Just a side thought

Last week, I saw a performance at CU-Denver’s campus done by an experimental music group/class. What’s interesting is that for one of their improv pieces, the instructor set up a projector up onto the wall so he could conduct the ensemble. It’s interesting that he was going to conduct the ensemble with paint and drum accessories. He set up the video recorder so all you could see were his hands and the different color paints. The piece was an experimentation with “abstract” painting and experimental music to see if the two would influence each other. It was interesting to see the drum beats that the instructor was playing (or painting I should say) and the reaction from the different musicians.

This performance just made me think of performance art and experimental art in a different sense and thought it was interesting. Even though the music did not sound wonderful to the ear at points, it was a fascinating way to conduct a group of musicians. This was different and intriguing.

Type A Exhibit at the MCA Denver

Camille Breslin

Type A and Gun Fetishes In America

Artists: Adam Ames and Andrew Bordwin

            The exhibit, Type A, has to do with our nation’s fascination and narcotic mindset. Somehow our nation has this overwhelming glorification for guns and the power it can obtain. Our country is also in a state of panic and anxiety with airline security and questionable carry-on items. This Exhibit mainly was focused around the concept of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the twenty-one most common items that they list as “dangerous”. Those twenty-one items included water bottles, aerosol hairspray, snow globes, fireworks, guns, knives, ski poles, match boxes, baseball bats, bow and arrows, just to name a few.

In the first room of the exhibit, there was a name dressed in traditional TSA uniform with a utility belt with all his security and defense items on hand. He was seated with multiple monitors placed in front of him. They were constantly changing to show images of the twenty-one listed items categorized as dangerous. He proceeded to lecture and talk about where is the line between safety and paranoia. He proceeded to point out the three-lit neon officer with their guns point straight towards the viewer, known as Target (2012). They were in the order of Red, White, and Blue, representing our nation’s colors.

It was interesting to see what the TSA lists as dangerous objects and the “on duty” security guard had to mention as well. On the other side of the exhibit there were eight different images that were abstractly shaped. These images consisted of some unrecognizable grey ashy looking substance with traces of copper. Each smeared mark photographed created an aesthetically pleasing image to the viewer’s eye. On the plaque card on the left hand side of the images gave a list on image names. They stated Shot (Slug 1-8), 2012. It was interesting to put the pieces together to realize that these abstract images really were bullet shells after they have hit their target point and the physical and chemical reaction that they create upon impact. Another plaque shown underneath the names stated,

“These photographs depict spent bullets collected from a firing range. When seen through a camera’s lens, these discarded afterthoughts become aesthetic objects. While the bullets refer directly to the firearm carried by the on-duty security guard in Guarded, they also introduce a broader theme about the fetishizing of gun culture in American life.” (Courtesy the artists MCA plaque card).

It is interesting to see images of bullet shells post firing and the reaction that is cause. With the new laws past in Colorado saying that persons over the age of twenty-one with the correct paper work are allowed to carry concealed weapons on University campuses. This also makes the viewer recall some other instances that have really realize that danger of guns in the wrong hands including Columbine High School, Virginia Tech, and the most recent St. Patrick’s day incident on the hill in the past couple of years. This newly passed law not in favor of my opinion, but now as a citizen, I am more concerned about gun control and strict regulations on obtaining permits and possessions.

As artists, Ames and Bordwin created an installation that covers the severe neurotic tendencies based off of terrorism and the precautions it will take to create a safe country, but also the freely and widely accepted views on America’s natural gun fetish. Ames and Bordwin want their viewers to question their feelings on the fear and sacrifices it will take to create a “safe” American at airport and in public. This exhibit really makes the viewer think about what should be prioritized in our country in regards to our safety and our rights as citizens.

Lawrence Argent Visiting Artist Lecture at the Denver Art Museum

Visiting Denver Art Museum Lecture: Lawrence Argent

            Lawrence Argent talked at the Denver Art Museum on Wednesday, April 18, 2012. Born in England, Argent got his undergraduate degree at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, in sculpture, and received in MFA from the Rinehart School of Sculpture at the Maryland Institute, College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland. Argent is a well-known installation artist who has created works all over Colorado including the famous blue bear peering into the Denver Convention Center. Besides that piece, he has been commissioned to do works in California and Texas.

