"But it doesn't mean anything"

This gallery will showcase the concept of nihilism and the construction of meaning. Through many art pieces, especially from modern, surrealist, and impressionist movements in art history, I will show how artists  create their own meaning in life while also allowing others to decipher their own meanings. These art pieces will also show the lack of literal meaning in many concepts along with showing how our own interpretations of the art's concepts can change within our own mind's eye. This will highlight the lack of literal meaning in the art and in our lives as humans as well as our ability to find meaning anyway and use our interpretations to live off of.It is important to look at how and why these pieces of art were made as opposed to the literal content held within them. The impressionist, modern, and post-modern movements in art focus their attention in how the pieces are created as well as the aesthetics and emotions behind certain visible aspects of the pieces such as the visible stroke of the brush, the choice in color, and the purposefully confusing and illogical placement of the subject manner.Included in this gallery are works made from Maruyama Okyo, Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Chuck Close, Georges Seurat, and Piet Mondrian, along with two pieces inspired by the famous artist Rene Magritte. All of these works deal with either a warped perception of reality and/or the reconstruction of common ideals or beliefs about life. It is through looking at these pieces of art that many of the ideas and beliefs humans have insisted to be reality can be realized as purely human construction, leaving the universe to hold no meaning of its own while proving that all meaning only exists through the human consciousness. In other words, these pieces highlight the ideas of nihilism and the construction of meaning that have been explored by the literary works of Epictetus, Thoreau, Nietzsche, and Lucretius.

Unlike western art at the time, Japanese art during this time frame allowed for a lot of empty space. This emptiness not only allowed viewers to focus on the subject, but also to fill in the emptiness with their own image and meaning.
"Death and pain are not frightening, it's the fear of pain and death we need to fear" (Epictetus) It is said that Van Gogh painted Starry Night like this to include a sense of beauty and wonder to the landscape. It is well Known that Van Gogh suffered with severe depression which led him to kill himself, but he turned that pain into beautiful artwork which would, sadly, only be appreciated after his death.
"Better if they had been born in the open pasture and suckled by a wolf, that they might have seen with clearer eyes what field they were called to labor in" (Thoreau) Just as Thoreau talks about going back to the basics to better understand the world, Picasso does the same in this piece by interpreting the still life through simple lines and shapes to gain a different understanding of the complexities of reality.
"We are bound to be mistaken about our nature, for us the motto 'Each is furthest away from himself' holds good to all eternity- as far as ourselves are concerned, we are unknown" (Nietzsche) Close's portraits are a great example of Nietzsche's thoughts of man being unknown to himself. Chuck Close's portraits are unable to be understood from up close (where all one can see is gray dots). It is only when one steps away from the painting can the subject matter of the piece can be understood.
I included this piece to allude to Rene Magritte's famous painting "The Treachery of Images" or better known as "This is Not a Pipe". Magritte points out that what he painted was not a pipe, but merely an image of a pipe. It is the viewer who had constructed meaning behind the image.
"Just in case you start to think this theory is a lie/ Because atoms cannot be made out by the naked eye./ You yourself have to admit that there are particles/ Which are but cannot be seen" (Lucretius) Similar to the style of Chuck Close, Seurat's piece cannot be understood from extremely up close.Although from far away it is impossible to see, but this entire painting is made up of small, different colored dots that come together to create the illusion of different colors. This technique is called pointallism. Similarly to the atoms Lucretius talks about, the points cannot be seen, but the exist nonetheless to create a larger picture.
"Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumbnail" (Thoreau) Mondrian's focus on his paintings was to simplify the subject matter as much as possible. Although it may not be understood to the viewer, these block and line art pieces often represent landscapes and houses and other scenes of life. Although there seems to be almost nothing on the canvas, it is up to the viewer to imply the meaning and image behind the shapes.
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This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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