9 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

    • Visual 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 8: Appropriation and Copying

    Episode 8: Appropriation and Copying

    Episode 8: Appropriation & CopyingNovember 25, 2020.In this episode, “Appropriation & Copying,” I take a look at the ways in which artists refer to the work of their predecessors through copying and appropriation. Art instruction uses copying as a method to learn. In addition, artists refer to their predecessors in a myriad of ways by quoting or remaking existing works of art. We can think of the history of Western art as a conversation between works of art, past and present. Appropriation differs. Appropriation art takes a known work of art and uses it in a way that reveals something about the original, but also creates a new work of art. Sometimes the differences between the original and the new work of art are theoretical, yet not visible. As a form of cultural critique, appropriation can reveal sublimated meanings in a work of art, political meanings, or socio-cultural meanings. While the verb “appropriate” has various meanings, in this episode, to appropriate means taking a work of art and re-making it in a way that reveals the original’s meaning and simultaneously creates new meanings for the appropriation. This episode will briefly consider the modern work of Manet and Duchamp before turning towards contemporary art by Kehinde Wiley, Kara Walker, and Yasumasa Morimura, all of which appropriate the content or forms (or both) of the canon of Western art. Sources + further reading:Detroit Institute of Arts, “Officer of the Hussars,” Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 89 (2015), https://www.dia.org/art/collection/object/officer-hussars-98007 Marcel Duchamp,  L.H.O.O.Q.,https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/7/74/Marcel_Duchamp%2C_1919%2C_L.H.O.O.Q.jpg Alexxa Gotthardt, “The Japanese Photographer Placing Himself in Art History’s Most Famous Scenes,” Artsy, October 18, 2018, https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-yasumasa-morimura-places-art-historys-famous-scenes “Rijksstudio,” Rijksmuseum, https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/rijksstudio. Tate, “Kara Walker’s Fons Americanus – Look Closer,” Tate https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/kara-walker-2674/kara-walkers-fons-americanus Kara Walker, “I’m an Unreliable Narrator,” Tate, 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tV_L3fceGNA “Kara Walker,” Kara Walker, http://www.karawalkerstudio.com “2019,” Kara Walker, http://www.karawalkerstudio.com/2019  “Kehinde Wiley Studio - Brooklyn, NY,” https://kehindewiley.com/ Mimi Wong, “Ego Obscura,” Art Asia Pacific Magazine, http://artasiapacific.com/Magazine/WebExclusives/EgoObscura CreditsUnboxing the Canon is hosted and produced by Linda Steer for her course “Introduction to the History of Western Art” in the Department of Visual Arts at Brock University. Brock University is located on the traditional lands of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples.Our sound designer and editor is Devin Dempsey, who is also reading these credits. Our logo was created by Cherie Michels. The music for this podcast has been adapted from “Night in Venice” and “Inspired” by Kevin MacLeod. Both are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution International 4.0. Additional music in this episode is from Bach, “The Well Tempered Clavier,” Book I, BWV 846-869, musicians unknown.We are grateful to Alison Innes from the Faculty of Humanities for her sharing her podcasting wisdom and offering support.This podcast is funded by the Humanities Research Institute at Brock University.  

    • 16 min
    Episode 7: Musing on Museums

    Episode 7: Musing on Museums

    Episode 7: Musing on MuseumsNovember 4, 2020.This episode, called “Musing on Museums,” takes a look at the history of the modern Western museum and considers what stories museums tell and how. From wunderkammern and other private collections to the British Museum and the Louvre, museums are intimately connected to power. Contemporary artists Fred Wilson, Spring Hurlbut, and James Luna reveal the hidden histories of collecting and collections and ask us to think about what is collected and how those collections are organized. By troubling organization systems, contemporary artists uncover new ways of finding meaning in museum collections.Sources + further reading:The British Museum. “The British Museum Story.” https://www.britishmuseum.org/about-us/british-museum-story.Clarke, Bill. “Spring Hurlbut: Deadfall Dialogues.” Canadian Art. April 15, 2010. https://canadianart.ca/interviews/spring-hurlbut/.Corrin, Lisa G. “Mining the Museum: An Installation Confronting History.” Curator: The Museum Journal 36, no. 4 (December 1993): 302–13. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.2151-6952.1993.tb00804.x.“Fred Wilson.” Pace Gallery.  https://www.pacegallery.com/artists/fred-wilson/.Hill, Richard William. “Remembering James Luna (1950–2018).” Canadian Art. March 7, 2018. https://canadianart.ca/features/james-luna-in-memoriam/. “History of the Louvre.” Louvre Museum. https://www.louvre.fr/en/histoirelouvres/history-louvre.Hurlbut, Spring. “The Final Sleep.” https://www.springhurlbut.com/the-final-sleep.“Institutional Critique – Art Term.” Tate. https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/i/institutional-critique.Raicovich, Laura. “What Happened When Fred Wilson Dug Beneath a Museum’s Floorboards.” Hyperallergic. August 16, 2019. https://hyperallergic.com/507245/mining-the-museum-an-installation-by-fred-wilson/.Rodini, Elizabeth. “A Brief History of the Art Museum.” Smarthistory. June 1, 2019. https://smarthistory.org/a-brief-history-of-the-art-museum/.-------. “2. Museums and Politics: The Louvre, Paris.” Smarthistory. June 1, 2019. https://smarthistory.org/museums-politic-louvre/.

