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ARTH101 Discussion Topic 7: The Medium is the Message

Marshall McLuhan’s quote that “the medium is the message” helps us understand the frontiers and limits of the tools we use. Artistic mediums are not only extensions of our creativity but avenues that help define changes in scale. For example, the introduction of painting extends by leaps and bounds what drawing could do.

Using this list of online galleries, find one example of each two-dimensional medium we have covered: drawing, painting, printmaking and collage. Write a short summary of how the nature of each medium dictates the expression of the artist using it. In other words, what makes each medium unique, and how does it limit or expand what the artist is able to do with it?

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Here are my four selected works for this topic 7: The Medium is the Message


Work chosen: Perspective Study of a Chalice (pen and ink on paper, 29 x 24.5 cm) by Paolo Uccello (born Paolo di Dono, Italian, 1397-1475), URL:

Although drawings are implicitly rendered in two-dimensional form, artists have nonetheless been able to overcome this particular shortcoming of the medium by making images appear in three-dimensional form with the help of lines, depth, perspective, and other drawing techniques.

I chose this Early-Renaissance work because it illustrates a means by which the artist was able to expand the traditional reaches of this particular medium by making the subject – in this case a chalice – appear in three-dimensional form through an innovative “wireframe” representation. Another benefit of this form of drawing
is that it can serve as a basis for the construction of an actual three-dimensional object. Many other artists – such as da Vinci – have used this technique as a vehicle for the production of other forms of art such as architectural elements or structures for instance.


Work chosen: The Decapitation of Saint John the Baptist (Oil on canvas, 361
cm × 520 cm) by Michelangelo da Caravaggio, URL:

Paintings usually depict a scene which is interpreted as that – only a scene; and that is a great limitation of the medium. But through his genius and perhaps inexplicable talent, Caravaggio shatters the limits of the traditional painting medium and manages to bring it to life as if the viewer were experiencing not the scene, but rather the morbid and ugly reality of that moment itself. Many of Caravaggio’s paintings have this effect of making the viewer feel and experience the scene rather than just admire it. Few artists have been able to use the medium of painting to such great effect.


Work chosen: The Great Wave at Kanagawa (Oil on canvas, 361 cm × 520 cm) by Katsushika Hokusai (Japanese, 1760–1849), Edo period, ca. 1831–33, Polychrome ink and color on paper (Woodblock Print in the Ukiyo-e Style), URL:

Whereas earlier woodblock prints were mostly made for producing texts (especially Buddhist scriptures) in monochrome tints Hokusai cast aside the earlier limitations of the technology and took advantage of the new (from around 1765 CE) polychrome multi-color print technology. Printmakers were thus able to use separate carved wood blocks for each color. This had a dramatic effect in that it revolutionized woodblock printing whereby texts could include images and various print arts could be seen in a whole new colorful way. The technology was used not only to produce wonderful prints such as Hokusai’s The Great Wave at Kanagawa but many other kinds such as calendars, novels, posters, advertisements, and so on. In short, this radical evolution in woodblock printing changed the medium’s look and feel from that point onward.


Work chosen: Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing? by Richard William Hamilton (British, 1922-2011), 1956, URL:

Hamilton used cut images from various American magazines to produce his collages. The limitation of photo images in magazines was that it usually included a single image with either a single theme or context. But with the uxtapositioning and layering of various cut-up images, artists such as Hamilton could now produce eye-catching visual effects in composition which made for quite fascinating works. One could easily argue that this avant-garde means by which the medium was exploited paved the way for a new form of artistic expression, namely Pop-Art.

  • Dan Fournier, 2016-01-06

Following are my four selected works for the discussion topic: The Medium is the Message:


Artwork: The Discovery (pen and ink on paper, 529 x 658 mm) by Henry Fuseli in 1767


Drawing may seem simplistic in its elements however drawing allows the artist to manipulate the lines in the image to allow for movement and motion in an otherwise flat image. The artist Fuseli is able to use drawing to create images that make the viewer feel as if they too are in the scene being acted out. The way the lines are drawn and connected to each other allows movement of the various shapes and provides realistic motion to a two-dimensional image.

Artwork: Spring Morning in the Han Palace (ink and color on silk, 30.6 x 574.1 cm) by Qiu Ying in the 17th century


Painting allowed for the introduction of color which allowed the artist to captivate the viewer but using various colors. This painting, in particular, uses crisp, bright colors which help give the viewer a sense of the emotion happening in the image, that emotion being that of happiness, grandeur, and leisure. It also gives the image a sense of beauty that the black and white tones of drawing can sometimes lack.

