Post- Modernism Lectures #11 and #12

Untitled

Prior to Sherman’s innovative photograph, “Untitled,” there had been two dominate styles of photography: spatiotemporal photographs, which capture a certain space and time, and fragmentational photographs that transcend both space and time. The former variation of photography can be seen in the work of Ben Shahn, as he captured the space (mid-weest America) and time (the great depression) in his photograph “Children of Destitute Ozark Mountianeer.” Ben-Shahn-Children-of-destitute-Ozark-mountaineer-Arkansas-1935A transcendental piece can be seen in Pual Strand’s “Abstraction, Twin Lakes Connecticut” as it defies both space and time, appearing to exist in an almost alternate plane of existence. h2_1987.1100.10

Sherman adopted neither of these styles of art, rather she invented her own way of photography.

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She used photos to capture a syntagmatic sequence, to tell a narrative, fluid, and sequential story using just one snap-shot. These photos existed in a human plane of existence, yet the story engrained in each photo spanned across different environments and chronologies. “Untitled,” conveys a sense of urgency by way of the photo’s high contrast, worm’s eye-view angle, and the encompassing city-scape. The high contrast expresses a tension and intensity. The camera’s “worm’s eye” perspective augments Sherman’s size, suggesting her affairs are of a larger significance. Finally, the encompassing city-scape represents the charged, almost alarming, fervor embedded in the urban lifestyle. There is also an ambiguity inherent in the photo as it is impossible to situate Sherman in an exact place, but rather she exists in a vague, yet animated environment  The sense of nervousness is exacerbated by Sherman’s own anxious expression  seen through her pursed lips and sharp glare. There is an implied, but abstruse, narrative in this piece especially when its historically contextualized. Sherman, based on her outfit and surrounding urban environment, is being pictured as “career girl” a label common of working women in the 1950’s. Sherman’s series of photographs capture the disorientation and anxiety of women newly introduced in the workforce. This is seen through Sherman’s use of landscape, spacial placement, and facial expression.

Perfect Lovers

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Gonzalez-Torres piece, “Perfect Lovers,” drastically altered the intended purpose of art through empowering the role of the viewer. The piece, which is composed of two poorly manufactured analog clocks, is representative of a shared connection between two individuals. Each clock, which start in-sync, overtime develop its own unique rhythm, until one of the two clocks inevitably stops completely. While this piece was made in regard to AIDS crisis of the 80’s it has applications to many intimate relationships. The brilliance of this piece is the ability it gives viewers to apply their own personal significance to the clocks. Audience members can project their familial, sexual, and martial, etc, relationships on the art piece. Yet, even with such a wide-range of relationships, the piece synthesizes the most basic nature of all human interaction: the unavoidable separation that occurs between two people. Whether the cause of this disconnection be a falling out, or break-up, or death, all human attachments are limited affairs, and our lives, although momentarily in-sync with another being’s,  are inevitably an isolated experience with a unique unforgeable rhythm. As an artist with a large audience, Torres is unable to connect with the personal stories of all his viewers. To capture viewers so persuasively Torres relinquished his power as an artist, and rather then introduce his own narrative he let viewers to find their own story within the art piece. This newfound relationship between artist and viewer revolutionized the very purpose of art itself. Art no longer became a platform for artists to air their own unique experiences, but rather it became a means for which creators could identify a minute part of humane nature (in this case relationships/separation) and allow viewers to cast their own personal experiences to fit that basic quality of human existence. Torres made art about a network of humanity, connecting the vast breeds of relationships by a single thread. Although this piece emphasized autonomy, it undoubtedly exhibited the interconenctive features present in all beings.

Lecture #10

As Edit deAk once said post-modernism did not take one form, but rather many, it was made up of “the ultra/meta/post/anti/para/sub/uber-aughts.” Two prominent strands of post-modernist art were post-structuralism and identity politics. The first sub-category, post-structuralism, was a way in which artist deconstructed the preexisting notions of what is considered art. An exemplar of post-strucralist ideologies was Marry Kelly. Kelly’s Post-Partum Document was a six year exploration and analysis of the maternal world. After the birth of her first son she collected mementos from his childhood superimposed with analyitcal texts or vice versa. This exhibit broke down the walls between artistic representation and personal significance. Kelly used this symbiotic art form as a way to speak to larger issues often discussed within the second wave feminist community.

