kenneth-clark

Psychologist Kenneth Clark conducting the “doll test” with a young child in 1947.

This famous “doll experiment,” a landmark in American civil rights, was constructed by Clark and his wife Mamie Clark to illustrate the impact of stereotypes and children’s self-perception in relation to their race.

The study was used to show how school segregation was negatively impacting the minds of young black children by forcing them to internalize the stereotypes of racism.

Image: Library of Congress.
Read more: http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2014/05/the_brown_decision_s_doll_test_11_facts.html

source: From the Hands of Quacks

Francisco de Goya, ‘The Third of May 1808′ [1814, Museo Nacional del Prado]

According to art historian Kenneth Clark, ‘This is the first great picture which can be called revolutionary’:

So, far from being a glorified press photograph, The Third of May was painted as a commission six years after the event and it is certain that Goya had not been an eyewitness. It is not the record of a single episode, but a grim reflection on the whole nature of power. Goya was born in the age of reason and after his illness he was obsessed by all that could happen to humanity when reason lost control. In The Third of May he shows one aspect of the irrational, the predetermined brutality of men in uniform. By a stroke of genius he has contrasted the fierce repetition of the soldiers’ attitudes and the steely line of their rifles, with the crumbling irregularity of their target. As I look at the firing squad I remember that artists have been symbolising merciless conformity by this kind of repetition since the very beginning of art. One finds it in the bowmen on Egyptian reliefs, in the warriors of Assur Nasir Pal, in the repeated shields of the giants on the Siphnian Treasury at Delphi. in all these monuments power is conveyed by abstract shapes. But the victims of power are not abstract. They are as shapeless and pathetic as old sacks; they are huddled together like animals. In the face of Murat’s firing squad they cover their eyes, or clasp their hands in prayer. And in the middle a man with a dark face throws up his arms, so that his death is a sort of crucifixion. His white shirt, laid open to the rifles, is the flash of inspiration which has ignited the whole design.[…] The Third of May is a work of the imagination.[…]

This is the first great picture which can be called revolutionary in every sense of the word in style, in subject and in intention; and it should be a model for the socialist and revolutionary painting of the present day. Unfortunately social indignation, like other abstract emotions, is not a natural generator of art; also Goya’s combination of gifts has proved to be very rare. Almost all the painters who have treated such themes have been illustrators first and artists second. Instead of allowing their feelings about an event to form a corresponding pictorial symbol in their minds, they have tried to reconstruct events, as remembered by witnesses, according to pictorial possibilities. The result is an accumulation of formulas. But in The Third of May not a single stroke is done according to formula. At every point Goya’s flash lit eye and his responsive hand have been at one with his indignation.

Read Clark’s full entry on The Third of May 1808 from his book, Looking at Pictures. See the high-res scan of the painting, and more incredible works by Goya, at the Prado.

People sometimes tell me that they prefer barbarism to civilisation. I doubt if they have given it a long enough trial. Like the people of Alexandria, they are bored by civilisation; but all the evidence suggests that the boredom of barbarism is infinitely greater.
—  Kenneth Clark

I believe order is better than chaos, creation better than destruction. I prefer gentleness to violence, forgiveness to vendetta. On the whole I think that knowledge is preferable to ignorance, and I am sure that human sympathy is more valuable than ideology.

I believe that in spite of the recent triumphs of science, men haven’t changed much in the last two thousand years; and in consequence we must try to learn from history.

—  Kenneth Clark, Civilization
6

“Frostie” - Eunice Frost


The Penguin logo by Edward Young is easily the most recognisable and iconic in publishing. Less well known, it was named “Frostie” after the first woman to be appointed to the Penguin Board of Directors, Eunice Frost, or her contribution in helping shape one of the most successful stories in publishing history.


The enigmatic and eccentric Eunice Frost joined Penguin in 1937 as a secretary, but soon became the pivotal driving force of its editorial output. She steered the company to broaden their portfolio beyond reprinting fiction to creating their own unique work, including the Pelican and Penguin Modern Painter series (4 of the 16 titles originally published in the 1940s are pictured in the photographs). She was also the one who primarily dealt with the authors, publishers and illustrators and in 1941 she was sent to New York to set up the American branch of Penguin Books.


She described herself as a “literary midwife:” working tirelessly to bring Penguin publications into the world, but, despite becoming the first woman in publishing to receive an OBE, she felt her work went largely unacknowledged and unaccredited. The eminent Art Historian and Editor of the Penguin Modern Painter series, Kenneth Clark reinforces this opinion when he wrote to her in 1954 shortly before the revised editions were due to be published “I would much rather my name were not printed as Editor of your new series because I have done nothing to deserve it. You have done all the work during the last 10 years, and it is high time your name appeared and you got the credit for it.”


Although her name may never have appeared on a single edition of a Penguin book, her association with its logo ensures she remains an implicit, if somewhat invisible, presence to this day.


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Kenneth Clark

External image

Kenneth Bancroft Clark was born in 1914 in the Panama Canal Zone. He grew up in Harlem in the midst of the Renaissance. He graduated from Howard University where he participated in civil rights demonstrations and met his future wife and collaborator Mamie Phipps. Kenneth and Mamie went on to graduate study in psychology at Columbia University, where Kenneth was the first Black person to receive a PhD from the university.

Kenneth Clark became the first Black professor at City College in 1942. Clark and his wife are most known for the “doll studies”, where he presented Black children with black and white dolls to measure their racial preferences and beliefs. The studies were used to show that segregation, with Black students in inferior schools, was detrimental to their self-esteem.

