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Old 10-28-2006, 04:38 PM   #1
Brynn
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Beyond the Surface

Let's talk about your best personal experiences with art. What were your prejudices about the work/artist? How were they resolved? What moved you the most about the viewing? How were you inspired/repulsed/provoked? What works of other artists come to mind, and how would you compare them?
Because one's response to art is so very personal/subjective, I strongly believe there is no wrong way to perceive someone's work. All opinions are valid.
Actual images rather than links would be preferable, thanks!


I'll start. A big discussion about Leonardo Da Vinci brought something to mind the other day, so with apologies, I'll reprint it here in hopes of getting a different sort of ball rolling.

I will always cherish the memory of a trip to the Salvador Dali museum/home in Figueres, a town a couple of hours outside of Barcelona. Previously, I had not really thought much about him beyond that one painting of the dripping clocks that we all know, and the fact that he was a surrealist. I wasn't much of a fan either, btw. His paintings always felt a little creepy and empty and strange. His vision just seemed too personal to be able to relate to. The mustache, however, delighted me.
When I got there, the first thing that struck me was that every inch of the place had been lovingly and meticulously designed, from a minaret or gable on a roof to the outlay of the stones on the path leading in.

Inside, this was even more so and I realized that from walls to ceiling, the entire complex was one giant art installation to be viewed as a whole. He had designed it himself, offering a new perspective to discover in every corner - from really obvious things, like an arrangement of paintings and a couch becoming the face of Marilyn Monroe -

- to extremely subtle things. For instance, in one corner, if you move your head back & forth in front of two sculptures placed oddly in an alcove, they become cleverly animated and are "interacting." I loved his sense of humor - that if one is willing to look and move in strange ways and look like an idiot, he richly rewarded you with a "secret" about the piece that no one else was seeing.
Dali was fascinated with mirrors and mathematic calculations, ways to bend perceptions, and he was greatly influenced by DaVinci.


This was my very first "wholistic" experience in an art space.
When you first walk in, there is this giant, incomprehensible mural that shows a massive figure (one of many "portraits" of his long-suffering wife and muse, Gala, here in androgynous form) in which a hole in the chest is gaping open. It's puzzling, even ugly, and seems to contain a lot of empty, inexplicable space when viewed in isolation.


The light you see in the corner is coming from a huge bank of windows.


At one pivotal moment during the day, if you go through the bank of windows, cross this courtyard opposite the mural , go past this strange ship thing that's actually even up higher because it's mounted into a full-size car full of grass --

...and you go up four floors to a particular window...

and look across from this courtyard at the right time of day - the panes of the windows in front of the mural seem to disappear in the reflection of the sun, giving the mural a weird, shimmering - and very deliberate - effect. What's more, the entire courtyard becomes a dreamscape in which the sculpture of the "boat" suddenly is seen to be emerging/sailing from the crack in the skull of Gala's head, floating upon a shimmer of light. Look down from that perspective, and the car it's mounted on is emerging from the tomb-like opening in the chest.

The effect was astonishing. I came across it quite by accident at the end of the day, and my heart started pumping furiously because my brain had never made those connections before.
I wanted to grab the people just casually passing by the window and show them what I found, but I couldn't because of the language barrier.
They were missing it.
Here it was right in front of them - a whole other layer and way to view this entire museum, and they were trudging by in a tour bus stupor. The hours of calculations that had gone into achieving this effect completely overwhelmed me . To this day, I've never been quite able to fully describe the beauty of this amazing thing.
I had entered the portal of another world.

All the notes that Dali had written about his philosophy of art - how there are miracles in the ordinary just below the surface, how he tried his whole life to capture a way to make people see with spiritual eyes into other realms - began to make sense to me, and I realized suddenly how many vast universes I may not accessing when I looked at his work. Here was an artist to be trusted with my time and attention, because so much more than paint and raw materials had gone into his vision. And context was absolutely everything.
[/quote]
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1. While sitting at your desk, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles.
2. Now, while doing this, draw the number "6" in the air with your right hand.
3. Your foot will change direction.

Last edited by Brynn : 02-18-2014 at 09:51 PM.
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Old 10-28-2006, 07:25 PM   #2
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how sweet

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brynn
I like the whole idea of not accepting a work of art on face value, and at least trying to see what else might be going on. It would be cool to see what others see in a particular artist.

