Well art is a complex topic, the definition constantly changing but that’s partly why I love it so much. Its just soi alive! My name is Emma and for the sake of this blog I will become the ARTICULATOR and share my experiences and discoveries. I’m about to go to university and study Art History, whilst attempting to remain a practicing artist. I know it’s going to be difficult, but hopefully a brilliant few years.
Looking back at my last post I have come to the conclusion that it I had to vote for one person it would be Hillary Lloyd. After so much thought I realised that I feel her work is the most innovative and progressive and it’s really got me thinking about my own work (Although Shaw has influenced me too). She embraces something that’s inherently modern and that gives it a spark that won my hypothetical support.
This got me thinking of art today, what my art could do in the future. Lloyd embraces technological changes and although I use photography within my work I feel that, for the greater part, I do not. There are stereotypical projections of the future yet it is impossible to state what might actually happen. Art being influenced by all kinds of social and political outlets therefore is almost volatile.
I want to do something with my work, I have a number of ideas and hope to explore them as soon as my exams are oven and then I will probably be uploading pictures as things progress.
Although technological advances are important man seems to have no jurisdiction over the power of nature, this year alone there have been numerous natural disasters and this elemental force still seems vastly unknown. I feel that this focus on nature is important. I feel that my landscape painting is becoming more elemental orientated; although I still focus on moisture light diffusion and clear aspects of how we see the world around us, I have now also began to think of wind and other invisible forces that help us to translate our environments.
This year the short-listed nominations are a great range and i want to talk about them a little.
I'm a little bit biased towards George Shaw as I have just today completed my exam and he was a tremendous influence. Although on the face of it I would love for him to win I will explain my internal dilemma later. Shaw is an painter who usually uses enamel on board. His images are representative and always retain an heir of lifelessness to them. The absence of human presence draws you in to connect with the surroundings more potently and this is definitely an eerie setting. "Poets Day" by George Shaw.
Lloyd is an Installation artist, building her work around technological medium like film, video and photography. The environment she chooses tend to be clinical, voids of minimalist space that seems to become somewhat overbearing and heavy. For me the work feels threatening, possible a comment on mortality?
The above piece is very striking, it at first reminded me of a alien from Dr. Who. The confined corridor points directly at you the viewer as it the medium is watching you instead of the other way around. It definitely has a very heavy presence that grabs you.
Is a the youngest nominations this year, her scultpures typicaly consist of domestic and tactile substances. Flour, Vaseline, thread and lip gloss in the above piece. This piece seems to be directly contrasted to the work of Lloyd. The piece takes a very passive position and almost looks comforting. The pastel colours and the flowing material resemble soft pillows; something that, although suspended from the ceiling, feels entirely inviting and familiar. However i then discovered that the main material is quite plasticy; this then felt a little more sinister but something that still remained delicate. It felt more anatomical, but I can't really place it.
According to her there needs to be some kind of physical struggle for her work to be created and that the work is specifically relevant to that environment, before it is destroyed.
Boyce is a sculptor, and said to be the best-known out of this years short-list.
His works are somewhat hostile, consisting of geometric forms jutting out of otherwise tranquil spaces and "might be described as playground climbing frames designed to poke a child’s eye out". They are dark and theatrical with a hint of what has been described as 'male egotism' in art. The need for something so secondarily violent to its pre innocent state. They challenge their own environment. This piece above reminded me of the bare springs of an old bed, the spikes upon them strikingly uncomfortable and subtly chilling until the great black mass of threateningly jutting black metal above sinks into sight. The image is impression is threatening to the viewer and seems to be the most sinister this year.
In complete honesty I wouldn't feel let down if any of these artists won this year but personally if I had to choose id be stuck with a very difficult task. Although George Shaw is a great influence of mine, I think his work really speaks to a modern audience but one that seems to be possessed by this need to define what a painting can be. Something that Shaw relatively conforms to. Therefore maybe its more suitable to choose something more striking. Shaw is the first representational artist ever in the turner prize, others that might be deemed as such fall into other movements. But at the same time is that a justification for a vote? Boyce, Black and Lloyd's work are all exciting to me. Boyce's work I liked because of the process of learning about the subject that you go on. As you contemplate it, it grows ever more sinister. Blacks work really got me thinking about less conventional medium; she pushes notions of art to the limit and this I think is profoundly suitable for the Turner Prize. Lloyd's work embraces digital medium and a harrowing of human frealty which I found particularly emotive. Blacks stands out as the most optimistic of the selection as Shaws work also retains a sense of foreboding both in palette choice as the composition remains very heavy and cool but also because of the blatant red splatters on the wall.
