Saturday, March 30, 2013

Composition by Alberto Burri (1953)

You are now witnessing a medical masterpiece. Yes, after serious as a military doctor in North Africa during WW2, Burri started to paint as American prisoner in war, actually in Texas. In his art he took part in using trash materials such as wood, rags, sacking with stop entries and holes. Other material is incorporated over the years with higher emphasis on eye for detail. 

Composition (1953)

He surgically put his work together with whatever he had in his environment while being imprisoned. The art characterizes the poor materials painting qualities that later spur to new realism and arte povera, which is poor art directly translated. There is much more to it that solely poor material choice or a conspicuous way to overweight any other genre of art. It is rather commonalities of realistic or rather naturalistic express matters. Collaging simple materials and found objects like assemblages or instillations creates an open wealth of possible interpretations. It is also inferred interfaces of minimalism and conceptual art.

Example of arte povera

Take a chance to look in (SOURCE 1) just to browse through a selected amount of his works during his imprisonment. His paintings became a resistance to the progressively decorative nature of abstraction among other Italian artists in the 1950s, this group was called Gruppo Origine, meaning origin group, like original.

Gruppo Origine

Back to our composition, we are talking about a use of oil, gold paint and glue on burlap and canvas. Extremely simple, but in my opinion I believe it is artistic because it would be something I would put on my way in my house. The reason being that a doctor is an artist, a mechanic is an artist, a chauffeur is an artist, nearly every profession contains the top of the pyramid, which is the professionals with everlasting respiring passion for what they do, and I think I find Burri to be one of the chosen. The motive and reason to his work is very inspiring opening ways for new ways to think in other dimensions of collage.

Please see Source 4 if interested in an Italian article from around the time Mr. Burri died.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Gate by Hans Hofmann (1959-1960)

Abstract, it definitely is with great implications of expressive emotions, but then again, what is it?

Dimensions of gates going inward and outward to create a perceptual understanding of other visions of understanding is the first thing that comes to my mind when I see the representation of the painting with its title.

With extensive research, I have found out a little bit about how Mr. Hofmann created a lot of his art. Looking at different images it seems no clearer to say that his art is mastered by the vibes of his environment.

Cathedral (1959)

There is a scientific approach to be seen through his art, and it is if the dimension is three dimensional. The big yellow rectangle over the middle is the flat platform. Right to the left of the yellow square is a high scent of olive green and grey rectangle that is the dimension going into the painting and under the red big square is the dimension going out towards us.

Now I can sit here and use my imagination to interpret this painting, but I will definitely fall beside the result if any result is to be found at all. It is sure that this painting is subject less as it is implied through Hofmann and his students.

As an end result, I found this very creative an interesting Droste effect, where the effect of image reappears within itself in a location where an analogous image would be expected to appear. *PLEASE CHECK SOURCE 4*


The Soothsayer's Recompense

This painting portrays a character from ancient myths: Ariadne. In the story she helps Theseus kill the Minotaur and escape the labyrinth, but he then abandons her on the Island of Naxos as she sleeps. The figure of Ariadne resembles the sketches in Reinach's "Repertoire de la Statuaire Grecque et Romaine" which portray Hellenistic sculptures and ideal human forms. Although the figure clearly looks like a statue, it has a dream-like, effervescent quality. This exemplifies the concept of hope for love and the heartache caused by such hope. The train in the background could be a reference to de Chirico's isolation from his father, or it could represent the movement of modernity. Either way, the painting portrays a feeling of abandonment. It could be the abandonment of the old classical style of art for new styles. De Chirico thought that his contemporary artists and culture emphasized ideas over quality of painting, and he believed in the importance of skill and talent in art. The train could also represent the abandonment the artist felt from his father. Many of de Chirico's other paintings address the concept of isolation. Part of the sense of isolation comes from the bare scenery. De Chirico created fall scenes in his art, as he thought that the fall was a season of recovery after harsh and feverish summer. He liked the long shadows, wide open spaces, and mystery of fall. These characteristics and the Italian porticos in his work were influenced by his 20s when he read the works of Nietzsche.
 "The Soothsayer's Recompense" was created using a grid system called "squaring up" to plan his composition, create balance, and manage perspective. De Chirico used this in many of his other paintings he created in 1913. The painting is one of the larger paintings created by de Chirico, and it is one of the two largest paintings in his Ariadne series.    p. 349

Le déjeuner en Fourrure

Meret Oppenheim was a surrealist artist, and she created this work in 1936. She found the idea from a conversation with Pablo Picasso about her fur covered bracelet. He stated that one could cover anything in fur, and she said "Even this cup and saucer".
She created it using a low quality cup, plate, and spoon covered in luxurious gazelle fur. It is a paradox of cheap and fine, attractive and repugnant, intriguing and ridiculous. It juxtaposes the cheapness of the low quality utensils and the high-class fur, creating a essence of both humility and extravagance. It is also attractive because of the soft fur, yet it would be repulsive to feel that fur inside one's mouth. Finally, the form covered in fur stimulates curiosity, but it is so useless and frivolous that it is ridiculous. All of this is in tune with the surrealist's emphasis on "convulsive beauty", because it is nonsensical yet intriguing.

