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10/11/21, 10:14 AM Art Review Assignment Instructions: ART105-24376 (ONL) Introduction to Art

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Art Review Assignment Instructions Overview: Pretend you are an art critic for an art publication. In next month’s issue, your editor would like you to write a review about a work of art from a local exhibition. Browse a list of current exhibitions and select a work of art to review. Tell whether or not you like the work of art, how it relates to a work of art from the past, and whether or not you recommend your readers see the show.

Remember, art criticism involves making discriminating judgments about artworks, both favorable and unfavorable. As you read in Chapter 5: Finding Meaning, there are several ways to interpret meaning in a work of art. It might be helpful to analyze the work of art that you select by taking one of the following approaches:

Structural criticism Deconstructive criticism Formalist criticism Ideological criticism Psychoanalytic criticism Feminist criticism

Refer to Chapter 5: Finding Meaning (https://coastdistrict.instructure.com/courses/86967/files/11698231/download?wrap=1) (https://coastdistrict.instructure.com/courses/86967/files/11698231/download?download_frd=1) for a description of each method.

Instructions: 1. Visit the website What’s on Los Angeles (http://whatsonlosangeles.com/areas.html) and

browse the various museums and galleries throughout the greater Los Angeles area. When you visit a museum or galleries website, take a look at the current exhibition/s. Select one work of art from a recent exhibition that you would like to review.

2. Decide on a publication that you will be writing for. This can be a made-up publication or an actual publication like The Los Angeles Times or Art in America.

3. Write a review that is between 500-700 words and is double spaced. Include relevant vocabulary terms learned from the textbook and course modules in your review.

4. Format the review by :

Name of Publication (20pt Bold and Underlined)

https://coastdistrict.instructure.com/courses/86967/files/11698231/download?wrap=1https://coastdistrict.instructure.com/courses/86967/files/11698231/download?download_frd=1http://whatsonlosangeles.com/areas.html

10/11/21, 10:14 AM Art Review Assignment Instructions: ART105-24376 (ONL) Introduction to Art

https://coastdistrict.instructure.com/courses/86967/pages/art-review-assignment-instructions?module_item_id=5260888 2/2

Title of Your Review (18pt Bold) Museum/Gallery Name (12pt Bold)

By: Your Name (12pt)

Date (12pt)

Introduction:

For this portion of your review, give information about the exhibition you are viewing. Although you are not required to go out and view the exhibition in person, you can write about it as if you did. For instance: “This Saturday I had the opportunity to visit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to see their latest exhibition of paintings by artist Julie Mehretu.” In the introduction, tell the reader who the artist/s is that you are reviewing. Tell the reader the title of the show, how long the show will be open, and the name of the museum/gallery you visited. Also include some background information about the artist and information about the artwork you will be reviewing (e.g., title, medium, dimensions). Lastly, state your thesis (i.e., your opinion) what you like or dislike about the work of art and why.

Body:

Here you will substantiate your thesis by describing specific aspects of the artwork that support your opinion. First, give a detailed description of the artwork. To help support your thesis, you might find it helpful to use one of the methods of art criticism listed above.

Also, to help support your thesis, include at least one art-historical example and explain how it relates to the work of art you are analyzing. This can be an artwork you read about in the textbook, watched in the module videos, or wrote about in the module discussions.

Also, include AT LEAST ONE image of the artwork. If possible, embed the image/s within your text otherwise, include the image/s at the end of the review.

Conclusion:

Wrap up your review by restating your thesis. Describe what this experience has taught you, and give general comments to your readers about what you hope they learn from reading your review and whether or not they should see the show for themselves.

10/20/21, 1:11 PM Art Review Assignment (Rough Draft)

https://coastdistrict.instructure.com/courses/86967/assignments/1594087 1/2

Art Review Assignment (Rough Draft)

Due Oct 31 by 11:59pm Points 50 Submitting a file upload File Types doc, docx, and pdf

Art Review (rough draft)

Start Assignment

To obtain full credit (50 points) for the rough draft portion of this assignment, please complete the following:

1. Visit the website What’s on Los Angeles. (http://whatsonlosangeles.com/areas.html) Browse the various museums and galleries and select a work of art you want to review.

