De Anza College Art Discussion

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Analyze two art pieces, one paragraph for each

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you can use discussion, comparison, contextualization, and other forms of analysis.

discussions and analysis of works of art; view and take notes on chapter 3 documents which demonstrate different techniques of art making; and explore historical documents produced by artists and their patrons. You need to consider the ideas of professional art and architectural historians through their publications.

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ARTS 1A Chapter 5 Chapter 5 This week’s chapter will be divided into two section. The first section will explore our fifth and final subject category: still life. The second section will explore works of art which do not fit into any of the five subject categories—not landscape, not history, not portraiture, not genre, not still life. When works of art have no recognizable forms, we refer to them as nonrepresentational art. Examples of non-representational art are explored in the second part of this chapter. Part 1 Still life First, watch the following short video, “Cézanne’s Still Lifes at His Studio: Aix-en-Provence, France”: https://youtu.be/B2m1FKbbkjY Pair 1: Cézanne and Chardin Paul Cézanne I. Still life is a subject category in which the representation inanimate objects is the most important aspect of the work of art. Students who attended art school in France in the nineteenth century spent a good deal of time painting objects, ultimately to demonstrate to their teachers that they could convey a sense of three-dimensionality on a flat surface. Most students attempted to create the illusion of three-dimensionality through careful consideration of light value, as they attended to the depiction of shadows and highlights. Paul Cézanne chose to model objects with color in addition to light value. Paul Cézanne Still Life with Apples and Pears c. 1891-92 Oil on canvas II. One of the reasons Cézanne’s still life paintings are considered visually powerful is because he chose to use colors that were mixed with very little black or white paint. Color intensity refers to the degree of purity of a color; Cézanne’s Still Life with Apples and Pears is an example of a painting in which the color intensity is strong. The shadows cast by objects are not produced with greys but with violets, blues, and greens. The brightest highlights on the objects are not produced with white but with different versions of yellow. Jean-Baptise-Siméon Chardin I. More than a century and a half before Cézanne produced Still Life with Apples and Pears, another academically-trained French painter, Chardin, produced a still life painting, Attributes of the Painter, which represents materials and tools used by oil painters. Oil paint is a painting medium in which pigment is mixed with linseed oil. Oil paint is known for its tendency to dry slowly; for its translucent quality; for the wide variety of colors that may be produced with it; and for its ability to be used in varying qualities of thickness or thinness. Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin Attributes of the Painter 1725-1727 Oil on canvas II. A look at one of the objects in this still life—the painter’s palette—reveals three colors placed next to each other which are considered primary colors: those colors (red, yellow, , and blue) from which all other colors may be made. While Chardin’s still life is produced largely by means of earth colors like brown and red, the light blue color of the rolled-up paper to the right of the palette indicates that Chardin attempted to balance his composition by offsetting the warm reds at the left with a cool blue at the right. Analysis Exercises: Pair 1 Exercise 1: Who was likely to purchase a still life painting from Cézanne? Or from Chardin? Please provide a rationale for your response, based on the works of art themselves. Exercise 2: Why do you think so many artists throughout history have used fruit as a still life subject? Exercise 3: Both Chardin and Cézanne were oil painters, a painting medium recognized in part for the wide variety of colors that may be produced with it. How did these artists approach color differently? Pair 1 Pair 2: David Bailly and Rebecca Scott David Bailly I. David Bailly was a seventeenth-century Dutch artist who produced still life paintings which served to encourage people to consider their attitudes about money and ambition. Such works are called vanitas paintings. Vanitas is a theme within literature and art which warns about the emptiness of wealth and power. By the time Bailly produced Vanitas Still Life of 1651, The Netherlands had become the most wealthy county in Europe due to its participation in the global mercantile economy, based in part on colonialist practices. David Bailly Vanitas Still Life 1651 Oil on wood II. David Bailly included objects in this still life which ask viewers to consider their mortality. Such objects are called memento mori, which means “be mindful of your own mortality”. The candle