Topic: Visual arts

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Camera Lucida

Technology Visual arts

A camera lucida is an optical device used as a drawing aid by artists.

The camera lucida performs an optical superimposition of the subject being viewed upon the surface upon which the artist is drawing. The artist sees both scene and drawing surface simultaneously, as in a photographic double exposure. This allows the artist to duplicate key points of the scene on the drawing surface, thus aiding in the accurate rendering of perspective.

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Golden hat

Germany Time Archaeology Visual arts Fashion

Golden hats (or Gold hats) (German: Goldhüte, singular: Goldhut) are a very specific and rare type of archaeological artifact from Bronze Age Europe. So far, four such objects ("cone-shaped gold hats of the Schifferstadt type") are known. The objects are made of thin sheet gold and were attached externally to long conical and brimmed headdresses which were probably made of some organic material and served to stabilise the external gold leaf. The following Golden Hats are known as of 2012:

  • Golden Hat of Schifferstadt, found in 1835 at Schifferstadt near Speyer, c. 1400–1300 BC.
  • Avanton Gold Cone, incomplete, found at Avanton near Poitiers in 1844, c. 1000–900 BC.
  • Golden Cone of Ezelsdorf-Buch, found near Ezelsdorf near Nuremberg in 1953, c. 1000–900 BC; the tallest known specimen at c. 90 cm.
  • Berlin Gold Hat, found probably in Swabia or Switzerland, c. 1000–800 BC; acquired by the Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte, Berlin, in 1996.

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Hockney–Falco thesis

History Visual arts

The Hockney–Falco thesis is a theory of art history, advanced by artist David Hockney and physicist Charles M. Falco. Both claimed that advances in realism and accuracy in the history of Western art since the Renaissance were primarily the result of optical instruments such as the camera obscura, camera lucida, and curved mirrors, rather than solely due to the development of artistic technique and skill. Nineteenth-century artists' use of photography had been well documented. In a 2001 book, Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters, Hockney analyzed the work of the Old Masters and argued that the level of accuracy represented in their work is impossible to create by "eyeballing it". Since then, Hockney and Falco have produced a number of publications on positive evidence of the use of optical aids, and the historical plausibility of such methods. The hypothesis led to a variety of conferences and heated discussions.

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Lion-Man

Germany Archaeology Visual arts

The Löwenmensch figurine or Lion-man of the Hohlenstein-Stadel is a prehistoric ivory sculpture discovered in the Hohlenstein-Stadel, a German cave in 1939. The German name, Löwenmensch, meaning "lion-human", is used most frequently because it was discovered and is exhibited in Germany.

The lion-headed figurine is the oldest-known zoomorphic (animal-shaped) sculpture in the world, and the oldest-known uncontested example of figurative art. It has been determined by carbon dating of the layer in which it was found to be between 35,000 and 40,000 years old, and therefore is associated with the archaeological Aurignacian culture of the Upper Paleolithic. It was carved out of mammoth ivory using a flint stone knife. Seven parallel, transverse, carved gouges are on the left arm.

After several reconstructions that have incorporated newly found fragments, the figurine stands 31.1 cm (12.2 in) tall, 5.6 cm (2.2 in) wide, and 5.9 cm (2.3 in) thick. It currently is displayed in the Museum Ulm, Germany.

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Mail art

Visual arts

Mail art (also known as postal art and correspondence art) is a populist artistic movement centered on sending small scale works through the postal service. It initially developed out of what eventually became Ray Johnson's New York Correspondence School in the 1950s and the Fluxus movement in the 1960s, though it has since developed into a global movement that continues to the present.

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Mise en abyme

Heraldry and vexillology Visual arts

In Western art history, Mise en abyme (French pronunciation: ​[miz ɑ̃n‿abim]; also mise en abîme) is a formal technique of placing a copy of an image within itself, often in a way that suggests an infinitely recurring sequence. In film theory and literary theory, it refers to the technique of inserting a story within a story. The term is derived from heraldry and literally means "placed into abyss". It was first appropriated for modern criticism by the French author André Gide.

