Sunday, 12 September 2010

20 C artists - modern artists (some of em anyway!)

I am not going to try and put everybody I read about in here!  Just some of the more well known/interesting to me....

Pablo Picasso (1881 - 1973)
Spanish - came to Paris from Barcalona at the age of 19 at which point he had already mastered academic arts.  Said to be first modern artist with Demoiselles d'Avignon feted as first modern artwork.  Total departure from Western conventions - influenced by non-Western sculptures and visual arts e.g African, Aboriginal Australian etc.  Created Cubism with Braque.  Created first non traditional sculptures - using materials such as cardboard, found objects, bits of stuff stuck together.  Invented collage method with Braque.  Anarchic and experimental.  His thoughts on abstract art - "There is no such thing as abstract art, you must always start with something."

Henri Matisse (1869 - 1954)
Used simplified forms with flat areas of colour - part of the Fauve movement.  Called for art to express emotional responses with spontaneity and vividness.  Worked slowly and methodically making small adjustments until the relationships of colour and shape were what he felt was complete.  Observant and introvert watching his own reactions to what he was doing.

Kathe Kollwitz (1867 - 1945)
German female artist - painter, printmaker and sculptor.  'Might be called a pioneer expressionist but fiercely independent and outside any group'  Considered herself a realist - thought provoking and emphatic images.  One son killed in WW1 other in WW2 - worked on sculptures of grieving parents as a memorial to son killed in WW1 for many years, destroying first that she created.

Vassily Kandinsky (1866 - 1944)
Russian - in Munich from 1896 - 1914 plus long stays in Paris and Italy (then off to US).  Highly educated gave up Uni professorship to be an artist.  He experienced music in colour - synaesthesia.  He approached abstraction cautiously and saw the possibilities when he didn't recognise one of his own works when he saw it upside down - felt it had become just colour and shape.

Franz Marc (1880 - 1916)
Killed in WW1 . Starting to approach Kandinsky's levels of abstraction prior to death.  Loved animals and his works dominated by this.  I really like Fighting Forms - his most abstract work.

Piet Mondrian (1872 - 1944)
Founder of De Stijl movement.  Knew the Cubists well but took more spiritual path.  Very abstract, based on natural objects e.g. trees.

Marcel Duchamp (1887 - 1968)
Younger brother of sculptor Duchamp Villon.  Ironic, witty, penetrating a born anarchist.  Had a dynamic futuristic vision of Cubism.  A Dadaist - his ready mades totally rejected accepted artistic rules.  Took objects and made into art just by the act of him having chosen them e.g urinal, bike wheel on a stand.

Edward Hopper (1882 - 1967) American painter - not associated with any movement.  Precisionist - close observation of his local down town neighbourhood.  Paintings of America post Depression.

Frida Kahlo (1907 - 1954)
Mexican.  She was welcomed into the Surrelaist movement by Breton when he saw her work but she remained defiently outside it.  Surrealism was still very sexist at the time - e.g. Breton wrote about the problem of women and got the Surrealists together to discuss female sexuality but without inviting any females.  She painted her own reality - loads of self portraits exploring her body, sexuality and cultural identity.  She lived in chronic ill health due to an accident when she was young. 

Salvador Dali (1904 - 1989)
Spanish - most well known of Surrealists.  Tried to capture the hallucinatory clarity of his dreams called them 'hand painted dream photographs'  Went beyond ideas of most Surrealists - suggesting paranoiac and active advance of the mind - said only difference between himself and a madman was he wasn't mad!  Freudian symbolism very evident in his work e.g. phallic noses, fetishistic hair.

Rene Magritte ( 1898 - 1967)
Belgian - used Freudian imagery.  Disruptive, challenged assumptions about art.  Gave his works striking titles with ambiguous of no connection to the subject.

Joan Miro (1893 - 1983)
Spanish.  Breton considered him to be 'the most surrealist of us all'  Developed ability to let his subconscious create semi abstract forms.  Started painting then let instinct take over to create image.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Reading and DVD Unit 13

This unit looks at the visual arts from around 1900 to the outbreak of WWII.  It looks at modern art and the many movements and changes that occurred to the art world in this period.  There were a huge number of changes and the traditional art world was turned on it's head with artists trying to get away as much as possible for the academies and to create art from anything and everything.  Modern artists went against all naturalism and realism and the first truly abstract Western works were produced in this period.  I found I hadn't really realised how early modern art was being produced with hugely revolutionary and interesting works being created between 1900 and 1910.  Many of the movements were formed from ideologies and political ideas.

