Andy Warhol was the innovator of pop art during the 1950’s and 1960’s. Warhol was born in Pittsburgh, PA in 1928. As a child, he was brought up in a poor environment. As a young man, Warhol changed his life to move to New York City. During the 1950’s, Warhol developed a love for consumerism and celebrity life. He became fascinated with the idea of modern life. For that reason, he started to create art that merely reflected the lifestyle of modern society. He was famous for painting Campbell’s soup as well as coke products. Warhol lead an extremely controversial career because many claim that he never really did anything artistic. His art is often repetitive and photographic. Warhol’s work has sold for millions of dollars. Warhol has worked in film, photography, painting and printmaking. Warhol believed that anyone could become a celebrity. Warhol is cited as the creator of the common phrase, “15 minutes of fame.”
This work by Andy Warhol displays many of his common themes. “Eight Elvises” is a picture of the celebrity Elvis Presley repeated eight times. Repetition and celebrities were both common in Andy Warhol’s work. This piece might represent the the life of Elvis Presley in that it was fast pace. The Elvises in the piece come to an abrupt stop which could represent the fall of Elvis Presley’s career in the early 1960’s. This works perfectly with Warhol’s idea that stardom can come and go.
Max Ernst was a German artist that was focused on the dadaist and surrealist movements. He painted in the early twentieth century but also did sculptures, poetry and graphic art. Ernst was a prolific artist that created many influential works throughout his career. One of his most notable works is “The Elephant Celebes” (1921).
“The Elephant Celebes” is a piece that depicts many fragmented things in one image. There are random objects in different places that are quite clearly surreal. The image as a whole is rather dreamlike. The work has a structure despite the randomness of the objects and different movements. The elephant object is in the center while there are horizontal and vertical lines around it. These lines maintain the balance. The object in the center is a mechanical beast that takes on the vague shape of an elephant. The beast-like object is rather violent. The image depicts it as destructive and dangerous. For this reason, the painting is almost more nightmare-like than dream-like. This idea is reinforced by the dark colours used. The top of the sky is dark which makes it more ominous. In addition there, isn’t much light in the whole painting. There is a sense of elegance though. The female figure in the bottom right does not seem distressed despite the looming beast. The 3-dimensionality of the piece makes it much more realistic to the viewer even though the scene is obviously surrealist. To me, this piece represents the darkness that the human brain is capable of. If one were to dream of this scene it would obviously be unintentional but still nevertheless violent and terrifying. The nightmare shows the capability of darkness of the human brain. This is a concept not often explored about the unconscious but it still exists.
René Magritte was a Belgian surrealist artist that helped pioneer the surrealist movement with artist Salvador Dalí. Magritte was influenced by the works of cubism artists as well as futurism. Magritte often took average objects and put them in a different context. Essentially, he was aiming to give new meaning to regular objects. One of Magritte’s most recognized works is called, “Son of Man.”
“The Son of Man” was a surrealist piece created in 1964. The painting depicts a man in business attire with a long coat and a hat. The mans face is covered by an apple that is simply floating in front of his face. The apple does not distort his whole face, his eye is peaking out from one side. The composition of this piece is basic but balanced. There is not much going on in the piece. The simplicity of the background leaves the viewer to pay attention to the portrait of the man. The man is centered so that creates a sense of balance and structure. The color is relatively monochrome with the exception of the bright green apple and the bright green tie. If the viewer were to actually be in the picture, the man would be right in front of him/her. This piece is clearly a biblical reference to Adam. The apple was placed in front of Adam in the bible. God told Adam not to eat the apple but he did anyway. This piece offers a modernized context about the same story. Adam is the man in the suit and the apple is covering his face. In my opinion, this seems like a critique of civilization at the time. I believe that Magritte was attempting to say that mankind is covered with sin because that is what the apple represents in the bible.
Cubism: early 20th century, the term cubism described the fragmented image but did not convey conceptual aspects of art. The point of cubism was to capture the complex nature of what the artist was thinking onto a flat canvas. some of the cubist artists included Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. They depicted still-lives and figures. They used little color and small brushstrokes (influenced by Cezanne.) Also, illusionary elements in collages started appearing in artwork at this time. There are two types of cubism, analytical and synthetic cubism. Analytical cubism (1910-1912) shows the breaking down of form, Picasso and Braque painted almost the same things, which made it difficult to distinguish one artist from the other. The color pallet was monochromatic so that the viewer would not be sidetracked from the intent of the painting- the form. The objects in the painting would overlap.
Some examples of analytical art include Picasso’s Bust of a Woman, Head of a Woman and Braque’s Bottle and Fishes, Clarinet and Bottle of Rum on a Mantelpiece. In bust of a Woman, there is a clear influence from Cezanne due to the short brushstrokes he used in the painting. In Braques Bottle and Fishes painting, he breaks down the different forms of objects to create an image that is hard to deconstruct
Bust of a Woman by Picasso
Head of a Woman by Picasso
Bottles and Fishes by Braque
Clarinet and a Bottle of Rum on the Mantelpiece by Braque
Synthetic Cubism developed after 1912 and this movement emphasizes the combination of forms in the artwork. Unlike analytical cubsism where the color has more earth tone, color is evident and serves a purpose. The image will appear flat and larger. Artists will incorporate foreign objects into their artwork such as newspaper clips and magazine cutouts to make collages and it emphasizes the differences in texture, which raises the question of is this reality or an illusion. Some synthetic cubist artists include Fernand Leger, Delaunay, Duchamp, and Juan Gris.
Juan Gris painted Bottle of Rum and Newspaper (1913-14) and it is an example of synthetic cubism. He uses primary colors (reds, blues, and greens) to develop the painting into a puzzle piece. It is different frm analytical cubism because newspaper clippings are pasted directly onto the painting making it have multiple textures.
Van Gogh is one of the most important Post-Impressionist painters. His artwork did not receive fame during his lifetime, it was only until after his death did people start to appreciate his art. He is famous for using color to express emotion in his paintings. He painted using the technique impasto (painting many layers upon layers of paint.) Brushstrokes are visible in his paintings due to this method of impasto. He was influenced by Japanese prints and the artist Ruben.
Tracey Emin was born on July 3, 1963 in London. She is a part of the YBA movement. She is famous for monoprints, paintings, photography, neon lights, fabrics, installations, books, film, and sculptures. The Royal Academy of arts named her a “Royal Academicaian.” She has also done work with music, politics, and charity. Part of her work is in the Saatchi gallery.
- installation art
- Shows us her most intimate item
- this is the aftermath of a nervous breakdown
- has objects of her every day life
- shows the world that she is insecure and imperperfect like the rest of the world
- Vodka bottle, shoes, newspapers, old cigarette boxes & butts, stuffed animal, rumpled sheets, condoms.
- Narration of her life from one perspective.
- First purchased for 150,000 pounds.
- Sold in July 2014 for 2.2 million pounds.
- Received fame instantly, audience was shocked but loved her creativity
- A little absurd
- two performance artists jumped on the bed to ‘improve the work’
- old boyfriend exposes that he has one of her old beds and will sell for 20,000 pounds
- listed for the Turner Prize, did not win
Young British Artists are a group of visual artists who came together in the 1980s. They made conceptual art and installation art. Conceptual art is art that the artist feels is important even if it doesn’t look finished to a viewer. Installation art is when a series of steps have to be taken to construct the artwork. For instance, “The Shark Tank” by Damien Hirst is considered conceptual art and “My Bed” by Tracey Emin is installation art. The YBA’s dominated the British media during the 1990’s. Some YBA’s include: Damien Hirst, Marc Quinn, Sam Taylor-Wood, and Tracey Emin