Saturday, March 2, 2013


Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash by Giacomo Balla

Italian artist, Giacomo Balla, is one of the founders of Futurism. He started off to paint realistic pictures with social implications such as "Bankruptcy", a closed down building scribbled all over. Later, he then became the leading Italian exponent of Neo-Impressionism, which influenced younger Futurist. One of Balla’s paintings that stood out to me the most is Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash. In the painting, you see a tiny Dachshund running on its tiny little legs in really fast motion, and its owner walking, which seems to be at a relatively normal pace. The multiplication of body parts in both subjects creates the allusion that they are currently in motion. It’s as if we sped up time, and all we see is a blur in between each frame of movement.

Balla’s inspiration came from the invention of the chronophotographic gun, where the device was able to record frame-by-frame movements onto a single photographic plate. The machine was invented in the 1880s by the scientist, Etienne-Jules Marey, who discovered that cats can land on their feet and other subjects dealing with movement. The influence of this machine inspired Balla to recreate these images, through the use of his canvas and paint.

The technique used to emphasize the rapid motion of an object/person became a later cliché of comic strips and animated cartoons. For comic books we see people/objects being multiplied to create the appearance of running, flapping, or doing a lot of stuff all at once, at a dramatic speed. One famous example in animated cartoons that includes the use of this technique is "Road Runner."

Suprematist Composition: Airplane in Space

 "Each form is free and individual. Each form is a world." 
-Kasimir Malevich

Kasimir Malevich was a member of the Suprematist movement. Like Marinetti and the futurist movement, Malevich wrote a manifesto explaining his purposes and ideas for the Suprematist movement. He wanted to create art pieces in which everyone would see the same thing. He painted a red square so that everyone would see a just a red square, nothing more than a red square and nothing less than a red square. He wanted everyone to have the same experience in order to unify the population and bring peace. If everyone shared the same experiences, then no one would feel superior, and social class and wars would cease.
 In the piece "Suprematist Composition: Airplane flying", everyone will only see 13 or 14 quadrilaterals of varying primary colors or black. He didn't want any of the colors to subjectively represent any emotions, and he didn't want the shapes to represent any emotions either. They do resemble buildings as viewed from above, which may account for the title. Malevich could have been trying to expose even the common man to the experience of an airplane ride. He said that he, "Uses forms to imitate the unifying effect of velocity", and this piece relates to this idea of the speed. At certain speeds, such as that of the airplane, recognizable forms become quadrilaterals of color and become objectified. All of this works to unify the overall human experience page 18  page 130

Friday, March 1, 2013

"Nude Descending a Staircase No. 2"

Marcel Duchamp is the most influential artist in the history of modern art.

Duchamp is considered the most influential because of his radically style and actions were extremely unique and different from any other form. So much that at one point his two brothers basically had an intervention with him, telling him to calm not and to not push the boundaries of what art should be so much. Marcel Duchamp dismissed this and therefore works as Nude Descending a Staircase No. 2 (below) are displayed.

Here Duchamp is emphasizing the new movement of mechanomorphic abstraction. This is considered mechonomorphic abstract because one could not simply distinguish that this is a nude female descending stairs without the title and instead the viewer makes out what mayappear to be a machine. The mechonomorphic movement was a result of the industrial revolution in which new product, building and machines were intertwining with peoples lives. Paintings that use this technique glorify the machine and denounce the academic theology that only gods and such high pristiege could be displayed on canvas.
Also portrayed on the canvas is the essence of motion. Duchamp was interested in how the body moves and studied the movements of individual body parts while walking in order to capture the process on canvas. Etienne-Jules Mary was influential with his photography, tracking, and cinematogyaphy of motion. He performed studies, as the one shown below, tracking the movement of the heads, shoulders, hips, ect. while walking.

Interestingly this study of the body in motion is still in effect today. Recently in the news the NCAA SEC division football departments will electronically track player's speed and movement. The purpose of the study is to perhaps uncover more safety oppurtunities for the players and information and feedback to the coaches. May be a stduy in a different field, but I bet one could come up with some interesting art from the study as well. 

