16 episodes

“Unboxing the Canon” takes a closer look at the history of Western art. We might be seduced by the pretty packaging, such as soft brush strokes, brilliant colours, grand gestures, expert carving, even traditional iconography. But what happens when we take a deeper look? When we open the packaging and see what might have been invisible, or what is a cultural blind spot? Join Professor Linda Steer and listen in for a take on art history that connects the past to the present, critiques the canon, and reveals what might not be immediately apparent in Western art and its institutions.

Unboxing the Canon Linda Steer

    • Arts

“Unboxing the Canon” takes a closer look at the history of Western art. We might be seduced by the pretty packaging, such as soft brush strokes, brilliant colours, grand gestures, expert carving, even traditional iconography. But what happens when we take a deeper look? When we open the packaging and see what might have been invisible, or what is a cultural blind spot? Join Professor Linda Steer and listen in for a take on art history that connects the past to the present, critiques the canon, and reveals what might not be immediately apparent in Western art and its institutions.

    Episode 14: Visible/Invisible

    Episode 14: Visible/Invisible

    Episode 14: Visible/Invisible
    In this final episode of Season 2, we re-think art historian Linda Nochlin’s famous question “why have there been no great women artists?” through an intersectional lens that addresses work by women artists of colour. This episode examines co-host Madeline Collin’s research on visibility, invisibility and marginalization in the work of contemporary artists. We talk about the politics of looking and how we might think about the gaze in the work of Kara Walker, Teresa Margolles, Ana Mendieta, and Mari Katayama. We also consider the notion of the absent body and its trace in several works of art.       
     
    Sources + further reading:
    “All That’s Left: The Art of Teresa Margolles.” The Critical Flame. http://criticalflame.org/all-thats-left-the-art-of-teresa-margolles/.
    “Ana Mendieta - MoMA.” The Museum of Modern Art. https://www.moma.org/artists/3924.
    Burton, Laini, and Jana Melkumova-Reynolds. “‘My Leg Is a Giant Stiletto Heel’: Fashioning the Prosthetised Body.” Fashion Theory 23, no. 2 (2019): 195–218.
    Campion, Chris. “Punk Prosthetics: The Mesmerising Art of Living Sculpture Mari Katayama.” The Guardian, March 6, 2017, sec. Art and design. https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/mar/06/mari-katayama-japanese-artist-disabilities-interview.
    “Covered in Time and History: The Films of Ana Mendieta.” NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale. https://nsuartmuseum.org/exhibition/covered-in-time-and-history-the-films-of-ana-mendieta/.
    “‘Each Bubble Is a Body.’ Teresa Margolles.” Seismopolite. http://www.seismopolite.com/each-bubble-is-a-body-teresa-margolles.
    “Kara Walker. Gone: An Historical Romance of a Civil War as It Occurred b’tween the Dusky Thighs of One Young Negress and Her Heart. 1994.” The Museum of Modern Art. https://www.moma.org/collection/works/110565.
    Matsumoto, Masanobu. “Meet the Rising Japanese Artist Who Uses Her Amputated Legs to Question What Is a ‘Correct Body.’” ARTnews.Com. April 27, 2022. https://www.artnews.com/art-news/artists/meet-japanese-artist-mari-katayama-1234626715/.
    McKeon, Lucy. “The Controversies of Kara Walker.” Hyperallergic. March 19, 2013. http://hyperallergic.com/67125/the-controversies-of-kara-walker/.
    Nochlin, Linda. “From 1971: Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” ARTnews.Com. May 30, 2015. https://www.artnews.com/art-news/retrospective/why-have-there-been-no-great-women-artists-4201/.
    “Teresa Margolles.” Peter Kilchmann Gallery.  https://www.peterkilchmann.com/artists/teresa-margolles/overview/sonidos-de-la-muerte-sounds-of-death-2008.
    Wuertz, Christopher Alessandrini, Stephanie. “Remembering Ana Mendieta.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art. https://www.metmuseum.org/perspectives/articles/2021/10/from-the-vaults-remembering-ana-mendieta.
    Credits
    Season 2 of Unboxing the Canon is produced by Professor Linda Steer for her course “Introduction to the History of Western Art” in the Department of Visual Arts at Brock University. Our sound designer, co-host and contributing researcher is Madeline Collins. 
    Brock University is located on the traditional lands of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples, many of whom continue to live and work here today. This territory is covered by the Upper Canada Treaties and is within the land protected by the Dish with One Spoon Wampum Agreement. Today this gathering place is home to many First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples and acknowledging reminds us that our great standard of living is directly related to the resources and friendship of Indigenous people.
    Our logo was created by Cherie Michels. The theme song has been adapted from “Night in Venice” Kevin MacLeod and is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution International 4.0.
    Grants from the Humanities Research Institute and from Match of Minds at Brock University support the production of this podcast, which is produced as an open educational resource. Unboxing the Canon i

