Saturday, January 28, 2017

Baltimore Museum of Art Visit

For our fourth session of the semester, the entire class was able to travel to the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) to observe and sketch different pieces.  The museum itself could have been seen as a work of art in the way that each collection was placed around the facility and how they were presented.  One thing I noticed when I walked in was that lighting is an essential part of displaying art.  I noticed that the lighting in the African Art Collection was a lot dimmer and less apparent than in the American Collection.  I almost felt this was counterintuitive because most of the art in the African Collection consisted of dark brown, if not black, face masks and black and white paintings that would need more light shed on them in order to see the detail of the pieces.  Whereas, most art in the American collection consisted of brightly colored sculptures, paintings, and figures that had at least twice as much lighting casted on them than other exhibits.  While I took most interest in sculptures and figurines, most, if not all, paintings had so much detail in them that it was quite possible to get lost in the works.  So I decided to share my interest in sculptures rather than paintings in this post.

The first piece of art I felt I could start with was something of a familiar and very rudimentary shape.  Sculpted by Kenyan-born artist Magdalene Odundo in 2010, an orange-ish colored ceramic piece caught my eye.

"Swelling like a pregnant woman's belly, the rounded form of this ceramic vessel calls to mind the female figure."
The description from this piece mentioned that its artist 'incorporates shapes from many ancient and modern traditions', and the work 'comments on how women's bodies are "shaped" by the aesthetic values of their societies.'

The second work of art came from BMA's American Collection.  A piece by Jacques Lipchitz that did not have a brief description citing its history or background.  Entitled Half-Standing Figure, the lack of explanation gives its observer more time to contemplate what it could have been.  

"Half-Standing Figure" by Jacques Lipchitz

The final piece of art I would like to make a point of appreciating is one I came across while taking the stairs to the Modern and Contemporary exhibits of the museum.  Another seemingly simplistic piece, but when lighting caught it a certain way, there were elements revealed that gave it much more depth and interest.

"Vertical Construction No. 1" by Naum Gabo

Quite honestly, I have no idea what this piece is supposed to be, if it is to be anything in particular at all.  It caught my attention because of its sleek and abstract attributes.  Yet after looking closely, the amount of detail on the piece is mind-blowing.  As its description lets on, it is made of copper alloy and steel spring wire.  The image on the left demonstrates its uncomplicated "first look" appearance that passersby would see without stopping to analyze, while the image on the right (with the help of more light exposure from the camera) exposes its "true" detail which would be revealed once the passerby stops and inspects the piece through and through.

Briefly, the description on the piece states that the figure's Russian-born American artist produced six versions of the work in varying dimensions and used 'highly finished metal surfaces' along with two different types of steel spring wire to 'create structurally complex abstract works that evoke a futuristic machine.'

I picked this piece as my favorite because I feel it is one of the most straightforward representations of the many faces and implications of art.  To me, this piece is pretty modern and I would love to have it displayed somewhere in my home because it would fit nicely with what's already there.  Yet, it also reminds me of one of our early class discussions about how people see art differently; you can literally see this piece of art at least two different ways just by changing your footing.  While it has a fairly basic shape, the pieces that make up this overarching figure hold a greater meaning than what can be seen just by walking past.

Lastly, here are some other pieces that caught my attention during our visit:

"Trustworthy-Masked Face" by Haegue Yang


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Visibility, Review

"Fantasy is a place where it rains"...?

While the reading of Visibility by Italo Calvino is not the simplest to decipher, this quote is definitely something that caught my eye, and it was only in the first paragraph.  Yet, as I am able to delve deeper into the first page of the text, I already begin to question how this will connect to the remainder of my reading.

We are placed in a scene of Purgatory, and Dante (Alighieri?) is the individual visualizing and maybe even experiencing it.  Then, as readers, we are taken quickly through the descriptive version of how Dante is presented with the "details of landscape and the vault of heavens, and the scenes that act as quotations or representations of examples of sins and virtues..."  First, the images appear as sculptures that seem to possess realistic features, then as visions casted in front of him, then actual voices he can hear, and finally as mental images.  As Dante experiences this, he summarily realizes that it's almost fruitless to have these visions appear as such, and would much rather prefer they begin as visions in his mind rather than traverse the senses.  Shortly after, it's made aware that this was solely Dante's imagination getting the best of him, and Calvino aims to define imagination through the mind of Dante.

In terms of Dante's take on the "loftier part of the imagination", the formulation of new ideas has "the power to impose itself on our faculties and our wills, stealing us away from the outer world and carries us off into an inner one".  Here, we get so lost that not even a plethora of trumpets playing simultaneously could pull us from this inner world our imagination has submerged us into.

There are two types of imaginative processes our minds can enter.  One being where we are able to see text and recreate the imagery in our mind, this occurs most often when we read.  And the supplemental process being the opposite, where the visual image is placed in front of us, and it is up to us to process text that comes to mind, usually occurring while watching film.  Calvino then explains that each of us possesses our own mental cinema that's continually working and projecting images in front of our mind's eye.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Whole Ball of Wax, Review

While some people believe art can change the world, it is imperative to understand what type of 'change' they have in mind.  Changes that alter the world of medicine or global warming as mentioned in the reading, may not be the change these individuals are referring to.  But also, it is important to stop and think what the definition of art is.  Art's definition will substantially differ from an artist to a physician, where a physician may believe a medical breakthrough can be a form of art.

In Jerry Saltz's reading, art can change the world "incrementally and by osmosis".  The reason being is that art is a part of a larger force than some individuals may come to notice; it helps make change possible through its massive influential energy.  In addition to being able to synthesize change, art has many broad and precise meanings, but it is important to understand that art is necessary in all aspects of life.  While art can calm, soothe, and relax the mind and body, it also has the ability to invoke polar opposite emotions in its observers.  With that knowledge, it is safe to say that while art may look as though it can have straightforward meanings, similar to a poem, art has the potential to be absorbed by the mind and interpreted an infinite amount of ways.

In closing, Eric Fischl's summation of art being similar to a cat has enabled me to understand its depths and meanings on a much more rudimentary level.  Cats are creatures that humans have an extremely difficult time understanding or even getting along with.  Similar to the statement of art being "political when it doesn't seem political and not political when that's all it seems to be", art has a way of rubbing individuals the wrong way if they aren't able to understand it profoundly.   Yet I feel as though the purpose of art is not to be understood, but to be appreciated at its utmost potential.