What do Artists do All Day?

Producing a ‘work of creative genius’ takes time; after weeks of trying to polish your skill, you may never reach that final result you have been aiming for.

So what is it that can endorse creativity?

Have a look at this BBC world news series following photographer Tom Wood, entitled “What do Artists do All Day?” and let me know what you think!

There is a different artist every month – so have a look!

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Piece of the Week: No Seconds Series by Henry Hargreaves

What would your last meal be if you would never eat again? 

For the death row inmates, this is a real question. 

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Photographer Henry Hargreaves in his series No Seconds reenacts the ‘last meal’ choices of those sentenced to death.

The Rostrum setup (shooting from above) is particularly effective for this series, as the reader feels as though they are the death-row inmate, examining what will be their last meal. These sharp, vivid images speak for themselves.

Laid out in a gourmet fashion, the composition effectively reminds the reader of the importance of life, and the small perks which we can give these people on their final departure. In combination with the text, we begin to associate a person with the food – seeing it as a final comfort, a final ‘guitly’ pleasure…

For More: http://www.lostateminor.com/2014/03/24/last-meals-death-row-inmates/
Watch ‘Life on Death Row’ – BBC IPlayer

Piece of the Week: Transit 24″x18″ on DC Metro – Alexa Meade

Alexa Meade’s work uses mixed media to transform the subject into  painting. Using acrylic paint, she transforms the skin into a canvas, by tracing the areas of shadow and light.  Her Transit 24″x18″ on DC Metro, by juxtaposing one of her ‘painted men’ against the ‘normal’ faces particularly highlights the dominance painting once had over portraiture.

She attempts to reverse photography’s replacement over painting by combining the two in an attempt to highlight how both are art forms in themselves. When discussing her inspiration, Meade claims that “I was fascinated by the absence of light, and wanted to find a way to give it materiality”[1]. Not only does she use the printed photograph to solidify shadows, but fixes this with paint. Meade’s technique is another example of how mixed media can unconventionally enhance the authority of the sitter in the photo.Image

The muse in Transit 24″x18″ on DC Metro is particularly pensive. His age-lines and slightly fatigued frown are fixed by the acrylic paint. His domination of the foreground may be a subversive comment by Meade that her new method is at the forefront of our modern age and will give us a new approach to portraiture. Her ‘new ideology’ is contrasted the choice of an ageing man as the subject.

The crowd in the background is blurred, but recognisable. Their lack of focus adds to the effectiveness of Meade’s muse, as they lose detail where he gains it. The whole tone of the piece is one of intrigue, both at the muse’s facial expression and overall appearance in comparison with the general public on the metro.  

Activity is central to Meade’s work, and can be summarised through journey – literally and physically. Meade begins with the activity of painting on the man’s skin, to leading him to the metro to be examined by the public and shooting him. Trust is an essential between Meade and her sitters, and despite the muse’s expression, he seems content and indifferent to the stares.

This form of unconventional photography is captures our raw expression to new perspective and how we react when the boundaries are broken between us and ‘the artwork’. The dimensions are unclear, as the exact technique used is difficult to decipher unless the process is known. Thus, it is the public that gives Meade’s technique away. Sometimes, reactions to the portrait as just as important as the portrait itself.

For more: http://alexameade.com/

Why is Art Important?

In this TEDed video, educator Amy E Herman explains the importance of visual communication.

I would like to posit another importance of art: empathy.

Up until WW1, a lot of art was about expressing a society’s ideals.  It can be very interesting and worthwhile to access what individuals in our society most desire. This knowledge can lead us to a better understanding of how of environment ticks, and how we can improve it.

What do you think? Why is art important to you?

Please let me know in the comments below!

 

How Colouring-In can give you a New Perspective on History

This photo taken in Louisville, Kentucky in 1937 is arguably one of the most potent of all historical photographs. Yet with new technologies that can colour this photograph, we ironically give it a fresh interpretation  by transporting ourselves back to the day it was taken.

It becomes increasingly clear why it was taken too, for not only does the billboard’s message juxtapose these peoples’ position, but the bold colours also appear to condescend them.

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The addition of colour reminds us of the potential over-exaggeration and bias of propaganda; the technicoloured saturation of the poster is a colour scheme impossible to achieve by the everyday. The citizens, queuing for supplies following the Great Ohio River Flood, appear to be the unfortunate reality to this superficial ideal.  All of this, whilst made timeless, is lost in the greyscale print.

