Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Entry #2

"when we perceive a thing to be beautiful, it is because we instinctively recognize the rightness of the thing. this means we have revealed to us a glimpse of something essentially of the fibre of our own nature... a flash of truth stimulates us, and we have a vision of harmonies not understood to-day, though perhaps to be to-morrow."

Frank Lloyd Wright


Perhaps art's inability to be defined is a part of its definition.  Art can serve many purposes.  It can teach, explore, heal, or simply put a smile on your face.  Wright's quote about beauty relates to the ideas of formalism and form.  Form deals with the compositional elements of art such as line, shape, color and texture.  A formalist approach is one way of understanding the characteristics and goals of art.  The formalist school of thought teaches that the most important aspect of a piece is the initial aesthetic response experienced by the viewer.  From a this point of view, other information such as the context of the artwork or historical references, are irrelevant.  The artist is to be removed from the audience's interpretations of their work.  The idea of formalism finds its roots in the writings of  Plato.  Plato taught that all forms we see in the physical realm are merely representational of a form's true essence.  The choice of medium or mindset of the artist are tools to translate subject matter in order to express a true essence of a thing.  Throughout history others have contributed to the dialogue on formalism.  Clive Bell referred to form as the use of material and process in order to capture the inner essence of a thing, as opposed to Plato's view that a form's essence exists outside of the physical realm.  The feelings conveyed through art are more important than an attempt to duplicate the subject matter.  Structuralists, very closely related to formalists, were less concerned with the aesthetics of an art piece and more focused on communication.  Structuralists were more deliberate when it came to what materials were used, and in what way.  Structuralists used ideas of traditional formalism to validate abstractions as art, but instead of placing the importance on essence, their main concern was sending a specific message.

Carl Andre

Formalism is a term most commonly applied to abstract art.  After watching the film about abstract artists in class, I took a special interest in the sculptor, Carl Andre.  I loved the ways that children reacted to Andre's art.  Andre doesn't alter any of the substances he uses in his sculptures, he only arranges and adheres units to one another.  Andre called himself a matterist, he is only concerned with the materials that he uses and how he places them.  Andre was most concerned with sculpture as place, an idea that I find particularly interesting.  I have an interest in interior design and the ways in which arrangement can affect the feeling of a place, so Andre's sculpture really intrigues me.  The use of raw materials to cut into a space is a unique art form that can be appreciated (as shown by the young children in Andre's exhibit) for the simplest of reasons.  What I took away from Andre's art is the importance of appreciating things for what they are and understanding how the space an object occupies can alter an object just as effectively as carving tools can.    


I have a lot to learn about the topic of post-feminism, but the social movement is a topic that I possibly want to address in my final project.  The post-modern era in general intrigues me.  I intend to read more about post-modern issues concerning not only sexism, but also racism, as well as ethical and moral standards.

The image to the right is the first project I have completed in Intro to Painting class with Mark Priest.  Dealing with light, form, and perspective while painting is a highly theraputic process for me.  Translating visual information onto canvas is an escape from loud and conflicting ideas that typically occupy my mind.   This idea of escape from my normally philosophical mindset, via focusing on forms, is an idea I can develop through other less tradition methods of making art.

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