Artwork: Tetuans de las victoria (linocut, 15 5/8 x 24 3/8 in) by Manuel Izquierdo in the 20th century


Printmaking allowed the artist to utilize lines in a unique way that once cut or etched could be filled with ink and transferred to another medium and could be transferred many times. The original etching created that of a matrix or template that could serve to produce several transferred images of the artist’s original work. The matrix could be as detailed or as simplistic as the artist and the medium determined and created a unique contrast of color, typically black and white, that really “popped” off the medium.

Artwork: Cosmonaut (cut paper) by Erik Farseth in 2017


Collage is a fairly newer medium that artists can use to help the viewer receive the artist’s message in a unique way. In this collage, the artist uses pieces of cut paper layered on top of each other to form a larger image or meaning. In Farseth’s own words, “Created against the backdrop of a nation that seems to be tearing itself apart, my collage art channels that same feeling of global insecurity into topsy-turvy landscapes, baroque machine art, fragmented fairy tales, and nightmare visions of a world gone awry (Farseth, 2017).” Collage art not only translates a message in the overall image but with the use of materials layered on each other can also translate “mini-messages” to the viewer as well.

Of all the Internet look through that end up at the McLuhan Program site and weblog, the quest for the importance of the well known “McLuhan Equation” is the most successive. Numerous individuals assume the ordinary significance for “medium” that alludes to the broad communications of interchanges - radio, TV, the press, the Internet. Furthermore, most apply our ordinary comprehension of “message” as substance or data. Assembling the two enables individuals to hop to the mixed up end that, by one way or another, the direct supplants the substance in significance, or that McLuhan was stating that the data substance ought to be disregarded as immaterial. Regularly individuals will triumphantly hail that the medium is “never again the message,” or flip it around to declare that the “message is the medium,” or some other such babble. McLuhan implied what he said; sadly, his significance isn’t at all self-evident, and that is the place we start our voyage to comprehension.

Marshall McLuhan was worried about the perception that we will in general spotlight on the self-evident. In doing as such, we to a great extent miss the auxiliary changes in our undertakings that are presented unpretentiously, or over significant stretches of time. At whatever point we make another development - be it a creation or another thought - a large number of its properties are genuinely evident to us. We by and large realize what it will ostensibly do, or if nothing else what it is proposed to do, and what it may supplant. We frequently realize what its focal points and impediments may be. In any case, it is additionally frequently the case that, after an extensive stretch of time and involvement in the new advancement, we look in reverse and understand that there were a few impacts of which we were totally ignorant at the beginning. We now and then call these impacts “unintended results,” albeit “unexpected outcomes” may be a progressively precise portrayal.

A significant number of the unforeseen outcomes originate from the way that there are conditions in our general public and culture that we simply don’t contemplate in our arranging. These range from social or strict issues and chronicled points of reference, through interchange with existing conditions, to the optional or tertiary impacts in a course of connections. These dynamic procedures that are totally non-evident include our ground or setting. They all work quietly to impact the manner by which we collaborate with each other, and with our general public on the loose. In a word (or four), ground includes all that we don’t take note

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your abstract is seems like good

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The scream by Edward Munch is realised with tempera and crayon on canvas. This type of colors are the most suitable to give the paint pathos and tension.
Justinian Mosaic in Ravenna. The mosaic was realized in the Bizantin period to celebrate the Emperor. The mosaic cover the roof of a church in Ravenna Italy and its pieces are golden and in bright color.
Der Kuss by Peter Behrens. The artwork is realised over color woodcut printed in different color. The choice of the medium is linked to the historical and artistical context of the jugendstil, which was trying to combine art and design.

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I chose “Industrial landscape”by Julian Trevelyan(c1950)
Industrial landscape by Julian Trevelyan depicts the artist’s viewpoint and the message of “companies are taking over!”.with the black factory chimneys,and the scrapes of newspaper with heads on top shoes Julian Trevelyan’s opinion of newspapers are very well for information, and the stick-like figures close to the factory chimneys implies employees,in addition to the bear-like figure supporting the message of factories taking over.

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Man In nature is a drawing by Khalil Ahmad Zumbul which was uploaded on January 18th, 2019.

The artist of this drawing tried to conveys his thought of using thin and thick contrast of expressive lines, depicting the movement of life from nature to form an image of a human within itself. The actual lines of dark colors found at the bottom give the energy of flowing movements upward connected with thin branches heading to different directions conveyed a stable position of those birds resting on branches. This composition showed a relative used on kinds of lines using a deeper black color of certain types of drawing media.