In the beginning of the lecture, Argent focused on some of his past work that included more sculpture and installation based worked. Argent talked about his fascination with symbols and the psychological implication that they have. Argent went into talking about our immediate reaction when we see oil or soap, and other symbols that the general public is so accustomed to. One piece that he mentioned that was inspired by symbols was the piece, Reflections (2000). This piece consisted on a wash stand with boxing gloves hanging over head. One side of the sink was filled with motor oil, and the other side was filled with soap shavings and a soap carved cowboy hat. Argent said that all of these material had a significant meaning to the general public. He also mentioned that this piece provoked all the senses including smell.

Another piece that he talked about for a little bit that went along these lines were, Cojones (1999). Made out of street sweeper brushes and steel, Argent hand-shaped these street sweepers to create these giant red figures. He made a comment that I couldn’t ignore. He mentioned something about the neighborhood that he was living in while he was making this piece. In a Hispanic accent he quote what his neighbor asked him about his project, “Hey man, are you opening up a car wash or something?” The general reaction from the crowd was a laugh, but unfortunately the two Hispanic students sitting behind me did not feel the same way. I thought I would address this because as an artist and someone who is in the public eye, should really be more conscientious of some of the jokes that he makes. It truly makes him look unprofessional and definitely makes him unaware of the people who might be attending his lectures.

After talking about another piece entitled Waiting (1998) an installation with a video projector facing the seat of a chair with images and video clippings of rear ends, Argent started to talk about his work as an installation artist. The pieces that he talked about were Whisper, Confluence, Pillow Talk, Leap, and I See What You Mean.

Out of all the public work pieces that he mentioned, the piece that stood out the most was Whisper (2002). Done on the University of Denver’s campus where he teaches, Argent created this giant limestone pillars with bronze casting of lips on them. When you sat on a designated couch, sounds from other classrooms and recorded areas would start to play. The humorous aspect of this piece is that the noise would not immediately start; it gradually went from silence to a full volume over the duration of a minute. He said it was funny to watch people become startle by the noise that they were hearing and not being able to figure out where they were coming from. Argent also went into detail about the benches that he made out of the casted lips and how they also were weight sensitive to trigger the sound. An interesting aspect of the casted lips was that they were all DU students’ mouth and each casted mouth was not a replica, but an individual piece of work. It makes the piece a little more interesting and definitely unique in it’s own way.

Another piece that was interesting was Pillow Talk (2001). This apartment complex where Pillow Talk is located used to be St. Luke’s hospital and before that a place where horses use to spend their last days before they were killed. Argent went into detail about the pillows that were at St. Luke’s hospital and how they used to have miscellaneous stains on them from the multiple patients that lived and died their. He said that the symbolic meaning of the pillow was extremely important and that is where he would draw is inspiration from. Argent, and the help of his team, got marble from Colorado Yule and shipped it to New Jersey. There, they created these hand carved pillow sculptures, and shipped them back to Denver, CO. The pillows are stacked one, on top of the other and are all slightly individualized. Argent said that the landlord. Enjoyed the pillow works so much that he commissioned him to do a couple of individual ones to place in the gardens of the apartment complex. This sculpture is open to the public at its permanent location on 1985 Pennsylvania St. It was interesting how in depth and detailed his knowledge was on the Apartment’s history. Argent used his knowledge on the building to create a body of work that applied to it’s past.

Argent’s lecture was insightful and was informational. It was interesting to hear about where these ideas dawned from and how he applied an acceptable piece to fit with it’s meaning. His general lecture was entertaining and was extremely detailed in how he came about constructing his ideas into physical creations. Now knowing that Argent is more then just the Big Blue Bear lingering outside of the Denver Convention Center, I can admire numerous works around Colorado that he has created.

MCA DENVER EXHIBIT “More American Photographs”

More American Photographs at the MCA Denver

            At the MCA Denver, More American Photographs was a mix between selections of photographs dating from 1935-1944 taken by different photographers during the day. The Farm Security Administration, The FSA with the help of Roy Striker gathered photographer to help depict what was happening during the Great Depression in the United States. It was to document what was happening and to preserve the history of our Nation. The exhibit included the works of Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans who were originally commissioned by Roy Striker. The famous Migrant Mother image is placed in the gallery along side other Lange photos. Arthur Rothstein’s photos are mounted in the gallery as well.