Let's talk about your best personal experiences with art. What were your predjudices about the work/artist? How were they resolved? What moved you the most about the viewing? How were you inspired/repulsed/provoked? What works of other artists come to mind, and how would you compare them?
Because one's response to art is so very personal/subjective, I strongly believe there is no "wrong" way to perceive someone's work.All opinions are valid, so I'd love the focus to be kept on the art rather than criticism of the perceiver, if possible.
Actual images rather than links would be preferable, thanks!


I'll start. A big discussion about Leonardo Da Vinci brought something to mind the other day, so with apologies, I'll reprint it here in hopes of getting a different sort of ball rolling.
I will always cherish the memory of a trip to the Salvador Dali museum/home in Figueres, a town a couple of hours outside of Barcelona. Previously, I had not really thought much about him beyond that one painting of the dripping clocks that we all know, and the fact that he was a surrealist. I wasn't much of a fan either, btw. His paintings always felt a little creepy and empty and strange. His vision just seemed too personal to be able to relate to. The moustache, however, delighted me.
When I got there, the first thing that struck me was that every inch of the place had been lovingly and meticulously designed, from a minaret or gable on a roof to the outlay of the stones on the path leading in.

Inside was even more so and I realized that from walls to ceiling, the entire complex (that he had designed himself) was one giant art installation, with a new perspective to be offered in every corner - from really obvious things like an arrangement of paintings and a couch became the face of Marilyn Monroe, to extremely subtle things like if you move your head back & forth in front of two sculptures placed oddly in an alcove, they become cleverly animated and are "interacting." I loved his sense of humor - that if one is willing to look and move in strange ways and look like an idiot, he richly rewarded you with a "secret" about the piece that no one else was seeing.
Like Da Vinci, Dali was fascinated with mirrors and mathmatic calculations and ways to bend the perceiver's mind, and he was greatly influenced by him.
When you first walk in, there is this giant, incomprehensible mural that shows a massive figure (one of many "portraits" of his long-suffering wife and muse, Gala) in which a hole in the chest is gaping open. It's puzzling, and seems to contain a lot of empty, inexplicable but devoted space.

The light you see in the corner is coming from a huge bank of windows.
Here's a view from the courtyard

At one pivotal moment during the day, if you go through the bank of windows, cross this courtyard opposite the mural ,passing this strange ship thing that's actually even up higher because it's mounted into a full-size car (full of grass? I think?)...and you go up four floors to a particular window and look across the courtyard at the right time of day - the panes of the windows in front of the mural seem to disappear in the reflection of the sun, giving the mural a weird shimmering - and very deliberate- effect. What's more, the entire courtyard becomes a dreamscape in which the sculpture of the "boat" suddenly is seen to be emerging/sailing from the crack in the skull of Gala's head, floating upon a shimmer of light. Look down, and the car it's mounted on is emerging from the tomb-like opening in the chest.

The effect was astonishing. I came across it quite by accident at the end of the day, and my heart started pumping furiously. I wanted to grab the people just casually passing by the window and show them what I found, but I couldn't because of the language barrier. They were missing it. Here it was right in front of them - a whole other layer and way to view this entire museum, and they were trudging by in a tour bus stupor. The hours of calculations that had gone into achieving this completely overwhelmed me (easy to do for me - I'm not so good at math ) . To this day, I've never been quite able to fully describe the beauty of this amazing thing.
All the notes that Dali had written about his philosophy of art - how there are miracles in the ordinary just below the surface, how he tried his whole life to capture a way to make people see with spiritual eyes into other realms - began to make sense to me, and I realized suddenly how many vast universes I was not accessing when I looked at his work. Here was an artist to be trusted with my time and attention, because so much more than paint and raw materials had gone into his vision. And context was absolutely everything.
[/quote] Vision, how sweet, one must share with your fellow humans, let them grow
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Old 10-28-2006, 08:13 PM   #3
madasacutsnake
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I can't speak as eloquently as Brynn but here is one of my favourites by J W Waterhouse. Of course, I have a thing for poisoners and malevolence.