Vincent Van Gogh
Oil Painting on Canvas
The artist used thick oil paint on canvas. The brush is overloaded with thick paint and successfully applied on the surface of the canvas to depict a graceful movement of seemingly dancing monochromatic family of green bushes, the additive colors of light green to muted colors gives contrast to a subtractive color of green on the upper surface of the canvas, with an overlapping shade of yellow ocher to reflect light behind dark bushes. The foreground works in yellow ocher and pale-yellow grasses, tending bright colors as a reflection of sunlight in near noontime. The artist conveyed a highly convincing textured composition deliberately gives a cool to the warm feeling that natures can give to man.

The artist creates a full of tiny woodcut illustrations that have been finely cut to achieve the effect of both line and tone. Textures are created using only black and white to portray a message of human life and experience of hard labor in the field.

“Collages are also often used to solve crimes of a complicated nature”. (An article)

This is a collage using a piece of cloth, pages of an old book, newspapers, and a charcoal drawing media that are put together to depict something hidden meaning. The artist had successfully put together a dramatic assemblage of chosen media, to create a meaningful effect of a woman that is valued to be the subject of this artwork. The eye-catching neutral brown color on the left side becomes the focal point of this composition, which gives a contrasting effect of tints or pale skin color on the right side.


You have good simple descriptions of each painting describing its medium.

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DRAWING- In The Violinist by Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917) soft charcoal has bee used for the drawing. We can say that the drawing has light tones and a velvety feel to it, so probably vine charcoal has been used as the lines are not dark and too much pressure doesn’t seem to have been applied here. The lighter tones allows the artist to sketch a dull image of the man, also showing his shabby clothes and whitish beard. Adding to the seriousness of the situation.

PAINTING- Christ in Majesty with Symbols of the Four Evangelists BY Unidentified artist Spanish (Catalan) 12th Century is a Secco Fresco Painting. It has exclusively been done on plaster behind the altar in a Church in Spain. It is a dry fresco painting or Secco. Probably egg tempera was used to bind it on the plaster wall. The painting is not very stable and hasn’t lasted in its original condition as we can see from the image parts of it have been rubbed off. Frescos are usually meant to last for a long time.

PRINTMAKING- Lets discuss 0 through 9 by Jasper Johns (American, born in 1930). It is a Lithograph. This is an example of Planar Prints. It is printed on stone and then transferred on to paper. It allows the artist to print each number very clearly and distinctly. Clarity comes at less cost. There is no need to printing expressions. It turns around fast too.

COLLAGE- Pictorial Quilt by [Harriet Powers](American, 1837–1910)is an ancient example of collage. The quilt has been put together with many pieces cut and appliquéd together as one piece. This has allowed the artist to work with many colours, depict various scenes and objects across the fifteen square blocks. The versatility of the quilt is amazing. He has applied cotton fabric upon cotton to give a uniform look to the whole collage.

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This is an architectural creation. It simply implies a usable structure.

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Pablo Piccasso’s
Picasso’s work demonstrated the common 3-dimensional drawing of western culture, that use shape or volume to illustrate weight and density. We can see that the face and the background around the woman body of Picasso’s work has lines and shapes to represent shadow and figure-ground relationship between the positive shape(woman) and the ground. Although he use only charcoal and pencil as a sketch, the mass and the detail of woman’s face were shown.

Rogier Van der Weyden’s La Descente de Croix, 1435
It is oil on wood, there are many people in the painting and many kinds of texture is shown. Painting has rich color and can shown many different texture and manipulation of paint. The blood stain of Jesus body, pale skin of people, different fabric of characters’ clothes seems to be real in oil painting.

a series of four screenprints 5th/6th/7th/8th Poster (Ibiza) (for *Parkett, no. 100/101 ) by Katharina Fritsch in 2006, published 2017
These 4 pieces of work are in monochrome of red, yellow, green and blue respectively, which are the primary color in different color theory. They are representative work with human body part and some basic commodities. Monochrome gives a subtle effect that are not in high contrast, allowing spectator to focus on what the people are doing with the tools. Most of the tools are leaving blank as white in the printing, like to be highlighted in the plain plane. Screen prints show lots of detail by wiping off the unwanted ink on the matrix by woven, and show the unity of color that only shown in printmaking.


Anne Ryan, Collage,1952
It uses cut-and-pasted colored and painted papers and cloth on board. Collage is special on texture and the overall feeling of ambitious. It is definitely on a plane but with different texture of fabric, the art work is stand out from other 2 dimensional work such as painting and drawing. It is 2D undoubtedly, in the same time having some 3D feeling.

