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Fluxus – When Art Got Cancelled

fluxus street theatre

flux definition

Fluxus is a global, anti-high-art interdisciplinary art movement that all started in New York in 1960, and was founded by George Maciunas (Jurgis Mačiūnas), who was born in Kaunas, Lithuania, and emigrated with his family to the USA because of the Soviet occupation.

fluxus manifesto

Maciunas has described Fluxus as “a fusion of Spike Jones, gags, games, Vaudeville, Cage, and Duchamp.”

“Fluxus”, as a word, came from the Latin meaning “floating”, giving an impression of something changing and moving, not chained to one spot.

Performance Still 1985, 1995 by Mona Hatoum born 1952

In his manifesto for Fluxus, Maciunas mentions a “purge the world of bourgeois sickness”, referring to all that is “intellectual” and lofty in art.

In essence, Fluxus was designed to shake up the art world, since it was determined by its adherents that art had become part of “the Institution” or “the elite”, and therefore needed an injection of reality, or “NON ART REALITY” into the mix.

fluxus 1

Preceded by Dada and Futurist art movements, Fluxus cast its net even wider, in terms of what it sought out to accomplish, having an even more profound effect on the world.

And, although many high-minded artistes had not, and still to this day perhaps have not accepted or acknowledged the existence of Fluxus as legitimate movement, Fluxus did what it set out to do and more.

Here’s a quick video that will introduce you to George, and Fluxus…

Who was a part of the Fluxus movement?  You may know some of these names: Yoko Ono, Jonas Mekas, George Brecht, Nam Jun Paik, Wolf Vostell, Dick Higgins, Alison Knowles, Ben Vautier, among others.

Interdisciplinary

According to art historians and those-who-pay-attention, one of the main influencers of the Fluxus movement was a French-American artist Marcel Duchamp. He was known as a conceptual artist and the avant-garde Dada wave in the first half of the 20th century.

He is known by many art students as “the urinal guy”, as he was the one that famously called a urinal “Fountain” and signed it with a pseudonym.

duchamp fountain

How does Duchamp tie in with Fluxus?  Well, Henri-Robert-Marcel Duchamp was a French-American painter, sculptor, chess player, and writer whose work is associated with Cubism, Dada, and conceptual art.  When he made “Fountain” in 1917, he was on the front lines of avant-garde art, pushing boundaries and enraging critics.  But also notice the number of disciplines that Duchamp was involved in, which were many.

This idea of the interdisciplinary avante-garde artist is part of what defined Fluxus artists, decades later.  It is true to say that Fluxus artists were all very versatile in terms of their talents, and interests.  This is in contrast to artists in days of old, who were usually known to be skilled at one thing and one thing only.  To the Fluxus artist, they did not restrict themselves to one medium, and, in fact, many of their works were across multiple disciplines.

yoko ono iconic works

New York Avant-Garde Pre-Fluxus

At the beginning of the 1960’s, before Fluxus was officially created or defined in any way as a movement, the art world of New York was popping with various avant-garde performances, Chambers Street loft concerts, readings, or happenings.

Here such artists as Japanese Toshi Ichiyanagi and Yoko Ono or Mac Low and Dick Higgins, as well as George Maciunas himself had performed on various events that had a strong influence on Fluxus later on, borrowing from the Dadaists of the ’20’s and ’30’s.

Next to these performances, artists created their art in physical forms that were becoming increasingly unique, and one of the most known examples of it was “Fluxus boxes”.

fluxus box

It was a real box filled with different things such as game cards, matches, letters, etc.

One of the main ideas that Fluxus was representing, is that the artists combined different materials and media and wanted to see what you can create, making the observer now become part of the art, and, in effect, become an artist themselves.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that the humor factor was very important to Fluxus artists, and looking at the art itself with a little bit of sarcasm was a must.  Humor was always considered a quality that art should not portray, but with Fluxus, humor was definitely a part of the “game”.

Next stop: Europe

Meanwhile, as avant-garde events took place in New York, George Maciunas took a job as a graphic designer for the US Air Force base in Wiesbaden, Germany because he was running out of money.  Ah, that artist life!

fluxus art

And, although the creator of Fluxus had flown the coop, so to speak, Fluxus itself did not die in New York, nor did it arrive D.O.A. in Europe.

Maciunas created the first Fluxus festival in Germany, during which various performances and concerts were happening to grow the Fluxus movement.

One of the most scandalous performances was when Maciunas together with his friends Emmett Williams, Dick Higgins, and others created an interpretation of famous American musician, Philip Corner’s piano by totally destroying it.

It became so popular in Germany and Europe, that it got a lot of media attention and helped to spread the name of Fluxus around the world.

Coming Home and Getting Married

George Maciunas was definitely one of the most iconic figures of Fluxus. His weird, expressive, and unique ideas sparked the avant-garde art wave and gave a new way to look at what art is and what it is used for.

Even though he died at a young age, right before his death, he had created probably one of the most spectacular events not only of Fluxus, but his own life too.

He married the poet Billie Hutching, who also was his close friend, on February 25, 1978, in SoHo, New York.

The wedding was done in Fluxus style, because, after the official ceremony, they made an official Fluxus ceremony which was filmed by their friend and video artist Dimitri Devyatkin.

fluxus wedding

During this performance, the couple exchanged their wedding clothes. This act showed that even something as sacred as a marriage can be turned on its head, and it was probably one of Maciunas’s victories against traditionalism itself.

More About Fluxus Avant-Garde Movement

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Yves Tanguy – Psychoanalyzer

yves tanguy

Raymond Georges Yves Tanguy was born in Paris on January 5th, 1900.

yves-tanguy.jpg!Portrait

He attended lycée during the 1910s, which is where he would meet his future lifelong friend and dealer, Pierre Matisse. Tanguy befriended poet Jacques Prévert in 1920 during military service, and he returned to Paris in 1922.

This is when he began to sketch café scenes and progressed into painting in 1923 when he first experienced Giorgio de Chirico’s work. In 1924, he became interested in Surrealism when he saw La Révolution surréaliste, and he was welcomed into André Breton’s group in 1925.

While he possessed no formal training, he was a natural, and his talent developed quickly. He reached his mature style by 1927, and his first show was held that same year at the Galerie Surréaliste in Paris.

Galerie Surréaliste

He was in the 1928 Surrealist exhibition at the Galerie au Sacre du Printemps with the likes of Max Ernst, André Masson, Jean Arp, Joan Miró, and Pablo Picasso. During the 1930s, he would be in many solo and group exhibitions all over the world.

“The painting develops before my eyes, unfolding its surprises as it progresses. It is this which gives me the sense of complete liberty, and for this reason, I am incapable of forming a plan or making a sketch beforehand.”

tanguy surreal art

The Psychological Institute of Vienna contrasted the work of Tanguy against the creations of schizophrenic patients in 1950. The public could not distinguish between the two, which delighted Surrealists.

André Breton said of Tanguy’s work that one day they “will be made clear with a language which is not yet understood but which people are soon going to read, which they are going to talk, and which they are going to perceive is best adapted to the new changes.”

Tanguy suffered a fatal stroke in January 1955 at Woodbury. He was later cremated, and his ashes were kept until his wife’s death in 1963. Matisse scattered their ashes at the Douarnenez beach in Brittany.