    • 18 min
    Episode 6: Light and Luxe

    Episode 6: Light and Luxe

    In this episode, called “Light and Luxe,” we take a look at the connections between Dutch painting, trade, and luxury during the so-called “Dutch Golden Age” of painting. We will focus on post-1650 genre painting as well as a new form of still life painting called Pronkstilleven (loosely translated as “ostentatious” or “sumptuous” still life) that emerged around the mid-17th century. Artists covered include Vermeer, Gerard ter Borch, and Willem Kalf. Sources + further reading: All episodes of this podcast, along with transcripts, are archived in the Brock University Digital Repository: https://dr.library.brocku.ca/handle/10464/14905 “Complete Catalogue of the Painting of Johannes Vermeer.” Accessed October 19, 2020. http://www.essentialvermeer.com/vermeer_painting_part_one.html. Denny, Walter. “Islamic Carpets in European Paintings.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–.  https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/isca/hd_isca.htm. Franits, Wayne. "Genre Painting in Seventeenth-Century Europe." In Blackwell Companions to Art History: A Companion to Renaissance and Baroque Art, by Babette Bohn, and James M. Saslow. Wiley, 2013. Kalf, Willem. Still Life with a Chinese Bowl, Nautilus Cup and Other Objects. 1662. Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza.  https://www.museothyssen.org/en/collection/artists/kalf-willem/still-life-chinese-bowl-nautilus-cup-and-other-objects. Liedtke, Walter. “Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675) and The Milkmaid.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/milk/hd_milk.htm  Ter Borch, Gerard. Lady at Her Toilette. 1660. Detroit Institute of Arts. https://www.dia.org/art/collection/object/lady-her-toilette-63323. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. “Nautilus Cup. Dutch, Utrecht.” https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/193582. Tokumitsu, Miya. “The Currencies of Naturalism in Dutch Pronk Still-Life Painting: Luxury, Craft, Envisioned Affluence.” RACAR : Revue d’art Canadienne / Canadian Art Review 41, no. 2 (2016): 30–43. https://doi.org/10.7202/1038070ar. Vermeer, Johannes. The Milkmaid. C. 1660. Rijksmuseum. Accessed October 14, 2020. https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/collection/SK-A-2344. Vermeer, Johannes. Lady at the Virginals with a Gentleman aka The Music Lesson. Early 1660s. Royal Collection Trust. Accessed October 14, 2020. https://www.rct.uk/collection/405346/lady-at-the-virginals-with-a-gentleman. Vermeer, Johannes. The Lacemaker. Louvre. 1669-70.  Museum. https://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/lacemaker. “Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry.” Exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, USA. https://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/2017/vermeer-and-the-masters-of-genre-painting.html. Wieseman, Marjorie E., Wayne Franits, and H. Perry Chapman. Vermeer’s Women: Secrets and Silence. New Haven and Cambridge: Fitzwilliam Museum, in association with Yale University Press, 2011. CreditsUnboxing the Canon is hosted and produced by Linda Steer for her course “Introduction to the History of Western Art” in the Department of Visual Arts at Brock University. Brock University is located on the traditional lands of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples.Our sound designer and editor is Devin Dempsey, who is also reading these credits. Our logo was created by Cherie Michels. The music for this podcast has been adapted from “Night in Venice” and “Inspired” by Kevin MacLeod. Both are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution International 4.0. Additional music in this episode is from Bach, “The Well Tempered Clavier,” Book I, BWV 846-869, musicians unknown.We are grateful to Alison Innes from the Faculty of Humanities for her sharing her podcasting wisdom and offering support.This podcast

