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: http://www.artlex.com/ArtLex/r/renaissance.earlier.html.
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: http://www.caravaggio.org/the-decapitation-of-saint-john-the-baptist.jsp
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: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/JP1847
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: https://learnodo-newtonic.com/10-most-famous-pop-art-paintings-and-collages
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.