The Pop Art Movement

November 23rd, 2009


Pop Art, born slightly after the Abstract Expressionist movement, is seen by many as both a reaction and an expansion on the ideas which that movement was presenting.  The idea of Pop Art is one which seeks to challenge traditional approaches to art. The definition of Pop Art maintains that when an artist uses an image or theme that is a mass-produced quantity, their work is still valid and should be classified as Fine Art because they are removing any of the original meaning from the context and are making a unique statement with the materials which they use.  The entire idea behind Pop Art does not relate so much to the art itself as to the attitudes of the artists about the pieces.

Pop Art has roots with Pop Music as well, with the movement toward expressing popular ideas and beliefs instead of the more traditional elitist views toward beauty in art and life.  Both elements make heavy use of irony while making their points.  It is usually seen as a way of responding to the personal symbolism that Abstract Expressionism brought, making art more accessible to the public with impersonal works filled with irony and parody to make a point.

Though it began in America during the late 1950s, Pop Art took its strongest hold during the 60s, when artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, and Andy Warhol had found a place in the art world.  Due to the absorbing of modern art into the increasingly sophisticated advertising world, the American public didn’t have a far leap to make into Pop Art.  The struggle with the artists came in the form of finding deeper meaning in the popular images of the day, an exercise which the public took very well to.  The strength with which the artists imbued their work was forceful, however.  The bold and striking images which came from the Pop Art movement are ones which can still find resonance today.

Vincent Van Gogh – Most Important Post-Impressionist

November 2nd, 2009


Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) is one of the most relevant and probably the most famous artist of Post Impressionism Era. He was an artist of great influence in areas such as expressionism, fauvism and abstract art. He was raised in a cultured Holland home that was very religious as his father was a Pastor.

Van Gogh discovered Impressionism and Neo-Impressionism in Paris where he met Paul Gauguin and other Impressionists. In his paintings he reflected his internal state of mind, as his famous Starry Night painting shows.  This painting was also the prelude of Expressionism, another formidable art form. With his close association with Gauguin, Van Gogh was able to persuade him to join him in Arles, France. Both founded an art school but were unsuccessful in the ventures.

Van Gogh suffered from mental fits of madness. During one of his mental bouts, he cut a part of his left ear with a razor while pursuing Gauguin. Ironically, this was the time where he was able to produce most of his famous art pieces with his recognizable style, using bright colors. He produced 900 paintings and 1,100 drawings; these were in the last ten years of his life. He stayed in a mental asylum at Saint-Remy where he later committed suicide.

During his lifetime, he only sold one painting.

Freud and Art

October 26th, 2009

Freud-artSigmund Freud is perhaps one of the most famous thinkers of the 20th Century.  He made huge strides both in psychology and philosophy, birthing what became the psychoanalytic movement.  He made some groundbreaking and controversial ideas regarding the subconscious and the desires that it can communicate through dreams, psychoanalytic discussions, and the repression that goes along with this.  Freud explored a number of ways in which people could tap into this subconscious and start to explore the issues bothering them.  Art was one of the strongest ways in which this was possible.

Freud had a long lasting interest in art, feeling that the insights, which an artist could find within their art, were fully equal and sometimes even superior to what a scientific approach could discover.  The untapped potential available to the artist allows one to immediately tap into the subconscious when making the art, proving that it can be incredibly therapeutic and informative.  Additionally, Freud was often jealous of the way that an artist could access those subconscious ideas almost instantaneously while someone approaching it through a scientific, psychoanalytic method could take many, many hours to even scratch the surface of these feelings.

The psychoanalysis approach that he helped to create was often referred to as a work of art by many of its admirers, although Freud himself would often dismiss these claims.  He felt that true art was something, which used the unconscious itself, where as psychoanalysis, was something that tried to access that subconscious.  His high regard for art, however, is something, which shines through in his writings.

Caravaggio – Most influential painter from Baroque

October 19th, 2009


I  believe that one of the most influential, if not the most influential painter of the Baroque period was Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, although his artistic career  did not last more than ten years. This was a man with a great gift, but he was consumed by anger and as the saying goes, “Anger is just one letter short of danger.”  He died at a relatively young age because of his penchant for facing danger, and confronting others. Still, it is said that what there is of his work is “The beginning of Modern Painting.”

He was born in Milan to a household administrator, and decorator, and at some point in his early life, he was moved to Caravaggio to avoid the atrocities of the plague.  In 1584 he became an apprentice to Simone Perzano who had been an apprentice to Titlan.  His work is said to have been influenced by Giogione, and even Davinci.

