Art History II Architecture of the 19 th and 20 th Centuries
Gothic Revival A great deal of 20 th century architecture involves various “revivals” of older styles. The Gothic Revival is popular for churches and courthouses.
Greek Revival Greek Revival is very “stately” looking. It’s popular for luxury homes and mansions and also banks that wish to convey a sense of security and longevity.
“ Queen Anne” Victorian The Victorian style became popular in the latter 19 th century. These homes are quite grand and imposing. What many people do not realize is that the original colors on these homes were very loud, almost garish. Most current owners choose more subdued colors.
Hornibrook House 1888 To give you an idea of the cost of one of these homes, in 1888 the Hornibrook House was built in Little Rock at a cost of $20,000. The average home at that time cost about $800. In the 1990s, a little over 100 years after the house was built, the current owner had the tile roof replaced. The cost for the new roof was over $200,000.
Colonial Revival Shortly after the turn of the 20 th century many Americans were weary of celebrating European architecture and sought to celebrate something new… like themselves. So the Colonial Revival became popular. Here Americans could commemorate their own history rather than that of European nations.
Italianate This was a very popular style for commercial applications around the turn of the 20 th century. Commercial buildings tend to be square boxes, as were the Italianate style structures. So this allowed some decoration and panache to be applied to the otherwise uninspiring box-shaped buildings.
Craftsman Style The Craftsman Movement started in England as a rejection of the wealthy and elite and a celebration of the Working Class. The Craftsman style of architecture was very popular between 1915 and 1940. The irony is that not only were small, affordable homes built in this style reflecting the sensibilities of the populist Craftsman movement, but there also expansive and expensive luxury homes built in this style. Just goes to show that Capitalism finds a way to satisfy the desires of the consumers. An interesting side not is that during the 1930s and 1940s, Sears sold complete homes through their famous catalog. If you had a lot ready for building, you could order a custom house in a variety of designs (Craftsman being one of the more popular choices) in sizes ranging from cozy bungalows to near mansion proportions. A truck would deliver everything needed to build the house, from lumber, to plumbing, to paint. All you had to do was assemble it. We hope some instructions were included.
Falling Water 1939 Frank Lloyd Wright This is one of the most famous designs of one of the best known architects. Wright is credited with developing the Prairie Style which is sort of an offshoot of the Craftsman. In the 1990s one of the many universities your instructor attended sought to buy the rights to build a previously unused Wright design. The owner of the rights to the design offered the blueprints for $10,000,000. This was 10 million dollars just for the plans. Most people thought this was far too extravagant and the fund raising efforts fell way short.
International Style This is another style that came from Europe and found favor in America for large institutional construction, like office buildings, hospitals and the like. The buildings are very box-like and angular. They often rise like fortresses from the surrounding city. This one almost seems to symbolize a stairway to the sky.
Art Deco Style (Chrysler Building 1930) Just as Americans rejected the Victorian style for the home-grown Colonial Revival, many people in this country sought a style to contradict the International Style, something that would represent Americans and our values. The Art Deco style was futuristic. Grand structures that touched the sky and pointed straight up. They were supremely modern and spoke to a great future.
“ WPA Moderne” Style During the Great Depression the federal government built many local government buildings, such as courthouses, as part of the effort to create jobs (one program was the Works Progress Administration). These buildings adopted a unique style that is so institutional looking that they start to resemble prisons.