A common sense of the phrase is the visual experience of standing between two mirrors, seeing as a result an infinite reproduction of one's image. Another is the Droste effect, in which a picture appears within itself, in a place where a similar picture would realistically be expected to appear. That is named after the 1904 Droste cocoa package, which depicts a woman holding a tray bearing a Droste cocoa package, which bears a smaller version of her image.

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The Nebra sky disk

Germany Astronomy Archaeology Visual arts

The Nebra sky disk is a bronze disk of around 30 centimeters (11 34 in) diameter and a weight of 2.2 kilograms (4.9 lb), having a blue-green patina and inlaid with gold symbols. These symbols are interpreted generally as the Sun or full moon, a lunar crescent, and stars (including a cluster of seven interpreted as the Pleiades). Two golden arcs along the sides, interpreted to mark the angle between the solstices, were added later. A final addition was another arc at the bottom surrounded with multiple strokes (of uncertain meaning, variously interpreted as a Solar Barge with numerous oars, the Milky Way, or a rainbow).

The disk is attributed to a site in present-day Germany near Nebra, Saxony-Anhalt, and dated by Archaeological association to c. 1600 BC. Researchers suggest the disk is an artifact of the Bronze Age Unetice culture.

The style in which the disk is executed was unlike any artistic style then known from the period, with the result that the object was initially suspected of being a forgery, but is now widely accepted as authentic.

The Nebra sky disk features the oldest concrete depiction of the cosmos yet known from anywhere in the world. In June 2013 it was included in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register and termed "one of the most important archaeological finds of the twentieth century."

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Netherlandish Proverbs (1559)

Visual arts Belgium

Netherlandish Proverbs (Dutch: Nederlandse Spreekwoorden; also called Flemish Proverbs, The Blue Cloak or The Topsy Turvy World) is a 1559 oil-on-oak-panel painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder that depicts a scene in which humans and, to a lesser extent, animals and objects, offer literal illustrations of Dutch-language proverbs and idioms.

Running themes in Bruegel's paintings are the absurdity, wickedness and foolishness of humans, and this is no exception. The painting's original title, The Blue Cloak or The Folly of the World, indicates that Bruegel's intent was not just to illustrate proverbs, but rather to catalog human folly. Many of the people depicted show the characteristic blank features that Bruegel used to portray fools.

His son, Pieter Brueghel the Younger, specialised in making copies of his father's work and painted at least 16 copies of Netherlandish Proverbs. Not all versions of the painting, by father or son, show exactly the same proverbs and they also differ in other minor details.

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Non-photo blue

Color Visual arts

Non-photo blue (or non-repro blue) is a common tool used in the graphic design and print industry.

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Oxus Treasure

Iran London British Museum Visual arts Sculpture

The Oxus treasure (Persian: گنجینه آمودریا) is a collection of about 180 surviving pieces of metalwork in gold and silver, the majority rather small, plus perhaps about 200 coins, from the Achaemenid Persian period which were found by the Oxus river about 1877-1880. The exact place and date of the find remain unclear, and it is likely that many other pieces from the hoard were melted down for bullion; early reports suggest there were originally some 1500 coins, and mention types of metalwork that are not among the surviving pieces. The metalwork is believed to date from the sixth to fourth centuries BC, but the coins show a greater range, with some of those believed to belong to the treasure coming from around 200 BC. The most likely origin for the treasure is that it belonged to a temple, where votive offerings were deposited over a long period. How it came to be deposited is unknown.

As a group, the treasure is the most important survival of what was once an enormous production of Achaemenid work in precious metal. It displays a very wide range of quality of execution, with the many gold votive plaques mostly crudely executed, some perhaps by the donors themselves, while other objects are of superb quality, presumably that expected by the court.

The British Museum now has nearly all the surviving metalwork, with one of the pair of griffin-headed bracelets on loan from the Victoria and Albert Museum, and displays them in Room 52. The group arrived at the museum by different routes, with many items bequeathed to the nation by Augustus Wollaston Franks. The coins are more widely dispersed, and more difficult to firmly connect with the treasure. A group believed to come from it is in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, and other collections have examples.