Alexej von Jawlensky is a Russian Expressionist who joined German avant-garde during the early 20th century by mostly creating mesmerizing portraits.
Alexej von Jawlensky was born on 13 March 1864 in Torzhok, Russia. His family moved to Moscow when he was ten years old and after he enlisted in military training, he had visited the Moscow World Exposition and got interested in painting.
That interest quickly began to grow and Alexej started to study painting in St. Petersburg. He had a sociable character, which helped him to get into touch with famous Russian painter Ilja Rapin and later with an older and richer artist Marianne von Werefkin, who made a huge impact in his later life.
Munich – a magnet for artists
Munich was very popular for artists at that time when Alexej moved in in 1896 together with his supporter Marianne von Werefkin, who was his main sponsor to create by providing him financial and emotional support for many years.
He started to study there in the art school by famous Slovene realist painter Anton Ažbe. After much studying, he moved from an academic painter to an innovative colorist.
During his years in Munich, Jawlensky has developed his painting style and created many mesmerizing works. Next to his artistic work, he also participated as a social and active member of the German art community.
Jawlensky together with Wassily Kandinsky and Gabriele Münter created various groups of artists such as the Neue Künstlervereinigung München and the Blaue Reiter who promoted art styles, prevailed in Europe at that time.
Jawlensky‘s private life was complicated (art historians have different opinions about his relationship with Marianne von Werefkin), but in 1922 he married Werefkin‘s maid Helene Nesnakomoff with whom he already had a son Andreas.
While creating his style, Alexej was influenced by Russian religious art especially by Russian icons, which reminded him of his childhood in Russia.
A huge impact for him as an artist had other painters like a Fauve style painters Henri Matisse and Kees van Dongen. Their works gave him an inspiration about expressing emotions by using thick strokes of vivid colors.
Since Jawlensky painted mostly portraits, it was very important for him to analyze and convey his imagination of the human‘s heads shapes and forms.
On one of the most well known Jawlensky‘s works called “Blue cap“, all dominant colors are very vivid: red woman‘s blouse with the yellow dots, unnaturally bright pink skin, green and red background and blue hat – all colors merge altogether which shows a strong mood of the work.
The manner to highlight the edges of the person‘s face and body by using a dark blue or black brush came from another expressionist Kees van Dongen who used it in his works in a more subtle way.
This portrait of a woman was painted around 1912, just before the First World War and was influenced by Fauve art, but also at the same time trying the new style Abstractionism, which started to be more and more popular in Europe.
This portrait by Jawlensky is unique because of its painting style collected and created from all the inspiration he could have got at that time. It was sold for 6 million dollars and now belongs to a private collection.
During his active working years, Alexej was following various art styles, including Cubism.
In his several series of paintings called “Abstract Heads”, which were created between 1918 and 1935, he painted abstract faces that combined horizontal and vertical lines and brightly painted blocks of pigment.
The viewer can see the influence of Cubism in these works. For creating these type of artworks, Jawlensky was highly interested in Indian philosophy, especially Indian yogis, which inspired him to paint by forgetting any kind of individualism and focusing on the basic elements which make these paintings look organic and unique.
Alexej von Jawlensky died in 1941 when he was 77 years old. He is buried in the Russian Orthodox cemetery in Wiesbaden, Germany. Most of his works are kept at the Museum Wiesbaden, others are in other german museums.
In 2019 his works were exhibited in Gemeentemuseum, the Hague in the Netherlands and also the special exhibition, together with works of Marianne von Werefkin, called “Lebensmenschen” was opened on 22nd October 2019 in Lenbachhaus, Munich, Germany where both artists spent years together and will last until 16th of February 2020.
Marianne von Werefkin is a Russian-German-Swiss painter, who started to paint in the Realism style and later developed her style into Expressionism.
Marianne von Werefkin was born on 10 September 1860 in Tula, Russia. She started to paint at the age of fourteen and later became a student of Ilja Rapin, one of the most well known Russian painters. Here she is in old age, pondering imponderables.
Since her early days, Marianne faced many challenges, which contributed to creating her personality. She was seventeen when during cleaning a gun at home she accidentally shot her right hand.
This misfortune had an impact on the rest of her life as a painter because she had to use a special tool helping her to paint. Werefkin also has more issues with health such as neuralgia and hysterical epilepsy.
Marianne von Werefkin was strongly influenced by Russian realism, which reflected in her early works. Because of her talent to create realistic works she even got a nickname – “Russian Rembrandt“.
In 1893 she painted a “Self Portrait in a Sailor‘s Blouse” – a portrait of herself looking into the distance and holding a bunch of paintbrushes in one hand and leaned on her hip with another.
This work was created in her family‘s Blagodat Estate in Lithuania, where she used to come to visit her father and later her brother, who owned the property and where she had her first work studio.
Moving to Munich
In 1896, together with another Russian expressionist Alexej von Jawlensky, whom she met in Russia, she moved to Munich, Germany, where she studied painting.
Munich at that time was a very popular place for artists from Russia and Eastern Europe because of highly-regarded art school founded by Slovenian artist Anton Ažbe.
Unfortunately, instead of creating for herself, she focused on her friend. According to art historians, they were not married, not even a couple, so their relationship could be described only as friends, but at that time, Marianne encouraged Alexej‘s development as an artist and supported him to create. Later he became a father with the other woman whom he married and Marianne never got married or had a child.
Marianne was also known as an active member of a local artists community. She was very social and use to invite various people to her home, her salon, where happened many discussions about art and various ideas. She brought together not only artists but avant-garde writers, dancers even Russian politicians and aristocrats.
She started to paint again after ten years in 1906 when Alexej was not a part of her life anymore and finished her first works in 1907.
Together with another famous Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky, she created a Neue Künstvereinigung Munchen – an art group, which was dedicated to the Expressionism ideas.
At that time, her inspiration to create came from French post-impressionists Paul Gauguin and Louis Anquentin, also one of the most known expressionists – a Norwegian Edvard Munch.
When Marianne use to visit her family‘s Estate in Lithuania, she got the inspiration for the country‘s landscape and culture which lead her to create paintings like “The Road”, “The Family”, “City in Lithuania” or “Police Sentinel in Vilnius” (shown below).
Werefkin developed her painting style, which mainly consisted of vivid and dark colors. In 1910, she created a new self-portrait, which was different from painting in her early days as an artist.
This one didn‘t reflect Russian realism anymore, Marianne created her painting style influenced at that time prevailing Expressionism.
The portrait is mesmerizing because of the strict look of her vivid red eyes, also red color dress and hat, yellow skin and vivid blue background and has a strong emotion, which is very specific for expressionists.
Next and Last Stop – Switzerland
Because of the First World War, Marianne von Werefkin with her friend Jawlensky moved to the neutral country Switzerland.
At first, they lived in Geneva, later in Zurich, but when Jawlensky decided to marry the mother of his child, Marianne moved to Ascona, where she lived till her death in 1938.
Her life back then was difficult because of her living conditions – she didn‘t get enough money, so she couldn‘t paint and create as much as she wanted.
Despite her financial condition, she kept active in social life and in 1924 created an artist group “Großer Bär” which focused on discussions about art.
Marianne von Werefkin‘s works as an important sign of expressionism were exhibited several times in different locations in Europe.
She together with Alexej von Jawlensky was remembered again in 2019, when the art gallery “Lenbachhaus” in Munich, Germany, where the artist spent one part of her life, created an exhibition called “Lebensmenschen”.
This exhibition started on 22nd October and will last until the 16th of February 2020.
The history of modern art is also the history of the progressive loss of art’s audience. Art has increasingly become the concern of the artist and the bafflement of the public.
When Did Modern Art Begin?
The rise of modern art can be traced to the Industrial Revolution (1760-1860).It was the period of rapid changes in transportation, manufacturing, and technology began around the mid-18th century and lasted through the 19th century.
It was the one of the most crucial turning points in world history. It profoundly affected the economic, social and cultural conditions of life in North America, Western Europe and eventually the world.
Revolutionary forms of transportation, including the stream engine, the large machine-powered factory, the subway, and the railroad profoundly changed the way people lived, traveled and worked, expanding their worldview.
People migrated from the rural areas to the city centers to find work; the center of life from the family and village in the country shifted to the expanding urban metropolises.
In addition, other developments had also influence on arts in this period. In 1841, the American painter John Rand (1801-1873) invented the collapsible paint tube.
The Interpretation of Dreams (1889), a publication of psychologist Sigmund Freud and the idea of a subconscious had a great, epochal influence on arts, literature and philosophy at that time.
The artists began exploring dreams, personal iconography and symbolism as directions for the depiction of their subjective experiences.
The Invention of Photography
“Boulevard du Temple”, a daguerreotype made by Louis Daguerre in 1838, is generally accepted as the earliest photograph to include people.
The invention of photography offered new radical possibilities for interpretation and depiction of the world. Photographic technology advanced, and became increasingly accessible to the public.
Within a few decades, a photograph could reproduce almost any scene with perfect accuracy.
The photography became a serious threat to classical art conventions of representing a subject, as neither painting nor sculpture could capture the same degree of detail as photography.
In regards to photography’s technical precision, artists were obliged to discover new modes of expression, which led to new paradigms in the art world.
The development of photography and its allied photomechanical techniques of reproduction has had an obscure but important influence on the development of modern art, because these techniques deprived manually executed painting and drawing of their main roleso far, as the only means of depicting the visible world accurately.
In earlier periods before 1800, artists were often commissioned to make artworks by institutions or wealthy patrons. The most of the art of those times depicted mythological, religious or historical scenes that told stories intended to instruct the viewer.
From Patronage to Personal
But, during the 19th century, many artists started to create art based in their own personal experience and leaning.
Instead of following the Hierarchy of Genres and being content with academic subject matters, interspersed with ’meaningful’ landscapes and portraits, artists began to create art about everyday things; about the ordinary people,places and ideas.
As a creative response to the rationalist practices and perspectives of the new ideas provided by technological advances of the industrial age, modern art intent to portray a subject as it exists in the world, according to the artist’s unique perspective and is presented by a rejection of traditional values and styles.
In the early 19th century European artists simply began experimenting with the act of observation.
All across the Europe, the artists, such as Henri Fantin-Latour and Gustave Courbet, created works that aimed to depict situations and people objectively, with the all imperfections, rather than creating idealized exposition of the subject.
This new radical approach to art would become known as Realism, a broad school of art and movement.
At the same time, the Romantics started to present landscape as they saw and felt it.
The landscapes painted by J.M.W. Turner are dramatic representations that capture the feeling of the awe-inspiring that hit the artist upon viewing the particular scene in nature.
This representation of a place in conjunction with a particular feeling was a decisive step for creating the modern artist’s unique perspective.
The other artists shifted their focus to emphasize the visual sensation of the observed subject rather than a objective representation and naturalistic depiction.
The Beginning of Abstract Impressionism
It was the beginnings of abstraction in visual art. James McNeil Whistler’s Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket (1874) and Monet’s Boulevard desCapucines (1873) are the key examples.
In the former case, the artists coupled small flacks and large splatters of paint in order to create a depiction of a night sky illuminated by fireworks; it was more atmospheric than representational.
Monet created an aerial view of modern Parisian life. In this scene, he made the pedestrians and cityscape as an ‘impression’, a visual representation of subjective and slightly abstracted perspective.
Some artists connected their work to preceding ideas or movements, but the general goal of each artist in modernism was to advance their practice to a position of a true originality.
Some of them established themselves as independent thinkers risking beyond what constituted acceptable forms of art at the time which were endorsed by traditional academies and the upper-class patrons of the arts. These personas depicted subject matters that many considered controversial or even substantially ugly.
The Rise of the Commoner
In this regard, the first modern artist who stands on his own with his distinctive style was Gustave Courbet.
Courbet scandalized the French art world by his painting Burial at Ornans (1849-50), portraying the funeral of a common man from a peasant village (his father’s uncle).
The French Academy bristled at the depiction of dirty farm workers around open grave; Courbet was ostracized for his work, but he, eventually proved to be tremendously influential to the following generations of modern artists.
The paintings of Gustave Courbet, Edouard Manet and the Impressionists represent a profound rejection of the dominant academic tradition and a quest for a more objective representation of the visual world.
The most commonly cited date that marking the birth of modern art is 1863- the year that Edouard Manet exhibited his painting Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe in the Salon des Refuses/ Salon of the Rejected in Paris.
Despite the fact it was modelled on a Renaissance work by Raphael and Manet’s respect for the French Academy, it was considered to be one of the most scandalous paintings of the period.
Modernism embraces a variety of theories, movements and attitudes whose modernism resides especiallyin a tendencyto reject historical, traditional, or academic conventions and forms in an effort to create an art practice more in keeping with changed economic, social and intellectual conditions.
Art history tends to classify artists into units of historically connected and like-minded individuals. The approach of establishing categories is particularly suitable to well centralized movement with a single objective, such as Impressionism, Cubism, Futurism.
When Claude Monet exhibited his painting Impression, Sunrise at Parisian Salon in 1872, the painting was poorly received. Consequently, Monet and his fellow artists were motivated and united by the criticism; it was a precedent for future independent artists who sought to group together based on the same or similar aesthetic approach.
The practice of grouping artists into schools or movement in not always appropriate. For instance, Paul Gauguin, Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Cézanne are considered the major artists of Post-Impressionism movement.
The movement was named so because the chronological place in history as well as artists’ deviation from Impressionism. However, it did not represent a cohesive group of artists who united under a single ideological frame. In addition, some artists do not fit into any particular category, school or movement.
Despite the inconsistency, the designation of schools and movements allows the broad history of art to be broken down into segments separated by contextual factors.
The Arrival of the Avant-Garde
The progression of Modernism in art led to what is known as the Avant-Garde. The term Avant-Garde derives from the French ‘’vanguard’’, literally means advance guard- the lead division going into battle.
