December 2, 2008

Lisa Yuskavage

Lisa Yuskavage is a graduate of Temple University where she earned her masters of fine art. Most of her work is of the female body and done with oil paint on canvas and usually done with just a few strong colors. (1) Most of Yuskavages paintings represent the female body in unrealistic and fairly derogatory manor. Many of her pieces depict naked women with abnormally disproportioned bodies; some with big butts, and boobs, and, some of them are actually pictured masturbating as in: Big Blonde with Beaded Jacket, 1997, and True Blonde, 1999. (2) Her art is very direct and in your face, it could even be considered a form of soft core porn to some. She wants to force the viewer to see these sexualized subjects, and even make them feel uncomfortable. She takes the female body and makes it into a confrontational representation. I feel slightly uncomfortable looking at most of her pieces but at the same time I find that they are quite beautiful.

I think that Lisa inspired by not only sexuality but what sexuality means and how it can be uniquely presented to society through her art. (1) She gets most of her ideas from personifying her portraits and making them come alive, I think she also draws from the ideas society has of what women’s bodies are “supposed? to look like and shows us that disproportions like big hips and butts can be beautiful too. Yuskavage makes her art to try and shock her audience and make them see a different side to sexuality, one that’s more raw, but not necessarily more real.

Lisas art is outspoken and unusual. I think I would probably compare her art, or at least the message of her art to Nan Golden because like Lisa, Nan’s art is shocking and it brings up social schemes and addresses them head on, in spite of the confrontational subject matter. Golden and Yuskavage both use images to bring up feminist rights and struggles as well. While Golden’s is more obvious with images of battered women, Yuskavage uses womens sexuality to show how we are somewhat captured in our own skin. Goldens use of photography made her messages much more realistic but not necessarily more powerful. I also think that Nans work was more controversial because there isn’t any debating that what you see isn’t real.

If I were telling a friend about Lisa Yuskavages art I would probably describe it as a bit graphic and I would warn them about the sexual images because I don’t think they are for everyone. I would possibly tell a friend to check out Lisa Yuskavages work, it would depend on weather or not I think they would be offended by her work. Her art isn’t for everyone, and it isn’t my personal favorite, however I do think it’s interesting.

Lucian Freud

(Sorry I didn’t post this earlier – I’ve been having computer/internet problems for nearly a week now)


For my artist research project, I chose Lucian Freud, a portrait artist who specializes in painting and etching. Lucian is the grandson of famed psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud—he was born in Berlin in 1922, but has lived in London since 1933 (Freud has been a British citizen since 1939). Lucian’s paintings and etchings are generally realistic portraits of the people in his life—he has his family and friends come into his studio and pose for him instead of hiring models. Freud’s art is famous for not showing his subjects in a very flattering light, painting them as he sees them.

Freud’s art tends to fall into two main categories: facial portraits and full-body nude portraits (prevalent in both his paintings and etchings). Although Lucian occasionally dabbles in works involving horses, dogs, and garden scenes, he still considers these works to be portraits. His portraits are created very meticulously, often taking Freud months (or sometimes over a year) to complete, with his models agreeing to come in day after day to help him finish. Freud’s portraits are never idealized—they are a frank depiction of the subject, based on Freud’s “horror of the idyllic?.
- Examples:

Lucian has described his own work as being autobiographical, since he uses people, places, and objects from his personal life instead of things he has no attachment to:
“My work is purely autobiographical,...It is about myself and my surroundings. I work from people that interest me and that I care about, in rooms that I know... When I look at a body it gives me choice of what to put in a painting, what will suit me and what won't. There is a distinction between fact and truth. Truth has an element of revelation about it. If something is true, it does more than strike one as merely being so.?

Lucian Freud has become one of my favorite contemporary artists, because his work is very realistic instead of being like the many abstract/impressionist artists we’ve studied in class. I would definitely recommend his art to a friend because his paintings and etchings are very detailed and show a great deal of skill. His work is realistic, but shows his personal style, and it’s obvious that his work is very important to him. Plus, his grandpa was Sigmund Freud—that’s got to count for something, right?