Edgar Degas was born into a fairly wealthy aristocratic family. He was titled and of noble birth but he came to feel uncomfortable within his own social circle. Perhaps it was because he was very short and was conscious of his physical appearance. As the first born son, his father expected much of Edgar. He graduated from college and his family expected him to become a lawyer and to pursue a civil career. After one year at law school he knew he wanted to be an artist and dropped out. After his fortune was wiped out covering his younger brother's business losses, Edgar spent most of time with cabaret performers (who were not admired or held in respect by aristocratic society at the time) and prostitutes. Indeed, most aristocrats considered entertainers, such as singers and dancers, to be little more than prostitutes themselves. The prostitutes were willing models for Degas’ nude studies and they, along with cabaret dancers, become his most famous subjects. In the following slide we see a drawing of a birthday being celebrated in a brothel. Degas seems to have been accepted into this world. The next slide is a drawing of a woman (a prostitute) drying her long, red hair while sitting on the edge of the bathtub. One author claimed that Degas often hides women’s faces as a means to dehumanize them, thus objectifying them. However, this theory ignores the symbolic aspect of denying the viewer the subject’s face as well as a more practical reason for doing it. By hiding the woman’s face, she ceases to be an individual and could be intended to represent a larger group. She is not just a woman, she symbolizes all women. Also, it’s entirely possible that her face was concealed on request by the model. She was a prostitute, remember, and maybe she didn’t want her face hanging in a public gallery so that she would be recognized when out shopping or on other errands.
Little 14 Year Old Dancer 1881 by Degas Despite what some authors say, this was not the only sculpture by Degas. It is the best known, but not the only one. It caused controversy when exhibited because some aristocratic patrons were shocked at the notion of a 14 year old dancer. Remember, this was akin to saying “14 year old prostitute” to many of them. Of course, there were 14 year old girls dancing in the cabarets, and there were 14 year old prostitutes in the brothels, for that matter. The rich folks just didn’t want to be reminded of that fact. Another aspect of the piece that disturbed some people is the dancer’s costume. It’s a statue wearing a real dress and this seemed creepy to many viewers. A little too real, no?
Here is a sample of some other sculptures by Degas. There are more so we can only wonder why some art book authors claim the 14 Year Old Dancer is his only one.
The Tub 1880s Degas Another example of Degas sculpture. For some reason Degas never has his wax sculpture cast into bronze. All of his pieces were cast after his death. Some show damage from having been left in wax (which is fragile and easily damaged) for so long.
Seated Clowness 1896 by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec Toulouse-Lautrec was similar to Degas in that he also seemed to prefer the company of entertainers to the elite members of high society who were his peers. This painting shows an entertainer who is well beyond the age at which she had hoped to retire. She likely hoped that some gentleman would marry her and take her away from this life (as symbolized by the couple behind her) but it never happened for her. She could represent anyone with unrealized dreams stuck in a job or a place where he or she no longer wishes to remain.
John the Baptist Preaching 1878 by August Rodin Although The Kiss (1886) and The Thinker (1902) (see next slide) are perhaps Rodin’s most famous pieces, the sculpture of John the Baptist Preaching has a more interesting history. When it was exhibited a wild rumor somehow got started that it was created by dipping the model into molten bronze. Anyone subscribing to this theory must accept that the artist was willing to murder a man in order to create the statue. The rumor persisted until Rodin finally called a press conference where he produced the model.
The Kiss 1886 by Rodin The Thinker 1902 by Rodin
Camille Claudel Claudel was a student of Rodin’s and, despite the fact that she was 24 years younger than he, they had a love affair. Rodin was in a long-term (but unmarried) relationship with another woman* and eventually went back to her. A few years after the break-up, Claudel’s erratic behavior (perhaps sparked by a miscarriage or a forced abortion) caused her mother to have her committed to an insane asylum. After several years the medical doctors recommended her release but her mother refused and Camille died in the institution after having spent 30 years there. Claudel’s most famous piece is seen in the next slide. It is not difficult to analyze the symbolic representation in this composition. The male figure is certainly Rodin. The evil looking female figure is Rose Beuret, Rodin’s lover of many years taking him away from Claudel, and the nude female figure looking pathetic and as if she has lost everything is Claudel herself. *Rodin had a 53 year relationship with Rose Beuret. They had a son together, but did not marry until Rodin was 76 years old. Rose died two weeks after the wedding and Rodin was dead within a year.
