Art history essay on Adopting an approach
Martin Robertson and Mary Beard’s manuscript, Adopting an Approach, focuses on the study of Athenian pottery. The manuscript begins, by describing Sir John Bagley and his revolutionary method of studying Greek vases. The Bagley Method focuses on the technical conventions of Greek Vases such as naming the artist, dating the pieces and then grouping them based off of similar characteristics. Bagley “provided for the first time a comprehensive framework of analysis for Athenian painting, and a way of dating and classifying. (Pig. 16) However, what Beard’s main argument suggests is that it is not the artists that help us understand the importance of the vases because even if a vase is assigned to a specific time period or artist, there is still no way of knowing anything about that artist. These artists “have no existence, no social or historical reality that we can investigate outside the pots. ” (pig. 17) So, rather than focusing on the artist-producer, Beard makes the argument of switching the focus to the viewer.
What is important is the actual vase and thus, we should be asking questions about the vases and what the images on the vases represent and mean. Beard’s claim is that the images on Athenian pottery are directly related to Athenian culture, society and ideas. The images painted on Athenian pottery are not necessarily exact replicas of Athenian everyday life; they are merely a representation of Athenian society. What Beard most significantly addresses, is the representation of women on these vases and what they tell us about Athenian society.
Pictured on the vases is the elite, ideal woman. The purpose of this was to show the proper female behavior. The oppression of women in Athenian society excluded them from public ND political life; they were confined to the home. Women were domestic and their main Job was to bear children. What is interesting about these vases is that they also show a very different type of woman. This other type of woman was called, Hetaeras and their role was to be the partner of the Athenian man in sexual pleasure.
Beard clearly states, “if the Job of the wife was to bear children, then it was the role of the hetaeras to provide him with erotic delight. ” These two types of women are shown in the kylie in figures seven and eight. This particular kylie is a good example because it wows how the women contradict each other and through this piece we can understand the Jobs of each type of woman and we can speculate how they balanced one another out in Athenian society. Adopting an Approach has many strong arguments and claims throughout the manuscript.
Particularly in the beginning, Beard does a great Job of enticing the assumed college-level reader and relating to that specific audience. She does this when explaining, “understanding the images around us,” by talking about a French perfume advertisement. By doing this, she relates to the age group that would be reading this manuscript by combining meeting that they might be familiar with, to something they are unfamiliar with. Although this is initially a strong way to go about attracting the reader, it needs to be done at the right moments.
On pages fourteen and fifteen, she gives many more unrelated examples, which ultimately, causes the reader to forget the original point trying to be made. Beard’s claim needed to be made quicker, before the reader loses sight of what the article is about. If this article were to be published in the Undergraduate’s Guide to Art History, I would eliminate a lot to the extra examples that aren’t necessary to get Beard’s point across. The beginning of the manuscript also does a great Job of explaining Beagle’s Method and why it is of importance.
In addition, Beard clearly states what he believes is the problem with the Bagley method, and why it is not enough to fully understand the importance of Greek Vases. While Beagle’s method is explained so clearly, on the other hand, the main argument and what Beard’s new method entails is not states so clearly, in fact I was not able to fully understand everything until I read the very last concluding paragraph. I think that is a necessary change that would have to be made before publication. The reader should be able to understand the main argument, prior to finishing the entire manuscript.
Beard’s makes her personal claim much too subtly; a clear thesis would have been helpful. For the purpose of this manuscript being suitable for the Undergraduates Guide to Art History, Beard mentions many aspects of Athenian pottery, such as black and red figure, that are important to understand. I think this essay should be published, with a few modifications, because it elaborates on ideas and important aspects of Athenian art. Rather than Just talking about what black and deed figure is as a painting style, we get to understand the importance of the painting style, which is the figure.
The humans painted on these vases are the most important aspect and “all attention is concentrated on the figures of men, women and their Olympian counterparts. ” Adopting an Approach, should be published in the Undergraduate’s guide to Art History, because it gives so much context about Athenian society and Culture, by explaining it through the artwork on the vases. In a typical art history class, one might not be able to gain all of this knowledge, but it works in this manuscript because is explained through the art.