Most of the creative and principal artists were avant-gardes. Their objective was to improve practices and ideas of art and to challenge what constituted acceptable artistic form in order to accurately communicate the artists’ experience of modern era.
From about 1890s and on, a succession of a variety of schools, styles and movements emerged that represent the core of modern art and one of the high points of Western visual culture.
The modern movements includeRealism, Romanticism, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Neo-Impressionism, Symbolism, Fauvism, Cubism, Futurism, Expressionism, Suprematism, Constructivism, Metaphysical painting, De Stijl, Dadaism, Surrealism, Social Realism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop art, Op art, Minimalism and Neo-Expressionism.
Despite the enormous variety, most of them are ‘modern’ in their investigation of the potential inherent within the various medium for expressing an inner, spiritual, response to the changed conditions of life in the 20th century.
These conditions include the expansion of scientific knowledge and understanding, accelerated technological change, irrelevance of traditional source of value and belief and an expanding awareness of non-Western cultures.
Anime and Manga are two different storytelling media. They both originate in Japan, and are closely related, but are ultimately two different things.
Definition of Anime, pronounced AH-knee may, and derived from the English word ‘animation’ is the term used for cartoons in Japan.
Although profoundly influenced by Western models, including the work of Walt Disney, Japanese animation has developed a distinctive visual style and a range- artistic, dramatic, and in subject matter-unparalleled globally.
The first Japanese cartoons were produced in the early twentieth century, but anime only took off as a creative form after World War II, and especially in the 1960s, when animation became a centerpiece in the young medium of television.
Today, anime is widely available in Japan on TV, as feature films, and through OVA (original video animation), productions released directly to DVD and on the Internet.
Although often stereotyped abroad as violent and sexually explicit, anime, like manga, is a diverse genre encompassing humorous children’s fare, sci-fi robot epics, and thoughtful imaginative creations like the Oscar-winning Spirited Away.
Japanese animation has long been exported, with generations of Americans growing up with various series such as Speed Racer, but only over the past twenty years has anime become an international pop culture phenomenon.
Our today’s post is all about Japanese manga and anime. Here is what we are going to cover today:
Plenty of interesting stuff, right!? Stay with us as we plunge into the mysterious world of manga and anime. Let’s start with learning a bit more about manga.
What is Manga?
Definition of Manga, pronounced MAHN-guh, is translated in English as ‘graphic novels’ or ‘comics’, though such words cannot fully capture the richness and diversity of the genre in Japan.
Manga have a long history and their origins stretch back at least to the Tokugawa period (1600-1868) when illustrated books and the sophisticated graphics of Japan’s woodblock prints attracted both elite and mass audiences.
In the twentieth century, mainly after World War II, manga flourished in Japan, drawing inspiration from American comics, like Superman and Blondie, and draining the creative talents of artists like Tezuka Osamu, the famous creator of Astro Boy.
Today, manga are popular among all age groups in Japan, from young schoolgirls to aging corporate executives, and span a remarkable range of subjects, including action, romance, science fiction, sports, erotica, food, and history.
According to some sources, comics make up over forty percent of the books published in Japan and constitute a $4 billion industry, with numerous weekly and monthly magazines catering to the nation’s manga-loving public.
Here is one of the largest manga collections to date…
Next, we discuss the difference between anime and manga in Japan.
What’s the difference between anime and manga?
Manga and anime are at the center of significant innovations and cultural debates in Japan.
Theyare not identical fields—manga can be defined as Japanese comic books, but anime encompasses the breadth of Japanese animation—they have become synonymouswith a distinct Japanese contemporary aesthetic and visual culture in the eyes of many media, culture scholars and commentators around the world.
Many consider manga to be the origin: the creative spirit and energy that spawned anime, and later video games and merchandising spin-offs.
In many cases manga defined the template for the key genres—shōjo, shōnen, gekiga and so on—which have come to dominate the wider popular culture of Japan today.
While manga established the roots of this style during the postwar period, it was through anime that a broader global audience became aware of complexity of Japanese visual culture.
Academics and critics have connected anime and manga to various aspects of Japan including motherhood, architecture, social life and customs, gender, homosexuality, popular culture, history and religion.
As Douglas McGray observed: “Japan is reinventing superpower-again. Instead of collapsing beneath its widely reported political and economic misfortunes, Japan’s global cultural influence has quietly grown. From pop music to consumer electronics, architecture to fashion, and animation to cuisine, Japan looks more like a cultural superpower today than it did back in the 1980s, when it was economic one’’.
Advocates for Japan’s recent cultural resurgence point to the concept of ‘soft power’ in relation to the popularity of Japan’s visual culture.
This refers to the possibility of a new cultural renaissance of increased artistic freedom for Japan, and a level of respect, interest and admiration in the culture and history of Japan’s visual art both domestically and internationally.
Joseph Nye Jr., who coined the term ‘soft power’, sees manga and anime as ideal soft power products, claiming they are immediately recognized and widely admired everywhere. He notes the global success of anime such as Pokemon or Hello Kitty, which projects a soft and friendly image that appeals to children all over the world.
Next, we discuss what makes anime and manga so popular among both kids and adults.
What makes anime and manga so popular?
Anime and manga have long been at the heart of Japanese culture and tradition, with a steady increase of popularity between the generations. Although anime and manga are most popular in Japan, over the last two decades, the popularity for anime and manga has also grown considerably in the USA and all across Europe.
One of the major reasons why anime and manga have stood the test of time and became so popular all over the world is because of their unique ability to grow with their followers.
One of the most famous anime experts, Takamasa Sakurai, claims that Japanese anime has become widely accepted due its unconventional nature. Sakurai claims that „Japanes anime broke the convention that anime is something that only kids would want to watch“.
International fans of anime claim that they love the intensity and complexity of the anime story-lines with the endings being incredibly difficult to predict. They also say that they enjoy the fact that anime is often targeted at adult audiences instead at kids.
In the UK and USA, many kids watched anime TV series as they were growing up, namely: Dragon Ball Z, Pokemon and Yu Gi Oh. These series have created a soft spot in their hearts for anime.
Nowadays, with the growth of the internet and online streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon, anime has become even more accessible and popular. Now, adults all over the world can relieve their childhoods through more age-appropriate anime series such as Spirited Away and A Place Further than the Universe.
Another reason why anime has become more popular overseas in the last two decades is Japanese shrinking population. Anime producers are now making content more suited to Western tastes, as well as producing anime outside Japan as it is much cheaper. Popular anime producers such as Teyuka now produce and push for their anime to be sold abroad.
Why are manga usually black and white?
Have you ever wondered why most of manga are printed in black and white? There can be several different reasons for that, so let’s try to mention some of them:
It costs less
This one is pretty much obvious! The black ink costs much less than the color. Just compare the prices for black ink cartridges and color cartridges for your printer too see the difference in price. The lower cost of production results in lower prices for the end product – meaning the readers will be more eager to buy manga.
The Japanese manga magazines are mostly phone book-sized weekly magazines. The producers do their best to keep production costs at a minimum so even elementary schoolkids can buy them without breaking their weekly allowances.
The producers use very cheap recycled paper and only one color of ink. This results in producing some 300-500 pages of manga in less than $5.
It is also important mentioning that manga are usually done by one person. That means for most manga, the artist has to draw and ink almost 50 pages of manga in a month all by himself.
Unlike comics in the USA, which generally come out on a monthly basis, a lot of manga comes out weekly. Coloring manga magazines would take a lot of tome and would make it almost impossible to release new chapters in time.
It’s a piece of art
Reading through a black and white manga is just as watching a really well done black and white move. It conveys a certain mood, especially in the use of shadows, much better than color could. Over the last few decades manga artists have developed plenty of excellent techniques of using black-and-white art to make their manga unique pieces of art.
Next, we talk about the origins and evolution of manga…
What are the origins of Manga?
The term ‘manga’ can be traced back as far as the 1770’s, and has been used to describe the woodblock prints of Katsushika Hokusai.
While the term ‘manga’ may have been coined in the past it did not gain widespread, favored usage until the 1930’s for two reasons.
First, the popularity and national circulation of newspaper modelled on Western layouts brought serialized yankoma manga into home and workplaces throughout Japan.
Second, the growing job market for manga-ka (manga authors) fostered a sustainable manga industry.
Much of the literature on manga is framed by the question of its origin—is it located within Japan’s past and therefore a distinctive Japanese aesthetic, or is it a contemporary phenomenon influenced by the West?
Those arguing for manga as a continuation of earlier forms of Japanese graphic and visual art point to stylistic similarities betweenpast and present graphic art, quoting the similar ‘dynamic effect’ that manga and anime share with narrative picture scrolls (emaki-mono) from the 9th century.
Critics of this continuity express two main concerns with this focus on the past.
Firstly, they claim that it sidelines or ignores the very contemporary nature of this form and the important influence of Western artistic style.
Secondly, they argue that it has less to do with art history and more to do with responding to current political and popular concerns of manga’s negative effects on youth and culture—that is, linking manga to the past is a self-justifying argument that hopes to show beyond doubt manga is part of traditional Japanese culture and thus circumvent attempts to censor or ban it as trash culture.
Paving the way for the widespread acceptance of manga in the 1930s was the establishment of two types of comic strips in the 1920s: comic strips for children published in newspapers and journals bought by parents, and short political cartoon strips for adult readers.
This division between mainstream children’s manga and political alternative adult manga would remain a lasting feature of the manga industry.
The industry experienced a downturn in the 1930’s partly triggered by the changing political environment as increased media regulation and censorship narrowed content to conform to national political objectives.
In the early postwar period, manga succeeded as a form of cheap entertainment for an impoverished, war-weary Japan.
During this time, the development of manga felt the impact of US comics, as Japanese translations of well-known titles such as Popeye, Blondie, Mickey Mouse, Superman, and Donald Duck appeared.
Along with Disney animations, these comics came to have a significant impact on the style of manga created for children.
An important reason for their success was that the Japanese people yearned for the rich American lifestyle that was blessed with various material goods and electronic appliances.
In the early postwar period, manga appeared in three main forms: kamishibai-picture card shows, kashihonya-rental manga and yokabon-manga booklets.
1946-48 saw a boom in storytelling and picture card shows performed in theatres and outdoors throughout Japan.
The picture card shows would use cheaply produce picture cards that the storyteller would speak to, performing a miniature theatre play.
Here is a video showing how a Japanese picture card show works.
Next, we talk about different styles of manga…
Another factor that supported the growth of the manga industry was the emergence of the book-rental shops. Artists would write manga for magazines or books that could be rented out.
This trend peaked during the mid-1950s as book-rental outlets appeared at train stations and street corners; there were around 30 000 outlets.
The gekiga (dramatic pictures) style was developed firstly in rental manga.
As opposed to the cuter, anthropomorphic characters that filled many children’s manga, the gekiga style contained more mature, serious drama, depicted in a more realistic and graphic style that portrays the tastes of its older readers during the 1950s.
Gekiga’s major impact lay not in its graphic style, but in its popularity amongst poorly educated young urban workers and, during the 1960s, university student activities, where it became part of the anti-establishment politics of the time.
In this regard, Sanpei Shirato’s Ninja Bugeichō (Secret Martial Arts of the Ninja 1959-1962) was influential.
For many critics this story of peasant uprisings is reflective of student and worker anger over current issues such as the Japan-America Security Treaty.
The third form of manga that flourished in postwar Japan was published in small books (yokabon) sold directly to the public.
They were sold in discount book shops and children’s toy shops with deluxe higher-quality manga albums.
In the Osaka market, small manga books known as akabon( red books), due to the red ink they were printed in, attained wide popularity through the much successful New Treasure Island/Shin Takarajima which sold 400 000 copies from its launch in 1947.
The author of the New Treasure Island, Tezuka Osamu, became one of the most significant figures in manga.
Through the enormous popularity of his work, serialized in children’s manga magazines such as Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion, a dominant ‘cute’ manga style was established.
As opposed to the gritty realism and overt politics of gekiga, Tezuka’s manga founded an archetypical manga style featuring cute characters with large saucer eyes.
This style was influenced by Disney animations and comics from United States which had crowded Japan during the Allied Occupation between 1945 and 1951.
Tezuka also incorporated cinematic techniques inspired by German and French movies.
His manga became epic, often spanning thousands of pages, and popularized a longer, serialized form of manga known as ‘story manga’ which would become a standard format evident in today’s manga industry.
Here is a great documentary about Osamu Tezuka we recommend you watch.
Primarily read by children and regarded as cute, these story manga were an innovative break from the rigid layout and brevity ofthe ‘gag manga’ genre and four-panel (yonkoma) comics popular in weekly-magazines and newspapers of thattime.
The development of the manga industry from picture card shows to rental manga and to the manga magazine industry is reflected in the employment history of significant manga artists such as Shirato Sanpei and Mizuki Shigeru.
These artists both worked their way up through picture cards, rental manga and then the manga magazine industry during the 1950s and 1960s.
The 1950s established manga as a popular and lucrative element of Japanese entertainment through the successof children’s title as Tezuka’s Astro Boy and the first weekly comic magazine for boys Kodansha’s Shōnen Mangajin (1959).
Astro Boy became typical of the trend for original manga to lead to various spin-offs in other media, becoming one of the first children’s TV cartoons in 1963, with various remakes since.
At that time, one of the dominant divisions in the manga market is the split between male and female demographics. Critics have suggested that this division may have become entrenched through the segregated school system in Meiji Japan.
During the 1960s manga broadened its content to include popular genre such as sport. Two important early sports stories that helped establish genre is weekly comic magazines for boys and young adults were the boxing story Ashita no Joe (1968) andthe baseball story Kyojinno Hoshi (1966).