History is made almost tangible through ‘colouring in’, reminding us not only of key events in our time but also the advances of our technology which enable us to find parallels between the situation which inspired the photographer to shoot this photograph and the society which now admire it. Still, the notion of ideals is questioned and we sometimes become so fixed on them that we become indifferent to reality. A satirical shot like this can help to change this.

For more images like this, visit: http://twistedsifter.com/2013/08/historic-black-white-photos-colorized/

Sylvia Sleigh and the Rokesby Venus: Challenging the notion of the ‘Idealised Female’

On Tuesday 10th March 1914, the suffragette Mary Richardson attacked Velasquez’s The Rokeby Venus, slashing at the canvas seven times.

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When asked about her motives she argued that this idealised female insulted her, being admired by men who were blissfully indifferent to women’s suffering in the patriarchal 20th century. Richardson clearly saw art as mirroring a society’s desires, and this idealisation in particular moved her enough to pursue her own form of iconoclasm. Is Sylvia Sleigh’s Philip Golub Reclining taking Richardson’s argument and using it to attack Verlasquez and the male perception of femininity?

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The central figure appears to directly parody Velasquez’ original, however there are some notable differences:

Painting style –  Sleigh uses harsher brushstrokes than her predecessor, perhaps to target the ideal female figure. But can this new style, used to portray a male figure rather than a female’s, could also be seen to critique the general perception of men as rough, edgy and hard?

Concept of distance – An interesting concept of distance exists within the painting. The proximity between the central subject and the surveying figure, which here is Sleigh’s self portrait, is more distanced  than The Rokeby Venus and cupid. The mirror, fixed to a wall, provides a more relaxed tone than the cupid who, by holding the mirror to Venus, encourages self indulgence. This is heavily reminiscent of John Berger’s Ways of Seeing, by exploring the hypocrisy of a painter who lustfully portrays the female form but conceals it by painting a mirror in the female’s hand to emphasise her vanity. Perhaps Sleigh, by including herself in the painting, is admitting to lust and vanity whilst remaining at a safe distance away from the central subject. The viewer senses this admiration from afar and is compelled to emulate it. Whereas The Rokeby Venus is heavily intimate, Sleigh is able to present a nude in an openly critical way. By presenting herself as clothed in the presence of a nude male, she is able to question social attitudes to dominance.

Gender ambiguity – The male central figure, who without being named in the painting’s title, would remain sexually ambivalent. On the surface, he appears to be an ambiguous personality; his pose is similar to the Venus, but his muscle structure suggests there is more to this ‘female’ than meets the eye. As we are facing the back of the figure, his long hair at first deceives the viewer into assuming a female. Unlike many contemporary artists, who see little importance in a title, Sleigh uses her title to give the male an identity. She calls the audience on many levels, to go deeper than what is on the surface.

Unfortunately for Richardson, her active protest only diminished men’s respect for women, causing a protest for women to respect art in galleries. By presenting the controversy in a new way, through something as familiar to the art world as a nude, Sleigh asks us to question the concept of idealisation. 

For more: http://www.sylviasleigh.com/sylviasleigh/Sleigh.html

Piece of the Week: The Swing (After Fragonard)

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Artist: Yinka Shonibare
Date: 2001  (contemporary art, but based on 18th Century Rococco)
Title: The Swing (After Fragonard)
Media: Mannequin, Cotton Costume, 2 Slippers, Swing Seat, 2 Ropes, Oak Twig and Artificial Foliage

A rather humourous reaction to the original (seen below), Shonibare reunites us with Fragonard’s The Swing but with a historic hindsight. The original Swing was painted in a Rococco style – a movement packed with light and airy symbolism, popular with the French Aristocrats in the mid 18th century. 

Shonibare takes this notion and completely spins it on it’s head – he represents the female subject in sculpture, changing the fabric of her cultural dress to African print, hinting at the cultural diversity in today’s world. It is instantly noticeable to us that the female lacks a head. This can be interpreted as a simultaneous criticism of the Rococco and French aristocracy; both lack personality and moral reasoning. The head could also be a symbol of the guillotine, which was introduced to Paris 25 years after Fragonard finished his painting. It reminds us of the Royalist’s fate and our misplaced importance on materialism.    

Although Shonibare intends for the piece to be seen front view, it’s 3-Dimensional medium means that we can assume position of the two male spectators and place ourselves at the back or beneath her skirt. Something familiar is made uncanny and brings the exposition of females to a whole new level. 

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The Swing – 1767

For morehttp://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/shonibare-the-swing-after-fragonard-t07952/text-summary