Doctoral Degrees (Art History and Image Studies)

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  • ItemOpen Access
    Moshweshwe's diplomatic relations with the indigenous chiefs of Southern Africa, 1822-1870
    (University of the Free State, 1994) Seboni, Peter; Marais, A. H.
    Moshweshwe's diplomatic relations and foreign policy with many of his contemporary Black chiefs emanated from a notion of being a great ruler and superior chief in and around the Caledon River valley. He entertained this notion in his early life. He wished to be acknowledged as a man of high status and be obeyed without being questioned. That was his ambition. At one stage while being a young boy he is reported to have killed five young boys who infuriated him by not obeying his command.¹ He wanted to command respect and be revered. But he later realized that respect based on fear does not last as it leads to enmity and challenges. It is generally believed that Moshweshwe was born in about 1786. His place of birth was Menkhoaneng near Butha Buthe in northern Lesotho. His father was Mokhachane the second son of Peete. Moshweshwe's people belonged to the Bamokotedi such as Mohlomi, to be blessed.³ Peete, (Moshweshwe's grandfather) took him there for blessings. The ceremony for passing blessings was conducted by uttering some words and rubbing of foreheads. Mohlomi did all these to young Moshweshwe. In about 1805 Moshweshwe was old enough to be sent to lebollong - an initiation school. Boys were sent to this school to undergo training for manhood and adulthood. Memories were tested to see how retentive they were by encouraging the initiates to recite long praise poems of their choice. Reliability, trustworthiness and loyalty were encouraged. Tolerance, patience and leadership qualities were identified.⁴ Circumcision was a rite that was performed here. The trainers or initiators were trusted men of the community. The initiates were given new names symbolizing a new social status.⁵ After returning from the lebollo Moshweshwe felt he was old enough to marry. He needed cattle of his own to enable him to pay the dowry - bohadi. He was proving to be innovative. Together with his lebollo mate, Makuanyane, (who later bacame a general of his warriors) he went for cattle raiding. They attacked the village of Ramonaheng at Kholelong. They captured almost all his cattle. Moshweshwe praised himself for his feat and praised himself in this way: "Ke 'na Moshoeshoe Moshoashoaila oa ha Kali Lebeola le beotseng Ramonaheng litelu."⁶ Literally translated it means: "I am Moshweshwe, the barber of Kali the shaver that shaved the beard of Ramonaheng." All along he was called Lepoqo and after the Ramonaheng incident the name "Moshweshwe" superceded Lepoqo and in the long run this name ceased to be used. With the cattle available his father and grandfather got him a woman to marry. It was the daughter of a man named Seepheephe and her name was Mabela. It is believed that his marriage took place in 1810. A son was born called Mohato and Mabela came to be called 'Mamohato'⁷ - the term means Mohato's mother. Moshweshwe appeared unhappy. He wished to be superior to all other men. His grandfather again took him to Mohlomi who was at Maritoe - near the present day Ficksburg. His anxiety for megalomania made him appear as though he was mentally deranged. According to Peete and Mokhachane he was to be cured of his "madness". Both he and Peete expected the doctor, (Mohlomi) to give him medical treatment and a talisman. To their surprise they were told that Moshweshwe is to be cured psychologically. Mohlomi went on to say: " is truly his heart alone that we are changing, his mind that we are curing and resetting anew his medicine is his knowledge and pursuance of peace and justice in his service and relations with all men regardless of their status .... ". Moshweshwe's attitude had to change if he wished to be anything great. According to Mohlomi he was to look at life in a different perspective. Mohlomi had been a great traveller and had built affinal relationships with many chiefs whose daughters or sisters he married. In every country he visited he married somebody there. He had realized the advantage of such a relationship : it keeps countries in harmony. He was the first man in Southern Africa who had an opportunity to form political alliances had such an idea dawned on his mind. But whenever he left the place he had visited he left his newly married wife behind. He did not take any of the women he had married to his country. They, in turn, were free to re-marry and the children born belonged to him as he was the first man to have paid out the bohadi (lobola) cattle to consumate the first marriage.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Selfaanbieding: Rembrandt en die gebroke-kosmiese tradisie
    (University of the Free State, 2009-03) Joubert, Jeanne Annette Jacqueline; Van den Berg, D. J.