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In this document we see Kelly struggle with the complexities of maternity, the fear of losing her intellectual expressions to the responsibilities of motherhood. This can be seen as the middle and right columns present the inner thoughts of Kelly, yet these are overwhelmed by the left column which are demands from her child, and further the crayon dashes across the paper. It is as if she must conceal part of her identity in order to meet her child’s desires.

Another post-strucutalist artist was Adrian Piper. Piper dealt predominately with issues of race in the late twenties century. She was famous for attending dinner parties and handing out cards indicating when a guest said something racist. Her exhibit Corned in 1988 was a continuation of this dialogue.
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This exhibit shows Piper on camera explaining the social construct that is race. She breaks down the unimportance of biological identity and emphasizes the significance society places on race as it is perceived. On the wall are two birth certificates one stating she is black and the other stating she is white. The table that is upturned represents the barrier race creates between citizens, but also the break down of familial values. The table is symbolic of dinner time, an expression of American society. As Piper questions race, and the blackness inherent in most of us, she is threatening the social hierarchy and normative nature of American life. This is deconstrtionisit as it breaks down the fourth wall between Piper and the viewer. She forces the viewer to examine their own identity as her tape cites statistics on the biological composition of white people (many of whom are actually of partial African descent) and the role in which race/racism plays in their daily lives. Like Kelly, Piper bridged the gape between her own personal dilemma (figuring out her racial identity) and a larger societal crisis through artistic means.

Another strand of post-modernist art was identity politics. Identity politics played a lot with the associations and stereotypes people hold based on social status. Martha Rosler was a pioneer in this field, she unearthed the complexities of race based stereotypes in the Bowery  area of downtown manhattan. The exhibit called “The Bowery in two Inadequate Descriptive Systems” showcased the prejudices held against the primarily black and poor community of the Bowery.

She took photos of the Bowery with no subjects and juxtaposed it to a list of terms describing drunkards or addicts. This composition of images exposed how stereotypes often  augment our perceptions of reality in communities we are not adjusted to. It also speaks to the dehumanization of natives  to this area for they are given these label before they can even create their own identity. This powerful piece of work encapsulated the social justice messages prevalent in the identity crisis branch of the Post-Moderinst period.

Lecture #9

1. In his lecture on Neo-Dadaism, Michael Lobel suggested that art is about communicating.  With this statement in mind, explain how Robert Rauschenberg’s White Painting series embraced this notion.

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Robert Rauschenberg’s White Painting series (shown above)communicated ideas in a revolutionary manner  in which the paintings allowed viewers to see things for themselves. The series compels its audience to slow down and be present in order to observe the minute details that exist within the canvas itself. It communicates not what the artist has to say, but rather provides an opportunity for viewers to discover its meaning themselves. This series was quintessential in establishing freedom for viewers, giving them the ability to see art through their own perspective.

Q2. How does Jasper John’s Flag from 1955 reference certain principles of Abstract Expressionism, speak to the era of Neo-Dadaism and pave the way for Pop Art? In your answer, remember to refer to the specifics of the image itself in terms of the subject, the composition and the materials of the painting.

Jasper John’s painting flag in many ways was a direct response to abstract expressionism. While abstract expressionism was based on a more metaphysical realm, Johns grounded the art community back into a more concrete style of art. By way of manipulating previously existing objects, such as the American flag, he paved the way of Neo-Dadaism. He also used mummified brush strokes to communicate a certain level of humanity and emotion behind the piece. He supplemented this with wax-dripping which provided a complexity and subjectiveness to the piece. The use of color or rather the lack of color in certain pieces in this series influenced viewers to reevaluate previous biases or ideals they based in the generic image of the American flag.  By altering the piece in these moderately subtle ways he retained the majority of original image while giving it a completely new meaning. While most of the ideas represented in the piece stray from abstract expressionism, the flag’s size in that it fills the entire frame is analogous to many abstract expressionist paintings. This painting also gave way to the pop-art movement. He used objects from popular culture to convey a deeper analysis and level of humanity to commercial images.

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Q3.
In your opinion, what is significant in Kaprow’s statement?  Can you attest to the validity of it now, in 2015, given your experience of contemporary art?