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Old 11-05-2006, 01:25 PM   #4
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What a great picture!
I love how art always comes from other art - one movement gives birth to another.

Here's another take on that painting by Linda James, who likes to paint images of chaos

On the left is her take on 9/11 "Out of the Chaos: Disaster I" (from a Reuters photo of the Pentagon)

I started reading a little more about Waterhouse since you posted that, Snake. He painted around the turn of the last century and was loosely associated with the pre-Raphaelites, who were rebelling against the formalist structures imposed by an art world locked into the aesthetics of Raphael. I didn't realize that they were one of the first modern avant-garde movements in painting.

I remember being absolutely entranced with Waterhouse paintings as a young girl. At the time, I think I mostly just responded to them because they were "really pretty" and they appealed to me as a window onto another time. It was very escapist for me. They are so lush and detailed even viewing them here on a computer, and I always imagined that I would be blown away by them if I ever saw any in person.

Upon revisiting them, I really appreciate how strong and powerful these women are in his paintings. In this study for a later painting, you can see how he starts with the face as the most powerful focal point in his compositions. It's also a great example of how he dramatically separates out the figure by isolating it from the background with stark contrasts in the underpainting:



At a time when women were barred from voting or owning property, these women don't take any guff.
Here's what looks like a completion of the study above. "Medea and Jason"



You can see how he was influenced by the lush drama of extremes by earlier Pre-Raphealites, like
Frederic Leighton.
"Invocation."


but Waterhouse often kicked it up a notch and made it even darker in this painting of Circe handing the cup to Odyssyus:


I'm struck by the intelligence and sensuality that Waterhouse captures in the faces of his women, along with an intense connection with the natural world. It's no wonder that the paintings are embraced almost iconically by alternative religions and practices like Wicca, astrology, tarot. This whole art movement takes place during the Victorian period when typically I think of women as being repressed and prudish - and yet, in the art world, the Pre-Raphaelites were celebrating the wildest opposite, and getting away with it by couching everything in terms of myth in order to present women as powerful, influential and almost innocently elemental. Here's an amazing detail from Waterhouse's "Hylas and the Nymphs."


I think some people might initially dismiss his paintings as being "too romantic" or "sentimental" and the title of this painting ("Gather Ye rosebuds While ye May") certainly begs that - and yet, just look at the intelligence in the eyes and depth of feeling in the face - he paints with such a sympathy and respect for the dignity his subject, and it reminds me of one of my favorite American portraitists, John Singer Sargent.
Gather Ye Rosebuds while Ye May


I hadn't realized the extent to which Sargent had been influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites in the U.S., but now that I look at some of his paintings, it's unmistakeable. Here's a portrait Singer did of the actress Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth:

Or how about Lady Agnew...

I wonder if he and Waterhouse ever met? They must have influenced each other.
The overall impression I get of Sargent's women, however, (especially in Lady Agnew) is of a world in which women have been driven underground - buried in the tangles of society, or pushed to the fringes of society like the theatre. There's an anger smouldering here, that, (unlike Waterhouse - who actually empowers his subjects) seems to be tinged with a kind of quiet, cold acceptance.

One notable time in which he gave his subject free reign resulted in scandal -
(see next post - I can only do ten images at a time)
VVVV
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Old 11-05-2006, 01:35 PM   #5
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Here's Lady Agnew:


And here's the defiant portrait of Madame X that "scandalized" the art world:




eta - this is probably really dumb, but I've always been fond of the way Singer paints her ears a rosy red, as if they are burning with the malicious gossip of others!
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1. While sitting at your desk, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles.
2. Now, while doing this, draw the number "6" in the air with your right hand.
3. Your foot will change direction.

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Old 11-05-2006, 04:02 PM   #6
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He paints as to make appendages appear raw, like knuckles and noses and stuff. Maybe the heat wasn't on in the studio! Ive noticed it on countless other paintings as well. Maybe my circulation isnt as good as those old timers. thank god.
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Old 11-06-2006, 07:43 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brynn

They are so lush and detailed even viewing them here on a computer, and I always imagined that I would be blown away by them if I ever saw any in person.

That particular painting is here in Adelaide. The pic I posted was the best one I could find on the net but it doesn't quite capture the malevolence in her eyes. Irl, it's chilling. You're certainly right about the faces and eyes.