"Sportsman Parade"- Alexander Rodchenko

Alexander Rodchenko (1891-1956) was a avante-garde artist who specifically captured the essence of commmunism in one single photograph. Sportsman Parade.
 Russian Artist Alexander Rodchenko
Sportsman Parade
In this photograph Rodchenko captures an assemnly of people being orchestrated in distinct rows and collumns, as well as onlookers. Communism is a socialist movement that attempts to create a classless society in whcih everything is shared and everybody is the same in a sense individual contribution to the whole. As noted in history this was a failed attempt of governmental organization and it was not distributed without resistance. Rodchenko captures exactly what was just explained in one distinct frame in time. From the photograph, the viewer can distinguish two seperate groups. On the lower side, there are the people in the rows and collumns that represent communism. They are all wearing the same thing, they are in formation, and monitored by a few ment... overseen uniformity. In the upper portion of the photograph a crowd of what appears to be protestors are displayed. Here, chaos is represented. There is no organization, no leader, just a group of people on the verge of riot. The opposite of communism. In personal belief, the tilted angle of the photo inspires the viewer to really think about what is being portrayed. A known sign of "thinking" or "puzzlement" is to tilt one's head, and I believe Rodchenko is playing on this.
This picture displays two opposing forces which makes one think of the ancient Chinese cultural take on Ying and Yang. Ying and Yang represent opposing forces that are connected and even neccessary for each other in order to balance. Yin is thought as the negative and feminine side and the Yang is referred to as the masculine and positve side. In relation to Sportsman Parade one could decipher as the uniformed men as the Yin and the protestesters as the Yang. The protesters on the brink of riot in order to restore balance. Also, the two can not split because socities need governing as well as governments need socities. Not until the fall of the Soviet Union did forces become balanced again, or atleast more than what was.  

Radiator Building by Georgia O'Keefe

        Constructed in 1924, the Radiator Building on 40th Street, South of Bryant Park in New York City, is a bit of an anomaly on the cityscape. It is made mostly of black brick with gold-trimmed turrets reminiscent of Gothic architecture. Georgia O'Keeffe moved to New York City in 1918, and painted the Radiator Building in 1927.
The Radiator Building at Night- New York
Georgia O'Keeffe, Radiator Building- Night, New York (1927), oil on canvas, 48" x 30"
        Towering above the viewer's eyesight, the Radiator Building extends almost to the top of the work, illuminated in silhouette by its own lights and several spotlights that shoot into the black sky, giving it a slight red hue. Most of O'Keeffe's paintings of New York City feature various skyscrapers of the city of the time, such as the Ritz Tower.

       Before travelling to New York, O'Keeffe had worked as a commercial and teaching assistant, even spending some time at the campus of West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas. She moved to New York shortly after Alfred Stieglitz showed some of her works in his art show "291," which also showed the famous (or infamous?) Fountain by Marcel Duchamp. O'Keeffe's arrival in New York City coincided with the "Roaring Twenties," a bustling decade in American history that saw the growth of cities like New York as a result of Henry Ford's Model T, Al Capone and his battle with Prohibition, and began with the end of World War I. It was during this time that O'Keeffe married Stieglitz in 1924, and remained together until Stieglitz's death in 1946.
       After Stieglitz's death, O'Keeffe moved to New Mexico and stayed there until her death in 1986. There, she moved away from scenes of the city and instead painted scenes of the desert landscape, including works like Sky Above Clouds.

Georgia O'Keeffe, Sky Above Clouds IV (1956), oil on canvas, 96" x 288".

For a list of New York's major skyscrapers, visit:

For a biography on O'Keeffe's life, visit:
       as well as,

For more in-depth information on the Roaring Twenties, visit:

L.H.O.O.Q. by Marcel Duchamp (1919)

L.H.O.O.Q. by Marcel Duchamp (1919)
Not much introduction needs to be made for Monalisa, but just for the sake of fact; it was executed by Leonardo Da Vinci back in between 1503 and 1506.
In our coincidence, we are depicting a very avant-garde version of Monalisa. With a difference of 400 years, you have the spur of Dadaism as an international literature and artistic movement, which mainly pioneered in between 1915-1923. The name infers that the Dadaistic artists used coincidence principles in the creation process.
One of the blatant examples of that was the “re-creation” of the Monalisa with a moustache and a disrespectful comment to her enigmatic smile saying: She has a hot ass.
He is not alone in making this act to this art, but his provocation was not created absurdly. Some claim that it was merely a try for Duchamp to tell other artists that he has the upper-hand when it comes to art, and he famously victory of the game of chess.
On the other hand, it is depicted as a Freudian joke for other interpreters. Freud at his analyzed the painting, and inferred that the reason why the painting was never completed was his sexual life playing a role.