has been snuffed out, the bubbles are about to burst, the flower is dying. But the most obvious memento mori is a skull. Dutch patrons of vanitas paintings were usually religious people who believed in an afterlife, and felt that it was better to give one’s money to charity than get bogged down by it during one’s lifetime. On illusionistically painted “paper” in the lower right corner the artist has painted the words “VANITAS VANITUM ET OMNIA VANITAS,” which means ”Vanity, vanity. All is vanity,” a quote from the ancient Jewish King Solomon found in the Book of Ecclesiastes. Rebecca Scott I. Like David Bailly, British contemporary artist Rebecca Scott paints still life works to encourage viewers to consider their values. Her oil painting, Oh, it’s a perfect day is from a series she calls “Perfect Life.” She finds inspiration in photographs of expensive luxury objects in commercial home furnishing catalogues. Fine bedding and fashionable tableware figure prominently in this series. Rebecca Scott’s technical approach to oil painting is painterly, that is, it calls attention to brushstrokes as evidence of the painted process. David Bailly, on the other hand, concealed his brushwork, painting with small, fine strokes. Rebecca Scott Oh, it’s a perfect day From the “Perfect Life” series 2005 Oil on canvas II. The table top in Rebecca Scott’s Oh, it’s a perfect day reveals a wide range of color, including secondary colors: colors which may be made by mixing two or more primary colors. Green, orange, and violet are examples of secondary colors. Pair 2 Analysis Exercises: Pair 2 Exercise 1: Do you prefer to look at paintings in which the artist has taken a painterly approach, as in Rebecca Scott’s work discussed in this chapter, or do you prefer the approach of David Bailly, which is more detailed? Exercise 2: If you were to hang a still life painting in your home, would you want it to convey a message, or would you prefer to enjoy it on a “formal” level, that is, from the standpoint of the elements of art and principles of design? Exercise 3: How can there be a continuity between the messages of David Bailly’s and Rebecca Scott’s work, given that they were produced more than three and a half centuries apart? Part 2 Non-Representational Art First, watch the following video, “Gee’s Bend: From Quilt to Print”: This video is approximately 15 minutes in length. https://youtu.be/BUO7GGoH5hc Pair 3: Annie Mae Young and Jean Arp Annie Mae Young I. Alabama quiltmaker Annie Mae Young produces textiles from old clothes. She says, “I work it out, study the way to make it, get it to be right, kind of like working a puzzle. You find the colors and the shapes and certain fabrics that work out right.” Art historians refer to the types of shapes we see in Annie Mae Young’s quilt as organic shapes: shapes that bear the irregularities of nature. After Annie Mae Young finishes making the quilt top she backs it with additional layers and sews the layers together. Sewing the layers together is referred to as “quilting.” Annie Mae Young Work Clothes Quilt with Center Medallion of Strips 1976 Denim, corduroy, and various synthetic fabric II. Some quiltmakers design quilt tops that have recognizable imagery, producing portraits, landscapes, history subjects, still lifes, or genre scenes. However, Annie Mae Young is not interested in conveying recognizable imagery with her quilts. Her larger interest in color and shape leads her to produce non-representational art: art which does not include recognizable images. Her Work Clothes Quilt with Center Medallion of Strips is not a portrait or a still life; it is not a genre scene or a landscape, nor is it a history subject. It is an example of non-representational art. Jean Arp I. In 1916-17 Dada artist Jean Arp produced an untitled work on paper (Collage with Squares Arranged According to the Laws of Chance). Like Annie Mae Young’s Work Clothes Quilt with Center Medallion of Strips, this work by Arp is an example of non-representational art. Many European artists were devastated by the losses that resulted from the First World War. Arp, who came from the German/French border region, joined an artists’ movement called Dada, whose participants explored randomness and irrationality, partly as a result of widespread despair stemming from World War I. Jean Arp Untitled (Collage with Squares Arranged According to the Laws of Chance 1916-1917 Torn and pasted paper on paper II. To make this untitled work, Arp tore pieces of paper and threw them into the air. After they landed, he pasted the torn paper pieces to another sheet of paper (but only after rearranging them, to strike a pleasing balance of shapes within the composition). The technique of attaching fragments of various materials to a support is called collage. One of the ways that Arp conveyed a sense of randomness in this collage was through his use of organic shapes. Torn edges indicate the artist’s decision to relinquish the traditional tools of collage construction (knives, scissors), demonstrating his willingness to let nature—or at least natural gesture—play a role in determining the outcome