The most significant piece of Kaprow’s “The Legacy of Jackson Pollock” (1958) is the notion that art is an open ended exploration. Previously in history many artists have been constrained to only using tools such as paintbrushes, canvases, etc. In addition they’ve been limited by the notion that art is purely self expression. Art is more. It is the ability to not just express yourself but also an opportunity to reflect societal sentiments, or even, to simply the ability to let the materials as  a part of nature express themselves. Pollock gave art both an objective and subjective truth- or rather he gave objective materials a subjective analytical significance. He communicated to viewers that ordinary objects in themselves can manifest emotion from its observers. Pollock opened up space, substances, and many other layers of the nature world to conjure a response from his audience. In this sense being an artist isn’t something prescribed by one’s craft, but rather the label “artist” is the ability one has to take on a complex perspective of the world- to make connections where they are not explicitly drawn.

Lecture #7/8 Minimalism

Abstract expressionist art was used as a vessel for artists to express their own emotions. Each stroke, color, and texture resonated with the artist on a interpersonal level. Contrary to this concentration of art was minimalism. Minimalism focused on the objective truths of nature and the materials used by artists. The repetition in minimalist art exhibitions is often used to exaggerate the subtle differences between paintings. This emphasis on color, texture, brush stroke, canvas, etc, forced viewers to observe art on a new level with a scrupulous eye.

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Ad Reinhart was a revolutionary painter for his time. He used dark color, often black or navy blue, to conjure a sense mystery in his pieces. He, like may the rminimliats, took into consideration time. He believed that by making his painting incredibly dark viewers would be forced to stare for a longer period of time. This aspect of  his art made spectators question how perception is affected by time. One viewer described the paintings as “if you were to walk into a room with the lights off and couldn’t find anything.” The bewildering nature of his art made his audience taken a spacial encounter with the art as well. Observers were often found moving around the paintings, stepping closer and away, to better make sense of the piece in front of them.

Haacke
Of all the minimalist artists, Haacke was one of the most focused on nature’s affect on art, or rather nature as its own art.
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Haacke’s condensation cube drew attention to the affect of time on art. In this sense, nature became the focus rather than the object itself. This shifted the focus of the art from being about the artist’s own voice to being about inherit earthly qualities that are often ignored.
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Haacke explored these themes once again by displaying the effects of terra growth. He essentially took art off a pedestal and let it exist in the real world. This impelled viewers to appreciate art as not a product of human intelligence, but something innate in nature.

 
Suzanne Hudson did an outstanding job of breaking down the minimalist movement and the complexities of it. Our other lecturers spent a fair amount of time talking about historical context and artistic movements as a whole. While Hudson touched on the historical context, her lecture was comprehensive because she used individual artists as exemplars of different aspects of minimalism. This made it easier for me to take notes, as well as understand the roots and purpose of minimalist art. Hudson also struck a balance between personal appreciation of the art, and the objective importance of a piece of art. Michael Lobel spends a large amount of lectures expounding on incredible artists, his personal interest is very visible. On the other hand, Sash Nichols gives art in a very pure and academic way noting an artists importance in the larger scheme of art history. Hudson did a nice job of walking this line finely. While I appreciate this quality, I personally benefit from Lobel’s style of lecturing for it keeps me more engaged.

#6 Abstract Expressionism

Michael Lobel’s lecture on Abstract Expressionism was both extensive and fascinating. My  favorite part was his address to the pestering question that many art spectators often ask, “Does art have an intended meaning? Isn’t it just open to complete interpretation of the viewer?” Lobel answered this tedious question skillfully, validating the purpose of obscure art common in the period of Abstract Expression. He stated that while to some degree art allows the viewer to project their own beliefs, the piece itself is speaking to a certain concept or idea, most often something reflective of a core value or a conflict prevalent during its time period. A good example of this is Barnet Newman’s Onement I.

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Newman intended for the viewer to be immersed, if not overwhelmed by this piece. To convey that he used extremely large canvases so that his pieces were equal to or larger than each viewer. The paint it self has thickness and destiny that can’t be appreciated purely through computer screens. The depth of his brush strokes further inundates the viewer, expressing a sense of inescapablity. The single bright red line that tears across the painting is not linear but rugged  It lays between two identical deep red sides. “Onement,” the title  is defined by many as “reconciliation with oneself”. This painting was created post-WWII, a period in which America was searching for its post-war identity, struggling for moral tenets  The bright singular line shows that search for a fresh start, a new age, while not forgetting the past which is symbolized by the darker red.  During this time period many people were thinking existentially, trying to redefine the human experience and our inherent ethical obligations. The brighter red line can also be seen as an individual  life   in relation to the the entire human experience, an attempt to leave a mark able to surpass the constraints of human livelihood  This painting is the culmination of both the historical events and the philosophical beliefs of the time, without them I don’t believe this piece would hold the same significance.