Freud's ideas of the subconscious greatly influenced artists of the time and this alongside a new interest in non Western art such as African sculptures and paintings led to a totally new way of looking breaking away from all previous conventions.


Successionists in late 1890s artists and architects in Vienna who broke away from the establishment and were anti academic.  Influenced by African arts, wanted to rid selves of civilised restraints.  Artists in this movement included Klimt - themes of subconsious, evil, death, love and sexuality.  Shela - sexuality and brutally direct images - very intense.  

Fauve - (Wild Beasts) shortlived movement in early part of century.  Linked to expressionism - naive art.  Artists used bold colours, round handling and anti naturalistic.  There are clashing colours and deliberate disharmonies - supposed to be expressive of the artists emotional reaction to the subject.

Cubism - as defined by Braque and Picasso (but they didn't exhibit or take part in Cubist exhibitions etc) Both representational and anti naturalistic at the same time.  Not abstract but not looking like the thing it represents!  Typically flat surfaces meeting at sharp angles (faceting).  Light used arbitarally not realistically.  Differing viewpoints used within same picture and of same object - think Picasso faces!

Futurism - An ideology more than just a movement.  Launched in Milan by poet Emilio Filipo Tommaso Marrietti in 1908.  Futurist manifesto published in Paris in 1909 - international impact.  Rather violent, leader felt that war was the 'sole hygiene of the world' - ideas to obliterate the past, burn the museums, drain the canals of Venice - wanted to replace with a new society, poetry and art based on dynamic sensations.  Boccioni was responsible for the Futurist manifesto of painting - says should represent the total experience not the impression.  A big emphasis on intuition.  Rejection of stable compositions, the action of the subject may already of passed by (?!) Proposed use of non trad materials.  Futurism ends in 1916 - short lived but huge impact and influence on Western art.

De Stijl - Dutch movement - means The Style.  Founded in Amsterdam by painters Mondrian and Doesburg and architect Pieter Oud.  They felt that the ultimate goal of Cubism should be abstraction and that they should follow this through.  They had the ideas of purity, harmony and sobriety and felt these should make for a perfectly balanced society and individuals.

Dada - a state of mind rather than literary or artistic movement.  Anarchic, nihilistic and disruptive - against all establishment values, traditional ideas of good taste, against everything.  "The true Dadaist is against Dadaism"
Examples Duchamp's ready mades - just stuff that he decides to exhibit and thus becomes art.

Surrealism - Successors to Dada.  Close links with political revolutionarys - denounced bourgeois values.  As disruptive as Dadaists but not so spontaneously archaic.  Surrealist Manifesto published by Andre Breton in 1924 (in Paris) - emancipation from all restraints- to explore the world of psychic experience of Freud dream theory.  Dream and reality into absolute reality - Surreality.  Breton suggested 2 methods to subconscious - through dreams or autonism - trying to get away from the control of reason.  Many Surrealist were former Dadaists. Encompassed poetry, literary and visual arts.  Writers did automatic writing method. 

Constructivists - Russian movement.  Interested in function over aesthetic appeal and materials as appropriate to the needs of society.  Women working alongside men as equals.  Ideas for furniture, ceramics etc design.  Artists mission to express revolutionary prole aspirations and enhance physical and intellectual conditions.   Also architectural designs.  Many couldn't be realised due to lack of materials.  Short lived as Lenin's New Economic Policy put an end to it. 

Bauhaus - (House of Building) German design school.  Launched in 1919 by Gropius combining the School of Art and Crafts with the School of Fine Art.  Aims to rethink all aspects of what is needed for a new society - believed could bring about social change through creation of new visual environments.  Guidelines for 20th C design - architecture, furniture, ceramics, visual art everything necessary for life - no distinction between structural and decorative arts.  Took Constructivist ideas of simple functionality and used modern methods of manufacture - mass production and industrialisation.  However was felt to be elitist.  Marcel Breuer's tubular steel chair still in production 90 years later. 

TO DO - Unit 13 - end of September

Right then back to work!!!!