of this work of art. Pair 3 Analysis Exercises: Pair 3 Exercise 1: What is the effect of each of these works of art on you, in purely visual terms? Does one hold your attention more than the other? If so, why do you think this is the case? Exercise 2: How would you describe each artist’s approach to color? Exercise 3: While both artists relied in part on use of organic shapes, how is Annie Mae Young’s use of organic shape quite different from Jean Arp’s use of organic shape? Pair 4: Piet Mondrian and Richard Serra Piet Mondrian I. Unlike Annie Mae Young and Jean Arp, Dutch artist Piet Mondrian cultivated an appreciation and reliance on geometric shapes: shapes which appear to have been produced with the aid of a mechanical instrument to insure precision. In Composition, a non-representational oil painting made by Mondrian in 1929, he reduced his “subject” to geometric shapes in primary colors and white, and separated them with thick black horizontal and vertical lines. Piet Mondrian Composition 1929 Oil on canvas in artist’s frame II. Mondrian began his painting career in the late nineteenth century as a landscape artist but gradually eliminated representation of recognizable objects in favor of horizontal and vertical lines and primary colors. He was part of a group called De Stijl: an early twentieth century art and architecture movement in The Netherlands whose participants embraced the concept and practice of reducing forms in nature to their “essentials”. The members of De Stijl published a magazine to educate the public about their aims. De Stijl, like Dada, began largely as a response to the First World War. Unlike Dada, the members of De Stijl were idealists who hoped that the widespread adoption and application of their principles of art and design could be useful in rebuilding Europe. De Stijl is a Dutch phrase that means “the style”. Richard Serra I. In 1981, American artist Richard Serra produced Tilted Arc, a site-specific installation commissioned by the U.S. government for Foley Federal Plaza in Manhattan. A site-specific installation is an installation designed for a specific place. Tilted Arc, a 12-foot high work of non-representational art, was not popular with people who worked in and around the plaza. Persistent complaints about the installation led to the official removal of Serra’s work from Foley Federal Plaza in 1989. Richard Serra Tilted Arc Foley Federal Plaza, Manhattan 1981; dismantled 1989 Unfinished COR-TEN steel II. Richard Serra is part of a twentieth-century art movement called Minimalism which began after World War II, whose participants sought to reduce art to its essential materials. For Tilted Arc, Serra chose COR-TEN steel, which is designed to rust over time if left unprotected. After its removal, Tilted Arc was stored in a government parking lot until it was placed in permanent storage. As a sitespecific work, the artist will not allow it to be reassembled in an alternative location. Pair 4 Analysis Exercises: Pair 4 Exercise 1: Both Composition and Tilted Arc rely on the artists’ use of geometric shape(s). Which work of art incorporates a more basic application of geometric shape? Explain your answer. Exercise 2: Mondrian and Stella both had public relations problems, and took elaborate steps to explain their work. Why do you think the public tends to reject works of nonrepresentational art, especially in public places? Exercise 3: Mondrian became a non-representational artist after working as a landscape painter. Does Composition retain a relationship to the subject category of landscape? Can you ascertain a relationship between Tilted Arc and the landscape subject category, or perhaps a different subject category? ARTS 1A: Discussion 5 Non-Representational Art For our discussion this week we will consider non-representational art. Consider Richard Serra’s site-specific installation, Tilted Arc (1981). Address any of the following questions in your discussion post; you do NOT need to address all of them: 1. Why do you think Serra chose Cor-Ten steel as his material for Tilted Arc? 2. Do you live or work near public sculpture? What is it like to share your living or working space with public art? 3. If you worked in a building on or near Foley Federal Plaza in Manhattan, and tended to eat your lunch in the plaza on nice summer days, how would you feel if the government placed Tilted Arc there? Would you think it was cool that the work of a rising American art star shared your lunchtime space? Would you find it irritating to have to walk around it on your way across the plaza? Would you give the situation none of your attention? 