I think my hypothetical vote would go to: Boyce of Shaw. I think I need to think about it a little but ill update this post soon.
There is evidently a conventional sense of art "art".
Whether this be a photo, painting or sculpture these seem to remain the known of art mediums and I realise that so far I have talked about the painting side way too much! There are so many additional types; architecture, advertisement graphic art, installation, textiles, fashion, screen printing, mono printing, illustration and so on.
But I wanted to talk about something else; Land Art.
Nancy Holt believes that the world around us is full of so much artistic potential and overlooked by the masses. Her Sun Tunnels in the Nevada Desert are strategically placed to capture and frame the surrounding landscape, in turn forcing the viewer (or explorer) to make the art themselves as they are in controll of the artistic experience. When an artist chooses to portray something in their medium they don't set out to make something antithetically pleasing necessarily; but to embody a comment or statement on something more philosophical or emotional. I love the concept behind these tunnels and I do fee that I'm constantly in art mode when I'm outside; be that city or country. I remember walking with my boyfriend and I started day dreaming about some colours bouncing off of a tree onto a house. He saw me staring and asked.. I doubt he will ask again but the image of his confused face will stay with me for a while hehe.
I'm not usually annoyed by artistic opinion but when people feel the need to impose regulation onto work then it bugs me. Just like how some people amuse a pretty picture means its a successful one. <rant over>
Nancy's Husband was also a land artist and he created the mysterious Spiral Jetty.
The reason I say mysterious is because it was made at a time of drought and evidently the water rose again concealing it but in recent years it has cropped up once more above the reef. There is a moral debate about this sculpture; many wish to remove it from its current location and place it in exhibition, but I feel that it will then loose the essence of itself. I think the fact that it is subject t nature is romantic in a way. As art develops so will it in its own way so seems to be an eternal canvas for nature.
This morning when i was standing at the bus stop I turned to the bush beside me and there was already bug. Complimented by the deep green leaves it was sat on, it looked glorious in the morning sunlight. Then I looked to the left and saw another, to then discover that the bush was covered in them. It was brilliant and reminded me that nature has so much to offer us in the universe of art, its fuelled thousands creative thoughts for generations and I believe it does even today have a tremendous impact on our lives. Whether this be through subliminal means or blatant designs.
I’m definitely not the subtlest writer so mine probably shines through - nay blinds you - from time to time. I feel the real fascination lies with the inevitability of it. Art will always progress in some form of another. But an opinion is under the ownership of someone, so here's me. *cheesy photo warning*
I have had a little bit of an odd week; but one that's drawn me to a conclusion. 'Art' in the sense that I'm talking about seems to be more of a way of life than an interest, but I don’t think I’m definable by it. Hardly any of the people close to me share this passion and so my art world is a very personal thing. I may have spent years focusing on landscape but I’m ready for a challenge.
I’m setting myself a project!
After my exams I’m going to compose a painting that symbolises me. I’m going to attempt the dreaded self portrait! I think I’m going to need months to sketch and work something out which is why I’m giving myself so long to do this but I want to do it well.
Art to many like Andy Warhol isn’t about some spiritual enlightenment it’s about a personal interest. He stated that being an artist is a job, not unlike any other skill based profession, despite all of its romanticism.
I’m going to embrace the selfishness of art and let the inner child in me come out. I think that I need to just enjoy making something again, and to release all these predetermined rules about aesthetics and form. I’m going to push myself, it could drive me mad but that doesn’t matter because you whoever you are the lucky one on the journey with me.