After this period he found himself in Rome and in need of a job. That is when he began to work under Giuseppe Cesari, doing background work, like that of painting flowers and such. During that period there were three paintings of his that stood out and it was these paintings which brought him more work: A Boy with a Basket of Fruit, Young Sick Bachus, and Small Boy Peeling Fruit. These were the paintings which demonstrated his keen ability to portray realism and emotion.

He soon left Cesari but made some very influential friends with the painter Prospero Orsi, the architect Onorio Longhi and the artist Mario Minniti. These three people began to introduce him to influential collectors of the time.  The commissions began to come in, and his emotional realism stood out when he portrayed religious themes such at the Penitent Magdalene, a Sacrifice of Isaac,  A Saint Francis of Assisi and others.

Had he continued in the art world, his style and realism would have continued to enchant collectors. Unfortunately Caravaggio did not handle fame well, he was known to work for a couple of weeks, and then spend months going from ball to ball instigating fights.

At one point he had to flee Rome with a price on his head. In the end it was this love of danger which killed him. He died in a sword fight. Because his art career was so short lived, he was forgotten in the centuries following his death, only to be remembered again in the 20th century, as the very father of the Baroque movement.

20 Reasons Why Art is Important for Children

October 12th, 2009


Via the Museum of Children’s Art in Oakland

This article shows all of the benefits associated with children learning art while they are young and the impact it has on their lives.

  1. Art stimulates both sides of the brain.
  2. 33% of kids are visual learners.
  3. There are studies that show that kids, who make art, read better and get better grades in science and mathematics.
  4. The kids learn by using their senses and art is ideal in this process
  5. The kids need a place to express themselves at school.
  6. Art promotes self esteem
  7. Art encourages kids to give more attention to the physical space that surround them.
  8. Art develops hand and eye coordination.
  9. Art stimulates perception.
  10. Art teaches them to think openly. It represents a culture of questioners more than a culture of responders.
  11. Art teaches that there is more than one solution for a problem.
  12. Art teaches kids to think creatively to solve problems.
  13. Kids can share and reflect on their work of art and learn something about the world they live in.
  14. When art is integrated with the other subjects in the curriculum, kids commit more to the learning process.
  15. In the process of doing art, the child is exposed to different possibilities, to discover and to freedom, this way they avoid falling into the control and the predictability of the conventional education in the United States of today.
  16. Art nourishes the human soul. One feels good doing it.
  17. Art brings the cultural resources of the community into the class.
  18. Art involves parents and tutors in the school, inviting them to participate as volunteers in diverse activities.
  19. Art provides a common ground across racial stereotypes, barriers and prejudices.
  20. Art is valuable all by itself.

Andy Warhol

October 5th, 2009

One of the most influential artists of the pop art movement during the 1960s, Andy Warhol is a name which is known to many, although perhaps they don’t exactly know why.  Arguably most famous for his quote that, “In the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes,” Andy Warhol made a number of statements, both literal and through his art, which provide some very clear definitions on the role of pop culture in our society, both from the 1960s and today.  His work is generally the most identifiable when it represents an iconic American product or image. He made pieces during his career of both famous American celebrities and classic American products, both types of which have grown into beloved representations of Warhol’s art.

Andy Warhol was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1928, to working-class immigrants.  He was sickly as a child, forcing him to spend a great deal of time in bed.  He would pass the time by drawing, collecting photos of famous movie stars, and listening to the radio.  In interviews, Warhol has claimed that this time frame was one of the single most influential periods of his development.  Warhol studied commercial art at the Carnegie Institute of Technology before moving to New York City in 1949 to work as a magazine illustrator.  Once in New York, his drawings began to attract attention and he began to produce more and more work that he enjoyed.

The 1960s presented Andy Warhol with the height of his artistic expression.  He produced a number of pieces which grew notorious in the public eye before continuing on to form “The Factory,” a studio where a number of artists of all forms, musicians, writers, and celebrities could mingle and express themselves.  During the 60s, Warhol began to produce works of art on silkscreen, making his pieces mass-produced and able to be marketed to the general public.  He helped bring about the advent of a love of pop culture, showing America the beauty in the mundane.

What Influenced the Baroque Movement?

September 28th, 2009

There are many things that inspired the Baroque artists. This period was man’s first “modern age” of art, so there was a certain freedom that these artists had to express themselves, and this freedom had really never existed prior to this time. Artists were now able to express their emotions, and their reality. This period was a turning point for humanity. It was a time when there was more awareness of  people, surrounding, nature and the world.  The world was expanding and scientific discoveries were influencing the art and the times. Galileo’s investigations of the planets accounted for the painting of many astronomical motifs of the time.  Landscapes began to become popular as people realized that there was more to the world than just the church and themselves.  World trade began to be portrayed in the exotic themes that many artists of the time chose.