4. Once the government acknowledged the public’s dislike of this work, what should have happened: To ask the artist if the work could be relocated? To give the work back to the artist, even though he had been paid for it? What might have been the best solution? * * * ARTS 1A: Documents Analysis 5 Document 1 Read the following seventeenth-century poem by Willem Godschalk van Focquenbroch, your first of two primary source documents this week, and address the questions which follow in your notebook. “Thoughts in my Room,” by Dutch poet Willem Godschalk van Focquenbroch, written after 1649, translated by Maria A. Schenkeveld In this small room there is no sound, A solitary joy is my treasure Since fortune here no more is found I now get from my books my pleasure And thereby mock the world around. All worldly joy I consider a ghost A short and vanishing illusion. I sit and smoke here, by which aid I daily come to the conclusion: Of less than smoke is pleasure made. My room thus fosters sanity: Wherever I look I see the glaring Examples of foolishness That teach me, while my eyes are staring The world is nothing but vanity. The grinning mask that I see Shows that the world needs close inspection. To pose as truth, will untruth try And fools will put on a saint’s perfection: A fool would trust what meets the eye. My fiddle and my flute display A lesson, strikingly appearing Because like a sound that fades away 1 Almost before it strikes one’s hearing, So fleeting is a mortal’s stay. The jewels that I look upon, As a diversion once presented, Give often cause to ponder on The hollow joys of youth, lamented When old age comes and spring is gone. When on a bottle my eyes fall With balm for many wounds entrusted, Life looks not great to me at all In that it sometimes is adjusted By drops of medicine so small. And when the coats-of-arms I see My old nobility displaying, Then I am from the cares set free That always around the Courts are staying; I mock at all that slavery. Or when I contemplate the face Of Charles, who once ruled Britain’s nation I ponder: is not life a case Of stage-play and dramatization Where each man fills an actor’s place? True, one portrays here majesty, A Lazarus, or other. As different as their stations be, Their graves reveal that they are brothers. Bones show no inequality. And when a sidelong glance I cast At pictures of my blood relations I think: death claims us all at last. Though on my walls hang imitations the models perished in the past. The fate that death turns each to dust, All servants, serfs and lords see beckon; Both poor and rich men always must 2 With their return to ashes reckon; Death equalizes all, I trust. This is the food my privacy Brings ever to my ruin. I learn that no security Comes from the world’s luxury. For everything is vanity. * * * In your notebook, write a response to each of the following questions. As part of your responses, practice quoting from this document—that is, literally place “quotation” marks around something that is stated, as part of your answer to each question. After completing your written responses to the questions below, keep them in your notes portfolio, to use during this week’s quiz, as well subsequent exams and the analysis paper. 1. This poem is an example of vanitas literature, since it urges readers to consider the emptiness of wealth and power. What specific references does the poet make to wealth and power? 2. Willem Godschalk von Focquenbroch uses references to objects to teach lessons about the briefness and fragility of human life. Consider his reference to a “fiddle and flute”. How does he use a fiddle and flute to communicate “so fleeting is a mortal’s stay”? 3. For this poet, what “Comes from the world’s luxury”? Turn to the next page for Document 2 3 Document 2 Read an essay by Dutch artist Piet Mondrian, the second of two primary source documents this week, and address the questions which follow in your notebook. An excerpt from an essay by Dutch painter Piet Mondrian published in the magazine De Stijl in February of 1919. Translated from the Dutch by Hans L.C. Jaffé* [*Note to ARTS 1A students: Think of this text as a conversation taking place between two artists: one is a singer, and one is a non-representational painter who previously made landscape imagery. The singer liked the landscapes, and is trying to understand why the painter shifted into non-representational art making. The painter is trying to help the singer understand his goals.] A = A singer B = Neoplastic painter [for “Neoplastic” and “plastic” substitute the word “pure”] A: I admire your earlier work. Because it means so much to me, I would like to understand your present way of painting better. I see nothing in these rectangles. What are you aiming at? B: At nothing different than before. Both have the same intention but my latest work brings it out more clearly. A: And what is that intention? B: The [plastic] expression of relationships through oppositions of color and line. A: But didn’t your earlier work represent nature? B: I expressed myself by means of nature. But if you observe the sequence of my work carefully, you will see that it progressively abandoned the naturalistic appearance of things and increasingly emphasizes the [plastic] expression of relationships. A: Do you find, then, that natural appearance interferes with the [plastic] expression of relationships? 