His Work

Tanguy was obsessed with dreams, childhood memories, psychotic episodes, and hallucinations, making his artwork exceptionally personal. His work has many interpretations that evoke strong emotions from the viewers while allowing them to use their imagination.

yves tanguy

While many Surrealists focus on the unconscious and dreams, Tanguy stood out because of his naturalistic precision and execution of his thoughts and vividly assigned the unconscious a real space.

He likely pulled inspiration from places he’s lived, like the bizarre rock formations he utilized were probably drawn from Brittany’s terrain, where his mother once lived. He produced over 150 pieces between the 20s and 50s.

“I believe there is little to gain by exchanging opinions with other artists concerning either the ideology of art or technical methods.”

Mama, Papa is Wounded! (1927)

One of his most known pieces, Mama, Papa is Wounded! has a post-apocalyptic landscape. Combined with the content, palette and light, the painting feels unsettling and uncomfortable.

Mama, Papa is Wounded! (1927)

“The picture is a fantastic landscape, illuminated by a grayish-violet unearthly light. Against the background of the desert space, there are several strange objects that are completely unconnected: a cactus, beans, a yellow figure and a peculiar “shaggy” stick.

A dark cloud occupying the right side of the canvas hangs menacingly over the field. The title of the work not only does not explain what is happening but, as is often the case with Surrealists, creates an even greater mystery, thereby making the audience curious.” – Sketchline.

Noyer Indifférent (1929)

The fascination that Tanguy experienced between Surrealism and psychoanalysis is illustrated in this painting. Carl Jung was the original purchaser of this piece in 1929 when Tanguy was relatively unknown.

Noyer Indifférent (1929)

It was kept in his study, where it helped influent his work. Jung described Tanguy’s genius as a “minimum of intelligibility with a maximum of abstraction.” The painting depicts four biomorphic forms against a totally dark background, surrounding a central cobweb image, casting shadows.

It’s unclear what exactly the objects are supposed to be in an ambiguous atmosphere. Jung’s interpretation of the work as a collective unconscious fantasy of the technological age and surveyed people he knew about what they thought the images were.

Many saw planets, creatures, cities, and bombs. He saw it as “cosmic inhumanness and infinite desolation” and an archetypal sign of the heavens. Paul Eluard spoke about the empty stillness in the piece in one of his poems dedicated to Tanguy, saying, “From the ends of the earth to the twilight of today/Nothing can withstand my desolate images.”

Indefinite Divisibility (1942)

Indefinite Divisibility has many conflicting shapes that all demand attention from the viewer. There are bowls of water, anthropomorphic shadows, and space where dreams and reality meet.

indefinite-divisibility-yves-tanguy-1942-c7a8a4cb

There are apparent objects like a clamp, propeller, and petal, among the other items. Tanguy explicitly intended to trigger emotions while leaving his work ambiguous.

Other notable works of Tanguy include:

Blue Bed, 1929

Death Awaiting his Family, 1927

Exquisite Corpse, 1938

Extinction of Useless Lights, 1927

I Came Like I Promised, 1926

Large Painting Representing a Landscape, 1927

Multiplication of the Arcs, 1954

Outside, 1929

Palace on windows rocks, 1942

Phantoms, 1928

Promontory Palace, 1931

Reply to Red, 1943

Slowly Toward The North, 1942

Storm(Black Landscape), 1926

The Hand in the Clouds, 1927

The Ribbon of Extremes, 1932

The Travelling Performers, 1926

Through Birds Through Fire But Not Through Glass, 1943

Tomorrow, 1938

Wind, 1927

His Legacy

Tanguy’s work is immediately recognizable, as his style is one-of-a-kind. His style is still an essential influence for Surrealism artists, but it directly coloured the work of artists like Wolfgang Paalen, Esteban Francés, and Roberto Matta in the 30s.

Yves Tanguy, Through Birds, Through Fire and Not Through Glass, 1943

His paintings directly influenced the animated movie Le Roi et l’oiseau, by Paul Grimault and Prévert. While Tanguy’s work is Surrealism, his career is essentially the bridge between Abstract Expressionism and Surrealism.

His work with automatism impressed the likes of Mark Rothko, and Jackson Pollock and his early works paved the way for Salvador Dalí and inspired the sculptures of David Hare, Isamu Noguchi, and Hans Arp.

“Very much alone in my work, I am almost jealous of it.”

Sources:

https://www.brainyquote.com/authors/yves-tanguy-quotes

https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/artist/yves-tanguy

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yves_Tanguy

https://www.theartstory.org/artist/tanguy-yves/

https://www.theartstory.org/artist/tanguy-yves/life-and-legacy/

Yves Tanguy Videos

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Lee Krasner – Out of the Shadows

Lee Krasner may not be a name you immediately recognize, but her husband, Jackson Pollock, definitely is a staple in the abstract expressionist community.

Lee Krasner worked tirelessly for over 50 years, continuously pushing the boundaries and her work forward.

lee krasner

She was known for reinventing herself and creating various pieces that range from collage, cubist drawings, assemblage, and abstract expressionism.

While some believe Jackson Pollock overshadowed her, she was one of his biggest fans and one of the most essential crusaders in his legacy. 

“I happened to be Mrs. Jackson Pollock, and that’s a mouthful. I was a woman, Jewish, a widow, a damn good painter, thank you, and a little too independent.”

Jackson-Pollock-and-Lee-Krasner

Born in 1908 to Russian-Jewish refugee parents in Brooklyn, Lee knew that art was her passion from her early years. She would attend the Women’s Art School at Cooper Union and the National Academy of Design.

The Museum of Modern Art opened in 1929, and she said, “It was like a bomb that exploded…nothing else ever hit me that hard until I saw Pollock’s work.” She would paint murals for the Works Progress Administration.

She studied with Hans Hofmann in 1937 when she joined the American Abstract Artists Group. She was in the middle of the exciting New York art scene.

In 1942, Krasner and Pollock were brought together by being included in a significant exhibition, French and American Painting for Graham.

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When Krasner decided to knock on Pollock’s apartment door to view his work. This moment was the start of their relationship, which would impact her career.

Krasner introduced Pollock to many influential artists, like Hoffman, Janis, de Kooning, and art critic Clement Greenberg. The two married in 1945 and moved to Long Island.

Krasner spent her days working in her personal studio, creating the Little Images series, which would be her breakthrough work and collages made from discarded Pollock scraps and her admiration for Matisse.

little images

Pollock tragically passed in a car accident in 1956 while Krasner was in Europe. The next year, Krasner moved into Pollock’s barn studio on their property, and she continued working on her craft.

The Seasons (1957) and Gaea (1966) were the beginning of her creations, where nature was an immersive and clear theme.

Her first solo exhibition would come in 1965 at Whitechapel Gallery in London and then in 1975 at the Whitney Museum of American Art. She passed away in 1984, months before her retrospective opened at MoMA.

“I never violate an inner rhythm. I loathe to force anything. I don’t know if the inner rhythm is Eastern or Western. I know it is essential for me. I listen to it, and I stay with it. I have always been this way. I have regard for the inner voice.”

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Her Work

Krasner is identified as an Abstract Expressionist because of her expressive works using a variety of mediums.

She has been known to cut apart her pieces, consistently revising and destroying works because she was so critical of herself. Due to this, it resulted in her body of work being small compared to other artists from the same time. 

In the 1940s, she was so profoundly impacted by seeing Pollock’s work. She immediately rejected the cubist style she was embarking on under Hofmann.