Also, the 1960s saw the steady maturing of the manga market and titles which reflected this expansion beyond the children’s audience.
Young adults who had read mangaas children began demanding more adult and sophisticated material; this included not only stories set in the adult workplace andthe world of leisure, but also avant-garde mangasuch as Garo, an alternative manga magazine (1964-2002).
This magazine serialized the popular peasant revolt story The Legend of Kamui and became an important platform for alternative art manga in Japan.
Moving onto Shojo manga style…
The 1970s were marked by a group of female manga artists who pioneered a new approach to shōjo manga.
Shōjo can be defined as manga aimed at girls less than 18 years of age, but is often more broadly applied to manga aimed at a female readership.
While shōjo includes a variety of genres such as horror, sport, science fiction and historical drama, it is commonly associated with slender elegant male characters and romantic, fantasy based plots.
Some scholars and commentators estimate that today more than half of all Japanese women under the age of 40 and more than three-quarters of teenage girls read manga with some regularity.
While initially dominated by male authors, by the 1970s a group of female artists known as Nijūyonen Gumi /Year Twenty-Four Group pioneered a new approach to shōjo manga introducing new themes and approaches such as homosexual love.
These artists depicted themes such as romantic love between beautiful young boys, for instance, Keiko Takemiya’s Kaze to Ki no Uta / The Sound of The Wind and Trees, 1976; while Yumiko Oshima’s short manga Tanjō/Birth, 1970, depicted teen pregnancy and abortion.
During the 1970s, development in manga’s layout and composition, graphic style, and gender- specific formats had become firmly established.
A further significant innovation was to occur in the 1970s with the popularization of the tankōbon (paperback) format for manga.
Popular manga previously serialized in weekly and monthly magazines were compiled in a higher-quality paperback more portable for commuters and more attractive for collectors.
The tankōbon soon replaced manga magazines as the main revenue stream for manga publishers.
Let’s go back to 1980’s and 90’s. This is the period when some of the most popular manga and anime had been produced…
1980’s and 90’s
By the 1980s and 90s manga had become mainstream and were read by nearly everyone of all ages Kyoyo manga (academic or educational manga) is an example of the mainstream appeal of new forms of manga as they were used to inform and educate readers on a range of topics from history and annual festivals to cooking and other DIY (Do It Yourself) areas.
Manga changed again in the 1990s as editors asserted a stronger role in the creative process of manga production.
Some scholars argue that because most editors were more wealthy and educated than artists, adult manga in particular was reformed around their more privileged tastes and interests.
This move away from the working class, artist-created, counter-culture stories of the 1960s and 1970s can be seen in the more factual and niche-interest manga such as the political and economic series Osaka Way of Finance /Niniwa Kin’yudō, and extensively researched nuclear-submarine story Silent Service/Chinmoku no Kantai.
This period also saw the expansion of the global market for manga; manga began to gain a stronger foothold in the United States, long a niche market for Japanese popular culture.
With the release of Akira (1988) and Ghost in the Shell (1995-world-wide release), both based on original manga, Japanese anime and manga began to attract greater international attention than ever before.
These headings were much more ‘mature’ that the standard animation of the time, and their cyberpunk, dystopian themes came at a time of great interest in the approaching millennium.
In 1988, Ghost in the Shell reached number one on Billboard’s video chart in the United States.
By the early 2000s, the manga industry had broadened beyond the familiar Japanese publisher—Kōdansha, Shūeisha, Shōgakukan to include a smaller number of transnational manga distributors and publishers and achieved a globally dispersed audience.
While there are current concerns that the Japanese manga market is becoming stagnant and its fortunesare declining, the circulation of weekly manga magazines have been in steady decline for the last decade-many of the most successfulanime, videogames and merchandising lines began as manga.
The enormously successful DragonBall franchise began as a manga series in 1984.
The 2000s have been dominated by the growth of globally effectual brands that exist across various media platforms.
Power Rangers adapted from the live-action Japanese TV show was broadcast in the United States in 1993, and by 2007 it had expanded to 15 television seasons, 14 series and two films.
Its success was overshadowed by the greater popularity of Pokemon, produced by the video game company Nintendo and created by Satoshi Tajiri, which became a successful anime, video game and character-related business franchise.
Shogakkan’s Pokemon, the animated version of Nintendo’s portable game software was the first huge success by a Japanese anime overseas; its global success has helped establish the abomination of Japan’s character-related industry, and has maintained Japan’s contribution to the children’s entertainment world-wide.
Manga Online and Games
Manga has also moved into online environments offering online manga content and various downloads that extend the audience’s access to manga in a more interactive online environment.
This move away from print media to digital formats is extended even further by hand-held video devices such as Nintendo DS and Sony’s Play Station Portable which offer a number of titles based upon popular manga or drawing upon the manga style.
Manga’s distribution over varied media platforms reveals shifting relationships between the audience and industry in Japan, but also worldwide.
Recently, manga’s development has been impacted by the rice of OEL (original English-language) manga, which straddles the Western/Japanese divide.
OEL manga involves taking the ‘design engine’ of Japanese manga and using it to tell stories created by non-Japanese artists for non-Japanese audiences.
A canonical ‘manga style’ of cute girls, big eyes, beautiful boys and dynamic action that was used as the engine to create the OEL manga stories and art represents a move to standardize the manga product.
Critics of manga include a range of groups such as parents, women’s associations and PTAs concerned over school children reading vulgar and sexually explicit manga and scholars concerned over the sexism and violence directed towards women in manga.
The most extreme critics of manga and anime claim that both mediums can have a negative effect on society, making people more violent and less informed.
There are three broad areas of concern identified. Firstly, too much information, from driving manuals to business information, is being conveyed through manga—a form of caricature that inevitably distorts, simplifies and exaggerates.
These critics note that the depth or complexity or of an issue cannot be conveyed through manga in the same way as prose, poetry or film documentary can facilitate.
Secondly, critics claim that the increasing popularity of manga as an information tool reflects a broader trend in politics, education and religion where the entertainment value of information is highlighted in order to create appeal.
Additionally, furtherexisting concernsthat information that is too complex to be compressed into manga will be ignored.
Finally, let us answer one commonly asked question about manga…
Can anime and manga cause violent behavior?
A final concern is that sexually explicit and violent manga may cause more violent behavior, especially among younger readers.
This pointcame to public attention after several sensational ‘moral panic’ controversial affairs from the late 1980s where manga readers were presented by the media as either threats to socialorder and stability, or at risk of becoming perverted through their manga consumption.
The case with the highest profile in this regard was the trial of Tsutomu Miazaki in 1989 for the murder of four young girls.
He became known as ‘The Otaku Killer’’ due to large collection of porn videos, including anime, which police found in his apartment.
While incidents of moral panic generated of concerns over manga’s effect on society have achieved great notoriety in Japan, it is usually simplistic and unrealistic to isolate one factor, such as manga, as the sole cause of behavioral problems in an individual.
Other factors may include mental illness, family dysfunction, and poverty or drug addiction while an increasing body of research attempts to broaden the debate beyond an exclusively media- effects framework.
Anime and manga should be understood as exemplar products within Japanese visual culture.
One thing that makes manga culture important in Japan is its penetration into nearly every facet of Japanese life and culture today.
Manga are read in many different private and public settings and consumed by a broad segment of the community. In addition, manga and anime have become increasingly popular around the world.
Networks of Japanese and overseas fans are translating and distributing manga, both commercial and original works.
The manga style provides an engine for various fans to depict their own stories and link to each other through this strange world.
That’s all folks! We hope you’ve enjoyed our post! At the end, we would like to recommend you watching some of the best anime videos we have prepared for you:
In front of the model, I work with the same desire to copy the truth as if I were making a portrait; I do not correct nature, I incorporate myself into her; she leads me.
I can work only from a model. The sign of the human form fortifies and nourishes me.
François-Auguste-René Rodin’s story recalls the archetypical struggle of the modern artist.
He was born on November 12, 1840 in a poor area of Paris’s fifth arrondissement to Jean-Baptiste Rodin, an office clerk in the local police station and his second wife, Marie Cheffer.
In 1854, he decided to pursue a career in the arts, attending the Ecole Speciale de Dessin et de Mathematiques which trained boys in the decorative arts.
Due to poor vision, Rodin was greatly distressed at a young age. Unaware of his imperfect eyesight, (he was nearsighted) a dejected Rodin found comfort in drawing, which allowed him to clearly see his progress as he practiced on drawing paper.
By age 14, Rodin had developed obvious skills as artist, and soon began taking formal art courses. While completing his studies, the aspiring young artist began to doubt himself, receiving little validation or encouragement from his instructors and fellow students.
After three years of studying sculpture and drawing, he applied to attend the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He was gravely disappointed when the school denied him admission.
While he passed the drawing competition, he failed three times in the sculpture competition; his pursuit of naturalism did not suit the school’s academic style.
After the third rejection, Rodin resigned himself, at the age of 19, to take job in plaster workshops to create architectural ornaments.
His career in the decorative arts working on public monuments provided him with a meager living for the next 20 years.
He continued to make sculptures, and by the mid-1860s he had completed what he would later describe as his first major work ‘’Mask of the Man With the Broken Nose’’ (1863-64).
The piece was rejected twice by the Paris Salon due to the realism of the portrait, which departed from classic notions of beauty and featured the face of a local handyman.
In 1866, Rodin met Rose Beuret, and she remained his lifetime companion despite his numerous affairs.
Around this time, Rodin found better fortune-filling commissions in the workshop of Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, a commercial sculptor, but the steady work and increased income was disrupted by the Franco-Prussian War in 1870.
A fateful trip to Italy in 1875, with an eye on Michelangelo’s work further stirred Rodin’s inner artist, enlightening him to new kinds of possibilities, he returned to Paris inspired to create and design.
The Age of Bronze
In 1876, Rodin completed his piece ‘’The Vanquished’’, which he called ‘’The Age of Bronze’’, a life-size sculpture of a nude man clenching both of his fists, with his right hand hanging over his head.
A young officer was the model for this sculpture, which provided the first great ‘success de scandale’ of Rodin’s career. The composition and rough surface of the figure were unconventional by academic standards.
The subject also remained obscure- the title only vaguely suggesting classical art- and prompted confusion among critics; rather than clothe his image of man in respected symbolism, Rodin had presented a common man, naked.
The Salon accepted the work, but doubts were raised about its authenticity and many accused him of casting directly from the model’s body; the sculpture appeared so realistic that it was directly modeled from the body of the model.
The allegations were a testament to Rodin’s technical skills, though the suggestion that he had somehow cheated heartily offended the sculptor, who was able to disprove the claim with photographs of his model.
However, the work was validated when it was purchased by Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Fine Arts, Edmond Turquet. Turquet would then commission Rodin to create a monumental bronze doorway for a planned museum of the decorative arts.
The Gates of Hell
As Rodin entered his 40s in the fallowing decade, he was able to further establish his distinct artistic style with an acclaimed, but sometimes controversial list of works, eschewing academic formality for a vital suppleness of form.
In 1880, Rodin began working on ‘’The Gates of Hell’’ an intricate monument partly inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy and Charles Boudelaire’d Les Fleurs du Mal.
Rodin laboured on this project for over twenty years.
It is believed that Rodin chose to draw on Dante’s Inferno for the subject matter. The monument consisted of various sculpted figures, including the iconic ‘Thinker’(1880), ‘The Three Shades’(1886), ‘The Old Courtesan’(1887), and the posthumously discovered ‘Man with Serpent’(1887).
The Thinker is the most famous example.
Deriving from a figure at the top of the sculpture who gazes with melancholy over the hellish scenes bellow him, he represents Dante the author of the Divine Comedy; the figure also represents modern, secular man, strong in mind and body, but lonelyand doubtful in the position he has created for himself as master of his own universe.
The Gates of Hell was a deliberate attempt to rival Lorenzo Ghiberti’s famous bronze doors for the Baptistery of Florence Cathedral, the Gates of Paradise (1425-52), the competition for which is often said to have initiated the Renaissance.
Rodin initially planned to split the composition into a series of panels, just as Ghiberti had done, but after looking at images of Michelangelo’s Last Judgment (1534-41), he opted for a more fluid arrangement of figures.
Although Rodin wished to exhibit the completed ‘Gates’ by the end of the decade, the project proved to be more time-consuming than originally anticipated and remained uncompleted.
The years during which Rodin worked on The Gates of Hell coincided with his relationship with Camille Claudel, a young sculptor who joined his studio as an assistant in 1884.
It proved a stormy romance beset by numerous quarrels, but it persisted until Camille’s madness brought it to a finish in 1898. During the years of passion, Rodin made several erotic sculptures of loving couples.
The most sensuous of these groups was the Kiss (1884).
The critics gave the sculpture the title, but Rodin originally called it Paolo and Francesca, after the story in Dante’s Divine Comedy about a young noblewoman who falls in love with her husband’s brother.
In the story, the couple is killed by the jealous husband, but Rodin focused instead in their loving embrace.
This erotic sculpture was made during the early years of Rodin’s relationship with Madame Claudel.
The Burghers of Calais
By 1899 Rodin had a large studio with several assistants. His work continued to elicit scandal and trouble. ‘The Burghers of Calais’’ a piece from 1889, is a public monument made of bronze portraying a moment during the Hundred Years’ War between France and England in 1347.
The piece includes six human statues, and depicts a war account during which six French citizens from Calais were ordered by monarch Edward III of England to abandon their home and surrender themselves—barefoot and bareheaded, wearing ropes around their necks and holding the keys to the town and the caste in their hands— to the king who was to order their execution thereafter.
‘The Burgers of Calais’ is a portrayal of the moment that the citizens exited the town; the group was later spared death due to the request of Queen Philippa.
The piece was nearly refused for its depiction of the city’s heroes as dejected victims. The figures are arranged all on one level, rejecting the pyramid composition typical of figure groups at the time.