In the late 1930’s and beyond, artists broke free from realist painting ideals and embraced more abstractionism, surrealism and finally abstract expressionism. There are a variety of reasons for this artistic evolution, the main being post-war prosperity, the rise of existentialism and cultural appropriation. The quaint atmosphere post WWII allowed for these artistic explorations, as Newman explains: “You must realize that twenty years ago we felt the moral crisis of a world in shambles, a world devastated by a great depression and a fierce world war, and it was impossible at that time to paint the kind of paintings that we were doing – flowers, reclining nudes and people playing the cello. At the same time we could not move into the situation of a pure world of unorganized shapes and forms, or color relations, a world of sensation. And I would say that for some of us this was our moral crisis in relation to what to paint. So that we actually began, so to speak, from scratch, as if painting were not only dead but had never existed.”  Newman is expressing the belief that people once felt obliged to reflect the emotions caused by the crises of both the great depression and the war, but now America was more stable enabling artists to explore both introspectively and globally. With this freedom of thought existential writers like Sartre and Camus grew in popularity  Sartre, famous for “No Exit” among other titles, explores the purpose of human life in relation to the collective human experience. “No Exit,” follows three people trapped in a room for eternity. The room becomes a metaphor for hell, and each protagonist the other’s devil. The book investigates the lasting impact of one’s actions, rather than one’s life as a whole. One of the main characters, a journalist, reflects on how his actions has shaped the lives of both his wife and the public, bringing into question the value of personal relationships vs universal impacts  The idea of human purpose  through both interconnectivity and lasting impressions on society inspired artists to create everlasting symbols of their own experiences, beliefs and desires. The second half of the century enticed artists with a new artistic promise of being able to take hold of one’s own destiny beyond their existence, offering meaning to the fleeting nature of life.

Pollock’s first piece “Going West” is representative of regionalist work of the time period.going-west
The inspiration from this piece is most likely derived from Mexican muralist at the time, and Thomas Hart Benton. The broad and free brushstrokes show a certain degree of abstractionism even within this regionalist realist piece. Analogous to Newman’s quote, this piece was a way for people to cope with major historic events of the time, that being the FDR’s New Deal. The New Deal didn’t only help fund artists (including Pollock himself), but also transformed the American landscape. The  reconstruction of once forgotten rural regions led citizens to question the effects of industrialization on nature. The fear of environmental alteration can be seen in the rolling, practically morphing, hillsides above.

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Pollack’s second piece, August Rhythm, is revolutionary for it redefined the purpose of art itself. The first piece, “Going West,” like many realist pieces of the time, was commutative of the artist’s ideologies. Contrary to Pollack’s former utilization of canvas, “August Rhythm” gave materials their own voice. He freely dripped poor quality industrial paint over the canvas. Although this appears to be an anarchic artistic method, it is actually extraordinary serene for the piece is objective, pure, exempt from the artist’s judgements or beliefs of the world. Pollack forced viewers to question our role as consumers; whether art is a means for artists to contemplate and share their thoughts, or to provide the canvas or space for an environment/materials to speak for themselves. Pollack walked this artistic line finely, experimenting in both realism and abstract expressionism.

Lecture 5: Sasha Nicholas: 1930s America: The Social and the Real

Artists of the 1930’s were notable for their use of realist art to express social disparities. As a result of FSA funding, a nationwide photography project was carried out to document the effects of the Dust Bowl in rural America. Photography was extraordinarily successful in capturing the grit and reality of poverty in rural America. Some pictures, such as Ben Shahn’s “Children of Destitute Ozark Mountianeer,” gave voices to the impoverished and humanized the depression to American citizens who may not have witnessed it otherwise.

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The aesthetic choice to use children, cats and dolls in this photo communicates the innocence of the impacted population and the all-encompassing devastation of the great depression. The ripped and tarnished overalls, and general filth show the struggles these victims had to face. The boy’s face is cut-off, as if the image is insufficient to contain the totality of the destruction; the struggles of middle America extend far beyond the page. This photograph captures the grief of the 1930s, the inevitable downfall of even the most innocent American citizens.

