ibn.live
Welcome
Login / Register

Most Popular Articles


  • Art forever changed by World War I

    Along with millions of idealistic young men who were cut to pieces by machine guns and obliterated by artillery shells, there was another major casualty of World War I: traditional ideas about Western art.

    The Great War of 1914-18 tilted culture on its axis, particularly in Europe and the United States. Nearly 100 years later, that legacy is being wrestled with in film, visual art, music, television shows like the gauzily nostalgic PBS soaper "Downton Abbey" and plays including the Tony Award-winning"War Horse," concluding its run at the Ahmanson Theatre.

    "It created an epoch in art," said Leo Braudy, a USC professor of English and author of "From Chivalry to Terrorism: War and the Changing Nature of Masculinity." "The question is, what was on one side and what was on the other?"

    The simple answer as to what lay on the near side of World War I is Modernism, that slippery but indispensable term denoting a wide range of new sensibilities and aesthetic responses to the industrial age. Modernism took shape decades before World War I, but its clamorous arrival was vastly accelerated by the greatest collective trauma in history to that point.

     

    From the fiction of Hemingway, Virginia Woolf and John Dos Passos to the savagely critical paintings and etchings of George Grosz and Otto Dix, World War I reshaped the notion of what art is, just as it forever altered the perception of what war is. Although World War II racked up more catastrophic losses in blood and treasure, World War I remains the paradigmatic conflict of the modern age, not only politically but also culturally.

    "Of all the wars, that is the one that seems to explain us best," said Michael Morpurgo, the English author of the novel "War Horse," about a Devonshire farm boy's death-defying bond with his noble steed Joey, on which the National Theatre of GreatBritain'sproduction is based.

    Particularly in his country, he said, World War I resonates louder than the even greater cataclysm that followed it 20 years later. "The First World War for British people is very much a part of who we are," Morpurgo said during a visit to Los Angeles. "It's so deep in us; the poetry, the stories, the loss, the suffering is there in every village churchyard."

    During and after World War I, flowery Victorian language was blown apart and replaced by more sinewy and R-rated prose styles. In visual art, Surrealists and Expressionists devised wobbly, chopped-up perspectives and nightmarish visions of fractured human bodies and splintered societies slouching toward moral chaos.

    "The whole landscape of the Western Front became surrealistic before the term surrealism was invented by the soldier-poet Guillaume Apollinaire," Modris Eksteins wrote in "Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age."

    Throughout Western art, the grim realities of industrial warfare led to a backlash against the propaganda and grandiose nationalism that had sparked the conflagration. Cynicism toward the ruling classes and disgust with war planners and profiteers led to demands for art forms that were honest and direct, less embroidered with rhetoric and euphemism.

    "Abstract words such as glory, honor, courage, or hallow were obscene besides the concrete names of villages, the numbers of roads, the names of rivers, the numbers of regiments and the dates," Ernest Hemingway wrote in "A Farewell to Arms," his 1929 novel based on his experiences in the Italian campaign.

    Other artists clung to the shards of classical culture as a buffer against nihilistic disillusionment. "These fragments I have shored against my ruins," T.S. Eliot wrote in "The Waste Land" (1922).

    In "The Great War and Modern Memory," Paul Fussell argued that the rise of irony as a dominant mode of modern understanding "originates largely in the application of mind and memory to the events of the Great War."

    Irony and dissonant humor permeated the music of classical composers such as Alban Berg and Benjamin Britten, a pacifist who parodied marching-band pomposity in his Piano Concert in D. In his 1989 film "War Requiem," based on Britten's non-liturgical Mass, British director Derek Jarman suggested a parallel between the indifferent slaughter of World War I and the neglect of AIDS-infected young men in the 1980s.

     

    The fear that powerful new machines invented to serve humanity might instead destroy it also took root around World War I, later spreading into science fiction and the debates surrounding today's aerial drone warfare. "World War I definitely gives a push forward to the idea of dystopia rather than utopia, to the idea that the world is going to get worse rather than better," Braudy said.

    When war broke out in summer 1914, artists were among its biggest cheerleaders. Britain and France, Europe's dominant 19th-century military and cultural powers, saw the war as necessary for reinforcing the continental status quo, while Germanyviewed it as an opportunity for "purging" Europe of political stagnancy and cultural malaise.

     

    By Reed Johnson, Los Angeles Times

     

    Read more »
  • Crochet

    Crochet is a process of creating fabric by interlocking loops of yarn, thread, or strands of other materials using a crochet hook. The name is taken from the French word "crochet", meaning small hook. These are made of materials such as metal, wood, or plastic and are manufactured commercially and produced in artisan workshops. The salient difference between crochet and knitting, beyond the implements used for their production, is that each stitch in crochet is completed before proceeding with the next one, while knitting keeps a large number of stitches open at a time. (Variant forms such as Tunisian crochet and broomstick lace keep multiple crochet stitches open at a time.)