    English: This research ensued from a prior thesis — Artist's portrait and self-portrait: the art historical traces of artistic self-presentation (M.A. University of he Free State, 1992) — and was supplemented by a growing interest in Rembrandt van Rijn’s self-presentations and the possible role of the troubled cosmic tradition therein. The four paintings by Rembrandt that were chosen as core illustrations for the research — The elevation of the Cross (ca.1636), Self-portrait with Saskia (ca.1635), Self-portrait as St Paul (1663) and Bathsheba (1654) — are exceptional examples of self-presentation and depict profound human brokenness (or troubledness) to which the artist relates very personally. In The elevation of the Cross Rembrandt sets himself within the central event in the history of salvation, in intimate proximity of the crucified Christ. In Chapters 3 and 5 the central visual examples focus on intimate relationships with women in the painter's life, set within Biblical context. In Chapter 4 the visual centre is a self-portrait as the apostle Paul, one of the key figures in the New Testament. The Scriptural passages on which the paintings are based indicate that God is not “dead” and that healing remains a reality, particularly in the troubled world in which we live. The introductory chapter explores the field of study. The second chapter deals with the manner in which radical brokenness embodies the troubled human spirit by means of chiasmic mobility — from Rembrandt's Crucifixion Scenes (1631-39) to Jane Alexander’s The sacrifices of God are a troubled spirit (2002-2004). The dynamics of the troubled cosmic tradition are highlighted with reference to various perchronic relationships, transmission by conversion and maturation, the possibilities of typiconic enrichment through different traditions and the extension through dialogue between different traditions. In Self-portrait with Saskia the focus will be on human imperfection: the inappropriateness of the theme of the Prodigal Son as marriage portrait, of Saskia’s position in the painting, of the laughing face of the artist and of the back view of the two figures. The apostrophic turning of both figures towards the viewer may stimulate a radical chiasmic shift both in the painting and in the mind of the observer. The implied/external artist, as well as the implied/external viewer, play constituent roles to realise the suggested inversion. Rembrandt's approach to the inversion of radical affliction is typiconically contrasted with Francis Bacon’s escapism through mystic motivations. When Rembrandt depicts himself as the apostle Paul he may allude to Paul’s dim/dark mirror, which implies brokenness. This chapter explores the problems that arise and persist when, during the Romantic Period, Rembrandt is characterised as a gifted, suffering hero based on the view of artistic calling in the nineteenth century. In keeping with the Letters of St Paul, human vulnerability is rather chiasmically embodied in Rembrandt’s Coram Dei approach together with the suggestion of family ties and a continual shift between sin and grace in self-representation. The painting of Bathsheba (1654) seems to fall outside the theme of self-presentation. However, I wish to demonstrate that even in the case of imaginary human absence the external painter may be present implicitly, in which case biographical information could be meaningful in the interpretation of the painting. The human focus of a troubled cosmic hypothesis is particularly actualised by a naer't leven consciousness and a person-to-person relationship, which is sustained mainly by the dynamic of a God-man relationship Self-depiction may expose the subjectivity of the artist. Post-modern debates present the possibility of returning chiasmically to themes and approaches that have apparently lost their applicability today. Interpretation by means of a troubled cosmic reference could be used to apply such approaches in a new way, with different aims, to offer a regenerated vision of art historiography and of being an artist.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Kreatiwiteit as sistemiese faktor in die visuele kuns: 'n kritiese kunsteoretiese besinning
    (University of the Free State, 2004-11) Janse van Vuuren, Lukas Marthinus; Van den Berg, D. J.