While realist photographers like Shahn focused on rural America, painters like Edward Hopper observed urban life. Like most artists of the 30’s, Hopper expressed the great despair found in ordinary American lives. His focus on modern cities emphasized the sense of solitude that accompanied the vast, and often superficial, lifestyle that was common among American urbanites.

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In Hopper’s “Two on the Aisle” (shown above) there is both a sense of grandiosity and distance. The theater itself is embellished with red drapes and european architecture, evidence of wealth. The outfits, particularly the man’s tuxedo, serve as additional evidence of affluence in this scene. Despite the economic prosperity of the figures, an inescapable sense of loneliness remains. The women in the top right wearing a red dress has shed both her environmental and human connections by focusing on the theatrical program. The man in the tuxedo looks away from both the woman grabbing the green coat and the woman in the red dress. He appears distracted, unfazed by the other humans surrounding him. In this respect, the man also resides in his own personal plane of existence. The women grabbing her coat also appears distracted, unable to recognize the others or the theater that surrounds her. It’s either just before or just after a performance, and they are all hesitant to leave this cocoon of privilege and escape. Finally, the framing of this scene evokes a sense of grandiosity. The tight scope of this image suggests that the theater is too big to fit within the frame. The man in the tuxedo seems transfixed by the vastness of the theater; he is looking at the remainder of the theater which does not fit within the frame, his expression is one of both awe and concern. This image is a perfect representation of Hopper’s commentary on the 1930’s. He believed Americans as a whole were isolated from one another, and feared the expansiveness and uncertainty that came with rapid urbanization.

 

 

 

Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” was most striking to me for its depiction of sternness, adversity, and pride. Sternness can be found in the man’s facial expression.

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His austerity can be seen as his jaw is locked, his lips are sealed and his eyes unremittingly pierce the canvas. In addition, his resolute disposition can be found in his firm grip on the pitchfork. The pitchfork itself is extremely sharp, and appears to be more likely a tool for violence than farming. The man’s proximity to the women, and the tight frame, is a way to ward off viewers from entering or even seeing the house. This suggests that they value the house and feel a need to defend it against outsiders. The woman is staring off into the distance, as if observing or searching for a potential threat. The puritan nature of the painting, depicted through the woman’s blond hair and the colonial attire, indicates that honest American life is under attack, particularly that of rural farmers.

This painting is emblematic of the 30’s for it expresses the unyielding fear found among most Americans of the time. People felt as if their traditional way of life was under attack, and therefore it became the responsibility of the people to safeguard their homes. The economic catastrophe of this time period threatened rural Americans’ livelihood, leading many of these citizens to live a life of paranoia.

 

Building the Blog and New Interviews

I’ve been working a lot on building the blog: 115steps.tumblr.com

I made it so when you click on the profile you can select to see images of Chelsea-Elliott or Avenues students. My biggest issue is bringing all the pieces together. I have a lot of parts, but not fully fledged peices; interviews without photos or vice versa. It’s been really hard to schedule with both Chelsea-Elliot and Avenues students. On Wednesday I waited for Joe for nearly two hours because I really want to have his portion done as a whole because he gave such an incredible interview.

Regardless, I’ve finished a full profile for Baidy a kid I photographed and interviewed today. Daphne and the HBO crew was there for it so they asked some additional questions at the end as well. All this can be found on 115steps.tumblr.com/tagged/chelsea .

He had a lot of great things to say. He’s especially interesting because he wasn’t born in Chelsea or even lives there, rather his family is in harlem. Yet, his home is truly Chelsea the neighborhood has given him friendships, social events and career opportunities. Most of  his experiences are a result of the amazing work done at the Hudson Guild.

We also got to touch on a bit of current events surrounding Ferguson and Eric Garner.

Finally we spoke about awareness day. Awareness day is going to be January 16th (the Friday before the Martin Luther King long weekend) and will be a day where instead of classes, upper school students will attend workshops and speakers about topics of race and oppression. Jules Franco, Mr. Wang, Mr. Corteese, myself and a few others are leading the project. I had the idea of leading a workshop of gentrification in Chelsea and having kids from Avenues have an open dialogue with kids from Chelsea-Elliot. After I told Baidy about the general premise of Awareness day, without including my gentrification workshop idea, he chimed in and pretty much summarized the exact same idea for a discussion between the communities. I don’t know the logistics of this or if it will even work to get enough kids in, but maybe if we coordinate with Kim Wolfe we could tie in enough kids form the Hudson Guild.