Marla Olmstead has been surrounded with artistic hype from a very young age. My heart goes out to this little girl and her little brother Zane. This family has been dragged through the media spotlight; through prodigy to fraud. I believe that Marla’s work is genuine and those who are pulling apart this four year old need to take a step back from this story.
“Everyone’s trying to shape the story into what they want it to be and not let it be what it is”
I think the constant search for this possession of art is wrong. Art is not a definable thing as it differs between hosts but is also constantly changing as new ideas are integrated into it. The artist is the only one who can define the work he or she creates and to begin with Marla’s work was just her personal studies. The attention was not to sell the work but due to the vibrancy of it naturally drew attention. Her parents claimed that she was never a child prodigy and those who were ahead of the criticism had no substantial involvement in the art world; scientists and journalists.
It seems very natural for us to dismiss a young child’s work, if it excels what we perceive as natural, because it seems to be threatening almost. But who is to say that more children couldn’t do this with the right environment? Marla was never forced into painting and it is clear that it was her interest was self driven and remained enjoyable to her. I believe that in this case that is all that is happening here. The collectors of her work are well aware that they are buying the work of a child and that’s the essence of it.
I won’t dwell on why this is but it made me contemplate why we obsess with a constant search for possession of a definition of art. Surely if artwork is something so personal then anyone can be an artist? Many of her main collectors state that their fascination is with the true spirit of being a child the naive happy and exploration of paint. I had an art lesson not long ago when my art teacher expressed how this connection with the media should resonate in any artists work. It made me rethink why I paint.
For a child to put a place or sensation into a painting is actually incredibly advanced and I will keep following her on her website because how she develops as an artist will be very interesting. Her audience will change as she grows.
Her work can be easily compared to that of Jackson Pollock, but also every other artist I know of. The dismissal of the abstract has become fashionable to the masses, much how previous movements had to their contemporary audiences. I am by no means an abstract artist myself but I love it as a movement. The ideas in it are completely raw and it appears that that is overlooked. Today we are very much surrounded by imagery and therefore you could argue that we are forced into a very different perspective of visual media. Graphic Designers like Allan Fletcher embody the need for simplicity and fast communication; because the contemporary audience can’t see this instant visual story it seems to become meaningless but the story needs to be contemplated and unravelled.
Going back a few posts I was looking into some self portraits. I have never painted my own self portrait and I’m very keen into trying it. However I image it’s going to be one of my biggest challenges yet I’m looking forward to it (might wait till after my exams tehe).
Andy Warhol seems to be ultimate self-publicist. He seems to be fascinated with commercialism and supposedly ‘low culture’ imagery. In Warhol’s work there seems to be the implication that life is just wallpaper, just additional meaningless information because technology has outstripped the need for historical narrative. The work appears very sterile and emotionless. Self Portrait 1964 is a prime example of this emotionless spread. The simplicity and block colour gives it an almost mechanical and lifeless tone, however this is the way in which Warhol wants to be immortalised. It looks like it is one of many on a film strip due to the small gestures residing towards the bottom of the plane. The dominating glasses remove his identity yet ironically also make a bold statement.
Replication is also used within Rene Magritte’s ‘La Repoduction Interdite (not to be reproduced)’ 1937. It is actually a portrait of Edward James who was a famous collector and patron of the Surrealists. There is a denial of logic in the image, which raises questions about how much Magritte knows (or wants us to believe he knows) about the sitter’s identity. On the table is a book of poetry by Edgar Allen Poe, the macabre stories were eagerly read by the Surrealists. The book (unlike the man) is mirrored in the glass. It is very subtle differences that send a great chill down the spine of the viewer. The head is slightly turned to face the ‘replication’. It plays a very uncomfortable voyeuristic play on figure and the viewer is pushed the composition themselves. Magritte plays a kind of game with reality. The image is evidently refined yet seems to also be a void of some kind. It is very still and calm yet threatening.
Marc Quinn’s Self 1991 also displays a air of threatening quiet. You could argue that this self portrait is the most self portrait possible, yet notions of spirituality could reject that claim. It intrinsically has Marc Quinn’s DNA in the work as the head is cast from the artist’s own congealed blood. Despite it being a bodily fluid the piece remains very quiet and modest. It also remains fairly lifeless in its glass box in inside its sterile white room. It mirrors the idea of Caravaggio’s self deprecating portrait of his own head by evoking the gruesome bloody honesty of the flesh and bone and acts of violence in which we live.
