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Hierarchy of genres

A hierarchy of genres is any formalization which ranks different genres in an art form in terms of their prestige and cultural value. In literature, the epic was considered the highest form, for the reason expressed by Samuel Johnson in his Life of John Milton: "By the general consent of criticks, the first praise of genius is due to the writer of an epick poem, as it requires an assemblage of all the powers which are singly sufficient for other compositions." Below that came lyric poetry, comic poetry, with a similar ranking for drama. The novel took a long time to establish a firm place in the hierarchy, doing so only as belief in any systematic hierarchy of forms expired in the 19th century. In music, settings of words were accorded a higher status than instrumental works, at least until the Baroque period, opera retained a superior status for much longer; the status of works varies with the number of players and singers involved, with those for large forces, which are more difficult to write and more expensive to perform, given higher status.

Any element of comedy reduced the status of a work, though, as in other art forms increasing its popularity. The hierarchies in figurative art art are those formulated for painting in 16th-century Italy, which held sway with little alteration until the early 19th century; these were formalized and promoted by the academies in Europe between the 17th century and the modern era, of which the most influential became the French Académie de peinture et de sculpture, which held a central role in Academic art. The developed hierarchy distinguished between: History painting, including important, mythological, or allegorical subjects Portrait painting Genre painting or scenes of everyday life Landscape and cityscape art Animal painting Still lifeThe hierarchy was based on a distinction between art that made an intellectual effort to "render visible the universal essence of things" and that which consisted of "mechanical copying of particular appearances". Idealism was privileged over realism in line with Renaissance Neo-Platonist philosophy.

The term is used within the field of painting, from the High Renaissance onwards, by which time painting had asserted itself as the highest form of art. This had not been the case in Medieval art and the art-commissioning sectors of society took a considerable period to accept this view; the Raphael Cartoons are a clear example of the continuing status of tapestry, the most expensive form of art in the 16th century. In the Early Medieval period lavish pieces of metalwork had been the most regarded, valuable materials remained an important ingredient in the appreciation of art until at least the 17th century; until the 19th century the most extravagant objets d'art remained more expensive, both new and on the art market, than all but a few paintings. Classical writings which valued the supreme skills of individual artists were influential, as well as developments in art which allowed the Renaissance artist to demonstrate their skill and invention to a greater degree than was possible in the Middle Ages.

The hierarchy grew out of the struggle to gain acceptance of painting as one of the Liberal arts, controversies to establish an equal or superior status within them with architecture and sculpture. These matters were considered of great importance by artist-theorists such as Leon Battista Alberti, Leonardo da Vinci, Giorgio Vasari. Against the sculptors, Leonardo argued that the intellectual effort necessary to create an illusion of three-dimensionality made the painters' art superior to that of the sculptor, who could do so by recording appearances. In his De Pictura of 1441, Alberti argued that multi-figure history painting was the noblest form of art, as being the most difficult, which required mastery of all the others, because it was a visual form of history, because it had the greatest potential to move the viewer, he placed emphasis on the ability to depict the interactions between the figures by gesture and expression. Theorists of the Early and High Renaissance accepted the importance of representing nature at least until the writings of Michelangelo, influenced by neoplatonism.

By the time of Mannerist theorists such as Gian Paolo Lomazzo and Federico Zuccari this was far less of a priority. Both emphasized beauty as "something, directly infused into the mind of man from the mind of God, existed there independent of any sense-impressions", a view bound to further reduce the status of works depending on realism. In practice the hierarchy represented little break with either medieval and classical thought, except to place secular history painting in the same class as religious art, to distinguish between static iconic religious subjects and narrative figure scenes, giving the latter a higher status. Ideas of decorum fed into the hierarchy. During the Renaissance landscape, genre scenes and still lifes hardly existed as established genres, so discussion of the status or importance of different types of painting was concerned with history subjects as against portraits small and unpretentious, iconic portrait-type religious and mythological subjects. For most artists some commitment to realism was necessary in a portrait.

Keith Tucker

Keith Tucker is an American electronic musician and DJ from Detroit, Michigan. Tucker began his career playing cover versions of Juan Atkins' electro hits from the 1980s with his childhood friend Tommy Hamilton; the live ensemble achieved local renown for combining break-dancing, Tucker's mobile DJ-ing while manually playing repetitive, high-speed synthesizer basslines. They became known as Regime RX-7, in 1994 they became Aux 88, they were joined by Lamont Norwood. Tucker's first 12" EP was a collaboration with Juan Atkins and Jesse Anderson, under the name "Frequency" in 1990. Aux 88 released the album "Bass Magnetic" and were the first group to revive Electro in the mid-to-late 1990s; as such they have been credited with inspiring the genre known as electroclash. In the mid-nineteen ninteties they described their own sound as Techno-Bass, a fusion of influences from Detroit techno, Miami bass and EDM; as co-founder of Puzzlebox recordings in 1996 with Anthony "Shake" Shakir, Tucker joined the tradition of independent dance music publishing and vinyl record pressing in Detroit.