During this time, the work she produced was referred to as “grey slab paintings,” and she was frustrated with these works. These works were eventually destroyed, and only one work survived this time in her career. 

krasner grey slabs

Little Images was her first series, which is 40 small paintings that she created from 1946 to 1949. They’re typically categorized as webbed, hieroglyphs, and mosaic, depending on the image. 

The early collage images era was the beginning of her first series of collage paintings. This period was marked by her moving from the easel to the floor.

She would cut and tear shapes onto color field painting used in the 1951 Betty Parsons Exhibition. She would gravitate to a more symbolic manner during this time.

lee krasner

The Earth Green Series was started before Pollock passed away, but she completed the work after his death, reflecting both nature and her feelings of grief. Her intense feelings caused a shift in her art to push more boundaries and her concepts of art. 

The Umber Series was developed from 1959 to 1961 when she dealt with insomnia, the grief of her husband’s loss, and the loss of her mother.

She worked during the night, having to use artificial light, so her color story was made up of dull, monochrome colors. She used an aggressive style in this series.

bright star in her own right krasner

The Primary Series were paintings using bright colors and mimicked a floral or plant-like shape. They were large, didn’t have a focal point and the palettes contrasted one another. Unfortunately, during this time, she suffered an aneurysm, fell, and broke her dominant wrist, so she began using her left hand. 

She continued to work on large horizontal paintings with rigid edges with bright colors and a second collage series made up of old charcoal drawings she had done. 

Her Legacy

After Pollock died, Krasner began to achieve recognition, like her first retrospective. In the 70s, she became part of the strong feminist movement that was occurring. The movement was quick to champion her story of living in her husband’s shadow.

The 1984 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art that took place months after her death was a big moment for her career. The New York Times said the retrospective “clearly defines Krasner’s place in the New York School.”

They also said that she “is a major, independent artist of the pioneer Abstract Expressionist generation, whose stirring work ranks high among that produced here in the last half-century.”

lee krasner

The Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center at Stony Brook University is one way their legacy lives on.

Until 2008, Krasner was one of four women who had a retrospective show at the institution, the others being Louise Bourgeois in 1982, Helen Frankenthaler in 1989, and Elizabeth Murray in 2004.

Her papers were donated in 1985 to the Archives of American Art and have since been digitized and are located on the web.

The Pollock-Krasner Foundation was established in 1985, and it functions as the estate for both artists, but it also assists working artists of merit with financial assistance.

In 2003, her work Celebration sold to the Cleveland Museum of Art for almost $2 million. In 2008, Polar Stampede sold for $3.2 million. 

“All my work keeps going like a pendulum; it seems to swing back to something I was involved with earlier, or it moves between horizontality and verticality, circularity, or a composite of them. For me, I suppose that change is the only constant.”

Sources: 

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/19/arts/lee-krasner-barbican-schirn-kunsthalle.html

https://www.moma.org/artists/3240

https://news.artnet.com/art-world/lee-krasner-more-than-a-muse-1854144

https://www.azquotes.com/author/8259-Lee_Krasner

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Krasner

https://www.thoughtco.com/lee-krasner-biography-4178004

Videos To Watch

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Franz Marc – Spirit Animals

franz marc

Franz Marc was a German Expressionist, who created many artworks featuring nature and animals, and was a co-founder and an active member of the German art group, “Der Blaue Reiter”, or “The Blue Rider”.

Franz-Marc

Background

Franz Marc was born on 8th February. 1880 in Munich, Germany.  Dubbed “The Little Philosopher” by his family, Franz was by nature shy and especially sensitive, like many artists.

His younger days were spent within the free spiritedness of a highly creative and liberal-minded family. His father was a landscape painter, and his mother was a homemaker and socially liberal Calvinist.

Despite his father being an artist himself, he didn’t suppose Franz would make a great artist, and so this dismissive air made Franz depressed, and yet he still entered the Munich Academy to learn art.

After a couple of years in the fine arts program, rather dejected by the academy’s limitations on artists like himself, Franz decided to travel to Paris, which was the art center of the world at that time.

He spent his days visiting local art museums, and had absorbed the nuances of classical painting partly by viewing their works, but also by copying the old masters he was surrounded by.

august macke portrait

Influence of Paris

The influence of other artists had a very huge impact on Franz Marc.  Encountering the artworks of both Gaugin and Van Gogh, Marc took their work to heart and realized that his love of nature might be a way to express himself artistically, as these two artists had done.

For example, speaking of influence, his work called “Cats on a Red Cloth”, which was created around 1909-1910, was strongly influenced by Van Gogh as you might notice.  Still, the color scheme adheres to the tones of reality, seeing Marc not yet venturing off into the realms of experimentation he would soon explore.

cats on a red cloth

With this painting in particular, vibrant brush strokes and vivid colors occupy the viewer’s eye and give a feeling of two cats enjoying a typical feline day in the life, very similar to the Van Gogh in its exploration of things you might see around you, but depicted differently than you’ve ever seen them before, with that slight jolt of experimental abstraction.

They say emulation is a form of flattery, but it takes a special artist to move beyond mere stylistic copying, which Franz certainly did before too long. This might be said to have been inevitable, as by now Marc had developed a very personal theory of symbolic color theory, which began to inform his work.

A couple of years later, Franz Marc met another famous painter, a well-known person in the art world – expressionist Wassily Kandinsky.

wassily kandinsky

Their unity and friendship combined into an active working relationship with the artist group called “New Artist’s Association” and the creation of the “Der Blaue Reiter”, or “The Blue Rider”. The name was inspired by both artists’ affinity for blue color, with Kandinsky liking the idea of a horse rider, and Marc being partial to horses.

The Blue Rider was a way for artists to escape what more formal institutions of the time were doing which was to gravitate closer to colors and shapes which matched reality.  Too many “should’s” for Marc.  With the onset of photography, realism was becoming more and more inescapable in art and the idea of a prismatic love of all colors and shapes seemed to clash with harsh reality of the time, going into the first World War.

It was around this time that Franz Marc created one of his best known paintings, “The Blue Horse”, in 1911, which combined primary colors and a touch of cubism.  It also symbolized Marc’s combining his love of nature, animals, personalized color theory, and abstraction into what would become his signature style of painting.

der blaue reiter

Love of Animals

Franz Marc had a special view on painting animals, mostly home animals as horses or dogs. One of his most known paintings is called “Dog Lying In The Snow”, based on his sheep dog, Russi.

dog lying down in the snow

In the painting itself, a light yellow-colored dog is peacefully lying on the ground with his eyes closed – it gives a calm impression to viewers and looks rather unassuming at first glance

But. when you start to look more carefully, the shape of the dog gives a more vibrant image because the painter gave to this dog a few cubistic characteristics, which puts the dog in a timeless setting.

Furthermore, he used two primarily colors blue and yellow and the third – green –  which you can get by mixing the two, creating a palette that is unique and unusual.  According to Victoria Robson, who is a Curator European Art, both the composition and these colors symbolize the idea of a harmonious unity, whereby the animal, the colors, the lines, and the landscape all become one.

In fact, harmony of colors and a vision of animals being seen as the spiritual creatures they are became fundamental to all his work at this time.  Second to his love of horses and his dog Russi, Marc loved to depict deer, which he looked after.

franz-marc-rote-rehe-i

It has been said that Franz Marc considered animals to be more spiritual than humans. An interesting take, and surely many might agree with this, as humans are seen as deceitful and greedy, and animals are seen as innocent.  Therefore, to align himself with the innocence of animals, Marc stopped painting anything but animals from 1911 onward.

