Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Watson and the Shark"

This painting is called "Watson and the Shark" painted by John Singleton Copley. Its medium is oil on canvas. It is located at the National gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Copley was an American painter born in Boston who depicted middle-class subjects and picked events that related and had an impact on their lives. Watson and the Shark is a representation of a British sailor (Brook Watson, 14) who was swimming in Havana Harbor when he was attacked by a shark. The boy lost a leg but still became a honorary man with many accomplishments, despite this attack. He showed bravery by becoming a general in the Army. Copley himself was an orphan, but still a very successful painter. His goal in this painting was to show similarities between himself and the boy in order to enhance his own self-image. In this painting there are many people in a small row boat trying to save a young naked boy in the water. There is only one black man in the boat and he is throwing a rope into the water. However, the rope looks like it is not serving any help to the boy. This may symbolize the resentful feelings towards whites back when there was still slavery. The people are dressed in an old English fashion looking as if they are from the 1700's. Most of their faces have looks of shock and horror. Its located in a harbor or coastal city with many ships in the background. There are two sharks in the water heading straight at the victim. Many waves are surrounding the attack are violent. The waves symbolize time and eternity or infinity which may mean that the out come of the attack, if death, is forever. The man holding the stick with the hook on the end seems surrounded by light as if he was "godly" as he is trying to rescue the boy, like the hero archetype. The sea archetype in general represents alien, dangerous, and chaotic times which represents this scene perfectly.

Why Can't I Stop Smoking?

Sigmar Polke is known for his unusual and plain works of art. His ability to move away from what is usually seen as "the norm" is what makes his pictures strangely attractive today. At first people didn't understand his style and only saw his paintings as sloppy and unprofessional. It wasn't until decades later that people started to appreciate his work. A piece of art that represents Polke's style is "Why Can't I Stop Smoking?" At the bottom of the picture there is a partially charcoal drawing of a man. We only see his head, shoulders, shirt, and tie. The background looks dirty and partly painted over with quick, sloppy brush strokes. The whole piece is black and white except the man's lips which are bright red and his nose is outlined in red as well. It looks like the man's eyebrows were originally red but the artist covered them up with black so they appear to be brownish. It almost seems as if Polke lost interest in his piece of work while in the process of working on it. The piece could be sarcastic because it is unfinished, assuming the artist can't focus on his work because he's thinking about smoking. An archetype in this piece could be The Test or Trial because the man is trying to quit smoking. The simplicity of the piece makes it more thought provoking and meaningful. Learning about Polke, we find that he portrayed commentaries on consumer society in all of his works of art. Polke founded the Capitalistic Realism movement, which is an anti-style of art. Because Polke used this style, some may consider his work not to be art because it appears unfinished. But Polke's unique style gives his work meaning and a quality of interest.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Max Pechstein - Day of Steel!

Max Pechstein was born in Germany in 1881. At a young age, he was heavily influenced by Van Gogh and his works of art. He then grew up to be an expressionistic painter and printmaker. In 1906, he joined the Art Group De Bruicke, and also later founded the German New Succession. He enjoyed using the fauvist manner of painting, and typically enjoyed painting flowers, nudes, and landscapes. He would take vacations to the island of Niden, Prussia, where he slowly transcended into more primitive art, using thick black lines and strong color unmixed from the tube.
We picked this painting, titled "Day of Steel." This painting has rolling hills, and is set in a forest with mountains on the horizon. Four people are in the forest with mountains, two are orange, one is red, and the other is blue. The red person is convincing an orange to take off a white cloth. All people are naked, and the other orange person is off walking towards the trees. The blue person is tucked away in the lower, right corner.
There are many archetypes in this work of art. We believe that the red colors are prominent in this painting for a reason. The red person could perhaps be evil, along with the scenery around it, (the ground, road, flowers, etc.) The setting is in a forest because it's mysterious and easy to lose direction. We also thought the red road is the road to temptation. With the red person being so powerful looking, we thought the shy blue person could be their "other side." They show that they're powerful and manipulative, but deep down are a lost, and depressed soul.

Starry Night By:Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh could be considered one of the worlds most famous painters. His impressionism style is one in his own. A Starry Night is seen all over the world. I remember having to recreate it in 5Th grade art class.