4 B: You will agree that if two words are sung with the same strength with the same emphasis, each weakens the other. One cannot express both natural appearance as we see it and [plastic] relationships, with the same determinateness. In naturalistic form, in naturalistic color and in naturalistic line, [plastic] relationships are veiled. To be [plastically] expressed determinately, relationships can be represented only through color and line in themselves. In the capriciousness of nature, form and color are weakened by curvature and by the corporeality of things. To give the means of expression of painting their full value in my earlier work, I increasingly allowed color and line to speak for themselves. A: But how can color and line in themselves, without the form we perceive in nature, represent anything determinately? B: The [plastic] expression of color and line alone is to establish oppositions by means of color and line; and these oppositions express [plastic] relationship. Relationship is what I have always sought, and that is what all painting seeks to express. A: But painting was always [plastically] expressed through nature, and elevated us to the ideal through the beauty of nature. B: Yes, to the ideal through the beauty of nature; [plastic] expression of the ideal is quite another thing than the simple representation of natural appearance. A: But doesn’t the ideal exist only in us? B: It exists in us and outside us. The ancients said that the ideal is everywhere and in everything. In any case, the ideal is [plastically] manifested aesthetically as beauty. But what did you mean a moment ago by ‘the beauty of nature’? A: I had in mind a statue containing all the beauty of the human form. B: Well. Think for a moment of masterpieces of the so-called realistic schools which show none of this ideal beauty and nevertheless express beauty. Comparing these two types of art, you easily see that not only the beauty of nature but also its so-called ugliness can move us, or, as you say, elevate us toward the ideal. Neither subject matter, the representation, nor nature itself creates the beauty of painting. They merely establish the type of beauty that determines the composition, the color, and the form. A: But that is not how a layman thinks of it, although what you say seems plausible. Nevertheless I cannot imagine relationships expressed otherwise than by means of some subject-matter or representation, and not just through a composition of color and line alone; just as I can’t appreciate sounds without melody—a sound composition by one of our modern composers means nothing to me. B: In painting you must first try to see composition, color, and line, and not the representation as representation. You will finally come to feel the subject matter a 5 hindrance. A: When I recall your transitional work, where color that was not true to nature to some extent destroyed the subject matter, I do see more clearly that beauty can be created, in fact even more forcefully created, without verisimilitude. For those paintings gave me a far stronger aesthetic sensation than purely naturalistic painting. But surely the color must have a form? B: Form or the illusion of form; anyway, color must be clearly delimited if it is to represent anything. In what you call my transitional work you rightly saw that the subject matter was neutralized by a free expression of color. But you must also see that its [plastic] expression was determined by form which still remained largely true to nature. To harmonize the color and the form, the subject matter of the painting—and therefore its form—was carefully selected. If I aimed, for instance, to express vastness and extension, the subject was selected with this in mind. The [plastic] idea took on various expressions, according to whether it was a dune landscape, or the sea, or a church that formed the subject. You remember my flowers: they too were carefully ‘chosen’ from the many varieties there are. Don’t you find that they have yet ‘another’ expression than my seascapes, dunes and churches? A: Indeed. To me the flowers conveyed something more intimate, as it were; while the sea, dunes and churches spoke more directly of ‘space’. B: So you see the importance of form. A closed form, such as a flower says something other than an open curved line as in the dunes, and something else again than the straight line of a church or the radiating petals of some other flowers. By comparing, you see that a particular form makes a particular impression, that line has a [plastic] power, and that the most tensed Line most purely expresses immutability, strength and vastness. A: But I still don’t understand why you favor the straight line and have come entirely to exclude the curved. B: In searching for an expression of vastness, I was led to seek the greatest tension: the straight line, because all curvature resolves into the straight, no place remains for the curved. A: Did you come to this conclusion suddenly? B: No, very gradually. First I abstracted the capricious then the freely curved, and finally the mathematically curved. A: So it was through this abstracting that you came to exclude all naturalistic representation and subject matter? B: That’s right, through the work itself. The theories I have just mentioned, concerning these exclusions, I developed