This work sparked Oppenheim's popularity and gained her instant recognition as a surrealist, but unlike most surrealists, she did not want social revolution. Her art more explores relationships between objects in nature and society, and it like some pre-surrealist artists, such as Paul Klee and Jean Arp, in it's reference to nature and playful connections between living and non-living objects. Oppenheim's childhood in Switzerland may have influenced her preference towards nature, and her artistic grandmother could have been a strong factor in her artistic development. People relate this piece to feminine creativity, with the soft fur and domestic utensils. However, its off-putting nature creates a parody of femininity by exploring the odd combination of female-related objects.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Endless Ribbon from a Ring I by Max Bill and Conrete Art

       Endless Ribbon from a Ring I by Max Bill is what is known as a "Mobius Strip."

Endless Ribbon from a Ring I, Max Bill, Gilded copper on crystalline base, 14.5" * 27" * 7.5". 1949.

       At the time Endless Ribbon From a Ring I was created, Europe was still reeling from the recent trauma of World War II, which was so profound that it created the movements of Existentialism in Europe and Abstract Expressionism in America. These two movements express vivid and chaotic art to symbolize the shock, disillusionment, and shattered faith of the artistic world at the time. Essentially a three-dimensional infinity symbol, my instructor described Endless Ribbon from a Ring I as a "resistance to chaos." He told us that Max Bill's solution to the postwar trauma was to create mathematical art and sculptures, which can only have one correct answer.
       As someone who has gotten a C in every math class since high school Pre-Calculus, I was very impressed by the mention of Endless Ribbon from a Ring I in the midst of a lecture whose primary focus was Abstract Expressionism and Existentialism. I did some more research and discovered another movement known as Concrete Art. While Abstract Art expresses the inner workings of the imagination, Concrete Art works to create objects and works of perfect mathematical symmetry.
       The other Concrete Artist that our instructor told us about was Richard Paul Lohse, who worked alongside Max Bill. Lohse painted Serial Elements Concentrated in Rhythmic Groups.

Lohse, Richard Paul - Serial Elements Concentrated in Rhythmic Groups - Konkrete Kunst - Oil on canvas - Abstract - Kunsthaus Zurich - Zurich, Switzerland
Serial Elements concentrated in Rhythmic Groups, Richard Paul Lohse, oil on canvas, 35.375" * 35.375". 1949/1956.

        Like Endless Ribbon from a Ring I, this work is also perfectly symmetrical, but features multicolored bars painted meticulously onto the canvas. Even the canvas itself is perfectly square, having an equal length and width.
       Concrete art helped pave the way for Optical Art, the art of optical illusions.

A sample optical illusion. It's kind of similar to a tessellation...
For more on the works of Richard Paul Lohse, visit

For an introduction to Optical Art, visit

For more on Concrete Art and links to other Concrete Artists, visit


London Child by Bill Brandt (1955)

This photo was executed by British photographer, Bill Brandt. Just like painters, photographers have a curtain style they lean towards. From the many different collections by Brandt, it is like a life line of evolutionary work with different subject of interest as time progresses. Clearly, he is influenced by surrealism, because of his very naturalistic pictures. Now, of course this sentence is redundant, but when one really thinks about it, I mean that he brings the realistic upon the viewer to interpret with free will in accordance to time, space, environment, and also a habituation.

Prices at auction (SOURCE 4)

Price Realized 14,380$
Estimate (5,748-8,622$)

Most often photographers have different claims on how they project their work, and it is really hard to asses a concrete meaning to everything, but it is all up to the outcome. In any experience with photography is to be possessed, it is easier for the eye to catch detail and hard work. The question is: did he just take the picture as one of many or was it thought-out?

Reading on different websites, I have realized that he praised to a high level, but when asked himself, he gives an explanation of what the “London Child” is about.

