Friday, November 21, 2008

Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock, born in Cody, Wyoming in 1912, was one of the most revolutionary artists of American culture.  He was mostly well known for his loose and obscured methods of painting abstracted art.  He started his paint throwing techniques at a workshop in New York City and soon moved to Springs Long Island, Ny where he perfected his creative and expressive style of painting.  Pollock started to use resin-based paints because they had a more liquid quality and were easier to throw on canvas.  His techniques of splattering, dripping, and pouring paint with different instruments including sticks and hardened brushes were crucial to how his paintings developed.  For example in Pollock's "Male and Female" right above he used a lot of his newly developed paint pouring and other techniques to create this extremely expressive and textured piece of work. His new style of "action painting" broke through the barriers of western art. It created a whole new way of viewing and critiquing paintings. People saw the movement and expression of the strokes and splatters placed upon the painting rather than trying to analyze the subject matter of it.  Pollock actually started to number his paintings and stopped giving his paintings names just for this reason. He wanted people to see the painting for the painting and not try to search for representations in his works. Pollock's style of painting included movement of his whole body and not just his hands. By working on the ground he could move easily around the canvas and have some control over where the paint ended up. He would virtually dance around his canvas and throw paint around while still knowing where and how he wanted the paint to fall. Jackson Pollock's abstract pieces are a staple in American art and influenced a whole new wave of painting.  His free and loose style has and will continue to inspire abstract painters for years to come. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

Jenny Saville was born in Cambridge, England in 1970. In 1988 she attended the Glasgow School of Art located in Scotland. It was there where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Honors Fine Arts. Her frustrations as an art student inspired her greatly. She was bothered that she only had male art instructors and wanted to focus her art on women. In particular, women’s body image. When she was still an undergrad she was awarded a scholarship to attend the Cincinnati University. She worked there for six months. While she was at school in Ohio she found herself inspired by the Midwestern Americans shopping in the various malls. She stated there were, “lots of big women. Big white flesh in shorts and t-shirts. It was good to see because they had the physicality that I was interested in”. Inspired by the various body images, Saville created her college degree show. It was at this show where prominent gallery owner, Charles Saatchi, bought her entire show and commissioned her starting her career as an artist in the 21st century. She then moved to New York where she worked closely with a plastic surgeon documenting the various surgeries that she would create countless paintings on. She now resides and works in Italy.
Saville’s painting “Branded” was completed in 1992. It is a rather large oil painting on canvas with dimensions stretching 7’x6’. It is the first prominent picture in Saville’s book and I find myself particularly drawn to this painting because it vividly describes the artist’s subject matter and focus. The painting is of an over weight woman standing with one hand at her side and the other grasping her stomach fat while she looks down at the viewer, which is almost intimidating. Saville’s paint application in “Branded” as well as her many other paintings is extraordinary. She adds oil paint as if she sculpts her figures through brushstroke. She stated that she can mix up to 300 colors for a painting and prefers using pots of paint to mix in rather than a palette. She has been compared to artists like Lucien Freud. “Branded” forces the viewer to think about the ideas of femininity and what’s considered beautiful. Saville does this by creating such a large image and the puts words on the models body. The words read, “support”, “decorative”, “delicate”, and “petite”.
Saville also brings up the idea of the modern day cannon in her work. She comments on the cosmetic industry and worked closely with a plastic surgeon where she took her own photographs to create countless images which she then turned into paintings. In The painting “Plan” created in 1993, she forces the viewer to think about the body becoming a topographical map ready to be altered in the planes that are too wide. This painting is 9’x7’ and also looks down at the viewer, returning the gaze.
“Knead”, 1994, is a slightly smaller painting reaching 5’x 6’. It is a disturbing image of a woman in what appears to be in surgery. The woman has her eye taped and a tube down her throat. There is discoloration to the image that makes the woman appear to have bruising and scars from what looks to be a face-lift. Saville’s images are striking and really make strong statements about plastic surgery. I find it really interesting that something so disturbing and disgusting can also be so beautiful.
As Saville’s work progressed she started to create paintings about the transgendered. In 1999 she produced “Matrix” which is 7’x10’ and oil on canvas. In this painting she has a man that went through surgery to become a woman. The painting focuses on the constructed vagina and bosom while the man’s face looks past the viewer. The painting is really delicate, and for me, thought provoking on what it means to identify with a certain sex. In an interview she states that,
“When I was painting the genital area, I was trying to think about ways to use intense color and make marks that heightened a feeling of sex. Then when I painted the thigh, I had this area at the topside of the thigh and had four or five tones mixed up that I knew I wanted to run into each other. I got them all really oily. It was a one shot, to keep the color clean but slide them together and create the thrusting dynamic of this leg lifting up. The white dripped right across the thigh towards the genitals. It was this incredible, orgasmic”.