Basically what both Freud and Duchamp was trying to say was that Monalisa is actually a secretly depicted man, which is an attempt to take the painting from massive mainstream dull attractiveness to what it really is, a mere painting of Monalisa.
I personally believe that it goes back to the how Duchamp is outsmarting every other artist of his time with simplicity.

L. H. O. O. Q.

Marcel Duchamp's L. H. O. O. Q. was a postcard that he got from The Louvre and painted facial hair on what was thought to be the most remarkable piece of art at the time. The title, phonetically turns out to mean, "She has a hot ass." Which is iromic because the viewer can't see past her upper body in this painting or on the postcard. He was trying to tell the artists of this age that they are taking themselves all too seriously and needed to lighten up. I don't know that that was the message that they got from this, but that was what Duchamp was trying to get across.
This Mona Lisa picture was made by Andy Warhol many years after Duchamp's postcard was made. Although I don't think this depiction of the Mona Lisa was meant to serve as a wake up call to other artists as Duchamp's was, this picture of Mona Lisa was made by taking a photogenic silkscreen of Mona Lisa, and using gold on white instead of the usual underpainting of the canvas to make this picture look as if the viewer were looking at a picture done in photographic negatives. This was meant to give Mona Lisa an angelic quality about her.
There is a song called, "The Ballad of Mona Lisa" by Panic! At the Disco. Some of the lyrics say that Mona Lisa is guarenteed to run this town tonight. And this is how the original painting of Mona Lisa was. It was considered the most magnificent painting of the time made by anyone. Nothing was able to compare to it and nothing was as good as it was. The song refers to, whether it be directly or indirectly, the ultimatum that this painting had put on the art in this period of time.
Thus, this painting is still having influence to this day on things that we hear and see every day. 

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Madonna by Edvard Munch

       Before discussing Edvard Munch's work Madonna (1894), a brief mention must be given to Sigmund Freud's influence on Europe at the time. While his ideas of psychoanalysis and psychosexual stages have largely been discarded as reliable in the present day, they were still new ideas over a hundred years ago.
       Applied to Edvard Munch's Madonna, Freud's emphasis on the human reproductive system is evident in the work. The woman is laid out in a sexually submissive pose as if she is, in fact, in the middle of intercourse, but this is not evident in the work. Also note what appears to be a red halo around her head. More interesting, however, is the frame that surrounds the image. Images of spermatozoa swim around, and an early-stage fetus sits in the bottom-left corner. Normally, a black-haired woman and a baby together in the same image are represented as the Virgin Mary and the Christ child, but Madonna takes that idea and presents it in a scientific perspective.

Edvard Munch, Madonna, 1894, Oil on canvas.

Madonna and Child (1480s) by Giovanni Bellini for comparison.

       Edvard Munch lost his faith as he grew older, given that his mother and sister (as well as himself) all died of tuberculosis when he was young. Religion aside, the effects of those two deaths on his mental state are reflected frequently in his works; The Sick Girl, The Scream, Vampire, and The Dance of Life all featured themes of morbidity and sorrow.
       Munch's significance in America was that his Madonna was one of the works featured in the Scandinavian section of the Armory Show, an annual exhibition in New York that has featured thousands of works since its beginning. It is still in operation today.

For more on the Armory Show, check out:

To learn more about Sigmund Freud's life and theories, check out:

The World is Flat

Georges Braque's The Portuguese (The Emigrant)

   The French artist, Georges Braque, was influenced deeply by Cezanne who led him on the path to Cubism. Later in life, he became close acquaintances with Picasso, and in 1910, both artists were in a phase of a highly competitive relationship between each other, producing some of the most complex works of art of their careers. During their high phase of their collaboration, both artists' style can be described as Analytic Cubism, where in the painting the “object is analyzed, broken down, and dissected.”