Van Gogh grew up in a very religious family. His Father was an Evangelical Pastor. Van Goghs life centered around these three things: Contemporary lit., Philosophy, and history. Van Gogh didn't begin painting until 1880 after deciding he wasn't meant to follow in his fathers footsteps and be a minister.

Starry night is a very beautiful picture of a town on a clear night. The Gusts of wind blowing through the town and the lights out make the town look like a quiet town fast asleep on a cold winter night. There are 12 stars in the sky symbolizing the end of something and the beginning of new journey. Just like when the clock strikes 12 it's the end of one day and the start of another. He showed this to help him in trying to forget a past lover and her daughter that he had a problem with. The mountains in the back symbolize guidance for his journey. The church in the town with the large steeple stands out because of his large religious background. The tree is a representation of God watching over the town and keeping them safe. It isn't blowing in the wind so it is a figment of Van Goghs imagination and his image of God. It is much larger than everything else because He is power full and almighty. It is painted black because I think at the time Van Gogh may be questioning his beliefs is a sense that there as still a God but maybe he isn't who he thought he is. Because of Van Goghs past with his ex-lover and Daughter he is Questioning why God would put him through such pain. This painting was created by Van Gogh to help him get over his past and begin a new journey in life

"Road to Nowhere"

This painting called "Road to Nowhere" was done by a Russian surrealist painter named Leonid Shchigel. He's an up an coming artist who takes after Salvador Dali's surreal paintings. Shchigel had no art degree and was completely self-taught as an artist. It wasn't until he began his job as a security guard that he practiced his art daily-utilizing all the free time he had working in the grave yard shift. Rather than focusing on the realistic qualities of life he noticed the unrealistic, but beautiful, qualities dreams so greatly exhibit.

In this painting there is a black piano that turns into train tracks, going into the distance. There is a train in the distance that is coming toward the foreground. It is kind of clear sky's in the distance but closer to the piano there is dark and gloomy sky's. The floor is black and white checkered, like the colors of the keys on the piano. There is a music book on top of the piano opened face up. There is electricity lines down the length on the tracks. There is smoke coming from the train. There is a chair under the piano and the piano looks brand new and not used. No one is to be seen in this painting, the only person maybe would be the train conductor. There are white gloves on the piano "playing" but no visible person.

Our interpretation of this painting is that the train that is in the distance coming towards the foreground is taking a journey to a "darker world". With the clear sky's in the background and the dark, black sky's in the foreground this represents the coming to the "darker world". The dark sky could represent worries and challenges that are going to have to be faced sometime in the near future. Another thing is there are more geometric shapes on the ground and are more defined than all of the other shapes in this painting.

The Island by: Steve Chmilar

The painting the Island was done by a musiscian/artist named Steve Chmilar. He was born in Grande Prairie, Alberta (Canada) on Decemeber 25, 1979. He began painting at age 2 but put that dream on hold to pursue his interest in music. Then in 2007, he moved to Vernon, B.C. to focus on his painting. Chmilar does neosurrealism or modern surerealism, which illistrates the complex imagery of dreams or subconscius visions in irrational of dreams or subconscious visions in irrational space and froms combinations (wikipedia). In the painting there is an island with a huge tree in the center. On one side is a fat, white man with all kinds of food and wine and he is looking in a mirror just staring at himself. On his side of the tree leaves are growing showing his life is fullfilled and lively. On the other side of the tree has no leaves and there is a Native American family with nothing, they are naked and skinny.
The tree reprsents life and knowledge, on the one side with the white male the tree is alive and on the side with the family it is dead. We believe that the man with all of the belongings represents wealthy cultures, especially white people and how they only care about themselves and their possesions. But just on the other side of the earth there are starving families with nothing like the Native Americans in this painting. They may be as close as on the other side of a tree and the wealthy people are too busy worrying about themselves to even notice.

Stuggle In The South

Joe Jones was Born on April 7th, 1909. He grew up in St. Louis Missouri and went to school there. At age 15 he quit school and started painting houses. At 27 he moved to New York City and lived there for the remainder of his life. His first appearance was a a painting called "Wheat". Some of his early paintings were very Midwest regionalistic. Later in life Jones became interested in delicate lines, and low toned colors. Some of his other famous works include "American Justice" and "House Painter". Joe Jones Died on April 12th, 1963 at the Age 54 years old.