afterwards. Consistent abstracting led me to completely 6 exclude the visible-concrete from my [plastic] expression. In painting a tree, I progressively abstracted the curve; you can understand that very little ‘tree’ remained. A: But can’t the straight line represent a tree? B: True. But now I see something is lacking in my explanation: abstraction alone is not enough to eliminate the naturalistic from painting. Line and color must be composed otherwise than in nature. A: You mean that what the painter calls composition also changes? B: Yes, an entirely different composition more mathematical but not symmetrical—is needed to [plastically] express equilibrated relationship purely. Merely to express the natural with straight lines still remains naturalistic reproduction even though the effect is already much stronger. A: But won’t such abstracting and transformed composition make everything look alike? B: That is a necessity rather than hindrance, if we wish to [plastically] express what all things have in common instead of what sets them apart. Thus the particular, which diverts us from what is essential, disappears: only the universal remains. The expression of objects gives way to a pure [plastic] expression of relationships. . . . * * * In your notebook, write a response to each of the following questions. As part of your responses, practice quoting from this document—that is, literally place “quotation” marks around something that is stated, as part of your answer to each question. After completing your written responses to the questions below, keep them in your notes portfolio, to use during this week’s quiz, as well subsequent exams and the analysis paper. 1. On page 4, the painter says, “I expressed myself by means of nature.” He had painted landscapes but does not say, I expressed nature. Rather, he says, “by means of nature”. What does that mean? 2. On page 5, the painter says, “. . . I increasingly allowed color and line to speak for themselves.” Why had color and line not been able to speak for themselves when he was a landscape painter? 3. On pages 5 and 6, the painter says, “In painting you must first try to see 7 composition, color, and line, and not the representation as representation. You will finally come to feel the subject matter a hindrance.” How do we categorize and discuss terms such as “color” and “line” in ARTS 1A? 4. On page 7, the singer asks, “But won’t such abstracting and transformed composition make everything look alike?” What is the painter’s response to this question? 8 ARTS 1A: Group Analysis 5 Objects in our lives Each week we analyze a work of art as a group. This week we will consider the still life subject type, where a range of inanimate objects receive attention from artists. Consider Rebecca Scott’s oil painting, Oh, it’s a perfect day (2005). Address one—or both—of the following questions in your discussion post: 1. Examine the range of color used by this oil painter to represent objects on a table. She paints things that our eyes would normally register as white, clear, or reflective (the formal table linens, glassware, and silverware) in almost every color but “white”. Why do you think she chose so many different colors to paint these objects? 2. Carefully consider the title of this work in relation to details within this painting. Why might Rebecca Scott call this work, Oh, it’s a perfect day? Without the title, does the painting itself reveal a perfect day? Why? Or why not? * * * ARTS 1A: Spotlight on Technique 5 Oil painting Watch the first video, “Laag voor Laag (Layer by Layer),” without using the closedcaptioning button, as the film is already subtitled. Address the following questions in your notebook: 1. What is the purpose of “underdrawing” in a fifteenth-century painting? 2. What is “bole” made of? https://youtu.be/DDqD-d6Osew * * * Watch the second video, “Conservation: Flowers in a Glass Vase Painting,” without using the closed-captioning button, as the film is already subtitled. Address the following questions in your notebook: 1. The narrator of this video refers to Flowers in a Glass Vase as “a meditation on transience”. What does she mean by this? 2. Why does the conservator remove varnish from the surface of the painting? https://youtu.be/AusPa8TdMpo * * * Watch the third video, “How to Paint Like Mark Rothko: No. 16 (Red, Brown, and Black),” and address the following questions in your notebook: 1. What is a “turpentine burn”? 2. Rothko often “stained” his canvases. What did he add to his paint to thin it enough to be able to use it as a stain? https://youtu.be/vSiu8qzHV6c
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Analyzing two art pieces
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ANALYZING TWO ART PIECES

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Art 1: Titled Arc
I think Richard Serra chose Cor-Ten steel as his material for Titled Arc because he
intended to advance the concept of sculpture and also because he intended to transform the open
space where it was to be placed giving it a new look. I live near a public sc...


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