    English: The aim of this project is to develop an art theoretical model which can be applied in higher education context in order to give an account of the way according to which creativity is established as a systemic factor in the visual arts. The purpose with this model is: (a) to critically analyse the disparate contents attributed to creativity in the visual arts and (b) to formulate sober ideas and categories in opposition to the deficiencies of existing or conventional speculations regarding creativity. The resistance of modern and post modern art practices to systemic forms of analysis results in a detachment of subjects and objects, events and conditions from their relational binding. As an alternative to these art practices and in reaction to present research on creativity in the visual arts, this project focuses on a hermeneutical approach in order to account for the interactive nature of creativity. Instead of linking it to the productive powers of the individual, creativity is viewed as systemically dependant on networks, based on creative interaction between artworks, artists and viewers as well as the ideological alliances of these parties with world views and traditions. Relational analyses of this systemic dependency, demonstrate how artists in the production of their works are interactively involved in the finding and transformation of visual imagery with metaphoric potential, the revision of intentions and the discovery of new alternative and creative communicative strategies. Contrary to modernist beliefs concerning the artist as autonomous creator of meaning in works of visual art, individual analyses conducted in this research project rather gave evidence of the artist acting as an kind of attendant, finally bringing together the various causal links surrounding the artwork. The multiplicity of changing and competing combinations of insights being actualised in the artwork during the creative process, is indicative of creative mutual interactions between the artist and the evolving artwork, in stimulation and in anticipation of viewers’ re-creative responses. Relational analyses also showed that the appreciation of products destined for creative interaction demand appropriate re-creative responses in the tracing of the implicit artist’s supposed creative strategies. Results of the analyses subsequently confirmed among others that viewers’ participation in the actualisation of the imaginary component, product or action require the finding, appropriation and critical consideration of unforeseen possibilities, as well as the ability to improvise with limited information and to ingeniously transform visual ideas. In reply to the passive aloofness endorsed by the traditional aesthetic principle of disinterestedness, this study establishes viewers’ creative participation in the actualisation of the aesthetic object as a complimentary equivalent of the artist’s creative making process. As participants in these mutually complimentary processes artists and viewers are ideologically influenced by their respective world views, determining the nature of their creative discourse. In anticipation of humankind’s predictable inclination to furnish artworks with their own cultural burden, interests and prejudices, artists’ creative initiatives are realised in the way that they ironize, expose and challenge this self-interest by means of strategies like contradiction, indefiniteness and an abundance of alternatives. Creative participation in the imaginary worlds of artworks among others also requires flexible divergent thinking, tolerance for disparate visual statements, an ability to distinguish ideology-laden interests from aesthetic interests, and to critically and introspectively reflect on the limitations of self-centred ideologies. This study subsequently establishes that creative participative relations in the visual arts surpasses cultural boundaries and enables participants involved in these relations to achieve self-understanding on the basis of moral understanding attained through the viewpoints of others.
  • ItemOpen Access
    El Greco's achievement of his personal maniera
    (University of the Free State, 2002-12) Maré, Estelle Alma; Van den Berg, D. J.
    English: Domenicos Theotocopoulos, generally known as El Greco, was born in Crete in 1541. Before he left his native island he was a competent, late Byzantine painter. In his late twenties, he went to Venice, where he learnt the craft of Western painting, most probably in Titian's workshop. He left Venice in 1570 and became an independent painter in Rome before departing for Spain in 1576, where he may have sought the patronage of Phi lip II, from whom he initially received commissions. After a brief stay in Madrid, he took up residence in Toledo where he practised as a religious painter in the service of the post- Tridentine Roman Catholic Church, and produced his most distinctive paintings in a manner that is unique in the Renaissance tradition. The purpose of this dissertation is to explore how El Greco achieved his personal manner of expression or maniera and, more specifically, what this very distinct, personal manner of expression or ultima maniera entailed. Part I (Chapter 1) is an overview of the life of the artist and the contexts in which he acquired his knowledge of ltalian Renaissance artistic practice and his painterly skills. Part II deals with the general ideas and ideals that informed Italian Renaissance art (Chapter 2), and then goes on to focus on those aspects which specifically informed El Greco's apprenticeship in the Western painterly tradition (Chapter 3), as well as his own ideas on the art of painting. To arrive at an evaluation of the development of his personal manner of expression, the Part III is devoted to the analysis of selected paintings executed in Venice and Rome in which the characteristics of his later manner of expression are already in evidence (Chapter 4). A further chapter (5) is devoted to two important works painted during his early years in Toledo in which his manner of expression, although reminiscent of the forms favoured by Italian Mannerist painters, is already uniquely transformed into a personal vision. The main focus of the dissertation is chapter 6 of Part IV which contains an analysis of the angelic figures which are so predominant in El Greco's oeuvre. The selected paintings are dealt with under nine sub-headings in which the actions of the depicted angels are broadly categorised. The analyses focus on the distinctive forms of the angelic figures, their interaction with other figures and the meanings that the compositions acquire through the way in which they are represented. In this regard, some of El Greco's most renowned paintings, such as the Burial of the Count of Orgaz and two versions of the Baptism of Christ, are reinterpreted and re-evaluated. While he does not deviate radically from traditional iconography in the representation of most of his themes, El Greco's most innovative contribution to sixteenth-century painting is the expansion and transformation of the formal qualities he derived from Mannerism. With increasing skill he infused angelic and many human figures with movement by turning them into open-ended, elongated spiral forms, and creating the verticality characteristic of his compositions. This manner of representation acquires a symbolic meaning in which religious and artistic concerns are unified. As such, El Greco's angelic figures exemplify a key element of his manner of expression and artistic vision. They become metafigures, as stated in the concluding chapter which summarizes the characteristics of his ultima maniera.