Also, the exhibit showed twelve contemporary photographers who show a new perspective on the modern United States creating a response to the older photos shown. The collection of contemporary photographs show the multiple faces that embody our country today including both rural and urban societies, migration, gentrification, environmental negligence, and multiculturalism. These different contemporary artists are supposed to be an “updated” version of daily life in the United States and the diversity of the American citizens. The exhibit had a lot of really nice photos showing an accurate depicting of the “American face”. But there were some photos that really demeaned and degraded the photo realm. Some of the photos rather than having artistic quality, aesthetics in general, or conceptual information, degenerated the exhibition with their lack of talent and lack of meaning and influence.

One contemporary photographer in the exhibit that work was the most effective and stood out was Catherine Opie. Her concept for the project was to photograph local shopkeepers in her area in Los Angeles, California. Opie goes into detail in her Art 21 interview about why she chose these particular people to photograph and how the curator, Jens Hoffman, came about the idea to her and the other commissioned photographers.

The curator, Yens Hoffman, approached a group of photographers, and he wanted to extend the body of work, that farm security administration, the FSA, did in the 1930’s under Roosevelt that was headed by Roy Striker. Roy Striker was the one who got Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans to make these great documents of the depression. The curator, Yes Hoffman, asked a group of contemporary photographers to basically believe he is Roy Striker and he is reexamining and evoking the FSA period of photography. And I chose to photograph the shopkeepers in my neighborhood (Opie Art:21).

Her fascination with panoramic city and landscapes with no people is something that Opie focused on for a bit of her career. Soon after, she realized the importance of people in their surrounding areas. Opie states in her Art:21 interview the importance of having people in their natural landscape or city setting.  She wanted to make American landscapes, the notion of American landscapes in terms of identity (Opie Art:21).  Her inspiration for her collection of work came from the local shopkeepers in her area in Los Angeles taken in 2011. The works in the MCA included Tavir (Gas Station), Claudia (Hairdresser), Rita (Pupuseria), Bravo (Plumbing), and Toan (Water Guy).  These photos were all taken with a strobe flash as well as natural lighting. These photos stood out the most to Opie because of their light. Opie believes that if there is a dominance with the strobe light, the photo is no longer an artistic photo or proper form of documentation, but photojournalism. She believes that there is something unsettling and discomforting with photojournalistic images. The reason for this specific body of work had to do with her natural fascination with community and the relationships one create within them. Opie stated in her Art:21 interview that, “Early on, I was always looking the formation of community in relationship to finding myself within the populous. One of the reasons that I have been driven to the idea that of creating moments of representation of my time is not only finding myself in that, also this unbelievable human need” (Opie Art:21).

The most prominent photo in her collection with the most feel to it was Bravo (Plumbing). Her photo of Bravo is bravo in the center surrounded by different tools for plumbing all around his head, making the eye circulate the image. Bravo is in the center standing behind his counter, directly below him is a sign that says “Key Made 92¢”. He has a very full mustache and is leaning on his counter. In the background, there are beer bottles and some other empty bottles of liquor. The lighting on his face is extremely soft creating this slightly aerated look to his face. As organized as the space is supposed to look, there is this sensation of clutter and mess that overwhelms the viewer. This piece just stood out the most out of all the pictures being presented.

Another one of Opie’s pieces that really stuck out and had an impact was the piece entitled Rita (Pupuseria). This woman is in her shop making food. The image has a very industrial feel to it because of the equipment she uses to fry the dough on for her customers. Rita has a welcoming smile on her face with her hair pulled back tightly. She is wearing a navy blue apron that is hard to differentiate from her black attire. The open windows surrounding her in the shop frame her nicely. This allows the eye not to wonder but to stay focus. Again, the natural lighting in the shop creates a softer portrait of Rita without creating a false interpretation or artificial environment. The lighting also creates soft light throughout the entire shot accentuating the bland and pastel colored walls.