   One of Braque’s painting that falls under this category is The Portuguese (The Emigrant), where Braque says it shows “an emigrant on the bridge of a boat with a harbor in the background.” Towards the upper right you can see some traces of a docking post and sections of nautical rope, and toward the bottom half of the painting you can make out a guitar. Toward the top right you can see some stenciled letters and numbers that seem to be a fragment of a word. The letters D BAL, for example, may come from Grand Bal, probably a reference to a common dance-hall poster.
   In the picture, everything is fractured. For example the guitar player is split up to many pieces, almost like glass, and the background is nothing but shattered pieces of reflecting the different perspectives upon the dock and emigrant.  By breaking the picture into smaller fragments, Braque is able to “overcome the unified singularity of an object an instead transform it into an object of vision.” 
   My understanding of Cubism, specifically Analytic Cubism, is that we are trying to capture every perspective of a certain object, for example the object would be a paper bowl. We want to see this bowl from the top, the bottom, the sides, the inside; pretty much everywhere. So then to do this, we have to tear the bowl apart to shreds of paper, because as an Analytic Cubist painter, I want to be able to capture both the back and front, and inside and outside, all at once. So instead of viewing the painting in the traditional one point of view in a single point in time, we see the painting from many different angles and at many different moments in time. It is kind of like looking at the world, but since we want to see all different perspectives of this circular world, we created a flat version of the world. 
   Cubism was not only popular in the form of painting, but in works of literature as well. The French Poet, Pierre Reverdy, is one of the foremost poets associated with Cubism, and his work was also a direct inspiration for the emerging surrealist and Dadaist movements. One particular poem that captures the concept of showing all perspectives would have to be “The Same Number.”
The hardly open eyes
                The hand on the other shore
The sky
           And everything that happens there
The leaning door
              A head sticks out
From the frame
And through the shutters
You can see out
The sun fills everything
But the trees are still green
                          The falling hour
                          It gets warmer
And the houses are smaller
The passersby go less quickly
And always look up
                 The lamp shines on us now
Looking far away
We could see the light
We were happy
                          That evening At the other house where somebody waits for us
Cubism overall is mind blowing, and trippy. Though you may not think so, the idea of Cubism can be referenced to pop culture today. Movies such as Babel, Mammoth, Crash are considered to be, according to The Washington Post, “World-is-flat” movies. In my opinion, all three movies are pretty DARN amazing, I love the way they capture different perspectives that will eventually combine into a big, brutally, honest narrative.
“[A] new breed of ensemble movie emerged, straining for seriousness and   significance, using large casts, intersecting plots and aggressive cross-cutting to tackle Big Issues and illuminate Universal Truths.”

El Lissitsky: The Constructor

El Lissitsky was a Russian paitner, born in 1890. The majority of his career was focused around former Soviet Union Propaganda and he primarily worked in Russia, Germany, and the Netherlands throughout his life. Lissitsky is not well known for one single painting, but instead has gained recognition for his participation in the development of Suprematism (first created by Malevich). Suprematism was a movement created by Kazimir Malevich around 1915 that was based on geometric forms, such as circles, squares, lines, etc. in addition to a limited series of colors. However, Malevich's movement lacked popularity until his former student, Lissitsky, returned to help Malevich. Indeed, Lissitsky's Suprematism ideas lead to developments of Bauhaus, Constructivism, and Graphic designs. In addition to his influence in the movements listed above, Lissitsky developed his own form of Suprematism called "Proun", which used geometric paintings to create a  larger work of art. Lissitsky stated that Prouns was "The station where one changes from painting to architecture." 

Below is Lissitsky's work: The Constructor, self-portrait. I like this painting because it typifies the ideas and goals of El Lissitsky. Rather than use one mechanism, Lissitsky blends graphic design, architecture, and original painting into a single composition. It describes Lissitsky's belief that artists can be used as agents for change.   

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Observations on The Cellist

The Cellist Link

The Prodigal Son and His Father

This sculpture by George Gray Barnard depicts the well-known story of the long lost son who had taken his inheritance for everything it was worth, left his family to live how he wanted to, and ended up coming walking back to his father's home after all of his money was gone asking to be taken back. His father embraced him with open arms and made orders for a fancy dinner that night to celebrate his son's coming home. 

Many other painters and sculptors have recreated this scene along with Barnard. 

Remrandt is  only one famous artist who also had painted the scene of the Prodigal Son returning to his father and asking for mercy.