“Lucian Freud: The Painter’s Etchings? by Starr Figura (Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2007)

The Mira Godard Gallery (

November 26, 2008

Emily Kippels - Margaret's Group- Felix Gonzalez-Torres

*I couldn't figure out how to include photos, so I inserted links instead

Felix Gonzalez-Torres is a Cuban who moved to New York where he did most of his art. Felix worked in small instillation pieces and sculptures that invite viewers to interact with and take part of the art piece. His pieces are usually small and simple, and involve simple materials such as string, candy, light bulbs, clocks, and photographs. As an artist with AIDS, Gonzalez-Torres frequently displayed themes of love, loss, disappearance, and the social and political aspects of AIDS and AIDS culture. His works have appeared in New York’s Guggenheim museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, as well as other locations in Germany and Colombia.

One of Gonzalez’ better known pieces features a pile of individually wrapped candies, spewing out from a crack in the wall. Viewers are encouraged to interact with and consume the candy although the giant pile is kept at the same volume throughout the exhibit. This piece draws on themes of disappearance and defiance of death as the candies are constantly replenished.

Another work, titled “Perfect Lovers? is an image of two synchronized clocks with a letter underneath, written to his former lover, Ross, about time, destiny, and eternity.,DVFC:1970--2,DVFC:en%26sa%3DG

All of the work that Felix does he says is inspired by Ross, who had died of AIDS. Felix would later die of AIDS complications himself in 1996. His ideas come directly from his experience with living with AIDS, and often refer to treatments, such an instillation featuring a beaded curtain entitled “blood? that was made to look like individual blood cells. Gonzalez-Torres makes his work to honor the life of his love, Ross, and to let the viewer interact with the various images and emotions that represent his experience with AIDS.

In this way, his themes are similar to those of Nan Goldin’s in that they both represent ideas of both love, suffering, and AIDS. They also both want an emotional connection with the viewer and to document the life, death, and experiences of loved ones in their lives. Felix’s work style, however, more closely resembles that of Liz Miller and other instillation artists that requires the viewer to think more closely about the ideas that are represented by the images in their work. They both have very conceptual pieces that are symbolic and deeper than their images alone.

I would definitely recommend that a friend see Felix's work, since it is applicable to issues surrounding AIDS and AIDS culture in society today, and it is very unique in the way that it invited the viewer to participate in the work, unlike the "please don't touch" sign that you normally see in museums.


Biography. 26 Nov. 2008

Troncy, Eric. Felix Gonzalez-Torres: couples. Art Press no335: 31-5, 2007.