There is one painting you may know called “Yellow Cow”, created in 1911.  The title represents painting fairly accurately, as it it intrigues the viewer with a wide spectrum of vivid colors and bright emotions, portraying a cow as perhaps never before, galloping through a vividly but somewhat fantastically colored landscape.

yellow cow

According to David Wistow, an Exhibition planner at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Franz Marc believed that yellow color represents feminine energy and blue the masculine, in accordance with his personal views on color theory.

It so happened that the artist was newly married around the time he created this painting, therefore art historians are guessing that this painting illustrates an unusual, but exciting perspective on married life, which combines the yellow of the feminine and the blue of the masculine.

Since Marc had decided to live in the Alps, he criticized everything that was related to city lifestyle: corruption, pollution, and materialism, he had chosen to show a side of nature in his work and connect himself to a spirituality which to him had far more meaning.

marc_landscape_foothills_alps

In 1915, in Marc’s letter to his wife, he wrote that his idea is to paint animals, not the way he sees them, but rather the way they really are and coexist with nature, or even to represent their place in the whole world.

By populating his artwork with various animals, he hoped somehow to connect his spirit to theirs, and theirs to ours.  It’s a good theory, and who can say what mysteries lie within the brushstrokes of a painting, particular a Franz Marc painting.

blue-fox-1911-oil-on-canvas-franz-marc

It is also known that when he was growing up, he liked to spend his free time walking with his dog. In his young days, he worked with horses and loved deer and he kept deer himself. Therefore, it’s not exaggerating to say that Franz Marc can be strongly considered as one of the best expressionists dealing with the theme of animals that ever lived, as he did his best to represent their souls in his works so that humanity could always remember that the planet is not solely about them.

Recommended Videos about Franz Marc

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Grace Hartigan – Fast Train

grace hartigan young

While Grace Hartigan started her art career later than many of her counterparts, her impact on the abstract expressionist genre was not diminished by this.

Hartigan was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey. Born in 1922, She was the eldest of four, which meant that she was not afforded the privilege of attending post-secondary, but she trained in mechanical drafting in the 1940s and studied with painter Isaac Lane Muse.

grace hartigan in studio

At 17, she married her first husband, who encouraged her to pursue art. She would divorce him in 1947 and get married three more times.

Hartigan moved to New York as she became serious about painting, and joined the likes of Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, and Jackson Pollock. Pollock became a mentor to Hartigan, and by the late 50s, she was named “the most celebrated of the young American women painters” by Life magazine.

Hartigan lived to be 86, as she passed away in 2008 of liver failure. She left behind an incredible legacy of impressive artwork and being an iconic woman in the abstract expressionist genre. 

hartigans-summer-street-cora-wandel

“I cannot expect even my own art to provide all the answers – only to hope it keeps asking the right questions.”

Her Work

Grace Hartigan is known for her bold experimentation, gestural brush strokes, and emotional works. Her work suggests a sense of urgency.

Early works have an organic and curvilinear form, and older paintings have more distinct figures, symbols, and mythological references. The structures and figures in her work are emotional vehicles, and they’re painted in an expressionist manner.

grace hartigan work 

In 1950, her career began when a painting of hers was selected for the “New Talent” show at the Kootz Gallery by Meyer Schapiro and Clement Greenberg. The show led to her first solo exhibition at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery.

In her career, these stepping stones pushed her to refine her style, as she felt she was lacking distinction and relied too heavily on Abstract Expressionism.

Goya, Velázquez, and other Old Master painters inspired her, along with Henri Matisse and Paul Cézanne.

Many of her peers did not approve of her new direction, but ‘The Persian Jacket,’ a painting she completed in 1952, became a permanent fixture in the Museum of Modern Art.

grace-hartigan-the-persian-jacket

She used a Frank O’Hara poem to create a series of paintings in a collaborative effort with one of his friends. 

“I don’t see how you can create and not have the feeling that it is the most important, all-consuming thing.”

Other established museums followed suit. The Whitney Museum bought the 1954 ‘Grand Street Brides,’ the Museum of Modern Art bought the 1953 ‘River Bathers,’ which was influenced by Matisse.

In 1956, she began working on the ‘City Life’ painting series, which features interlocking colour planes that reflect her neighbourhood’s streets.

hartigan city life

Later that year, she would go on to be the only woman represented in the “Twelve Americans” exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.

In 1958, ‘The New American Painting’ exhibition included her work, and she was the youngest artist and only woman to be included; and the exhibition travelled around Europe.  

When she married her fourth husband, she moved to Baltimore in 1961. She initially regretted her move from the heart of the art scene in New York, so she tried to replicate her former studio in an abandoned factory.

Her 1957 work ‘Billboard’ was where she began to incorporate pop culture imagery into her work.

billboard

In the early 1960s, she was fascinated by Marilyn Monroe’s death and the Barbie doll launching into the mainstream. She drew upon these for her later works. 

She began teaching at the Hoffberger School of Painting in 1964, becoming a part-time professor for the graduate program at the Maryland Institute College of Art.

She was known among students for her relentless critiques. The following year, she would become the director of the school, and she encouraged expressivity over everything else. She was becoming ill as she was a recovering alcoholic and suffered from osteoarthritis, but she refused to retire.  

“Action/Precision: The New Direction in New York, 1955–60” and “The Figurative Fifties: New York Figurative Expressionism” were two major shows that exhibited her work in the 80s.

The last exhibition was titled “Hand-Painted Pop: American Art in Transition, 1955–62,” and it was held in LA, Chicago, and New York. 

“I feel that we are living a very fragmented life, the whole world — you too. So I perceive the world in fragments. It is somewhat like being on a very fast train and getting glimpses of things in strange scales as you pass by.

hartigan

A person can be very, very tiny. And a billboard can make a person very large. You see the corner of a house, or you see a bird fly by, and it’s all fragmented.

Somehow, in painting, I try to make some logic out of the world that has been given to me in chaos. I have a very pretentious idea that I want to make life, I want to make sense out of it. The fact that I am doomed to failure — that doesn’t deter me in the least.”

Her Legacy

Grace Hartigan was the recipient of numerous awards and honours over her lifetime. Six universities and colleges in Maryland and Pennsylvania chose Hartigan to be the recipient of honorary degrees.

farewell_hartigan

She was also awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Neuberger Museum in 2002 and the Governor’s Award in Baltimore, MA, in 2006.

Aside from her contributions to the American painting world, she was an incredible example of a fierce and independent female influence in art.

This era in art is often looked at by historians through a narrow and patriarchal lens, but she breaks through that lens. She was an extremely talented artist that demanded the attention away from her male counterparts.

She embraced the abstract expressionist movement while incorporating her own style, and it ensured her art remain relevant decades later, and it paved the way for future artists and the New Figuration and Neo-Expressionist movements. 

Sources: 

http://www.artnet.com/artists/grace-hartigan/

https://www.azquotes.com/author/23193-Grace_Hartigan

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grace_Hartigan

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Grace-Hartigan

Videos About Grace Hartigan

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Clyfford Still – Thrusts of Joy

Clyfford Still photo

Born in 1904, Clyfford Still would become one of the most influential and unique artists to come out of the abstract expressionist movement.

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Clyfford Still would be unwavering in his commitment to his craft and refused to ‘sell-out’ or be swayed by money or fame.

