Monday, October 12, 2009

Walker Assignment

This first piece from the Walker's permanent collection I chose is by Jasper Johns titled "Flags". It is a color lithograph of two American flags. One of the flags has green and black stripes with thin white lines between them. The background for the now black stars is light orange. The other flag that this piece features is very monochromatic, and is varying shades of light gray. The entire piece is on a dark gray background. The strength of this piece is in it's formal elements, because it is all about color theory at work. Everyone is familiar with the rectangles and stars that make up the American flag. This entire piece is technical. If the viewer stares at the black dot in the colored flag for a while and then looks at the gray flag, they will see the American flag the way it normally is, in red, white, and blue. I decided that I like this particular piece even though I really don't know anything about color theory, I can still tell that it works. I would consider it art because it has an aesthetic value, though I would say the concept behind this piece may not be very "deep".

The piece I chose that has a high conceptual value is "Suspense". I do not know the artist's name, but I will post it when I get to the Walker next. The piece has little aesthetic value because it is an empty rectangular room with two black curtained doors that the viewer of the piece walks through. When the viewer opens the first curtain and steps into the room and begins to walk forwards, suspenseful, eerie music starts to play. The music rushes to a climax and stops like the worst cliffhanger ever, and then the viewer realizes that they are next to the exit curtain. The first time I experienced this instillation, I laughed because the way it made me feel was so intense. The conceptual value to this piece is very high because the viewer is so affected by it. We are in the palm of the (unknown) artist's hand. I think it does work in this case to have little aesthetic value because this piece is so intense. It is art though? I would say so, but perhaps my definition of "art" is more broad than others'.

The piece I chose for one with low aesthetic and low conceptual value is "Black Curve" by Ellsworth Kelly. It is an oil painting from 1962. I suppose one (namely Ellsworth Kelly) could say that this piece does have some aesthetic value, because it's "beautiful". However, this doesn't really do it for me. Yes, Ellsworth, it is a black curve. This means absolutely nothing to me, and I get nothing from it aesthetically. Maybe if I chatted with the artist I could get where he is coming from. I can certainly respect it, but I do not like it at all.

The piece I chose that has both conceptual and aesthetic value is "Bust of Diego" by Alberto Giacometti. It is a bronze bust from around 1954. To me, this is a very nice thing to look at which is why I would call it aesthetically pleasing. It is interesting the way the head is so narrow and long, Diego's expression is somewhat blank, but he is clearly looking at something. His body is huge in proportion to his teeny head. The texture of the piece also is nice, being made with bronze, the way the light bounces off all of the different textures made by Giacometti. The reason I would say it is conceptually pleasing to me is why on earth did Giacometti choose to portray someone in this particular way? I wonder if the reason for all of the interesting textures and proportions has something to do with Diego's personality, the vibes one gets from him, or something about the relationship between artist and subject.

The final piece I chose that has an influence on how I look at art altogether was Untitled by Robert Irwin. I've only seen this piece once in person about a month ago when I went to the Walker with a few friends, and I remember I was the only one who seemed to have an interest in the piece. Maybe they had seen it before, but I was so intrigued by how the artist just claimed this huge area in a museum as his own. I guess I'm not as impressed with the actual art piece as I am in how the artist chose to execute his vision. It's just so amazing to me how large his piece is in this huge room where his is the only one. It jsut blows my mind and I love it.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Portrait of Caroline
Alberto Giacometti, 1962
oil on canvas, 50.8' x 34.5'
Image taken from ArtNet

For this assignment, I couldn't decide on a piece of art to do that I liked, so I chose a completely random one. It is an oil painting called "Portrait of Caroline" by Alberto Giacometti. A woman, Caroline, is sitting very stiffly in a room, not smiling at all. Her hands are crossed in her lap and her legs are straight. Browns and yellows are in blobs spread around her and over her, coloring her shirt, skirt, and face. It appears messy, but intentional. the background of the room she is in is only suggested by black outlines and brown color.

The reason I like this piece is because it is so gestural, and at a glance looks like it was done very quickly. However, I believe his lines were carefully thought out. I think it is interesting that he chose to not include any of the background or chair, but only hint or suggest the room behind Caroline. This really makes her the focus of the entire piece. The emotion in this painting really comes from the style as opposed to the subject, because Caroline isn't showing any emotion on her face or her pose, as she is keeping to herself.