Most frequently reproduced of all my photographs, is the Portrait of a Young Girl resting on the floor of her London room. Perhaps it is not really a portrait. Her face fills the foreground and beyond the profile stands a chair and a chest of drawers; seen through two windows are houses on the other side of the street. This picture may have been subconsciously inspired by Orson Welles' film Citizen Kane. The technique of this film had a definite influence on my work at the time when I was starting to photograph nudes.
Feeling frustrated by modern cameras and lenses which seemed designed to imitate human vision and conventional sight, I was looking everywhere for a camera with a very wide angle. One day in a secondhand shop, near Covent Garden, I found a 70-year-old wooden Kodak. I was delighted. Like nineteenth-century cameras it had no shutter, and the wide-angle lens, with an aperture as minute as a pinhole, was focused on infinity.
In 1926, Edward Weston wrote in his diary, “The camera sees more than the eye, so why not make use of it?” My new camera saw more and it saw differently. It created a great illusion of space, an unrealistically steep perspective, and it distorted….

Now, personally, I have given the photo a specific interpretation. I believe that despite the amazing gratitude of work and inspiration, there is an essential meaning behind this picture. I think it is projecting the lonely child in the urbanized London wandering thought of what is next to come post world war two. The reason why this picture is so famous, in my opinion, would be that it is something that nearly everybody today in an urbanized society can relate to. The connection to nature, leisure, and play is completely neglected in the eyes of the girl. No gratitude or satisfaction is achieved, because it seems as if the child if going through an autonomic process of developing a spectra of meaning to the future, but then again, is it the motivation of the photo or the story of the photo?

Bill Brandt


The persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali (1931)

Salvador Dali is a very interesting painter that used an early developed delusion of grandeur as a creative force. As a surrealistic painter, the artist acts as a passive medium of the subconscious, but for Dali it was different. Dali developed an active critical and paranoid method in which he incorporates his ideas to envision specters beyond reality.

This specific painting is very dream-like with a mix of metamorphoses of various kinds. In the painting, it is hard to just interpret of what you see without a good fundament for who Dali was. Dali was a very eccentric man with what some people will claim as a lot of personal issues. Research shows that Salvador Dali was taken to his 9-month-old brother’s grave and told by his parents that he was the reincarnation of his brother that also went by the same name: Salvador. Essential points in life can change perspective and create wonders and disasters. 

In this painting one can see melting pocket watches on small constructions on a huge landscape near to the beach. If I was blind and someone described this painting, I would have a very inconsistent answer for the interpretation I believe, but luckily I remember the very first time I saw this painting in real life.

My aunt’s husband bought this painting as a poster in 1998 to decorate their new apartment, and I remember asking him why he had this “picture” on his wall, and I got a really clear answer. “This is a painting by a Spanish painter called Dali, and he painted this painting of the beach of his home city with the melting pocket watches as a resemblance of non-functional time and the ants as the persistent object of time.” he told me.

For some reason, I never forgot that, and I never understood it either till I was much older. It is hard to get the literal meaning of something surrealistic made by an eccentric artist. I made my research behind this painting with what my uncle told me, and it makes so much sense. The surrealistic world presented was executed with great wealth of detail and a violent contrast between real and unreal.

To penetrate the surrealistic of the beach, Dali included the objects present to break out of the system of ideas that we constantly see and are a part of to create manifested conditions. 

Later in his career, Dali created a disintegration of his painting that goes beyond the understanding of the original piece. Without saying something wrong, I believe that Dali is showing the progress of the dream life and how the beach from home town has changed over time. With disintegration I think it would not be complete off to say denaturing. 

The Disintegration of Persistence of Memory (1954)


Nine Fields Divided by Means of Two Colors

Nine Fields Divided by Means of Two Colors by Max Bill was created around 1968 in response to WWII and the damage it did to the human psyche. This was Bill's attempt at restoring that psyche and that normal state of mind by making a piece of art that was orderly, not like many of the other art works that were being created around that time that were actually depicting the chaos that was happening all around them and in different parts of the world. This creation of symmetry and of mathematical order was meant to calm people as they could understand painttings like these and not have to think about the meaning of them, further damaging their psyche if they realized it was a painting like Paul Klee's painting Tod Und Feuer, which he painted around 1940.
Tod und Feuer
This painting also comments on the human condition, but not in a good way. This painting makes the statement that we are all destined to be murderous , evil, backstabbing people and that there was really nothing we could do about it. Klee was saying that we are stick figures whose only meaning is death and fire.
Lohse, Richard Paul - Diagonal from Bright Equality and Contrast - Konkrete Kunst - Oil on canvas - Abstract
Diagonal from Bright Equality and Contrast by Richard-Paul Lohse was made between 1956 and 1975. This goes along with the movement with Max Bill that was taking place at that time to try and repair the human mind from all of the death and destruction that WWII caused in not only Europe, but in America too.
This, too is a painting by Richard-Paul Lohse in the same movement, or state of mind, if you will that he painted the previous painting in. He and other artists were trying to give some equality and order back into the world that had taken all of it away so violently. All viewers could look at this painting and see the same thing. They could feel the same thing and think the same thing. Because of the way that people had been being treated because of their differences, these artists wanted people to all have equal feelings and reactions to their artwork if that was the only thing that they could feel equal about and if that was the only thing that the artists could contribute to the restoration of human life after the war, they were going to do it. If there was any way they could help to restore order in humanity, this was their way of contribuiting their talents to the world and to those who had been affected by the horrors of the war.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Jackson Pollock “Number 1”