  • ItemOpen Access
    The picaresque tradition feminism and ideology critique
    (University of the Free State, 1999) Human, Elsie Suzanne; Van den Berg, D. J.; Visagie, P. J.
    English: Calvin Seerveld evocatively uses the literary term 'picaresque' in his transposition into visual and imaginary terms, of the philosopher D. H. Th. Vollenhoven's typology of philosophical conceptions. In this study the more limited use of the term 'picaresque novel' and 'picaresque fictional world' in literary criticism is expanded against the background of Seerveld's categories, in order to arrive at the outlines of a broader 'picaresque imaginary world'. The proposition of such an 'imaginary world' not only aids in accounting for the recurrence of similar metaphors, themes and strategies in cultural products, spanning centuries, but also counters the remnants of a subjectivist 'world-view' philosophy in the idea of the 'typiconic traditions'. 'Motifs' in both visual culture and art historical texts are considered to be dynamic 'motives' within the context of the directive imaginary framework of a 'picaresque imaginary world', generating and divulging its ideological orientations. The metaphoric significance in picaresque visual art, of motifs related to vision, the Fool, foolish bodily postures, and playful narrative emplotments, is scrutinized. The prevalence of the metaphoric association of knowledge and vision in 'ocularcentric' mainstream Western culture at least since Greco-Roman antiquity, make metaphors related to vision important barometers of ideological directive frameworks. Themes and motifs associated with the character of the Fool, are unravelled in order to explore his/her metaphoric role as the epitome of picaresque artistry, performing various functions with and in picaresque texts. After having systematized the types of metaphoric bodily postures and gestures that are related to the playfully subversive nature of the Fool, a few pictorial narratives are considered in order to assess how playful metaphors of actions and events divulge underlying picaresque orientations in narrative contexts. The advantages of viewing feminist art from the perspective of 'typiconic traditions' are considered. In feminist searches for trans-generational links among women - a main concern in feminist scholarship, particularly in literary criticism (I'écriture féminine) but also in art history - female cultural production is often relegated to separate or 'alternative' female traditions, that thus have no relevance for, and can have no enduring impact on patriarchal culture. The proposition of such traditions obscures the analysis of the ways in which women have negotiated and disrupted, and still are negotiating and disrupting, artistic, social and other cultural conventions in order to open up a gender sensitive cultural space. Seerveld's 'cartographic methodology' is the basis upon which the field of a feminist search for commonalities is typologically differentiated. Abandoning the search for monolithic female traditions, attention is redirected to the links and gendered contributions of female art to various age-old cultural traditions in visual culture. This approach aids in removing the spectre of biological and cultural essentialism. A study of picaresque art by female artists, moreover, has the potential of enriching our idea of a picaresque tradition. There are subtle nuances and accents in the use, by recent female artists, of motifs and metaphors related to the gendered body, that have not been exploited by male artists; which have not yet been incorporated into our cultural heritage and assimilated into the idea of a picaresque tradition. Finally 'new' methods of ideology-critical visual analysis are designed and experimented with. Such methods of interpreting visual culture are inspired by the theory of ideology outlined by Johann Visagie and combined with experience in teaching art students who 'think visually'. It entails arguing by means of the visual association and juxtaposition of motifs and their metaphorical meanings within specific contexts. The viability of this method of analysis and its potential to enrich art historical methodologies, are promoted in the light of progress in visual technology that facilitates easy visual reproduction of art. However, it is exactly in the context of the global reproducibility of the image and of the radicalization of the concept of the simulacrum that the ideological power of images can easily be regarded as anodyne, pulverized and ineffectual. In the proposed ideology- critical visual analysis, however, visual motifs are interpreted as communicators of ideological 'motives' as in the rest of the study.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Beyond spectatorship: an exploration of embodied engagement with art
    (University of the Free State, 2014-10) Lauwrens, Jennifer; Van den Berg, D. J.