  • Read Chapter 19 - Art from 1900 to 1919
  • Read Chapter 20 - Between the two world wars
  • Watch DVD episode 15 Between Genius and the Abyss
  • Watch DVD episode 16 Between Utopia and Crisis
  • Write up notes on reading and DVDs
  • Write up about the artists of the period
  • Annotate - a work by major European artist e.g. Picasso, Matisse, Braque, Brancusi, Kandinsky, Klee or Beckman
  • Collect images - 6 unexpected e.g fake by Elmir de Horty, unusual for the artist, little known artist
  • Complete Project 13 - ground plan and works of art 

Change of pace/change of plan...

I gave myself the summer off firstly because I'm pregnant and was worn out and sick when doing the last assignment so didn't really enjoy it and needed a break and secondly as I had an arts and crafts exhibition with friends so got ready for that. Although still keen to learn and finish the course I am no longer sure that I will go for assessment (might do - haven't really decided yet) and I am absolutely certain I won't finish in my original timescale. Had said I wanted to do the course in as close to 12 months as possible but change in circumstances mean I will give myself more time to do each assignment and probably a lot of time off from February!

I am also not sure if I am going to work towards a degree now - various contacts made whilst at the exhibition etc have got me thinking I may be better off spending the same amount of money on a wide range of short courses - for example I plan to take some machine embroidery and textiles classes before Christmas and could do all sorts of other things e.g ceramics, life drawing, printing etc etc etc over the next few years gaining more experience in different areas than I perhaps would with the degree.

I also sold some of my smaller things - cards and prints at the exhibition so set myself up an online shop  and am extremely chuffed to bits to have sold prints and a brooch after only 2 weeks.  I have no plans to be a great selling artist but if I can make bits and bobs and try out different things I'll be very happy!

My long term plan of hopefully one day teaching art I think could be as easily realised with short courses as with a degree what with already having one and teaching quals so will do some reflection and research during the rest of this course and make a decision about what will be best and most enjoyable in the long run.....

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Unearthed exhibition

Unearthed exhibition at the Sainsbury centre (visit date 15/08/2010)

The exhibition holds many figures from Japan and Romania dating from 3000BC. Although geographically distant there were similarities between the cultures and between the figures found at both sites.

The exhibition made me think about the collective unconsciousness relating to both art and music. I find it incredibly interesting that cultures and communities, where the peoples would never have traveled and met each other, have produced art and music that is surprisingly similar.

The figures in the exhibition were small and the majority where of the female human form (breast mounds signified this). The Japanese figures are called Dogu. There are similarities between the figures in that they are of a similar range of sizes, where found in similar areas within the sites and are on the whole basic representations of humans.

Seeing the figures has made me think about the air drying clay I have sitting in my art cupboard and that I would maybe like to try to make some similar as some of them are so very beautiful.

Henry Moore - Textiles

Henry Moore Textiles exhibition at the Sainsburys Centre Norwich (visit date 15/08/2010)

Until I saw this exhibition advertised I wasn't aware that Henry Moore had designed any textiles (I was not alone - a fact noted by the curators in the introduction area!)

Moore designed large wall hangings as well as a number of fabric designs and one of the silk squares or scarves for Ascher. Ascher printed Moore's fabrics using screen printing techniques onto silk, linen,cotton and rayon.

I found out that a serigraph describes an artist's screen printed fabric - this distinguishes it from a commercial screen print.

There are a number of links between his sculptures, ideas for sculptures and his fabric designs.

I noted how interesting it is too see how different the same design looks in different colourways and look forward to trying this out when I do printing and textile courses in the future. I have some ideas from his designs that I would like to try out myself - some of the designs are almost batik like and I have already been thinking that I would like to create some contemporary and not 'hippyish' batiks. It has made me think even more about an idea I have to use old plain fabrics from charity shops (sheets, duvet covers etc) and then print on to these to use for bunting, patchwork, quilts etc.