One artist whose body of work was extremely upsetting to see and should have been dismissed from this particular exhibition was the work of Roe Ethridge. To be honest, the work of Roe Ethridge in general is sub-par and do to outside research would be a waste of time. The photos that Ethridge shot for this exhibit were taken in different part of Florida. One shot that was extremely upsetting and an insult towards the exhibition was Coke Can, Belle Glade, Florida 2011. The image consisted on a Coca-Cola can that was crushed and slightly destroyed; rocks and debris framed it. It’s extremely upsetting that the artist decided to photograph a popular, already highly commercialized icon and transformed it into his own art. There is nothing original about taking a picture of a coke can and making an activist statement with it. This picture in particular is tasteless and degrading to the photo realm. Regardless of the artist’s intent, conceptual meaning, and “aesthetics” of the can really was not apparent to the viewer. If anything it was upsetting and a shame towards the photo realm.

The rest of his shots had to do with a slightly over-weight woman walking out of a bank, and a car that was sinking into some body of water. If these photos actually represented something and had aesthetics and some artistic beauty, the likelihood of this review would be different. The fact that Ethridge has a state of the art digital camera and can print large images is probably the reason why he is able to get into museums and galleries. If there was some form of intent behind his photos, it was clearly hard to see in his images on display.

Overall, the theme of the exhibit was apparent and present and it was really nice to see the drastic change overtime in American culture and history. A lot of the images depicted the American populous accurately and artistically. Even though, some images created feeling of rage and hatred, the overall feel of the exhibit had tones of creativity, art, and accurate documentation.  There were a lot of excellent photos done by well-known photographers from either the past or the present that embodied the American persona during the hardships and the flourishing moments. These documentations, even though some were questionable, really gave an accurate depiction to the face of America.

Works Cited

Opie, Catherine. “Change.” Interview. Art:21. PBS, 04 Jan. 2012. Web. 16 Apr. 2012.             <http://www.pbs.org/art21/watch-now/episode-change&gt;.

Camille Breslin on Janine Antoni

Camille Breslin

Janine Antoni

            Janine Antoni’s lecture was probably my favorite so far out of all the visiting artist lectures that I’ve seen. Her diversity with material, natural beauty and connection to her personal life is portrayed through her work. Her pieces all correlate with the human connection and the body either through life, sex, or just simply through the act of creation and relation. Her interpretation on different topics is beautifully portrayed. Even though her most well known pieces like Gnaw and Loving Care are recognized, some of her side project had more substance and personal meaning that made me have even more respect for Mrs. Antoni.

The first piece that Janine Antoni opened with was Mean. This piece was the negative imprints mounted on a wall of her breast, her nipple, artificial nipples (baby bottle tops), and the packaging the artificial nipples came in. This piece was representing the separation from the mother to artificial ways to nurture. Antoni became interested and fascinated with this relationship of artificial replacement and the correlation with the body. “It was a breakthrough piece for her,” quote.

A piece that goes along of the lines of Gnaw is Lick and Lather. This piece is made either out of chocolate or soap casted busts of Janine Antoni. She casted the first chocolate bust and then soap bust to be a recreation of herself. From there she would like or lather and create another bust of the slightly alter original, until the final casting of the chocolate or soap bust was completely altered and looked disfigured. This piece was based off of making a public image with self-portraits, exposing herself to the public eye. Similar to Gnaw, this was the process of removing herself in a love/hate relationship manner.

One of Antoni’s pieces that became a happy accident was 2038. Janine Antoni went into talking about her trip to Sweden and how she came across this cow farm where the water troths were just old Victorian-esc bathtubs with the clawed feet. She was curious if the cows would continue to drink if she got into the bathtub. To her surprise, her photographer caught an image of a cow drinking out of the tub with her in it; but the image appeared as if the cow was drinking milk from her breast. Antoni went into talking about how we are weaned off of our mother breast milk and we develop a relationship with the cow’s milk as a replacement of imitation. Antoni wanted to contrast the intimacy between her and the animal and also demonstrate role reversal. Antoni also stressed how the animal is no longer an animal but a biological machine to feed the human population.