Constantin Emile Meunier is one of many sculptors who recreated this merciful scene of father and son. 
This story, to me, is yet another reminder of God's forgiveness for us as we go astray. When we have used all of our resources and have hit rock bottom, He will embrace us and give us mercy and forgiveness when we seek it wholeheartedly. This is just an example of His love and kindness towards us and is an example of how we should treat others. 

"Disks of Newton"

Frantisek Kupka (1871-1957) was a Czech painter who offered up work in the abstract and cubism realm leading up to the Futurism movement.

Kupka constructed Disks of Newton (right) during the times about 1912. As stated in the title, the artist is referencing to Sir Isaac Newton's discovery of the spectrum of colors given off from the sun. His theory basically stated that there are certain colors within the spectrum and when any two colors are mixed, a third new color is produced. Even further, when all the colors are mixed, white is produced. This piece, Kupka treads away from the stereotypical early forms of cubism as they are more monochromatic and here the colors are very bright and changing. Kupka presents Disks of Newton almost as a testimonial demonstrating Newton with a circular painting with many extravagant colors and blendings. The movement of the piece is portrayed to be coming out at the viewer in a three dimensional sense.

After viewing this piece, it sparked my interest of 3D film as our culture has revived the art of 3D cinema quite substantially. It is almost a guarantee that at any given time one can go to the movies and a 3D picture will be an option. Without the 3D glasses and manipulations, Kupka accomplished the third dimension on canvas which is very impressive. Interestingly, after reading about 3D film, it appears that the art was first patented in the late 1890's. This is interesting because this is also around the time of cubism and they both seem to have a couple of parallels. For instance, they both play with more than one perspective and time. This is basically the definition of cubism. Makes one wonder how this painting and some other like The Accordionist (Picasso) would appear through the lenses of modern 3D glasses.

The Prodigal Son and His Father by George Gray Barnard (1904)

It is a very peaceful biblical story projected as a sculpture, but naked, why?

Well, it is not easy to understand the artist’s intention with the nudity solely by looking, but it is understood that we are dealing with biblical typology, which in Greek is Typos = form or design and logos= word. It is a Jewish imagery interpreted with Christian doctrine for the understanding of Christ, the Church, and salvation in a pre-interpreted content in the Old Testament models. It is people and events of the old testament seen as prophetic role model of what would happen in the church’s life an history (Like for example: the New Testament).

As far away as I want to go away from the biblical interpretation, I find myself writing about it over and over again, so it must have a great emphasis. The father lost his son to find out that he discovered the return of his son, which takes me to the span of mercy and forgiveness. I hope I do not step over any toes, but I am solely trying to interpret this sculpture, but as I understand it seems like the forgiver is the father or a resemblance of God’s unlimited mercy. The jealous big brother is the one that is believes he can buy his father’s love by duties, but it an elegant example of how some families work even today.

Everybody must have heard about the intensity of how parents will favor some of their kids over some other kids they have, and that is the implication I am leaning against. It is not understood that God forgives for purposes of new starts, but I must say that it can be confusing or more deterrent.

I say deterrent, because it is not to be known how the big brother will act in such a situation, but going back to the artistic formulation of this sculpture; I believe it is made with deep deterrence for the good son, whereas it implies free boundaries for learning for the prodigal son. It is deterrent for the good son, because the sculpture is made where both the father and the prodigal son are completely naked.

I believe that the artist’s purpose was to show the great intimacy breaking the social norms and bringing up non-judgmental feelings to the surface.

On the other hand, there are a lot of different artists that has created/re-created similar scenes. Here are some examples:
The Prodigal Son in the Arms of His Father by Gustave Dore
The Retun of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt
The Prodigal Son by Leonard Baskin

Please see the links for more information…

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Pablo Picasso and Music

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) was a Spanish painter that spent most of his time in France and is credited with co-founding the technique of cubism. He would often meet and compare work with Georges Braque (1882-1963) who was the other founder of the form. 

