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30 April 2019Review of lecture on 25th April 2019
04 April 2019Review of lecture on 28th March 2019
22 March 2019Review of Study Day 13th March 2019
07 March 2019Review of lecture on 28th February 2019
31 January 2019Review of lecture on January 24th 2019
31 January 2019Lectures to take place on Monday evenings from Sept. 2019
13 October 2018Winning entry of the Service the Others category - Love Wokingham Photographic Competition
21 September 2018AGM - new committee members elected
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02 June 2015Venue Change for 2015-2016 Lecture Programme.
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29 July 2014Introductory Lecture

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Review of lecture on 25th April 2019
Tuesday 30 April 2019

Let the art speak for itself!

At The Arts Society (Wokingham) lecture on Thursday last we were taken back to the beginnings of ‘Art History’ and one of its first debates, over aesthetics – fuelled by Giorgio Vesari: Which is more important in art – the disegno (of Florence) or the colorito (of Venice)? This serious dispute has continued down the ages, even to the modern day – maybe we all have a bias for one or the other? Our excellent lecturer, Caroline Brooke, said she was torn between the two but that her soul leant towards Venice!  

Giorgio Vasari, (often called the first art historian) wrote ‘The Lives of the Artists’ in 1550, in it he described disegno as the ‘foundation’ of all the visual arts -  the act of drawing was not only using line to define a subject, it was the underpinning for all the arts: painting, sculpture, architecture etc. However it must be remembered that Vasari was a Florentine artist and author employed by Cosimo 1 of Florence and thus praised the Florentine approach!

For Florentine painters drawing or disegno was the starting point for their work. They looked back to the classical Greek art, and their patrons preferred a ‘classical’ style of art. They looked to real life, they sketched and drew what they saw, they observed scenes and details, taking drawing to a new level. Leonardo di Vinci raised the status of drawing and took it into new areas, such as anatomy. They drew cartoons of compositions, and parts of compositions and sometimes used their drawings to trace or transmit the ‘design’ onto the canvas or fresco – there is evidence of this on Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling.

Meanwhile Venetian painters employed colorito, the direct application of colour (paint) on to the canvas or panel. According to Lodovico Dolce ‘Venetian artists often worked out compositions directly on the canvas, layering patches of colour and gradually softening their colouring until it equated to nature’.

What influenced Venetian painters, such as the great Titian to work differently? Their art traditions were Byzantine, not Roman. Venice was an independent trading city with strong links to the Byzantine Empire, never conquered by Rome. There was a strong ‘narrative’ tradition in its art, not being driven by the ‘classical’ tradition in Florence. There was little heritage of fresco painting, due to the damp, so they worked on canvas; they also had access to the vibrant pigments coming from the east and used oil paint rather than tempura, which can be applied directly and adjusted and changed as they worked. The patrons and artists in the city had long collected Netherlandish art of the 14th & 15 centuries.

We left with a greater understanding of this debate which has raged from the Renaissance to present day, but at the end of the day Caroline encouraged us to ‘Let the art speak for itself’. So diaries out, when can we fit in a trip to Florence & Venice? As one of our members remarked - Simply a brilliant lecturer, completely a master of her subject. Indeed she left you wanting far more. And also desperately wising to revisit Florence & Venice, preferably with her as guide!

Our next lecture, Photography as Fine Art by Brian Stater, will be held on May 23rd at The Church, St Marks Road, Binfield, RG42 4AN, commencing at 7.45pm. Do come and join us. Visitor Fee: £6.