    • 21 min
    Episode 13: Primitivism & Its Legacies

    Episode 13: Primitivism & Its Legacies

    Episode 13: Primitivism & Its Legacies
    This episode looks at the emergence of the concept of Primitivism in the 19th century and examines how it was used in the 20th century. We cover different kinds of historical Primitivism, and problematize this Euro-centric term. After considering historical artists, we turn towards contemporary artists who interact with this legacy. Artists covered include Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso, Wifredo Lam, Fatu Feu’u, Zak Ové, and Romuald Hazoumé.
    Sources + further reading:
    Aesthetica Magazine. “Romuald Hazoumé.” https://aestheticamagazine.com/romuald-hazoume/
    Brick Bay Sculpture Trail. “Fatu Feu’u - Orongo on Exhibition at Brick Bay.” https://www.brickbaysculpture.co.nz/fatu-feuu-orongo
    “Henri Rousseau.” National Gallery of Art. https://www.nga.gov/features/slideshows/henri-rousseau.html.
    Higgins, Katherine. “About the Artist: Fatu Feu’u.” The Contemporary Pacific 27, no. 1 (2015): VII.
    Kramer, Charles, and Grant, Kim. “Primitivism and Modern Art.” Smarthistory. https://smarthistory.org/primitivism-and-modern-art/.
    LACMA. “The Invisible Man and the Masque of Blackness.” http://www.lacma.org/art/exhibition/invisible-man-and-masque-blackness.
    The Metropolitan Museum of Art. “Surrealism Beyond Borders.” https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2021/surrealism-beyond-borders.
    The Metropolitan Museum of Art. “Reconfiguring an African Icon.” https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2011/reconfiguring-an-african-icon.
    Mitter, Partha. “Extract - Surrealism’s Tricky Global Transformation.” The Art Newspaper, February 8, 2022. https://www.theartnewspaper.com/2022/02/08/extract-or-surrealisms-tricky-global-transformation.
    Obuobi, Sharon. “British Museum’s First Commissioned Caribbean Sculptures Tower Over Its Great Court.” Hyperallergic, September 8, 2015. http://hyperallergic.com/235163/british-museums-first-commissioned-caribbean-sculptures-tower-over-its-great-court/.
    Tate Modern. “Modernism.” https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/m/modernism.
    Tate Modern. “Who Is Wifredo Lam?” https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/wifredo-lam/who-is.
    Tuuhia, Tiare. “The Tahitian Woman behind Paul Gauguin’s Paintings.” Art UK, September 2021. https://artuk.org/discover/stories/the-tahitian-woman-behind-paul-gauguins-paintings.
     
    Music Credits:
    Igor Stravinsky. “L'Adoration de la Terre” from The Rite of Spring, 1927. National Orchestra of France.
    Entretiens d'André Breton avec André Parinaud. 1952. Ubuweb. https://ubu.com/sound/breton.html
    “A New Day in Samoa” -- Audio from a Documentary, n.d. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_New_Day_in_Samoa.webm
    soundskeep. Recording of Motorcycles, 2014. https://freesound.org/people/soundskeep/sounds/236986/
     