Throughout his career and the evolution of his technique, he began with ideas and images that were recognizable and gradually became more abstract. His goal was for the viewer of his work to become lost in the art and create their own conclusions about the meaning and themes. 

“I never wanted color to be color. I never wanted texture to be texture, or images to become shapes. I wanted them all to fuse into a living spirit.”

ph-119 by clyfford still 1948

He was born in Grandin, North Dakota, but spent a lot of his childhood in Spokane, Washington, and Alberta, Canada.

Abstract expressionism is linked to New York and Eastern Coast but Still was entrenched in the earliest days of the movement on the West Coast, including Washington State and San Francisco. 

Clyfford Still was one of the initial abstract expressionists, and the generation of artists he belongs to is credited with developing a new and powerful approach to art.

Artists like Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, Joan Mitchell, Barnett Newman, Grace Hartigan, Robert Motherwell, Lee Krasner, Norman Lewis, and Jackson Pollock were of the same generation immediately after World War II.

clyfford still artwork

These artists are all very different from another, but they all contribute to the abstract expressionism movement in impressive ways.

Between the abstract form, large scale, brushwork techniques, and other methods, the pieces that come from this time period handle heavy and universal issues about life, love, struggle, the human condition, and death. 

Still is considered by many as the most anti-traditional artist to come out of the abstract expressionists, and this trait is considered the groundwork for the movement.

clyfford still collection

Between 1938 and 1942, a major shift in Still’s style occurred, which was earlier than his contemporaries, who followed suit later in the 1940s. 

“I do not intend to oversimplify—in fact, I revel in the extra complex.”

Still obtained his Masters of Fine Arts degree in 1935 at Washington State College, and he became faculty there, taught at Richmond Professional Institute and Virginia Commonwealth University until 1945, and then visited New York.

He became associated with the Art of This Century and Betty Parsons galleries in New York, and he lived there for most of the 1950s, while the abstract expressionist movement was growing and peaking. 

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During this time, his reputation for being anti-traditional and critical of the art world flourished. He completed severed ties with all the commercial galleries he had been involved with by 1961 and decided to move to Maryland, placing himself as far away from the art establishment as he could. He stayed in Maryland with his wife, Patricia, until he passed away in 1980.

Just before his passing in 1979, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art organized the largest sampling of his work, and it was the largest by the organization to celebrate the work of a living artist.

Once he had passed, his work that was not in the public domain was immediately sealed off, which closed off access to one of the most incredible influences on the American art world of the 20th century. 

His work

Clyfford Still is considered one of the first color field painters. Unlike his peers Rothko or Newman, who’s pieces were organized in a simple manner, Still’s abstract works are focused on juxtaposing colors, surfaces, and forms.

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Rothko focused on nebulous rectangles and Newman on thin lines among colors, Still used jagged flashes, color being ‘torn’ from the work, and other irregular techniques.

Still applied his paint in a different way than Rothko and Newman, where they tended to use flat colors and thin paint, Still used a thick impasto, where brush and knife strokes are still visible, creating texture, depth, and variety.

His mature works involved forms of nature like foliage, caverns, lightness, and darkness. By the late 40s, his color field works became prominent, and he would continue to refine through the rest of his career.

His most famous works include 1957-D No. 1, which exhibits black, yellow, and white patches with small red patches. These four colors stay prominent throughout the rest of his work.

still

The peak of his abstract expressionism produced 302 paintings dating from 1944–1960, and 350 paintings dating from 1961–1979 were created during his time in Maryland. 

“A great free joy surges through me when I work… with tense slashes and a few thrusts the beautiful white fields receive their color and the work is finished in a few minutes.”

Legacy 

In 1972, Still was awarded the Award of Merit for Painting from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Skowhegan Medal for Painting in 1975.

The Clyfford Still Museum is located in Denver’s art district, and the building that houses the museum was specifically designed for Clyfford Still’s work and was developed by Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture.

clyfford still museum

Still is considered an integral part of the art community, and the museum’s collection represents around 95% of his creations, which is around 3,100 pieces.

The museum’s mission is to: “preserve, exhibit, study, and foster engagement with its unique collections; generate outstanding exhibitions, scholarly research, educational and other cross-disciplinary programs that broaden the definition of a “single-artist” museum; and be a gathering place for the exploration of innovation and individual artistic endeavour.”

In 2013, the Clyfford Still Museum Research Center was established and launched.

clyfford still research center

The center explores the abstract expressionist period in history, artwork as a whole, and how the painters worked. The programs offered include a fellowship program, research symposia, and cross-disciplinary scholarly publications. 

“These are not paintings in the usual sense; they are life and death merging in fearful union. As for me, they kindle a fire; through them, I breathe again, hold a golden cord, find my own revelation.”

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clyfford_Still

http://www.artnet.com/artists/clyfford-still/

https://www.artsy.net/artist/clyfford-still

https://news.artnet.com/art-world/clyfford-still-quotes-birthday-370748

https://clyffordstillmuseum.org

Videos About Clyfford Still

 

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Emil Nolde – Let’s Mingle!

emil nolde and naziism

Emil Nolde was a German-Danish Expressionist painter, known for his unbridled passion for a rather crude but compelling style of artwork that was labelled as “degenerate” by Hitler and the Nazis, whom Nolde admired and sought acceptance by.

But how could he gain acceptance back then, when the bulk of Nolde’s very expansive body of work seemed to take the sacred and make it profane, or reveal a vulgar side of humanity that was not ready to seen by common folk?  Did Nolde himself not see this?  Or was he too busy pushing boundaries in a time and place when this was less than appreciated?

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For some reason, Nolde believed he would be accepted and embraced by Germany, which he loved, but his reward for his creativity was to become an outcast.

Degenerate Artist

emil-nolde

Irony could be applied to Nolde in several ways through his life.  For one, he supported the 3rd Reich, but his painting style was seen as abhorrent by the persnickety political party.  Unrequited love, it seemed.

Second irony was that, while the Nazi’s hated his art for being primitive and unethical, they ironically somehow managed to give Nolde free promotion, by way of an 1937/38 “degenerate” art show which many German people saw. More on this show in a moment.

As with today’s so called “cancel culture”, which sees people emotionally react with extreme un-acceptance to anything that disagrees with their fickle sensibilities, the Nazi’s too felt it appropriate to suppress creative expression as they rose to power, deeming Nolde’s artwork morally questionable and highly objectionable.  In other words, they tried to have him censored, or “cancelled” as we call it in 2020.

What did the Nazi’s object to about Nolde’s work, you ask?  Well, for one thing, Nolde’s work displayed some wild tendencies, both in terms of brushstroke and subject matter, depicting provocative nudes moving in savage ways, as well as exploring the culture of other races.  This type of curiosity was the opposite of the Nazi’s worldview.  Nolde also made some sort of mockery of religion.

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So, in their particularly heinous way, the supremely pompous Nazi’s took all of the aforementioned wretched artwork, like that of Nolde’s, which they (the Nazis, with Goebbels being the spearhead of the movement) then placed in one show in Munich to show what unpatriotic, unacceptable art looks like.  This is the show I mentioned – the Degenerate Art Show.

Here is a video talking about the event.

By all accounts, Emil took all of this rejection in stride, as it never once prevented him from continuing to create.

Despite all challenges he faced through his life, what with being somewhat of an outcast in his homeland, Emil Nolde never stopped creating, becoming increasingly dynamic and bold with his artistic vision of the world.

herbsthimmel_am_meer

Background

Let’s go back to the beginning, when this future rabble rouser was born.