There were pages from his sketchbooks to look at this and this has made me think about how I will be able to use a lot of different media when I start my own textile sketchbooks - I noted that he had used pencil, wax crayons, watercolour, chalk, ink, pen and washes often within the same design - I must remember to use lots of diff things and see how the diff effects are and how they relate to diff aspects of the design and different techniques e.g I might use a wash for the background colour, wax crayon around batik, felt tip pen to show embroidery, stick on bits to show sequins, beads etc.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Feedback Report - Assignment 2

Things to do are red
Notes about things to do/things done are green

Overall Comments
Updated postcard list: A good selection of cards covering Units 7 -12 which are listed under each Unit. Each one shows the title, artist, date, medium, size and location. This is a well presented list and is easy to add to (if you find new cards) and will develop with cards from  future assignments added onto it.
Annotated sheet : Unit 10. The Death of Murat (David) 1793. oil on canvas, Brussels, size noted.
A4 sheet with a coloured photo copy (cropped to be upright rather than horizontal). I wasn't aware of my mistake so will make sure I take more care in future.  Will check against other representations etc.  Which alters the compositional proportion of the painting – you could have drawn an analysis diagram of the composition and this is something to be thought about for future annotations. The composition of this painting is quite important as it is unusual for the time. You mention the light source (which in fact comes from the left side and the top) and this too could have been developed further. Colours – a dark palette mentioned.
The story behind the murder of Marat and all the objects within the painting are all well noted and you look into the symbolism of the ‘writer’s pen’ and how Marat was a journalist in the Revolution.
Annotated sheet: Unit 12. Starry night. (Van Gogh) 1889. New York
size, oil on canvas. A4 sheet with a good coloured reproduction. Very good description of the type of brushwork, and the quality and range of colours Van Gogh used to achieve the effect he wanted. Composition described and discussed - dark cypress tree used as an upright balance to the land. This traditional composition relates to the golden section and you could describe this in your Log book as it relates to many works of art. Read up on the golden section to find out more.  The landscapes around the asylum are very similar to this and were painted one after another in his last months. A good sheet.
Project 10. A house in Norwich,
A4 sheet with a pen drawing of the fa├žade of a Georgian house (home of an artist) with a floor plan on the bottom of the sheet.
The plan shows the ground floor with a hall and two rooms –alongside this you list which paintings will be in each room; you have marked lines on the walls of the rooms and put a cross in the hallway. It would have been very useful to put a number by each wall line which linked to a painting in your list. Also although not necessarily advised in the Unit it is a bonus mark to have a visual list of the paintings etc used as a second/third sheet. I feel this Unit is rather thin on visual presentation and the research you have carried out is therefore diminished.  I felt that there wasn't enough of this project but was unsure how to improve it - comments helpful but do feel I should have realised and done this anyway!
Assignment 2: Visit to Houghton Hall, Norfolk.
This 4 page document has a coloured print of the exterior on the front page. Set amongst the text on the other pages are sketches: – one of the fireplace in Stone Hall and also the main doorway there.
The description of the house is divided up into sections beginning with the general information about  the date (1722-35) and the fact that it was built for the considered first Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole. It has been lived in by one family since 1797 when the Walpole’s left. It is a large house of 106 rooms and mostly decorated in the Baroque style you explain. The furniture, sculptures, carvings and paintings still reflect the glory of the original building. I like the small cameos of descriptions of the plasterwork ceilings and carved fireplaces. The art collection reflects the wealth and tastes of the various generations of the owners you write. It would be good to have a few illustrations of the paintings and decoration (on the walls /ceilings) maybe from a catalogue as you mention that indoor photography was not allowed. Did not include photos from the brochure as unsure re copyright but have checked with tutor who says this would be OK in future. 
Excellent bibliography. A well set out piece of work.

Feedback on assignment
My overall impression of the collection of work I have seen here is good. However, there is room for improvement in Project 10 which is a little under developed. Also more personal critical judgement could be included with the Annotated sheet for Unit 10 and both annotations would benefit from diagrams showing the compositional structure of the paintings.  Will attempt to include in future annotations.
When work is assessed (if you want it to be) the areas that are focused on include knowledge (practical and cultural), skills, initiative, and judgement. Including these areas in each assignment and developing them is necessary to achieve a rounded set of work for formal assessment.

Learning logs/critical essays
Please make sure that your learning logs do have answers to questions you pose on worksheets and other sketches and photos.  Do this!

Suggested reading/viewing
Some books about composition in formal works of art –golden section etc.
 Golden Section - Also called Golden Mean, Golden Proportion, Divine Section etc.  Mathematical calculation to do with ratios which is used in many ways - thought to be aesthetically pleasing.  Geometrical anaylsis of classical and ancient buildings/monuments show that they fit the GS.  Used in size of canvases and composition of paintings.  Find out more and need to read a book about types of composition as my knowledge is lacking in this area.  
I obviously do not see any work except that which is sent to me for marking. Please ensure all other annotations and projects are not lacking in body/information.