Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What if these walls could talk?

Welcome to Art History 101 at the University of Highlowaha. When Claudia announced that we would connect a cookie cutter to Bucknell University's Orientation theme of O-Museum I thought "How the heck is she going to do that?"

After the Corn Cookie Cutter was selected I thought, "Oh, she is so in trouble." When I asked her about it and she told me her idea of If These Walls Could Talk the corny art jokes started rolling and I was hooked.

Looking at art I do sometimes wish that walls could talk. And the paintings, too. Wouldn't it be great if when you were standing in front of a painting or photograph or sculpture it could talk and tell you what the artists was doing and saying? Think- Night of the Museum or Harry Potter.

Let's take a look at some of our artwork and the paintings that inspired them and learn some fun facts about the artist. First up is Joan Miro.

Joan Miro (1893-1983) was from Spain. Miro's parents would have much preferred that he find a career in business. He tried to please them and worked as an accountant until he had a nervous breakdown. Afterwards, his parents finally accepted his choice but not with much support. His paintings have a childlike quality to them and he often compared his art to poetry. He met Picasso and many of the other great artists in Paris.

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) hails from Spain and is called a master artist. He displayed talent at an early age and mastered any medium or art form he chose. He created a staggering number of paintings, sculptures and drawings. Just imaging the passion for art that he must have embodied. We could have a whole year worth of blogs to learn all there is to learn about him. The Blue Period, the Rose Period, Cubism, the African Period and the list goes on.

During the Spanish Civil War, there was bombing of the Basque town of Guernica by the German air force. Responding to this massacre, Picasso painted a mural Guernica. For months afterwards he made subsidiary paintings based on one of the figures in the mural: a weeping woman holding her dead child. Weeping Woman is the last and most elaborate of the series. The woman's features are based on Picasso’s lover Dora Maar.

Art doesn't have to always be pretty. It can make a political statement about the ideas that the artist supports.

Next up is Vincent Van Gogh. He has to have one of the most memorable stories about his ear being sliced off. We thought we were pretty clever with that EAR of corn. So we know that Van Gogh suffered with mental issues that included epilepsy, psychotic attacks, and delusions. There is the famous story that he self-mutilated by cutting off his own ear, offered as a gift to a prostitute and then was hospitalized. But! Two German Art Historians have spent ten years researching the incident and now believe that Van Gogh's artist buddy, Paul Gauguin who just happened to fence actually cut Van Gogh's ear off and the two of them hushed it up! You can read the full story here.

On July 27, 1890, Van Gogh shot himself in the chest and died two days later. His brother, Theo, had collected the majority of Van Gogh's work but he died a short 6 months later. Theo's wife took the work and dedicated herself to getting Van Gogh the credit that we realize today.

Last up today is Andy Warhol.

Andy Warhol (1928 - 1987) was an accomplished commercial illustrator turned painter, printmaker, and filmmaker and is known for his leadership in the movement known as Pop Art. His success as an illustrator made it difficult for him to be taken serious as a painter. But, he used his success as an illustrator to merge popular culture into his work. Pop culture items like Campbell's Soup Cans, Coca-cola, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor.

He became ill with a nervous system disease when he was about 8. This caused him to have to stay at home in bed which led to a strong bond with his mother. He became a hypochondriac and was fearful of hospitals and doctors. Warhol was another complex artist and personality that we could go on and on about. These tidbits are nothing to his full story.

He was shot in June of 1968 and never fully recovered from it. He died in 1987 after a routine gall bladder surgery.

He is responsible for the phrase Fifteen minutes of fame.

There's a little, tiny bit of art history of only 4 of the thousands and thousands of artist out there. Every day we are given a blank canvas. What we choose to do with that blank canvas is up to us.

The first photo you saw today was your blank canvas. And, your challenge today is tell us which artist you would choose to inspire you. Is it an old master or a modern day artist? Which painting would you pick? Who inspires you?

This is Cheryl, signing off until tomorrow....


Robin said...

Thanks! I learned somethings...

Claudia said...

Thanks, Cheryl! Hmmmm.... how would I fill the blank canvas? Let's see....

I love photography, so I think I would try to use my canvas in some Ansel Adams kind of way.

How about the rest of you?

Cristine said...

I like abstract impressionists/the New York School like -
Franz Kline, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz_Kline,
Willem de Kooning, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willem_de_Kooning
Mark Rothko http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Rothko
and Jackson Pollock
Georgia O'Keefe too - she has such a great story.

Cheryl said...

Is it me or a lot of the famous artists "disturbed" in some way? I guess we all have problems but...
just a thought.

heather said...

I'm not great with knowing Artists but I love the pointellism thing where all the little dots come together to form the big picture. It kind of feels like life...all the little pieces come together to make your life what it is.

Cheryl said...

Heather, I think the most recognizable artist that practiced Pointillism is Georges-Pierre Seurat and his painting called "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" is used most often in Art History classes to demonstrate this movement.

Cristine- did you ever see the movie about Jackson Pollock's life starring Ed Harris? Love Ed Harris. He was another artist that was troubled. He battled alcholism and died in a car crash when he was driving under the influence.

Chaotic said...

I would choose Susan Sedon Boulet.. she inspires me to see things beyond just what is "there", on the canvas or in life. She drew her inspiration from a wide variety of sources: mythology and poetry, Jungian psychology and worldwide spiritual traditions, as well as a deep love of animal and the natural world.

Cristine said...

I saw that movie. It seems that some great artists seem to have some demons or a great love that drive them to their greatness.
Did you know that Bravo is going to have a series on finding the next great American artist? It's similar to project runway, but with art. Should be interesting.
FYI - I'm not sure if this is being offered in your area, but in Chicago-land - from now until August 2010 you can check out a museum pass and get free admission to many local museums. Maybe there is a similar program in your area.

Cheryl said...

Ooh! Thanks for the tip Cristine! I love reality shows and one about art!! I'll be ont he lookout for it!

I'm glad we didn't take request for artists on the cookies. Susan Seddon Boulet would have been complicated. :)

Katie K said...

I also do not know much about art. I love the art that is made up of a bunch of little pictures and creates one big picture. It's similar to what Heather was talking about, but I love the little images...one of my favorite ones is the small images that make up the American flag. I love that painting/drawing.

Thanks for my Art History lesson, Cheryl. That's one class I never took in college, so you're my favorite professor!

Peggy said...

Ooh, I loved Art History! One of my fav college courses. And yes, most great artists are disturbed! Just as any great scientist, actor or business mogel is psychotic or nuerotic!! Craziness helps inspire!!

I love bits and pieces in all types of art ... Renissance and Michaelangelo to Monet and Impressionism. I'd prefer Realism over pop culture art... but that depends on my mood. I don't always like to search for a 'hidden' meaning behind the art and at times would like to say he just wanted to draw a peice of fruit... so be it!

b.k.root said...

I love Andy Warhol. FYI.

I'm ashamed to admit, though, that although I lived near Pittsburgh for 7 years, I never made it to the Warhol museum.