This painting has been dated as early as 1605 and as late as 1609-1610. It is included in the list of candidates as Caravaggio's last work. Its melancholy would suit in fact the gloomy thoughts of the artist's final years. Although there is the proud strong figure holding up goliaths head it is the head which is the self representation of Caravaggio as he knew that the end was looming for himself. Yet it remains profoundly emotive to place himself as the monster. The piece remains a fragment of two stories; the story of David and goliath as well as Caravaggio’s own personal life drama.
Tai-Schan Schierenberg’s self portrait in 2002 also remains fragmented but in physical application as well as in narrative. It appears only an off glimpse in design. Little is told about the figure other than his fascination with the application and mounding of paint, which creates a astounding portrait. However physically it is also fragmented as it feels fairly incomplete due to the edges but the beauty is that this creates the focus. It is not to bold to suggest that the so called completion of the piece would detract from the character of it.
By approach from a design aspect alone Vincent Van Gogh’s self portrait from 1887 could be likened to the harmony of nails down a blackboard. The bold illuminating blues are far saturated from the rest of the composition and therefore draw attention away from the main face. The incompleteness of the surrounding area is arguable a means of controlling this conflict but the painting. Yet it is inspiring as it captures more if the reality of Van Gogh. He isn’t a conventional painter nor is he the conventional mentality. Van Gogh used to paint some of his self-portraits over other works, he was not in a situation where others would be willing to pose for him so through necessity he had to paint himself. “If I manage to paint the colours of my own face - something which is not without its problems – I can then paint the faces of others.” The mark making is based on pointillist theories and the suit he wears immortalizes him respectfully, but it also draws you into to contemplate the figure as the image appears broken. I always find that if I am looking at a group of works there are those that speak to you whilst some others not as much. This painting is one that clearly speaks to the viewer.
I thought that the last painting I should talk about should be radically different; after all the world of art is definitely a turbulent one, so why should we ruin the fun by calming the waters. George Baselitz ‘The inverted motif’ from 1960; does not conform to the traditional portrait, and why should it? The brush marks crudely outline the purple and orange figure which seems to embody every aesthetic clash known to man. However it is all held together by the bold black lines. These lines are not complete outline and also serve as a more refined tonal detail. The composition on the whole appears very distressed, yet it is this uncomforting, tactile effect that is its quality. It isn’t difficult to see that it was meant to push boundaries. The name itself tells us this, simply from the term ‘inverted’.
This has been a great whirlwind of a rant for me, i hope – if you exist – it was for you too.
Today I went to my local art gallery where there was an Andy Warhol exhibition. The highlight of which was the filmed interview of Warhol talking about anything and everything. I recently talked about witnessing the space in which an artist creates; however I never realised how much an insight into someone’s personality can change how you look at their work. One of the questions Warhol was asked was “what would you do if you were elected president” and his reply was that he would have all the roads carpeted. I then went back into the exhibition hall and strangely where before I was just struck by the confidence of the piece when I went back in I still had that but a sideline feeling of naivety in the work. This I knew was wrong, but since I have discovered it hasn’t had a lasting impression on how I see the movement; which I uphold as detrimental to our connection and understanding of art today! However whenever I now think of Warhol that line will always bring a smile to my face as it seems to symbolise his work very well; the bold statement about popular culture.
This made me think of the Artist Lucian Freud. I knew that his secretive lifestyle was because he didn’t want people to understand him as this would influence how they saw his work. Indeed the theories of Sigmund Freud would probably be thrust upon his work.
I find it fascinating when art so distant can be drawn together as Freud and Warhol. It’s increased my respect for the choices of artists beyond what they place on the canvas. It confirmed to me that being an artist is more a life style than a profession. Constantly seeking inspiration and knowledge is not something that can be confined to a 9 – 5 day.
Last night I went to the cinema to see Thor, which I thought was pretty good. I couldn't help thinking about how Loki was set up as evil throughout. If you don't know the story a brief here a brief summary -yes spoilers-.