The men look downtrodden, but determined. They are dressed in rags, and their hands and feet are expressively enlarged.
However, their awkward appearance did not suggest the heroic dimension that the town had envisioned, and the sculpture was accepted with some hesitation and compromise.
Monument to Balzac
Similarly, in 1881, Rodin was commissioned by the Society of Man of Letters to create a memorial for the poet Honore Balzac. Instead of taking 18 months to complete the work, Rodin became infatuated with the topic, and completed the commission in 7 years.
Rodin spent years reading Balzac’s poems, finding pictures of him and models who bore a resemblance to the heavy-set man.
Finally, he placed the proud head on top of a body swathed in a huge, shapeless robe and made a mound-like protrusion at his crotch as a reference to his virility.
The commission was ultimately rejected, and after much controversy Rodin decided to keep the sculpture for himself.
After the sculpture of Balzac, Rodin’s pace slowed down, but he had achieved financial success.
Several exhibitions around the turn of the century brought him worldwide renown; exhibitions in Belgium and Holland in 1899, his first retrospective in Paris in 1990, subsequent shows in Prague, Germany and New York.
Unbridled Sentimental Inventiveness
Around 1900, there was a pressing desire to find a new formal approach in sculpture.
The theories of the German sculptor Lehmbruck were symptomatic from this point of view. In his writings, he particularly condemned ‘unbridled sentimental inventiveness’, making explicit references to Rodin’s art.
In 1908, Rodin moved to the now-famous Hotel Biron, the most beautiful 18th– century Parisian mansions, which became his new studio and home of his affair with the Marquise and later Duchess, Claire de Choiseul.
She exercised great control over his life and the sale of his work for seven years, until she was accused of stealing a box of drawings.
Because of her scheming and that of other women around Rodin, friends encouraged him to marry Rose Beuret in January 1917. Rose died two weeks after the wedding, and Rodin passed away on November, 17 of that same year in Meudon, France.
Hotel Biron at Meudon
Before his death he bequeathed all of his sculptures, drawings and archives to the state of France to create a museum in the Hotel Biron at Meudon.
The Museum was opened in 1919; after several years of reconstruction, the museum was reopened in 2015 on November, 12, Rodin’s birthday.
By the time of his death, Rodin was linked to Michelangelo. His reputation as the father of modern sculpture remains unchanged; his many intimate drawings of his models have altered the nature of the traditional respect paid to this eminent artist.
Henri Matisse was influenced by the spontaneity of his drawings, while Cubists and Futurists were fascinated by his sense of motion and the fragmentation of his human forms.
While Rodin’s reputation declined in the decades following his death, his rebellion against academic standards and his vivid expression of the human form planted the seed for a new French sculpture.
To the generation of sculptors coming forward in the 1890s, faced with the conventions of Academic art and the death throes of Realism, Rodin seemed to be the one who had breathed new life into their art form.
The early works of Joseph Bernard, Brancusi, Picasso, Gaudier-Brzeska and Zadkine, all reflect Rodin’s undeniable influence.
We’ll leave you with this video documentary about Rodin.
As a first distinctly modern movement in painting, Impressionism emerged in Paris in 1860s, and the end developed chiefly in France during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Gustave Courbet and the Realist movement first confronted the official Parisian art establishment in the middle of the nineteenth century. The French were ruled by oppressive regime and much of the people were in the throes of poverty.
The art of that time concentrated on idealized nudes and glorious depiction of the nature, and other works of realism. Courbet though that art closed its eyes on realities of life.
In his protest, he financed a bold act, an exhibition of his work, right opposite the Universal Exposition in Paris of 1855, which led to the emergence of future artists.
Salon de Refusés
The same year, 1855, Salon de Refusés / Salon of the Refused was formed in order to allow the exhibition of works by artists who had previously been refused entrance to the officialParisian Salon, the annual, state-sponsored exhibition juried bymembers ofthe Académie des Beaux-Arts.
The 1863 Salon de Refusés exhibition caused a scandal, due to the unconventional styles and themes of works such as Manet’s Le déjouner sur l’herbe (1863).
The painting depicts the picnic of two fully clothed men and two nude women, defies the tradition of the idealized female subject of Neoclassicism in the positioning of the woman on the left who gazes frankly out at the viewer.
Édouard Manet was one of the first and most important innovators who emerged in the art scene in Paris.
By the late 1860s, Manet’s art reflected a new aesthetic – which was to be a guiding force in Impressionist work- in which the importance of the traditional subject matters was downgraded and attention was shifted to the artist’s manipulation of color, tone and texture as ends in themselves.
He incorporated an innovative, looser painting style and brighter palette focusing on images of everyday life, such as scenes in cafés, boudoirs and out in the street.
His anti-academic style and modern subject matters attracted the attention of the artists on the fringes and influenced a new type of painting that would diverge from the standards of the official salon.
Societé Anonyme des Artistes, Peintres, Sculpteures, Graveursetc.
In 1874, a group of artistsknown as the “Societé Anonyme des Artistes, Peintres, Sculpteures, Graveursetc.”/ the AnonymousSociety of Painters, Sculptors, Engravers etc., mounted an alternative exhibition in Paris that would bring about radical break from artistic conventions and launch one of the most popular movement in the history of art.
All the artists had very limited success financially and had few works accepted in the salon exhibitions in Parisian art scene.
Displaying their works in a vacant former artist’s studio, outside the confines of the famous Salon, the Impressionists presented canvases depicting quiet landscapes,scenes of everyday life, full of loose, expressive brushwork to representfleeting effects of atmosphere and light.
In that time, these paintings represented something akin to a revolution in the art world.
Eschewing both the subject matters and technique of their predecessors, the Impressionists demonstrated that contemporary life required a new language to represent the radical shifts taking place in Parisian society.
The critics responded with both awe and horror; conservative critics denounced the unfinished, sketch-like quality of their paintings, while more progressive ones welcomed their innovative depictions of modern life.
The movement gained its name after the hostile French critic Louise Leroy reviewing the first major exhibition of 1874, seized on the title of Monet’s painting Impression, Sunrise (1873), and accused the group of painting nothing but impressions.
The moniker was embraced by the group, but they also referred to themselves as the ‘’Independents’’, referring to the submissive principles of the Société des Artistes Indépendents’’ and the group’s efforts to detach itself from academic artistic conventions.
Age of the Impressionists
At that time, there were many ideas of what constituted modernity. Scientific thought was beginning to recognize that what the eye perceived and what the brain understood were two different things.
The Impressionists sought to capture the optical effects of light to convey the passage of time, changes in weather and shifts in atmosphere; a split second of life, a sensory effect of a scene – the impression, an ephemeral moment in time on canvas.
Their art did not necessarily rely on realistic depictions.
Probably the most celebrated of the Impressionists, Claude Monet, was renowned for his mastery of natural light, painted at different times of day in order to capture changing conditions.
He tended to paint simple impressions or subtle hints of his subjects using very soft brushstrokes and pure, unmixed colors to create a natural vibrating effect.
His ‘’wet on wet’ technique produced softer edges and blurred boundaries that merely suggested a three-dimensional plain, rather than depicting it realistically.
His Vetheuil in the Fog from 1879 is among his finest works, offering a subtle and distinct impression of a figural form. He applied his brush rather quickly to the canvas in order to capture the exact image he wanted before the sunlight shifted or faded away altogether.
This emphasis on the fleeting changes in the natural world was a central aspect of his oeuvre that captures the ephemerality of nature and preserves it within the picture plane.
Monet’s technique of painting outdoors, known as plein air painting, inherited from the landscape painters of the Barbizon School, was practiced widely among impressionists, leading to innovations in the representation of sunlight and the passage of time, which were two central motifs of Impressionism.
As a highly skilled draftsman and portraitist, Edgar Degas preferred indoor scenes of modern life such as musicians in an orchestra pit, people sitting in cafés, ballet dancers, delineating his forms with greater clarity using harder lines and thicker brush strokes.
L’Absinthe from 1876, by Degas represents a dour scene of two lonely individuals sitting in a cafécommunicates a sense of isolation, even degradation, as they have nothing better to do in the middle of the day.
Degas heavily handled paint further communicates the emotional burden or intense boredom of his subjects. This painting, as well as his other works, alludes to the oppressive atmosphere of the city and the psychological ennui of its inhabitants.
Other artists focused on the figure and the internal psychology of the individual.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir depicted the daily activities of individuals from his neighborhood of Montmartre and portrayed the social pastimes of Parisian life, emphasizing the emotional attributes of his subjects, using vibrant, saturated colors, light and loose brushwork to highlight the human form.
In Girl with a Hoop from 1885, Renoir developed a new style he dubbed ‘’aigre’’ (sour), in which he applied thick, elongated brushstrokes complemented by hard lines to portray the young girl in the foreground.
This painting evokes the distinctly carefree mood of much of his work; he focused on representation of leisure activities and female beauty, asserting his disregard for subjects of an overtly critical nature.
Berthe Morisot was the first woman to exhibit with the Impressionists. She made rich compositions that highlighted the internal, personal sphere of feminine society, emphasizing the maternal bond between mother and child in her paintings.
Her work, “In a Park”, from 1874, Morisot combines the elements of figurations with representation of nature in this serene family portrait set in a bucolic garden.
In this quiet image of family life, she centered on the maternal bond between child and mother; her loose handling of pastels, a medium embraced by the Impressionists, and visible application of color and form were central characteristic of her oeuvre.
Together with Marie Bracquemond, Mary Cassatt, and Eva Gonzales, she was considered one of the four central female figures of the movement.
Mary Cassatt depicted a private sphere of the home, but also represented the woman in the public spaces of the newly modernized city.
Her workfeatures a number of innovations, including reduction of three-dimensional space and the application of bright, even garish colors in her painting both of which heralded later developments in modern art.
In her work, “At the Opera” from 1880, she depicts the Palais Garnier of the Paris Opera, which was opened in 1875, and served as a focal point for the city’s social life.
The opera, as the painting demonstrates, was not only a site for culture and entertainment, but also for seeing and being seen. The woman’s binoculars are echoed in the man’s binoculars, across the concert hall, directed at her.
The themes of urbanity are depicted in the work of Gustave Caillebotte, a later proponent of the movement, who focused on panoramic views of the city and the psychology of its citizens.
More realistic in style than other impressionists, Caillebotte’s images depict the artist’s reaction to the changing nature of modern society, showing a flaneur – an idler or lounger who roamed the public spaces of the city in order observe, yet remaining detached from the crowd, in his characteristic black coat and top hat, strolling through the open space of the boulevard while gazing at passersby.
“Paris Street, Rainy Day” from 1877, shows this tendency within his work, through the depiction of the typical urban scene; the panoramic view of the rain-drizzled boulevard presents the newly renovated metropolis, while the anonymous figures in the background emphasize the alienation of the individual within the city.
The painting centers on the apathetic gaze of the male figure, who epitomizes the cool detachment of the flaneur.
Also, his work, as well as the works by Pissaro, emphasized the geometrical arrangement of public space through the careful delineation of trees, buildings, and streets.
By applying crude brushstrokes and impressionistic streaks of color, they evoke the rapid tempo of modern life as a central facet of the late-nineteenth- century urban society.
The Impressionists proved to be a diverse group, but they came together regularly to discuss their work and exhibit. Between 1874 and 1886 the group collaborated on eight exhibitions while slowly beginning to unravel.
Many of the artists felt they had mastered the early, experimental styles that had won them attention and wanted to move on to explore other avenues.Others, anxious about the commercial failure of their works, changed course.
Although the last Impressionist exhibition was held in 1886, the movement remains one of the most popular in the history of Western art.
Considered by many to be the first avant-garde movement of the Modernism, Impressionism served as a springboard for many artistic movements of the twenty century.
If Manet bridged the gap between Realism and Impressionism, then Paul Cézanne was the first artist who bridged the gap between Impressionism and Post-Impressionism.
Cézanne learned much from Impressionist technique, but he evolved a more deliberate style of paint handling and a closer attention to the structure of the forms that his broad, repetitive brushstrokes depicted.
He wished to break down objects into their basic geometric constituents and depict their essential building blocks, and this experiment would prove to be highly influential for the development of Cubism and Fauvism.
As Philip Guston once described Abstract Expressionism as a latter-day ‘American Impressionism’; the surface quality, suggestion of light and ‘’all-over’’ treatment of form in Jackson Pollock’s work, all point to thework of Claude Monet.
Although there are many avant-garde movements that did not take stylistic inspiration from the Impressionists, the group’s rejection of an established, state-sponsored style served as a model for similarly independent exhibition groups throughout Europe during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, such as Wienna Secession or Die Brücke in Germany.
Mersad Berber, one of the greatest and most distinctive Bosnian painters and graphic artists, was born on January, 1, 1940 in Bosanski Petrovac, a small town in western Bosnia in former Yugoslavia.
Few months after his birth, due to the large massacre in Petrovac in the 1940s, the Berber family arrived to Banja Luka as refugees to escape the fighting as the World War II spilled over into the Balkans.
Berber’s father had a hair salon for women in the centre of Banja Luka, and his mother was a gifted weaver, one of the greatest in Bosnia.
She worked in the tradition of Bosnian carpets, which have deep Anatolian roots, and she established school for carpet weavers at the end of her life.
The young Berber inherited his mother’s artistic talent; his skills as a draftsman became apparent from a young age- from his early adolescence he was producing remarkable drawings and painting on paper.
In 1959, Mersad Berber began his formal art education at the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
According to his own word, he owed permanent gratitude to several of his professors; Bozidar Jakac, a classic of Slovenian graphic art, and Zoran Krizisnik, a brilliant curator and founder of the famous Ljubljana International Biennale.