    • 19 min
    Episode 5: Taken from the Headlines

    Episode 5: Taken from the Headlines

    Episode 5: Taken from the Headlines October 7, 2020  “Taken from the Headlines” considers European history painting, its roots and its legacies. What exactly are history paintings? And why are they significant in the canon of Western art? In this episode of “Unboxing the Canon” Dr. Steer examines these questions along with some historical examples before turning to the present moment to consider how artists use this genre today and reflect on some of its limitations. This episode covers the concept of istoria and Renaissance narrative paintings, dramatic 19th century history paintings in France and their relationship to politics, and contemporary Indigenous work dealing with the trauma of the residential school system in Canada. Sources + further reading:Alberti, Leon Battista. On Painting. [First appeared 1435-36] Translated with Introduction and Notes by John R. Spencer. New Haven: Yale University Press. 1970 [First printed 1956]. http://www.noteaccess.com/Texts/Alberti/index.htm David, Jacques-Louis. The Oath of the Horatii. 1784. 3.30 m x 4.25 m. Louvre. https://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/oath-horatii Géricault Théodore. The Raft of the Medusa. Salon de 1819. 4.91 m x 7.16 m. Louvre. https://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/raft-medusa. Garneau, David. “Writing About Indigenous Art with Critical Care.” C Magazine 145 (March 10, 2020). https://cmagazine.com/issues/145/writing-about-indigenous-art-with-critical-care. Madill, Shirley. “Key Works: Robert Houle, Sandy Bay Residential School Series, 2009.” Robert Houle: Life and Work. Art Canada Institute - Institut de l’art canadien. Accessed September 30, 2020. https://www.aci-iac.ca/art-books/robert-houle/key-works/sandy-bay-residential-school-series Monkman, Kent. Painting. https://www.kentmonkman.com/painting Morgan-Feir, Caoimhe. “Kent Monkman: History Painting for a Colonized Canada.” Canadian Art. January 26, 2017. https://canadianart.ca/features/kent-monkman-critiques-canada-150/. Zappella, Christine. “Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.” i Smarthistory, August 9, 2015, accessed October 1, 2020. https://smarthistory.org/michelangelo-ceiling-of-the-sistine-chapel Zucker, Steven and Beth Harris “Raphael, School of Athens.” Smarthistory, December 15, 2015, accessed October 1, 2020. https://smarthistory.org/raphael-school-of-athens  CreditsUnboxing the Canon is hosted and produced by Linda Steer for her course “Introduction to the History of Western Art” in the Department of Visual Arts at Brock University. Brock University is located on the traditional lands of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples.Our sound designer and editor is Devin Dempsey, who is also reading these credits. Our logo was created by Cherie Michels. The music for this podcast has been adapted from “Night in Venice” and “Inspired” by Kevin MacLeod. Both are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution International 4.0. Sound effects in this episode obtained from www.zapsplat.comWe are grateful to Alison Innes from the Faculty of Humanities for her sharing her podcasting wisdom and offering support.This podcast is funded by the Humanities Research Institute at Brock University.

    • 23 min
    Episode 4: Swallowed Whole

    Episode 4: Swallowed Whole

    In this episode, called “Swallowed Whole,” Dr. Steer considers Gothic cathedrals as an art form and examines their relationship to European power structures. The episode begins with the earliest Christian art, in the catacombs of Rome, and ends with a brief consideration of the role and function of Western European churches today. This episode also covers the important role of relics in Medieval Christianity, the rise of pilgrimage culture in Europe and its connections to economics and architectural innovation, as well as the affective impact of the interior spaces of cathedrals. Sources + further reading: “A Beginner’s Guide to Romanesque Art – Smarthistory.” https://smarthistory.org/a-beginners-guide-to-romanesque-art/.“Basilica of San Vitale.” http://www.turismo.ra.it/eng/Discover-the-area/Art-and-culture/Unesco-world-heritage/Basilica-of-San-Vitale.“Feminae: Details Page.” https://inpress.lib.uiowa.edu/feminae/DetailsPage.aspx?Feminae_ID=31968.Harris, Beth and Steven Zucker. "Cathedral of Notre Dame de Chartres." in Smarthistory, December 18, 2015. https://smarthistory.org/cathedral-of-notre-dame-de-chartres-part-1-of-3/.“Medieval Chartres- The North Transept Rose Window.” http://www.medart.pitt.edu/image/France/Chartres/Chartres-Cathedral/Windows/Transept-windows/121A-North-Rose/Chartres-121NorthRose.HTM.“More Oude Kerk - Amsterdam Art.” https://www.amsterdamart.com/events/516/more-oude-kerk.Oude kerk. “Sarah van Sonsbeeck.” https://oudekerk.nl/en/programma/sarah-van-sonsbeeck/.Sorabella, Jean. “Pilgrimage in Medieval Europe.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/pilg/hd_pilg.htm. “Visit the Catacombs.” http://www.catacombepriscilla.com/visita_catacomba_en.html. CreditsUnboxing the Canon is hosted and produced by Linda Steer for her course “Introduction to the History of Western Art” in the Department of Visual Arts at Brock University. Brock University is located on the traditional lands of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples.Our sound designer and editor is Devin Dempsey, who is also reading these credits. Our logo was created by Cherie Michels. The music for this podcast has been adapted from “Night in Venice” and “Inspired” by Kevin MacLeod. Both are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution International 4.0. The Gregorian chanting was adapted from ramagochi’s “Binaural catholic gregorian chant mass liturgy” licensed under CC BY 3.0.We are grateful to Alison Innes from the Faculty of Humanities for her sharing her podcasting wisdom and offering support.This podcast is funded by the Humanities Research Institute at Brock University.  

