Browse Exhibits (29 total)
Following the Greek tradition of coinage, ‘Celts’ began to make their own coins since the third century BC at latest (Allen, 1987). Imitative as they are, Celtic coins gradually developed their own visual language and other idiosyncrasies. Since Celts in La Tène period did not leave a literary tradition, such material culture plays a significant role in helping to understand the features of the Celtic spiritual world. The earliest coinages of the La Tène period originated in the Danube river basin; with a noticeable presence and preference for the depiction of a horse on the coins. This raises some interesting questions: With so many Greek prototypes to draw from, why do early ‘Celts’ favor the ones with horse most? Compared to Greek prototypes, what are the characteristics of horse imagery on Celtic coins as opposed to Greek examples? Why are horses juxtaposed with symbols such as the sun or a bird? By presenting and analyzing a group of Celtic silver coins found in Danube basin, the exhibition will explore how horse motif on coinage signifies the significant and complex role of horse in Celtic culture.
"Our Ancestors the Gauls": Henri Paul Motte and the Gallic/Druidic Revival of Nineteenth-Century France, curated by Catherine Carlisle
From his body of work, one can see that Henri Paul Motte was interested in depicting compelling moments of warfare; moments of cunning and conquest for one side, of course, means moments of blunder and defeat for the other. Among his works, Motte created captivating images that depict Hannibal’s Army Crossing the Rhône (1878), Juno’s Geese Saving the Capitol (1881), The Siege of Alesia (n.d.), and Vercingetorix Surrendering to Caesar (1886). Aside from being moments of victory or moments of military guile that precipitate victory, these works also share the common thread of being moments that directly involve the history of Gauls. In 1901, in the latter half of his career, Motte submitted a painting titled Druids Cutting the Mistletoe on the Sixth Day of the Moon, in which the spiritual leaders of a Gallic tribe conduct an ancient ceremony. This image of solemnity and mystique is distinctive from the rest of his body of work.
The Gauls, the original inhabiters of France, were considered barbarians and were ultimately defeated by and assimilated into the Roman civilization. Why, then, would Henri Paul Motte be interested in making the conquest of the Gauls, a perhaps less triumphant period of French history, a theme among his works? Why would he choose a Druidic ceremony as the subject of a Salon entry? The Druids quite famously never committed the details of their lives to writing, so where would Motte's understanding of Druidic rituals have come from? Is his depiction of Druids Cutting the Mistletoe on the Sixth Day of the Moon an accurate representation of a Druidic ceremony and, in the end, does it matter? This exhibition will attempt to answer these questions and provide a better understanding of the cultural attitudes toward the Gauls, particularly the Druids, in nineteenth-century France.
While a unified definition of either Roman or Celtic art is, at best, difficult to establish, this exhibition seeks to present, deconstruct and diagnose the intermingling of these distinct artistic sensibilities through the locus of particular works of art from Roman Gaul and Britain. With particular emphasis on how Celtic artists adapted to the influx of Roman culture under the aegis of military occupation, these works become all the more integral in addressing questions of Celtic identity: What features of Roman art were appropriated entirely and what were translated into some Celtic equivalent? In what areas, if any, did artists refuse or seem unable to compromise? By exploring where these artistic and cultural spheres intersect, we will perhaps gain a more subtle understanding of both, as well as an appreciation of the cultural forces that seem to compel the stylistic predilections and inclinations of a given age and society.
This online exhibition is the culmination of the work done by students in Professor Dorothy Verkerk’s Spring 2013 Art 467 (Celtic Art) course. Each exhibit consists of an essay or essays summarizing the student’s research; images of the objects that are the focus of the student’s research; and a bibliography. The students' items also appear on the timeline.
“‘The costume consisted of a blouse with sleeves, confined in some cases by a belt, with trousers fitting close at the ankle, and a tartan plaid fastened up at the shoulder with a brooch.’ This form of Celtic dress is of special interest to all who are connected with the Scottish Highlands. Because, while it may have been worn by Continental Celts for many centuries after the date of Claudius, it eventually vanished from the Continent, and from all other parts of the British Isles except the Scottish Highlands, where it continued to be worn without any radical variations down to our own times.”
David MacRitchie, quoting Charles Elton, 1904, “The Celtic Trews” (389)
Today, plaid fabric known as the tartan is synonymous with Scotland and Scottish identity. The use of a tartan plaid automatically evokes thoughts of the Highlands and of the British Isles. Tartans and kilts are closely assoicated with ideas of clanship, familial identity, and men dressed in what appear to be skirts. The history of the pattern and the fabric extends far beyond the formation of the contemporary Scottish nationalist identity. Woven plaid fabric is not unique to Great Britain, and archaeological evidence shows that the textile was once used and made across much of the European continent. As the quotation of Charles Elton suggests, somehow the significance of the fabric shifted from a functionally practical textile pattern to a national symbol, charged with the history and patriotism of Scottish Highlanders who saw the fabric as a link to their ancient and ancestral past. It became a marker of rebellion, defiance, political action, and Scottish identity, allowing it to function symbolically in art and visual representations of all things Scottish.
Cernunnos, the stag-god of ancient Celtic cultures and often represented in centuries-old relics and artifacts, is brought into the contemporary scene through the artwork of this painter and mixed media artist. Most commonly represented cross-legged and bearded, this god is shown in Tree of Life and Cernunnos in a completely new way: infantile and out of the Celtic context. Why is an infant Cernunnos portrayed? Why is he in new positions and compositions? Through his pieces, Mark Ryden provides Cernunnos with a new context embedded with Christian and Celtic motifs, iconography, and cultural allusionst to both reference and strengthen the idea of the power of the tree as creator and critique Christianity as responsible for the dissosiation of man from nature.