    Credits:
    Season 2 of Unboxing the Canon is produced by Professor Linda Steer for her course “Introduction to the History of Western Art” in the Department of Visual Arts at Brock University. Our sound designer, co-host and contributing researcher is Madeline Collins. 
    Brock University is located on the traditional lands of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples, many of whom continue to live and work here today. This territory is covered by the Upper Canada Treaties and is within the land protected by the Dish with One Spoon Wampum Agreement. Today this gathering place is home to many First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples and acknowledging reminds us that our great standard of living is directly related to the resources and friendship of Indigenous people.
    Our logo was created by Cherie Michels. The theme song has been adapted from “Night in Venice” Kevin MacLeod and is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution International 4.0.
    Grants from the Humanities Research Institute and from Match of Minds at Brock University support the production of this podcast, which is produced as an open educational resource. Unboxing the Canon is archived in the Brock Digi

    • 30 min
    Episode 12: Where is the Land in Landscape?

    Episode 12: Where is the Land in Landscape?

    Episode 12: Where is the Land in Landscape?
     
    “Where is the Land in Landscape?” investigates the histories of landscape painting in the canon of Western Art and assesses a few contemporary works of art that counter European modes of thinking about land, territory, nature and the environment. In the first part of the episode we cover historical painters working in Dutch, French, British and American landscape traditions. In the second part we at contemporary art including Cherokee artist Kay WalkingStick’s paintings of place and space, the protest performance art piece Mirror Shield Project: Water Serpent Action at the Oceti Sakowin initiated by Cannupa Hanska Luger and Rory Wakemup, and Rebecca Belmore’s Ayum-ee-aawach Oomama-mowan: Speaking to Their Mother.
     
    Sources + further reading:
    Adams, Ann Jensen. “Competing Communities in the ‘Great Bog of Europe’: Identity and Seventeenth-Century Dutch Landscape Painting.” In Mitchell (see below).
    Auricchio, Authors: Laura. “The Transformation of Landscape Painting in France.” The Met’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/lafr/hd_lafr.htm.
    Baetjer, Authors: Katharine. “Claude Lorrain (1604/5?–1682).” The Met’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/clau/hd_clau.htm.
    Belmore, Rebecca. Artist’s website. https://www.rebeccabelmore.com/.
    Benally, Razelle. How to Build Mirror Shields for Standing Rock Water Protectors, 2016. https://vimeo.com/191394747.
    Cole, Thomas. View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm—The Oxbow. Metropolitan Museum of Art. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/10497.
    Hanska, Cannupa. “MIRROR SHIELD PROJECT.” Accessed December 12, 2021. http://www.cannupahanska.com/mniwiconi.
    Harris, Beth and Steven Zucker. "Constable and the English Landscape." Smarthistory, August 9, 2015. https://smarthistory.org/constable-and-the-english-landscape/.
    Liedtke, Authors: Walter. “Landscape Painting in the Netherlands.” The Met’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/lpnd/hd_lpnd.htm.
    Mitchell, W. J. T. Landscape and Power.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994.
    Morris, Kate. Shifting Grounds: Landscape in Contemporary Native American Art. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2019.
    Tate. “Landscape – Art Term.” Tate. https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/l/landscape.
    WalkingStick, “Kay. Artist’s website. http://www.kaywalkingstick.com/.
     
    Music Credits:
    Alfred Cellier (British) - The Pirates of Penzance (Overture) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:DOyly_Carte_1957_-_The_Pirates_of_Penzance_01_-_Overture.ogg
    Hector Berlioz (French) - Symphonie Fantastique 2nd movement excerpt https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hector_Berlioz_Symphonie_fantastique_2nd_movement_excerpt.mp3
    Patrick Gilmore (American) - When Johnny Comes Marching Home https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:When_Johnny_Comes_Marching_Home,_U.S._Military_Academy_Band.wav
    Standing Rock Water Protestors https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Call_to_block_Pipeline_CannonBall_,North_Dakota_SACRED_STONE_CAMP.webm
     
    Credits:
    Season 2 of Unboxing the Canon is produced by Professor Linda Steer for her course “Introduction to the History of Western Art” in the Department of Visual Arts at Brock University. Our sound designer, co-host and contributing researcher is Madeline Collins. 
    Brock University is located on the traditional lands of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples, many of whom continue to live and work here today. This territory is covered by the Upper Canada Treaties and is within the land protected by the Dish with One Spoon Wampum Agreement. Today this gathering place is home to many First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples and acknowledging reminds us that our great standard of living is directly related to the resources and friendship of Indigenous people.
    Our logo was created by Cherie Mi

