What a wonderful experience we had in the Emerald Isle. We met a lot of challenges- mainly with the weather. I am sure we are missing the kindness of Julia and Paddy and Quay House itself and our dearest friends. I am looking forward for our Ireland reunion party on September 30th.


Anyway, it is good to be back and to start the year studying strong. This time I am taking the Oxford University course in Northern Renaissance.

This is not a fully researched area as not so much evidence survived from Medieval times of Northern Europe and I have to really dig deep not only to read a lot of information but to go and see what is available on display. Our first assignment was about similarities and differences in artistic success in Medieval times and our modern days. And here are my thoughts.

Artistic success today is defined in a similar, but at the same time in many respects also in a completely different way than in the fifteenth century.

Similarities: Artists’ image evolved from being considered as craftsmen to being regarded as independent artists. Increasing social mobility led to developing individualistic artistic styles and techniques.

Differences: Success in the art world today depends on excellence, recognition and financial stability. In the fifteenth century artists seem to have looked at their vocation as a source of income (vs recognition), first and foremost.

To be in the right place at the right time is very important for artists today – before artists looking for success were bound to settle down in areas of demand, which usually meant areas surrounding rulers’ palaces and churches, where there was a high concentration of population.

Today, success depends on what type of art is ‘trending’ and on how big is the competition in the area. In the fifteenth century nobody could think about using art in making political statements or communicating complex ideas to the wider population because most people were illiterate and therefore the target audience for conceptual art was very limited. Also, in terms of genres, in the 15thcentury most art was allegorical and revolved around religious subjects, linked to the divine world. Today, art celebrates intelligence and humanity.

I wonder if you all agree with me on these thoughts, if you have different opinions , please share them with me. Have a wonderful fall!