The Cry (Scream) 1893 by Edvard Munch As we get closer to the turn of the 20 th century, art tends to become more and more about the artists. They frequently express their own feelings, fears, and opinions in their art. Munch (pronounced monk) is a case in point. He was a rather odd man with numerous idiosyncrasies not the least of which was his disturbing view of women. Nobody doubts that it is he in this famous painting screaming in fear and frustration. The next slide is another example of Munch’s psychosis in regards to women. In Dance of Life we see the young, attractive woman on the left wearing white, then the same woman in the middle all in red dancing with a partner, then she appears on the right looking older and dressed in black. The white is for youth, freshness, and newness. The black is for despair and impending death. But what of the red in the middle? And what’s wrong with her dance partner? He looks like a zombie. Much is offering the concept of women as vampires, draining men of their life energy.
Under the Yoke 1896 by Munch One final example from Munch. Being “under the yoke” implies that one is under the control of someone else. In this case it’s Munch being controlled and it’s a woman who has him imprisoned. Her nudity suggests that she uses sex to manipulate him and get him to do her bidding. This image is not the product of a healthy mind. A man who has healthy relationships with women doesn’t produce something like this.
The next slide uses an old trick. Artists will depict an individual multiple times to show a progression, either age or some other development. But Munch’s vision is disturbing to say the least. This painting is similar to The Dance of Life in content. The woman starts out on the left looking young, attractive and pristine. Then she morphs into the sexual being in the center, using her sexuality to taunt and entice the viewer. Finally on the right the woman is old and ragged looking. At the far right a man enters the scene who appears as a zombie-like creature, presumably drained of life by some evil temptress.
This next painting might be seen as Munch’s homage to Jacques Louis David. But of course Munch adds his own twisted sense of style to the composition. Rather than focusing on the dead man in bed, Munch pushes the presumed killer to the forefront. Once again Munch depicts the woman as evil, using her sexuality like a weapon. The artist warns the viewer that sex is dangerous and woman are not to be trusted.
Woman Ironing 1904 by Pablo Picasso Picasso was one of the leading artists of the 20 th century. While he may have been a great artist, he was a lousy man. For several years he produced paintings that art historians refer to as his “blue period.” They are sad and depressing, often showing working class people in dreary jobs. The most common misinterpretation of these works is to consider them as social commentaries from the artist highlighting the plight of the working class poor. The problem is that Picasso was a totally selfish and self-centered man who didn’t give a single thought or care about anyone other than himself. The fact is that he went to Paris from his native Spain to pursue an art career and for several years his paintings didn’t sell, he had no money, his girlfriend left him, and he was thrown out of apartment for not paying his rent. He was the one who was sad and depressed. When a dealer started selling his work, he started making money and found new love, then the blue period was over. Many artists began producing art around the turn of the 20 th century that was self-referential, that is, the art was mostly a self-portrait, revealing their own needs and desires. Claudel, Munch and Picasso are classic examples of this situation.
La Vie 1903 by Picasso Here’s an example of how despicable Picasso truly was. He threw his wife and infant child out of their home so he could live with his new girlfriend. Not only did he do this, but he did a painting of the event and called it La Vie which in a loose translation to English essentially means “so what?”
Le Demoiselles D’Avignon 1907 by Picasso Picasso is best remembered for developing the Cubist style of painting. In Cubism, space is nearly eliminated and the image is very flat and uninviting. The figures are sharp and jagged with bold, unnatural colors. This painting shows prostitutes in a brothel. The two faces on the right were inspired by African masks he saw in the galleries and one of the other women was originally a portrait of his girlfriend. But he replaced her face when she dumped him. The original composition included a young man wearing a naval uniform but his dealer said that putting the customer in the scene made it just a bit too real and would make people uncomfortable. So Picasso painted the sailor out. The next slide was taken at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City where this painting hangs.
Leaning Male Nude 1910 by Egon Schiele The German Expressionist style of painting is somewhat shocking in its color and subject matter. It’s sort of reminiscent of Cubism but with an evil twist. Schiele’s favorite subject seems to have been sex. Images of himself masturbating (like this one) were common from him. He got into trouble for seducing teenaged girls he recruited to model for him and the police seized many of his paintings and drawings because they considered them to be pornographic. The model most often seen in his works is his long-time girlfriend named “Wally” who dumped him when he became engaged to a woman named Edith (he suggested that they maintain a part-time relationship after he married Edith). The sexuality exhibited in Schiele’s work can be seen in the painting in the next slide . Note that at first glance it appears to be a woman with her arms wrapped around her leg but in fact the left hand and arm coming across her body is masculine meaning there is an intimate friend present we don’t see except for his arm. Schiele’s obsession with sex extends to suspicions regarding his relationship with his younger sister, Gerti.
