Van Eyck’s Signature
Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378-1455)
Painting: Gates of Paradise – east baptistery doors (1425-52) Florence
Ghiberti’s east baptistery doors contain one of the first self portraits of an artist which acted as a signature to the work. In 1401 Ghiberti won a competition to design a set of bronze baptistery for the east front. However, these doors have now been relocated to the north in order to make way for his later doors the, Gates of Paradise, 1425-52. The Gates of Paradise are divided into ten panels depicting scenes from the Old Testament.
Ghiberti employed the recently discovered principles of perspective to give depth to his compositions. The panels are surrounded by a richly decorated gilt framework which contain statuettes and busts of prophets. The central busts are portraits of the artist and his father, Bartolomeo Ghiberti.
Jan Van Eyck (1390-1441)
Painting: The Arnolfini Wedding (1434)
The Arnolfini Wedding is believed to be a portrait documenting the wedding of Giovanni Arnolfini, an Italian cloth merchant, and his wife. This painting is embedded in rich iconography* and art historians have debated is meaning for many years.
In the centre of the painting a couple stand in their finery with their hands held. In the background there is a convex mirror, which reflects the artist as he stands in front of them, outside of the picture plane. Above this mirror Van Eyck has signed his name, Johannes de eyck fuit hic 1434 (Jan van Eyck was here 1434). Northern European artists were signing their works from a much earlier date than those in the southern Europe.
US Declaration of Independence Document and John Hancock
Shakespeare Sigs Collected
John Ruddy, like many other Irish emigrants, was illiterate. Here is his mark on one of his pension applications (Fold3)
Obama used Ghostwriter called an “Autopen” for signing Congress’ fiscal cliff deal into law in the third time. First was in May of 2011, when he became the first president to do so by signing a Patriot Act extension from a G8 summit in France, the second was in November of 2011 from Indonesia.
This uses of autopen brought constitutional criticism. However, the Justice Department wrote a 29-page opinion in 2005 during George W. Bush’s presidency that found “. . .the President need not personally perform the physical act of affixing his signature to a bill he approves and decides to sign in order for the bill to become law. Rather, the President may sign a bill within the meaning of Article I, Section 7 by directing a subordinate to affix the President’s signature to such a bill, for example by autopen.”
Famous Fake Signature on Art painting
Han van Meegeren’s Fake Vermeers
Signatures and Authenticity
In terms of intention, if one is dealing with an object then one is more strongly committed to one’s attitude of seeing (language) in this particular case than to any physical attributes. If one can conceptually distinguish that ‘language’ as a ‘thing-in-itself’, one might very well claim certain rights to it, e.g . to ‘put a signature on it‘, rather than to any physical manifestation. The object then can be as ordinary or common or accessible as one chooses … since that is not what one is directly committed to – one is not committed to a particular object but only to the fact of an object being there in order that one can have an attitude about it, i.e., a particular language of seeing. One’s commitment then can lie in the direction of the language.
It becomes crucial to realise the significance of the ties between the language we use and what (and how) we see.
The Crisis of Artistic Authorship (1981)
Greenberg’s writing is often cited as the apodictic core of modernist criticism: but it is far from coherent. Rather, it marks a point of diffraction, of incoherence in that discourse. His particular attention to the materiality of the object allowed a divergence from the ontological norm which was furthered by developments of art practice and which, consequently, required a restatement of modernism’s central themes at a moment when the vacuity of that project was keenly perceived in contrast to the aims and intentions of some of the artists to whom he referred.
…Greenberg’s attempt to establish the objective purposiveness of the art object, to define its particular forms of adaption to definite ends in terms of material substrate, is continually undermined by the exigencies of a subjective judgment of taste. And here an altogether different order of purpose emerges.