Emil Nolde was born on 7th August 1867 in Nolde, Germany. His real name was Emil Hansen, but he changed it to match the name of his home town at the Danish-German border in later years, when he became a more well-known artist.

nolde watercolor

He wasn’t interested in painting at first, but the boy’s attraction to art became clear in his teenage years.

At 17 years old, the young man started an apprenticeship as a wood sculptor and draftsman at the Sauermann furniture factory and wood-carving school in Flensburg.

As he got older, Emil worked as a woodcarver in furniture factories in Munich and Karlsruhe, where he also attended the school of applied arts and took figure-drawing classes.

His first experiences with painting led him to the Friedrich Fehr’s (pictured below) painting school and later to the Hölzel school in Dachau.

Friedrich Fehr’s painting school

In 1899, he traveled to Paris, where he attended the Académie Julian and undertook his own studies in the famous center of every young painter – the Louvre.

At the beginning of the 20th century, following his marriage with a Danish actress, Ada Vilstrup, the artist has changed his name officially from Hansen to Nolde.

Ada Vilstrup and emil nolde

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The couple was travelled together through Denmark and Germany, until their relocation in Berlin, which became their home.

Growing Hunger for Art

At the beginning of the 20th century, Emil Nolde became an active member of a rich cultural and social life in Germany.

nolde art

For a while, he participated in the art group named “Brücke” (The Bridges), during which he met a famous Expressionist, Norwegian Edward Munch, whose artworks Nolde admired.

Even though they didn’t become close friends, they followed each other careers as long as they lived.  Their work, after all, does share some similarities in its brazenness alone, you might say.  Both artists certainly knew their way around a tortured face.

emil-nolde-1

Ideas and Themes

Next to his active social life, Nolde was inspired to create artworks, which reflected various themes and ideas.

Since he was an Expressionist and had used many vivid colors in his works, one of the objects he enjoyed painting was flowers.

emil nolde flowers

Art historians have noted that Nolde was inspired by a Dutch master Vincent Van Gogh, who used many bright colors and had created his iconic sunflowers.  That said, Nolde was no slouch with flowers himself.

Next to these flowers, Nolde painted poppies and typical field flowers. His vibrant colors and dynamic brushes made them come alive.

In 1909, he started to create religious theme paintings – “Last Supper”, “Pentecost”, “Derision”, etc.  He did so in a way that confused some of his countrymen – were religious works supposed to look like this?  There was something odd about his depictions of religious scenes that did not sit well with the powers that be of that time.

nolde pentecost

This idea of religious paintings did not leave him, and he continued along with this theme for a couple of years, and during 1911-1912 he painted one of the most important artworks in his career – the nine-piece “Life of Christ”.

nolde life of christ

“I followed an irresistible desire to represent profound spirituality, religion, and tenderness without much intention, knowledge, or deliberation.” – Nolde had written in his memoir.  While this may have been his view of his own work, there was something unsettling about his work that would go on to rankle people.

That said, another theme that was important in Nolde‘s paintings was dance and dancers. He was amazed by this magnificent type of performing art, and loved to explore it in his work.

For instance, while spending his days in Berlin, Nolde was a frequent visitor at many theaters, circuses, cabarets, and cafes, where he had an opportunity to observe performers’ body movements and make his sketches.

Some of his well-known works of this period are “Wildly Dancing Children” (1909), “Dance Around the Golden Calf” (1910), and “Candle Dancers” (1912).

candle-dancers-1912

Living During Difficult Times

Many artists, who had worked during both World Wars, have been surrounded by uncertainty, poverty, and have been affected by different political regimes.

Since Nolde was living and working in Germany, his works were being watched by the Nazi Regime, as mentioned.

01_949-Emil-Nolde-Martyrium-II-Gem¦lde-1921-«Nolde-Stiftung-Seebll-400-DPI-147x216mm

And now we come full circle.

As I said, Emil Nolde did not take a neutral position during the Nazi Regime. Art historian Peter Selz in his book, dedicated to German painter, had described Nolde’s personal views as anti-French and anti-Jewish.

According to him, the artist had expected to play an important role in the early 1930s, when Nazis came to power, therefore he found the right environment to fulfill his opportunistic ideas.

Although he did get attention from the Nazi party at the beginning of their ruling period, the attention he wanted was not the attention he got, and  Nolde’s works were exhibited at the Degenerate Art Exhibition in Munich, in 1937.

To reiterate, Nolde was a very bold painter who loved color.  The Nazi agenda was not inclined to have emotions stirred that they did not fully oversee.  This is how Nolde had his falling out with the rising totalitarian force.

nolde flowers

After his works were confiscated by the party, Nolde fought to get them back and succeeded.

Even after his own experience showed that he could have not trust the Nazi regime, he still continued support for Germany to win World War II and did not give up his beliefs.

In 2019, Germany‘s Chancellor Angela Merkel removed two Emil Nolde‘s paintings from her office.

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Poor Emil, the Nazis didn’t like you because you were too provocative, and today’s politicians don’t like you because you liked the Nazis.  Can’t win, can you?

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At any rate, this symbolic gesture of having his artwork removed attracted a lot of media attention, and was quickly understood as a non-acceptance of the artist’s pro-Nazi beliefs from the past.  As I said at the beginning, Emil Nolde was an enigma – a proud nationalist who was rejected by his own countrymen for being seen as anti nationalist.  Oh the humanity!

Still, I hope you have enjoyed this little exploration of his life and work.

Recommended Videos about Emil Nolde:

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Robert Rauschenberg – The Controversy of Being Yourself

Robert Rauschenberg was an influential, non-traditional American artist heavily influenced by the New York School, who were a group of artists, poets, musicians, and dancers who were reaching their peak popularity in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Robert was a progenitor of the pop art style, often mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Jackson Pollock for his revolutionary approach to modern art, mixing together styles of art such as print-making, collage, photography, and sculpture.

Robert Rauschenberg

Background

Robert Rauschenberg was born Milton Ernest Rauschenberg on October 22, 1925, in Porth Arthur town in Texas, USA.  He was one of two children (he had a sister named Janet) and he was raised in a Fundamentalist Christians household. 

Rauschenberg was dyslexic growing up.  That said, at the young age of 16, he went on to study Pharmacy at the University of Texas. Soon after, he served in the United States Navy, where he worked briefly as a mental hospital technician until his discharge in 1945.

Following that, in 1947, he enrolled into Kansas City Art Institute.  Shortly thereafter, he went to Paris, where he continued his studies at Academie Julian.

Thinking back on this decision, Rauschenberg would joke that it was 40 years too late, as this great city, known for its artistic flair, had changed greatly from the beginning of the 20th century when it was mecca for many famous painters.  Still, he made friends there, as well as his future wife and ex-wife, painter Susan Weil.

Rauschenberg's Canyon

In 1948, he returned to the USA, where he resumed his artistic studies at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where he had the opportunity to be taught by the German artist Josef Albers, a founder of the Bauhaus, who tried to rid Rauschenberg of his experimental tendencies.  Thus, they clashed, and soon Rauschenberg became the pupil of John Cage, who better suited his experimental nature.

