Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Claes Oldenburg

Claes Oldenburg is a contemporary artist who transforms everyday objects into the unusual. Often he does not change the actual look of it, but the function is clearly changed; the use of scale and texture in his work is the most interesting and thought provoking part of it. Please pardon my lack of dates and dimensions; it was quite difficult to find that information for some reason.


When I saw this one, I knew I had to talk about it. One of my boyfriend and I’s favorite past times is playing badminton in the summer in my back yard. So this piece is dear to my heart. When I saw this, I immediately wanted it in my own yard. What I enjoy most about this piece is that it looks as if it is in motion because it would not land like that when it fell on the ground. It is almost as if two giants are playing in the town or me and my boyfriend are playing in a small little park where we are the giants. It was fun to relate myself to this piece. The fact that something so giant that is normally so small lets us see the detail and the structural thought that went in to making this sculpture.

"Soft Toilet", 1966
 wood, vinyl, kapok fibers, wire, and plexiglass on metal stand and painted wood base

This piece is one where he plays with texture and again sight. This looks as if a porcelain toilet has literally deflated. You can’t help but think of sitting on this to do your business! The white shine mimics the porcelain look and that is what is most deceiving.

“Screw Arch” 1984
Here is a piece where he has changed not only the scale, but the thing itself. Screws are not bent into this arch shape; they are meant to be straight and tough in order to hold something together etc. This is not like the nature around itself at all yet this beautiful archway makes it become a part of the nature around it. It is odd to see a screw this giant! You can’t help but think that there is a large screw driver that is in the hands of another giant person. There is incredible detail to the objects in each one of his pieces, and that is important when making a deceiving piece more impactful.

“Big Sweep”
This piece I think is easiest to see a purpose with in it. Not only are these pieces extremely giant compared to their normal everyday size, they are cleaning up giant pieces of trash. Maybe he is trying to show that our world is actually full of trash, and something large and powerful is going to have to clean it up someday. I don’t know if I necessarily agree with the color and look of the broom, because it makes it less real for me somehow.

“Soft Drum Set”
This soft drum set is similar to the one he did with the toilet, and he also done a bath, light switches, and more. This one also is close to my heart because I love to play music, not the drums, but the guitar and the piano. And when I think about someone playing any instrument that is droopy and soft, the music it was intended to make would no longer be made. It’s sad in a way.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Ann Porter

Ann Porter is a contemporary artist. She earned her BA in Portland Oregon and her MFA in sculpture at Washington State University, and she has taught at North Idaho College and Washington State University; I think it is important to note this because I am from Post Falls, Id which is extremely close to both WSU and NIC, and I really enjoy researching an artist that is in close proximities to my home.
Right now she is working with painted and fired stained glass, video monitors, altered video stills, and cast polychrome sculpture as her media. She confronts the communication that we as humans try to have with the natural world around us and the sort of domestication we feel we can have over any nature.

Preaching to the Birds (Grace)                                      Preaching to the Birds (Pearls)
Painted and Fired Stained Glass with Video               Painted and Fired Stained Glass with Video
24” x 15”                                                                            24” x 15”

Not only is her stained glass something of beauty in itself, but she has taken something so beautiful and well known for its messages, and turned it into something new. The faces in Grace and Pearls are communicating to the birds in the glass and in life. These pieces are part of her newest collection called Preaching to the Birds. She is confronting the ideas about human communication with nature itself. She said that her interest came from how different the stained glass and video was, but then found a way to relate them together in order to tell a story to her viewers. She enjoys that they both require light in order for its function to be seen and that both can relay a message to their viewers.  Messages between media, nature, and humans are something she confronts in this new work.  In Grace, the message is clear that the human is preaching to the birds about grace; grace is elegance and beauty of form or nature, and the fact that a human is trying to preach this to nature who already has a knack for grace is ironic and yet symbolic of what we as humans try to domesticate. Pearl can sometimes represent purity; I also think this is ironic for a human to be telling nature to be pure because if already is as pure as can be.  The linear and geometric qualities that encompass this work play into the video feel and the stained glass look.