Lily Ohm - Henri Cartier-Besson Research

Lily Ohm
Arts 1001

Henri Cartier-Bresson

1. The artist that I chose is a photographer named Henri Cartier-Bresson. He was born in 1908, in Normandy, France. After taking many drawing and painting courses in Paris Cartier-Bresson began taking photographs. Cartier-Bresson was interested in the motion of everyday movements and worked to successfully capture this motion in his photographs. He has published over 30 books and appeared in many exhibits all around the world, his first in 1933 in New York.
2. This motion that Cartier-Bresson captured was interesting to him because it could make the most mundane actions or gestures beautiful and of great importance. They could also convey an array of emotions, depending on the way Cartier-Bresson composed each photograph. He was a master of capturing “the decisive moment.? He knew exactly how to compose the image and when to snap the shot. He was driven by wanting to capture the motions of everyday life, and always wanted to reveal something in his pictures that would normally be lost because it was mundane. He draws the viewer’s attention to things that one would not normally notice, and as a result, the viewer sees objects or people in a completely new way. This reminds me a little of how Chris Ofili used elephant poop in his artwork. Normally, poop is not something that people would consider beautiful, just as people would not consider everyday gestures and motion particularily beautiful or eye-catching. Both artists, although in very different ways, took everyday things and portrayed them in a new way. Ofili’s may have been much more controversial, yet, I think they both had the same goal in mind.
3. Another one of Cartier-Bresson’s goals was to capture the essence of his subjects’ beings. His portraits are very personal and, because of this, the viewer is able to interact with the photograph free of restrictions. The viewer can feel a connection with the subject because of the way that Cartier-Bresson displays the subjects as themselves. I think that the intimate nature of Cartier-Bresson’s portraits could be compared with Nan Goldin’s photographs. Both photographers work hard to display the true side of their subject. While Cartier-Bresson took these photos with the intent of them being more than a snapshot for himself, they are like Nan Goldin’s because of this. Neither photographer creates a false representation of their subject while they are photographing. Goldin’s photos are much more snapshot-like, and she only photographs people she actually knows on an intimate level. Cartier-Bresson, in comparison, often shot celebrities and people he didn’t know as intimately, perhaps making his job more complex and difficult. However, both photographers do capture the essence of their subjects’ being. A difference in the photos of these two artists is actually the final product. Nan Goldin’s photos often look as if they were made with a cheap or disposable camera. The lighting is often poor and they look like she was taking them for her personal collection, not to be art (she did indeed take some of the photos with no intent of them being displayed). This adds to the character of them, and makes them feel like real life. Cartier-Bresson’s photos are all well developed and professional in appearance. His are all also black and white photos, while Goldin’s work is in color.
4. I would most definitely recommend that people look at the work of Cartier-Bresson. His portraits are extremely captivating and there is a lot of viewer interaction because of the way Cartier-Bresson composes the image. One of my favorite pictures of his that I saw was called “Place de l'Europe. Gare Saint Lazare.? This is an example of Cartier-Bresson’s ability to capture “the decisive moment.? His timing was perfect in capturing the man right before his foot breaks the surface of the water. If it had been taken a split second later the picture wouldn’t be successful. Cartier-Bresson’s timing when taking his pictures is incredible and I think that everyone should take the time to appreciate his amazing photographs.

Works Cited
Magnum Photos. Henri Cartier-Bresson.
(This is a great site that lists the books that Cartier-Bresson has published and it has a great slide show of some of his most famous photos, all of which are intriguing and beautiful).

Banville, John. “The leica leonardo Photography Henri Cartier Bresson always wanted to be a painter. His debt to the Renaissance shines through his finest work, says the novelist John Banville.? The Sunday Telegraph. Nov 26, 2006.
(This article from LexisNexis Academic talks about Cartier-Bresson’s ability to
capture the decisive moment, along with a lot of very interesting background about him and his first exhibition).

Continue reading "Lily Ohm - Henri Cartier-Besson Research" »

Chris Finley, Nick Lasovich Margret's group

Chris Finley is from the Bay Area of California, he set out to simulate with sculpture computer systems, that is files within files, by making quirky arrangements of objects that fit inside of each other such as plastic toys in Rubber maid bins. He uses mainly plastics in his works like acrylics in his paintings. His main goal in the beginning was to use stuff like tupperware containers, pencils and other dime-store miscellany to represent storage systems. Then his next faze is his painting were trying to push the envelope with an almost futurist quality to them. The computer generates the designs which he tosses warped figures into.
What influences Chris's work is is fascination with computer storage and just computers in general. He is also into futurism and pop art also. Chris is trying to get us to see the world through a warped sense of reality. Sometimes sterile like a computer otherwise vibrant and disturbing like Francis Bacon. Chris Finley's work is really not comarable to any of the people in we have covered. The closest one is the woman who did the installation work with the plastics and patterns.
As stated before he is really not like anyone we have studied in class per se. Chris handles his media as if he was a fine tune machine making this art. Everything is very calculated even though at times it may seem to look random. Chris's work is sometimes unnerving and weird, but it has a knack of mesmerizing you know matter how long you look at the pieces. He tries to relate by using everyday objects in ways that are composed interestingly like making installation that are like trips through fun houses with Pop Art images inside.
I would recommend a friend to see his work. It is very mind boggling and original. If you lie to take a trip into the realm of the weird or surreal this guy is for you. It is very entertaining to look at and can be connected to artists who came before him. He has a little bit of everything from cartoony Pop Art to the emotionally charged and sometimes disturbing Francis Bacon.