Pablo Picasso

Georges Braque

Picasso performed what is now called analytic cubism when orchestrating his Accordionist (1911painting. When first viewing the painting, the viewer immediately is bombarded with an abstract scene. One could not even tell what the focal point is without having a little background on cubism and of course by taking into account the title of the piece. Analytical cubism is a discipline of study and form that entails close attention to cumulative forces of movement and time. What Picasso is doing here is painting the accordionist's movement and time with different angles. It is basically bringing a fourth dimension to the canvas. At first I personally thought that perhaps the critiques dubbed this style "cubism" because the artist would paint geometric shapes individually at different times. However, this is not the case. Apparently this style was so new and abstract the critiques just settled on calling it cubism. 
In relation to this piece and Braque's cubist painting The Portuguese (1911) I am reminded of modern bands using abstract works of art as there album cover. To play with the words we'll focus on the band Portugal. The Man. This is a very unique band from Alaska that play psychedelic rock. The music is good but is almost a guarantee to be a new noise to an unfamiliar listener's ear. Their album covers such as the one below even has what appears to be cubism displayed in the background. Perhaps their music parallels with cubism for it does seem to be abstract and open to individual interpretation. 

Poor but Happy; Rich but Sad

"Laughing Child" by Robert Henri

Cincinnati born, Robert Henri, became the leader of the American Ashcan School as well as a noted art instructor. One of his paintings that Henri created, Laughing Child, caused controversy throughout the upper class. The painting depicted a small little girl, with short hair, smiling and LAUGHING. Guys, she was laughing! That is crazy. Girls with short hair are not supposed to laugh AT ALL! Well, this is pretty much the same reaction that those opposed to the painting had.
Back then, those living in poverty would cut their children’s hair to manage the lice infestation, due to over population. So this little girl having short hair, we can infer that she came from a not so rich family. The thing that made people not appreciate this painting is the fact that the painting portrays lower-class people to be happy too. They only thought to see the poor being depicted as humorous or comical in paintings, NOT as a happy human being.
When looking at this painting, I thought that it was ironic how in William Glackens’s Chez Mouquin (1905), that painting shows a seemingly rich couple being unsatisfied. Glackens co-founded the Ashcan school, so I am pretty sure he shared similar ideas about social classes with Henri. Mouquin is a well known restaurant in Uptown New York in 1905, owned by Jeanne Louise Mouquin and Henri Mouquin, who are the ones painted in the art work. The woman seems bored out of her mind. Both stare to their left, probably watching people walk by, but nonetheless they both seem unfulfilled.  Assuming that they are rich (because their location and outfit), it makes me laugh at the comparison of both paintings; happy poor child vs. bored rich couple.  In a survey titled "Joys and Dilemma of Wealth" by Boston College, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Calibre Wealth Management, the wealthiest set revealed they are an unhappy bunch -- worried about appearing ungrateful, rearing bratty children and failing to meet expectations.
      Many poems, from famous to not-so-famous, discuss the subject of being happy and poor vs. sad and rich. One in particular poem that describes both sides of the fence of being rich is Robert William Service's "The Joy of Being Poor."  


Let others sing of gold and gear, the joy of being rich;
But oh, the days when I was poor, a vagrant in a ditch!
When every dawn was like a gem, so radiant and rare,
And I had but a single coat, and not a single care;
When I would feast right royally on bacon, bread and beer,
And dig into a stack of hay and doze like any peer;
When I would wash beside a brook my solitary shirt,
And though it dried upon my back I never took a hurt;
When I went romping down the road contemptuous of care,
And slapped Adventure on the back -- by Gad! we were a pair;
When, though my pockets lacked a coin, and though my coat was old,
The largess of the stars was mine, and all the sunset gold;
When time was only made for fools, and free as air was I,
And hard I hit and hard I lived beneath the open sky;
When all the roads were one to me, and each had its allure . . .
Ye Gods! these were the happy days, the days when I was poor.


Or else, again, old pal of mine, do you recall the times
You struggled with your storyettes, I wrestled with my rhymes;
Oh, we were happy, were we not? -- we used to live so "high"
(A little bit of broken roof between us and the sky);
Upon the forge of art we toiled with hammer and with tongs;
You told me all your rippling yarns, I sang to you my songs.
Our hats were frayed, our jackets patched, our boots were down at heel,
But oh, the happy men were we, although we lacked a meal.
And if I sold a bit of rhyme, or if you placed a tale,
What feasts we had of tenderloins and apple-tarts and ale!
And yet how often we would dine as cheerful as you please,
Beside our little friendly fire on coffee, bread and cheese.
We lived upon the ragged edge, and grub was never sure,
But oh, these were the happy days, the days when we were poor.