    • 25 min
    Episode 11: On Disability

    Episode 11: On Disability

    This episode of Unboxing the Canon introduces the topic of disability and the visual arts, looking at both historical and contemporary examples. We consider the near absence of visible disability in the history of Western art and discuss how some contemporary artists are representing disability in powerful ways. Beginning with Diego Velázquez’s 1656 painting Las Meninas, this episode  examines it and other historical works through the ideas of contemporary artist, writer and disability activist, Riva Lehrer. Then we turn towards the work of Persimmon Blackbridge, a Canadian artist whose work touches on disability, institutionalization, censorship, and queer identity. We demystify the artist-genius myth and end with a brief discussion about how curatorial choices can make art more accessible.
     
    Sources + further reading:
    Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology, and Access to Life. “Persimmon Blackbridge.” https://bodiesintranslation.ca/persimmon-blackbridge/.
    Diamond, Sara. “Still Sane.” Interview with Persimmon Blackbridge. Fuse Magazine, Fall 1984, 30-35. http://openresearch.ocadu.ca/id/eprint/1844/1/Diamond_Sane_1984.pdf 
    “Las Meninas - The Collection - Museo Nacional Del Prado.” https://www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/art-work/las-meninas/9fdc7800-9ade-48b0-ab8b-edee94ea877f.
    Lehrer, Riva. “Presence and Absence. The Paradox of Disability in Portraiture.” In Contemporary Art and Disability Studies, 185–202. New York: Routledge, 2019.
     Riva Lehrer – website. https://www.rivalehrerart.com.
    “Perejón, Buffoon of the Count of Benavente and of the Grand Duke of Alba - The Collection - Museo Nacional Del Prado.” https://www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/art-work/perejon-buffoon-of-the-count-of-benavente-and-of/724b1f54-4ea6-465e-9d49-fd2999884e4c.
    Sandals, Leah. “8 Things Everyone Needs to Know About Art and Disability.” Canadian Art. March 3, 2016. https://canadianart.ca/features/7-things-everyone-needs-to-know-about-art-disability/.
    Schönwiese, Volker, and Petra Flieger. “The Painting of a Disabled Man from the 16th Century - a Participatory Action Research Project,” n.d., 44. http://bidok.uibk.ac.at/projekte/bildnis/bildnis-ambras/handout_san_francisco.pdf
    Siebers, Tobin. “Disability aesthetics and the body beautiful: Signposts in the history of art.” Alter (4), vol 2, 2008, 329-336 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.alter.2008.08.002.
    Stewart, Sophia. “Enough with the Ableist Worship of Frida Kahlo.” Hyperallergic, July 15, 2021. http://hyperallergic.com/662606/frida-and-my-left-leg-emily-black/.
    Tangled Art + Disability. https://tangledarts.org/.
    “Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y - The Collection - Museo Nacional Del Prado.” https://www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/artist/velazquez-diego-rodriguez-de-silva-y/434337e9-77e4-4597-a962-ef47304d930d?searchMeta=velazquez.
    Wexler, Alice, and John K. Derby. Contemporary Art and Disability Studies. Routledge Advances in Art and Visual Studies. New York, NY: Routledge, 2020.
     
    Music Credits:
    Jarolslav Jezek, Bugatti Step (1931). https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jarolslav_Jezek_Orchestra_Bugatti_Step_1931.ogg
    Robert Schumann. Scenes from Childhood, Op. 15 No. 3: Blind Man’s Buff, n.d. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Robert_Schumann_-_scenes_from_childhood,_op._15_-_iii._blind_man%27s_buff.ogg.
     