Krizisnik included him in the Yugoslavian selection when he was a second year student, and his etching master Bozidar Jakac, with whom he learned etching privately, alongside his studies at the Academy.
In 1961, his works were exhibited at the Ljubljana Graphic Arts Biennale, one of the prestigious art events of the period, along with works by the leading graphic artists from all over the world.
Berber’s early drawing and prints demonstrated the influence of the academy in terms of technique, and, in the other hand, his interest in expressing cultural traditions using a modern visual expression in terms of subject matter.
He received the prestigious Prešern Award for his work.
In 1963, the young artist started a postgraduate course in graphic arts in professor Rika Debeljak’sclass. His choice of that very technique was to significantly mark his entire opus.
Since 1965 and his first solo exhibition at the City Gallery of Ljubljana, the career of this remarkable artist has been on sharp rise.
The artistic scene in former Yugoslavia, also in that of Tito’s successor Slobodan Milosevic, had been characterized notby anything resembling Soviet Socialist Realism but by a tepid adherence to middle-of-the-road modernist styles.
Very few artists managed to create reputations for themselves outside their own region. Berber’s success in breaking out of this situation was altogether exceptional.
In 1978, Berber received a teaching at the Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo, and set a a studio there. By that time, he had already achieved considerable international recognition, mainly as a graphic artist.
This comfortable existence and professional career was abruptly torn apart by the wars that broke out Yugoslavia in 1990’s, just over a decade after the death of Marshal Tito, who had held thatregion together.
During the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina 1992-1995, Berber’s house and studio were destroyed.
The Berber family escaped in Croatia on a UN transport plane. In order to rebuild his life,he created a new studio in Zagreb, and another one in Dubrovnik. However, memories of the war continued to haunt him, but providedmaterialfor his art.
A wide array of Berbers’s works range from the deep, opaque whites influenced by his travels to Bosnia’s fairy-tale landscapes to the dark and terrible pits of Srebrenica.
His inspiration mostly originates from the mystical world of Bosnia, its Ottoman past, and the tragic venture of its people.
Inspired by the masters of European fine arts fromthe Renaissanceto Art Nouveau, with the artists such as Velazquez, Ingres or Klimt, as well as Yugoslavian painters Vlaho Bukovac and Gabrijel Jurkic, Berber’s work infusesintricate talent and expressive powers.
Berber’s work gives a good idea of the breadth of his cultural interests, but the frequent fragmentation of the images also makes it clear that these are the product of an extremely contemporary sensibility.
His paintings, etchings and prints include elegant female portraits, based on High Renaissance prototypes, with which he challengedthe 16th century masters of the Venetian school; painting of horses which recall his love for the peasant life of the Bosnian countryside; paraphrases of Velazquez, which express his profound admiration for the great Spanish master.
Homage, Horses, and Suffering
Throughouthis career, he made cycles of paintings which chronicle homages, events and dedications. His works are characterized by the intermingling of ancient motifs with a modern and contemporary commentary.
He employed a very wide variety of artistic techniques, from the most traditional to the most contemporary.
For instance, he made a couple of small animated films, and was fascinated by the possibilities offered by new techniques of digital printing, sometimes producing prints of enormous size.
In most of the Berber’s works, the central metaphor is the horse figure, a key symbolic animal which has many differentrepresentations and meanings in various cultures.
In Berber’s own words, this figure is not that of an impressive horse, it is a toiling packhorse from themountains of Bosnia, having deep ties to all aspects of life, signifying hard labor and marriages, wars and funerals.
The expressive capacity ofthis horse, its suffering and its imperfect beauty represent the biography of Bosnian people.
Innovator, Cultural Historian
Berber is known for his mixed technique large canvases, but he differs from the European masters from whom he derived his inspiration by virtue of innovative approach to compositionandhis unique themes.
His paintings frequentlydo not dealwith single image but with conjunctions of images, in some cases places side by side, but in others layered one on the top of the other.
He felt a strong allegiance to the values of ItalianRenaissance art, because of its resemblanceto the art of theItalian Pittura Colta movement, which derived from the later work of Giorgio de Chirico.
Yet, Berber’s paraphrases of elegant images of classical nudes, some of them are direct quotations from the work of David or Ingres, and of Renaissance portraits, were often interspersed with figures in old-fashioned Balkan dress.
His religious and literary references were also strong and complex. Some of hismost impressive works offer directly Christian images, for instance the figure of Christ being taken from the Cross.
Others were inspired by the Sarajevo Haggadah, one of the most important Jewish medieval manuscripts in existence and nowthe chieftreasure of the restored Sarajevo National Museum (Zemaljski Muzej).
In his work he reflects the full scale of the complexity of his country’s multi-layered cultural history as the pioneer of the generation of young graphic artists who opened up the local art scene to global trends.
Towards the close of his life, Mersad Berber made an impressive series devoted to the brutal massacre at Srebrenica, the genocide and the worst crime of the Balkan wars, in which over 8,000 Bosnian Muslims, mostly boys and men, were slaughtered by units from the Army ofRepublika Srpska, under the command of general Ratko Mladic.
The artist regarded the tragedy at Srebrenica as the “big, ancient, sacred theme of hymns” and laboured for years to depict it inhis works, collectingforensic reports, newspaper photographs, video recordings, documents and books, and visiting Potocari and Srebrenica countless times.
These series became elegies not only for those who had died, but also for the death of multiculturalism, which had survived in the Balkans for centuries despite all ethnic and religious animosities.
Mersad Berber diedfrom heart attack on October 7, 2012 in his home in Zagreb.
Nearly forty years of his artistic activity Berber spent as a true Homo Universalis. As an excellent drawer and illustrator, Mersad Berber was occupied with graphic art, painting, graphic and poetic maps, tapestry, illustrations.
He also worked in theatre scenography, created movie posters for movies, such as those by Kusturica; his costume and scenographydesign came to life in theatres in Sarajevo, Zagreb, Ljubljana and Washington.
He exhibited all over the world, from London to Madrid, New York to Moscow, Jakarta and New Delhi, and receivedapproximately 50 awards. Some scholars and experts consider him to be one of the greatest post-Classic artists in the world.
Today, Mersad Berber is one of the most famous graphic artists in the world, who was also included in the Tate Gallery Collection in 1984, makes the aesthetic and ethical identity of his homeland recognized to the million of people.
He deserved his celebrity reputation because he made heroic efforts to get with the history of the region he was born and lived inwith his own personal relationship to that history.
With his unique talent that lets him forge connections between different cultures and tradition, and his intelligence that penetrates the depths of historical experience, Berber brought together styles spanning the range from antiquity to the contemporary era in a manner thatwas very much his own.
A monument is namely a public phenomenon; the public is the commission which reasoned it and which it is dedicated. The physical open space in which a monument exists is technically the only possible medium of the socio-psychological sphere which the monument is intended for: the spiritual reality of its milieu.
Publicness is the monument’s true nature; this is where the monument grows, stands or fails: in publicness lies all the magnificence or nothingness of the monument. If it lacks this public dimension, the monument is just a mass, sometimes a good sculpture or something else but always a misunderstanding that disappears with the monument’s removal.
Eugen Frankovic, The Publicness of Monuments
A French historian Pierre Nora writes that memory attaches itself to sites. Monuments and memorials are indeed such sites. When we try to rewrite today the art history of Yugoslav sites of remembrance, we are facing a depressing fact: such a history has actually never been written.
The absence of valuable art historical and theoretical texts about political and cultural monuments erected on former Yugoslav territories does not mirror the absence of monuments.
Both the first (1918-1941) and the second Yugoslav state (1945-1991/1992) manifested a real greed for commemorations and genuine passion for spatialization of collective memories. Any such project, however, necessitated the implementation of a particular politics of remembrance and these politics are depended on what is imagined as ‘collective identity’ of a community, a nation, or a state.
American historian John R.Gillis stresses that both memories and identities are often attributed the status of unchangeable ‘material objects’.
He dismantles this conception, states that we need to be reminded that memories and identities are not fixed things, but representations or constructions of reality, subjective rather than objective phenomena. Therefore, we are constantly revising our memories to suit our current identities.
Public monuments, both those dedicated to political figures and men of culture, are instrumental in these revisions: those which do not suit to ‘’new identities’’ must be removed in order to make place for new monuments which now spatialize newly constructed identities.
A discourse about political memorials, or any other public monument, we can establish today, radically differs from the usual comprehension of monuments traditionally discredited as “art on command” or “art on commission’”. As artworks commissioned by public agency – a national community, a veteran organization or even a state, monuments are believed to be in ‘service of’ a given power, which they should ‘illustrate’.
However, when examining monuments as visual representations, we (should) understand the monument as the site in which power becomes constituted. American art historian David Summers argued that ‘’substitutive images’’ (the representation of rulers) and the space in which they are used, are ipso facto realization of power, not expression of power, but actual form taken by power in one or another place and time.
Monuments, like other types of visual representations we encounter in the public sphere, such as posters, documentary and feature films, postage stamps and press photographs, play, thus, a constitutive and nor merely a reflexive, after-the-fact-role.
A discourse on memorial sites in two Yugoslav states is not unique. It does not differ much from other countries: since the least the French Revolution, the treatment of public monuments point to the fact that image-making is as old as image-breaking.
Making and breaking are also characteristic of the Yugoslav memorial productions, whereby it should not be forgotten that both Yugoslav states and many of the post-Yugoslav ones were founded after wars.
The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians known as the ‘’ three-name nation’’ (troimeni narod) was founded in 1918 after the First World War. Newly built monuments were meant to establish public memory of war heroism and suffering, but this memory, alas, could be instituted only in some parts of the freshly reunited state, actually composed of war winners and war losers.
When this state became a ‘one-name nation’ (jednoimeni narod) and was accordingly renamed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1924-41), it started to promote the ideology of unitary Yugoslavism, which was constituted not only by dictatorship but also via monuments to Yugoslav kings of Sebian Karadjordjevic dynasty: Peter I ‘’the Liberator’’ (died at1921) and Aleksandar ‘’the Great Unifier’’( assassinated in 1934).
Between 1923 and 1940, some 215 monuments or memorial marks dedicated to the deceased rulers had been erected all over the Yugoslav kingdom. None of these monuments survived, but the sculptors who designed them ( Ivan Mestrovic, Lojze Dolinar, Frano Krsinic, Antun Augustincic and Sreten Stojanovic) did.
All of them would again become engaged in the production of memorials in ‘new’ Yugoslavia.
The Second Yuguslav State
The second Yugoslav state, proclaimed on 29, November 1943, was also a state born of war. After 1945, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia indulged yet again in a statue-mania, which now spatialized the memory of a just war and victory over fascism.
Gained by transnational and multi-ethnic partisans’ forces, it fostered ‘’brotherhood and unity’’ of all Yugoslav people/nations. Thus emerged new memorial sites populated with numberless monuments which, as any such public objects in the world, replayed a collective memory that, since 1945, became institutionalized as ‘their’ history: this was the history of the winners, and winners are keen on selective memories.
In spatializing this memory-as-history, Yugoslav monuments exploited various regimes of representation.
Around 1952-55, the battle between Socialist (mainly academic) Realism and modernism in Socialist Yugoslavia ended with the victory of modernism. Hence, as of the 1960s, the major Yugoslav memorials commemorating ‘’fallen soldiers’’ and ‘’victims of fascism’’ obtained abstract, i.e, modernist shapes; however, parallel to these productions initiated and founded by the Association of Veterans of the People’s Liberation War (Savez Boraca Narodnooslobodilackog rata), monuments based on figurative representation continued to be built all over Yugoslavia till the late 1980s, and often supported by local veterans organizations.
Even if those monuments based on iconic or realistic representations of human bodies (as a rule male bodies) may appear to offer an easier identification and reception by ‘’people’’ , abstractly shaped memorials continue to connote the same ideology: a lack of humanism (understood as the absence of bodily representations) brought about the presence of huge abstract sculpturescalled organic bodies ( as a rule based on phallic shapes such as obelisks, cylinders, erected forms) which connoted again a rhetoric of power, and last butnot least –militarism.
A thematic shift occurred in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Whereas ‘’revolutionary sculptures’’ produced till then restaged the war victory and defeat of fascism, later modernist memorial productions, built on the ‘’sites of the Revolution’’ tended to incept the memory of war as socialist revolution: this happened some thirty years after the war, when memories of it started to fade and meant little to younger generations.
In additions, memorial complexes, designed by artists and/or architects such as Bogdan Bogdanovic, Dusan Dzamonja, Miodrag Zivkovic, and erected on the natural sites where partisan’s victories took place, imply yet another aspect: they suggest revolution to be a natural process.
Therefore, one should abandon a traditional dualism between representational/ figurative and non-representational/abstract procedures. Instead, one should ask in which ways monuments actively performed a spatialization of Communist ideology, whereby the division between iconic and non-iconic representation hardly plays a role.
Since the rise of nationalist ideologies in Yugoslavia of the late 1980s, the antifascist tradition became exposed to collective amnesia, and in most, if not all, post-Yugoslav states it is almost completely negated, if not totally erased.
The devastation and destruction of Yugoslav ‘communist’ monuments occurred not only during the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s, but also later. New monuments erected, or re-erected, in post-Yugoslav sovereign states commemorate heroes and victims of war (1991-1999), but not only them.
Each nation-state built its own monuments which now constitute nationalist ideology viewed through the eyes of victimization and national suffering under ‘’foreign power’’ (as a rule neighboring nation/state), under ‘’communists’’ and even under the international community.
Memories re-enacted in political monuments and memorials put up on Yugoslav territories in the twentieth century are generally memories of violence and, linked to it, militarism. However, it would be historically wrong to assume that representation of and reference to violence is specific for monuments erected in bellicose and brutal Balkan region.
In addition, as in other parts of the world, monuments themselves are as often as not exposed to violence.