Tanya Carney - Robert Gober

1. Robert Gober was born in Wallingford, Connecticut in 1954. Currently he works and lives in New York City. Although he draws, paints, and creates slide shows, he is most known for his hand-made sculptures. In these sculptures he uses a variety of materials including wood, plaster, paint, metal, wax, water, and newspaper. Although a lot of his work deals with different subjects, it always is provocative and many times incorporates themes of childhood, memory, loss, and sexuality. He also deals with political and social issues such as AIDS, gay identity and religion. Rather than using an in your face approach to address these issues, Robert tends to be more subtle. For example one of his pieces titled the “Subconscious Sink?, a piece which he created while one of his close friends was dying of AIDS which is a sink that does not work, “suggests cleansing rituals, although with no running water there is no ability to wash, clean, or purify.? It can also be noticed that he likes to create dysfunction. Many times he will sculpt everyday objects but they will “lack the features that define their function.? A good example of this is an untitled candle piece he did. It is essentially a candle but instead of a wick it has a nail. For the viewer this creates an awkward tension and frustration but at the same time a deep connection to the piece of work.
2. Inspiration for Robert Gober comes from things as simple as driftwood to every day life and conflict. He himself is a gay male so within his own life he experiences a lot of conflict that he can work off of. He has also said that many of his sculptures “have been memories remade, recombined, and filtered through his current experiences.? Through his art he seeks an emotional response and humor. He stated in an interview by Craig Gholson that “humor, to me, is very important… it’s a way to let people enter into the piece, where you can give them more complicated and fraught material.?
3. Similar to many of the artists we have talked about this year, all of Gober’s pieces are part of an ongoing personal narrative. Although many of them can be related to a historical perspective or some other larger world issue in the end, they are all part of his own life story. This is very similar to Nan Goldman who took pictures only of people she knew and loved. Although the pictures she took could be related to larger issues such as the AIDS epidemic, in the end, they were pictures of her friends and helped tell the story of her life. Also, similar to William Kentridge’s movies, he has made slide shows that tell a story; show a passage of time by adding and subtracting things from each frame and then taking a picture of it.
4. I would definitely tell a friend about Robert Gober’s works. There is a playful aspect to his work that draws the viewers in to reveal a much deeper meaning. He takes simple, everyday objects and turns them into thought provoking items. In addition, the craftsmanship of all of his pieces is impeccable.

Sussman, Elisabeth. "Robert Gober: This is how it was." Modern Painters. Jl/Ag (2007): 52-61. 25 Nov. 2008

Gholson, Craig. "Robert Gober." BOMB, 29. 25 Nov. Fall 2008

Continue reading "Tanya Carney - Robert Gober" »

Willie Cole

willie cole 1.jpg

Born in New Jersey in 1955, Willie Cole received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts in New York. He creates works in many media but is best known for his found-object sculptures. He transforms everyday mass-produced domestic objects such as bicycle parts, irons, and lawn jockeys into precious icons or symbolic representations that explore ideas of diversity, identity, and commercialization.

Cole will tell you that he is “open to all inspirations.? Among his many sources of inspiration are African and Asian art, contemporary art, West African religion, mythology and culture, as well as music, poetry, athletics, and his children. He also often references the African-American experience. He is concerned with the core spirit of an object—all of his work revolves around and emphasizes spirituality, and as a self-described “urban archaeologist,? he works hard to honor the memory of discarded objects. The steam iron is the single most important icon in Cole’s work—it symbolizes both the domestic role of women of color and Ogun, the Yoruba god of iron and war. The ultimate goal of Cole’s art is to incorporate the viewer, but when it comes to interpretation, he likes it “when people read and imply their own thing.?

I see many similarities between Cole’s work and the work of Andrea Carlson. She too sees objects “as milestones in a landscape of time, culture, and meaning,? as artifacts and heirlooms. Cole seems to agree with Carlson, as we can see in his work with found objects, whose surface quality acts like a documentation of the object's history to Cole. To both Cole and Carlson, the story of an object is essential to its worth. Carlson sees objects as “becoming surrogates for our identities, symbols connecting us to a larger group, or mnemonic devices reminding us of the stories we have been unconsciously told to remember.? This belief manifests in Cole’s work with irons, which become symbols of the domestic lives of colored women and which connect Cole and his audience to the Yoruba culture through Ogun and his story. Carlson too, like Cole, incorporates her audience into her works by trying to get them to imagine the stories bound to the objects she depicts, and though she doesn’t work in the same medium as Cole, includes references to many found objects in her works.