    English: According to proponents of the so-called ‘sensory turn’ the varied layers of a person’s experience of the social and material world produced via the senses of taste, touch, hearing and smell have largely been neglected in academic research on art. It is precisely because a person’s embodied and sensual engagement is increasingly being recognised as co-constitutive of the dynamic relationship occurring between people and art that dealing with the visual alone has been found to be insufficient and has brought about a shift in interest toward the other senses. Working between the disciplines of art history and visual culture studies, this research engages with art in ways that exceed the visual in order to understand the embodied and engaged interactions at work between a person and art. I argue that scholarly investigations of the visual field have, until recently, often avoided explorations of the affective, multisensorial body of a viewer in relation to what s/he sees even though many art practices invite the engagement and participation of the whole body beyond spectatorship only. In a close analysis of two installations, a land art piece, one video and one entire participatory exhibition the possible ways in which to theorise the involvement of the whole person in aesthetic experience and not only the mind, intellect or consciousness are explored. It is argued that a re-conception of art and spectatorship as embodied interaction provides a far more nuanced understanding of people’s experiences of art than ideologically and interpretative driven ‘readings’ only. The theme of embodied spectatorship and contemporary art is approached in particular through the lenses of the sensory turn, the pictorial turn, the corporeal turn, empathy theory, affect theory, phenomenology and aesthetic embodiment and engagement. By placing various examples of contemporary art in dialogue with these theoretical perspectives the limitations of traditional notions regarding aesthetic spectatorship are exposed. This leads to the beginning of a broader conversation about the role and status of a whole embodied sensual being in her/his encounter with specific materialities of art. My basic theoretical standpoint is that a person’s embodied and engaged experience is the starting point from which investigations of art can productively proceed. In other words, by means of a predominantly phenomenological approach that describes aesthetic situations and encounters, it is argued that direct experience does not simply contribute to, but rather has a primacy and authority in encounters with art, and should, therefore, be investigated.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Melancholy constellations: Walter Benjamin Anselm Kiefer, William Kentridge and the imaging of history as catastrophe
    (University of the Free State, 2007-05) Schoeman, Gerhard Theodore; Van den Berg, D. J.
    This dissertation is a study in representation. More specifically, it is a study in the representation of art and of art history as melancholy representation. The latter is produced or opens up, because objects of art — pictures, images, or Bilder (read “likenesses”) — have a tendency to withdraw or turn away from view. Objects of art, which may be thought of as “thinking objects” or “living images”, that is, as quasisubjects, negate complete ownership. Like living things, objects of art are infinitely incomplete; they arise out of an ongoing process of becoming and disappearance. As such, our relationship with them may be said to be one of “mutual desire”, want and lack. Moreover, as Michael Ann Holly (2002) has argued, the study of art history is bedevilled by lost, obscure, or obsolete objects; cloudy, shadowy, ghostly, even corpse-like objects that deny total acquisition or last words. It is in this sense that one can say art history — perhaps like any history — is a melancholic science. It is also from this melancholy perspective that this dissertation reflects, in various ways, on the imaging of history as catatastrophe or as catastrophic loss — as this is figured in the work of Walter Benjamin, Anselm Kiefer, and William Kentridge. How then do we write about art and the history of art, when the objects of our study are both too close and too far away, mutually absent and present — fleeting, yet seemingly permanent? How can one “image” the catastrophic debilitation of melancholic disavowal or death of self, without succumbing to its debilitating attractions? Following on from Max Pensky’s (2001) tracing of the historical image of melancholia as dialectical, the aim of this dissertation is to delineate a discursive space for perception and reflection; a critical space within which to think of the melancholic im-possibility of representation qua possession, as essentially negatively dialectical: futile and heroic, pointless and necessary. Finally, this dissertation asks: how can one write about the imaging of history as castastrophe, as this is figured from within different historical frameworks: that of an early twentieth century German-Jewish philosopher, a late twentieth/early twenty-first century German artist, and a late twentieth/early twenty-first South African-Jewish artist? How can one hope to relate their essentially melancholy work without becoming culpable of ahistoricity or even pastiche? No easy answers have been forthcoming during the writing of this dissertation. However, it is my delicate contention that reading and picturing their work in and as a melancholy constellation whose parameters shift depending on one’s point of view, as opposed to submitting their similarities and differences to rigorous systematic analysis, has revealed surprising and enlightening elective affinities. In the final analysis, visual and philosophical analogy has the last say. And this seems fitting, especially where one encounters a writer and two artists whose thinking in images tirelessly challenge our thinking “logically” in words alone.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Retrospektiewe vervreemding van tegnologiese media: animasieprosesse by William Kentridge
    (University of the Free State, 2013-01) Opperman, Johannes Arnoldus; Van den Berg, Dirk J.
