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.