American art historian W.J.T. Mitchell, in his article The Violence of Public Art, differentiates two types of violence directed against monuments and other public works of art. One is ‘’the official’’ violence of police, juridical or legislative power, as was the case of the post-1989 removal of the ‘’Communist Pantheon’’, which was in the main based on parliamentary decisions.
The other is ‘’unofficial’’ violence performed by angry masses. He asked several questions: Is public art inherently violent, or is it a provocation to violence? Is violence built into the monument in its own very conception?
Is violence simply an accident that befalls some monuments, a matter of the fortunes of history? In this context, he reminds us that monumental productions are generally dedicated to one theme: Much of the world’s public art-memorials, monuments, triumphal arches, obelisks, columns, and statues-has a rather direct reference to violence in the form of war or conquest.
From Ozymandias to Caesar to Napoleon and Hitler, public art served as a kind of monumentalizing of violence, and never more powerfully than when it presents the conqueror as a man of peace, imposing a Napoleonic code or a Pax Romana on the world.
Hungarian art historian, Katalin Sinkó, who discusses the removal of the monuments undertaken by the Communist regime in her native country, stresses probably the most significant aspect of the monuments’ disfigurement: The destruction of statues as a ritual act proves significant only in an environment which understands and acknowledges the meaning of such symbolic acts.
Accordingly, in the early days of the Yugoslav Kingdom, all signs of Austro-Hungarian monarchy were removed; those monuments to the Karadjordjevic dynasty which did not fall under occupying forces in the Second World Warwere promptly defaced after the 1945 by the communist authorities; after the violent disintegration of Yugoslavia, the emerging nation-states started to acquiretheir new identity by revising (nationalist) memories, engaging thus in a ‘’ memory work’’ which isas Gills points out, like any other kind of physical labor , embedded in complex class, gender and power relations that determine what is remembered/ or forgotten , by whom, and for what end.
The main question is still here: Are there elements of reconciliation in today’s culture of monuments in the Western Balkan?Whereas it appears somehow logical to built Memorial of the Murdered Jews of Europe, 2006, in Berlin, the question is where it would be ‘’logical’’ to erect a memorial to the victims in Srebrenica.
In Belgrade, of course. But, who would (date to) built it there? Monuments, cannot offer reconciliation, but people, sometimes can.. In a public performance held in Sarajevo 1998, the Croatian artist Slaven Tolj drank for some 20 minutes Bosnian sljivovica and Croatian grappa, mixing them.
The subtitle of his performance read: ‘’Waiting for Willy Brandt’’.
We keep waiting…
SYMBOLIC SIGNIFICANCE OFMONUMENTS IN BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
Following the Second World War and the victorious National Liberation War over fascism, the myth of both revolutionary justice and the true will of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia to determine the course of history have been legitimized.
The victory also underlined the prospects of small nations, such as South Slavs, to decide their own future, to create a state and to be triumphant over a much stronger enemy. The victory, thus reconciled two myths: the myth of uprising and the myth of revolution.
The National Liberation War signified a conquest over invaders, and therefore, the victory substantiated the ability of South Slavs to constitute a state rooted in principles of ‘’ brotherhood and unity ‘’. The war also signified the effort to create a new society and a new class consciousness.
For that very reason, socialist realist art in former Yugoslavia, through ‘’ sacral places’’ such as monuments, sought to create the myth that would become underline the idea of revolution, the idea of creating a new man.
The monuments were used mostly commemorated fallen soldiers. They were also used to articulate a spirit of optimism and collective will directed towards a utopian classless society. The spirit of the deceased ought to inspire both those who have survived the war and new post-war generations to further pursue revolutionary accomplishments in peace.
The common practice was to build monuments dedicated to national heroes-such as a monument to the boy –fighter Bosko Buha who was portrayed standing over an open book, holding a gun in one hand, and a bomb in the other.
Totalitarian regimes often insist on youth mobilization as it stands for a new perspective. The official ideology, thus, particularly focused on the heroic death of a minor in order to establish the myth of a new generation that through death and suffering is building a new tomorrow.
The bomb in his hand and the rifle on his shoulder embody the young fighter’s will to create a new future in which radical fighting against the enemy symbolizes the realization of an utopian truth and universal justice for all South Slavic people.
The open book over which he stands symbolizes awareness of collective solidarity and a new future built through labor, combat and knowledge. The monument was set up at the Jabuka Mountain close to Prijepolje in western Serbia, the place where he was killed.
The spirit of the place and the worship of fallen fighters represent one of the most distinct rituals among Balkan nations: the cult of the ancestor. It denotes a static timeless past for which the living must repay the dead, whereas the fallen fighter symbolizes a new future and a new utopian reality which the survivors need to build.
Close to the monument of Bosko Buha stands another one commemorating soldiers who fell during First World War I. in the 1900s, Serbian nationalists, with the intention of deconstructing and devaluating the communist myth of the fighter, built right next to it a monument dedicated to Serbian soldiers who were sympathetic to fascist forces and killed by Partisans.
This highlights a grotesque union of Balkan ideologies of the 20th century that aimed to attain legitimacy through blood and sacrifice. Despite seeming grossly incompatible, they held one common trait: a symbolic representation of the eternal spirit of ‘’our fallen fighters’’ through monuments which regenerate ‘’ political truth and justice’’.
Here, not only different ideologies but also borders of newly created states succeeding Yugoslavia meet: Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. Consequently, the political body and the ‘’ brotherhood and unity’’ between the people and the South Slavic state community, all of which Bosko Buha had fought and died for, has fallen apart.
Even though his sculpture has fortunately not been torn down, it has been stripped of its symbolic meaning; a political assassination took place!
In the context of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the symbolical presentation of the National Liberation War had a great significance because its main battles and offensives were fought on the country’s territory: also, in 1943, the new Yugoslavia was established in the second session of the Anti-Fascist Council of People’s Liberation of Yugoslavia (AVNOJ) in the northern Bosnia town of Jajce.
The multiethnic life in Bosnia and Herzegovina alone seemed to reflect a ‘’miniaturized Yugoslavia’’, even the geographic centre of Yugoslavia, marked by a stone sculpture, was located near Sarajevo and Zenica cities.
In the late 1980s and 1990s, rising ethno-nationalistic fantasies have focused on ‘’under-mining communism’’. The reason why people massively adopted these ethno-nationalistic fantasies was primarily the political emptiness, a vacuum created by the fall of communism.
In this period, monuments that embodied communist tradition were often demolished. This destruction in itself had a double meaning: it sought to erase the communist past in order to make room for new identities and, at the same time, it marked the return to a pure ‘’ancient tradition’’.
However, while condemning communism as a utopian construction, nationalists turned towards an even greater illusion: a utopia that is no longer bound to the future but to the past. Thus the myth of creating a utopian future during communism has been replaced with the ethno-nationalistic myth of returning to the past.
Precisely because of the Bosnia and Herzegovina, as a representation of a ‘’miniature Yugoslavia’’, the consequences following the collapse of the social system and the Yugoslav idea of ‘’brotherhood and unity’’ were more tragic there.
One of the reasons why the war between the ‘fraternal’ nations was so blood-soaked is that the community began to fall apart internally, and the ideology which people believed in socialism with a human face-was abandoned.
This inner decay gave rise to ethno-nationalistic fantasies and identities that were based on exclusion and the denunciation of once ‘fraternal’ nations as hostile, criminal ones. Neighboring nations started to disown their own past and began finding an enemy within themselves.
Thus ‘brotherhood and unity’ between fraternal national turned into fratricide: the murder of the brother.
In this inextricable web of transition processes during 1990s, monuments and citizens in Bosnia and Herzegovina seemed to share a common fate: monuments were demolished and, at the same time, citizens were killed and imprisoned in concentration camps.
The demolition of monuments signified the collapse of the old political community while the emergence of new monuments pointed to the creation of a new political imagination and a new identity. Thus the transition from socialism to ethno-nationalism was reflected in the symbolic power of monuments and it was also reproduced in them.
In the winds of war that swept over Bosnia in the 1900s, not only were communist monuments destroyed in the name of ethno-national policies, but also any cultural heritage that now represented an enemy in ‘our nation’was removed: the Old Bridge and Orthodox cathedral in Mostar, Ivo Andric sculpture in Visegrad, Aladza Mosque in Foca, Ferhadija in Banjaluka, John the Baptist Church near Jajce… The perpetrators of these acts were running away from themselves, from their own past, seeking refuge in a mythical past of holy kings and ancestors, who they believed would protect and renew their own national identities.
Even though the fate of Yugoslavia’s disintegration with all its tragic consequences, became fully visible during the war in Bosnia and was perhaps most notablywoven into monuments in the country, not all of the monuments were expressions to constitutepolitical authority in times of war.
On the contrary, they also symbolize a manifold tradition of diverse cultures that did not form in opposition to each other, but through subtle intertwining and constant interaction which had characterized the way of life in Bosnia for centuries.
The famous Old Bridge in Mostar, which was destroyed during fighting in 1993, did not simply represent the identity of the nation, but it rather opened a place for everyday encounters of manifold, intertwining identities from diverse nations.
Ultimately, the question arises as to how trauma experienced by the victims during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina can be expressed through monuments? In which way can a sculpture commemorate the innocents that perished in the past without fostering the impression that crimes ate the only paradigms to be embedded within the collective memory?
Nowadays, no great ideology exists that could give meaning to the victims as part of a vision of future progress and improvement. Hence monuments that could form a new political consciousness are not built anymore.
However, a need of the people- of those who survived and feel remorse- still exists to express closeness to those who have perished. A rare example is the memorial cemetery in Potocari, close to Srebrenica.
Through the simplicity of its smooth stone and the names of the deceased written onto it, reflects some sort of relation of the living towards the dead. It does not emphasize the lament over the Srebrenica genocide but rather expresses an overwhelming pain that in its ineffability exceeds rational imagination and understanding.
In this way, the monument eludes any narcissistic awareness of collective victimization, the kind of which, unfortunately, is all too often part of the ritualized and populist discourse of the political and religious elite in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The current socio-political climate is marked by the Dayton Peace Agreement of 1995 that ended, or better froze, the war and represents an intersection of contradictory processes that are reflected by newly built monuments.
On the one hand, national aspirations exist regarding the separation of territories and their annexation to neighbouring countries, namely Serbia and Croatia. Thus, in the south-western Bosnian town of Tomislavgrad, stands a monument showing the medieval Croatian King Tomislav.
The monument embodies a mythical past aimed at legitimizing national sovereignty over a certain territory as well as state autonomy. Therefore, the medieval king represents neither elitism that rises above the working class, nor does he embody any aristocratic or divine nobility.
Instead he illuminates the origin of exclusive national will, the power of national unity and harmony. On the other hand, the general commercialization of society stultifies the meaning of public good, leading to the arbitrary placement of cheap symbols and superficial memorial inscriptions.
An example is the sculpture Multi-Ethnic Man, a donation from Italy that was placed in the Svjetlost Park in central Sarajevo. In its banality and impersonality, the sculpture seems to deny the very idea of multi-ethnicity.
In order to create a new political community, or a new unity in Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is necessary to consider all lines of separation and the symbolical power that has divided people and which is expressed by monuments and sculptures.
Then, finally, it may be able to let out the cathartic cry of liberation from the bloody past and thereby at the same time embody the sense for new multi-ethnic unity.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was a painter, illustrator, lithographer, poster artist and illustrator. Born on November 24th,1864, in Albi, France, Henri died on September 9th, 1901, at Malromé Castle, at Saint-André-du-Bois.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was the son of Count Alphonse de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa (1838-1913) and Adèle Tapié de Céleyran (1841-1930), and was born into one of the oldest noble families in France. He was indeed in line with the great counts of Toulouse, who were, despite their illustrious name, were known to pass on health conditions due to selective inbreeding.
In the 19thcentury, marriages within the nobility were routinely between cousins, in order to avoid the division of assets and the diminution of fortune. This was the case of Henri’s parents, Alphonse de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa and Adele Tapie de Céleyran, they were cousins in the first degree.
They had two boys, Henri, the eldest and, four years later, his brother Richard-Constantin, who died a year later.
Henri grew up between Albi, the castle of Bosc (home of his grandparents and also of his childhood) and the castle of Celeyran. The incompatibility between his two parents caused their separation and Henri remained in the care of his mother.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec had a happy childhood until the discovery in 1874 of a disease that affects the development of the bones, pycnodysostosis, a genetic disease caused due to the consanguinity of his parents. His bones were fragile, and on May 30th, 1878, he stumbled and fell.
The doctor diagnoses him with a broken left femur.
Between May 1878 and August 1879, he suffered from this fracture of the bilateral femur, which then aggravates his stunting: he will not exceed the size of 1.52 m or 4′ 8″. Doctors tried to cure him by means of electric shock and placing on each foot a large amount of lead.
Due to his various medical conditions, his torso is of normal size, but its legs are short. He has thick lips and a thick nose, and hypertrophied genitals. Henri made himself a provocateur at the salons.
He is at some point photographed naked on the beach of Trouville-sur-Mer, as a bearded choir boy, or with the boa Jane Jane (called “Melinite”), while simultaneously being very aware of the discomfort aroused by his exhibitionism.
A student at the Condorcet high school, he failed in 1881 at the baccalaureate in Paris, but he was fortunately received in Toulouse at an October session. That’s when he decided to become an artist.
Supported by his uncle Charles and Rene Princeteau, a friend of his father animal painter, he finally convinced his mother it was a good idea.
Back in Paris, he studied painting with René Princeteau, in his studio at 233, Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré, then in April 1882 in Leon Bonnat’s studio, and in November 1882 in Fernand’s studio, where he stayed until 1886.
He then befriended Vincent Van Gogh, Émile Bernard, Louis Anquetin, and Adolphe Albert.