While in New York in 1949-1951, Rauschenberg encountered many contemporary artists who influenced him and vice versa, such as Vaclav Vytlacil, Morris Kantor, Knox Martin, and Cy Twombly.  While in New York, Rauschenberg had his first solo exhibition at the Betty Parsons Gallery and his popularity begin to grow exponentially.  This exhibition featured his “combines”, which combined painting and sculpture.

should love come first 1951

Robert Rauschenberg

Combines

Robert Rauschenberg invented a new term in the art world: “combine”. This fusion of sculpture and painting became his signature, as many of his works featured this new style which basically helped invent the term “pop art”, which has been mostly associated with Andy Warhol.

In this vernacular of this type of artwork, different kinds of materials can be used, such as newspaper clippings, paints squeezed directly from the tube or various wooden, metal, or plastic parts put together into one whole artwork.

rauschenberg 1954

According to art historians, Rauschenberg wanted to bring simple objects from daily life into the artwork, showing that artists and their works are part of the same world, they are the same regular human beings as non-artists, interacting with the same “stuff”.  This may have influenced Warhol to film people eating hamburgers – we don’t know.

Art critics and researchers tend to think that Rauschenberg gave a sort of cultural permission to creators to create whatever and how they want – a dangerous idea to be sure.

Artworks

Throughout his sixty active working years as an artist, Rauschenberg had created many works from all different kinds of materials, many of which challenged viewers as to what art is and is not, and what it may or may not include.

Once he said that he used to go out in New York streets looking for various objects which can be useful for his artworks. From pins to waterpipes – his work materials included a wide range of objects, newspapers, paint, pictures, and even stuffed animals.  Maybe even his own band-aids…one never knows with this fellow which might end up being sucked into the work.

rauschenberg

In his paintings or sculptures, Rauschenberg did not avoid using such American symbols as a national flag or public figures such as the former president of the United States, John F. Kennedy.  His work was, in its own way, controversial to some, just by including certain symbols and images.  Imagine Rauschenberg trying to work in the year 2020…would be tough, with Cancel Culture seemingly on the rise.

However, it should be said that the main objects in his works remained simple, mostly from the home surroundings such as furniture, car wheels, or simple beach umbrellas.  Ordinary everyday things.

Rauschenberg and Abstract Expressionism

Ever since Rauschenberg started to develop his artistic ideas and create his works, he was never quite sure of his end point, but he definitely knew who he does not want to be: an Abstract Expressionist.

He decided to be different and expand boundaries of art as it was popular at that time. No doubt it was brave to create works which cannot fit in any concept of art.

In 1953 Rauschenberg had created probably the most controversial of his works. He took one of the most popular artists in New York, a Willem de Kooning painting, and started to erase it.

erased a de kooning drawing

The process took two months and yet the drawing was not erased fully, Rauschenberg had achieved his goal. Later he described this act not as a negation, but as a celebration.

After long years of creating his artworks, at the age of 72, Rauschenberg shared that working and creating always gave him joy, a celebration of unity with everything, and being the least self-conscious he could be.

Although Rauschenberg’s artworks are controversial, he remained authentic and showed what real freedom in the art world looks like. Today his works are exhibited in the most popular modern art museums all over the world.

Videos about Robert Rauschenberg

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Climate Change-Themed Installation Art – A Brief Look

spiral jetty

Installation art is a type of modern artistic sculpture, that presents the idea of using three-dimensional things in some sort of thought-provoking way.

Art installations are mostly presented in art galleries, museums, but also sometimes in public spaces in cities as well as in nature.

The “cross-over” of installation art from the gallery space into the outside world, or the natural world, could be considered inevitable, although this by no means to say the results have been predictable.

Take for instance The “Spiral Jetty”, a well known installation art piece called an “earthwork”.

Created by Robert Smithson in 1970, Spiral Jetty, at a glance, might be mistaken for a natural phenomenon, if you happened to fly over it in a helicopter.

It was, however, intentionally formed, and is located in an area of Utah, still there to this day.

Unlike Spiral Jetty, which has been there for decades, installation artworks created outside, particularly nature-based installations like this one, are made to last for a temporary period, and disperse at some point either by manmade design to do so, or naturally.

Installation artworks also sometimes can be movable, transferred from one place to another, although generally they are not as easy to move around as regular canvas-based artworks.

Because of their somewhat unlimited potential in terms of scope, the popularity of installation art featured outdoors, has only increased.

As the modern artist has taken to focusing their creative endeavours on the possibilities of what can happen when art goes “outside”, new and intriguing innuendos begin to bubble up from the wellspring of the human mind.

Modern Installation Art Origins – In (Very) Brief

Art installations, in the form that we understand them today, started to become part of modern art between the 1960’s and 1970’s. One of the first installations was created by artist Yves Klein and called “The Void”.

It took place at Iris Clert Gallery in Paris, 1958. This installation was unique at that time because of its minimalistic idiom.

As it happened, the gallery’s outside was painted in the vivid blue color (the specific tone was invented by the author Klein himself, who is often associated with the color blue, oddly enough), an entrance was decorated by fancy same-blue-colored drapes.

Meanwhile, inside of the gallery was empty – Klein removed all things, except one display case and painted it plain white color just before the posh opening.

Here is a video showing the nature of “The Void” by Yves Klein, from 1958.

Klein was known for many unusual installation and even “living” artworks, such as his “living paintbrushes”.

Installation art, overall, is generally thought of as 3-dimensional art, or in other words, art that exists on “interactive” plane of reality we are all familiar with, as 3-d types ourselves.

Other famous installation artists through history have included Joseph Beuys, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Nam June Paik, and Larry Bell.  But today as we continue, we will not be focusing on these intrepid individuals.

As it happens, here now we are going to look at some specifically “climate change” related artists and their works, which you might consider an informal branch of installation art.

This type of artwork reflects on what it means for our human race to exist as we plunge deeper into an increasingly complex industrial world, which has been evolving for centuries now and seems to have reached an impasse in some cities of the world, like New Delhi.

Climate Change Installation Artworks

Climate change, as an idea, fear (sometimes referred to as the “climate crisis”), and as much politicized “buzz word” (in some cases as the media likes to hijack these things to their own ends), is essentially, when you strip away the political posturing and mania, a noble and legitimate concern that has arisen in the past 50 years and which has only gotten increasingly more concerning for people that care about our planet, many of them artists who are especially sensitive to such things.

Climate change demonstration in London

Climate change has inevitably become the topic of many impactful artworks throughout the world, with new movements having been created, and important discussions influenced. All of this artistic ingenuity has brought this topic to new levels of creative output.

Artists all over the globe, who wanted to create artworks, wanted to not only address this issue, but also do their part towards figuring out how to potentially solve this problem, and make others think and act regarding their circumstances.

Sometimes cooperating with designers, architects, and scientists, climate-based creators also wish to how important it is to be open, work together, and find the best solutions possible.

Here are some famous installation artworks focused on climate change you may wish to investigate further.

Lines

This installation, called “Lines” was created in 2019, in the small Scottish town surrounded by water – North Uist.

The concept “belongs” (ownership of installed art like this becomes more nebulous) to the Finnish artists Pekka Niittyvirta and Timo Aho, who put white lights in straight lines on two buildings and a fence as a mark, indicating how high the water might rise if sea level will continue to rise in the future, according to the official calculations of scientists.

This project pushes society, and especially, the local community of the North Uist, to discuss what kind of impact does the climate change makes to their town and all other towns, which are in a similar geographical position, surrounded by water.

Ice Watch

Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson is known for his interest and artworks related to climate change issues. His studio creates exhibitions and art installations for many popular art galleries and museums around the globe.