He utilized, along with other artists, the National Sound Company vinyl lathe, used to produce the records of legendary Detroit Soul labels such as Motown. In 2006, Tucker's song "Plastic People" was featured on the DJ mix album A Bugged Out Mix by Miss Kittin, which charted at number one-hundred seventy on the French Albums Chart. Among his influences, he cites 1970s Funk such as Parliament and classical music Johann Sebastian Bach; the distinction of his solo work and production credits, is in their blending and refinement of syncopated, minimalist Electro and Techno rhythms influenced by the tonal undulations of Miami Bass and the Roland TR-808 drum machine. True to the Detroit techno tradition, Tucker's music is emotive of a machine-like consciousness and a mental imagery of solipsism, urban alienation and decay; this is expressed, masked or sublimated through metaphors of high technology, science fiction and space travel and conveyed through affected analogue synthesizer timbres. This harks back to Kraftwerk's description of their music – "Electronic blues made with a jazz improvisation technique.”

Optic-universe.com – Keith Tucker's website Optic Universe aux88.com – official website of AUX 88 Keith Tucker discography at Discogs Keith Tucker discography at MusicBrainz Keith Tucker at Last.fm

Pottery of Metepec

The pottery of Metepec is that of a municipality in central Mexico, located near Mexico City. It is noted for durable utilitarian items but more noted for its decorative and ritual items sculptures called “trees of life,” decorative plaques in sun and moon shapes and mermaid like figures called Tlanchanas. Metepec potters such as the Soteno family have won national and international recognition for their work and the town hosts the annual Concurso Nacional de Alfarería y Cerámica. Metepec is one of a number of ceramic centers in Mexico, along with Oaxaca, various parts of Michoacán and the Guadalajara area although it produces a smaller quantity. While other handcrafts are made in the municipality, pottery is the most important; the creation of pottery in Metepec is traditional, family-oriented and of a distinctive local design and manufacture. It maintains many of its traditional techniques from the colonial period, passed down in pottery making families done by men but women are involved. In many areas such as the neighborhood of Cuaxustenco, family homes double as workshops able to handle all phases of creation including firing.

The pottery can be distinguished by both the clays it uses as well as its shapes and decorative styles, which unique to the area although not purist. The clay used in Metepec pottery is extracted from neighboring areas such as Octotitlán, San Felipe Tlamimilolpan and Tlacotepec; this was down with cart and donkey but today is done with motorized vehicles. There are red, a sandy yellow and black; the most traditional shaping method is coiling over a tortilla-like base. Utilitarian pieces such as cookware and dishes made in the area are called “loza” traditionally colored with clear, yellow and green glazes; these are made by potters who specialize in this kind of ware and are produced in a commercial manner. These are what are most available in street markets. However, some of the artisans produce decorated items such as pulque jugs with animal heads for spouts. Metepec’s cookware the large double handed pots used to cook large quantities of traditional dishes like moles are considered to be heavy duty and resistant to breakage.

The most popular of this type has a black glaze. However, Metepec is better known for its more artistic items; the most important of these are the “tree of life” sculptures which have both religious and decorative functions. These were pieces depicting the Garden of Eden story but since has developed with various motifs and themes as well as sizes from miniature to monumental. Classic trees of life are three levels, with God depicted in the highest level; the middle level depicts the paradise of Eden and the lower level the fleeing of Adam and Eve from the Garden after their expulsion. The trees are filled in Baroque fashion with a plethora of flowers, birds and more. Depictions of God are sometimes accompanied by angels and other heavenly figures. However, trees have been made with other motifs including historical ones. A Tree of Life with a Virgin of Guadalupe motif is in the Vatican. Another distinctive item made in Metepec are sun and moon plaques in bright colors and with faces, meant to be hung on interior and exterior walls.

The suns have smiling faces and painted in bright colors. The moon appears in all phases with a coquettish expression and with red lips and flowers. More distinctive is a mermaid like figure called a Tlanchana; these figures are based on a fantastical creature of pre Hispanic origin whose name means “lady of the sweet waters.” According to indigenous lore, a Tlanchana lives in fresh water areas and attracts men with her beauty taking them down into the depths of the water. This idea comes from a time when the Metepec area was filled with shallow marshes. In the main plaza of Metepec, there is a large Tlanchana fountain, created from local clay; the municipality makes many other decorative items. One important lines are those created to celebrate Day of the Dead such as skulls, candles holders, La Calavera Catrina and more, as well as numerous flowerpots and fountains, some monumental, to be used in gardens. Other decorative items include crucifixes, images of the Virgin Mary and saint, animal figures and fantasy creatures.

Metepec is a municipality located in the State of Mexico, a suburb of the state capital of Toluca and just west of the Federal District of Mexico City. The most traditional way of selling the area’s pottery is by the family artisans themselves with little sold by third parties; the streets of the old town are filled with visitors on weekends from Mexico City and Toluca, many of which come to buy pottery and other handcrafts. Because of this and the traditional colonial architecture of the historic center, the town has been named a Pueblo con Encanto by the State of Mexico and a Pueblo Mágico by the federal government though these are surrounded by large housing divisions and modern commercial centers. Most places selling pottery and other crafts from Metepec are in the historic center of the town; the main pottery neighborhoods are Santiaguito, Santa Cruz, San Miguel, San Mateo and Espíritu Santo. One important outlet is the government run is the Casa del Artesano, which holds workshops and gives explanations about the history and making of pottery in the municipality.

It exhibits pieces which have won national and international awards. Potters in Metepec tend to specialize in decorative items. About 275 families are involved in the making of pottery, the main employment for the municipality. About 200 of these have open workshops where visitor