Art is a form of communication. Art, much like language, is a way to express ideas and and convey information to others. Art can express ideas that words won’t always cover. Art is a great way to share ideas that may not be able to be conveyed in other ways. Art is very unique and has the power to communicate across people and time.
I chose three artists and works from the early modern era that focus on abstraction. Abstraction distorts form and color while expressing an overarching idea. Abstraction deals with ideas rather than events.
Wassily Kandinsky painted Composition IV, in 1911. This work has bright colors and curving figures with a castle on the hilltop. This painting represents the idea of an end all battle that would lead to peace. The battle is represented by the Cossacks, and then the peace is represented by the flowing figures. Rather than painting clear objects Kandinsky painted symbols to express a universal idea rather than a literal thought. Kandinsky focuses on the spiritual well being of people and that war will not prevail over man kind and the peace could be achieved.
Emil Nolde painted Dance Around the Golden Calf, in 1910. This piece is arguably his most famous painting. He, like Kandinsky, uses bright colors and forms for his subject matter. Nolde had a strong religious background that is reflected in this work. The subject matter is reminiscent of the Old Testament story of Moses’s people dancing around the golden calf that they constructed as an idol. The golden calf was meant to fulfill spiritual needs of the people. There are figures that look to be partially naked women dancing around the calf. Nolde’s expression in this painting is describing the pagan practices of man kind. The exuberant colors condemn the dancers as having pagan acts. Nolde’s painting can be interpreted as how humanity has not changed since the Old Testament times. People still turn to pagan ways and rely on selfish ambitions to fulfil themselves.
Edvard Munch painted The Scream, in 1893. This is one of the most notable paintings in the abstraction era. This idea of Munch’s was based off of an experience he had in his life. It shows Munch’s experience of screaming on a walk shortly after losing two friends which can be seen in the background. The curving lines and swirling colors represent the state that his mind was in. He was in turmoil and pain. The skull shaped head, elongated hands, wide eyes, flaring nostrils, and ovoid mouth bring out the the turmoil as well. There is a bridge, a shoreline, hills, a sky, two people in the background, and the foreground character. The screaming figure is connected to the natural realm. The cry of nature is synonymous with the cry of his own life. His expression appeals to the senses and emotions. Without using an abstraction form his painting would not be as powerful.
The Clock (2010) by Christian Marclay is a 24-hour single channel montage made out of thousands of excerpted moments from television and cinema. The Clock shows the passage of time in a literal sense. It changes between a functional time keeper itself and a time distorter. The nature of the The Clock reminds us of the passing of time and how it cannot be stopped. It also demonstrates the abstract idea of the time continuum. Time is something that cannot be easily expressed. The expression art of The Clock is a way that we can appreciate the passage of time and the time that we have while we are alive.
The Andy Monument (2011) stands as a tribute to the passed away artist Andy Warhol. Andy Warhol was one of the most influential artists of the modern era. The Statue is placed in Union Square of New York City. It was the location of Andy Warhol’s Factory where he reinvented the conventional artist’s studio. This statue is a way to commemorate the late Andy Warhol and all that he did. Words can only say so much, but a monument will capture the spirit and memories of a person within a statue that will last a long time. An object representing an idea is one of the best ways to express ideas outside of using words.
One of the more famous artworks of the past few years is Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seeds (2010). The exhibit consists of over 100 million tiny, handmade porcelain sunflower seeds. They fill the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern, an industrial building turned into a contemporary art space. The Sunflower seeds evoked a warm feeling for the artist who remembered sharing sunflower seeds as a treat among friends in his home in China. There are multiple interpretations of this work. Some see it as a critique on systems of production and the global economy. Others see it as a communist metaphor where Mao Zedong was seen as a sun and all the people as his seeds. However, Weiwei asserts that the sunflower seeds represent a symbol of camaraderie during difficult times and the beauty of simplicity in simple things. His exhibit goes far beyond the literal interpretations of sunflower seeds and conveys an important message to everyone in this world. This is something that is more impactful than simple words.
“Ai Weiwei, Kui Hua Zi (Sunflower Seeds) (Article).” Khan Academy, 2017, http://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ap-art-history/global-contemporary/a/sseeds-ai-weiwei.
“Christian Marclay-The Clock | MoMA.” The Museum of Modern Art, 2017, http://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibitions/1308.
“Emil Nolde Biography, Art, and Analysis of Works.” The Art Story, 2017, http://www.theartstory.org/artist-nolde-emil-artworks.htm.
Fund, Public Art. “The Andy Monument.” Public Art Fund, 3 Mar. 2011, http://www.publicartfund.org/view/exhibitions/5847_the_andy_monument.
“The Scream, 1893 by Edvard Munch.” Edvard Munch, Edvard Munch Organization , 2011, http://www.edvardmunch.org/the-scream.jsp.
“Wassily Kandinsky Biography, Art, and Analysis of Works.” The Art Story, 2017, http://www.theartstory.org/artist-kandinsky-wassily-artworks.htm#pnt_4.