Two Nudes (Self-Portrait with Alma Mahler) 1913 by Oskar Kokoschka Another German Expressionist with some odd quirks was Kokoschka. While a young man (around 24) he entered into an affair with a divorced woman about 12 years older than himself. When she left him a year later, he didn’t take the break-up very well. He did several paintings reflecting his pining for her such as this one. Then he did something really crazy. He contracted with a well-known doll maker to create a life-sized doll that looked like his departed love. He actually dressed this doll in the clothing his ex had left behind and took the doll to the theater, restaurants, and other public places. We can only imagine how friends and relatives reacted to seeing Kokoschka dragging this doll around with him. Finally realizing how ridiculous this looked, one night he threw the doll in the trash can. Unfortunately, a neighbor saw him and in the dark she thought he was disposing of a dead body; she called the police. He had to explain the situation to responding officers and show them the doll in the trash. I know you want to see the doll. A poor quality photo can be seen in the next slide . Yes, it’s very creepy.
Streetlight 1909 by Giacomo Balla Italy was once one the great nations of Europe, wielding power and influence on the world stage. But by the turn of the 20 th century that nation had fallen to such a sorry state that it was hardly better than a third-world country. A group of Italian artists joined together with the stated purpose of encouraging Italy to rise up, reclaim its former greatness, and become a player in world politics again. This was the Futurist movement. Futurist art is filled with movement and dynamism. It’s all about motion and power as these were the qualities these artists wanted Italy to regain. This is a painting of a streetlight. The rays of light emanating from the lamp resemble and explosion of energy. The City Rises (the next slide ) is all about Italy rising up from its languishing state and moving forward.
Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash 1912 by Giacamo Balla This painting illustrates this concept of dynamic motion in Futurist art. The legs of the dog and its owner appear to be moving at hyper-speed. The leash suggests control so perhaps the artist is seen as controlling the driving force behind this movement. Most of us are accustomed to art and artists being anti-war. But the Futurists were all in favor of military imperialism as long as it was Italy pushing around some smaller and weaker country. Military images are common is Futurist art and the following slide shows Italian soldiers operating a cannon.
Unique Forms of Continuity in Space 1913 by Umberto Boccioni There is also Futurist sculpture. Obviously this statue is standing still but it is designed to appear as if it’s running at high speed. This perception of movement and motion is the primary motivation in Futurist art.
German Expressionism after World War I Not so heroic or romantic visions of war.
Vanitas 1932 Otto Dix The First World War had a profound effect on all of Europe due to the high number of casualties and political ramifications. But nobody suffered more than the German people who not only lost the war and suffered terrible loss of life, but had to endure the lasting socioeconomic effects for years afterwards. A number of German artists who served in the military during the war used their art to express their horror at what they had experienced and the long lasting effects the war caused. In this painting the image of the beautiful and alluring woman is shadowed by a dark and sinister image that is likely meant to be death. He could be saying that what appears wonderful at first can turn ugly and deadly. This would reflect a common misconception of war that many people had prior to the realization of how awful it really is set in. Often these works depict erotic themes but rather than being seductive they are ugly, showing low-class prostitutes and sex in the context of being disgusting and unappealing. More symbolic twisting of our view of the world.
Machine Gunners Advancing 1924 Otto Dix Rather than the heroic, glorified depictions of war usually seen in art, these disillusioned German artists presented much more realistic visions of conflict. They were gritty, and disturbing in their violence.
Hunger 1919 Max Beckmann Not only did these German Expressionist artists illustrate the trials and tribulations of the soldiers at the front during the conflict, they also showed us the difficulties experienced by the people at home. Starvation was a common occurrence in war-torn Germany and abject poverty was the norm for many years to follow. It was this depressed economic and social environment that allowed the Nazi Party, led by Adolph Hitler, to rise to power in 1933 on promises to improve life for the average German and to make the nation strong again.
Dorfschlächter 1930 George Grosz Some of the German Expressionist images are positively horrific in their depictions of brutality, gore, and inhumanity.
The Children are Threatened by a Nightingale 1924 by Max Ernst The Surrealists sought to explore the subconscious and a great deal of Surrealism is based on psychoanalysis and particularly dream images. Unlike Cubism and Expressionism which sought to flatten the scene, Surrealism expands the horizon as far as possible as a symbol of the limitless power of imagination and the endless boundaries of the mind. Spanish painter Salvador Dali was the best known of the Surrealists. His enigmatic Persistence of Memory (the next slide) is perhaps his most famous painting. For decades art critics and patrons have tried to interpret and analyze the images but the problem with using dreams for inspiration is that unless it’s your dream, it likely won’t make any sense to you.
The Persistence of Memory 1931 by Salvador Dali
Bicycle Wheel 1913 by Marcel Duchamp The Dada movement started in Europe and spread to the United Stated. Short lived (1915-1920 or so), the Dadaists were opposed to pretty much everything. They were anti-war; anti-Nationalism (seen as a root cause for war), they were even anti-art. As the old saying goes, as political and social activists, they were pretty good artists. One of the memorable trends in Dadaism was the “found sculpture” they popularized. In an effort to demonstrate that art is not special or valuable simply because it comes from a famous artist, they took common objects, literally things they found, and offered them as sculpture with little or no modification. Of course they were wrong, being associated with a famous artist always increases the value and desirability of art so these ridiculous pieces sold for large amounts of money. This may explain why the Dada movement did not last very long. The members kept being proven wrong in all of their theories.
Object 1936 Meret Oppenheim An everyday object is rendered not only useless but nearly unrecognizable. The cup, saucer and spoon are covered with fur creating something not only unfamiliar but somewhat vaguely unsettling.
Urinal 1917 by Duchamp One the more famous (or infamous, as the case may be) of the found sculptures is this offering by Duchamp. It’s a urinal that is unmodified save for the R. Mutt signature and 1917 date. Who the Hell is R. Mutt? He owned the company that manufactured the urinal. It was put in the art gallery to make a social statement but somebody bought it. This piece was voted the most significant artwork of the 20 th century by a group of art critics. Needless to say your instructor is not a member of this group.
In 1991 another artist revisited the concept of Duchamp’s Urinal but gold plated this version because art has to keep getting bigger and better… ? Fountain (after Duchamp) 1991 by Sherrie Levine
The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Too 1923 by Duchamp Painting on a window panes offers some intriguing possibilities. Since we can see through the unpainted areas and observe what is behind the painting, the composition changes every time it is moved. The glass was broken when a clumsy gallery worker dropped the piece. Duchamp declined to replace it saying he liked it better that way and would have broken it himself had he thought of it.
Virgin and Infant Jesus 1926 by Max Ernst For the first 95% of art history, art was about religion. Art was paintings to thank the animal spirits or to appease the gods to ensure hunting success. It was fertility figures and offerings hoping for good crops. Art celebrated God and faith. By the 20 th century many artists had not turned away from religion, but some actively opposed religion. This image was meant to be offensive to Catholics who revere the mother and child image. The young Jesus has lost His halo (seen on the ground) as His mother spanks Him. Considered a perfect being by the Church, Jesus could not have misbehaved even as a child and this painting enraged some viewers. One man in Ernst’s home town in Germany demanded action and this led to the artist being excommunicated (expelled from the Catholic Church). The man who demanded action was the artist’s own father.
The next slide is a photograph of the drive wheel on a steam powered locomotive. The floowing image by the same artist is similar except for some variance in scale. But there is one big difference in the two images. Look at both and try to determine what is different. Sheeler was what we call a Precisionist painter. The second image is not a photograph but is in fact a painting. The Precisionists’ aim was to exactly duplicate the subject so that it looked as much like a photograph as possible. Such paintings are sometimes called Photorealism.
Feline Felicity 1934 by Sheeler Another example of Photorealism. This is not a photo but an amazingly realistic looking drawing.
Lobster Trap and Fishtail 1939 Alexander Calder Born into a family of artists, Calder is known for his kinetic sculpture, that is, sculpture that moves. He produced many such pieces called “mobiles” with this example being one of the better known ones. In addition to the motion being interesting to watch, as the piece turns and twists it constantly presents a new view to the observer.
The Living Room II 1942 Balthasar Klossowski de Rola aka Balthus In the 1930s and 1940s several artists produced work that exhibited a raw sexuality, almost depraved in some ways. Rather than the romantic, idealized images of love and romance popular in art for generations, they wanted to explore the darker side of sex and the art is often disturbing. The images frequently suggest rape, self-gratification and any number of fetishes. Art patrons throughout history have been fascinated with this subject matter.
The Golden Days 1946 Balthus The girl seems too young for her sexually suggestive pose and her subtly revealing clothing to be appropriate. The presence of the half-dressed man on the right also hints at the sexual nature of the scene. Is the artist advocating that young girls be sexually adventurous or is he criticizing such behavior? The next slide shows a young woman (a VERY young woman…) lounging naked in a chair before a large window. An even younger girl draws back the curtain, revealing the nude figure to the world. Perhaps this is meant to symbolize how women reveal themselves or their sexuality?
The Sleeping Venus 1944 Paul Dalvaux At least Dalveaux’s women appear fully mature and old enough to satisfy the legal requirements for such blatant sexual behavior. This artist often places nude women in odd locations and unexpected circumstances. He also combines symbols for death with images of nude, alluring female figures. At times there are references to the Classical World in his paintings, such as images of ancient architecture or sculpture. One has to wonder just what was going on in his mind.
Composition II in Red, Blue and Yellow 1930 Piet Mondrian Mondrian started out doing typical landscapes and portraits but became known for his geometric paintings featuring multicolored squares and intersecting lines.
Broadway Boogie Woogie 1943 Mondrian The artist said that this painting was inspired by looking down at the street from a window high up in a New York building.
The Human Condition 1935 Renee Magritte Many of Magruitte’s paintings are optical illusions, meant to illustrate the symbolic nature of art. He often revealed to the viewer that art is not real and cannot become real.
Recumbent Figure 1938 Henry Moore This English sculptor produced pieces that are not very natural or realistic portraits. They are instead gestural in nature and are mere suggestion of humans. Yet we have no problem recognizing them, do we? If you live in Central Arkansas you don’t have to go far to see a Moore sculpture in person.
Large Standing Figure- Knife Edge 1960 Moore (Capitol & Main, downtown Little Rock)
The story goes that one day Jackson Pollock noticed the pattern of spilled paint on the drop-cloth protecting the studio floor and decided that it was more interesting than the painting he was working on. So he developed the technique of dripping paint onto the canvas seen at right. This style is called Action Painting or Action Expressionism or sometimes simply Drip Painting. This was new and different and became popular. Pollock sold a lot of paintings and got invited to many high society parties. But after five years the public grew weary of this style and they stopped selling. The invitations stopped arriving as his celebrity waned. Pollock became an abusive alcoholic and died when he crashed his car while driving drunk, also killing a teenaged neighbor girl riding with him. The painting in the next slide is classic Pollock and would sell in the $30,000,000 range today.
The next slide is an example of Color Field painting. It’s insanely simple, using stripes created by placing strips of tape on the canvas while applying layers of different color paint. Any five year old could create such a composition but Newman was the first to do it and became famous. This painting sold recently for $3,000,000.
