Make [Creative] Sense - Annie Uhrich

In the words of Henry S. Truman, "If you can't convince them, confuse them." There have been several moments in art history, where audiences and critics have been left scratching their heads. This is a collection of 10 pieces of art in which the artist explored new definitions of art that defied the common conceptions of what makes art, “Art.”

"Does art have to be decorative?" This image depicts a rather mundane scene of three men working to finish a hardwood floor. The color and perspective of the painting are unique for the time period it was created. Caillebotte uses a drab, cold, gray monochromatic color scheme to emphasize the "everyday" feeling of the scene which was radical to contemporaries who depicted elaborate, decorative scenes with vibrant color. The perspective is interesting as the lines of the wood floor and the conjoining wall displays because the horizon line is so high that the viewer's eye is placed at the same level as the workers. The artist makes quite a statement putting the viewer, more than likely a person of high society, on the same level as a laborer. Both of these points lends to a controversial image that would have had critics in that day wondering why the artist would paint such an ordinary image in such a dreary way. It's not exactly art one would want hanging above the mantel piece in his or her home.
"Should images in art be identifiable from any viewpoint?" This image depicts a large landscape of sunbathers on the edge of a lake on a seemingly lazy afternoon. What is unique about this painting and other similar paintings by Seurat is the method of applying the paint to the canvas. He uses a technique in which dots of pure color are grouped to create different forms. With the viewer very close to the canvas, the picture is completely absent of actual lines, and does not make sense. It is only when the viewer steps away from the canvas, will he see the forms begin to take shape and eventually he begins to see the overall picture. Evenso, faces are not clearly identifiable and lines are merely implied by the contrast and change of color from one form to the next.
Art, especially of flowers, should always be pretty, right? Van Gogh was never short on producing art that blurred the lines of commonality. This image of several blooming sunflowers in a vase is one of many variations that van Gogh studied. Here he deviates from the typical still-life (as close to a replication of the scene as seen in person) to a fantastic departure where the viewer questions not just what he sees, but how he sees it. In this image, lines are more pronounced and applied in a seedy manner so that the overall forms take on an unrealistic quality. The vase no longer looks like a vase in actual space, but it is turned into a 2-D form. Yet, the flowers have an animation to them from the varying colors and movement from the application of the brushstrokes. What were some beautiful flowers in person have become garish and bizarre.
"My mom told me to avert my innocent eyes during these scenes in movies." The picture is of an intimate couple moments before or after a kiss, embraced on their knees on the crest of a flowering hill (or so it would seem). This work questions the separation of 2-D and 3-D art in that the figures have real human qualities, yet their robes seem to fall into a flat background. The juxtaposition of the differing styles within one piece is inspiring, yet the content of the image (an intimate position) was offensive at the time. Klimt uses pattern and a gilded effect with gold-leaf in the robes that illuminates the images.
"Does there have to be a subject?" This image is a mess of colors and lines with no apparent subject or focal point. There are black lines and splotches of color all over the canvas. Kandinsky would paint in response to music and paint what he felt through the music, a truly abstract form of expression. In this image black lines seem to dance across the top of the canvas, suggesting movement and rhythm. The black lines at the lower left corner are repetitious and recede towards the center of the canvas as if the brushstrokes started off of the page. The brushstrokes are not well defined, so the lines delineate any forms. It honestly looks like a watercolor artist accidentally bumped over their washing water cup, spilling the contents in splotches of color all over.
"It is art because I say so!" In this picture, Duchamp has turned a men's porcelain urinal on its side (90 degrees) and signed in black ink, "R. Mutt 1917," on edge of the bottom. As an example of his "readymades," Duchamp pushed the proverbial envelope of the definition of art by simply choosing it, taking into account the artist's intention rather than art for art's sake. He saw it in a different light besides its functional use and declared it to be something besides what most people saw it as. As a sculptural art piece, the form has balance and symmetry from the holes of the drain to the delicate curves of the pipe fittings. It occupies real space, in a 3-D setting, so a viewer can walk all around it to see every angle. Because of it's off white color, depending on how lighting is executed, it may take on several shades with interesting shadows within and on the outside of the form.
Primary colors and basic shapes are art, too. Very basic art, but art none-the-less. The image shows several rectangular shapes divided by a solid black line. Most of the shapes are grayish-white and others are primary colors. Mondrian created something that in looking at it seems overtly simple. Forms are delineated into modest shapes with bold, straight, horizontal and vertical lines. He uses contrasting colors to define them and create both positive and negative space. The asymmetry of the layout has a unique harmony that creates a balance that is visually unifying. This is another example of a piece of art that needs an explanation by the artist in order to fully understand the complex intention behind it.
"My son can finger paint better than that." With a black background, Miro painted with a basic color palette of red, yellow, blue and highlights of white several geometric shapes (stars, triangles, circles) which composed into a few organic shapes (sun or flower, fish). There is no clear focal point. At first glance, it may look like something a four year old has drawn, but there is certainly more to the image than what the surface entails. The use of color clearly defines both positive and negative influences, especially in how they are arranged on the canvas. The red and blue flip-flop top and bottom across the page, and the white line seems to ebb and flow between them. The triangles are interesting because unlike the rest of the shapes, they are haphazardly painted, rough even. On close inspection, the individual hairs from the brushstroke can be seen. Entitled, "Self Portrait II," it is an interesting composition for a self portraiture, as there are no obvious human features. The image is purely symbolic and abstract.
"Are advertisements, photographs and graphics real art?" This image shows the same headshot (with the chin resting on a hand and two fingers positioned against the mouth) of Warhol situated side-by-side but each one in different colors. The pictures look like they should be in black in white, but Warhol has chosen to explore the nuances of contrasting colors. On the left, the highlighted areas of the hands and face are bright yellow, and the dark shaded areas are red on an orange background. The hair highlights are light blue. On the right, the hands and face are highlighted in red, shaded in dark blue, with a light blue background. The hair is highlighted yellow. The color variance created when the same colors are set next to different contrasting colors makes for a unique study in tone. What may look like different shades of the same color may actually be the same color, it just looks different next to another color on one side than the other. What looks red on the left, may be the same color that looks orange on the right because it is paired with blue rather than yellow. These were essentially a modern-style "selfie" which would pave the way for other explorations of self and the incorporation of photography into Pop Culture.
"Art can be made out of anything." This image has several pictures of famous jazz, hip-hop, rap, and other black popular cultural icon's heads, surrounded by cloud-like contour outlines of blue and yellow. The larger heads are surrounded by smaller heads creating a shell-like look to each focal point. There is a definitive "S" shape to the composition, as the eye travels from the top to the bottom, from head to head, to pile of elephant dung, to head. This overall has a blooming effect and subtle color approach. What makes this piece of art controversial, besides content, is part of the media in which it was created: animal excrement.
Credits: All media
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