The only necessary condition for judging good art is common sense; but for producing good art, genius is required. With reference to Kant’s Critique, genius is the mental disposition (ingenium) through which nature gives the rule to art. No definite rule can be given for the products of genius, hence originality is its first property. At this point the modernist discourse emerges as the site of an insistent contradiction which is indicated in Greenberg’s criticism and repeated in the opposing strategies of the institutions of education on the one hand and those of entertainment and art patronage on the other. The former exacts a formal field of knowledge about art, an empirical domain of teachable crafts, while the latter requires a transcendental field of aesthetic experience and reflection founded on the unteachable tenets of genius and originality. During the 1960s artistic practices attempted to repudiate the notions of genius, originality, and taste, by introducing material processes, series, systems, and ideas in place of an art based on self-expression. [ .. . ]
The only necessary condition for judging good art is common sense; but for producing good art, genius is required. With reference to Kant’s Critique, genius is the mental disposition ( ingenium) through which nature gives the rule to art. No definite rule can be given for the products of genius, hence originality is its first property. At this point the modernist discourse emerges as the site of an insistent contradiction which is indicated in Greenberg’s criticism and repeated in the opposing strategies of the institutions of education on the one hand and those of entertainment and art patronage on the other. The former exacts a formal field of knowledge about art, an empirical domain of teachable crafts, while the latter requires a transcendental field of aesthetic experience and reflection founded on the unteachable tenets of genius and originality. During the 1960s artistic practices attempted to repudiate the notions of genius, originality, and taste, by introducing material processes, series, systems, and ideas in place of an art based on self-expression. [ .. . ]
lff lff lff [ … ] What is made more explicit, more transparent by the so-called ‘dematerialization’ of the object, is that the production of authenticity requires more than an author for the object; it exacts the ‘truth’ of the authorial discourse. By putting himself in circulation, the performance artist parodied the commercial exchange and distribution of an artistic personality in the form of a commodity. Nevertheless, for criticism, performance art initiated an appropriate synthesis of the disparate elements that had fractured the modernist discourse. On the one hand it provided the empirical domain with a universal object – the body, and on the other, to the transcendental field, it brought the incontestable authenticity of the artist’s experience of his own body.
With Lea Vergine’s account of ‘body art,’ … criticism seems to subside once again in the direction of ontology. She speaks of ‘the individual obsessed by the obligation to exhibit himself in order to be’. But she is anxious to point 3 out that this move is more than a revival of expressionism. The use of the body in art is not simply a return to origins, ‘the individual is led back to a specific mode of existence.’ Moreover these activities, ‘phenomena’ as she puts it, also document a style of living that remains ‘outside of art.’ The critic finds in the analysis of the artist’s actual experience, the third term which metaphorically grounds the experience of nature (the body) and art (the culture). [ . . . ]
.. . the authenticity of body art cannot be inscribed at the level of a particular morphology, it must be chiselled into the world in accordance with direct experience. The discourse of the body in art is more than a repetition of the eschatological voices of abstract expressionism; the actual experience of the body fulfils the prophecy of the painted mark, It is also more than a confirmation of the positivist aspirations of the Art of the Real. The art of the ‘real body’ does not pertain to the truth of a visible form, but refers back to its essential content: the irreducible, irrefutable experience of pain. The body, as artistic text, bears the authenticating imprint of pain like a signature; Vergine insists, ‘the experiences we are dealing with are authentic, and they are consequently cruel and painful. Those who are in pain will tell you that they have the right to be taken seriously.’ ~ (It is no longer a question of good art, but of serious artists.) [ … ]
… the specific contribution of feminists in the field of performance has been to pose the question of sexual difference across the discourse of the body in a way which focuses on the construction not of the individual but of the sexed subject. The body is not perceived as the repository of an artistic essence: it is seen as a kind of hermeneutic image. The so-called ‘enigma of femininity’ is formulated as the problem of representation (images of women, how to change them) and then resolved by the discovery of a true identity behind the patriarchal facade. This true identity is ‘the essence in women’ according to Ulrike Rosenbach, who defines feminist art as ‘the elucidation of the woman-artist’s identity; of her body, of her psyche, her feelings, her position in society.