     

    The word crochet comes from the Old French crochet, a diminutive of croche, in turn from the Germanic croc, all meaning "hook". It was used in 17th-century French lace making, crochetage designating a stitch used to join separate pieces of lace, and crochet subsequently designating both a specific type of fabric and the hooked needle used to produce it. Although that fabric is not known to be crochet in the present sense, a genealogical relationship between the techniques sharing that name appears likely.

     

     

    Read more »
  • Islamic calligraphy

     

    Islamic calligraphy, is the artistic practice of handwriting and calligraphy, based upon the alphabet in the lands sharing a common Islamic cultural heritage. It includes Arabic and Ottoman calligraphy. It is much influenced by Persian calligraphy. It is known in Arabic as khatt Islami (خط اسلامي), derived from the word 'line', 'design', or 'construction'.
    The development of Islamic calligraphy is strongly tied to the Qur'an; chapters, and excerpts from the Qur'an is a common and almost universal text of which Islamic calligraphy is based upon. Deep religious association with the Qur'an, as well as suspicion of figurative art as idolatrous has led calligraphy to become one of the major forms of artistic expression in Islamic cultures.

    As Islamic calligraphy is highly venerated, most works follow examples set by well established calligraphers, with the exception of secular or contemporary works. In antiquity, a pupil would copy a master's work repeatedly until their handwriting is similar. The most common style is divided into angular and cursive, each further divided into several sub-styles.

    Styles

    Kufic is the oldest form of the Arabic script. The style emphasizes rigid and angular strokes, which appears as a modified form of the old Nabataean script. The Archaic Kufi consisted of about 17 letters without diacritic dots or accents. Afterwards, dots and accents were added to help readers with pronunciation, and the set of Arabic letters rose to 29. It is developed around the end of the 7th century in the areas of Kufa, Iraq, from which it takes its name. The style later developed into several varieties, including floral, foliated, plaited or interlaced, bordered, and squared kufi. It was the main script used to copy Qur'ans from the 8th to 10th century and went out of general use in the 12th century when the flowing naskh style become more practical, although it continued to be used as a decorative element to contrast superseding styles.

    There were no set rules of using the Kufic script; the only common feature is the angular, linear shapes of the characters. Due to the lack of methods, the scripts in different regions and countries and even down to the individuals themselves have different ways to write in the script creatively, ranging from very square and rigid forms to flowery and decorative.

    Common varieties include square Kufic, a technique known as banna'i.Contemporary calligraphy using this style is also popular in modern decorations.

    Decorative kufic inscriptions are often imitated into pseudo-kufics in Middle age and Renaissance Europe. Pseudo-kufics is especially common in Renaissance depictions of people from the Holy Land. The exact reason for the incorporation of pseudo-Kufic is unclear. It seems that Westerners mistakenly associated 13–14th century Middle-Eastern scripts as being identical with the scripts current during Jesus's time, and thus found natural to represent early Christians in association with them.

    Naskh

    The use of cursive script coexisted with kufic, but because in the early stages of their development they lacked discipline and elegance, cursive were usually used for informal purposes. With the rise of Islam, new script was needed to fit the pace of conversions, and a well defined cursive called naskh first appeared in the 10th century. The script is the most ubiquitous among other styles, used in Qur'ans, official decrees, and private correspondence. It became the basis of modern Arabic print.

    Standardization of the style was pioneered by Ibn Muqla (886-940 A.D.) and later expanded by Abu Hayan at-Tawhidi (died 1009 A.D.) and Muhammad Ibn Abd ar-Rahman (1492–1545 A.D.). Ibn Muqla is highly regarded in Muslim sources on calligraphy as the inventor of the naskh style, although this seems to be erroneous. However, Ibn Muqla did establish systematic rules and proportions for shaping the letters, which use 'alif as the x-height.

    Variation of the naskh includes:

    Thuluth is developed as a display script to decorate particular scriptural objects. Letters have long vertical lines with broad spacing. The name reference to the x-height, which is one third of the 'alif.
    Riq'ah is a handwriting style derived from naskh and thuluth, first appeared in the 9th century. The shape is simple with short strokes and little flourishes.
    Muhaqqaq is a majestic style used by accomplished calligrapher. It was considered one of the most beautiful scripts, as well as one of the most difficult to execute. Muhaqqaq was commonly used during the Mameluke era, but the use become largely restricted to short phrases, such as the basmallah, from the 18th century onward.

     

    Read more »
RSS