To a friend I would definitely recommend one of Cole’s exhibitions. His method of elevating found, discarded objects to the level of art in a ritualistic manner is quite touching. It is fun to see what he does with common objects that we never give a second thought to. I think one of the tasks of artists is to document the societies they live in at the time, and Cole has a very interesting take on that task. I find his work with irons particularly interesting: to symbolize a face or an African mask, Cole uses imprints of an iron pointing up, while an iron pointing down symbolizes a shield. Canvases scorched by irons reference Adinkra cloth found in Ghana. I would tell a friend to first to take a look at some images of Ancient African and Asian art before going to an exhibition though, so they could more easily see the similarities between those images and Cole’s art.

willie cole 2.jpg


"Artist's Biography." Anxious Objects: Willie Cole's Favorite Brands. 2006. Cantor Arts Center. 26 Nov. 2008 .

Carlson, Andrea S. "Artist's Statement." Art by Andrea Carlson. 26 Nov. 2008 .

Gaché, Sherry. "To All Inspirations: An Interview with Willie Cole." Sculpture 20 (2001): 24-29.

"Selected Works, 1997-2004." AFTERBURN--Willie Cole. 2006. Worcester Art Museum. 26 Nov. 2008 .

"Willie Cole." Alexander and Bonin. 26 Nov. 2008 .

Los Carpinteros

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Chris Burden

Chris Burden
Firstly, I would like to say that when I selected my artist for this project I had no idea what I was getting myself into; I didn’t know if he was a stunt man or an artist at first. This daredevil, Chris Burden, was born in Boston Massachusetts in 1946. He went on to study visual arts and architecture at the University of California, Irvine and shortly after began doing performance art. He is both a performance artist and in his later years a sculptor. Although, Burden doesn’t reveal his motives about many of his performance art pieces many share a similar theme. In a good deal of his art Burden puts himself through some type of physical pain or suffering. A good example of this is his piece titled “shoot? where burden lined up and waited for his friend to shoot him with a .22 caliber rifle. Other works include Deadman, Five Day Locker Piece, Fire Roll, TV Hijack, and Doomed . According to Chris Burden's extreme performance art, “…the point of his art, in addition to making political and social statements, was to illicit discomfort in the audience/observers? (Dvorsky).

Although Burden spent the seventies doing mainly performance art he studied sculpture in his time at the University of California, Irvine and began to do more sculpture work in his old age. Burden says one of the main reasons he was motivated to do performance art was because he did not have much money at the time (West). When asked about his motives for the piece “Shoot? Burden said, “I wanted to be taken seriously as an artist.? Much of Burden’s inspiration stems from the work of Marcel Duchamp and Pablo Picasso (Schjeldahl). Another reason Burden put himself in dangerous situations and/or had pain inflicted on him in his artwork is to catch the attention of his audience in shocking and sometimes discomforting manner. Although some say that his works such as the work “Deadman? and “Shoot? represent social issues during the seventies like the Vietnam War, Burden has not blatantly said any of his works are based on any specific issue. Unlike, other performance artist like Chris Larson who uses many different props and materials to make his art Chris Burden uses mainly his own body as his stage.

Although, Burden and Larson are both performance artist they have more differences than they have similarities. This is very interesting to see two artists in the same field with two very contrasting styles. The most obvious and significant difference between the two is that Larson makes very large scale and intricate machines and stages that are interactive whereas, Burden uses few props but uses his body as his main material for his work. Additionally, Larson makes rehearsed and specifically choreographed movies. Burden’s performances were, for the most part, all live and unrehearsed. Despite some of the inferences made on Burden’s work about social issues he does not really deal with history in his performance work. Many of Larson’s Work’s reference American history, for example, “Larson’s collisions from America’s past, present, and future cultures present a conversation among different and similar worlds. Where people, ideals, thoughts, race, beliefs, art, religions and politics are constantly colliding,? (Crush). Although there are numerous differences between the two artists, they both do an excellent job of capturing the audiences’ attention whether it is through stunning visual settings or through self suffering.