Scratching Dog(red)                                                 Scratching Dog (white)
Polychrome, Cast Hydrostone                                 Polychrome, Cast Hydrostone
Lifesize                                                                    Lifesize

These two pieces are from her new works called Twins. They incorporate a human baby with the body of a dog. Here she is again confronting human relation to nature. Dogs are the most domestic animals we have in our human lives, and I would say most people treat them and feel that they are their children and a part of their family. What Porter has done here is taking that idea to the extreme. When one first looks at these, it does look quite creepy; the head is truly molded in such a way to look as if it is a real part of the dog. The necks are even human form and the shoulders and arms are quite human yet dog like when you look at them from the paw up. Giving these ‘babies’ the dog like characteristics, like scratching and itch with your back leg which is a paw, really makes these two become one. Porter feels she has linked a mutual pursuit of household and animal pleasures. Making twins from what a human knows best was very brilliant. And the fact that these are lifesize would make it even more of an impact when seen in person. This is a picture of her installation:

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Lauren Fensterstock

Lauren Fensterstock was a critic and a curator before she went to school to get her MFA. Her work really encompasses and discusses the beauty of the world around us today.

Mound, 2010
paper, charcoal, plexi
14X12X5 ft.
Installation at Sienna Gallery, Lenox, MA, August - November 2010

This installation piece really speaks to some of the environmental issues going on today. The confrontation of something murky, black, harsh, and evil is combined with the natural world. To me it relates to the oil spill that happened in 2010 that has really affected the coast and beyond. Although paper materials were used, this piece is visually heavy and thick. The black, although it may have been on accident, contrasts well in the white space of the installation. There is an extreme sense of darkness in her recent installation pieces. The details in the piece are clearly essential; they are very curvilinear and organic to even further emphasize the natural characteristics of the piece.

1, 5,6,7

A Third Nature, 2007
Paper and Charcoal Under Glass
10X10 in.

A Third Nature was done in 2007. Although I am assuming she had 1-7 or more of her pieces, I was only able to find 1, 5, 6, and 7. Here she again uses the black paper under glass; she says herself that she used inspirations from a painter named Claude Lorain: he used a black convex mirror to reflect landscapes. Although this is considered 3-D art, I feel that she wanted to represent these figures as a painting and give an experience to her viewers. She refers often to these pieces as a picturesque gardener; I think that in these black and harsh views of nature there is a sense of decay of the landscape and scenery view the viewer sees. All of the boxes are the same 10X10 size, and when placed in order it almost seems to tell that story of decay. The black and harsh color of these pieces really emphasize that. Every single one is different than the other yet still correlates. Her detail and attention to each curl in the paper makes these pieces very well crafted.

 Horizon/Versailles (detail), 2008
inlaid wall instillation
120 linear ft.
Approximately 5000 2mm cubic zironia inlaid into the walls of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.
If she had just created one small line of these cubic zirconia inlaid into the walls, it would have sent a different message; but she went all out and did about 5000 of them that she individually laid into the walls. This came from her diamond collection in the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. These objects, first seen as diamonds, are something that the viewer longs for and objects of extreme desire. Seeing so many of them would question her motives. Here I am not quite sure what she is trying to say, but all of these little pieces inserted into the wall itself so precisely show the time and care that went into doing this installation; she may be addressing the extreme love and care that women and people have for this insignificant thing in life: diamonds have to be given to show love and more. Culturally these diamond like figures are very important today, and she may have been addressing this.
Diamond Drawing 4, 2005
gouache, wattercolor, charcoal
5X5 in.

I wanted to show this piece of Fensterstock ‘s because of the incredible deception that she has created. Trompe l'oeil is the deception that the viewer feels as if they could reach out and pull that object right off of the 2-D paper. I think her incredible use of the diamonds in her diamond installation pieces was simple but showed incredible talent.

Continuous Flutter #1-2005, Butterfly Tondo #5-2004, My First Maine Landscape-2004

This use of materials is first a little disturbing, but I feel it gives a good purpose to the butterflies. She says that the butterflies she has taken from science that was just going to discard of them. This beautiful creature is given a second chance to show its beauty in these pieces she has created. The colors are interesting and the patterns are unmistakably beautiful.