Alas! old man, we're wealthy now, it's sad beyond a doubt;
We cannot dodge prosperity, success has found us out.
Your eye is very dull and drear, my brow is creased with care,
We realize how hard it is to be a millionaire.
The burden's heavy on our backs -- you're thinking of your rents,
I'm worrying if I'll invest in five or six per cents.
We've limousines, and marble halls, and flunkeys by the score,
We play the part . . . but say, old chap, oh, isn't it a bore?
We work like slaves, we eat too much, we put on evening dress;
We've everything a man can want, I think . . . but happiness.
Come, let us sneak away, old chum; forget that we are rich,
And earn an honest appetite, and scratch an honest itch.
Let's be two jolly garreteers, up seven flights of stairs,
And wear old clothes and just pretend we aren't millionaires;
And wonder how we'll pay the rent, and scribble ream on ream,
And sup on sausages and tea, and laugh and loaf and dream.

And when we're tired of that, my friend, oh, you will come with me;
And we will seek the sunlit roads that lie beside the sea.
We'll know the joy the gipsy knows, the freedom nothing mars,
The golden treasure-gates of dawn, the mintage of the stars.
We'll smoke our pipes and watch the pot, and feed the crackling fire,
And sing like two old jolly boys, and dance to heart's desire;
We'll climb the hill and ford the brook and camp upon the moor . . .
Old chap, let's haste, I'm mad to taste the Joy of Being Poor.

The contrast between Henri and Glacken's paintings can be described amazingly through this poem. I just love how well all three pieces of culture come together like a puzzle.  

States of mind II

The image "States of Mind II" shows people sleeping in a train. The left side of the painting shows many faces whereas the right side shows fewer faces. This reveals that the left side is the lower 2nd class seating, but the right side shows the upper, 1st class. Outside of the train, rain falls, and the rising sun reflects off of the window. The rain is washing away the old traditions, and the sun is taking the people into a new day. This painting represents the train of society taking people away from the old systems, such as class, and bringing them into a new and glorious future. This shows many characteristics of the futurist movement.

The futurist movement began in 1909 with Marinetti's "The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism".
It contained artist and writers, and they glorified speed, danger, violence, new ideas, and the destruction of institutions such as churches and government. They thought of war as the "ultimate hygiene"  of society. Marinetti supported Mussolini, and this contributed to the downfall of the movement. Boccioni participated in the futurist movement and painted images with fast vehicles, power, and movement from one place to another. The futurist painters made their own manifesto, in which they vowed to...

1. Destroy the cult of the past, the obsession with the ancients, pedantry and academic formalism
2. Totally invalidate all kinds of imitation
3.Elevate all attempts at originality, however daring, however violent
4. Bear bravely and proudly the smear of "madness" with which they try to gag all innovators
5. Regard art critics as useless and dangerous
6. Rebel against the tyranny of words: "Harmony" and "good taste" and other loose expressions
7. Sweep the whole field of art clean of all themes and subjects which have been used in the past
8.Support and glory in our day-to-day world, a world which is going to be continually and splendidly transformed by victorious Science.

The link below celebrates the futurist movement's 104th birthday and talks about how it is relevant today.

Giacomo Balla: Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash

                    Giacomo_Balla_Dynamism_of_a_dog_on_a _eash
In Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash, Balla references Leonardo Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man and Eadweard Muybridge's Horse in Motion to create a twentieth century painting that blends traditional oil painting with chronophotography. Balla does this by illustrating the movement of the dog's and the woman's feet in motion along with an oscillating leash that lies between the two figures. In order to show the movement, Balla paints multiple limbs and leash in the given space, and then painting a thin black veil to depict the fast motion between the limbs. 
The irony of this painting lies within its name and subject. Balla chose a trivial subject (the type of scene that would be the subject of an impressionism painting) and focused in on one point in order to imitate the machinery of the 20th century. Although a simple picture of a dog on a leash isn't particularly "dynamic" or the typical subject of a futurism painting, the way in which Balla portrays motion in space and time is new and revolutionary to the art world. 