If I were asked to tell a friend about Chris Burden I would absolutely recommend his work to them, although I would have to warn them that they may be a little disturbed by some of his work. This is because I have never been so captured by a form of art before. The passion for art that Burden has astounds me; although some of his work doesn’t seem too amazing to me it is the fact that he is willing to sacrifice his body for his art, for what he loves to do. I believe that passion makes his work special and really makes a statement about what kind of artist he is. Although, I only briefly talked about Burden’s work as a sculptor he is very skilled at that as well. He made a 65 foot tall skyscraper using all Erector Set parts representing his past aspirations to be and architect (West). This demonstrates not only his passion but his creativity and skill, which is why I would recommend Burden to everybody.

Works Cited
"ART; Burden's Bridges: Toys That Fulfilled Their Potential. EBSCOhost. " New York Times 8 Feb. 2004: 31-31.
"Crush Collision." MAEPedia. MAEPedia. 26 Nov. 2008 .
Dvorsky, George. "Chris Burden's extreme performance art." Sentient Developments. 7 May 2007. 26 Nov. 2008 .
Schjeldahl, Peter. "Performance." The New Yorker. 14 May 2007.The New Yorker.26 Nov. 2008 .
West, Kevin. "Public Offering." W. May 2008. W. 26 Nov. 2008 .

I cannot figure out how to post pictures so i am just going to bring a couple to class.

Emily Burchell artist research: Matthew Barney

Matthew Barney was born March 25, 1967, in San Francisco. In 1989, he graduated from Yale University, New Haven. The art which he creates combines sculptural installations with performance and video. His inspiration for creative process utilizes the physical aspects of sport and the various ways in which man can be involved in movement to find any limits of the body pertaining to sexuality. By doing this type of investigating, Barney's work reflects his own past as an athlete, while also contributing to the topic of the body often seen in the work of many contemporary artists. Barney’s actions are exposed in various hybrid spaces that are often in the form of an athletic center and medical research laboratory. Often, these spaces consist of wrestling mats and blocking sleds, sternal retractors and speculums, and a range of props often molded into, or coated with, substances such as wax, tapioca, and petroleum jelly. Indeed, his earliest works, created at Yale, were staged at the university’s athletic recreational center. The use of this atmosphere for creation, Barney’s visual presentations (such as a man dressed up in costume and Barney himself absolutely naked or dressed as a transvestite) further display figurative movements and dancing to distinguish sexual differentiation.

Barney’s fascination and artistic representation of the body is inspired by the athlete and human development. He utilizes the idea of physical struggle and resistance by giving the illusion of muscular growth through the ripping and internal physiology existing within the body during exercise. The end result is a stronger, healthier muscular function. This articulate relationship between the idea of wanting something, self discipline, and the action of actually being productive is the basis for Barney’s thoughts on the differences between sexes.

A work in which Barney is most known for is his Cremaster cycle, which he created in 1994. Similar to the Star Wars trilogy, he did not follow any sort of chronological order with his creations. The first production was Cremaster 4, in 1994, then Cremaster 1, in 1995, followed by Creaster 5, in 1997, Cremaster 2, in 1999, and finally Cremaster 3, in 2002. The Cremaster cycle takes the form of feature films, all of which are written and directed by Barney. He also partakes in acting as one or more characters in his own films, along with the creation of sculptures, drawings, and photographs which he ties into the series. The concept that Barney is trying to embody with this work is the male cremaster muscle. This particular muscle controls testicular contractions in response to various external stimuli. I feel that he is successful in presenting this because his imagery is somewhat grotesque and intrigues the viewer to investigate the situation, even if the viewer might feel slightly uncomfortable or threatened. This results in the idea that the viewer would possess a slightly defensive reaction, thus embodying the function and actions represented by the cremaster muscle. Through the creation of this cycle, Barney found a way to look beyond biology as a way to explore the human creation, utilizing other sources for structure and artistic presentation, such as biography, mythology, and geology.

