Thursday, September 09, 2004

Good Eye and Vasari's Tradition

I was thinking today about the concept of a or the GOOD EYE in art (painting, sculpture, architecture, film making probably not music). I can hear it so often that someone says he or she has a good eye for Art. It is complicated, the fact that what is the standard for having a good eye and it has a great tradition in art texts, art books and art magazines. WHY!? I start to look in art history sources and I find this: One of the First and the most important characters of History of Art, the one who actually wrote the first Art History book is Giorgio Vasari. His book "Lives of the Artists" is a biography of those artists who were important in Vasarie's belief in history. None of them are woman of course. His idea about Art is very important, interesting and influencing.

"Vasari was Italian painter, architect and biographer. Vasari wrote with a definite philosophy of art and art history. He believed that art is in the first instance imitation of nature and that progress in painting consists of the perfecting of the means of representation. He accepted the belief of Italian humanism that these had been taken to a high level of perfection in classical antiquity, that art had passed through a period of decline in the Middle Ages, and that it was revived and set once more on its true path by Giotto. The main theme of the Lives was to set forth the revival of arts in Tuscany by Giotto and Cimabue, its steady progress at the hands of such artists as Ghiberti, Brunelleschi, and Donatello, and its culmination with Leonardo, Raphael, and above all Michelangelo, whom Vasari idolized and whose biography was the only one of a living artist to appear in the first edition* of his book (the second edition includes accounts of several artists then living, as well as Vasari's own auto-biography).
The idea of artistic progress Vasari promulgated subsequently coloured most writing on the period. Although Vasari's testimony has often been impugned on particular points (see for example Andrea del Castagno and Andrea del Sarto), he gathered together an enormous amount of invaluable information and presented it in a lively style, full of memorable anecdotes. Moreover, his qualitative judgments have generally stood the test of time as well. His book became the model for artistic biographers in other countries, such as van Mander in the Netherlands, Palomino in Spain, and Sandrart in Germany."*

The question is still remained unanswered for me, although I realize that I was not the first one who thinks of this!

* The Lives was published in florence in 1550 and enlarged in 1568

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