Jackson Pollock “Number 1”

I love this piece. For one, Pollock was very important in the abstract movement, which this painting shows very clearly, which has always intrigued me. And for another, he was known for his method of “drip painting,” which I love because when I did my portfolio in High School I used drips in every one of my pieces to draw the together. I love that I can relate to this artist with my art.
I also am very intrigued by this piece because it has something that I desire. Something I think everyone feels when they look at this painting. Sometime everyone longs for. Freedom. This is a clear painting of things that cant be done, but were. The abstract movement was one of freedom. IT was things people longed for but didn’t do them. Globs of paint, pools of color one on top of another, and it was all free. It was all thrown onto a canvas, and that is why it is art.
One very important influence on Pollock’s work was another artist, Lee Krasner, which was also his wife. She, herself, was an abstract painter and contributed to the movement and with 2 artists under one roof, it is clear that they had influence on one another’s artwork. One of her pieces that could have very much influenced him was called, “Night Creatures.” It is a painting with swirls of paint, covering the whole canvas with a freedom of the brush strokes from one corner to the next. Although they had different styles, there paintings resemble one another in this move into abstract art.

The Song, “Buttons & Bows,” by Dinah Shore, was also produced during the same year as this painting. It may give a good effect if it were played while this painting was showed, it is about love but it, to me, is also about freedom. It’s about following your heart and going where it tells you with who it tells you to go with. To me, abstract art is just like these kinds of songs, letting yourself go the places that deep in your heart you want to go. And taking the leap to do what you want and let yourself be free.

Jean (Hans) Arp

Human Concretion (1935)
Jean (Hans) Arp was a French sculptor, painter, printmaker and poet of German birth. He was a pioneer of abstract art and one of the founders of Dada in Zurich, as well as participating in Expressionism, Surrealism and Constructivism alike. In the 1930's Arp began experimenting with sculpture by creating figurative torsos with wood and plaster. Next, Arp began on a series of smooth biomorphic forms called Human Concretions. Each concretion shared common themes of growth, metamorphosis and crystallization as opposed to specific themes drawn from nature. Human Concretion (1935) shares the bulbous character and curved and coiled shape of many of the other concretions, giving off a sort of spontaneous energy as if it had just sprouted into being. It's form is reminiscent of the human female with its sensual, rounded contours. Despite their solid, almost earthy appearance, each of Arp's concretions seems virtually weightless, as if it were just floating in space. Arp preferred his sculptures to not be mounted on a base so that they could 'simply take their place in nature.' Many of them were conceived without a predetermined orientation and were often positioned in any and every direction. Critics deemed these concretions abstract art, a title Arp staunchly opposed. He often corrected critics saying that his works were "Concrete Art" because they occupied space, and that art was a natural generation of form. The term "concrete art" was coined by Theo van Doesburg in his Manifesto of Concrete Art (1930). Both Doesburg and Arp claimed that their aim was to not reproduce but to simply produce more directly. Arp once stated:
"Art is a fruit that grows in a man, like a fruit on a plant, or a child in its mother's womb"
In his concretions, Arp aimed to incorporate physical essence, with one part equated to the whole, concentrating form so as to increase the sculptures domination of space and its impact on the spectator.
A dominant personality within abstract art, Dada and Surrealism -- as well as prefiguring junk art and the Fluxus movement, Arp's reliefs and sculptures have had a decisive influence over the sculpture of this century.

To see one of his Human Concretions on display click here.


Arshile Gorky, Abstract Expressionist

       "The moral crisis of a world in shambles..."

       Based on my instructor's lecture this morning, this was the general mindset of the artistic world in the wake of World War II. The war to end all wars (World War I) was followed by an even more destructive global conflict after twenty years of uneasy peace. A side effect of the World Wars and the Holocaust was that many artists in Europe fled to the Americas to escape persecution. One of these artists was Arshile Gorky.