Toulouse-Lautrec lived for his art. Painter in the post-impressionism style, illustrator of the Art Nouveau, and lithographer of remarkable skill, he embraced the lifestyle of Bohemian Paris at the end of the 19thcentury.
In the mid-1890s, he contributed illustrations to the comic weekly Le Rire.
Considered “The Soul of Montmartre“, the Parisian neighbourhood where he lived since his arrival in 1884 at 19 Bis, Rue Fontaine, his paintings describe life at the Moulin Rouge and other cabarets and theaters in Montmartre or Paris.
He paints Aristide Bruant but also in the brothels he frequented and where, perhaps, he contracted syphilis. He had a room in residence at La Fleur blanche. Three of the well-known women he has represented are Jane Avril, singer Yvette Guilbert, and Louise Weber, better known as La Goulue, an eccentric dancer who created the cancan.
Toulouse-Lautrec gave painting classes and encouraged the efforts of Suzanne Valadon, one of his models and probably his mistress.
An alcoholic for most of his adult life, he used to mix cognac with his daily absinthe, in defiance of the conventions of the time. This drink, a favourite of his, was called an “earthquake” or Tremblement de Terre, which was mixed in a wine goblet.
He also used subterfuge in the form of a hollowed out cane to hide his alcohol, which he walked around with constantly so as not to ever need to do without his vice.
He was admitted to a sanatorium shortly before his death at Malromé, his mother’s property, following the complications of this alcoholism and also syphilis. Dying at 36, he was buried in the Verdelais ( Gironde ) cemetery a few kilometers from Malromé.
His last words were to his father, present at the time of his death, referring to the likes of this whimsical and hunting enthusiast aristocrat: “I know, Dad, you do not miss the kill.”
He also cited his lapidary reaction to seeing his father, a hunter at heart, trying to hit a fly that flies on the deathbed of his son with the elastic of his boots: “The old fart!”
At the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum in Albi, reference is made to the last words of the artist addressed to his mother. Lautrec’s relations with his father were subject to many ramblings.
The painter was not an artist cursed by his family, on the contrary. His father wrote to Gabrielle de Toulouse-Lautrec, his mother and thus the paternal grandmother of the painter, on the night of the death of his son: “Malrome, September 9, 1901: Ah dear Mother, that sadness.
God did not bless our union. May his will be done, but it is very hard to see the order of nature reversed. I am anxious to join you after the sad spectacle of the long agony of my poor child, so harmless, having never had for his father a bad word.
Pity us. – Alphonse”
After the death of Toulouse-Lautrec, Maurice Joyant, his close friend, protector, and merchant of his paintings wanted to highlight his work with the endorsement of the Countess Adele of Toulouse-Lautrec. They gave the necessary funds for a museum to be created in Albi, the city where the artist was born, and offer their superb collection of paintings.
His Art Works
Despite a short life marked by illness, the painter’s work is very vast: the catalog of his works, published in 1971, lists 737 paintings, 275 watercolors, 369 lithographs (including posters ) and about 5,000 drawings.
In his youth, horses were his usual subject. Since childhood, he loved riding and had to give it up because of his illness. He continued to live in his works with his passion for horses.
At the beginning of his career, he painted some nude men as exercises, but his best nudes are women. In general, he preferred to start with sketches, but many of his nudes must have been made from nature.
Usually Henri’s models are not beautiful girls, but women who are starting to grow old. To paint this kind of paintings he was inspired by Edgar Degas.
He kept drawing: some drawings are works in themselves, but many are sketches for paintings or lithographs. Sometimes his drawings resembled caricatures which, in a few lines, rendered a gesture or an expression; to realize them, he used various means (pencil , ink , pastel and charcoal).
Although not practicing photography himself, his friends and fellow entertainers include professional photographer Paul Sescau and amateur photographers Maurice Guibert and François Gauzi. He is photographed regularly by them and liked to dress up.
He used pictures of his models or characters as the basis of some works. Spontaneity and the direction of motion of his compositions often come from the photographic instant.
He created 325 posters and lithographs, inventing a technique of spray original, consisting scratch a toothbrush charged with ink or paint with a knife. As an illustrator, Toulouse-Lautrec has made famous posters and, less known part of his work, he also illustrated some forty songs, successes mainly interpreted in the two big Parisian cabarets of the time: Le Moulin Rouge, and The Mirliton by Aristide Bruant.
As he did not need to always subject himself to pleasing everyone by focusing on the nobility as past artists needed to to get by. No, Lautrec chose subjects he knew well or faces that were of interest to him, and as he frequently met people of all kinds, his paintings covered a wide range of social classes: nobles and artists, writers and sportsmen, doctors, nurses and picturesque figures of Montmartre.
Many of his paintings (such as the Salon des Moulins street) show prostitutes because he saw them as ideal models for the spontaneity with which they knew how to move, whether they were naked or half-dressed.
He painted their lives with curiosity, but without moralism or sentimentality and, above all, without trying to attribute to them any fascination. Going the brothel as much by pleasure than necessity (because of disability, there is true affection, so it stands out by giving to see images without trial and without moralistic voyeurism).
Truly a friend to prostitutes, they gave him the nickname “coffee maker” because of his priapism or the proportion of one of his sexual organs.
At the end of 19thcentury, the circus shows were very numerous in France, and Toulouse-Lautrec regularly visited traveling circuses in Paris. In the popular neighbourhoods of Paris, only two circuses were present: the Cirque D’hiver de Paris, and the Cirque Fernando in Montmartre.
In the upscale neighbourhoods of Paris, several circuses offered spectacular stagings such as the Hippodrome with its famous chariot races, the Cirque D’été near the Champs-Élysées, the Circus Molier Rue Benouville and the Nouveau Cirque, where Chocolat is produced, on Rue Saint-Honoré.
René Princeteau, deaf-mute painter and friend of the family circle of Toulouse-Lautrec, is charged by the father of the artist to teach him the art of painting and drawing. Indeed, René Princeteau possessed an exceptional gift for painting and drawing horses and dogs.
In the early 1880s, he discovered Toulouse-Lautrec circus Fernando, located at the top of the rue des Martyrs in Paris. The father of Toulouse-Lautrec, an aristocrat passionate about the world of horses, had taken his son frequently to the Circus Molier when the family moved to Paris in 1872.
Toulouse-Lautrec was passionate from then on for the circus. This environment reminds him of the unconventionality of his family circle. He is also drawn to these shows by the moving bodies, the athletic performances of the artists and the postures of the animals.
The world of the circus was also interesting because of the links that can be made with the ancient circus and its presentation of bruised and tortured bodies in the show.
The other attraction of the circus experienced by Toulouse-Lautrec is the parallelism that can be drawn between the bodies of performing circus artists and his own body. “It is a suffering body, which draws suffering bodies”, as one of the editors of the catalog of the exhibition “Circus in the time of Toulouse-Lautrec”, said, at the Raymond Lafage museum, which took place in Lisle-sur-Tarn from June 18, 2016 to October 31, 2016.
“The number imposes its daily pain at the mercy of repetitions: muscular hypertrophy of the arms, legs, arched back, limbs, rickets, on the contrary, bodies dedicated to the aerobatics, with imposed levity. “However, Toulouse-Lautrec does not wish to inspire complacency towards circus artists.
“The show must be easy, graceful and happy. ” As noted by one of the editors of the exhibition catalog, “is it for the show to hide … the show, I mean, the intimate, that of his own life?”
Toulouse-Lautrec feels as close to values related to this universe with the notion of freedom.
In early 1899, Toulouse-Lautrec was hospitalized because of several mental disorders related to various ailments including alcoholism. He is interned in the clinic of Dr. Sémelaigne in Neuilly. In February 1899, to prove that he had recovered his mental health and his ability to work, he drew from memory in black pencil and crayons a series of 39 drawings on the circus.
There are amazons, trapeze artists, clowns, bear and elephant trainers, horses, and learned dogs. The stands are drawn empty. The audience is absent as if to show that the painter is there against his will.
The doctors, dazzled by the coherence of these works and the dynamics of the movements represented, let him out on May 17, 1899, thus recognizing the perfect state of his memory and his remarkable technicality.
As Toulouse-Lautrec so poetically said: “I bought my freedom with my drawings.”
Federico Fellini, about this set of works, had compared Toulouse-Lautrec to Mozart. Indeed, when Mozart was 14, he once listened Gregorio Allegri’s “Miserere” in a the cathedral in Rome, copying it down with only minor corrections when he got home.
Later, Mozart was summoned to Rome once he was discovered to have stolen the sacred work, only to be praised and vindicated by the Pope for this apparent miracle.
Other painters became interested in circus as well. The painter Degas made Cirque Fernando famous, with his painting, Miss Lala at Cirque Fernando. Subsequently, several artists will be interested in this Circassian universe, like Chagall, Matisse and Picasso.
Lautrec first stayed in Arcachon in 1872, then aged 8, with his mother Adèle. At this time, his uncle Ernest Pascal being prefect of Gironde, he enjoyed the presence of his three cousins, rented in Arcachon or staying at the Grand Hotel, to play on the beach and swim, despite his disability, especially with his cousin Louis who was the same age as him.
At adulthood, he visited the Bay of Arcachon almost every summer where he devotes himself and his friends to fishing, sailing, swimming, and other seaside pleasures, taking advantage of the healthy air gracing his fragile lungs.
In 1885, he discovered, thanks to the medical officer of health Henri Bourges, who shelters him in Paris, the village of Taussat (commune of Lanton) while this doctor joins a colleague Dr. Robert Wurtz who stays in the vast family property extending between Andernos and Taussat.
While the Pascal family, following a reversal of fortunes in 1892, no longer comes to Arcachon, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, arranged otherwise and enjoyed the same year the hospitality of Louis Fabre (1860-1923), magistrate originally from Agen, whom he met in Paris probably around 1890, and to whom Lautrec bought in Taussat the villa Bagatelle and a sailboat called “Belle Hélène” in tribute to the bride and future wife of Fabre, Hélène Estève (1859-?) .
Lautrec will become friends with Fabre until his death in 1901.
His friend and photographer, Maurice Guibert often accompanied him to Arcachon or Taussat. Henri was there in 1896, fishing with cormorants that his father Alphonse de Toulouse-Lautrec, authentic master falconer, taught him to train in his youth.
Lautrec knew for a long time a shipowner, Paul Viaud (1846-1906), 18 years his elder who will be charged in 1899 by the family Toulouse-Lautrec watch over Henri, become alcoholic, undermined by absinthe, and who has had to be locked in a health house that same year in Neuilly.
It is indeed in the villa Bagatelle, in August 1901, that, strongly emaciated by a tuberculosis contracted a few months before, the painter appears on a last photograph. Victim of nervous attacks that paralyze him progressively, he is taken to Malromé, where his life was extinguished on 9 September 1901.
Away from Parisian places of pleasure, the painter came to perform a kind of cure, forgetting his physical disability and finding another joy of life. The paintings made during his stays are far from the Montmartre subjects that made his fame and were intended to thank his hosts for their hospitality.
The reconstituted history of its resorts on the Arcachon Basin gives us a much healthier vision of this character.
An art installation is a three-dimensional visual artwork, often created for a specific place (in situ) and designed to change the perception of space.
The term “installation”, which appeared in the 1970’s, generally applies to works created for interior spaces (ie. gallery, museum); outdoor works are more often referred to as public art, land art, or, to put it roughly, humans intervening on an environment and putting their “stamp” on it.
That said, an outdoor piece can most certainly be considered an “installation” of sorts, but, typically, installation art is most often found within an indoor space, as some artists would prefer to contain their creative statement to the context of a room, which is simple enough for a viewer to comprehend.
The installation, once constructed, is most often expressed in such a three-dimensional setting as has been mentioned: within a room, where the artist includes the environment as part of the work, or other factors, which distinguishes their work from simply hanging a 2-D piece.
The 3-D work is put into a situation and makes use of the off-field, a dimension that is not immediately visible to the person who is watching: the mere fact of including it as a “spectator” calls for notions of participation, immersion, and theatricality.
The space of the installation can be closed (eg limited to a waiting room, a kitchen, etc.) or open (for example a bridge, a wheat field, a square, a street, a city etc.): thus, Land art tends today to be redefined by the yardstick of the concept of installation.
Finally, an installation can be either:
mobile (or re-mountable);
permanent (or fixed);
ephemeral (or temporary).
The installation can most often be assimilated to a sculpture but it can not be reduced to it. One speaks of hybridization and mutations.
It also makes it possible to explode the notion of volume: the installation can be understood as an object of reduced size to a very large space (eg. Monumenta).
Specificity: Some installations are designed for (and depending on) a particular exhibition location.
Interaction: in some cases, the public is led to interact with the installation or even the artist himself.
The distance between the public and the work is more or less abolished; in some cases there is participation, the public penetrates within the perimeter proper to the work, engendering new types of relations between creation, creator, and viewer.
The scenography: some works invite a course, a path and propose different stages or sensorial sequences.
Here is a work by Yoko Ono called “Cut Piece”, from 1965. Watch the video and see what meaning you can derive from this work.
This brings us to the point about art, and what is exactly the point of it all? Is it to create enjoyment for the viewer / person experiencing the art, or is it simply to provoke thought?
As you probably know, if you like art, you must also be aware that there are those of us who just don’t really enjoy art, and, in particular, art that isn’t extremely easy to understand the meaning of at a glance.
Art which challenges the viewer, which installation art can often be, can often elicit feelings of strong dislike or confusion from the person witnessing it.
This begs the question, “What makes for good installation art?” For surely not all installation art is created equal, just like any kind of creative output. Are there no standards? Is it all just purely subjective?
We spoke recently to University of California professor Jennifer Gonzalez, who has studied installation art in depth, and has even written a book about installation art called Subject to Display: Reframing Race in Contemporary Installation Art.