Clearly the question of the body and the question of sexuality do not necessarily intersect. When they do, for instance in this particular discourse, the body is decentered and it is radically split; positioned; not simply my body, but his body, her body. Here, no third term emerges to salvage a transcendental sameness for aesthetic reflection. Within this system of representation, actual experience merely confirms an irrevocable difference in the field of the other.
Partially because of this intransigence, feminist art has been problematic for criticism; how does the critic authenticate the work of art when the author is sexed and ‘his’ truth no longer universal? Consequently, most of this work has been marginalized by or excluded from the so-called ‘mainstream’ even when the critic’s concerns have included areas such as psychoanalysis … Moreover [he predominant forms of feminist writing on art continue to counterpose a visible torrn to a hidden content; excavating a different, but similarly fundamental order of truth – the truth of the woman, her original feminine identity. But in practice what persistently emerges as a result of foregrounding the question of representation, particularly the image, is more in the order of an underlying contradiction than an essential content. The woman artist ‘sees’ her experience as a woman particularly in terms of the ‘feminine position,’ as object of the look, but she must also account for the ‘feeling’ she experiences as the artist, occupying the ‘masculine position’ as subject of the look. The former she defines as the socially prescribed position of the woman, one to be questioned, exorcised, or overthrown … , while the implications of the latter (that there can be only one position with regard to active looking and that is masculine) cannot be acknowledged and is construed instead as a kind of psychic truth – a natural, instinctual, preexistent, and essential femininity. Frequently, in the process of its production, the feminist text repudiates its own essentialism and testifies instead to the insistent bisexuality of the drives. It would seem to be a relevant project for feminist criticism to take this further – to examine how that contradiction (the crisis of positionality) is articulated in particular practices and to what extent it demonstrates that masculine and feminine positions are never finally fixed – for the artist, her work, or her public. [ . .. ]
Following the paradoxical logic of modernism’s demand for objective purposes as well as transcendental truths, avant-garde practices between 1965 and the mid-1970s initiated areas of work that divided the verv field of which they were an effect. The potential of that divergence has not “been completely realized. First, the materiality of the practice: initially defined in terms of the constraints of a particular medium, it must now be redefined as a specific production of meaning. Secondly, sociality, raised as the question of context, i.e. the gallery system (inside vs. outside), and the commodification of art (object vs. process, action, idea, etc.) . This must be reconsidered as the question of institutions, of the conditions which determine the reading of artistic texts and the strategies which would be appropriate for interventions (rather than ‘alternatives’) in that context. Thirdly, sexuality, posed as the problem of images of women and how to change them, must be reformulated as a concern with positionality, with the production of readers as well as authors for artistic texts and crucially, with the sexual overdetermination of meaning which takes place in that process.
The dominant critical practices of that same period have, however, so consistently converged on the traditional vanishing point of the artistic subject, self-possessed and essentially creative, that it is not surprising now to find a certain consolidation of that position in artistic practices themsel ves, in the return of painterly signifiers and their privileged site – the classical pictorial text. Finally, a further question is raised – why theoretical criticism, with a very different history from that discussed so far, was also unable to sustain the discontinuities in the modernist discourse and develop an accessible critique.
As Jean-Claude Lebenzstein suggests in his essay “Sketch of a Typology,” the modernartist’s signature typically “illustrate the fetish which museological culture makes of his name
Why do we Sign for? – NPR
Derrida, J., Amelunxen, H., Fort, J., Richter, G. and Wetzel, M. (2010). Copy, Archive, Signature : A Conversation on Photography. 1st ed. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.
Harbison, C. (2012). Jan van Eyck: the play of realism. 1st ed. London: Reaktion.
Harrison, C. and Wood, P. (1999). Art in theory, 1900-1990. 1st ed. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.
Respond to Uses of Signature on different point