Changes in Perception and Self-Identification: Symbolism of the Harp and the Carnyx, curated by Amelia Parlier
This exhibit contains ancient "Celtic" instruments and explores the relationship between what is viewed as quintessential Celtic instruments, the carnyx and harp, and perceptions of how these reflect a so-called Celtic spirit or culture. There are harps over 500 years old, carnyces over 2000 years old and depictions of the two in both present and ancient times.
At the Chicago World's Fair of 1893, there were two Irish villages that helped to establish and reinforce the stereotypes associated with Ireland.
"With their uniquely American perspective, artists Cindy Matyi, Steve O'Loughlin, Jen Delyth, Michael Carroll and Patrick Gallagher use their Celtic art skills to reflect spiritual, social and interactive life at the turn of the millennium. Expressing the realities and conundrums of modern life through the indirectness of symbols, these artists somehow "interlace" several thousand years of humanity together in an intuitive way. For the last 10 years they have been showing their work as a group around the globe."
Defining Irishness: The Use of Celtic Imagery in the Political Murals of Northern Ireland, curated by Caitlin Cooper
This exhibit will explore the use of Celtic imagery in the Republican propaganda murals in Belfast and Derry in Northern Ireland.
Tattoos serve as an immediate visual indicator of a myriad of things. At some points in history tattoos were a status symbol that publically communicated one’s standing in a community. They also indicate a community by physically marking insiders against outsiders, or the unmarked. In the United States individualism is a core value and tattoos are one way to claim ones independence as well as belonging. Tattooing in America has been on the rise in the last decade. In younger generations is more uncommon to be markless than it is to proudly display one. These tattoos can range from simple designs to entire body pieces that take years to finish in the utmost detail. One common theme in American tattooing is the prevalence of Celtic motifs. These motifs can be a simple cross or a direct replication of a carpet page from The Book of Kells. The commonality begs the question, why? What does this appropriation and commodification of symbols serve to do for the bearers of these tattoos and the artists who create them? Were the Celts even tattooed? To answer these questions it’s important to look at several factors. The history of Celtic tattooing along with the history of tattooing in America and its resulting influence on American culture and subcultures, particularly white supremacist factions.
An examination of Celtic heritage artifacts as selected and expressed by residents of the Isle of Man. Traces an arc of Celticism through stone crosses, the work of Archibald Knox, and present day heritage presentation.
French Illustrations of Celts in François Guizot's A Popular History of France: Redefining French National Identity in Post-Ancien régime France, curated by Maggie Howell
During the tumultous period in France's history that was the 19th century, political power changed hands numerous times, leaving French citizens searching for an identity as a people and nation--something the government had previously provided for them. Many scholars set out with the purpose of defining an identity for the French people, turning to the nation's Celtic, or "Gallic", heritage to find the enduring "essence" and historical "spirit" of the French. They turned to history, exploring the various "roots" of France's culture in an attempt to understand the present. Essentializing the French identity proved difficult as these scholars also tried to reconcile their Gallic heritage with their Roman and Frankish heritage. In François Guizot's nationalist historical text, A Popular History France from the Earliest Times, one can see this tension between claiming each of these groups as French ancestors, specifically in the accompanying illustrations by Alphonse de Neuville.
This OMEKA exhibit will explore images of women in literature (including but not exclusively by women) written from the classical era through the twenty-first century.
This exhibition consists of cinematic representations of Celtic speaking people in two feature length films - The Wicker Man (1973) and Brave (2013).
Numerology and geometric design was key to the art of La Tène culture, which produced a rich metalworking tradition that relies on ornamental, non-narrative designs. The early medieval Lindisfarne Gospel is an illuminated manuscrip with carpet pages that demonstrate a great deal of intricate mathematical design that are visually closely allied with Insular La Tène art. The hidden numbers, geometry and direction of motion within the carpet pages seem to indicate that they were visual paths to the Divine. The presence of carpet pages in front of gospel books suggests that they were used to inspire meditation and encourage contemplation, preparing people mentally for the gospel words to come and the mysteries of the Christian life. Patterns, shapes and colors comprise the carpet pages that lack any narrative content, suggesting that they communicate through mathematics and geometry some truths about the cosmos in ways that move beyond the written word. This exhibition will start a journey among the painted prayers that can be found in the design and ornamentation.
This exhibit looks at the status of virgin forests in North Carolina through the adventure of one student, and his friend, in the Linville Gorge Wilderness.
Within Medieval French and Italian iconography, how did the standard formatting become definitive of certain characteristics of the Virgin Mary, the Trinity, and Satan? To recognize iconography as indicating specific ideas and figures suggests previous exposure to it, as it is only possible to recognize what is familiar. This exhibition proposes the possibility that Christian iconography developed out of the appropriation of a familiar visual vocabulary of Celtic Gaul that was already in place and existed with certain connotations that were applicable to Christianity. Though this study offers no definitive answer concerning Christian appropriation from the Celts, assessment proves an interlinking of forms and concepts between Christian and Celtic art, as well as a historical basis that suggests reason for speculation that this phenomenon did occur.
A source of artistic inspiration to the world of modern media, the Book of Kells continues to play an iconic role in the minds of our society. Beginning with its incorporation into album covers in the 1970s, the manuscript later inspired the creation of a feature-length animated film, and whose style was adapted to art portraying popular TV shows of the 21st century.