       "the canvas began to appear... as an arena in which to act..."
       Gorky was a victim of the Armenian Genocide, a genocide that took place from 1915 to 1918 and nearly exterminated the Armenian population. Fleeing to New York City in America, Gorky eventually  became a part of the Surrealist movement. Gorky's involvement in the Surrealist movement led eventually to his further involvement in the Abstract Expressionist movement. The work that we were shown in class, The Liver is the Cock's Comb, is Gorky's most notable Abstract Expressionist work.

Arshile Gorky, The Liver is the Cock's Comb, oil on canvas, 6 ' 2.75" * 8' 2". 1944
        The Liver is the Cock's Comb features a wildly chaotic scene consisting of chaotic coloring and barely recognizable forms; the only discernible objects are what appear to be beaks and feathers. This is a good example of Abstract Expressionism, which builds on the Expressionist movement by expressing the artist's emotional state, but takes it a step further by forgoing realistic scenes in favor of forms and figures taken from the artist's mind. This allows Abstract Expressionism to draw on the artist's memories, experiences, and resulting emotions to put on media. Our instructor told us that The Liver is the Cock's Comb was a reflection of the trauma that Gorky was forced to endure during the Armenian Genocide: as he and his mother were sent on a death march, she died in his arms from starvation. The trauma from that incident seems evident in this work.
       My class had a healthy discussion with our instructor about the reasoning behind the title of the work. The liver is the organ in most animals that filters out toxins, and a cock's comb is the red ridge that is on a rooster's head. It can also refer to a jester's cap. Therefore, our instructor told us to look at it this way: the "liver" is a living person, and the cock's comb is the jester's cap that represents the royal fool whose job is to keep the king happy. Looking at "liver" and "cock's comb" from that perspective, it becomes apparent that the Armenian Genocide had a lasting influence on Gorky and his artistic career.
       After what happened in the Armenian Genocide, Gorky evidently found himself questioning the meaning of life, based on The Liver is the Cock's Comb. He committed suicide in 1948 in the wake of injury from a car crash and his wife's abandonment of him. Gorky's legacy was the continuation of the Abstract Expressionist movement after his death.

       For more on the Armenian Genocide, visit

       For a gallery of Gorky's works and a biography of his life, visit

       For more on Abstract Expressionism, visit


This is Jackson Pollock's Number 1, also referred to as Lavender Mist. he created this painting in a way that was relatively new to this time. He put the canvas he was painting on the floor and walked around it splattering paint onto it in different patterns that are invisible to the eye unless it is being x-rayed to be able to see the different color patterns and things he did purposely to his paintings. While painting this, he used his entire body to paint. He did not simply paint this using his hand, his wrist, his fingers, and his shoulder, but he walked around on top of it and moved his body in different ways to create what we see here today.
Several later architectures and artists kept alive Pollock's emphasis on the process of painting and creating. He didn't care what the end result looked like, because he wanted to represent moreso the process he went through while creating his pieces.
Allan Kaprow, a painter published a book entitled The Legacy of Jackson Pollock where he talks about the usage of everyday materials for making art and demands a concrete art much like Pollock. Many others have written books about Jackson Pollock. Here is a cover of one of the books.

Another painter Helen Frankenthaler also used this type of painting when she worked. Below is one of her major works of art called Mountains and Sea, which she created in 1952 and was made to look like water color, though it was made using oil paints. She, too, painted on an uncised canvas so that the oil in the paint would seep into the surrounding areas adding to the look of the painting. File:Frankenthaler Helen Mountains and Sea 1952.jpg

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Marc Chagall “I and the Village” 1911

Marc Chagall “I and the Village” 1911

This piece of artwork was influenced by the artists place of birth and his relationship to it. I like how it is painted like a dream. It is so abstract with many pictures just like I think our minds would look if we could put them on canvas. It is memories. This painting pulls the images from Chagall’s mind from his childhood and puts them on canvas, his emotional relationship with this place and putting it into a picture for us to see. Paintings don’t have laws like gravity or color or any of that, there is no mathematics to them and there is no limit, much like our minds. That is why I love this painting and the way it seems to just flow from memory to paint in one stroke. This painting was influenced by Eastern European folktale and culture, which is why it is kind of like a dream, or fairytale.

A great idea to present with this piece with another piece of art that we have already been over this semester, “The Large Blue Horses.”
This piece too makes me think of dream. Although they are different concepts, this one gives a great view of a place the artist may remember or he may miss. This, like the green faced man in the above painting, bring colors that would not originally be used for these objects. But it all has a reason behind it, it is just the mystery to find out why. Emotions, memories, it all contributes the same to art, it is just different because of what is in each artistis mind that makes the art differ. These were both written at the same time, so they could have influence over one another or they could be used to compare during this year when displayed.