One of my favorite pieces in her lecture that creates this heart-filled sensation is If I Die Before I Wake. This piece is a cast of her hand and her mother hand. From those casts, she takes her hand and her mother’s hand and puts them together as if they are praying. She illuminates the two hands to create a night-light. Antoni said that her mother and she use to say the prayer If I Die Before I Wake before she would go to bed. This piece was in representation of her aging experience and the value of life.

Janine Antoni’s pieces and vast and wide array medium choices makes her a well-rounded artist with a lot of talent. Her creativity is never limited by size, difficulty, or material. She creates vivid and beautiful scenes that create a relationship that deals with the intimacy and relation between human, artificial or natural replacements, and the stimulation between the relationships. Her pieces are oriented around the fact that people have relationships and connection with other people and artificial stimulants and her natural fascination for both.

Camille Breslin on Aki Sasamoto

Camille Breslin

Aki Sasamoto

            Aki Sasamoto’s lecture was interesting, interactive, and high in energy like a performance. Aki Sasamoto is a performance artist, sculptor, and videographer. Even though I exchanged words with ms. Sasamoto after her lecture, I still had the feeling that her artist lecture was more of a live performance. Her high energy, audience interaction, and general poise and presentation of her work were excellent. I did get lost at some parts of her presentation but regardless, I still thoroughly enjoyed what Ms. Sasamoto had to present and show.

Ms. Sasamoto drew out this absurd diagram explaining The Judge Mental and The Purpose of Life. She went on to explain the relationships between the different categories of society, the norms, the Tinkerbells or “Tinks”, and the odds. The norms are the 99.9% of the society. Ms. Sasamoto goes into talking bout the relationship between them and how the norms want to be like the tinks, but the tinks dislike the norms. And the Odds and the tinks do not like each other at all. The norms bully the odds and they are kind of hidden and ostracized by society in general. Aki Sasamoto goes into talking about the “A train” and how if you don’t get off at any of the particular stops and join the norms or the “happiness” stops, you will be doomed for the rest of eternity.

One piece that really stuck out of all the pieces was the performance piece called Skewed Lies. This piece in particular had to do with Ms. Sasamoto’s hate for mosquitoes. She went into elaborate detail about why she hated them, ways that she killed them for masochistic pleasure, and so on and so forth. Ms. Sasamoto compares to mosquitoes to masseuses and other characterized people in society, i.e. Granola eaters. She also goes into detail about how her piece is also about comedians and mosquitoes are very similar is certain attributes. In her photos and performance pictures that Ms. Sasamoto showed in her lectures had to do with Ms. Sasamoto being attracted to this giant illumined fixture that was supposed to represent and insect killer and how she wanted to get to the light. She became the mosquito to see if she could pass the “entrance exam”. She sucked water out of the extremely long straw and stuck it into the light fixture to create the zapping noise. But randomly in between her story about her the mosquito coincidences, petty crimes versus noble crimes. She talks about her brother and their distant relationship. Randomly in between her story, she adds excerpts about how he’s getting married and how he want to her come to Japan from New York and to be on her best behavior as well.

It was hard to follow this story, but it was the most interesting. I really couldn’t follow her lecture because of the sporadicness of her pieces. It’s not that they were disorganized but it’s the way that Aki Sasamoto works. Her pieces are all over the place but at the end somehow they come together to make sense. Even though she was lecturing on her live performance, the lecture became her performance and presentation. There wasn’t any structure or guidelines narrating what was happening, but she started to perform in front of the audience. It was interesting to see how she held herself and her dialect when telling the stories. Aki Sasamoto was a very interesting lecture to see but it was confusing and a little scattered at parts. Regardless, the audience was engaged and she presented her work in such a way where everyone became involved. It was excellent.



Camille Breslin

When I think about artists of the abstract expressionist movement, I immediately think of de Kooning, Pollock, and Coates; the “big name” artists. But when this paper assignment was to write about Clyfford Still, I had no idea who he was or what to expect. I remember driving past the Denver Art Museum a couple of times and seeing a huge banner saying “Clyfford Still, opening 11.18.11”, but never being phased by it. Walking towards the opening of the museum, the architecture is modest and boxy. Inside the lobby, immediately, I was consumed with history, cultural references, and information about Still. The interactive slides and preservation of his personal items create this automatic curiosity about Still as an artist, a teacher, and as a person. Once upstairs, I was immediately engaged with the works presented. So many drawings, sketches, larger than life size paintings, sculptures, and works all done by one man. The preservation of the works impressed me. Walking around into the different rooms, I was completely entranced with every work. I couldn’t believe that this whole museum was one man’s work. The scale of the work immediately got my attention.