I posted the interview below but the photos can be found here.

Lecture #4: Machine Age Modernism

Both Hopper and DeMuth had to deal with the evolving relationship between man and technology after World War One. Prior to the war technology was seen by many people, particularly precisionist artists, as a savior for humanity. After the war this perspective shifted. Hopper’s work illustrates the lonliness and isolation of human life in the industrial/urban age. I believe this painting, Morning Sun, illustrates his views best:

This image shows a women in solitude staring out at an urban landscape. She appears to be both lonely as no one else is in the room with her and she is posing candidly. As she stares out the window a shadow engulfs half the room, this could represent the darkness and isolation that comes with urban life as she is looking out onto a city-scape.  This painting is representing what Hopper presumably to be typical life at this time, for this women presents as an average female not having an outstanding features. I believe he is trying to exhibit how technology and rapid urbanization made us less connecting and withdrawn from one another. This woman seems to be living in her own world, rather than that of one shared by others.

Similarly, Charles Demuth grappled with the role of technology/industrialization in post-WWI America. Demuth, I believe, tried to personalize the role of industrialization to fit that of his own narrative. He was dying due to diabetes, and had been stuck in his hometown of Lancaster. Within the town he used ordinary industrial landscapes to explore and convey complex emotional ideas. My Egypt is a fitting example of his personification of America’s new landscape:

This picture is based around an ordinary grain elevator. Though Demuth masterfully takes this inhumane machine and fills it with pious. The use of light and the lower perspective looking up emulates how humans perceive god to be greater and mystical than oneself. The precision in his depiction of the structure, and use of straight geometric lines also reflects the kind of perfectionism people often associate with god. Finally the title My Egypt has religious value in itself for it is referencing a holy and spiritual land for many. Demuth explored the spiritual aspects he found in industrial objects.

Returning to Hopper, one can explore how he made broad statements about the state of humanity by excluding idiosyncratic narratives in his paintings. Hopper explored what he considered to be the American life by using generic spaces, such as the theater, diners, and ordinary houses, as setting for his paintings. His piece Automat is a perfect example of this artistic choice:

Firstly, this painting takes place in a diner, a kind of place routinely visited by Americans. The women also appears to be an average kind of American. Her style is not outstanding, and her physical appearance is also normal. The only thing outstanding about this painting is his portrayal of the diner. In advertisements and often in retrospect, people view diners as crowded, filled with families and chatter. This painting shows a lone women, with no one even sitting across her. In addition she is looking down as if she is contemplating something in her own world, not connecting her thoughts with others. The window is also extraordinary in its emptiness. The darkness is symbolic of her isolation; as seen in the previous painting this woman is living in her own world disconnected from all others.

Manhatta (1921), by Paul Strand and Charles Scheeler reiterates many artists opinion of post-WWI Industrial America. The intense and deep music is dehumanizing, the lack of harmony makes it almost ominous. This fear I believe is one of isolation. The camera never zooms in or focuses on one person in particular, but rather society as whole. Individuality and connectivity between individuals is lost; no interaction is seen between two parties. The screen is often filled with large industrial objects, such as ships and skyscrapers. The geometric use of shadows, and the urban landscape also shows a lack of human emotion. The camera’s steadiness also shows the inhumanity, its as if everyone is an observer, but no distinct and personal emotions are being addressed. The only relationship this piece holds with individuals is the shared sense of isolation, the shared idea that industrialization has stripped society of its sense of harmony and connection between its citizens.

 

Update: Tumblr, Presentation and Ferguson

I built my tumblr website where I integrated the photos and the interviews together here:

115steps.tumblr.com

A couple things here:

1. the name is derived from the amount of steps between chelsea elliot and avenues

2. I only have 3 subjects up at the moment, because I feel most confident in those

3. there’s an about page if you click the human icon on the left

4. you can also use that icon to find just chelsea-elliot teens or just avenues teens

Hopefully I’ll be able to utilize the website for the art show next week, as I like the format of it the most.