Thanks for the Linda James take on it and also all the other pics and your insightful comments. I'm off to art history class just as soon as I finish this interesting article on women in art nouveau:

http://www.antiquevaluers.co.uk/old_...s/nouveau.html
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Old 11-13-2006, 11:34 PM   #8
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David Hockney

This last summer, I had a chance to see the "David Hockney Portraits" exhibit at the L.A. County Museum. It's been travelling around the U.S. and it just about knocked me out. Until then, I'd only associated him with swimming pools and naked lovers like the gorgeous and magical
"Sunbather" (1966)


I was actually hoping to see some of those, but instead was introduced to a whole other Hockney that is equally beautiful. He likes to paint the same friends and loved ones over and over and over, and rarely does commissions. Here's his favorite (and probably most patient and tireless) model:
"Mum"

There were several variations of this that spanned a few years - each new wrinkle lovingly recorded. To actually stand in front of this painting in person was to see how her eyes glow with this really intense blue honesty and to feel as if I am Hockney himself that she is focusing on with such presence, kindness and fondness.

Rendering her in paint wasn't dynamic enough for him though, and his work with polaroids show a kind of struggle to see everything animated in all the many-faceted angles that being present with someone entails.

Mother I, Yorkshire Moors, August 1985 #1
1985
Photographic collage
18 1/2 x 13 in (47 x 33 cm)


His portraits of pairs are wall-sized, and remarkable in that although they are double portraits, it's almost as if each subject is in their own separate painting, and Hockney has a distinct relationship to each.
"My Parents" (1977)


It was interesting to see how his comfort and familiarity with his subjects made all the difference. He seemed to approach others slightly outside his inner circle with an interesting degree of alienation.

"George and Mary Christie"


He's very exacting about how he poses his subjects and what they wear. He's more interested in pursuing his own perception of them and their relationship than perhaps what they would prefer would be shown. These two, if I remember correctly, were sometime-lovers (the one on the right travelled extensively).
"Henry Geldzahler and Christopher Scott" 1969


Here's another mysterious double portrait of one of his closest friends (and yet another favorite face to paint), Celia Birtwell, a fabric designer and his muse, with her husband and fashion designer Ossie Clark. He used her fabrics to great success in his designs in the sixties:

Hockney was picking up on something between them and deliberately posed them this way. Their marriage ended a year later.

"Mr and Mrs Ossie Clark and Percy" (celia birtwell)
She is still, many years later, such an important figure in his life, and it's easy to see how their friendship has influenced each other's art. For instance, it's fun to just compare the palate of some of his landscapes with her fabric designs:


"Breath of Fresh Air"

Snails Space with Vari-Lites, "Painting as Performance", 1995-1996
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Old 10-09-2007, 10:05 PM   #9
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I read the enos autobiography i really enjoyed it..





David!
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Old 10-24-2007, 03:10 AM   #10
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The Burble is a really beautiful marriage of art and community cooperation. It's fragile, kinetic, and ephemeral - more like theatre or performance art than anything - and it's so massive that it completely holds its own against a backdrop of skyscrapers!




Check out the site,which includes a video showing how the public designs, builds and operates this installation!

HFox - I keep going back and staring at those beautiful books - thanks very much for posting those.
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Old 11-20-2007, 11:46 PM   #11
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I was thinking about Odilon Redon.
I had a piece of one of his as my avatar for a while.


And he did a nice Ophelia.


This is my favorite, though.

It's the eyelashes and ropes that I love.
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Old 11-21-2007, 02:33 AM   #12
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^^^Frieda...Don't look!!!...although of course it will be too late by the time she reads this...poor Frieda.
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Old 11-21-2007, 03:13 AM   #13
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love a good story
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Old 11-23-2007, 03:50 AM   #14
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Bosch and Breughal are neighbours in my brainspace,

and I heard John Clarke reading this the other week

Musee des Beaux Arts


About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the plowman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.


~ W. H. Auden

so here it is...

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Old 03-13-2008, 12:29 AM   #15
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This is by Brenda Bowen.
I usually think of red as connoting joy or violence...it's interesting to see it convey a peaceful sadness so effectively.

"Sorrow"
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