Seminar Class 9/19/12

On Wednesday, class began with the analysis of a scene from the movie Girl With a Pearl Earring. In this scene, Johannes Vermeer, played by Colin Firth, is beginning a painting of his servant Griet, played by Scarlett Johansson. She is dressed modestly with her hair wrapped in silks to that it is completely hidden. During the time period in which the movie took place, women were only allowed to show their hair to their husbands because it was a symbol of beauty and seduction. However, Vermeer tasked her to take her head wrap off for the different affect of the painting. Eventually she gave in and took it off in private. However, she noticed that Vermeer was watching her take it off and she felt violated and humiliated. This scene reminds me of what I read in the book Ways of Seeing. Women are viewed differently according to what they wear and how they present themselves. As soon as she took off her head wrap, she was viewed as an immodest woman. It is truly amazing how many aspects, such as clothing and style, can have an affect on the reputation of a woman.

During the second half of class, Dr. Charles Liu came to discuss the art gallery displayed in school of Johann Jakob Scheuchzer’s artwork. He told us about the history of Scheuchzer’s artwork and then we looked at and experienced the artwork first hand. The main ideas of Scheuchzer’s artwork are based on science and religion. During his time period, it was taboo to try to explain religion through the use of science. However, he went against society and displayed his love for religion and science in his artwork. One particular work that I enjoyed from his collection was Physica Sacra plate CCCLXXI. This displayed the bible verse Joshua 10: 12-14. In this illustration, Joshua is speaking to the Lord. He is surrounded by beautiful landscapes, mountains, a river, and the sun shining above him. Scheuchzer incorporated science into this illustration by making a frame of worlds shaded in different ways. This showed that he knew the concept of daylight and nighttime by the position of the sun. Scheuchzer’s collection was truly amazing. His subtle ways of incorporating science into his religious artwork taught me to always look at the fine details of art.