Clark published several books on Black people and racial integration. He was involved in community development programs and served as an advisor on racial issues. In 1946 he and his wife founded the Northside Child Development Center in Harlem. Clark also served as president of the American Psychological Association. He died in 2005.

Clark’s work was groundbreaking. Today, versions of the doll study are still used to measure children’s racial attitudes. Though the studies show that Black children tend to have as high or higher self-esteem than children of other races, representations of Blacks in the media and school materials can lead them to have a negative view of their own race. 

Sources:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/02/nyregion/02clark.html?_r=0

Gates, H.L., & Appiah, K.A. (Eds). (1999). Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience. New York: Basic Civitas Books.

The swing of the hip, what the French call déhanchement, is a motive of peculiar importance to the human mind, for by a single line, in an instant of perception, it unites and reveals the two sources of our understanding. It is almost a geometric curve; and yet, as subsequent history shows, it is a vivid symbol of desire.
—  The Nude
Kenneth Clark
6

Alexander died, Alexander was buried, 

Alexander returneth into dust; the dust is earth;

of  earth we make loam; and why of that loam, whereto he  

was converted, might they not stop a beer-barrel? 

 Imperious Caesar, dead and turn’d to clay,  

Might stop a hole to keep the wind away: 

O, that that earth, which kept the world in awe, 

 Should patch a wall to expel the winter flaw!

One of the first ways that I would justify a civilisation is that it can produce a genius on this scale. In his freedom of mind, in his power of self-identification, in his complete absence of any dogma, Shakespeare sums up and illuminates the piece of history [the Reformation] that I’ve just described. His mature plays are, amongst other things, the poetical fulfilment of Montaigne’s intellectual honesty.

But Shakespeare’s skepticism was more complete and more uncomfortable. Instead of Montaigne’s detachment, there’s a spirit of passionate engagement. And instead of the essay, there’s the urgent communication of the stage. 

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day

To the last syllable of recorded time,

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more: it is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

How unthinkable, before the breakup of Christendom, the tragic split that followed the Reformation. And yet I feel that the human mind has gained a new strength by outstaring this emptiness.  

As if Civilisation, which I am finally watching, isn’t already, every episode, quite wonderful, up pops an unexpected Ian Richardson being Hamlet. 

Kenneth Clark is that most rare and welcome thing - someone who can distill vast and difficult concepts/periods of history into clear, understandable insights. Civilisation is a self-proclaimed personal view, and can’t hope to cover the whole of history and art history in such a short time. But every episode brings moments of recognition, understanding and joy, even of areas I am spectacularly ignorant of (a lot of the pre-Renaissance world, which is the first four episodes). And when he discusses artists and thinkers that I have some or a lot of familiarity with like Michelangelo and Shakespeare it’s not old news - it’s illuminating and enriching.  

I’m trying to ration my viewing because there’s so much richness in every episode (and the restored bluray looks LOVELY as you can see) but it’s difficult, because it’s so damn good. If you ever thought I wish I knew more about *insert period of art history/historical genius/religious history/etc* but I don’t have the time/inclination/energy/idea of where to start then this is a very good introduction to a lot of the Western part of it.  

“People sometimes feel disappointed the first time they see the famous beginnings of renaissance architecture, because they seem so small. Well, so they are, after the great monuments of Romanesque and Gothic architecture.

They don’t try to impress us, or crush us, by their size and weight, like all God-directed architecture does. Everything is adjusted to the scale of reasonable human necessity. They’re intended to make each individual more conscious of his powers as a complete moral and intellectual being.”

-Kenneth Clark in Civilisation

(The Pazzi chapel, interior viewed from its dome. Florence, (c. 1430). By Filippo Brunelleschi.)

No amount of that kind of material attempt at equality can ever substitute for the kind of essential dignity, acceptance, and humanity, which every human being, without regard to his color, his religion, or national background, must feel, if he is going to be a fully mature and fully adult human being. You cannot buy it with bricks and mortar.
—  Kenneth Clark, in hearings regarding the elimination of racial segregation from schools in the 1950’s. 
A margin of wealth is helpful to a civilisation, but for some mysterious reason great wealth is destructive. I suppose that, in the end, splendour is dehumanising, and a certain sense of limitation seems to be a condition of what we call good taste.
—  Kenneth Clark, Civilisation

The Lowcountry Digital Library is pleased to announce that we have several new collections online! For the next few days, we will be posting featured pictures from our new collections. Please, head over to our website to check them out! Today’s featured collection: White Pines Series of Architectural Monographs Collection.

Photographs from the White Pines Series of Architectural Monographs. Photograph 23. This particular photograph can be found in The Charm of Charleston: A New World City of Old World Memories on page 6. Captioned: “Meeting Street-St.Michael’s Church and South Carolina Society Hall. Charleston, South Carolina.”

“This collection of gelatin silver photographs by Kenneth Clark consists of the original prints that were reproduced in three issues of the White Pine Series of Architectural Monographs, published by Russell F. Whitehead. The series was intended to provide “intimate treatises of the architecture of the American colonies of the early Republic presented with well ordered completeness, to further a broader understanding and to create a permanent record of Early American architecture.” In 1928, five issues highlighted Charleston architecture. The photographs feature Charleston buildings, street scenes, views, and architectural details. They appeared in three of the five Charleston issues: “The Charm of Charleston: A New World City of Old World Memories” (vol. XIV, no. 2), “Some Charleston Mansions” (vol. XIV, no. 4), and “The Edwards-Smyth House” (vol. XIV, no.6).”

Photograph from the Photographs from the White Pines Series of Architectural Monographs held by the Margaretta Childs Archives at Historic Charleston Foundation.