Sunday, September 25, 2011

In Chapter Two of Aesthetics and Painting called Art and Imitation Jason Gaiger talks about the traditional way painting has been defined and how it fails be an all encompassing definition. He uses the opinions of many art theorists, philosophers and artists. Some of which are Rodger de Piles (October 7, 1635 – April 5, 1709), George Dickie (born 1926), and Plato (424/423 BC – 348/347 BC)  He also refers to renaissance texts: Vasari’s Lives of The Artists (1550-1568), and Alberti’s On Painting (1435) to make the point that realism has been revered throughout art history, but that the definition of painting must also include a conversation on composition.
        The chapter begins with art theorist Roger de Piles's definition of painting. He said painting is, ‘an art, which by means of drawing and colour imitates on a flat surface all visible objects’.  Piles went on to say, ‘this is how all those who have spoken of painting have defined it and no one has yet found it necessary to alter this definition’ (p16).  
Vasari also put much importance on imitation. He said that the birth of the ‘renaissance’ of painting came with the introduction to painting from life. ‘Painters found success through the exact reproduction of all things in nature and ‘the best painters follow nature as closely as possible’ and they produce work that is, ‘living, realistic and natural’. Gaiger wants the reader to, instead of reject these traditional views, figure out why the concept of imitation has been a defining aspect of painting theories and practices.
In contrast to Vasari and Rodger de Piles, philosopher, George Dickie believes painting is more than just a replica, an imitation of a visible object, that it has some other powerful element this definition does not cover. George Dickie said, ‘the view that art is imitation was around in a thoughtless kind of way as a slogan definition’ (p16).
Gaiger  explores Alberti’s On Painting by making very clear his contrasting views on representation. I believe Gaiger is trying to say that both views, coexisting, make a painting great
·         Theory 1: ‘Painting that is produced in accordance with the geometrical method  of perspective construction provides an equivalent using marks and colors on a flat surface of an orthogonal slice through the pyramid of light that reaches the eye’ (p25).
·         Theory 2:  ‘A painting that…is structured by the artist to create pictorial unity and to maximize its effect on the viewer’ (p25). 

      My second painting project this semester is a self portrait. I have done many charcoal and pencil self portraits, but haven't experimented much in oil. I am excited. Our class started with a study from life and the second, final painting will be from photograph.
To get a better idea of how to proceed, I am researching how different artists have done their self portraits. I decided to write about both Frida Kahlo de Rivera (July 6, 1907 – July 13, 1954) and Lucian Michael Freud (December 1922 – 20 July 2011).  The reason I chose these artists is because of their differing styles as well as their many similarities.  They are both concerned with depicting reality, emotional and physical, for what it is rather than idealizing it.
Between sickness and a turbulent marriage, Frida Kahlo experienced great suffering.  When Frida was six she developed polio, which left her permanently disfigured. Later she experienced a tumultuous marriage to famous artist Diego Rivera. I believe that her suffering made her paintings rich with pain and truth.
Another aspect clear in her painting was her love for Mexico. She became a Mexican symbol of pride and tradition as well as a symbol of strength in the feminist community. Frida painted many self portraits where these coinciding themes reigned.

"I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best."She also stated, "I was born a bitch. I was born a painter."
Frida Kahlo gave her birth date as July 7, 1910, but her birth certificate shows July 6, 1907. It is said that she wanted the year of her birth to coincide with the year of the beginning of the Mexican revolution so that her life would begin with the birth of modern Mexico (Wikipedia).

 Lucian Michael Freud was the grandson of Sigmund Freud. His paintings are mainly figures and portraits. His paintings are amazing, dark and filled with emotion.  His portraits really capture a real entity and not some idealized version of that person.  He is not afraid to show crude faults and idiosyncrasies in flesh tone and skin. I admire that quality.

  Freud's early paintings are often associated with surrealism and depict people, plants and animals in unusual juxtapositions. From the 1950s, he began to work in portraiture, often nudes, to the almost complete exclusion of everything else, employing impasto. Freud's subjects were often the people in his life; friends, family, fellow painters, lovers, children. He said, "The subject matter is autobiographical, it's all to do with hope and memory and sensuality and involvement, really (Wikipedia).


"I paint people," Freud said, "not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be." Freud painted fellow artists, including Frank Auerbach and Francis Bacon. He produced a series of portraits of the performance artist Leigh Bowery, and also painted Henrietta Moraes, a muse to many Soho artists. Towards the end of his life he did a nude portrait of model Kate Moss. Freud was one of the best known British artists working in a representational style, and was shortlisted for theTurner Prize in 1989.

Here is a collection of self portraits I've done the last couple  years.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New Art

           I was thinking about making a whole book of wise animals teaching the thoughts that go through my head these days.  This is what I have so far.   Said The Heron and Said The Dog are in the works.  I came up with this in a fit of rage. I was so angry. It's neat when good things come out of anger, better to make art than war.

This is a gouache painting of a crow.

This gouache is a study for this other painting of crows I'm doing for my friend Chessa.

           It's about 60 percent done. The tip of the right crow is cut off in this image, but not in the real painting, I swear.

          And then there's this one.  It's about 40 percent done, just barely getting all the shadow shapes and highlights in. I took the picture at a strange angel, but in reality it's rectangular.

          Here is the still life I'm working on for my Painting class. I like it, though it's still a bit too dark.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Until December, I'll be posting weekly artist research for these projects I'm doing in my Painting II class.  