Born in 1904 in Grandin, ND. Still spent his early life in Spokane, Washington and Alberta Canada (Clyffordstillmuseum.org). Still painted what he knew in his early career of the harshness of physical labor on the body, the western landscapes that he was surrounded with. He also painted replica paintings that he saw in magazines and artist journals (PBS video). Being isolated from mainstream artists and museums, Still would travel long distances to see the great painted (PBS video). Still was a driven artist and through his journey and career as an artist, he allowed his work and his creativity to consume his life; it was a priority. He allowed the paint to do the work for him; it was about the paint, the organic nature that it has and a life of its own. Even though Still is an artist that was not widely recognized for his work, he had a definite impact on the movement that we know as Abstract Expressionism.

PH-80 (1935) is one of Still’s painting during his transformation and experimental period with style and interpretation. Three male figures and one female figure look distraught and in extreme agony. All of the character’s faces look shallow and empty. The melting or drooping effects of their faces create the look of torment from an external factor. The figure in the center looks so scarce and defeated. He is looking up towards the sky as if he is exhausted and extremely drained. His hands are tinted with hues of pinks and reds, probably simulating or giving the impression of blood-tainted hands. All the figures look extremely weak and bruised as if they are going to collapse and shatter. The background has a very gloomy and dreary feel to it. Multiple layers of blacks, blues, deep fuchsias, whites, and grays overlap each other creating texture and movement in the background.

In the documentary, Still plays with the shape of the figures that he is focusing on the body form rather then details. Still also focuses on creating figures that are vertical or horizontal representing life and death. These figures are sagging and slowing transforming from standing, vertical figures to wilted horizontal figures. This concept of imagery has to do with life, death, and the hard strenuous work that farm life entails. The farmers are working themselves to death and are suffering. The documentary talks about how these figures are “macabre” and that Still’s paintings are starting to portray “animalistic” and “starting to take on a more organic state”(PBS documentary).

“The subjects in Still’s paintings of this time are mostly farm scenes, now executed in an increasingly expressionistic style. Unlike the many upbeat images of labor made by diverse American artists during the great depression, Still seems committed to revealing the physical, emotional, and even psychological effects of hard work” (Clyfford Still’s Museum). Still’s work at a certain point in time, focused on the extremities of physical labor as a farmer in the American 30’s. He doesn’t try to mask what is happening by making his paintings look whimsical or romantic. Still documents an accurate portrayal of the farm life and the harsh toll it has on the human body.

PH-76 contains six bodies that don’t look like normal bodies. The distortion of figures created a different emotional state within, a sensation of anger and confusion. The figures are consumed by a dark, starkly background. Layered grays, browns and blacks intensify the distorted figures. The rapid strokes create a sense of anxiety and panic. The foreground has a sandy, almost hay like color that is also immensely texture and detailed like the background. The six figures are also very similar in color except the seated woman in the front; she is paler then the rest. They too are extremely textured. The figures take on the shape of phantoms. The bodies are hollow and empty. Exposed ribs, thin arms, and disgruntled forms show a look of tiresome and a sense of defeat. The ominous figures look like they are struggling. The seated figure in front stands out the most because of her paler, lighter skin. The redness of her hand looks as if it’s been worked way too much or is wounded. She has an unidentifiable object clasped close to her form. Her disgruntled and disproportional figure leaves an unsettling feeling to my eye. The non-existent facial creates a burdening feeling within. What looks like eyes, are just empty crevasses. All of the figures have the same look; a secret or a burden that they can’t discuss.

“A more somber and complex approach characterizes many of Still’s works of the late 1930s and early 1940s. Human subjects have been replaced by creature-like protagonists, Totems, bone fragments, quasi-figures, and other vertical elements are set against nocturnal backgrounds, giving these compositions an ominous, even nightmarish quality. Remnants of vegetation (grasses, shafts of wheat) and farm tools, imagery held over from his imagery earlier in the 1930s, are so evident” (Stills Museum wall).

