ARTH101 Discussion Topic 5: Form and Content

Find two works of art from this list of online galleries. The first work should be two-dimensional, and the second should be three-dimensional. For each one, write four sentences describing the elements present in the work using the Formalist Method. This method describes what you see in a totally objective way. Do not refer to any subject matter. Remember, be objective in your descriptions. An example might be; “The work uses a majority of organic shapes”, or “It uses the complimentary colors yellow and violet for contrast”.

Then, for each work, write one sentence that describes your subjective reaction. An example might be “the artwork has a chaotic feeling to it”, or “looking at the work made me feel lonely”.

View and describe Winslow Homer’s painting ‘The Fog Warning’ from 1885. Try to interpret the meaning inherent in the work from the visual and contextual clues you see. Here is another link to Homer’s painting. Here you can compare your interpretation of the work to the curator’s text about it.

If I had to interpret the meaning inherent in the work with just one word, it would be “danger”. The life of a sailor has traditionally been dangerous. Certainly there are some wonderful aspects of being a sailor - travel, experiencing nature first hand, seeing things that people who have never been to sea will never have the opportunity to see. But being a sailor, especially in the 19th century, was fraught with peril. Even more so, the sailor in this picture is a fisherman which is obvious from the fish in the stern of his boat.

By the title, I imagine that the clouds on the horizon is the fog. The ship in the distance is likely the fisherman’s mothership and he is far out to sea. The mother ship is likely at least three miles away and he not only has to fight heavy seas which is dangerous enough, but he also has to race the weather. If he doesn’t get to the ship before the fog does, he could be lost at sea!

So danger is one meaning, but I think it also serves to honor the lives of the people who bring us our food. It is easy for people who don’t have to fish to take for granted lives of the people who literally risk their safety on a regular basis to bring us our food.

To answer this questins I am choosing two paintings from the current exhibition Exquisite Nature at the Asian Art Museum in San Fransisco.

The first piece is called “Fish and Waterweed” by Lai’an, active in China 1275 to 1300. The painting uses blank ink of paper to depict a carp heading downstream. The diagonal downward motion is in contrast to the wavy horizontal lines of the seaweed. The expressive lines accentuate the organic subjects of the painting. Points of pure black highlight the eyes, fin, tail and tips of the seaweed. The overall effect captures the joyous journey of this river fish.

The second piece is titled “Landscape After Old Masters” by Wang Yuanqi, active 1642-1715. Wang uses thin, delicate lines to show the craggy mountain. Expressive lines and points give the boulders and pine trees texture. A few geometric lines, indicate the dwellings of people, but they are almost hidden in the wild landscape. The shapes of the mountains and the branches of the trees rise up to the heavens, giving the piece a feeling of dynamic power and energy uncontrollable by mankind.

This piece is the Virgin from Ger, sculpture made in XII century.
It was made in wood and it had a lot of colours that have been lost over time. Predominant color is red. Forms of the sculpture are modified by artist. Eyes are bigger than normally should be, and has form of almond. We can see two important lines, one vertical and one horizontal formed by the knees of the kid and the hands of the mother. Sculpture is made to look ahead.

This painting is made by Joan Miró, in XX century.
Lines and points are very simple. This lines forms different elemental shapes as circle, rhombus and rectangles. Some shapes are delimited by black pencil and others are free. We can see different and primary colours with a big contrast. There are also a superposition of some shapes, although other are independents.

Is very difficult talk with objectivity about an artwork because we know somethings about it. To do it we must get the eyes of a child.

For my first work of art I chose this
The work uses the primary colors of red, yellow, and blue for most of the painting. There are a lot of expressive, outline/contour lines to define shapes and lines in the painting. A linear perspective is used to create the illusion of 3d space. The painting has areas of high and low contrast. Looking at the work made me feel like this captured a significant event of importance.
For my second work of art I chose
The work uses tertiary and neutral colors of brown and grey. The work has a heavy mass and form. The work overall has a smooth texture. The point of the work is the head. Subjectively, looking at this work makes me laugh and feel happy.

The two-dimensional image I have selected is “Bamboo and rock” by Deng Yu, ca. 1360-67. The painting is monochrome, with varying shades of black ink. The artist uses different values of the color to create the visual texture of the leaves. The artist also uses expressive lines to denote the organic shapes of the bamboo and rocks. The painting is done on a scroll, so the background has some natural texture ans color gradation, due to the material. The painting gives a sense of peace, but also one of isolation.
The three-dimensional image I have selected is “Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara,” a 12th century Chinese bronze figure. The figure has many engraved details. The lines on his rove imply drapery and a free-flowing fabric. The figure was originally a single color, but it has tarnished over the years. The figure is slender and appears lighter than it likely is. The face of the figure appears serene and calm.