One of his projects, named “Ice Watch” was presented in London, outside the Tate Modern building at the end of 2018.

 

Olafur extracted 30 blocks of glacial ice from the waters in Greenland and placed them in public spaces across London, where they had been left for natural melting.

The main idea was to show how the environment influences climate change. According to the author, he wanted to bring pieces of Greenland’s nature to humans, who could have touch and feel those huge pieces of ice, because of the physical contact, the understanding of the issue is “naturally” (pun intended) more effective.

Ice Floor

Wayne Binitie, a London based artist, currently a Ph.D. candidate at the Royal College of Art, together with the British Antarctic Survey, created an installation called “Ice Floor”, which took place from 25th November 2019 to 14 February 2020 in Arup, London.

The key to this artwork was in the small pieces of ice, which dated thousands of years old.

The idea here is similar to Eliasson’s, but here the main focus is with the sound, which is released from the pieces of ice cores, during its melting.

This sound is symbolizing the past, or, in other words – what the past can tell about climate change today.

What is unique in this project, that the ice has been extracted from the arctic pole by using a unique scientific method.

British Antarctic Survey scientists collaborated with Wayne Binitie, by providing him main ice materials and were fascinated about the artist’s idea.

Therefore, this is a great example of artists and scientists working hand in hand together for a common purpose.

Waterlicht

Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde had created an art installation named “Waterlicht” at Columbia University in 2019.

The artist used light installation made by LEDs to show viewers how it would feel like to be under the 10 feet of water.

It is clear why Roosegaarde has taken a view of water as a key target of his installation: one-fourth of his home country, the Netherlands, is below sea level, therefore rising sea level can damage a large part of the country in the near future, if it continues unchecked.

According to the artist, the viewer can feel how vulnerable life is while living below sea level. Using his artwork, he wanted to spread a clear message to the world – people should be aware of the rising sea level.

Climate change is a sensitive topic these days, but it should be brought up during the public discussions and art is a great way to create those discussions.


Please comment below and let us know what you think.  Have you seen or made any great installation artworks, focused on climate change.

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Joan Mitchell – To Define A Feeling

Joan-Mitchell-1

A massive part of the second generation of abstract expressionists, Joan Mitchell was a bold and innovative artist who had a powerful impact and continues to inspire artists today. Most of her career was in France, but she was a large part of the American movement.

Born in Chicago in 1925, to a dermatologist and poet, Joan was an athletic child, and her determination and competitive nature were foundational in her artwork as well. She was known to approach her work as if it were a competitive sport.

joan mitchell artist young

She became one of the paramount figures in American abstract expressionism and one of the few female artists in the movement.

“Abstract is not a style. I simply want to make a surface work.”

Her Work

In the 1950s, Mitchell really developed as an artist, and her signature style became more defined. She had an uncanny ability to infuse her work with emotion.

In her own words regarding her work, she said, “That particular thing I want can’t be verbalized. . . . I’m trying for something more specific than movies of my everyday life: To define a feeling.” Layered fields of colour and counterposed lines that seem rhythmic in nature are aspects of her signature style.

Her process was not spontaneous or impulsive. She relied heavily on her memories and emotions to create, utilizing both freedom and restraint simultaneously.

Joan-Mitchell

“Sometimes, I don’t know exactly what I want [with a painting]. I check it out, recheck it for days or weeks. Sometimes there is more to do on it. Sometimes I am afraid of ruining what I have. Sometimes I am lazy, I don’t finish it, or I don’t push it far enough. Sometimes I think it’s a painting.”

Her paintings often covered multiple canvases and were quite expansive. She was heavily influenced by van Gogh, even paying homage to his “Wheatfield with Crows” piece with her own work called No Birds. Her subject matter’s primary influence was landscape, and she worked on unprimed canvas using violent brushwork.

joan mitchell

During the early 1960s, she moved away from the bright colours that made up her previous works and started using dark colours for a more sombre tone in her compositions. She has compared the emotions that she felt having an impact on her work as poetry.

Shortly after she was comfortable in her style, her work was exhibited in the Ninth Street Show in 1951. Alongside the work of Jackson Pollock, Hans Hofmann, and Willem de Kooning, who were her mentors.

de Kooning and Franz Kline admired her work. She had her first solo exhibition at the New Gallery in 1952. In 1957, her methodology was featured in ARTnews.

At the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, NY, she staged her first major exhibition in 1972. In 1988, her first retrospective exhibition was held, and it featured 54 of her paintings that were produced from 1951 to 1987.

joan-mitchell-tilleul-1978-trivium-art-history.600x0

During the 80s and 90s, her health began to fail as she was diagnosed with advanced oral cancer, and it was recommended that she have her jaw removed.

Upon treatment from a doctor who gave her a second opinion, it left her jaw immobile, and she became anxious and depressed. She was advised to quit smoking, which she did successfully, but continued to drink to excess. During this time, her artwork shifted in a different direction.

Her post-cancer works reflected the psychological change she endured while battling the diseases. She created six Between paintings, as well as Faded Air I, Faded Air II, the A Few Days cycle, the Before, Again cycle and the Then, Last Time group of four paintings.

joan mitchell last paintings

In the last years of her life, she revisited sunflowers as her primary subject matter, painting Sunflowers, which depicted the flowers in various stages of decomposition. She then developed hip dysplasia and underwent hip replacement surgery. During her recovery, she began dabbling in watercolour painting, which was called the River cycle.

As a huge fan of Matisse, even saying that if she could paint like him, she would be in heaven, in 1992, she flew from Paris to New York for his exhibition, and while she was there, she was diagnosed with lung cancer. She returned to Paris on October 22nd, and she passed away on October 30th in the morning.

In 2019, her work was included at the Katonah Museum of Art in the Sparkling Amazons: Abstract Expressionist Women of the 9th St. Show in Westchester County, NY. It ran until January 2020.

ninth street women

Legacy

In 1993, the Joan Mitchell Foundation was established. It’s a not-for-profit that awards stipends and grants for aspiring painters, collectives, and sculptors.

Some of the recipients in the past have included Sarah Morris, Mark Dion, and Akio Takamori. The Joan Mitchell Foundation is also one of the sponsors of the Artist-in-Residence Program at the Joan Mitchell Centre in New Orleans.

Joan Mitchell was a commercially successful artist, as her earnings between 1960 and 1962 were around $30,000, which was impressive for a woman painter during that time.

In 2007, Ste. Hilaire, 1957 sold from the Art Institute of Chicago for $3.8 million.

Ste. Hilaire, 1957

In 2012, an untitled 1971 painting sold for $7 million at an auction at Christie’s Paris, and her work was among the most expensive works by any woman painter sold by auction.

Through 2013, Mitchell’s work has brought in over $230 million in sales. Another untitled work from 1960 has sold for $11.9 million, which stole the title of her highest selling work. In 2018, nine more paintings were expected to sell for around $70 million at Art Basel, the world’s largest art fair.

Joan Mitchell has left quite an impression on the art industry, and although she spent many of her years in Paris, the North American market has a special place for Mitchell’s work. As a female artist in a time where many weren’t commercially successful, Mitchell paved the way for future women in art.

“I’m happy when I’m painting. I like it.”

Sources:
https://news.artnet.com/art-world/joan-mitchell-quotes-for-birthday-426788
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joan_Mitchell
https://www.moma.org/artists/4026

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