At the time the Roman Catholic Church greatly influenced art and influenced the movement in its attempts to combat the spread of the protestant movement. Even politics influenced the baroque movement. The greatness of the Spanish and French kingdom influenced the grandeur of the movement. As mentioned before there were many influences in the Baroque period and it was an awakening for many societies and many artists.

Pop Art Portraits

September 21st, 2009

Pop Art is an interesting way of looking at something which usually already exists in some capacity and taking something entirely new from it.  The medium can use paintings or photography which has been manipulated and through this, make the public view the image in some way they had never considered before.  For example, Andy Warhol’s famous Marilyn Diptych is a series of portraits of famed movie star Marilyn Monroe.  He took one single image of her, a publicity still from 1953, and copied the image 50 times, in a series of 5 rows and 10 columns.  The 25 images on the left all have striking, unnatural color added to them, which give the image a larger-than-life quality.  The 25 images on the left all are presented in black and white, with some images having different tones of black than others.  This half of the artwork all is starkly bleak, giving the viewer a reminder that anything can be faded away or forgotten.  The work as a whole is largely symbolic of the overwhelming presence that celebrity can have as well as the mortality that all of us will experience.

These portraits usually have some major elements in common.  Most often, they are taken from a photograph of a person, although they can also easily be drawn.  The portrait is then traditionally bleached out, leaving only the outline and faint traces of color where it used to be.  If it is hand-drawn, only an outline is traditionally created.  Colors are then filled in throughout the portrait in direct contrast to what they normally should be.  Backgrounds are usually filled with bright colors, hair is often distorted, and faces are often presented as either one flat color or with an abundance of what would be makeup.  The portraits are loud, bringing the piece much attention.  Perhaps more interesting, however, is the way that attention is drawn to details which might have otherwise gone unnoticed in a more traditional representation of the subject of the portrait.  This is where Pop Art makes its mark, making someone see something new in an image that they would otherwise look at everyday.

Renaissance Architecture

September 14th, 2009

The Renaissance was a time throughout Europe where attention was once more paid to the classic aesthetics of Ancient Greece and Rome and suddenly artists of all types desired to emulate these features.  These aesthetic appeals influenced both painting, sculpture, and even architecture.  While much of the influence of Ancient Greece and Rome on paintings started to die out during the 1520s, its influence on architecture lasted well into the 17th Century.  Symmetry, geometry, and proportion were all important qualities for the architecture to take on.  Columns, arches, and domes were common features which Renaissance architecture featured, replacing the starkness and irregularity of Medieval buildings.

The phase of Renaissance architecture went through a few phases, beginning with Quattrocentro, where the concepts of the architecture of the period were formed and certain rules were devised.  Space was first begun to be considered as an element of architecture.  The High Renaissance phase of architecture saw more elements from the classic architecture be used with certainty.  This led into Mannerism, where the architects began to experiment with forms as a way of emphasizing both spacial and solid relationships.  These architectural expressions began to filter out to the other countries across Europe, each country taking its own view on how to best represent the classic beauty of Ancient Greece and Rome in its own terms.

Civilization and Art

September 7th, 2009

Art will spring up in any culture and the society which represses those artists is not a stable one.  It is through those works of art that a society is able to accurately determine the state of its citizens and have a view of themselves.  Art will naturally grow anywhere as at least some people tend to have a creative impulse that they cannot ignore.  However, this creative impulse will lend itself toward a great peace.  A flourishing creative side will inspire people to create great works and while they are creating these great works, many things will happen.  First, they will be so busy creating that they will often not have the time to devote to more harmful projects.  Second, out of a love of creation, artists will tend to be more open and accepting to the works of others, knowing how an artist pours themselves into their work.  This tends to promote a great sense of peace between many creative individuals.

This is a skill which is important to instill into children.  Children are the most impressionable group on this world and often, what humans learn as children will stick with them for the rest of their lives.  If children are pushed toward more open, peaceful, and creative impulses, the society itself will be steered toward a more loving direction.  This is why any healthy, peaceful society will be laden with art.  Terry Semel, the former chairman of Warner Brothers once stated that, “Art is central to a civilized society.  Kids who create don’t destroy.”  That is an important concept to keep in mind.

Photo: Courtsesy of Krcla


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