Jennifer offers the following tidbit, “Like any art form, good installation art transforms the way we see, feel or think about the world.”
Of course, everyone sees art differently. Some people aren’t comfortable having their thoughts challenged or provoked.
However, assuming you would like to understand installation art better than you already do, let’s take a trip back in time.
We will now look at the history of installation art, and some context as to how this often misunderstood sub-genre of art came about.
History of Installation Art
The term “installation” is relatively new in its use and in its definition as an artistic concept.
In 1958, the artist Allan Kaprow spoke of the “environment” to describe his productions, which consisted of the creation of a room requiring the intervention or the situation of the spectator and the place in a sort of happening, later described as “performance.”
In the same year, French artist Yves Klein invited the public to visit the Iris Clert gallery space in Paris to present his latest work, the “Exposition du vide”: floor, ceiling and walls painted white, all lit by a bluish light.
Playful, participative and mobile dimensions are already present in these avant garde works.
In retrospect, contemporary artists themselves are part of a genealogy, which, at the turn of the 1920’s, saw the appearance of certain artists (alone or in groups) capable of organizing, presenting and staging their productions in a non-conformist way.
Art theorists situate this phenomenon in the context of movements such as Dadaism and Surrealism: for example, Marcel Duchamp, who is the designer of the International Exhibition of Surrealism at the Galerie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, or the Merzbau by Kurt Schwitters, two artists who, however, worked in the secret of their workshops.
In 1969 the public discovers Given, Duchamp’s last work, begun in 1946 and completed in 1968: the artist described it as a “demountable approximation” and is accompanied by ” a specification, which makes it, in theory, “remountable”.
The first “ephemeral” installation, designed to be destroyed after a brief exhibition, was realized in 1956 in Barcelona by the Catalan poet Joan Brossa.
In Japan, the Gutai group was expressing itself through neo-dadaist performances and forms of installations.
In 1958, Wolf Vostell realized an installation, The Black Room ( Das schwarze Zimmer ), and exhibited in 1963 at the Smolin Gallery of New York an installation called 6 TV De-coll / age.
Depending on their fashions and arrangements, in a setting that has its own dynamics, the installations use traditional media such as painting , sculpture , photography , but more often more recent media such as projections (film, video), sound, lighting.
An artist like Nam June Paik was the first to use a mixed technique, combining television, video, sounds and lights in Exposition of Music – Electronic Television at the Parnass Gallery in Wuppertal in 1963.
Artists of the Fluxus and Lettrist group also expressed themselves through temporary installations, more or less provocative.
In the early 1980’s, interactive visual and sound installations appeared, using analogue and digital means, such as Jean-Robert Sédano and Solveig de Ory .
Beginning in the 1990s, the installations use computer tools either to drive the effects or to form the main medium, with artists like Perry Hoberman, David Rokeby, or digital and immersive with Jeffrey Shaw or Maurice Benayoun.
Now we shall take a look at some of the more famous, and sometimes infamous, installation artists the world has seen thus far…
Famous Installation Artists You Should Know About
Installation artists are not always the most well-known artists many students of art history will come across when studying art, which is strange, since installation art is some of the most groundbreaking and often hard-to-miss artistic statements that can be made.
Take, for example, this digital installation piece by Kyra Schmidt, which dominates an entire landscape.
As mentioned previously, the distinction between this art being considered “installation art” and “land art” comes down to the artists’ statement of their own work, and the viewers’ perception as well, since the artist clearly isn’t going to be present to guide each viewers’ opinion as to how to define what they are seeing. The art, in other words, speaks for itself, and, in a real sense, doesn’t care what the viewer thinks of it.
To beleaguer the point a bit more, Robert Smithson’s “Spiral Jett” could be seen as land art, or installation art, or an earthwork sculpture, but it also simply is.
Installation art is such a powerful medium because it is often more than 2-D, reaching into the realm of experience-based media that affects us in a different way from a painting, or other types of media.
The point of much installation art is to express something truly epic, or a feeling that can only be felt in the world or context of that particular piece.
The list of popular and, in fact, legendary installation artists is not a short one. As a student of art, and as someone obviously curious about the creative process, I hope you enjoy this list of the most famous installation artists of all time that everyone should know about. (*It is, of course, up to you to determine whether or not you agree that they should be on this list, and it would be interesting to hear your opinion in the comments below)
Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese contemporary artist who is well-known for her extensive resume in the arts and her long list of exhibitions and permanent installations.
She started achieving success in the 1950’s, and is now one of the most famous Japanese female artists, recently making the Time Magazine list of the 100 most influential people.
A very colourful person in life, Yayoi’s art immerses the viewer in an experience that takes them well beyond the bounds of the ordinary, usually involving polka dots in some way.
In 2017, the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC opened up an exhibition celebrating her 50 years of work, and that same year, a museum named after her was instituted in Tokyo.
Her exhibitions are considered a must-see experience.
Watch this trailer for Kasuma (Infinity), about the artist.
Ai Weiwei is an artist from Beijing, China. He is a filmmaker, visual artist, installation artist, author, and architectural artist. He is, or at least was, an extensive blogger, finding a place to express his vitriolic commentary on the Sina Weibo platform in the early micro-blogging days of the internet.
His most notable works include teaming up with architects to design and create the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Olympics, but make no mistake, this man’s legacy cannot really be summed up in just a couple of big pieces.
Ai Weiwei is a human-rights activist that has been publicly vocal about his distaste for the Chinese government.
In fact, Ai has been embroiled in several controversies over his long and storied career, including a tax scandal, and being arrested. He always seems to have the government nipping at his heels.
Despite being at odds with his own government for things he says or does, he is the recipient of many awards over his lengthy career, including the Appraisers Association Award for Excellence in the Arts and the Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award.
Here is an interesting interview with Ai Weiwei that will give you an idea of who this man is.
Up next…Damien Hirst.
Damien Hirst is an English artist and art collector. His most notable work that seems to be his big (though perhaps improbable) “hit” is called The Physical Impossibilities of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, which is a large tiger shark suspended in blue formaldehyde in a tank, created in 1991.
Here’s a video featuring this catchily-titled piece, with discussion between Beth Harris, Sal Khan and Steven Zucker.
This shark piece is quite notorious by now, and elicits many different reactions from onlookers. Is it beautiful? Is it horrifying? It depends on who’s looking at it, and their mood on the time, not to mention their own relationship with the subject matter imposed on the viewer by the artist: death.
Hirst is a two-time Turner Prize recipient. Some of his other works includes the recreation of a chemists studio, called Pharmacy, Away From The Flock, which was a dead sheep in formaldehyde and The Dream, which was a unicorn suspended in formaldehyde.
And just when you thought you’ve seen it all when it comes to unicorns suspended ominously in tanks of formaldehyde, there’s also this…
A central theme of Hirst’s work is, as you may have guessed by now, …. death.
Born in Colombia, Doris Salcedo is a visual artist most known for her usage of commonplace items in her work.
She is the recipient of The Guggenheim Fellowship for Visual Arts, a prestigious grant for exceptional work in the arts, along with many other renowned awards.
She has shared that her approach to creating installation art is: “The way that an artwork brings materials together is incredibly powerful. Sculpture is its materiality. I work with materials that are already charged with significance, with meaning they have required in the practice of everyday life…then, I work to the point where it becomes something else, where metamorphosis is reached.”
Check out this video, where Doris talks about the nature of her work.
Bruce Nauman is an artist from the United States that is well versed in many different art forms. His work spans drawing, sculpting, working with neon and more.
There is an undeniable sexuality to his work that, when combined with the somewhat crude, universalized advertisement-like overtones in his work…the sort of eye grabbing modernity…that make the viewer subject to a wide array of reactions and emotions.
Since his first exhibition in 1966, his work has become widely known. His work has been featured in numerous prestigious museums, including Documenta, the Whitney Biennial and the Venice Biennale.
He is the recipient of 8 awards and accolades, and is generally celebrated as a progressive artist the world over, going by the credo that “the true artist helps the world”.
Joseph Beuys was a German artist who practiced all forms of art. His art philosophy was “extended definition of art” and the idea of social sculpture as a gesamtkunstwerk, which means a work of art that uses all art forms, or tries to.
In other words, he once covered himself in a blanket and got in a room with a coyote to see what would happen. The title here was “I Like America and America Likes Me”. Well, it sure does!
His impressive body of work includes visual, installation, and performance art, but he also contributed in an academic way, with art theory.
He also had an impressive list of exhibitions that have been held posthumously.
Here is a short video asking the question, “Who is Joseph Beuys?”
Up next…Allan Kaprow.
Allan Kaprow was an American artist best known for his installation art and paintings.
He described his philosophy on art as “concrete” or using commonplace materials like “paint, chairs, food, electric and neon lights, smoke, water, old socks, a dog, movies” to make an impact.
He studied art and philosophy in school, and began teaching. He created a series of well-known installations called the Happenings, as a mixture of performance and installation art.
Here’s a video from 1988 in NYC that delves into some of Allan’s interesting happenings, and what they involved.
So far, we’ve discussed famous installation pieces, artists, and the background of the medium. Installation art has been disruptive in such a short amount of time and has given us some incredible artists with impactful work from all over the world.
But why is installation art influential? What about it makes it a necessary form of conceptual art? Well, there are three main reasons why we need it: critical thinking, inspiration, and emotion.
When you ask an installation artist the meaning behind their work, it’s often intense and thought-provoking.
For example, Doris Salcedo focuses her installation pieces around the themes of death, war, violence, and violence against women in her home country of Colombia.
Judy Chicago focuses her work on Feminist issues, and her piece “The Dinner Party,” is critically acclaimed and world-renowned.
These themes are underlying, and they’re abstract compared to the pieces themselves, which means audiences have to think critically about what the subject matter they’re ingesting.
The ideas and the impact of them are more important than the installation itself, as the artist is presenting a message in a way that makes people think.
Installation art aims to shift the focus from the literal visual representation of a piece to what the conceptual meaning is behind it.
Reworking how we consume art requires critical thinking and a shift in subjective perspective among individual viewers.
While the themes are not always immediately apparent, the artist is deliberate in every aspect of the piece. There is no texture, medium, or detail that is not intentional in a piece of installation work.
Over and above critical thinking, installation art fosters a dialogue between viewers. It sparks a conversation among critics and other artists in the installation community.
It creates an experience for the audience, more so than a painting or sculpture. Installation art breaks boundaries in many ways.
“If a traditional work of art allows us to appreciate the craftsmanship of the artist, an installation allows us to experience the ‘artwork’ and perhaps even rethink our attitudes and values.” – Encyclopedia of Art
Installation pieces are not confined to the walls of museums and galleries.
Some pieces, like Yayoi Kusama’s outdoor sculptures, Ai Weiwei’s “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors,” or Arnaud Lapierre’s “Ring – Chain,” are all beautiful examples of artwork that are in public spaces.
It’s inspiring to be living your daily life and come across a large-scale piece of artwork that makes you ponder. Artwork that makes us question, deliberate, and inspires us is a gift.
The idea that anything is possible through art is exciting. As a creator, there are no limits. Creating art is ingrained in our being, which is why it inspires us so.
An installation piece provides a different kind of experience for someone, and each person looks at it and interprets it a little different.
Installation art can inspire change. So many artists explore heavy themes that are deliberately brought to the attention of their audience that they may not otherwise have been aware of.
These pieces of art inspire people to continue to spread awareness and create change in their communities.
Installations are typically temporary, which helps convey the concept of attachment.
In Buddhism, the idea of attachment is the cause of all suffering. We take with us our memories, and nothing else, so installation art can help inspire us to be less attached.
“Any form of art is a form of power; it has impact; it can affect change – it can not only move us, it makes us move.” – Ossie Davis
Installation art can have some dark themes behind its creation. Cultural issues, political issues, war, death, oppression, and other subjects that aren’t necessarily easy to discuss.
The goal behind installation art is to evoke emotion and conversation and to bring light to issues that are important to the artist.
For example, artist Damien Hirst focuses a lot of his artwork around death. His use of dead animals suspended and preserved with formaldehyde called “The Physical Impossibilities of Death in the Mind of Someone Living,” is intended to make audiences feel a bit uneasy or uncomfortable.
Being able to assimilate the experience of an installation piece makes it all that more special. It creates an intimate moment between the viewer and the artwork in a way that a painting or more traditional piece can’t.
This moment only grows more profound when the installation piece is interactive, or the viewer becomes a part of the story.
“I think art, more than anything else, helps humans to synthesize emotion and to synthesize parts of ourselves, so therefore, as an artist, I feel a responsibility to try and facilitate that synthesis.” – Jennifer Nettles
Why is Installation Art a Need?
Installation art transcends aesthetic preference, since typically it uses materials that are mundane and ordinary, and goes straight for symbolism and meaning.
It demands critical thinking and emotion of its viewers, and it inspires other artists to create. It creates meaningful connections between the artist and the audience, mainly if their work is speaking for those who do not have a voice.
In the history of art, conceptual art is relatively new, but that doesn’t demean its significance and authority in the art world. Installation art is an experience, and it’s a necessary medium in our society.
Whether you’re personally a fan of this art style or not, there is something to be said about the impact it can have on us when it’s created with care.
“All of the significant art of today stems from Conceptual art. This includes the art of installation, political, feminist, and socially directed art.” – Sol LeWitt
Each of these artists listed are extremely talented and well-known individuals in the installation art community, and now, hopefully, you will have a better understanding of installation art in terms of its context in the art world, place in history, and possibilities you may wish to pursue if you were questioning whether or not painting or drawing is the medium for you.
Again, leave a comment if you wish.
“Just as the development of earth art and installation art stemmed from the idea of taking art out of the galleries, the basis of my involvement with public art is a continuation of wall drawings.” – Sol LeWitt