Family Portraits (Week 6 Journal)

When it comes to family portraits, I always imagine the the awkward posing in front of the camera, the need to wear what and pose  would seem the most picture perfect in that moment to capture the most ‘perfect’ looking family.

The modern day famous family portraits tend to be of celebrity families such as the Kardashians, which have recently gotten a massive spread in Cosmo magazine. They are famous for, honestly, nothing very substantial except for being dysfunctional and rich.

Family of Queen Victoria, 1846, Franz Xaver Winterhalter, Oil on Canvas

I guess nothing much has changed from the past as most famous family portraits are commissioned by rich patrons as in the past, in order to commission such pieces, I believe, cost a lot of money considering the amount of skill required to capture such detail.

If I were to take a family portrait now, considering it is much cheaper to do so, I think it would be fun to try to emulate portraits of the past in modern day settings. At the same time, I think it would be rather interesting to have what you would call a modern day family portrait, but have it painted in a classical style. I think that would be pretty cool. middleton-family-portraits-042I mean, can you imagine sitting like this for hours on end to be painted? I think that would be pretty funny but also very antagonising. 8)

Female Patrons of the Arts (Week 3: Journal)

Not being too clear about female patrons of the arts, I did a little research and discovered a list of women who are currently listed as some of the top female collectors of our time. I read through the list and one name, in particular, called out to me: Sheikha Al Mayassa Al Thani.

Sheikha Mayassa bint Hamad al-Thani, daughter of the Emir of Qatar and head of the Board of the Qatar Museums Authority. Photographer: Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images
Sheikha Mayassa bint Hamad al-Thani, daughter of the Emir of Qatar and head of the Board of the Qatar Museums Authority. Photographer: Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images

Perhaps it is because she is royalty, or maybe I’m interested in her because I have been to Doha, where she resides, and their art and culture fascinates me. I did some research about her and am utterly astounded by what she has accomplished.

While she is royalty, she is also an extremely well-educated woman, something you don’t hear much about from the Middle-East, or rather you would hear otherwise from Western propaganda.

She is the Director of the Qatar Museum Authority which manages the Museum of Islamic Art and the soon to open National Museum of Qatar and Orientalist Museum. She was also listed as one of the most influential people in the world by TIME magazine and has also topped the lists in ArtReview’s 2014 ranking of the art world’s 100 most influential figures, otherwise known as the power 100. Not only did she rank above countless Westerners, but in fact, she has outranked many men, something you don’t hear much about, especially a woman coming from the Middle-East.

She originally came into the art world’s view after spending $250 million on the Card Players, but soon rose to even higher heights after her organisations annual spending of about $1 billion.

Card Players (5th version) (ca.1894-1895) by Paul Cezanne, oil on canvas, Musée d’Orsay

Africa (Week 2: Journal)

Africa has always been seen as having one of the most backward civilisations in the world. Growing up, I’ve always had a particular view of Africa: tribes and animals. I’ve always been fascinated by that particular aspect of Africa, but not once have I stopped to think about the art or even the period of colonialism.

After week 2, where we talked about the ivories that came out of Africa, my perspective of their culture and their arts has changed. Their craft was exceptional, it shows, very clearly, the level of skill they possessed and their ability to bring life to such a precious material. While some might say that they’re backwards, their craft during that time shows something very different. Their level of skill was so great that they were asked to create works of art for the elite back in Europe, works that were not able to have been made by the Europeans at that time (or so to my knowledge).

Sierra Leone; Sapi peoples Salt cellar ca. 1490-1530 Ivory H. 20.7 cm (8 1/8″) Seattle Art Museum, Nasli and Alice Heeramaneck Collection, 68.31

But the one thing that did not change was how the Western world has exploited the resources in Africa. Though they may have respected the chieftains or the craftsmen in Africa, their exploitation of materials, especially that of ivory, has done nothing but harm the ecosystem. Up till now, elephants are being hunted in Africa, not necessarily for the westerners, as this issue is also very prominent in Asia and other parts of the world. While elephants are somewhat protected in Africa, other animals (even those that are protected) are still being hunted, and while elephants were hunted for their tusks, other animals are hunted for the sake of being hunted, or as the hunters might call it, Big Game Hunting.

Here’s some information on big game hunting and it’s affects on Africa:

(While this issue may not have anything to do with art history, I do believe it is an important issue, and since we were in Africa in week 2, I believe this does have some importance as well. Hope that’s ok!)