Thor and Loki are raised as brothers and both potential heirs to the throne of the 9 realms (one including earth although we are oblivious to all of this). Thor in his want to prove himself to his father makes a big mistake and rekindles past wars with the ice giants. For this Thor is banished and sent to earth as a mortal, in the meantime Loki discovers he is not really Thor's brother and we discover his jealousy has fuelled him to plot against his people.
Aside from the physicality that from the beginning we learn of Loki's talents of deception in the first fight i realised there are also some visual juxtapositions. Some very obvious and some more subtle.
First of all Thor embodies a youthful projection of his father, the armour and the facial features. Loki with his dark hair stands out as rather different form the offset. However they both wear armour at the beginning of the film. Evidently their abilities require different armour specification i.e. Thor's armour is heavier because he uses force over Loki's mind tricks and deception. However Thor embodies stereotypical colours like red and gold while Loki blacks and dark greens which have connotations of serpents and slyness etc. . Now here's the bit that I loved and devastatingly i couldn't find a single image!
When Thor is captured he is wearing cloths that you and me would identify with; Loki appears to tell him what's going on (surprise, surprise he lies), but is also wearing cloths that you or me would identify with instead of his new kingly regalia.
Thor is wearing what you see above which gives him a very relatable and humanistic appearance. Now I'm not saying that Tax Men aren't human; but the cloths that Loki wears resembled just that to be. Smart black jacket and trousers with his hair combed back and shiny. It seems to be set up in this film that those with authority in the human world are more sinister.
Back to their main 'hero' outfits...
Thor's armour represents him in a bold way, you can digest his mindset and attitude but Loki's keeps you guessing a little more. The tough armour of Thor emanates strength while Loki's slippery material reassembling something more suspicious and concealing. Its - not to overdo this connotation- almost like an additional skin to be shed in its overwhelming letheryness.
What I'm trying to say here is that art really is everywhere. I realise that many people have made these assumptions and that this is hardly news to most but I wondered how many people thought about how these basic impressions are given off when they watch films.
Artwork is so amazingly personal that it could be argued unless you know the artist you will never truly understand their work. I think that is why, seeing that fleeting snap shot of the painting process seems so profoundly romantic.
Len Tabners work has been influential to my work for a while but it wasn’t until I saw this photo that I felt truly inspired. You can truly see the raw power that his work is drawn from; you can see the landscape physically forming in his style as the waves encroach on his space.
The concept of space is also incredibly personal. Some artists like to block of the world around them while others immerse themselves in it. When I paint I like to keep a sense of order but usually during the process that descends into something a little more chaotic but that chaos seems to be more personal. I know that I order things in strange ways; however I suppose everyone’s way is strange to someone else. But nothing prepared be for seeing a photo of Francis Bacons studio; every time I see it my eyes widen and I have to sit forward, it’s almost awkward to look at but gradually the ‘chaos’ seems to make sense. You can see where he walks and where he stands and you can see him working despite his absence. This is very different to the comparatively sterilised environment that Gerhard Richter chooses to work in.
Jackson Pollok seems to embody the ‘action shot’. Indeed the power in his work fits this portrayal. However the capture of this moment seems to almost be a capturing of the thought. The action is immortalised in a completely new way. Although when looking at a painting it’s fundamental to the understanding of it to visualise the brush marks and how they were applied; I find there remains a block between knowing they were applied and imagining them being applied. It feels to me that the works weren’t constructed but somehow grew. It’s a very odd sensation.
The building of an environment seems to be an insight into the personality of the artist while the work is an insight into their mentality (in some cases for both claims). The mystery of an artwork seems to draw us into wanting to be inquisitive and on the whole it seems to be quite common for great claims about an artist to be made from how they work.
Synesthesia effects me, but i don't really call it 'a condition' . Odd though it might seem I realise that this effects how I build my environment. Light is crucial, I find nothing more annoying than strong artificial lighting as it feels claustrophobic. I picture time around me and so I spread out all of my equipment to sort of mirror this sense of time and space. It’s a little difficult to explain and its details that I’m only just discovering myself so I’m not even 100% sure. But you don’t need a so called ‘condition’ to set up something personal because how you work naturally is your ideal environment.