2. Complete the introduction of your paper with a clearly stated thesis. 3. Include an image of the artwork you are reviewing. 4. Include an art historical reference making a connection to the work of art that you are reviewing.

Once you have completed the assignment, you can upload the file here. Please refer to the Art Review Assignment Instructions for more details. This assignment will be graded based on the rubric below.

http://whatsonlosangeles.com/areas.htmlhttps://coastdistrict.instructure.com/courses/86967/pages/art-review-assignment-instructions

10/20/21, 1:11 PM Art Review Assignment (Rough Draft)

https://coastdistrict.instructure.com/courses/86967/assignments/1594087 2/2

Total Points: 50

Criteria Ratings Pts

20 pts

5 pts

10 pts

5 pts

5 pts

5 pts

Introduction with clearly stated thesis 20 pts Full Marks

0 pts No Marks

Image of artwork 5 pts Full Marks

0 pts No Marks

Art historical reference 10 pts Full Marks

0 pts No Marks

 Demonstrate understanding and appreciation for the visual and performing arts threshold: 3.0 pts

5 pts Exceeds Expectations

3 pts Meets Expectations

0 pts Does Not Meet Expectations

 Recognize the style and describe its identifying characteristics threshold: 3.0 pts

5 pts Exceeds Expectations

3 pts Meets Expectations

0 pts Does Not Meet Expectations

 Explain the theme, historical purpose or context of the art threshold: 3.0 pts

5 pts Exceeds Expectations

3 pts Meets Expectations

0 pts Does Not Meet Expectations

Introduction to Art Chapter 5: Finding Meaning 56

Chapter 5: Finding Meaning

How We See: Objective and Subjective Means

Up until now we’ve been looking at artworks through the most immediate of visual effects: what we see in front of our eyes. Now we can begin to break down some barriers to find specific meaning in art, including those of different styles and cultures. To help in this journey we need to learn the difference between looking and seeing. To look is to get an objective overview of our field of vision. Seeing speaks more to understanding. When we use the term “I see” we communicate that we understand what something means. There are some areas of learning, particularly psychology and biology, that help form the basis of understanding how we see. For example, the fact that humans perceive flat images as having a “reality” to them is very particular. In contrast, if you show a dog an image of another dog, they neither growl nor wag their tail, because they are unable to perceive flat images as containing any meaning. So, you and I have actually developed the ability to “see” images. In essence, there is more to seeing than meets the eye. We need to take into account a cultural component in how we perceive images and that we do so in subjective ways. Seeing is partly a result of cultural biases. For example, when many of us from industrialized cultures see a parking lot, we can pick out each car immediately, while others from remote tribal cultures (who are not familiar with parking lots) cannot. Gestalt is the term we use to explain how the brain forms a whole image from many component parts. For instance, the understanding of gestalt is, in part, a way to explain how we have learned to recognize outlines as contours of a solid shape. In art for example, this concept allows us to draw “space” using only lines. The sites below have some fun perceptual games from psychology and science about how we see, along with some further explanations of gestalt: Scientific Psychic Visual Illusions Gallery

The First Level of Meaning: Formal

So, after we see an object, we can understand its form: the physical attributes of size, shape and mass. With art, this may at first appear to be simple: we can separate out each artistic element and discover how it is used in the work. The importance of a formal level of meaning is it allows us to look at any work of art from an objective view. The invention of the photograph has greatly changed our ideas about what looks ‘correct’. A good example of this idea can be seen looking at the two images below: the first is a digital photo of a foggy landscape and the second a painting by the color field painter Mark Rothko (click the hyperlink here to view his work).

http://www.scientificpsychic.com/graphics/
http://dragon.uml.edu/psych/illusion.html
https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.67512.html
Introduction to Art Chapter 5: Finding Meaning 57

Foggy Landscape. Image: Christopher Gildow

Used with permission of artist

When you compare the two, you see that formally they are similar; bands of color spread horizontally across the surface in layers. Yet Rothko’s painting is much more reductive than the photo. The space is flat, sitting right on the surface of the canvas, whereas in the photo you get a feeling of receding space as areas of color overlap each other. This similarity is not coincidental. As a young man Rothko lived in Portland, Oregon, and hiked the Cascade Mountains. On hikes to higher elevations, he saw the landscape and atmosphere around him and was especially moved by the colors in the sky near the horizon just before sunrise and just after sunset. This phenomenon is called the Veil of Venus: bands of pink, violet and blue near the horizon directly

opposite the setting or rising sun. Below is an example of this phenomenon.

Veil of Venus. Image: Christopher Gildow

Used with permission of artist

Now you can imagine these memories reflected in Rothko’s series of abstract ‘color field’ paintings. It’s simplistic to say this was Rothko’s only influence. As an artist he explored painting styles emerging out of Surrealism, including automatic drawing and more complex mythomorphic techniques. But it’s hard to deny that to some extent his paintings are based on what he saw. Click the link to read more about Mark Rothko.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Rothko
Introduction to Art Chapter 5: Finding Meaning 58

In another example of formal similarities, early photographs often used paintings as reference. We can see this in a comparison of a nineteenth century photo of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, and a painting from the series ‘The Course of Empire’ by Thomas Cole titled “The Consummation”. Both show commanding views of landscape dominated by classic Greek architecture. The photo mimics Cole’s painting in formal terms, emphasizing the grandeur of the architecture within a vast expanse of space. Conversely, realist paintings from the 19th century were sometimes ridiculed for being too lifelike and not ‘ideal’ enough. Theodore Gericault’s Raft of the Medusa is an example. Nowadays people often proclaim that a painting is good because it looks “just like a photograph”. The rise of modern art produced artistic styles that challenge viewers in finding meaning in the works they see. The use of abstraction and gesture as subject matter runs counter to traditional avenues for finding meaning. It is in this formal, gesture-laden approach, however, that much of the grace and delicacy, as well as power, anger or other emotions can be conveyed. In other words, it is the application of the elements that can give us clues to a work’s meaning. If we take the formal quality of application (what kind of lines or shapes are created, how the paint is applied, etc) and combine it with a specific subject (the act of painting itself), you can discover a new meaning from the combination of these visual effects. When looked at from this perspective, the paintings of the Abstract Expressionists become more meaningful. In particular, the art of Joan Mitchell captures the exuberance and energy that the application of paint can achieve. This bridge between formal quality and subject matter can be applied to meaning in works of art from many cultures. Gesture and pattern combine to enhance the meaning of more decorative works like the paintings from a Ceremonial House ceiling from the Sepik region of New Guinea. The ceremonial house was built as a place for spirits to dwell. The paintings themselves indicate abstracted images of faces making fierce gestures, suns and female genitalia, all in reference to the spirits surrounding the ceremony taking place inside.

The Second Level of Meaning: Subject

There are specific categories of ideas that have been represented in art over time. Many of them are present in some cultures, but never present in others. This disparity gives us another place to look for meaning when we approach differences in representation. But generally, these categories of ideas (sometimes called subjects) can also be called a genre of art; that is, a fairly loose category of images that share the same content. Here is a brief list of the type of genre that you may see in a work:

• Landscape

• still life

• portrait

• self-portrait

• allegory: representing a mythological scene or story

• historical: actual representation of a historic event

• religious: two forms: religious representation or religious action

• daily life: sometimes also called genre painting

http://archives.getty.edu:30008/getty_images/digitalresources/gary_edwards/jpegs/grl_92r84_04-01-04.jpg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cole_Thomas_The_Consummation_The_Course_of_the_Empire_1836.jpg
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Raft_of_the_Medusa#/media/File:JEAN_LOUIS_TH%C3%89ODORE_G%C3%89RICAULT_-La_Balsa_de_la_Medusa(Museo_del_Louvre,_1818-19).jpg
https://www.theartstory.org/movement-abstract-expressionism.htm
http://www.artnet.com/awc/joan-mitchell.html
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/310007?&searchField=All&sortBy=Relevance&ft=ceremonial+house+sepik&offset=20&rpp=20&pos=38
Introduction to Art Chapter 5: Finding Meaning 59

• nude: male nude and female nude are separate categories

• political: two forms: propaganda and criticism

• social: work created to support a specific social cause

• power: work created to connect to specific spiritual strength

• fantasy: work created to invent new visual worlds

• decoration: work created to embellish surroundings

• abstraction: work whose elements and principles are manipulated to alter the subject in some way.

What you will discover when you think about some of these subjects is that you may already have a vision of how this subject should appear. For example: visualize a portrait or self-portrait. You can see the head, probably from the shoulders up, with little background, painted fairly accurately. Artists often reinvent how a subject is portrayed Some works of art can be part of a certain genre by using metaphor: one image that stands for another. A good example is this quilt by Missouri Pettway from Gees Bend, Alabama. Made of strips of old work clothes, corduroy and cotton sacking material, it becomes a portrait of the artist’s husband. Missouri’s daughter Arlonzia describes the quilt: “It was when Daddy died. I was about seventeen, eighteen. He stayed sick about eight months and passed on. Mama say, ‘I going to take his work clothes, shape them into a quilt to remember him, and cover up under it for love.’ Contemporary artists sometimes reinterpret artworks from the past. This can change the context of the work (the historical or cultural background in which the original work was created), but the content remains the same. Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother, Nipomo Valley from 1936 (below) uses the subject matter of a mother and her children to symbolize the hardships faced during the Great Depression. The woman’s face speaks of worry and desperation about how to provide for her children and herself. Comparatively, San Francisco photographer Jim Thirtyacre’s image Working Mother from 2009 reflects this same sentiment but through the context of the first major economic crisis of the twenty first century.

Dorothea Lange, Migrant Mother, 1936. Photograph. Farm Security Administration

collection, U.S. Library of Congress.

Jim Thirtyacre, Working Mother, 2009. Color digital image. Used by permission

http://www.auburn.edu/academic/other/geesbend/explore/catalog/slideshow/pages/q057-02b_JPG.htm
Introduction to Art Chapter 5: Finding Meaning 60

It is important to note that many cultures do not use particular genres – portraiture, for example, in their art. For some cultures the representation of an actual human face is dangerous and can call up spirits who will want to live in the image: so their masks, while still face-like, are extremely stylized. Traditional Islamic images are forbidden to depict figures and other material objects. In their place artists use the genre of decoration.

The Third Level of Meaning: Context

The craft arts have meaning too, primarily in the functionality of the art works themselves, but also in the style and decorations afforded them. A goblet from the 16th century has an aesthetic meaning in its organic form, in its function as a means to hold and dispense liquid, and a particular historical meaning in the way it is embellished with diamond point engravings that depict the flow of the river Rhine.

Goblet (Roemer), early 17th century. Dutch probably Amsterdam. Metropolitain Museum of Art, New York. Image is

in the public domain

The goblet’s detailed map of the Rhine gives it specific context: the historical, religious or social issues surrounding a work of art. These issues not only influence the way the viewer finds meaning in particular works of art but also how the artists themselves create them. For instance, the hammered gold mask from Peru’s Sican culture below is simple and symmetrical in form and striking in its visage. For the Sican people the mask represented either the Sican deity from the spiritual world or the lord of Sican, a man who represented the deity in the natural world. Masks were stacked at the feet of the dead lord in his tomb. In this cultural context the masks had significance in the life, death and spiritual worlds of the Sican people.

http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Face_Masks/menu_Face_Mask.html
Introduction to Art Chapter 5: Finding Meaning 61

Golden Mask, Lambayeque, Sican culture, Peru. C. 9th century C.E. Museo Oro del Peru y Armas del Mundo, Lima.

Image licensed through Creative Commons

To view James Rosenquist’s painting F-111 is to be confronted with a huge image of a fighter jet overlaid with images from popular culture, all in bright colors and seemingly without connection. But when we see the work in the context of American experience in the 1960’s we realize the two-pronged visual comment Rosenquist is making about war and consumerism; what he termed “a lack of ethical responsibility”* (from James Rosenquist, “Painting Below Zero”, Notes on a Life in Art, 2009, Alfred A. Knopf, page 154). In the artist’s hands the two ideas literally overlap each other: the salon hair dryer and diver’s bubbles mimic the mushroom cloud rising behind the opened umbrella (which is another formal link to the nuclear bomb blast behind it). The painting is at such a large scale that viewers are dwarfed by its overpowering presence.

The Fourth Level of Meaning: Iconography

At the simplest of levels, iconography is the containment of deeper meanings in simple representations. It makes use of symbolism to generate narrative, which in turn develops a work’s meaning.

Jan van Eyck, The Arnolfini Portrait, 1434. Oil on oak. The National Gallery, London. Image licensed through

Creative Commons

https://www.moma.org/collection/works/79805?classifications=any&date_begin=Pre-1850&date_end=2019&locale=en&page=1&q=F-111&with_images=1
Introduction to Art Chapter 5: Finding Meaning 62

Each of the objects in Jan van Eyck’s The Arnolfini Portrait has a specific meaning beyond their imagery here. In fact, this painting is actually a painted marriage contract designed to solidify the agreement between these two families. It is especially important to remember that this is not a painting of an actual scene, but a constructed image to say specific things.

  1. You notice that the bride is pregnant. She wasn’t at the time of the painting, but this is a symbolic act to represent that she will become fruitful.
  2. The little dog at her feet is a symbol of fidelity and is often seen with portraits of women paid for by their husbands.
  3. The discarded shoes are often a symbol of the sanctity of marriage. 4. The single candle lit in the daylight (look at the chandelier) is a symbol of the bridal

candle, a devotional candle that was to burn all night the first night of the marriage. 5. The chair back has a carving of St. Margaret, the patron saint of childbirth. 6. The orange on the windowsill and the rich clothing are symbols of future material wealth

(in 1434 oranges were hand carried from India and very expensive). 7. The circular mirror at the back reflects both the artist and another man, and the artist’s

signature says, “Jan van Eyck was present”, both examples of witnesses for the betrothal pictured. (We don’t think of this much anymore, but a promise to marry was a legal contract). The circular forms around the mirror are tiny paintings of the Stations of the Cross.

You can see how densely populated iconography in imagery can convey specific hidden meanings. The problem here is to know what all of this means if we want to understand the work. Understanding the context of the work will help. Another more contemporary painting with icons imbedded in it is Grant Wood’s American Gothic from the 1930’s.

Grant Wood, American Gothic, 1930. Oil on beaver board. The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago. This image is in

the public domain.

Introduction to Art Chapter 5: Finding Meaning 63

The dower expressions on the figures’ faces signify the toughness of a Midwestern American farm couple. Indeed, one critic complained that the woman in the painting had a “face that could sour milk”. Notice how the trees and bushes in the painting’s background and the small cameo the woman wears mirror the soft roundness of her face: these traditional symbols of femininity carry throughout the work. In contrast, the man’s straight-backed stance is reflected in the pitchfork he holds, and again in the window frames on the house behind him. Even the stitching on his overalls mimics the form of the pitchfork. The arched window frame at the top center of the painting in particular is a symbol of the gothic architecture style from 12th century Europe. In addition, a popular genre in painting from 16th century northern Europe, especially the Netherlands, is known as vanitas painting. These still life paintings are heavily dependent upon symbolic objects that project the joy and accomplishments life affords, yet at the same time remind us of our mortality. Edward Collier’s painting below is a good example of how crowded these could be.

Edward Collier, A Vanitas, 1669, oil on canvas. This item is in the public domain

The armor, weapons and medals show a focus on military accomplishments. The open book alludes to knowledge and in this case, the drawing of a canon mirrors the overall theme. The globe is a symbol of both travel and our common existence as earth-bound beings. Contemporary vanitas paintings could certainly include allusions to air and space travel. On the far right of the work, behind the book and in the shadows, lies a skull, again reminding us of the shortness of life and the inevitability of death. We can use iconography to find meaning in artworks from popular culture too. The “Golden Arches” mean fast food, the silhouette of an apple (with a bite out of it) means a brand of computer, a single, sequined glove stands for Michael Jackson, the ‘king of pop’ and the artist Andy Warhol’s soup can image forever links Campbell’s soup with Pop Art.

Critical Perspectives

From the first forms of art criticism in ancient Greece, the discussion of meaning in art has taken many directions. The professional art critic is one of the gatekeepers who, through their writing,

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/623056/vanitas
http://www.moma.org/collection/object.php?object_id=79809
Introduction to Art Chapter 5: Finding Meaning 64

endorse or reject particular kinds of art, whether in style, artistic ability or message. In fact, a study of the different ways to look at art can tell us much about changing times and philosophies: the role of aesthetics, economics and other cultural issues have much to do with the origin of these philosophical positions. Of course, none of them are completely true but simply different types of discourse. People approach meaning from different perspectives. The artworks sit silent while all around them the voices change. We are at a time when there are several, sometimes greatly conflicting, ways of thinking about meaning in art. Here are six different perspectives art critics use as compasses to interpreting meaning:

Structural Criticism

Structuralism is based on the notion that our concept of reality is expressed through language and related systems of communication. On a larger scale, visualize culture as a structure whose foundation is language, speech and other forms of communication. When this approach is applied to the visual arts, the world of art becomes a collective human construction, where a single work needs to be judged within the framework supported by the whole structure of art. This structure is still based in language and knowledge and how we communicate ideas. I often use the example of the word “cowboy”. In your head: visualize a cowboy: then describe what you saw. What gender was your person? What race was this person? Now let’s apply those answers to historical fact. The fact is up to 25% of the historical cowboys in the United States were black slaves freed after the civil war. Did you see your cowboy as white? Your idea of cowboy might have come from film, which is an extremely different form of reality. The structural idea manifests itself when we look for meaning in art based on any preconceived ideas about it we already have in our mind. These preconceptions (or limitations) are shaped by language, social interaction and other cultural experiences.

Deconstructive Criticism

Deconstructive Criticism goes one step further and posits that any work of art can have many meanings attached to it, none of which are limited by a particular language or experience outside the work itself. In other words, the critic must reveal (deconstruct) the structured world in order to knock out any underpinnings of stereotypes, preconceptions or myths that get in the way of true meaning. Taking the perspective of a deconstructive critic, we would view a portrait of Marilyn Monroe by pop artist Andy Warhol as an imaginary construct of what is real. As a popular culture icon, Marilyn Monroe the movie star was ubiquitous: in film, magazines, television and photographs. But Marilyn Monroe the person committed suicide in 1962 at the height of her stardom. In truth, the bright lights and celebrity of her Hollywood persona eclipsed the real Marilyn, someone who was troubled, confused and alone. Warhol’s many portraits of her –each one made from the same publicity photograph –perpetuate the myth and cult of celebrity.

Formalist Criticism

Formalist criticism is what we engaged in when we looked at the elements and principles of art. Formalism doesn’t really care about what goes on outside the actual space of the work but finds meaning in its use of materials. One of the champions of the formalist approach was Clement Greenberg. His writing stresses “medium specificity”: the notion there is inherent meaning in the way materials are used to create the artwork. As is relates to painting and works on paper, the result is a focus on the two-dimensional surface. This is contrary to its traditional use as a

http://www.tate.org.uk/servlet/ViewWork?workid=15976
http://www.tate.org.uk/servlet/ViewWork?workid=15976
Introduction to Art Chapter 5: Finding Meaning 65

platform for the illusion of depth. Formalism allows a more reasoned discussion of abstract and nonrepresentational art because we can approach them on their own terms, where the subject matter becomes the medium instead of something it represents. This is a good way to approach artworks from cultures we are not familiar with, though it has the tendency to make them purely decorative and devalue any deeper meaning. It also allows a kind of training in visual seeing, so it is still used in all studio arts and art appreciation courses. Greenberg was a strong defender of the Abstract Expressionist style of painting that developed in the United States after World War II. He referred to it as “pure painting” because of its insistence on the act of painting, eventually releasing it from its ties to representation.

Ideological Criticism

Ideological criticism is most concerned with the relationship between art and structures of power. It infers that art is embedded in a social, economic and political structure that determines its final meaning. Born of the writings of Karl Marx, ideological criticism translates art and artifacts as symbols that reflect political ideals and reinforce one version of reality over another. A literal example of this perspective would view the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. as a testament to a political system that oppressed people because of race yet summoned the political will to set them free in the process of ending a Civil War.

The Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C. Photo by Jeff Kubina and licensed through Creative Commons

In contrast, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s painting Franzi in Front of a Carved Chair (below) from 1910 is also considered a symbol of artistic (hence, political) freedom. His Expressionist art – with its strong, sometimes arbitrary colors and rough approach to forms, was denounced by Nazi Germany as being “degenerate”. The Degenerate Art Show of 1937 was a way for the German political establishment to label modern art as something evil and corrupt. Hitler’s regime was only interested in heroic, representational and idealistic images, something Kirchner was rebelling against. Kirchner and other Expressionist artists were marginalized and many of their works destroyed by the authorities.

https://www.theartstory.org/movement-abstract-expressionism.htm
http://www.historyguide.org/intellect/marx.html
http://fcit.usf.edu/HOLOCAUST/arts/artdegen.htm
Introduction to Art Chapter 5: Finding Meaning 66

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Franzi In Front of A Carved Chair, 1910, oil on canvas, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum,

Madrid This item is in the public domain

Psychoanalytic Criticism

Psychoanalytic criticism is the way we should look at work if we feel it is only about personal expression. The purest form of this criticism ranks the work of untrained and mentally ill artists as being just as important as any other art. It is in this way that the artist “inside” is more important than any other reason the art happens or the effect the art has. When discussing Vincent van Gogh you will often hear people make mention of his mental state more than his actual artwork, experience, or career. This is a good example of psychoanalytic criticism. One of the problems in this type of criticism is that the critic is usually discussing issues the artist themselves may be totally unaware of (and may deny these issues exist).

Feminist Criticism

Feminist criticism began in the 1970’s as a response to the neglect of women artists over time and in historical writings. This form of criticism is specific to viewing art as an example of gender bias in historical western European culture and views all work as a manifestation of this bias. Feminist criticism created whole movements in the art world (specifically performance-based art) and has changed over the last few years to include all underrepresented groups. Examples of feminist art include Judy Chicago’s large-scale installation The Dinner Party and the work of Nancy Spero. In reality, all of these critical perspectives hold some truth. Art is a multifaceted medium that contains influences from most all the characteristics of the culture it was created in, and some that transcend cultural environments. These perspectives, along with the different levels of

https://www.vangoghmuseum.nl/en/vincent-van-gogh-life-and-work
https://www.vangoghmuseum.nl/en/vincent-van-gogh-life-and-work
https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/dinner_party
https://art21.org/artist/nancy-spero/
Introduction to Art Chapter 5: Finding Meaning 67

meaning we explored, help us to unravel some of the mysteries inherent in works of art, and bring us closer to seeing how art expresses feelings, ideas and experiences that we all share. In our search it is important to be aware of all the issues involved, take aspects of each critical position depending upon the work being viewed, the environment (and context) you’re seeing it in, and make up our own mind. License and Attributions

Chapter 5: Finding Meaning
How We See: Objective and Subjective Means
The First Level of Meaning: Formal
The Second Level of Meaning: Subject
The Third Level of Meaning: Context
The Fourth Level of Meaning: Iconography
Critical Perspectives
Structural Criticism
Deconstructive Criticism
Formalist Criticism
Ideological Criticism
Psychoanalytic Criticism
Feminist Criticism

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