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medium is planning to what needed materials, size, color and meaning of the painting

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1) Drawing
Corridor in the Asylum Vincent van Gogh*&offset=0&rpp=20&pos=15

I chose this image to demonstrate not all drawings are equal, and although pre-20th century drawings seem to focus on lineart and contours; this case illustrates how that may not always be the situation. In this picture, Van Gogh used the very same techniques employed in his paintings but simplified, layers are reduced because of the capacity of the medium, in this case, oil colours over black chalk. In this composition you can see how the artist used many traditional drawing techniques including the use of pink paper so that he may leave areas of the page blank for blocks of solid colour; the layering of oil over a chalk ‘sketch’; and the use of one-point perspective to narrate the dramatically receding corridor. A straighter, cleaner and bolder look than the usual paintings were the benefits that using this medium brought; yet it also limited the capacity to mix and develop unique colours, i.e. he was working with a limited palette. Drawing in one material is a very limited use of the medium, and I think here the artist used his resources to the best of his ability.

2) Painting
Heart of the Andes Frederic Edwin Church*&offset=0&rpp=20&pos=6

This photorealistic painting caught my attention and I thought it would be an excellent example here, for most paintings tend to either depict a scene separate from the viewer or try to convince the viewer that the scene is real. This picture, in my opinion, does neither, but rather emerges itself as an opening into the scene; not here in the real world, but not flat and unreal either, like looking through a window to see a gorgeous view. The painting is extremely detailed, and the medium allows for the grading of colours, the changing of opacity gives the dimension and a glorious effect overall. Undoubtedly, painting is the best way to create a likeness minus a camera, And Church utilised this ability and created a stunning work of art.

The greatest ability of opaque (oil) paint is the capacity to layer and the detail that can be achieved by the repeated layering of minuscule strokes, a technique that was greatly taken advantage of here the sheer size alone allowed him to create such intense imagery; I have to believe that Church chose the right medium for what he desired to create, a masterpiece of which we can all appreciate. To have such skill as to recreate both detailed and up-close foliage and long-distance landscape in the same painting is a testament to the greatness of the artist.

3) Printmaking
Shadows without Shading Kuma naki kage*&offset=60&rpp=20&pos=75

This book is a collection of silhouette portraits of a group of fictitious friends. Each page comprises a brief biography beside an illustration, a shadow portrait and a kyōka (satirical poem). The title of the book implies a double meaning: “shadows without shading,” also translated: “shadows without hidden thoughts inside.” Rather than shown realistically, the shadowed portraits may be represented as their true selves, revealing unreserved thoughts in their satirical poems.

The nature of printmaking is clean and illustrated, and I chose the example because many prints try to replicate handmade sketches of collages, whereas this study takes the medium for what it is without trying to replicate anything else. Much of the styling is done in the traditional Japanese fashioning and book layouts, particularly the depth techniques. You may notice the background behind the silhouettes is not flat, but rather a pale gradient, matched with the red/blue gradient of the adjacent textbox – which as we can see, has a layer of white patterns over the background, and black text over that. This work, being a book, is not a standalone piece, which is why you have to consider the layout, how the pages match next to each other and a consistent theme is maintained throughout the book, which, so far as I can see, it is, despite there not being a digital version nor video of the full book.

Printmaking is traditionally used, in most culture, as more of a practical invention than an art form, although this can be said of much of the Japanese printing, I find they have an affinity for aesthetics, particularly in fiction material. Many might argue my example is not an artwork given its practical use as a book, but, after tracing its location to an art gallery and studying the culture surrounding this type of material, I’ve concluded that this is very much art, just as westerners might debate on whether a large aesthetic graffiti is art or vandalism. I think anyone viewing this can see the artistic value of this meticulous printing.

4) Collage
Out Of The Forest Patrick Bremer

This piece is a cut-paper collage on linen, I chose this work because I think it has a good balance of intangible to recognisable imagery; my belief is that the art of collage-making is resigned to becoming mostly abstract as it’s obvious that multiple sources of materials have been pasted onto each other creating a distorted effect – even if you try your best to blend an image, the tell-tale lines will still be there. Whereas in this case, instead of the more traditional grouping of larger chunks, disguising the lines, and trying to pick similar colours; the artist strongly contrasted smaller pieces, using them to create shadows and highlights and the figure is clear and detailed, not distorted. The composition is geometrical yet accurate – the colour and shape elements are imaginative, but the proportion is realistic. The dual background made good use of the capacity to abstractify, brown book paper allows you to easily identify the figure from the background and white paper highlights on the body allow you to distinguish it from the blue. The left half of the background seems to glitch over the figure and you may even notice at the bottom the arms seem to melt, drip, away into the blue, much natural scenery is used and it gives me the feeling of the figure emerging, probably due to the title.

