the 16th and 17th centuries that revitalized Moroccan art. The 19th century brought new palaces filled with local arts including painted carpentry, carpets, wall hangings, and copperware. In the 20th century the tradition of this style of art continued when the Hassan II Mosque was built in Casablanca.

 Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca

Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca

In the 20th century, many Europeans moved to Morocco. Architecture began to have a mix of all kinds of styles. General Henri Lyautey became the Resident General in 1912. He was very focused on urban planning. They decided to redesign Casablanca to have new districts with a distinct feel very different from the historic town centers. Wide avenues lined with trees and gardens were introduced. Many worked with this initiative to make sure modern techniques still included some Moroccan style. In the 1920s, the Art Deco style became very popular in Casablanca. In the 1960s, Jean- François Zecavo became famous for his “brutalist architecture” which featured lots of bare concrete. As Morocco has moved into the 21st century, they have managed to combine Moroccan traditions with European modernist trends.[3]  

 Kasbah Tamadot Hotel

Kasbah Tamadot Hotel


Well this journey into the art of different cultures just makes me want to break out my passport. It is so interesting how ancient cultures were so influenced by the countries around them. It is amazing how so many cultures on different parts of the globe progressed forward in a similar fashion. As we continue to progress as a human race hopefully we can use our increasingly connected world to study our different histories and learn from them. We can get inspiration for new kinds of art based on the art forms of ancient civilizations. This will hopefully bring exciting new art forms along with a better understanding for cultures different from our own. There is so much knowledge available at our fingertips, now we just need to get out and explore!

CrEATively Yours,

K

[1] http://www.russia-ic.com/culture_art/visual_arts/170/#.VugmZDHrvIU

[2] http://thailandsworld.com/en/thai-art/index.cfm

[3] http://travel.michelin.com/web/destination/Morocco/history-culture/Art_and_architecture