Still focuses on the harsh reality of strenuous labor and the demand of the farm life in the Midwest. I could tell that Still’s figures are starting to veer away from the traditional anatomical figures and more abstract and unrecognizable. The figures that Still creates are more focused on the exterior outline of the figure rather then detail of body and facial features. Regardless of the form, I was still able to read the emotional state of the figures and empathize with the pain that they are depicting. It still is hard to avoid the feeling that I was consumed with, fear and discomfort. When looking at the painting, I became engaged with the figures and wanted to know why they looked the way they did and why they were in that position. I was left with a feeling of remorse and saddened by their disgruntled and distorted bodies.

Still was more widely known for his work in abstraction. His later works embodied his abstraction and they became his more popular work. Walking into a room filled with his abstractions, I gravitated towards one painting in particular. I didn’t know how I was feeling or the emotional state that I was presently embodying at that given point in time. But I knew that with the enormous scale and some unidentifiable sensation, I needed to look more into the work on a personal level.

PH-960 (1960) appears to be empty and bare from a far. The blankness of the off white background with the boldness of the sharp colors really creates a complimentary relationship. Allowing myself to get closer and engulfed with the scale of the painting I was able to pick up on the smaller, less noticeable details. I could see the layers of whites, beiges, and sand like colors layer. Inconceivable from a distant, I was unable to truly appreciate the intricate details and the narrative of the work. The atypical pattern of the background created a wood grain appearance. The aggressive motion from the use of a pallet knife creates an abundance of texture and life to the painting. The shapes presented on the canvas almost looks as if it was melting downwards. I don’t know what it is about that painting but I gravitated to it and became entranced with the simplicity of its character. It was not like any other the other Still works that I’d seen that day and became obsessed with the composition.

Reading the commentary on the sidewall, “Though Still began to explore the expressive qualities of empty space in the later 1940’s, his use of bare canvas reached its zenith in these later paintings. Implied movement also became more vivid, as if painted forms are being set in motion by invisible forces” (Still Museum wall).

Still was an innovator and an important figure in the movement that is called Abstract Expressionism. His visionary pieces that changed with and his progression of an artist is apparent and extremely inspirational. When leaving the museum, it was hard to digest the overwhelming amount of art done by one man alone. But having time to really think about who Still was and how he impacted the art world makes me recognize him as an artistic genius. Even though his art and style isn’t my favorite, I learned to appreciate Abstract Expressionism as a genre of art. Hopefully, overtime and patience, I will be able to read the work for what it is rather than trying to be abrasive and get an answer from it. Even though I am still in the stages of understanding the mental and emotional process behind this particular genre, I feel with the information that I’ve be given, I have a better comprehension for Still and abstract artists in general.

Works Cited



The PBS documentary watched in class

The plaques and information found in the Clyfford Still Museum

Camille Breslin

1. Give some basic information about your studies and fields of interest.

Hello, my name is Camille Breslin and I am currently a junior in the Studio Art department. My emphasis is photography. I am a transplant from Great Barrington, Massachusetts and truly an “east coaster”. I like to sing (in the privacy of the shower) and my favorite food in the entire world is any cut of steak. Yes, it’s true.

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camille breslin’s posting on the smith article and contemporary art

Contemporary art has multiple definitions and interpretation of the word. It makes it a little complicated and difficult to define an art form that is from a modern era. We are still currently in the sense of contemporary art and it is hard to define. According to Smith, contemporary art is something that is the artist’s and it’s a self-defined art. The article goes into discussing the multiple aspects of globalization, population growth, cultural influences, other external influences, including past artists, historical references and art history. Also technological interferences and the rapid growth of the media has created other factors in the shaping and morphing of the definition of contemporary art. It’s created a whole new spectrum and new out look on this particular genre of art because of it’s extremely easy and accessibility through modern technology. Smith claims that contemporary art is original. Contemporary art is a unique art style that leans towards contemporary focus and thought. It’s originality and it’s unique form binds contemporary hues giving the sense of a new form of expressionism and form of thought processing. Smith also talks about how one must be able to comprehend art history in general in order to produce works in contemporary art. An artist must understand the different cultural influences of the times and influences.

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