The artist creates many portraits and figures in this style, he has experimented and toiled with it, and I believe, mastered the art of collaged figures. This is not an easy medium to manipulate, because, as previously mentioned, it can either look like you are very bad at merging images, or completely abstract. I find this is a refreshing new approach to the use of this medium, employing traditional collage techniques of sticking, layering and use of colour, but combining it in a whole new way.

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Rembrandt van Rijn - Portrait of Maria Trip (1639)

The textures in this painting are just palpable, be it the fluid black satin, the detailed and deeply layered lace collars, or the shiny brocade ornaments on her waist. No other medium than oil paint could achieve this variety of effects, be it in the hands of an exceptional master like Rembrandt.

Rembrandt van Rijn - Old Man Seated in an Armchair (1631)

A much more spontaneous work by the same artist, with a much more spontaneous medium: chalk.

However, it is not sketchy: the lines are very clear and determined, and there is a surprising amount of detail visible in the face and hands, making it a quick yet very expressive work. You can also see that the chalk was applied with varying degrees of pressure to realize many values of grey.

Käthe Kollwitz - The Volunteers (1921)

In this woodblock print the artist effectively uses the natural hard contrast of the medium. In fact, the areas that appear as midtones, turn out to be built up of black and white crosslines. The lines are very carefully directed to create a strong sweeping motion, telling us this is a movement, not a number of individuals.

The conviction in the young men’s faces resemble Catholic art, and so does the glow effect that separates the faces from the background, and the large arcs above them remind of halos.

Fred Tomaselli - Organism (2005)

This very elaborate collage is made of a wide array of materials, like cutouts from magazines, leafs, herbs, pills, candy (…). These are meticulously composed on a wood panel together with gouache painting and then covered in a thick layer of resin to completely solidify the work and giving it depth and sheen.

The result is a very bold and hallucinating work with stunning details and variety, but it really comes together as a unity too.

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Vincent van Gough used oil paint with his visible strokes of the paint brush and knife. I think oil painting is a hard technique that vincent knew how to manipulate with his own unique art.

Leonardo DaVinci drew his portrait,it goes to show his skill in art. Drawing is an easy and fun way of making art but there is no limit with someone’s ability when drawing.

Water Lilies (1915-1926) Artist- Claud Monet (1840-1926). image
Monet was a radical in his time, an artist who aimed to depict life exactly as he saw it. His painting contained the natural world and the new innovations of the modern, urban Paris. His work was a cornerstone of the Impressionist movement and transformed the creative process permanently by documenting the subjective and transient. Some quotes that Claude Monet had said that I think hold value. “Color is my daylong obsession, joy, and torment,” “Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love,” and my personal favorite quote of his, “The motif is insignificant for me; what I want to represent is what lies between the motif and me.” Claude Monet was also the leader of the Impressionist movement, literally giving the movement its name. Claude Monet departed from the clear depiction of forms and linear perspective, which were prescribed by the established art of the time, and experimented with loose handling, bold color, and strikingly unconventional compositions. His pictures started shifting from representing figures to depicting different qualities of light and atmosphere from each scene.

This is the work of Fernando Amorsolo. His paintings shows how he liked the country lifestyle.

  • Kent Monkman (Cree, b. 1965). Welcoming the Newcomers , 2019. Acrylic on canvas, 132 x 264 in. (335.28 x 670.6 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Donald R. Sobey Foundation CAF Canada Project Gift, 2020. Image courtesy of the artist

: For The Met, Monkman has conceived and executed two related monumental paintings, Welcoming the Newcomers and Resurgence of the People. The commission’s primary title, mistikôsiwak , derives from a Cree word meaning “wooden boat people.” It originally applied to French settlers, but Monkman uses it to refer to all the Europeans who colonized the so-called “New World.” The left painting of the diptych, Welcoming the Newcomers , dramatically recreates their arrival, as they brought with them institutions of religion and slavery. The Native inhabitants display a range of responses toward the newcomers. Resurgence of the People , the second painting, is a testament to, and celebration of, Indigenous resiliency over time, particularly in the face of pernicious and persistent colonizing forces, both political and cultural.


  • Self Potrait - Josef Albers (1917)
    Kind of work of art: Litograph (Buff, smooth wove paper)

the artist used high contrast, the lines are very carefully directed to create a strong motion, asthe fish is moving and the is coming out from her mouth