I’m a bit upset because I scheduled 3 photo/interview sessions over thanksgiving but only one (Chelsea) went forward. Both Joe and Isabella from Avenues fell through. I’ve rescheduled Joe for next tuesday and Isabella for this weekend. In addition I’ve also scheduled Chris G. for Friday.

Finally, last Tuesday I attended a protest in response to the Grand Jury’s ruling on the Mike Brown case. Regardless of which side you are on I think it is fair to say this case deserved a trial at the very least. I also think this specific incident can be used as a microcosm for race relations in the United States. As much of my project has to do with socioeconomic divide, a identifier that often is correlated with race in America I thought it would be appropriate to share some photos from the protest I took here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/69233631@N05/sets/72157649058055857/

 

Lecture 3: Sasha Nicholas: American Modernism in the Teens

There were many defining characteristic of American Modernsim in the early 20th century, the most notable being: new use of color, symbolism in American materialism, cubism, abstract photography and water color. This new breed of art was a product of the changing times in America; the industrial revolution gave way to complex architecture, while major scientific endeavors inspired artists to stray away from the rational world. Fauvist work was   given form through artists’ use of color rather than lines. The unique cubist depictions allowed artist to break down images from the real world. The vivid colors presented were a response to the excitement of modern life in skyscrapers and urbanization. The growth of materialism in American culture provided artists with unique paths of social commentary. Artists begun using ordinary commercial objects to convey ideas of larger societal shifts. An example of this is the use of a Chinese restaurant in a painting to symbolize the growth of immigrant populations. Photography also became a more popular art form. Artists like Stieglitz used atmospheric effects of real world, snow and rain, also used the modern industrial city in his photography. The haziness, blurriness and motion in his photos made his photos unique and abstract. Another art form that grew during this time period was water color. John Marin pioneered this art form he preferred water color for it aided his work which consisted of fragment geometric,vivid colors, and motion. His art was also representative of larger societal shifts; architectural subjects were manifestations of the nations growth, the city to him was a living organism. The teens of the 20th century was an age of growth and development for abstract artists exploring color, symbolism, cubism, photography and water color.

Alfred Stieglitz and Paul Strand were pioneers in abstract photography. The majority of Stieglitz’s photographs are distinct in their soft-focus, utuzliation of weather, and atmospheric tones.

The picture above exhibits his use of weather to express motion, and create atmosphere. The rapid growth of industrialization in the early 20th century meant a more urban-fast-paced lifestyle. This can be seen in the movement of citizens, carriages, and precipitation. The weather conditions (which were made to be low contrast) gives this photo atmosphere, the fuzziness of it gives it complexity similar to that of brush strokes in traditional art. The subjects of these photo are in sharp focus, this choice of “naturalism” was a way for artists to mimic the way the human eye sees things. The variety of elements in this photo makes use of a space in an abstract way; amorphous figures fit together like pieces in a puzzle.

A student of Stieglitz, Paul Strand also explored the field of photography. Although he studied under Stieglitz, Strand’s work was very dissimilar to that of his teacher’s. He did not take part in pictorialism, but rather created images that supersede what the human  eye can naturally observe. Unlike Stieglitz, he put an emphasis on precision; the intensity of his vision made his photos living expressions. He objected to using processing tricks or manipulation in his photos. He did however experimented in abstraction through photographing beyond the everyday plane of view. He used interlocking shapes, and shadows to convey  complex ideas. The new use of photography was very similar to the rise of cubism, and new emphasis on idiosyncratic patterns and shapes. The unique forms of these pieces gave way to a new era of modernism.
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The photo above is an example of Strand’s devotion to modernism and utilization of shadows. He escaped the ordinary human perspective, without manipulating the photograph. This was much unlike  who focused on ordinary life and often used weather patterns and manipulations in development to alter his photos.

Ultimately Stieglitz followed in Strand’s footsteps.

This image shows Stieglitz transformation as an artist. His final works were less busy with weather and haziness  and more focused on shadows and shapes. This image explores a larger area, similar to many photos of Strands.

Ultimatley artists have reciprocal relationships. Without Stieglitz, Strand may’ve never succeed in the art realm as he had; but without out Strand, Stieglitz art may’ve become mundane. Each artist needed each other to grow, their relationship I believe was a testament to the beauty and necessity of an artist community.