Monday, June 18, 2007

On art

This Saturday, the Duke, two friends and I spent the afternoon in the art gallery.

An exhibit, labelled From Monet to Dali, focusing on the great artists from 1864 to 1964, was being featured.

While I am hardly an art connoisseur, and I in fact resent those who try to analyze art in extreme detail (as with poetry, I believe your visceral first reaction is the most important), it was intriguing to see the works of such famed artists as Renoir, Picasso, Monet, Manet, Rodin, Van Gogh and Dali, and hear the stories behind their work.

For instance, Rodin's The Age of Bronze was so anatomically detailed that there was an uproar about the work, as people believed it was not a sculpture, but rather an actual molding of the model. The model had to volunteer to have an encasing done of him in bronze to show that it was indeed different from the actual work.

It was also intriguing hearing about how evidence of social change was displayed in art. The paintings of this era were not, as it the past, heavy on deities and the upper class. As well, a lot of impressionist and post-impressionist works were not heavy on symbolism (though this definitely was the case for surrealism). They instead were just paintings of real life, particularly that of the lower classes. It is strange to thing of how the subjects used to be more limited to the upper class, as if they were the only ones living lives worthy of art.

I bought a print of Rousseau's "Fight between a Tiger and Buffalo". Another random fact-- despite his focus on the tropical in many of his works, Rousseau never left France. Which may explain why the bananas are upside down in this painting.

Upstairs from this exhibit, and having a little more breathing room, was a retrospective on the art of Huang Yong Ping.

The contrast between these two exhibits was an eye opening experience about the diversity of art.

Ping thrives on controversy and the unusual. I was more compelled to take pictures of his work, because, while the photos in the first exhibit were beautiful and doubtlessly many were controversial in their time, they weren't the conversation pieces that Ping's were.

(excuse the quality, as they were taken on my cell phone)

For instance, this was some sort of a wolf/crocodile/mermaid cross dining on spiritual symbols being dangled by a fisherman.

I found this one charming, though I don't want to think what happened to the poor explorer to whom this hat belongs.

I challenge you not to giggle at this one!

There was also an enormous model of a crashed Chinese spy plane you could walk in, filled with bats, that apparently didn't please the Chinese government a great deal; two large cages, featuring only knawed bones and petrified feces; and wooden vertabrae of an enormous python dangling for something like 50 feet over the other displays.

However, the centerpiece of this retrospective was controversy and the dichotomously posed question of whether animal rights or artistic freedom is tantamount. Essentially, without going into too many details, his piece, entailed "Theatre of the World", had a variety of animals, specifically lizards, spiders, scorpions, snakes, and insects, all in a model of a panopticon prison. The SPCA claimed it was inhumane, the artist and the gallery claimed the work was making a strong point and the SPCA's requests were censorship. Ultimately, the animals were all removed, and now insults abound, calling both the SPCA and Ping extremists, etc, etc. I loathe to take sides on such a thing, as I think it is too complex of an issue to simply place one value over the other, and I just want to stay away from either side after seeing the dogma being spewed from both sides.

Yet, it is a little refreshing to see art creating controversy again, because at least it is drawing people back into the gallery for something besides readily recognized names.


Airam said...

Your cell takes pretty great pics!

Heart Of Darkness said...

Art - take it as poetry, paintings, expressionistic theatre, dance or whatever - should be experienced with all senses, and NOT analyzed to pieces. Art is an experience, not a fact, damn it!

Great pictures. Arsty! ;)

eric313 said...

Love the pictures, and your writing is spotless. I love discussions on art, or just looking at it or reading about it. You do your passions justice, Pricess. Thanks for sharing and for reading my poems.

eric313 said...

I always forget to spellcheck. Forgive me for being a lazy writer who tries to get by solely on the strength of his (hopefully) well-chosen words. Punctuation sorts it's self out. When I do remember to check, everything ends up fine. You write, you probably are subject to the same snares.

It is far past bed time nearing wake-up call from my cell phone. Physics lab--not heaven--is nigh. See you and your own well-chosen words around, Princess.

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

Yeah, I liked the dog sculpture thingamyjig.

I went to the Tate Gallery in London a while ago, and they had these slides that seemed to be inspired by H.R. Giger.

Call me old fashioned, but that sure beats an unmade bed or a pile of sausages.

Crashdummie said...

Dudette, you've got wicked pics! I loved the one with dog - I'm still giggling! hehehe

Art totally rocks and enriches life! Yey Art!

Ant said...

Yet again, though I won't name it to protect your Googleability (I'm copyrighting that word), I think I've been round that gallery and I remember thinking it was quite challenging (in a good way). They had a comprehensive native american display going on, and they definitely ditched convention in favour of making you think, much as we see from your pics here...

As a scientist, I agree completely with your philosophy on art. It's about feeling, not analysis. Not to mention the fact that most folk that make their living from it tend to be insufferably pretentious (though in fairness, the rest of us all think we're experts because we can look at pictures or maybe hammer out "chopsticks" on the piano...)

Beth said...

I love it when you share what you've learned. (Another wonderful aspect of blogging.)

Princess Pointful said...

Airam- Thanks! This is the first time I've transferred them to my computer- happy they turned out wll!

HoD- Exactly! Thinking too much stifles that experience.

Eric- *blushes* Thank you!
And no need to apologize for grammar... your messages tend to be clear.

Ultra- Instead of a pile of sausages, did you ever hear about the controversial meat dress?

Crashdummie- Cheers for art induced giggles!

Ant- This is actually the first time I've made it to this anonymous gallery. It certainly was a place of contrast. I didn't even talk about the third floor, which was some odd futuristic place, and included a piece on how the artist locked herself away from all signs of time, natural lighting, media, etc. She's lucky to be an artist to have something to keep her driven during otherwise boring times.

Beth- Thank you! It feels better, or as though I've learned more when I write about it.

Dorky Dad said...

You went into an art museum with a camera? Every time I do I get beaten to death by security guards. I guess now that I have a camera phone I'll be able to say, "no camera, sir."

psychgrad said...

It reminds me of a video on The Hour earlier this week. But, it's not for the squeamish.

Heart Of Darkness said...

I'm amazed they have art-classes at school... I get that you have to learn about the masters, but can someone really teach you art?

eric313 said...

answered you back on the board. wasn't that fast?

eric313 said...

and I'll link you to my sidebar. Go ahead and be pointful anytime, Princess.

Drama Div@ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Drama Div@ said...

i must say you are an art lover... good... u gave good explanation behind the paint and the sculpture too... :P

benjibopper said...

i like those pictures of ping's work. using live animals as 'art' is unacceptable to me - he could have made the same point with sculpted animals.

i had the pleasure of visiting the picasso museum in barcelona and loved seeing the progression of his work from child prodigy to cutting edge art revolutionary. ironically it could never have happened in the other direction, i.e. if he had done his greatest works of abstraction first he would never have sold a painting.

benjibopper said...

HOD: sure you can teach art. you can teach creative writing too. there are tricks to every trade, be it creative or systematic, or some combination thereof.

LMizzle said...

Holy shit that crazy wolf mermaid thing is terrifying! Blah!