An artist which I would compare Matthew Barney to would be Catherine Sullivan. Both Barney and Sullivan use film to evoke various emotions of curiosity and hesitation from the viewer. By displaying a series of awkward body movements and distorted visual appearances, I find they are both successful in creating a type of bazar artistic point of view. The human body is a main focal point for both of these artists. They both utilize the manipulation of natural movement and control of the human body to create an illusion of a loss of control and bodily function.

I would recommend a friend to view the work of Matthew Barney because it is very interesting. The art he creates is not a vision that can be seen any other way. The work provokes curiosity and triggers the mind of the viewer to experience various emotions that are fantastical and indescribable. The work is as if it were a dream. Also, I would recommend a viewer because I have never seen another art form which comes close to that of Matthew Barney's presentations.

Continue reading "Emily Burchell artist research: Matthew Barney" »

November 25, 2008

Corinne's Artist Research Project: Chris Ofili

Chris Ofili is a British painter who is known for his controversial artwork referencing his Nigerian heritage. He was born in Manchester, England in 1968 and attended school at the Chelsea School of Art and the Royal College of Art in London from 1988-1993. Ofili primarily works with oil and acrylic paint, resin, glitter and elephant dung on canvas to create a collage. For example, “When the Shit Hits the Man? 2008 (see below).
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"When the Shit Hits the Man" 2008

Ofili’s work generally revolves around questioning racial and sexual stereotypes in a humorous way by referencing things such as “blaxploitation films? (exploitation films that target an urban black audience) and gangster rap. For this reason, much of his work has created a large amount of controversy, especially with his deliberate misuse of traditionally ritualistic elephant dung. In particular, one of the more controversial paintings is “The Holy Virgin Mary? (1996), which is an African American virgin surrounded by pornographic magazine cutouts, which is deliberately provocative in order to shock the viewer into a less superficial mode of thinking and progress into a deeper spiritual analyzation of the appearance of Mary, since so little is actually known about it.
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"The Holy Virgin Mary" 1996

Ofili obtains most of his inspiration from his Nigerian heritage, as well as ancient Zimbabwean cave paintings with which he combines images from popular culture. For example, through his approach to challenging numerous issues on black stereotypes, Ofili wants to not only inform his audience, but broaden the viewer’s interpretation beyond its cultural meaning as well. In comparison, Ofili’s work is in many ways similar to William Kentridge’s, Nan Goldin and Lorna Simpson in that fact that all four try to tell a story, in particular a historical and/or factual even that had taken place and possessed some kind of emotional significance. Although all accomplish this through numerous ways, each artist strives to depict an important event that has had a personal emotional impact on their lives.
In particular, I saw many similarities between Ofili and Lorna Simpson. Both artists aim to target the African American population and confronting the expression of society’s relationship with race and ethnicity, where usually images of black woman and/or men appear if images of humans are present. Additionally, both have explored the uses of various media when creating their installations. Although Ofili primarily works with oil and acrylic images on canvas, and Simspon mainly utilizes photography occasionally with text, both manage to portray the story they are trying to tell by creating images that capture the essence of their political and/social symbolism that are easily recognized by their target audience-African Americans. Both Ofili and Simpson relate to their audience by depicting only members of their target audience, and incorporating African American history with the combination of symbolic images and contemporary culture. For example, Chris Ofili’s “No Woman, No Cry? (1998) is a painting dedicated to the memory of Stephan Lawerence, the murder victim of a racist gang; it is also inspire by the Bob Marley song, “No Woman, No Cry?. It is not only a tribute to the victim’s family, but it is also a starting point for political activism and the need for social change. In the painting, the woman is shedding tears, which each represent the portrait of the murder victim. Similarly, Lorna Simposon’s “Waterbearer? (1986) is a profoundly simplistic photograph that depicts the historical and contemporary reference of the working African American woman; someone who, as stated in the text, is a forgotten memory. However, the flowing water has healing powers and acts as a portal through which the woman can reconnect with the past and the present, thus reclaiming her place in history and making peace with it. See below for both images.
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"No Woman, No Cry" 1998

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"Waterbearer" 1986
Although I do not agree with some of Ofili’s choices of work, in particular the elephant dung, I still would recommend his work to another person because one of his main goals is to broaden the viewer’s interpretation of symbolic popular culture, as well as to expose common African American stereotypes. Both of which I think are important issue to be addressed within today’s contemporary society. I think it is good for controversy to exist because it causes the audience to actually think and ask questions about the work, instead of just observing a piece of art. Ofili’s use of controversial images utilizes shock value to capture an audience’s attention, but he leaves it up to the viewer to question its interpretation and meaning in somewhat of a testing method to see if the viewer is willing the think outside the box in order to understand the deeper meaning. See below for more work by Chris Ofili.