Pablo Picasso: Still Life with Chair Caning

Pablo Picasso, Still Life with Chair Caning, 1912 (Musee Picasso)
Pablo Picasso's "Still Life with Chair Caning", is a form of early "collage" art (first developed by Braque in 1912) or "synthetic cubism" because it incorporates materials other than paint such as cloth, rope, etc. in order to portray the idea of the painting. The oval shaped painting depicts a series of objects: a two o' clock, a knife cutting a lemon, a napkin, a wine glass, the word "JOU" meaning "play" or "daily" (as in newspaper) in french,  a pipe, a chair canning, a table, and the whole scene is enclosed by a rope. Although it looks like a composition of unrelated materials, the painting is said to be the depiction of a french breakfast scene. The word "JOU" is referring to the daily newspaper and the word "play" which alludes to the playfulness of the painting. 

Picasso's collage "Still Life with Chair Caning" lead to many developments in the art world. In addition to helping advancing the collage art movement, his painting paved the way for the arts and crafts movement as well as all avante garde art created in the twentieth century. Furthermore, Picasso's "Still Life with Chair Caning" and the remainder of the collage art movement helped change the idea of art by mixing commercial, industrial objects with high culture, showing that art is made for everyone not just the socially elite. 

When I see "Still Life with Chair Caning" I see the randomness of daily life. Our days are made up of random moments in time and I think this painting captures that idea, all audiences can relate to this morning scene. 


Observations on The Open Window

The Open Window Link

Monday, February 25, 2013

Aleksandr Rodchenko and Soviet Propaganda

       Aleksandr Rodchenko had the uncommon opportunity to be an artist in the midst of a revolution within his own country. A similar opportunity was granted to Eugene Delacroix during the July Revolution of 1789 in France, and Delacroix was considered by many to be a major contributor to the Impressionist movement.
       Rodchenko, in particular, began his career during the Russian Civil War, in which various groups and interests across Russia sought to counteract the recently successful Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 led by Vladimir Lenin. It was in the midst of the Civil War, in 1921, that Rodchenko and a small group of artists developed a new style of art that would eventually be known as Constructivism.
       Constructivism is characterized by works made out of construction materials, mainly metal and wood. Because of this, most Constructivist works are physical three-dimensional sculptures. The Constructivist works that are two-dimensional forsake the use of traditional oil paint for the most part, preferring instead less conventional techniques including photography and graphic design.
       For the three-dimensional works, one of Rodchenko's most notable works is Hanging Construction.

Aleksandr Rodchenko - Hanging Construction (1920)
Hanging Construction, Aleksandr Rodchenko, 1920, Wood.

       While the work no longer exists, Hanging Construction demonstrates the Constructivists' interest in geometry and mathematics, and is one of the first sculptures to have the illusion of movement within its frame. Personally, I have a metal and plastic gimmick on my nightstand at home that has a very similar appearance to Hanging Construction. Both my gimmick and Hanging Construction are similar to the shape of an atom; Neils Bohr proposed in 1915 that atoms consist of a nucleus orbited by electrons, so this sculpture appears to be a tribute to Soviet Russia's deadly fascination with the atom. Given that the Manhattan Project successfully detonated the first nuclear bomb just 25 years after Hanging Construction was completed, the work stands as an omen of the incoming Nuclear Age.
       When Rodchenko wasn't busy making wooden and metal models, he was making graphic designs and taking photographs to promote the Soviet Union's Marxist ideals of uniformity. Working for a variety of magazines, Rodchenko often took photographs of groups of people from dramatic angles, allowing readers to look at themselves like never before.

One of Rodchenko's many photographs, offering a bird's-eye view of a group of people in identical white shirts lining up in a formation.

       After forsaking traditional painting in 1921, Rodchenko also created posters alongside his photographs.
One of Rodchenko's many posters. The speech bubble reads "Books!"

       The Soviet Union was established in 1922 and lasted until 1991. While everything that has happened since then is history, visual propaganda such as Rodchenko's played a major part in controlling the Soviet population, half of which was illiterate. Of course, graphic design and photography are still a major part of modern magazines, and that demonstrates the power of images.

It is just a wallpaper that I found online, but just imagine seeing Earth from an angle like this!

For more on the Bohr model, visit:

For a brief history on nuclear research, visit:

To see more of Rodchenko's photographs, visit:

For a brief overview of photography, visit:

On Soviet literacy: