A number of weeks ago I had a dream that moved me deeply and gave me great inspiration for the site-specific project. I was in the living room of my flat with a large tall black bucket. I really don’t know how it came about but I had submerged into the bucket, into the darkness, I was naked and the bucket was full of white paint. As I closed my eyes the paint covered my body and I believed I was going to a different place. When I woke I was in a beautiful little village, somewhere I’ve never been before. The grass was so green and full of red poppies. There was a barn, and children were playing. Somehow I knew I was not part of the world I once knew.
I stayed for some time. Exactly what I did I am not quite sure, but I was happy. I remember the sun shining and having the feeling that all of my worries and concerns had been lifted. I was free.
Suddenly, I had thought I must go back, looming inside of me I knew that if I stayed too long I may never return. And like that in an instant I was reunited with my dull, dark room. Everything was bleak. There was mess. I instantly felt a deep depression consume me. I wanted it all back. I ran about agitated and jittery, not quite sure what to do next. I climbed into the bucket, splashing the paint over my body and holding my eyes tightly shut. I stood still for some time, but much to my distress when I opened my eyes I had not travelled anywhere at all. For the remainder of the dream I tried until eventually, when I truly believed it would happen it did. And then I knew the secret. You had to believe. I travelled back and forth between the dimensions, and even introduced others to this special place, until the paint ran out. I tried to water it down, but it was useless, and the dream was over.
I believe this other place I visited symbolises death and where another life begins. This is personal to me as many of my close relatives have passed away. I like the concept that when one door closes another opens. I often wonder whether certain individuals are affecting my sub-conscious through communication or just memory. At any rate that last thing I want to do is debate the existence of the paranormal or heaven as I hold just as much scepticism as the next person.
Using this crow that dwells under the bridge I’d like to send a message back to my lost brother. For if anything could deliver it to him, it would be upon the wings of that bird.
Site Specific Art is a term used to refer to art that has been designed and created with a specific site in mind. Usually the artist will has researched the location, and created something either relevant to the history, backdrop, or space, incorporating these thoughts or concepts into the work. Therefore on many occasion the work does not work, and will not be intended to be seen in any other location. The term ‘Site Specific Art’ was coined by Robert Irwin, although it was used by many a young artist in the 1970’s including Lloyd Hamrol and Anthea Tacha.
Site specific art when outside often incorporates the landscape, much like land art, as well as taking on any artistic form; performance, sculpture or 2D image. The artwork may be permanent or temporary, in a public space to be seen by thousands or secluded to be witnessed by none. With such a rich variety of variables the only link between all site specific art is that; the site being important/considered.
Francoise Davin is a French artist who has devoted his career to creating site specific art. He felt that this was the only way for contemporary art to reach the general public, and found that his projects were hugely popular in drawing communities together to help him create something spectacular. Such as his work “Golden Tree of Broceliande” one of a series of ‘conjured up’ mythical works, where Davin had 250 helpers, many of whom were farmers who helped him clean and carry a burnt dead chestnut tree half a mile back to the forest after guilders had offered their services in covering the tree in gold leaf.
“All of them gave their services, not for monetary consideration, but for the pleasure of being a part of something surreal.” – Fancoise Davin
This work above is titled ‘Le blues de l’escalier’ which translates as the blue on the stairs. I really liked this as it reminded me of the title ‘pleasure lines’. The site specefic work we looked at around bristo square. Except this is a pleasure line for water, exactly where it would want to go and where it ends up. I like the way it puddles around the pavement light before ending up in the drain. This work is the kind that the public could appreciate as it is not so deep that you would have to be a genius to enjoy it, I can imagine children having fun following the path of water much as you would do a river. I have a vivd memory of following a trail of milk right down my street that must have came from a split carton. There’s a sense of adventure and mystery there.
Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida, 1980-83
For this work, which could also be described as Land Art, Christo and Jean-Claude used 6.5 million square feet of floating pink fabric to encircle eleven islands in Miami’s Biscayne Bay. Surrounding Islands required the help of hundreds of people, seamstresses, contractors, engineers as well as extensive consultations with marine biologists and orthologists. For the work to look its best, the artists removed 40 tonnes of rubbish from the islands, so ultimately the environment benefited and I’m sure this probably raised the issue with the public.
The work was aimed to put the islands in to bloom, conjuring connotations with tropical plants and birds, parrots or flamingos. After three days the work was finished and it remained on display for two weeks.
This work, titled ‘Dream for Flight’ by Joy Taylor was made using oversized foil leaves and is displayed at Albany International Airport. I like this work, it is described as the leaves are looked apon as falling, but I believe the that does not make a whole lot of sense given the title and the fact that this is an airport and the last thing the management was to do is remind passengers they might fall!
No, I think the leaves have taken off in a gust of wind, a momentary breath of new life and flight and then they gently float back down. I like the round gateway that the leaves are elevated towards, as though that is their escape, as what so many people seek in an airport. They either want to fly away from their life’s stresses and troubles or they just want to get the hell out of the airport regardless!
I admire the simplicity of this piece, no great complexity of materials, or no huge team of helpers was required yet the work and it’s surroundings complement each other perfectly.
Chuck Close is an American painter and photograther, famed for his large scale phot-realistic paintings. Close has a unique visual style, his work appears very reminisant of a mosaic and also a very photo realistic feel. Extremely bright coloures murge with fleshy tones to create a slightly surreal effect, each shard of the person welded together beautifully to create the finished image. it kind of reminds me of looking through a crystal, the image is still whole, but distorted with tiny specs of brilliant rainbowed colour.
In this piece ‘Maggie’ (1996) the effect appears to cover the whole face, however in other works it can be seen to only cover a section or not at all.
Josef Albers, (1888-1976)
Josef Albers was a German born American artist and teacher, whose work was extremely influential both in Europe and the US. He was famous for his paintings and prints of block coloured squares. ‘Homage to the Square’ was a series he began in 1949, in it Albers explored the interaction between squares, his method and composition very precise
Having been a student at the Bauhaus, Albers style was much influenced by both Bauhaus and the Constructivists, although his heaviest influences came from American artists of the late 50’s and 60’s. Albers use of pattern, bold colours and perception within his work drew the attention of both abstract painters and conceptual artists, who admired his work.
Robert Rauschenbourg (1925-2008)
Rauschenbourg made a name for himself in the 1950’s with the coming of Pop Art. He is famed for his usage of ‘non art’ materials to create work that could claim to be both painting and sculpture, as well as working with printmaking and photography.
Rauschenbourg’s prints were achieved using the photographic printmaking technique, where the template or stencil under the silkscreen is replaced with photographic film. This was a common method of printmaking during the Pop Art movement, favoured by others such as Andy Warhol.
Edinburgh Printmakers Gallery
The following information I found on the Edinburgh printmakers Gallery website, I decided to include it for my own benifit as well as anyone elses 🙂
A simple line etching is made by covering a metal plate with an acid-resistant layer or ‘ground’. The artist then draws by scratching through the resist with a simple
needle-point. The point exposes the metal beneath and the lines can now be ‘bitten’ into the metal plate by immersing it in a tray of acid. After cleaning off the’ground’, the plate is ready for printing. A soft ink is spread over the surface of the plate and then wiped so that the ink remains only in the incised lines. Withthe bare metal polished clean the inked-up plate is printed onto dampened paper under high pressure
exerted by a rolling press.
Lithography works on the principle that oil and water will not mix. The printing surface, which can be either a limestone block or a metal plate, is grained to prepare afine surface. The artist then uses a greasy drawing material to make an image directly on this surface which is then treated chemically so that only the image will accept the printing ink. During printing the stone or plate is first sponged with water and then oily ink is rolled across the surface. The water, acting as a resist, prevents the ink from sticking to the bare areas of stone. Once inked the paper is laid on top of the inked stone and passed through the press under pressure.
Screenprinting is a stencil process. A fine mesh of materialis stretched tight on a frame, originally this material was silk hence the word ‘silkscreen’ however polyester is now usedinstead. Areas of the mesh are blocked with a stencil, and then a squeegee is used to pull ink through the unblocked areas. Stencils are often created now using a light-sensitive screen-coating known as ‘photo-emulsion’. Images drawn onto acetate
can then be transferred onto the screen by exposing the emulsion and artwork to u.v. light.
Linocut, wood cut and wood engraving are all forms of Relief printing. As their name suggests, the image is created by cutting away or carving marks out of the materials surface. When inked with a hard roller, only the top surface of the block
will pick up ink while the marks which have been removed will stay white. A print is then taken simply by placing paper on topof the inked block and using a press to apply pressure.
Andrew Mackenzie makes work that explores the constructed landscape intertwined with his own perceptions of nature. His paintings and prints are based on experiences and memories of specific places.
I absolutely love these prints by Andrew Mackenzie. The intricacy of the tiny branches as well as the proportions and composition of the structural elements must have been fairly difficult to achieve, as well as marking the trees as extremely bold and imposing. I find the bridge being made only of thin outer lines particularly successful, as though the image is some kind of design inside Mackenzie’s head and is much reminisant of architectural drawing.
The three prints are fairly large and displayed bordering with eachother horizontally, not vertically as I have shown them here, each different colour leads the image into a different mood, perhaps different memories the artist has with this one particular place?
Although I cannot be certain, I believe the artist used the Etching process to create this print. The very fine detail looks as though scratched into the image, and the various different coloured background/trees would have been added in layers.
The content of Andrew Mackenzie’s work really interests me as his concepts of urban landscapes layered with natural life is very similar to my theme for my graded unit. As well as printed red trees, branches and roots becoming strong elements in my development process.
This final print ‘Footbridge 3’ has an illuminated ghostly feel, very apt for the death of the dominant species and the rise of all things natural! Again Mackenzie’s use of single line transparent manmade structures makes the trees and nature very much dominant.
As though human intervension is very much vanishing, slowy fading into a time only existing in a memory, and gathering dust…
Here are a few examples of the prints I have made, as I was just speaking of the similarities btween Mackenzie’s and my own subject matter, thought I should show you a few examples!
Conceptual Art is a movement where the idea or concept behind the work is fundamental, the aesthetic becoming secondary and only of any importance if the idea evokes it as part of the concept. Conceptual Art began in the early 60’s, although it was heavily influenced by the Dada movement of the early 20th century and the work of Marcel Duchamp. It can be argued Duchamp was the first conceptual artist, and was the creator of “ready made” conceptual art, such as ‘The Fountain’, he was a great believer that art should be free and whatever you want it to be to get your message across.
Post war America saw a prosperous and powerful reign, the US dominated global affairs, and many artists reverted to painting or self-reflective art as well abstract expressionism. But the early 60’s marked a new era, many factors in the US helped push the idea based principles of concept art. There was the war in Vietnam, the civil rights movement, counter culture, expression through humour, irony and criticism; this, combined with peoples newly acquired sexual and political freedom fuelled the right of expression of concepts and ideas in the art world. As would be assumed, this freedom allowed for many different mediums and channels to be used for portrayal of these concepts. And thus the 60’s also saw the rise of Fluxus and Land Art, as well as Conceptual Art.
Henry Flynt is a philosopher and muscisian. Flynt was an extremely intelligent man, at 17 years old he gained entry to Harvard College where he enrolled in a philosophy of science course. Finally he was amongst intellectual equals and he met many companions who would later be very influential friends. It was also at this time that Flynt started composing “serious modern music” and after two and a half years he decided education had nothing more to offer him and he left to pursue his artistic life. Devoting himself first to the monograph ‘Philosophy Proper’ which was analytic philosophy and logical positivism (philosophical system founded by Auguste Comte, concerned with positive facts and phenomena, and excluding speculation upon ultimate causes or origins.) It was then that Flynt coined the term ‘cognitive nihilism’ which would have strong input into all of his work.
In 1961 Flynt coined the term concept art in the Neo-Dada proto-Fluxus book ‘An Anthology of Chance Operations’ Concept Art he claimed had devolved from cognitive nihilism and was thought to display Flynts insights into the vulnerability of mathematics or logic, therefore conceptual art had to be critical of these things.
Henry Flint worked mainly as a violinist and composer but his circles of friends was very much artists and philosophers. For seven years Flynt lived within the art world and displayed some of his work in Yoko Ono’s loft.
“Since concepts are closely bound up with language, concept art is a kind of art of which the material is language” -Henry Flynt
Sol LeWitt was a minimalist and conceptual American artist born in 1928.
In the 1960’s LeWitt rose to fame with both his two and three dimensional works; his wall paintings and ‘structures’ a ‘more appropriate’ term he used to describe his sculptures.
LeWitt’s work is very geometric, having produced a large body of work concentrating on cubes, that lie open with fragments missing but are all connected. These works are very much structural, having names such as ‘Module Wall Structure’ and ‘Double Modular Cube’ these are also linked to LeWitt’s early wall drawings which, due to his love for modules and systems are very grid based.
LeWitt’s work is often described as being very minimal, although much of his more recent work is extremely colourful and often complex, showing beauty and passion. Many of LeWitt’s huge scale wall painting are bright and jazzy his use of shape and line was aimed to test the viewer’s psychological and visual boundaries, “See a line, see that it can be straight, thin, broken, curved, soft, angled or thick. Enjoy the differences.” This should be an easy test to pass if the viewer possess’ an open mind, which was a message of LeWitt’s art.
A common theme in LeWitt’s work was reducing art to its most basic shapes, (spheres triangles, pyramids, cubes etc) colours, (mainly the primary colours and black) and lines, he organised these rules into guidelines for himself. Although he was eventually able to break free and bend these rules. Sol Lewitt had a huge team of assistants working under him. What he devised with these sets of rules was instructions, instructions that could be carried out by anyone which was LeWitt’s intention. The instructions were sometimes very specific but often purposefully vague to allow for subtle differences and individuals interpretation to interfere with the results. LeWitt would then merit the end results of the said wall painting on the assistant that carried out the work.
This could sometimes be seen as a sort of game, but in doing so LeWitt brought to light the notion that an architect, songwriter or composer is still an artist even though they do not build their own house or play their own music, just coming up with the concept makes them so. Having said that the input of the assistant or team of, was extremely important to LeWitt, their joy, boredom or frustration becoming an element to the art.
Piero Manzoni was an Italian artist, born in 1933, he was best known for his both iconic and ironic conceptual art. A self taught artist, Manzoni favored the use of ‘out there’ raw materials, such as faeces, bread or rabbit fur.
Manzoni was directly influenced by the work of Yves Klein, who influenced many young Italian Artists of the time.
In this piece ‘Artists Shit’ contained ninety cans of freshly preserved shit, Manzoni calculating the value of each 30g tin in comparison to the current market value of gold. This work was highly critical of the mass production and consumerism taking the west by storm following WW2. I suppose what Manzoni was trying to tackle was the market of an artists name being worth more than the work itself, the content becoming irrelevant to the extent that canned shit could be worth as much as gold. It is this idea that makes ‘Artist’s Shit’ a brilliant piece of conceptual art.
All importantly it was the ‘idea’ that Manzoni wanted to emphasise, particularly the notion that simply “being” created art. Manzoni was drawn to purification and reduction of his work, drawing inspiration from Rauschenberg’s minimal white paintings or Guy Debord’s film without images, Manzoni eliminated all “useless gestures” to create ‘pure’ work free from dissection through aesthetic, but rather his intention was that one’s mind would then be open to see the powerful thoughts and idea’s he had to offer through the concept behind his work.
Manzoni went on to create living sculpture, which was literally a person onto which the artist had signed, therefore proclaiming them to be art, along with balloons filled with ‘Artist’s Breath’ or Eggs stamped with Manzoni’s fingerprints, which he handed out as food. All of these pieces contain strong conceptual attributes. It is clear looking into the content of Manzoni’s work that he held Marcel Duchamp in quite high acclaim, links can be made between signing a person and calling them art or canning your own shit compared to the Duchamp’s signing of that urinal so many years before. Basically anything that was at Manzoni’s fingertips was fair game for him to claim so long as his ideas permitted it.
Sadly Piero Manzoni died in 1963, only thirty years old, although his impact on the art world has been strong, and his efforts ensure he’ll be remembered not only as the man who canned his own shit.
John Latham was a pioneer of conceptual practice, born in Zambia to English parents. Latham had clung to no one particular style, he was a painter, sculptor, filmmaker and performance artist, and boasts to have developed the technique of spraying paint using a spray gun in his work. As he matured, the relevance of creating an art object became less important to him than the processes involved in making it. He worked a lot using books, symbolic to most people as education, open mindedness and enlightenment, Latham also saw books as a window for error. In 1958 Latham displayed over painted, torn and slightly burnt books, challenging and poking fun at this system of gaining knowledge.
In 1966, whilst teaching at St. Martins School of Art, Latham invited a party of students and friends round for a feast of Clement Greenberg’s book ‘Art and Culture’. The guests chewed up the book and then spat it out. Lathem then bottled and distilled, the fermented mash bottles poured into testubes and returned to the St. Martins School of Art library. Latham was subsequently fired for failing to return a library book in adequate condition. The piece was named ‘Spit and Chew: Art Culture’ the viles placed in a leather suitcase and owned but rarely displayed by the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Latham again fuelled controversy with his work ‘God is Great’ which displayed the Bible, the Qur’an, and the Talmud encased together in a sheet of glass and again on the floor surrounded by shards of broken glass. Latham wanted to display the concept of all three religions stemming from one source, but this was met with questions by a minority of people at the gallery who deemed it too insensitive and the work was removed from the exhibit at the Tate Britain. This angered Latham greatly.
In 1951 Latham married Barbara Steveni and together they set up the Artists’ Placement Group, an attempt to involve artists in local government and industry. It wasn’t very successful, but that was not through any fault of the artists who struggled to overcome the old habits of petty government officials.
Latham’s filmmaking began as a means of recording the evolution of his bookworks ‘Unedited Material From Star’ 1960, but developed to embrace collaborative works with the Event Structure Research Group, abstract animation in the 1960s, and works made for television in the 1990s.
In 2007 John Lathem died aged 83.
Yves Klein was a French conceptual artist born in 1928, in Nice, France. Although both of Klein’s parents were painters, Yves had no formal art training but was extremely influential on the post-war avant-garde art scene. In the 1950’s Klein started to exhibit large canvases of single colour, mainly blue at first, applied with a sponge, which is what he is most famed for. He developed his own pigment of paint and lovingly named his colour ‘International Klein Blue’ or ‘IKB’. For Klein the colours blue pink and gold all possess special meaning or symbolism, as does the sponge he would apply them with. Blue was a very important colour and predominant in Klein’s earlier work, blue representing sensibility, it was Klein’s more mature work that saw the rise of the gold and pink monotones also.
“Blue, gold and pink are of the same nature. Any exchange at the level of these three states is honest.” –Yves Klein
To Klein these three colours were linked, blue symbolizing bodily fluid or blood, pink representing flesh, and gold signifying transition into immateriality. The three themes, “Impregnation”, “Illumination of matter” and “Incarnation” Klein also associated with these colours, Blue represents impregnation, Illumination of matter is gold “at the gates of eternity lie the monogolds” and pink, the incarnation represents the return to the body. Grouping these three colours together was religious as well as symbolic for Klein, in his piece ‘blue, gold and pink’ he saw this as the link uniting the body and the spirit and ensuring the transition from one to the other. I myself see this very much as symbolic of life, you’re conceived, you shine, and then you burn.
The sponge to Klein, as well as blue, represented impregnation. The sponge was impregnated with pigment, and it in return it impregnated something else (eg. a canvas). Klein also sculpted with the sponge, pleased with the sense of freedom the sponge could achieve within a space, sculpted colour offered the possibility of placing objects in space, thereby acquiring the independence that the monochrome paintings sought with the wall. The sponge also represented the viewer to Klein, in 1957, Klein declared that visitors to his exhibitions, viewing the Monochromes, must be “totally impregnated with sensibility like sponges”. Undoubtedly inspired by the special characteristics of the sponge, soaking up anything, was for Klein, a metaphor for an open mind and communication of an artistic concept. Although this represents Klein’s main body of work, there was more to his work than just his monotones. In 1957 Klein released 1001 blue balloons in Paris, he published manifestos indicating that his work should be interpreted as a quest for immateriality. And so the blue monochromes represent the most solid evidence of his art, beginnings of a more fundamental work that remains to be discovered, or, as Klein himself said, “My paintings are but the ashes of my art.” A year later Klein shocked the art world by exhibiting an empty gallery painted white entitled ‘Le Vide’ or ‘The Void’ exploring the impregnation of space, although he did not shy too far away from his beloved blue as subtly it remained, the curtains, exterior building, flyers and even cocktails on opening night were all tinted blue. Klein continued to be controversial by dragging nude women smeared in blue paint over a floor canvas in 1959. This was accompanied by the tune ‘Symphonie Monotone’ a single not that was played for ten minutes alternated with 10 minutes silence.
Then in 1960 Klein continued his exploration of space with one of his most famous pieces of work ‘Saut dans le vide’ or ‘Leap into the Void’ A photograph of himself leaping off a building through space. This type of work; Air Architecture was a term Klein coined to describe his short lived works concentrating on earthly elements and space. Using materials such as air, fire, water and space represented using the female body, Klein used flame throwers for his fire paintings, nude body printing using a variety of media, and spraying to display the shape, mass and space of the human body. The works he dubbed “Cosmogonies” were exposed to rain. Many of these works were performed in front of a live audience and also filmed. Ensuring that Klein’s legacy and spirit lives on.
Similarly to Manzoni, Yves Klein had a short lived life and died of a heart attack aged 34. Having not known much about Klein or studied conceptual art previously, I feel I have learnt a lot from studying his work. His concepts of colour and space, their meaning and symbolism I find fascinating, and I ponder as to how he reached such conclusions on colour and their associations. I think the way Klein’s mind must have worked was extremely intricate and it was these thought processes and links between his mind and what he produced that makes him a respected and influential conceptual artist.
(I wasn’t able to put any of Yves Klein’s video work on my blog, tried but failed! If you copy paste this web address: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJV0n4A_6-M you can see his work using both firepainting and bodypaint techniques)
Neo-Expressionism emerged in the late 1970’s as a reaction against or a direct result of dissatisfaction with Minimalism, Conceptual Art and the International Style. The often ‘cold’ or analytical approach of these movements, along with their preference for pure abstract art convinced many artists to act adversely as an act of defiance. And so the so-called ‘dead art’ of painting was re-born, Neo-Expressionists embracing many elements of historical movements such as Expressionism, Post Impressionism, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art and the paintings of Pablo Picasso. To create emotional, sexually charged work, vibrant with colour, often violent brush strokes, symbolism, and narrative and often autobiographical, reflecting the artists memory. contrasting with the morals of Dadaism, the early 80’s new aggressive methods of media promotion, salesmanship and heavy marketing through dealers and galleries saw the rise of Neo-Expressionism, this was controversial as many critics were angered at its over marketing to the art buying world.
Heavily contrasting with the morals of Dadaism, the early 80’s new aggressive methods of media promotion, salesmanship and heavy marketing through dealers and galleries saw the rise of Neo-Expressionism, this was controversial as many critics were angered at its over marketing to the art buying world.
Eric Fischl is an American painter, his style very much reflective of U.S society, Fischl paints disturbing soft porn, drama like interpretations of white suburban America, which questions conformity as well as bringing to light the dangers of closed mindedness.
Fischl is most famed for his oil or watercolour paintings, and his style is expressive with bright bold colours and a high level of sexual content.
Sigmar Polke is a German painter and photographer who founded “Kapitalistischen Realismus” (Capitalistic Realism), a painting movement with Gerhard Richter and Konrad Lueg but is also closely assosiated with Neo-Expressionism
In the 1970s, Baselitz was part of a group of Neo-Expressionist German artists, occasionally identified as “Neue Wilden,” focusing on deformation, the power of subject and the vibrancy of the colors. He became famous for his upside-down images, he is seen as a revolutionary painter as he draws the viewer’s attention to his works by making them think and sparking their interest. The subjects of the paintings don’t seem to be as important as the visual thought behind it.
Throughout his career, Baselitz has varied his style, ranging from layering substances to his style, since the 1990s, which focuses more on lucidity and smooth changes.
Here are some examples of Georg Baselitz’s expressive ‘upside down’ paintings. Bold colours, charcoal, thick brushstrokes and a very passionate style make these paintings very effective. The nudes both sitting gazing sadly into the distance adds to the emotion, which is amplified by the savage brushstrokes and colour.
Land Art, Earth Art or Earthworks is a movement which emerged in the U.S in the late 60’s and early 70’s. The main theme of this work is that the land is not just a scene or exhibition space for which a sculpture is to be placed. But rather the land is the work and whatever the artist has created shares a special relationship with its surroundings and is a part of it, for without the land the work could not exist.
Most pieces of Land Art have temporary life span, existing only for a short time before being absorbed by the nature around it, or left to erode or decay naturally, this itself being as much the work as its original form. The works are remembered only by photographs or film.
During the 60’s, the hippy era of flower power, free love and freedom of expression probably helped fuel the naturalist sensibility that is Land Art. Really it is a rejection of the perceived artificiality of plastic aesthetic, and huge commercialisation dominating the art world at the end of the 1960’s.
Land Art was inspired by Minimalist Art and Conceptual Art but also by modern movements such as De Stijl and artists such as Joseph Beuys.
Gerry Schum is a German film director, and it was he who coined the name ‘Land Art’ after he directed, produced and acted as cameraman in the 1969 film of the same name. The film is indebted to Schum, who came up with the concept after searching for a new venue for art, which he logically billed as a “television exhibition”
‘Land Art’ showed work from eight American and European artists, Marinus Boezem, Jan Dibbets, Barry Flannigan, Michael Heizer, Richard long, Walter De Maria, Dennis Oppenheim and Robert Smithson.
The artist’s works were created in remote locations which were very unusual for artists at the time, and were intended to be viewed only in Schum’s film. The locations included a moor, a coast, a stone quarry, and a desert. The project was extremely unique and experimental; some of the artists had never worked in such locations before, and some never would again.
“The artists of Land Art sought expressive means of going beyond the limitations of traditional painting on canvas. It was no longer the painted picture but rather the landscape itself or the landscape marked off by the artist that became the actual art object…
The studio-gallery-collector triangle, within which art had previously been played out, was disrupted.” –Gerry Schum
Richard Long is an English sculptor, painter and photographer famous for his stone circles and lines and use of natural substances in his work, such as mud. Several of Long’s works are based on walks he has made, and unique places he has visited, Long using both photographs, text and mapping the land he has walked. His work is usually a response to the environment he has encountered and manipulated in some way, such as the stone line and circle sculptures he has created using stones and rocks he has found. Another prominent feature in Long’s work is the use of finger and hand prints he has made using natural substances.
“I like simple, practical, emotional, quiet, vigorous art. I like the simplicity of walking.” -Richard Long
Andy Goldsworthy is a British photographer, sculptor and environmentalist living in Scotland. He specialises in site specific art as well as Land art. For Goldsworthy nature is no longer just a concept, “My art makes me see again what is there and in this respect I am also rediscovering the child within me…”
Goldsworthy belongs to a younger generation of Land Artists, and so did not participate in Schum’s historic and Land Art film. Yet Goldsworthy’s keen interest in nature, its composition, smell, colour and form earns him a slot amongst the key artists involved in the Land Art movement.
Goldsworthy expresses his travels through nature by making huge nests out of driftwood, skittles made of stone, lines out of leaves that had floated downstream, wilted ferns, and little powdery balls of iron oxide or snow. He then captures his creations on camera, his choice of materials reflecting the diversity of nature. “Photography has become the way I talk about my sculpture.” –Andy Goldsworthy
Nancy Holt is an American artist famed for her Public Sculpture, Installation Art and Land Art. Holt has also produced work in other media including film, photography and writing. Although her most famous work; ‘Sun Tunnels’ were completed in 1976 after three years of planning and installation. The four concrete tubes with varying holes drilled into them are axially orientated on the sun’s farthest position above the horizon. During the summer and winter solstices (two times of the year when the sun is at its greatest distance from the celestial equator) the tubes become completely filled with light, the drilled holes corresponding to form four constellations, Draco, Perseus, Columba, and Capricornus.
“I wanted to bring the vast space of the desert back to human scale.” –Nancy Holt
Directly following on from Dadaism there was Surrealism. Its founder, a poet and writer Andre Breton, did not see eye to eye with Dada innovator Tristan Tzara, and they quarrelled on many instances, with one occasion leading to the police being called and Breton being charged with assault. It was these instances and the influences both men had with the art world that lead to Dadaist’s transition into Surrealism, with the majority of Dada’s artists following suit also. Surrealism had an emphasis on positive expression rather than the rejection or anti-art attitude of Dadaism, which is probably where the dispute lay with Tzara and Breton.
Surrealism officially emerged as a movement in 1924, with the publication of Breton’s manifesto, it was to be a revolution, slowly emerging from the older and broader streams of human creativity. This broad tapestry of influences were to be acknowledged and re-worked into Surrealism, such as the Italian Renaissance to the avant-garde movements such as Cubism, Expressionism, Futurism, Metaphysical art, and Dadaism.
The central attitude that shaped the movement was the changing of the times leading to a wave of new technology, which included electricity, the airplane and the motorcar, which affected the energy of the people positively.
Nowhere was this change more apparent than the First World War which began on horseback and ended with tanks. During the Second World War, many of the Surrealist’s had to evacuate France and the production of work reached a stand still.
Andre Breton a French writer and Founder of Surrealism, Breton was predominantly a philosopher, writer and thinker rather than a visual artist, although he did produce a small selection of artworks. “Pure psychic automatism” was how Andre Breton defined surrealism, and in 1919 Breton and Phillippe Soupault wrote the first automatic book, ‘Les Champs Magnetique’ while ‘the Automatic Message’ (1933) was one of Breton’s significant theoretical works about automatism.
Breton wanted to discard the conscious production of art and instead rely solely on the subconscious for inspiration. He believed that art that was accessed through the unconscious was more “real” or “true” than rational art. Although this in itself is a slight contradiction as you cannot produce art in an unconsious state, but this is where Surrealism’s close association with dreams come from.
“The philosophy of surrealism is based on the belief in the superior reality of certain forms of previously neglected associations, in the omnipotence of the dream, in the disinterested play of thought. It tends to destroy definitively all other psychic mechanisms and to substitute itself for them in solving all the principle problems in life.” Taken from the book ‘SURREALISM The Dream of Revolution’ by Richard Leslie.
Salvidor Dali was a Spanish artist, best known for his bizarre surrealist paintings. His work is believed to be influence by the Renaissance masters. Dali has an eccentric attitude to most things in life, from his clothing to his behavior which greatly annoyed his critics, but ensured his rise to fame.
Famous work by Dali include ‘The Great Masturbator’ ‘Premonition of Civil War’ and ‘The Persistance of Memory’ probably the most renowned of his work for the imagery of melting clocks.
Alberto Giacometti was a Swiss sculptor and painter. Born into an artistic family, he moved to Paris in 1922 and was an associate of Auguste Rodin. Giacommetti there experimented with both Cubism and Surrealism and came to be regarded as one of the leading Surrealist sculptors. His style is extremely savage and violent, a friend of his once commenting tat if Giacometti were to sculpt you he would make your head appear like the blade of a knife.
During WW2 the majority of artists and writers who were opposed to fascism and the Nazi regime fled to the US. Surrealism split into two groups ‘The Automatisits’ and ‘The Veristic Surrealists’ with slightly differing points of view. Breton struggled to promote Surrealism in the US, although ultimately he was given a channel for his views to be heard through ‘The View’magazine.
Elements of Surrealism continues to be a strong influence for many contemporary artists, including Henry Moore, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and many more.
The Dada art movement was intended to question and defy everything that art was perceived as at the time. “Dada is irony.” “Dada is politics.” “Dada will kick you in the behind,” exclaimed its participants.
Appearing fist in Zurich in 1916, and quickly spreading across many other cities, including Berlin, Paris, and New York, Dada was the method of practice and a shared attitude rather than a common style. It’s method of shock tactics to sabotage the viewers expectations of art work was thought to challenge the repressive and conventional work of that era.
During the time that Dada was founded WW1 had just broke out and neutral Switzerland became a place of refuge for many people, including many pacifists and artists. These people were distressed at the political situation and started to question common accepted values, attempting to break patterns of thought. They did this through expression in exhibitions, poetry, and performance in their little club, ‘Cabaret Voltaire’.
Tristan Tzara was primarily the founder of Dadaism. A poet, this Romanian born French artist wrote the first Dada texts including Vingt-cinq poémes (1918; “Twenty-Five Poems”) – and the movement’s manifestos, Sept manifestes Dada (1924; “Seven Dada Manifestos”) He was a regular performer at ‘Cabaret Voltaire’ in Zurich.
After moving to Paris, Tzara joined the staff at literature magazine which eventually marked Dada’s transition into Surrealism. He was involved in major quarrels with Andre Breton, continually having to defend Dada’s principles, which somewhat fuelled the official death of Dadism in 1922.
Max Ernst was a German born French artist who never had any formal art training, but founded the Cologne Dada group together with Arp and Baargeld in 1919. Ernst’s work was mainly collage based to begin with although he went on to participate in one of the most controversial Dada exhibitions, ‘Dada Spring Awakenings’. In this exhibition entry was only accessible through a public toilet and once inside the audience was shown sexually explicit photo montages, a fishtank full of blood with a head floating on top and arm poking out, and Ernst’s contribution which was a large sculpture with an axe beside it and an invitation to smash up anything in the gallery including the centre piece, a young girl in a communion dress reciting obscene verses.
In Max Ernst’s later life he was considered to be a surrealist, although his work itself never changed, remaining emotive and backed by his political thinking.
Marcel Duchamp is by far the most famous artist from the Dada movement. A French artist, Duchamp is probably most remembered for his piece ‘The Fountain’; a signed urinal, and the impact this had on the art world, screaming the question of what is art? Both stretching the boundaries and peoples perceptions of what art is and could be. Duchamp was also influenced by Fauvism and Cubism, as you can see in this piece ‘Nude descending the staircase’. He painted very little after 1915, al;though he continued work on his masterpiece ‘The bride stripped bare by her bachelors, even’
George Grosz was a German painter, writer and caracaturist. He joined the Berlin Dada movement in 1918, and is famed for his particularly savage portrayal of life in Berlin in the 1920’s through his caracatures. He found wounded soldiers, business men, and prostitutes great subjects.
Dada was highly influential in Berlin, it’s slogans heavily affected street culture, printed on stickers and distributed throughout the city. “Dada kicks you in the behind and you like it.”; “Come to Dada if you like to be embraced and embarrassed” Here Dada was not just an art movement, it was an attitude or way of thinking and behaving, the Berlin dadaist used these slogans to promote their fair, which the press branded “The Great Monster Dada Show” and expressed their outrage by saying; “These individuals spend their time making pathetic trivia from rags, debris and rubbish.rarely has such a decedant group, so totally void of ability or of serious intention , so audaciously dared to step before the public as the Dadaists have done here.”
Dadaism has many links with other movements including Surrealism,which followed after and evolved directly from the Dada movement, many of it’s followers switching to Surrealism after 1922. Also Avant Garde,Downtown Music Movements, Nouveau Realisme, Pop Art, Fluxus and Punk Rock, all of which are renowned for their desire to change perceptions and question the restrictions placed upon art and music through sometimes shocking freedom of expression to promote change.
For my final painter, I decided to investigate the work of Derek McCrea, a contemporary American painter, who, as I have done in many of my small postcard sized paintings, uses ink, pen, and many other media as well as paint. Although he is now most famed for his delicate watercolours.
In this watercolour, entitled “Eerie” the artist has applied what I believe to be a fantastic use of negative space for this imposing and crisp white tree. The colours in the sky are absolutely beautiful and very emotive. I love the blotched technique and the control the artist has over what colours run and by how much, (something I myself could only hope to achieve with watercolour!) I presume McCrea layered the sky, first applying the orange, then blue, then purple, and letting the paint dry between each layer. I find the composition with the three stripes of colour and the white leading your eye towards the trunk of the tree really effective.
After looking at this working process, I feel I would quite like to experiment using watercolour, and creatuing a line in a different way than I have before, like maybe using masking tape to create this white space. Perhaps then the end result would be less of a watery mess..
But hey, I’d need to actually get some watercolours first. ….Santa?
So, I thought it was important to write about what I have done so far, and what I hope to finally achieve, as at the moment it’s all a bit of a jumble both in my head and on screen.
Basically my initial idea was to portray a period of time in someones life in a visually pleasing way. The various pieces of footage I had were so-so in their own ways, but did not mould well together, or make any sort of impact or hint at any kind of narrative. Really I wanted the viewer to make up their own story or conception and this would differ from person to person.
I realised when viewing everything on my camera I was flicking through my photo’s at great speed and they appeared to tell a story, sort of like a flipbook, quickly jumping from event to event, I liked this effect and decided to prodominantly use photo’s within my video. My next issue was which to use, and why. I thought it would be a good idea to dismember these events and splice them back together, distorting and changing the happenings for people to put back together in their own ways. And so, still following through with my idea of this video being a bold and colourful piece of footage to observe, the obvious thing to do appeared to be to colour co-ordinate all of my photographs and categorise these colours in the order of the rainbow. After that I wanted to speed it up so that no one photograph stood out and resulted in a blurred vision of colour, a smudge of a weeks activity presented in a few seconds.
I suppose it’s from here on that I started to get confusused. I tryed slowing bits down, mirroring the images, adding bits of video footage and playing with the sound levels. But really, I made no further progress.
I think, after writing this, I see where my intentions lie. I want people to bring their own perceptions to this video and therefore I don’t have to make an obvious attempt at a narrative. However I would like to have several subtle narratives in place, to observe how people react and which they choose to follow, if any. In order to apply this I will change the order in which the photo’s appear in the flipbook to display certain periods of time and certain events midway through my video. It will be interesting to see if anyone picks up on this with everything moving so fast. I suppose this is also some sort of experiment with the subconcious of my peers, as i find this part of the brain interesting to engage with.
I also want there to be an obvious theme throughout the video, which shall be the rainbow theme. I shall capture footage of rain and play this at the beginning (following a brief epilepsy warning!) Then count in the fast flipbook with block colour (7-red, 6-yellow, 5-pink etc.) It will be interesting to see if people only follow this theme or pick up on anything else. I also need to add sound to my video, so I thought I would (reluctantly) sing the rainbow song. To tie in with this almost silly theme I’d quite like to add a pot of gold at the end.
So there we have it Beck, conjure up, chop it up, splice it up, and work on a head f*ck.