There seem to be many artists that become icons because of their appearance. One that springs to mind is Andy Warhol. But that brings into question how we want to be seen and how we are seen. It wasn’t until recently that someone pointed out that I tend to stand on one leg when I paint. I’ll be honest I have no idea why I do it, or how often but what I do know is that when my friend tapped me on the shoulder to tell me something very odd happened. I found working for the rest of that day incredibly difficult because I was so conscious about it. I might carry this on at some point but I’ll leave you here for now, goodnight!
I have been thinking for a while how can you make an artwork that recalls speaks to people. I have ventured into looking at the world of abstract and non-representivism but I don’t feel that this is right for me.
Upon taking my mother around our local art gallery I realised that pieces that can be described in this way are generally overlooked by the majority of people. I personally feel that this is wrong but in order to speak to people you need to be able to capture something iconic in a way that will appeal to them.
The impressionists were shunned in their day for their work, but now are overwhelmingly held up as masters. I believe that through time this will be the same for artists such as Cy Twombly and Rothko, who are appreciated today massively but seemingly to a select group with an extended appreciation for art. This is why when reading Computer Arts April 2011 I was gripped by an article about a graphic designer Sheppard Fairey.
Obama has been immortalised. His inauguration speech has been flagged as one of the most famous speeches and attributed to the same effect as those of nelson Mandela and Churchill. He is immortalised in this image, simply called “Hope”. The wise face is staring into the distance but at a slight proud angle. The simplicity mirrors that of a newspaper and is tinted with the patriotic colours of the American flag to create a sense of belonging and righteousness.
Sheppard Fairy was incredibly daring with his piece because of the legal problems with its production. The piece is bassed on a photography taken in April 2006 by Mannie Garcia while on assignment for the Associated Press (AP), which believs they deserve credit and compensation for the work. However, Garcia believes that he personally owns the copyright for the photo, and has said, "If you put all the legal stuff away, I’m so proud of the photograph and that Fairey did what he did artistically with it, and the effect it's had." In February 2009, Fairey filed a federal lawsuit against the Associated Press, seeking a declaratory judgment that his use of the AP photograph was protected by the fair use doctrine and so did not infringe their copyright. In October 2009 Shepard Fairey admitted to trying to deceive the Court by destroying evidence that he had used the photograph alleged by the AP. His lawyers announced they were no longer representing himand In May 2010, a judge urged Fairey to settle. There are questions as to the copyright of his work to which his reply is:
“My feeling about copyright is important but that it should apply to verbatim reproductions, bootlegs, exact identical copies, not transformative pieces... because long before copyright law was as powerful as it is today, artists, musicians, speech writers, authors were making new works inspired by older works but somehow updated conversation and had a new unique value... And that is the danger is that people will not make that kind of work for fear of being sewed”.
I feel that due to the origional artis feeling that that the work is lawfull and the stark differences between the two both in media and effect that Fairy should not be persecuted. I feel the line is crossed when those copy works claiming that they are the creator of the indovidual piece. However I do not feel should be condemned for this case. The work has striking differences and is intended for a different audience. The three renaissance painters Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael were constantly creating new and supposedly ‘improved’ versions of each other’s work. But this all boils down to the never ending question of what is art.
I believe that Sheppard Fairy’s work deserves individual appreciation. I feel that the word of copyright is, in some cases, spinning out of control. That to stand to create something that really speaks to the popular you must embody what they are looking for. But the creation that embodies this “truer than trueness” and this new concept of a populace would be an interesting ally to explore.
The creation of something like the work of Gerhard Richter is focused on a personal experience; Rothko strikes similarities but seemed to want to portray his work in a specific way. He rejected contracts that were worth thousands of dollars because the environment wasn’t worthy of the message his artwork was trying to portray. I thought here I should point out I’m not criticising anyone, in fact I’m just building on a collective understanding of art. I think in reality the only difference between a graphic designer and a fine artist is the purpose. Both fundamentally employ creativity and try to project themselves into their work by going on creative journeys and discovering their own style. It wouldn’t surprise me if in 100 years time it is large graphic images that take up the majority of wall space in our galleries; but once again this is no criticism. The tides of art are constantly changing through external innovation and change. Art will never remain a stationary concept and I feel that one of the reason the question “what is art anyway?” is so perplexing is because it’s a concept that is constantly changing.