Juan Sanchez Cotan lived from June 1560 to September 1627 in Spain.  He was a realist painter who specialized in still life and religious art. His style is severe and vibrant with interesting and thought-out compositions.  This piece is called Quince, Cabbage, Melon and Cucumber from 1602; it is now at the San Diego Museum of Art.
                                                                                                                                                                     This still life is relevant to my work in that it strays from tradition, and it strays from the traditional way I think a still life should look. I want to be doing this as an artist; pushing boundaries until they fall.  When I think still life, I have the same boring image in my head of a vase on a table, or a basket of fruit,  when it could be anything that is still, in any arrangement.  I need to not be boxed in by my ideas.  It seems to me that Cotan was more concerned with composition than tradition. The strings hanging the fruit and the vegetable from the ceiling lead the viewers eye down and right, through the composition, and through the melon, to end in the shadow of the cucumber.
Cotan's work, hundreds of years later, continues to inspire us to rebel against tradition. Artist Ori Gersht looked at Cotan's piece and saw the potential for movement (He was born in 1967 and is still kicking, and is an Israeli fine art photographer who lives and works in London).  The image below is a still frame of  a slow motion video Gersht created. Gersht renames the piece Pomegranate, and he replaces Cotan's  quince with a pomegranate being shot by some sort of projectile.  He captures the scene at the very moment before impact.

And here is a link to this image in motion. It's great.

I wanted to include some of Cotan's religious work just to give a look at how traditional some of his work was.  He seemed to really let loose when painting still life, which implies they were vital for his expression when the religious, commissioned works weren't as much. This painting is of Saint Sebastian from 1615. It's luminosity comes from being painted on copper.

I am reading a book called Aesthetics and Painting by Jason Gaiger. So far, I've read the first chapter where Gaiger explains that old debate between philosophers and artists, the relevance of philosophy in art. He explains the different theories for thinking about and critiquing art thus far in the history of aesthetics and how each falls short to find an all encompassing view. He uses quotes from artists such Barnett Newman and Picasso to discuss the artists' resistance to the philosophy of aesthetics in art:

Wyndham Lewis told the critic and philosopher T.E. Hulme, 'I do it, you say it.' More brutally, Pablo Picasso once retorted to someone who was trying to explain his work: ' Don't speak to the driver!' What lies behind these remarks is the belief that the artist is always one step ahead of the philosopher, who frequently arrives too late on the scene and whose efforts at comprehension never quite live up to the originality and excitement of the creative process (p.5).
Gaiger proposes that none of the traditional views for thinking about painting are quite good enough. None of them are sufficiently all-inclusive to give real insight to the 'ultimate truth of painting.'  He says, neither should we reject philosophy as important to art or art important to philosophy, but embrace them as inseparable, and necessary parts of each other.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Geoff and I wrote this for a reporter from the Danish newspaper called Weekendavisen.

Hello RĂ©ne,
Thanks for coming to my school to inquire about our feelings on being American. I had to write you in hopes of reflecting a less acknowledged view that American youth hold. It is an identity of shame. My government does not make me proud. My companion and I wrote this together to give a voice to those Americans who are ashamed of our governments actions.  

What it means to me to be an American.

I love the American country, and I love the American people. I fear the American government and corporate establishment, and I hate what they are doing to our country and our world.
I am American; my family is here and everyone I've ever loved is here. It's all I know as home. Unfortunately my America has become fat, greedy, and hungry for violence disguised as peace and money, money, money.
Growing up poor, it was clear that class and money had everything to do with health and happiness. As I grew up, read some books, and explored the country, I realized how rich in hypocrisy America is. I was born in the Reagan years, during the War on Drugs, an undeclared "War" on the poorest and most unfortunate Americans. I experienced the D.A.R.E. (Drug Awareness Resistance Education) program in school, popular at that time. These programs exposed kids to drugs at a very early age. When I was ten in this program I was shown cocaine and marijuana for my first time. They were in a plexiglass case that the officers brought to school so that we would all know exactly what those terrible drugs would look like so we could avoid them. They told us that if we saw any drugs like that at home that we should tell the police officer so that they could "get your mommy and daddy the help they need."
After the Reagan years came Bush. Followed by Clinton, who seemed like more of the same at the time. But then Bush Junior came into power, and reminded us all just how terrible Reagan really was – Clinton's eight years of malaise and fattening corporations came to seem like paradise. By the time Obama came to office, I was completely disillusioned by politics, though I voted for him in faint hope that he could return the country to sanity. He couldn't.
I believe my government commits terrible crimes in the name of peace. I know that my government is causing a lot of people to suffer and there isn't a damn thing I can do about it. Somehow they are even forcing me to pay for it. I am paying for this dominance, violence, and ignorance.
I overheard some students talking about how they view their identity as Americans, babbling on about America being, in their words, "A big family, though dysfunctional." The irony of their patriarchal attitude is clear to the poor. No family could ever treat anyone the way America treats the poor and the foreign. The other students can't really be blamed, because they have never known what it's like to be poor, worrying about paying for doctor visits and medication. To be a veterans of our wars, disabled, left on meager rations to live in the slums of cities or even under bridges. There are actual tent cities in America now, people who cannot find anywhere indoors to live. Our system has, literally, shut them out.
Corporations pollute and rob and the owners are not held accountable. Heck, they don't even part taxes. Meanwhile, I have to borrow thousands of dollars to go to college from them, and I can't go to see a dentist or doctor.
That's what it is for me to be American. If you are rich, it's a great place to be, but if you are one of the rest of us, you are on your own.