In 2004, Saville completed “Entry” ranging around 7’x6’. This painting is a portrait of an older woman who has been deformed by something. She looks down past the viewer with a sad longing look in her eyes. The colors used are cold and sickening evoking a depressing feel. I chose this painting because it speaks to Saville’s more recent work discussing deformities and once again confronting the viewer of what is considered to be acceptable by society.
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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Anselm Kiefer

Anselm Kiefer, born on March 8, 1945, is one of the most significant German artists.  Growing up during the end of World War II, Kiefer dealt with very controversial subject matters in his paintings and sculptures.  Kiefer went to Albert-Ludwigs-Universitat with intentions of studying law.  The direction of his studies quickly changed to art in 1966, studying under Peter Dreher.  A few years later, he studied under Horst Antes at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Kunste, and then studied under Joseph Beuys.  Beuys had a large influence on Kiefer and the themes he worked with, such as cultural myths and symbols.  In the early 1970s, shortly after getting married and moving to a secluded village in the Oden Forest, Kiefer began working with mythical and historical German figures in large format.  More recently, Kiefer has branched out from German themes, incorporating ancient Hebrew and Egyptian history, theology, and mysticism.  The theme constant throughout his career is the trauma societies go through, and their continuous rebirth.

Kiefer was greatly influenced by German history, especially the destruction and horror of the Holocaust.  Through his paintings, Kiefer is holding a mirror up to the catastrophe and devastation Germany was left with after the war, graphically retelling a story that was – and still is – hurtful and disturbing to many.  Ann Hanson observed, “there’s tragedy in every brushstroke.”  Kiefer’s belief was that art is a means by which you can have a dialogue with history, so he powerfully represents ideas and emotions that will touch each viewer.  Historically significant names, events, and places are often scrawled across his paintings.  He juxtaposes contrasting ideas Kiefer’s works utilize materials such as straw, glass, wood, plant parts, clay, and lead.  The paint used is usually in earthy or dark, somber colors, giving his paintings a depressing, tragic feel.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

James Rosenquist

James Rosenquist known most frequently with the Pop Art Movement started out with little schooling but rather chose to focus on working within the industry. Rosenquist became a member of the Sign, Pictorial and Display Union, Local 230 from 1957-59. He was employed by A.H. Villepigue, Inc., General Outdoor Advertising, Brooklyn, New York, and Artkraft Strauss Sign Corporation. While working for A.H. Villepigue, Inc he painted billboards in the Times Square area and other locations in New York. This type of work led him to utilize images that are already available to put into works.

            Rosenquists involvement in the Pop Art movement was based off of this idea of using these images. Other artists such as Roy Liechtenstein, Andy Warhol, and Peter Max where also involved in Pop Art during the 50’s and 60’s. Rosenquist specifically worked with images that were primarily recognizable but didn’t necessarily place them with relational object. His paintings throughout his work in the past five decades have remained to be colorful with great imagery. The images in his work or often layered and even separated from the base of the works. To begin most of his paintings he started with collages, which can be seen through the final pieces. 

            Rosenquist worked primarily on large canvases or even on Masonite. His working on large canvases stemed from his early experiences of working with billboards. Rosenquist utilized  mass-produced goods, magazines, films and other aspects of the mass media, together with his dispassionate and seemingly anonymous technique to create these works that are considered key figures in the development of Pop Art. 

President Elect. 

Oil on Masonite, 84 x 144”

In the Red
Oil on Canvas, 66 1/4 X78 1/4”


Portrait of the Scull Family
Oil on Canvas with two attached panels, 76 3/4 x 96”

Untitled (Blue Sky)

Oil on Canvas, 84 x72”

Morning Sun

Oil on Canvas with Plastic, 78 x 66”

IDEA, 3:50 A.M.
Oil on Canvas, 63x49”

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Critique Response

After the critique, I wasn't too surprised by what I heard about the spaceship thought since I actually came in that day being like, oops, that looks a little like a spaceship type thing. Oh well. As for the other responses, I enjoyed hearing what other people had to say about the piece. I am, in fact, not altogether pleased with the final product but I did like hearing what the class had to say. Thanks guys!

Kerrigan's Journal

I started out on this painting having no idea of what I wanted to paint, which tends to be a problem when it comes to starting my work in general so this was nothing new. Then something happened to me over one weekend and it made such an impact on me. I realized I wanted to somehow portray the feeling of disappointment and regret. I struggled to what images came to mind when I thought of the emotion. So in order to just get at least something on the canvas, I just painted whatever I felt. The first version, with the drips of thick blue paint and light blue/green paint in between, I liked a lot. I didn't think the blue really went with the feeling I was going for so I painted over the whole thing with a darker, grayer blue. 
When I thought about this feeling, I kept thinking about the sense of having everything fall down around me. And that there would somehow be a sense of loneliness in the fact of being such a disappointment and having such regret. So I kept painting over what I would have previously done about an hour before, disliking everything that was coming out. Then I tried to use a different technique, the spray painting. I painted what I felt in my head. I guess it came out looking a bit like a space ship beaming down but it was more supposed to look like the effect of a whirlwind. Having those feelings of regret and disappointment came to make me feel like I wasn't really sure how to act anymore and left me feeling confused. It was centered because I felt like, after this event, that every time someone looked at me, they knew exactly what had happened and were judging me for it, which of course now, looking back on it, I know is not the case. The strokes on the outside are supposed to have the effect of everything falling down. Although it doesn't come off like that, I like the looking they give to the painting.