I’m always open for debate on these things, but that’s my personal belief anyway.
I am no photographer, but I was looking back at a presentation that my lecturer had shown me earlier this year when I had some free time. I was drawn to them at this time because of how grippingly emotive they are, they show is something so true its beyond truth. If you’re told something you know to be true you well agree with it, but if you discover something to be true then you have ownership of that feeling. By discovering the fear and turmoil in these images you are feeling the grief and fear yourself and therefore there is no further truth. As photographs they dramatically contrast to the works of (for example) Rothko physically, yet they seem to strike this parallel. Rothko’s paintings call upon you to discover the meaning yourself, indeed it takes a greater amount of contemplation but I think Rothko wanted to portray this trust beyond truth.
Don McCullin – Shell-shocked Soldier, 1968
We can identify with this picture through the understanding of shell shock and the effects of it. That is what triggers part of our understanding of the photo. Had this photo been hypothetically presented to someone 100 years ago it would not fit into the same bracket of meaning.
The figure appears hunched over and clinging to the gun as a means of comfort, the contrast adds to the drama concealing his eyes and subsequently detracting from his ‘identity’ due to the intensity of the horror he is surrounded by. The image appears quiet. Like a deafening silence has occurred amidst the chaos yet the figure is filled with kenetic energy and could spring into life at any moment. In trust it is the ambiguity of the image that truly speaks to us, what happens next? Seems to be the most potent question.
Another piece that truly stood out to me was:
Robert Capa - American soldiers landing on Omaha Beach, D-Day, Normandy, France, June 6, 1944, 1944
The blurriness of the image seems to capture the chaos and horror beyond the static clear image depicting the true defined horror. It draws you to believe that you are in this situation running without a clear shot of the destination, in turn inducing a feeling of fear. But without the knowledge of the war would we apply this same reaction to it?
Art is not something separate from the social climate. Everything effects art, war is definitely no exception. In 2003 there was controversy at the UN just before there was a press conference detailing western involvement in the middle east, because a tapestry of Picaso’s Gurnicia was on the wall behind. It was concealed behind a blue curtain for the conference but it really begs you to wonder why a image depicting the horrors of the Spanish civil war and the massacre of Guernica remained so potent. Most people I know have never seen this painting and could not even tell what it was about, yet somehow it stuck some chord of guilt or fear? What is for certain to me is that it proves the power of art is still tremendous even today.
Some links that you might want to read about what happened in 2003
I thought I should say that this is in fact my second blog around the same topic. I have copied over some of the posts and will continue to do so but this blog remains more art history and personal based while my other blog is more steered to follow my own artwork. Here is the link to my website if its of any use http://mypictureplane.webs.com/
Looking back, I feel that I have been a little rude. My interests from an art history point of view embody everything; well I have yet to find something that isn’t fascinating at least initially. But my influences in my art work are, to be honest, allot more selfish and contained. Although I am currently pulled back to the same faces and brushes, I want to expand this. (I promise to also begin – and hopefully back tract – to reference all the works I mention here as I have found out nothing is more annoying than when you connect to something and don’t know the adequate context to talk about it)
So you’re very much in media res in my artist discovery.
Tonight I have really taken a dive into the deep end. Over the past few years my ideas have dramatically taken a new shape. I’m someone who through naively disregarded most modern art is now becoming deeply connected to it. Which brings me to Rothko...
Rothko; mind over matter
I was shown this painting and at first I thought that it was some sort of cheat, but tonight I sit here and see so much more. Rothko loved his masters, but unlike them he was not interested in creating an image that could be looked at and understood. He wanted to make a comment on absolute humanity. What makes us human? It is our ability to translate an image? Or is it our emotion? Rothko came from a background before the heyday of modern art and chose to even reject massive commissions because they didn’t fit his personal mission. He believed that art was more than just a media it was a quest of heroism; one that paralleled the Greek and Roman hero’s he loved to read about, but that fundamentally art could change the world.