Edward Hopper was an American artist who traveled around the country in his car painting scenes that he found interesting. His wife accompanied him and served as his model. Hopper’s scenes generally do not feature large numbers of people and are often totally devoid of humans. Critics note that his paintings are usually sad and almost depressing in nature and that the few people we do see in them are trapped in their surroundings. Nighthawks (Slide A) is perhaps his most recognized work but look at the paintings is slides B, C & D and see if you agree that the figures appear trapped in the environment. If you look closely, you will note that in each composition there is an avenue of escape. In slide B there are stairs just behind the theater usher. If she wants to leave, there is the means right there. In slide C the woman may seem isolated and stuck in the room, but in this case the open window becomes the means of escape. Certainly we don’t usually come and go through a window but we are speaking symbolically here. In slide D the man isn’t trapped in the gas station. All he needs to do is walk away down the road. Perhaps Hopper is telling us that no matter where we are, we have the means out if we will simply search for it
This photo was taken in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and shows the Hopper painting Gas as it is displayed there. Museums are generally crowded and this can impact your ability to view the art. Also, people like the man on the right are particularly annoying. I have never understood why some people tilt their heads to one side while viewing art. I have tried it out of curiosity and it doesn’t improve the experience. I think they do it because they believe it makes them look like art experts. I think it makes them look like idiots.
By the latter half of the 20 th century, artists were mimicking culture with not only the images but also the materials. Acrylic paint became popular with many artists as it is plastic based and gives the painting a shiny, manufactured look that reflected the culture of mass production. Roy Lichtenstein used acrylic paint to create a classic image seen in the following slide. This seems to be a mixing of concepts to paint a Greek temple in the mass produced look of acrylic.
Wham! 1963 by Lichtenstein Mostly Lichtenstein is known for painting cartoon-like images, such as this one.
David Hockney was a British painter who spent some time with Hollywood celebrities. This next painting may be a commentary of the hollowness of their lifestyle. The acrylic paint is plastic based. Plastic was a term used at the time to denote someone who was fake, not real. The medium might symbolize how the Hollywood folks measure success by how well they pretend to be somebody else. Also, the title A Bigger Splash is interesting. An old saying goes that someone out succeed or make a name for himself intends to “make a big splash.” Well, the owner of this luxury home has certainly made a big splash, but we don’t see the person. It’s almost as if the artist is saying that this person really isn’t there at all. His life is filled with phony accomplishments and grand rewards for creating nothing that is real.
Soup I 1968 Andy Warhol Warhol was a commercial artist who did advertising images. He came to realize that such images could become fine art and the Campbell’s soup can is perhaps his most famous adaptation of a product into art. This style came to be called Pop Art. If you think about it, this is a total role reversal. The soup company used the art to make money off its soup while the artist used the soup to make money off his art.
Turquoise Marilyn 1962 Andy Warhol Warhol also produced paintings of celebrity portraits, with Marilyn Monroe being his most subject. He did these paintings shortly after Monroe’s death, which was ruled a suicide but many believe she was murdered in a plot involving President John Kennedy, and his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy (she was having affairs with both men). In a precursor to PhotoShop alterations, he would use unnatural colors to give the portraits a surreal flavor. Some show the same image multiple times, perhaps suggesting the mass produced quality of stardom and the entertainment industry.
Bus Reflection 1972 by Richard Estes What’s wrong with this photo? Ok, it’s a trick question. It’s another Precisionist painting. Just thought I’d throw it in.
Self-Portrait with Model 1979 by Duane Hanson This is Precisionist sculpture. Realistic figures painted and dressed to look like actual human beings.
Nude Woman Telephoning 1965 by Micheangelo Pistoletto Here’s a gallery having some fun with one of these realistic looking statues. Placed in one of the hallways, it is startling to see something like this when you don’t expect it. Remember how people get uncomfortable when art becomes too real? These artists really push the envelope on that concept, striving to represent reality as closely as possible.
Triumphe Poiel mural 1983 by Richard Haas This is a painting on the side of an apartment building in Cincinnati, Ohio. There are no stairs, or columns, or statues. It is meant to be an optical illusion. The next two slides are recent exercises in this sort of illusionary painting (actually drawing with chalk). There is no water-filled pothole in the street nor is there a boat. It’s just a drawing. The same is true of the second image. The sidewalk has not been torn up at all. But note the man on the left walking around the “hole.”