This painting shows the definition of lynching. Two white men are getting ready to hang an African American from a tree. One of the men has his fingers dug into the African Americans eye and skull. The African Americans wife and son are standing to the right and she is shaking her fist at the men. There is a house on fire in the background that assumingly belongs to the black family. It's after the civil war because the black family have their own land. They are sharecroppers who grow cotton which is visible in the middle of the painting. It shows the violence that continued to happen to blacks even though they were free. One of the white men's faces is completely distorted. The female looks extraordinarily strong.
Tree- Represents life, but in this painting it represents death because the African American is getting hung from it.
Fire- Represents pain because that's all that a fire brings.
Innocent-child/youth- The child in this looks scared and does not understand what is going on. Meaning that not all things are meant to be understood in life.
Villains/Evil Figure- (The two white guys) They are lynching the African American male, they represent death and destruction.

David Biggs, Dan Cockrill, Jordan Duggan

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Spellbound: a Dali Study in Dreams

According to Wikipedia, Salvador Dali's work "Spellbound" was created in 1945 as part of a series of scenes in Alfred Hitchcock's thriller of the same name. Dali, known for being a Surrealist, was hired by Hitchcock to create the dream sequence, in which actor Gregory Peck, in an attempt to cure his mental illness, relates a strange and disjointed dream to his psychiatrists. (You can view the cached version of this clip by clicking here.)
Dali was the perfect person to design the sequence as he was a Surrealist. In other words, his work was created by using the paranoiac-critical method--a technique devloped by Dali in the 1930's that acknowledged the ability of the brain to "perceive links between things which are rationally not linked" (Wikipedia), which is exactly what happens in dreams.
Details from the work really reveal that Dali is attempting to enter a person's subconscious to create the effect of our helter skelter dreams. Objects and people from both reality and imagination are juxtaposed against one another. Above the stage are curtains painted with giant eyes. They are fantastical. Some of the eyes are open, some closed, many looking in different directions. One wonders while viewing this work if the top is painted and the bottom is a real photo. It is possible that these painted eyes represent the eyes of the men at the tables below--and the varying reactions they are having to the woman who appears to be on stage, dancing. The legs of the tables appear to be human legs, and one of the eyes appears to have a symbol engraved in it. This symbol could be a key, plane, spade, bird, or airplane. The action taking place on the dance floor seems to be blending into a film that is going on against the backdrop. In fact, the different areas of the painting--the film, the drapes, the men--all seem to intersect at the figure of the woman, who is located slightly right of center. The intersection of all of these real and fictional worlds begs the questions--what is genuinely, authentically real? Can reality be defined? Can one create alternate realities using the imagination? So many eyes create the atmosphere, again, of paranoia, as if one is constantly being watched.
This mixing of fantasy elements with reality raises many questions. Is Dali making a statement about the nature of reality? He is quoted as saying that his most famous painting, The Persistence of Time, was created to "systemize confusion and thus discredit completely the world of reality", according to the Museum of Modern Art website (MOMA). This quote, coupled with knowledge of Dali's eccentric antics, such as showing up at a ball held in his honor wearing a glass cage on his heart that contained a brasseire (bra), indicates to me that he was in favor of the imagination over reality. I think the archetype of the eye--which could represent insight or seeing beyond what's just literally in front of you--is present in his painting, too. Dali asks you not to trust what you see--to actually let yourself give in to reading between the lines, to risk paranoia. Also, the fact that this is part of a dream sequence relies on the archetype of sleep, which, according to our hand out on archetypes, is crucial for psychological healing. During dreams, a person can grow, discover more about his or her inner workings, fantasize and awaken with a greater understanding of human nature. In the movie, sleep as a healing time definitely aligns with what happens. Gregory Peck ends up uncovering a repressed childhood trauma through his dream and resolves his inner conflicts.
However, Dali's work still makes me, as a viewer, ask myself some questions about reality and imagination that perhaps Dali didn't intend. Are we, in America, all rather delusional at this point, believing our own press and our own narcisstic, self-created personas on Facebook and blogs? Do we need stricter boundaries between what is real and fantasy, so more people can tell the difference?
Questions: watch the full dream sequence. What do you think slicing the eye means, using archetypes to interpret the meaning? How do you, personally, feel about Americans and their tendency to live in worlds of fantasy--from video games to movies to reinventing themselves on line and in real life?