    English: Although the South-African artist, William Kentridge has practised his creativity in many domains (as observer, activist, artist, storyteller and thinking director) in a wide range of media (including land art, sculpture, etching and stage and theatre productions), it is chiefly his large charcoal drawings in process (drawings for animation) and his unique, short, handmade, animated films and their projection that have given him international fame. The question has arisen how technological media underwent a process of retrospect-tive alienation in William Kentridge’s animation processes. The development of Kentridge’s large wall drawings to drawings for animation and projection is discussed, while mark making, montage and editing within the greater filmic whole, are emphasized. For Kentridge his drawings for animation (1988–1996) and drawings for projection (1996 to the present) remain central themes in all the new media and multimedia performances. In this study research was done to determine which methods and techniques Kentridge used, as a film director to edit a sequence of drawings into an animated film. Consequently, his dramatic, narrative and critical combination of interdisciplinary media like drawing, language, photography and film, video and theatre productions are emphasized. The drawing as an image creating process and Kentridge’s agency (his sleight of hand, drawing actions, unique mark textures, gramma and graphein, mark making and superimposition) were explored in order to create a unique image. The emphasis has been on how Kentridge made his drawings by means of charcoal, pastel and an eraser by making marks on paper, then erasing certain marks and again making new marks over those previous ones, while constantly filming the creation process (his so-called stone age animation). The focus has been on his use of the drawing hand as an intelligent, mark making and mark changing tool (performance). Through his use of outdated film and animation technologies, techniques and technological media which he transposed to a contemporary environment and current technological infrastructure and made comments on, he exhibited the meta-referential and expressive features of his medium. Kentridge has created art that connects with the new media concepts through his skilful integration of the charcoal drawing medium with existing technologies. By means of editing, montage, special effects and film tricks he opened new possibilities to animation as an art and cinematic form that would eventually be projected as an imaginary artwork (animated fiction). Even after nine films in the Drawings for projection series Kentridge still used his unique stone age animation technique and made new films. After some time Kentridge started to make existing literary works, dramatic texts and librettos his own and gave it an African flavour. His use of projection technology and various projection techniques contributed to the success of the visual narrative element. Kentridge’s expression of the shadow as image, profile image drawings and his moving silhouette processions are discussed. From the late 1980s William Kentridge added projection to his Drawings for projection, his animated film and video images. By means of some old (for example Baroque theatre) and contemporary theatre technology (like projectors and computers) he projected his animations in galleries, on miniature theatre models, the stage space, stage décor and screens, while live actors, opera singers, puppets, marionettes and their manipulators, as well as mechanical dolls/automata performed in the foreground of the multimedia stage productions. By adding marionettes and automata to his animated drawings, he created full-fledged narrative and dramatic artworks. Kentridge’s appropriation of discarded and outdated visual technologies, “retrospec-tive alienation” of various processes of visualizing and medializing (in the early stages of the history of modernism of the Western visual media) and their addition to animation procedures have become distinctive of his art.