He chose colours that spoke to our mortality; blood reds and purples that symbolised our own frailty. He stated that, those who broke down in tears in front of his paintings had experienced a glimpse of his journey to the outcome. Indeed it was known that he was suffering depression; his later suicide almost seemingly devalued him to that of a mere failed American abstract artist driven to that extreme.
He was asked how long one of his paintings took to create and he replied a lifetime. His journey to these monstrosities of paintings had taken him through masters and impressionism, through the influences of Dada and Cubism.
Although through this pessimism there resides something remarkably optimistic. That although the gloom in his paintings are claustrophobic that the fear is deal-able. You may turn away from these paintings and still feel their looming presence yet you have the ability to walk away which inspires a sort of confidence in the viewer.
The colours in his early work are not representative but merely sing in their own right. The complex layering creates vivid movements and the spark of life. However towards the latter part of his career the phases of his depression are evident. His first marriage had failed and his daughter had abandoned him, his alcoholism and chain smoking left him with heart conditions and his second marriage was beginning to fall apart. His paintings became increasingly blocked. The black abyss here at the Houston Chapel is completely void of that earlier optimism. There is no movement and therefore the life is completely drained from it. It feels like a cold lifeless slab waiting to have someone’s nails scratched down its rough surface to create that screech, causing the shuddering ripples of discomfort.
Although it may seem that this entry if incredibly pessimistic I beg that it is not seen that way. Rothko saw himself as the modern master trying to speak to the here and now. His paintings may seem pessimistic today but imagine them juxtaposed to pop art. He used every ounce of his humanity to paint for something he believed in and this feeling of a greater purpose and winder concept to his work had really made me think about my own work. Why do I paint? It is a question I will have to get back to you about
Hogarth has fuelled my recent projects but today I really was given the opportunity to think about satire and its uses! Satire might have been of particularly popular in the 17th century and now in political illustration; but do we have a connection to it still?
William Hogarth - The Harlots Progress (Plate 4)
Hogarth was arguably the founder of Satire. He began by exposing the life of the individual through his controversial prints, his legacy was continued in the ever growing fame of the print shops. Hogarth knew the world he wanted to depict. He knew the taverns and the brothels as well as the figures within them. These figures feature greatly within his work which you could argue had a similar effect to photos of celebrities on popular culture today. The ability to see those who people recognised held within them a unique special that was void from high art. Here the fate of Moll on the harlot’s progress is illustrated shockingly. She has died at the age of 23! yet those surrounding her coffin are entirely preoccupied with their own interests. In a word of increasing instability the market of prostitution seemed ever more attractive to young women but with uncontrollable illnesses such as syphilis raging through the cities, life expectancy was low. However it seemed to Hogarth if the population was in denial.
One thing I particularly like about Hogarth is how he created thumbnail sketches. He would actually walk around and when he saw a figure he felt would fit well into one of his prints he would literally draw them on his thumb!
Martin Rawson – The Prime Minster
Rawson demonstrates a few traits of modern satirical work that I have noticed. First of all his focus seems to have moved from a generalisation of the populace and exposition of a wider problem to that of a singular figure. This was explored by Thomas Rowlandson who worked shortly after Hogarth, yet he also dabbled in a wider satirical message. He also uses the ‘Mickey Mouse Procedure’ which has been effectively used since Rowlandson; however not names until much more recently hence ‘Mickey Mouse’. Mickey Mouse is instantly recognisable by the iconic ears, usually satire involves the exaggeration of the person. This means that the figurative aspect is almost lost so my selecting ‘key features’ of a person the illustration can still remain recognisable. So here Tony Blair (outdated I know!) is recognisable by the ears and mouth!
Satirical illustrators seem to be able to get away with so much more that couldn’t be said in words. However satirical images have changed in value. They are now not considered fine pieces of work and now commercial artwork. This is probably due to hundreds of factors! I will leave that one up to you I thought it was great to think about!!