    Credits
    Season 2 of Unboxing the Canon is produced by Professor Linda Steer for her course “Introduction to the History of Western Art” in the Department of Visual Arts at Brock University. Our sound designer, co-host and contributing researcher is Madeline Collins. 
    Brock University is located on the traditional lands of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples, many of whom continue to live and work here today. This territory is covered by the Upper Canada Treaties and is within the land protected by the Dish with One Spoon Wampum Agreement. Today this gathering place is home to many First N

    • 19 min
    Episode 10: Thinking and Rethinking Orientalism

    Episode 10: Thinking and Rethinking Orientalism

    Episode 10: Thinking and Rethinking Orientalism
    In this episode, called “Thinking and Rethinking Orientalism,” we examine Orientalism as a particular version of the Western gaze that influenced many 19th century European painters. The Western or European gaze treats non-Western subjects as different and inferior, but also as exotic, mysterious, or enticing. After examining the orientalist visual tropes in paintings by Gérôme and Delacroix, we turn towards contemporary artists. Moroccan photographer Lalla Essaydi creates meaningful portraits of Muslim women that challenge perceptions of Arab female identity. Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian was an Iranian artist whose works combine Eastern and Western influences into a unique sculptural style. We take a look at her series Fourth Family.
     
    Sources + further reading:
    Edward W. Said. Orientalism. New York: Vintage Books, 1979.
    Nancy Demerdash. “Orientalism.” Smarthistory. https://smarthistory.org/orientalism
    Eugène Delacroix. The Death of Sardanapalus, 1827. Oil on canvas, 12 ft 10 in x 16 ft 3 in. (3.92 x 4.96 m), Musée du Louvre, Paris. https://collections.louvre.fr/ark:/53355/cl010065757
    Kathryn Calley Galitz. “Romanticism.” Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/roma/hd_roma.htm
    British Museum Blog. “How Did the Islamic World Influence Western Art?” British Museum Blog.  https://blog.britishmuseum.org/how-did-the-islamic-world-influence-western-art/
    British Museum Blog. “An Introduction to Orientalist Painting.” British Museum Blog. https://blog.britishmuseum.org/an-introduction-to-orientalist-painting/.
    Jean Léon-Gérôme. The Slave Market, 1871. Oil on canvas, 59.7 x 74.9cm. Cincinnati Art Museum, Ohio. https://www.cincinnatiartmuseum.org/art/explore-the-collection?id=11295788
    “Lalla Essaydi,” http://lallaessaydi.com/1.html
    “Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian: Infinite Possibility. Mirror Works and Drawings, 1974–2014. Guggenheim Museum. https://www.guggenheim.org/exhibition/monir
     Hussein Bicar. http://hbicar.com/biography.html  
    Abdul Qader Al Rais. http://admaf.org/artists/abdul-qader-al-rais
    Charles Hossein Zenderoudi. http://www.zenderoudi.com/english/artwork.html
     
    Music Credits
    Amitchell125.  Beethoven. Opening of String Quartet No. 1. 1801. CC BY-SA 4.0
    Rimsky-Korsakov. Scheherazade, Symphonic Suite, Op. 35. The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra conducted by Pierre Monteux. Violin solo by Naoum Blinder. CC0 1.0
    JuliusH. Bandari - Persian Arabic Music - Khaliji Drum and Nay Flute. Pixabay license.
    Andrewfai. Enti w Ana arabic song OUD Cover. Pixabay license.
    Bagher Moazen. Struggle. We played a 10 second sample of this work. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode
     
    Credits
    Season 2 of Unboxing the Canon is produced by Professor Linda Steer for her course “Introduction to the History of Western Art” in the Department of Visual Arts at Brock University. Our sound designer, co-host and contributing researcher is Madeline Collins. 
    Brock University is located on the traditional lands of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples, many of whom continue to live and work here today. This territory is covered by the Upper Canada Treaties and is within the land protected by the Dish with One Spoon Wampum Agreement. Today this gathering place is home to many First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples and acknowledging reminds us that our great standard of living is directly related to the resources and friendship of Indigenous people.
    Our logo was created by Cherie Michels. The theme song has been adapted from “Night in Venice” Kevin MacLeod and is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution International 4.0.
    Grants from the Humanities Research Institute and from Match of Minds at Brock University support the production of this podcast, which is produced as an open educational resource. Unboxing the Canon is archived in the Brock Digital Repository. Find it at https://dr.library.brocku.

    • 24 min
    Season 2 Trailer

    Season 2 Trailer

    Season 2 will launch soon!

    • 1 min

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