These principles are meant to act as a guide to create an environment which encourages, inspires, and sustains truth, understanding, community, and the actualization of art. If transparency and vulnerability are fundamental to verbal communication, then how much more in art?
The act of creation is the state of being closest to presently experiencing the world in which we live. Creating art is communion in its purest form. In actively making art, one can more fully understand the work of others and the motives behind others’ work. The act of making and analyzing art can make one more perceptive to and understanding of another’s worldview and personal story. Critically viewing and discussing art can result in supporting and encouraging conversation, understanding, and community on a local and global level.
In creating we both experience and interpret our world. We find ourselves caught in the tension of making and receiving, which is central to community and human life. At the junction of experience and interpretation, we can accept our surroundings for what they truly are. We can then examine them in order to contribute to our environment in a positive, constructive way.
When one is actively creating, one is more able to see the beauty of the world in which we live. Through experience and examination, we engage with Creation and closely examine its intricacies and structures, and can be open to its awe-inspiring forces.
Symbols and innuendo can be misinterpreted. Preconceptions can be blinding. Context and meaning are often lost in translation. Art as a layering of explicit visual language is an experiment in facilitating mutual understanding. The formal design elements and a record of process are indispensable tools for organizing ideas and interpretations into a symbolic language which connects with the human spirit and invites the viewer to participate and engage with the act of creation.
Whenever possible, art should be treated as a service and not as a product. Art is better appreciated and of more value to a society when it is perceived as experiential rather than as a commodity.
The other day, a friend tagged me in a link to a Hi-Fructose article about a mural by Norwegian artist Henrik Aa. Uldalen. She thought it would be of interest to me in light of my recent series on destruction in art. The mural was beautiful and the image of the wall being demolished was striking, but as I read the article, another issue struck me: wow, that machine sure is beating the shit out of that naked, unconscious woman’s body.Continue reading Art Rant: Henrik Aa. Uldalen’s Mural Demolition
Erased de Kooning Drawing, A Potential Piece of Yellowism, and Rindy Sam’s alteration of Twombly’s Phædrus all address issues of ownership in conjunction with destruction. After all, not many would react to or care about these incidents if they were purely private acts. In utilizing pieces of art in the public sphere, which people feel invested in and take ownership of, they illicit a different response than they would otherwise. By doing so, the artists challenge the nature of ownership.
Note: The following rant was originally written in 2012. It has since been edited slightly to reflect the time passed.
In 2012, a man walked into the Tate Modern andscribbled on “Black On Maroon II”, a 1958 painting by Mark Rothko. “Vladimir Umanets” was hastily scrawled in the lower right corner, a nearly illegible dripping mess. I was outraged. How had this happened? I have since read of many more incidents of people defacing art in museums: not long ago a man punched a hole in a Monet. The Rothko incident remains frustratingly different from these acts of passion.
One of the most common themes in Brücke woodcuts is that of Man in Nature. The group’s collective resentment and generally negative outlook industrialization and modernity resulted in the belief (popularized by the likes of Paul Gauguin) that to get back to nature and to a more “primitive” and “pure” way of living was to get to the heart of the meaning of life, and of art. (MOMA, Die Brücke: Retreat) To the young artists of Die Brücke, the wilderness and countryside of Europe was “unspoilt” by the evils of modern life. From 1909 through 1919 members of Die Brücke went on retreats to paint and carve blocks of the landscape of the Moritzburg Lakes near Dresden. They depicted the trees, mountains, the monumentality of nature, sometimes barely differentiating between the forms of nature and that of man. Man becomes another rock, cabins another mountain.
Connected to the movement in the early twentieth century to “return to nature” was the representation of nudes by the German Expressionists. At the turn of the century, Germany erupted with nudist colonies, emerging “from a desire to reunite the nude with nature”. Though the nude had long been a popular subject in art, Die Brücke treated the subject without any of the delicacy and softness previously applied. Without the Classical or biblical imagery traditionally associated with nudes in art, the painting and prints of Die Brücke took on sexual or erotic undertones.
Die Brücke artists spent their free time in the cabarets and music halls of Germany. Artists have gravitated toward these kinds of venues since the late nineteenth century. The new music, the movement, and the bright colors of the dancers became inspiration for some of the world’s most well-known works. The motion of performance creates dynamic compositions and elicits an authentic reaction and participation from the audience. Contemporary prints also have a strong connection to music, sometimes even being used as posters and advertisements for performances and bands.
The prints above epitomize the flamboyance and soul of a musical performance, showing also the cult following of many musicians (in this case of John Coltrane). The power of these images lies in the expression of forms and in the bursts of color emanating from and enveloping the ﬁgures like music itself. The religious aspects of these pieces hearken back to traditional medieval German prints and to Die Brücke’s interest in religious imagery. Yet they are completely of their time. The prints uphold the transgressive properties of music and the spiritual aspect of melody and performance outside of the realm of religion.
The graphic and reproductive natures of relief prints also lend themselves perfectly to posters for rock and roll performances, further linking the interdependence of these two art forms.