These optical illusion paintings are not new. Artists have been doing them for hundreds of years. The next slide is the ceiling of a church painted to appear three-dimensional with clouds and heavenly beings floating by.
Glorification of St. Ignatious 1694 by Andrea Pozza
Umbrellas 1991 by Christo Christo is what we call an Environmental artist. He makes interesting installations in outdoor spaces. These huge umbrellas were erected in the hills just south of the Central Valley in California. Tragically, a man was killed when a gust of wind threw one of the 200 pound umbrellas into the air and it fell on him.
Anthro of Blue Period 1960 by Yves Klein The medium is paint on paper. The somewhat unusual aspect (at least at this time) was the “brush” used to apply the paint to the paper. Klein painted the model’s body and had her lie on the paper. Of course, any time you have naked women, smeared with paint and rolling around on sheets of paper, somebody will pay good money to watch and that’s exactly what happened. In the 1960s art patrons decided they wanted to watch the art being created. In the following slide we see a couple of Klein’s models frolicking in the paint as an audience looks on. Note the musicians present. This has become quite an art event. Of course, once there are people on hand to watch, what is the next logical step? Go to the photo after the next slide for the answer.
A Happening Audience participation. In the 1960s art events were staged in which audience members were invited to become part of the show. In this case, a piano was rolled out onto the stage but rather than having a musician play it, the audience came up on stage and smashed it. These wild events came to be called Happenings. Not all were destructive as this one is, but they were meant to be energetic and stimulating to the senses.
People who don’t understand that all art is symbolic and can never be real have a difficult time understanding Renee Magritte’s painting called Ceci n'est pas une pipe (French for “this is not a pipe”). It certainly looks like a pipe. But just like that train we saw way back near the beginning of the course, there is no pipe in the room (unless you brought one with you). This is a painting of a pipe. Magritte was trying to tell us that art is symbolic; it represents something else. In this case the image represents exactly what it appears to be: a pipe. But that is certainly not true in every case.
Ceci n'est pas une pipe 1929 by Rene Magritte
Attempting the Impossible 1928 by Magritte The main concept in art that Magritte tried to illustrate is that art is not real. The pipe was not a real pipe. It was a representation of a pipe, a symbol. Magritte also tried to tell us that creating reality was beyond the reach of the artist. No matter how gifted or talented the best that any artist can hope to do is recreate the real world in symbolic representation. This painting shows the artist “attempting the impossible,” which is for him to create reality. He cannot possibly create a real person; he can only create a symbol that represents a real person.
In this course I have tried to emphasize a number of concepts that apply to art. There are two concepts I would like to illustrate that are applicable to life. They are 1) that not everything is what it first appears to be, and 2) that everything (and certainly everyone) has the capacity to change. The photograph in the next slide was taken in September of 1979. The event was a Renaissance Faire (explaining the dress of some of the people seen). The photo was taken at sunrise on Sunday morning following a Saturday filled with games and fun and the consumption of large amounts of alcohol. Nobody pictured had gotten any sleep the night before. The large fellow standing second from the right is your erstwhile instructor. At this time I was a community college drop-out working as a truck driver. I rode my Harley on the weekends (the black one on the right is mine and, yes, I still have it and ride it), hung out with my friends, and generally raised Hell as young people are wont to do. Had you approached me on that day and told me that seven years later I would decide to return to school and would complete my associate degree, two bachelors degrees, a masters degree, and doctorate I would have thought you insane. The disbelief would have been worse if you had informed me that one day I would be a college professor teaching art and art history. At that time I had absolutely no interest in art at all. But I had the capacity to change. I became more than what I was, and it was something in a whole new direction. Apparently I was more than the Harley riding truck driver you see in that photograph. I just hadn’t realized it yet. You also have the capacity for change. This isn’t Medieval Europe where your status at birth is your status at death. You can change and grow and be more than you are. Nobody can stop you except you. Nobody can make you fail except you. Nobody can make you succeed…except you! You have to decide how badly you want what it is you seek. Are you prepared to do whatever it takes to accomplish your goals? If so, then you can do it. Thank you for your participation and good luck.