“Chris Ofili?. African Success: People Changing the Face of Africa. 2007. African Success. 29 July 2007.<>.

Sternbergh, Adam. “Aftershock.? New York Magazine Art. May 2005: New York. New York Media 2008. <>.

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"Afro Muses" 1995-2005

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"Afro Apparition" 2002-2003

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"Iscariot Blues" 2006

November 24, 2008

Artist: Thomas Struth, Photographer

Thomas Struth: German Photographer
Born: Geldern/ Lower Rhein, Germany
Media: Photography
Primary Themes: Ambition to make people more aware of how to read a picture while also taking into consideration the intention of the photographer. Strives to create dialog between two mediums and introduce a response of one figure to another. Eludes to the elapsing of time, and how it changes from not only between hours, but countries and cultures.
Inspiration: Creating time and space between the contrast of the space he is working in and his photograph. Finding connections from still paintings, still landscapes and the perpetual movement of people and their interactions with that medium.
Where does he make art, and how is it conveyed?: The majority of Struth's work is designated to an seemingly immobile and desolate area, and creates movement and the interaction of humanities perception and movement with in their environment. In his photographs of museums, Struth is contrasting the beauty and still serenity of the paintings and and demoralizing act of man of looking a the paintings. He likes to create a distinct difference from what is fetishized and how that ruins that objects ideal. From his work with architecture, Struth demonstrates his perception of the mans movement trapped in a building, and how these buildings are constantly moving internally, regardless of their inability to do so externally. Landscapes are depicted with strong detail, and note the changes in time from worldly, to locally, or hourly to seconds. His landscapes almost always contain a road, or some notion of transportation; keying in on how humanity can show their movement over space without actually being there in real time. Struth's photographs of international families also are a depiction of time, between cultures and of biological time. Aging and cultural differences are shown on their non smiling yet non-threating faces.
Compare and Contrast to Nan Golden's photography: Comparatively to Nan Golden; Struth and Golden share the same medium of photography and both with with the conception of time, whether it be profound in Struth's, or quick captures by Golden. They each work within the medium to bring forth humanity in different forms though the movement of space and time, however, the ability aims and abilities of the photographers are very much in contrast. Golden numerous works are of quick non-composed opportunities that arise. Struth steadily composes each shot, waiting for the right moment of best contrast to his ideal and environment that he is working with. Golden's photography is more raw, and deals with first impressions of her work, the picture is only skin deep with meaning; however, Struth's works cognitively swell with ideas and if one looks deep enough a many small humorous contrasts of humanity.
What would I tell a friend about his work?: I would tell them to expect uncertainties in his work, and to look deeper then the first glance, to think and mold ideas around the photograph. I would have them create the idea of why Struth took the picture at that moment and not another, and have them find the greatest point of contrast and aim of the photograph. His work is conceptualized though time, and I would have a friend try to make a determinate of that in his work. I would encourage them to look at his work, and find the meaning and movement in unseeingly immobile landscapes and photographs. I would also tell them about the immense capabilities of art that his work arrises to, and see if they found any aspiration in his versatility and flexibility while still keeping his main idea of contrast.

Naggar, Carole. "Thomas Struth: 1977-2002." Aperture 172 (Fall 2003): 6(2). Expanded Academic ASAP. Gale. University of Minnesota. 24 Nov. 2008 

Tuchman, Phyllis. "On Thomas Struth's "Museum Photographs"." Artnet 7 08 2003. 1. Magazine Features. University of Minnesota Twin Cites. November 24, 2006 


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November 21, 2008

Research on Tim Hawkinson, by Jacquilyn Weaver


-This piece is of particular interest to me. It's entitled "Pentecost"

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