'Edward Kienholz used objects the way Mark Twain used
language. Like Twain he was an American satirist and a moralist who
could perceive the absurdity of the human condition. Also like Twain,
he always retained a sympathy for those less fortunate. He showed little
mercy however for those who abused power, whether it be in interpersonal
relationships or in the political arena. He has been labeled a 'raging
Rene Magritte was a Surrealist. The group aimed to revolutionize human experience including its personal, cultural, social, and political aspects by freeing people from what they saw as false rationality, and restrictive customs and structures. While Dali preferred abstract art which offered very little by the way of a secure foothold to the viewer, Magritte painted nicely rendered pictures but put the things where they didn't usually go. Eg an apple floating in front of a businessman's face, a woman's torso in her face or a painting looking out a window and the glass shattering but the background shattering with it - implying 'this is a painting stupid. Paintings are flat'. Magritte's hallucinations take place in broad daylight because it is more unsettling that way... 'POETIC SHOCK'. Magritte invites you into his neatly furnished room of painterly illusions, only to pull the rug out from under you just as you're getting comfy.
Artists like Rauschenberg, much like Pollock's enthusiasm
for things of everyday life, uses bed sheets that 'go beyond the individual
areas of painting and makes reference to the basic phenomena of Western
culture.' In his work entitled Reservoir, there is a clock
in the upper left hand corner which represents the time he started the
work, and the in the bottom left, a clock representing the time of completion.
9.40am to 3.30pm. He reminds me of Kienholz but the
main difference being Rauschenberg didn't combine groups of disparate
objects for the purpose of social comment but rather to break away from
the traditional idea of pictural space.
Barbara Kruger has a real knack at showing consumerism as identity. "I shop therefore I am" is one of her more palpable statements, but her stark ability to interchange I/You and using concepts without fixed meaning in order to debate the stereotypical roles ascribed to men and women is also a breath of fresh air. Nevertheless, my favorite part is her ability to take an empowering aim at the viewer's psychology and what we are organically distracted by. "Busy fearing, busy hating, busy hiding".
Jeffrey Smart, with his unique imagery creates stark portrayals of contemporary life, both realistic and absurd. He encompasses lonely urban vistas that seem both disturbing and threatening. Isolated individuals seem lost in industrial wastelands, concrete street-scapes, and high rise construction - an eerie feeling of harmony and equilibrium where silence and stillness create a deathly ambience. While he declared he "paints a picture because he likes the shape" working to a geometric composition ratio of 1:1.618, he also chose to "leave the interpretation as the prerogative of the individual viewer". I think he is somewhat understating his underlying conceptual ideas. Jeffrey Smart’s paintings have been referred to as ‘surreal’, but Smart contends that it is the world of today that is surreal, not his depictions of it.
In Andrew Wyeth's Christina's World, "a young girl, seen from behind, sits in a field and gazes up at a farmhouse on top of the hill. A sense of melancholy and desolation is emphasized by the vast space between the figure and the distant houses. The finely depicted surface, executed in subdued tones but with the warm glow of sunlight, is typical of Wyeth's style which is characterized by a minute, precise realism. His usual subjects are deserted landscapes and scenes conveying the conflicts of solitude but Wyeth adds a disturbing element by depicting such emotional themes in a highly detailed manner reminiscent of magazine illustration".
Kurt Schwitters creates art from non-art... a used
envelope, postcard, discarded packaging, a bus ticket. The result is
a balanced, abstract composition made from 'meaningless' fragments.
Some say "his style of collecting objects undermines traditional notions
of art - as something expressive or meaningful". But I would suggest
that is exactly what he was doing...
And there is the great collage artists such as Richard Hamilton and Raoul Hausmann - one from Pop and the other from Dada movement's, they both have a narrative approach with the use of cutouts and mixing cut-up photographs and cuttings from magazines. While Hamilton commented on popular culture and advertising, I prefer Hausmann's absurd sense of humor and strong conceptual statements.
Paula Rego was able to explore the ambiguous relationships between men, women, and children. Simple yet sinister, her paintings are characterized by their monumentality and psychological drama. She was able to often provide a twist and ambiguity in the scene which is sure to linger on your psyche.
'If there were only one single truth, it would not be possible to paint a hundred pictures of the same subject'. - Pablo Picasso
'When forced to work within a strict framework the imagination is taxed to its uppermost, and will produce its richest ideas. Given total freedom, the work is likely to sprawl'. - T.S.Eliot