Monday, September 28, 2009

"You Got What You Deserved"

Image taken from

This unique piece of "art" by Jack Pierson makes the viewer question: "What is art?" or "Is this art?". I would argue that it is. This 14 by 11 inch thing, let's call it "piece", is graphite (seemingly pressed very hard) on paper. It features two different kinds of handwriting with a horizontal line between them. The upper handwriting is messy and angry-looking capital letters and reads "YOU GOT WHAT YOU DESERVED". The lower is sloppy cursive that says "Right off Hollywood Blvd". To the left of the cursive are a few dirty fingerprints smeared on the white paper. The four features of this piece have very different tones to them. The harsh upper handwriting, like mentioned before, looks very angry moving straight across the page while the lower is smoother and moves diagonally up towards the right, like a side note. The line between the two styles of writing is not straight and does not divide the page evenly in half, nor does it touch the edges of the pages giving the viewer a slightly uncomfortable feeling. Finally, the fingerprints make the piece look sloppy and more like a found object and less like a polished piece of art.

When I first noticed this piece at Midway Contemporary Art, I was intrigued, but not initially impressed. After thinking about the piece a bit, and then finding out some external information, I decided that I liked it. Jack Pierson was fascinated with Hollywood Boulevard and used things he found on the street in his art oftentimes. This particular piece features a note he found, supposedly "Right off Hollywood Blvd". I, myself, have an interest in found objects and the untold stories behind them. Art is supposed to (arguably) make us think, and this piece certainly does. Who wrote this note? What did they deserve? And why on earth was is lying in the street?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"Mining the MIA"

The following 5 art pieces from the MIA are taken into a new perspective by being shown in a different angle and put together when they at first had nothing in common. I forced a relationship between the 5 pieces by cropping them to show only a specific (body) part of each work to develop a theme. This instillation will be street art. I will put the images along an empty, ugly wall that no one thinks twice to look at. The images are in order of how they will be displayed (or reverse order depending on which direction you are coming from). This instillation will light up people's days and make them stop for a minute or two on their way to work/ other monotonous tasks. The way I decided to change the perspective of the pieces has a huge impact on the original intention of the artist. For example, the first image is of a very large statue of a man, and has absolutely nothing to do with his foot position, because it is such a minor detail of the rest of the statue. The second image is of another large statue. I was struck by the bold colors and playfulness of the statue, and the angle I chose reflects that, but now only the character's right eye is shown. It is really much more playful and silly now. The third image is of a horse's rear end. The whole statue is of a centaur being strangled by a man, which one would never guess from the shot I took. I completely changed what the piece was all about by only showing part of the statue. It went from a very dramatic death scene to something immature and laughable at. The fourth image did not get changed very much by how I chose to crop it, but it obviously has a very different composition, and the woman takes up the entire space of the display. Though the piece's meaning did not change much, I feel like this one really adds to the overall feeling of my instillation. It is very colorful, and contrasts nicely with the other works. Lastly, the hand I chose to zoom in on is in a very interesting position. The Asian style of this piece is very different from all of the other ones. I think it is a very fun addition to the instillation. I believe the statue is of a god, but by only showing the hand of the statue, the god's hand becomes just another body part.
These 5 sculptures and painting would originally never be together anywhere else because they vary in medium, date,
place of origin, and subject. However, with the new perspective I used, they now all have something in common: an anatomical focus. This instillation is purely aesthetical and to give happiness to it's viewers rather than a deep personal conviction of the artist (or curator).

All images taken by me at the Minneapolis Institute of Art

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"Spiney Octopus" by Martha Iserman

While browsing through an issue of Vita.MN a few weeks ago, this image caught my eye. As soon as I saw it, I carried the issue over to my kitchen counter to grab the scissors to cut it out. It currently resides on my refrigerator. It is a watercolor painting of an octopus with spines. The octopus is red and orange with some earthy brown splotches and white speckles, almost resembling marble. His deep green suckers and spines contrast beautifully with his body and sad-looking bright blue eyes. The octopus is not doing much of anything except for just floating by the frame of this painting.
I think one reason why I was so drawn to this at first is the style and technique. The octopus’s head and suckers are absolutely beautiful. It looks very Japanese to me for some reason. I do not know if the artist intended for it to look this way, but I am reminded of classic koi fish paintings. The colors on this painting are so bold, I pause every time I open my refrigerator.
image taken from the artist's website