    • 20 min
    Tear Down the Monuments!

    Tear Down the Monuments!

    This episode takes a look at the history of monuments and examines some of the issues surrounding monuments today. It considers the history of the Robert E Lee monument Richmond Virginia, its signification in relation to the history of equestrian sculptures, and considers its role now.The removal of confederate statues in the American South is part of a worldwide movement to confront the violent legacy of colonialism, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, the attempted genocide of Indigenous people, and other atrocities committed by Europeans and settlers.  In the wake of the #blm movement and the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation of Canada, this episode asks: what should we do with these monuments now?Dr. Steer examines several options and their implications, such as putting the monuments in a museum or park, contextualizing them, creating new monuments and new works of art, destroying the monuments, or leaving them as is.    Sources + further reading:artnet news. “Tear Down the Confederate Monuments—But What Next? 12 Art Historians and Scholars on the Way Forward.” artnet news. August 23, 2017. https://news.artnet.com/art-world/confederate-monuments-experts-1058411.“Equestrian Sculpture of Marcus Aurelius – Smarthistory.” Smarthistory.  Accessed September 21, 2020. https://smarthistory.org/equestrian-sculpture-of-marcus-aurelius/.France-Amérique. “The French Origin of Robert E. Lee’s Statue in Virginia.” France-Amérique, June 25, 2020. https://france-amerique.com/the-french-origin-of-robert-e-lees-statue-in-virginia/.“Jen Reid: Bristol Black Lives Matter Statue Removed.” BBC News, July 16, 2020, sec. Bristol. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-bristol-53427014.“Leopold II: Belgium ‘wakes up’ to Its Bloody Colonial Past.” BBC News, June 12, 2020, sec. Europe. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-53017188.“Musée d’Orsay: Antonin Mercié David.” Musée d’Orsay website. Accessed September 16, 2020. https://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/collections/works-in-focus/sculpture/commentaire_id/david-331.html?cHash=0ab0a872c7.“Sights | Memento Park Budapest.” Accessed September 16, 2020. http://www.mementopark.hu/pages/sights/.Squires, Camille. “Defend History. Tear down the Confederate Statues.” Mother Jones (blog). Accessed September 21, 2020. https://www.motherjones.com/anti-racism-police-protest/2020/07/confederate-monuments-iconoclasm/.Tait, Allison Anna. “Dead White Men Get Their Say in Court as Virginia Tries to Remove Robert E. Lee Statues.” The Conversation. Accessed September 21, 2020. http://theconversation.com/dead-white-men-get-their-say-in-court-as-virginia-tries-to-remove-robert-e-lee-statues-140813.Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action. 2015. http://www.trc.ca/assets/pdf/Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf CreditsUnboxing the Canon is hosted and produced by Linda Steer for her course “Introduction to the History of Western Art” in the Department of Visual Arts at Brock University. Brock University is located on the traditional lands of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples.Our sound designer and editor is Devin Dempsey, who is also reading these credits. Our logo was created by Cherie Michels. The music for this podcast has been adapted from “Night in Venice” and “Inspired” by Kevin MacLeod. Both are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution International 4.0.We are grateful to Alison Innes from the Faculty of Humanities for her sharing her podcasting wisdom and offering support.This podcast is funded by the Humanities Research Institute at Brock University.

    • 25 min

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