Friday, 31 July 2015

Viewpoints 3: pattern recognition

Kelheim ( Lower Bavaria ). Archaeological Museum:
 Bronze application ( 3rd century BC ) from the
La Téne culture cemetery at Kelheim-Mitterfeld.
photo and caption: Wolfgang Sauber
In his thesis, Castriota reveals that the grammar of Celtic ornament which appears as "patterns" in Jacobsthal's work and which was continued by Sir Cyril Fox and Martyn Jope is not really a grammar but a glossary of ornament. A grammar is what is followed by the artist in the commission of the work. In his forthcoming supplement to Jacobsthal, Vincent Megaw will not be including patterns at all and he explained to me that people will have to use their eyes. This is good advice and I think that patterns can not only emphasize a particular view, but can prevent alternative views through its labeling and context in the work.

The need to break down motifs further into elements is not well reflected in the published patterns by Jacobsthal and Jope who not only include motifs as patterns but combinations of motifs, especially with continuous decoration. Fox restricts his patterns to single motifs, alone.

Early Celtic art has no published manifesto of its aims as we frequently see in modern art movements, and its narrative content, in the rare incidences where we suspect that such is being presented, is based on mythologies that if committed to writing later are so changed that reconstituting the original stories is impossible. On top of everything else, the separation of artistic and mythological elements, as with separations of "Church and State" was just not any sort of consideration in prehistoric art and cultures.

On Monday: dealing with elements and motifs. Have a great weekend.

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