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Considering Robert Ryman, his work as a reductive painter is associated with minimalism and abstraction which are artistic practices and ideas current in the late 1960s. Being an associate of minimalism, Robert Ryman engages in reductive painting involving visual arts and stripping his work to most fundamental characteristics or elements. The painter has also done a lot of work relating to abstraction (abstract art), by means of application of visual language involving line, color and form to come up with compositions that exists independently from the visual point of view. Ryman has engaged in a variety of art works including lithographic and aquatint paintings (Fineberg 195). He has also painted on linen, corrugated paper, feather boards and fiber plates just to name a few. For instance, he used a paper known as classico in 1960s to create a series of classico compositions which consisted of multi panel paintings. He configured each and every work in the series by attaching a creamy and heavy white paper sheets (by means of masking tape) on walls. After attaching, he went ahead to paint the art works with acrylic white paint after which he removed the masking tape (after the sheets were dry). This was followed by mounting of the sheets on foam core and final reattachment back to the wall so that an art work is created. The actual results of the work are that the paint builds up along the edge by tracing the masking tape’s outline and at the same time the witness given by the left behind ripped paper. Although the same procedure was used by the painter on all works in the series, the variation was brought in by shape, organization of the sheets of paper, used as well as the arrangement of the involved tape traces. In the works, pigment forms a thin membrane that appear over the material used as support and this happens because of varying opacity as well as translucency of the white paint used sparingly in certain areas of the work compared to other leaving certain fabric areas exposed (juxtaposing). This is actually a clear demonstration of the use of ideas of minimalism and abstraction art in painting (Levin 4).
Considering Marden Brice, his work as a painter mainly involves minimalism as the artistic idea or practice current in the late 1960s. In embracing the spirit of fundamental elements in his work, Brice only considers fascinating sites and other relevant experiences and puts them into the painting part of his work. In early 1970s, Brice came up with formal strategies to characterize his painting works in subsequent decades among them being rectangular formats and continuous use of individualized palettes. He focused on creating representations that are a bit subjective and emotional through the use of canvases and diptychs. It is the work of Jasper Johns that has a great impact on Brice in terms of inspiration and motivation. After studying Jasper’s work for a while, Brice went ahead to apply artistic ideas of minimalism by making drawings out of compressed charcoal and graphite and subjecting them to exhibitions (Harrison & Wood 294). This graphic works have constituted a bigger portion of his art paintings and even today, Brice still applies these ideas from the early work to his recent paintings (Sandler 206). In demonstration of minimalism, Brice gives attention to perfect planes’ connection, void spaces and special consideration of elegant lighting in various three dimensional shapes of art design. When using canvas, the front surface structures are not entirely subjective but rather conditioned by the support’s physical construction. This is actually his reductive panting work that demonstrates minimalism through highly subjective and energy filled paintings that are emotionally charged with precedent of abstract art expression of color and gestures. For example, when he and his wife went to visit Hydra Island in Greece, the general landscape and the light has been a great inspiration in his work. For instance, after visiting the site, he created a five grove group of paintings known as Souvenir de Grece by means of stained glass windows where he expressed the use of color and lighting (Stiles 232).
Agnes Martin is another reductive painter whose work relates to ideas and practices that were current in late 1960s. Her work mostly involves minimalism and that is why she was in many cases referred to as a minimalist in her career. In her work, she used to put emphasis on the use fields of subtle color, grids as well as art lines in the painted art works (Hess 211). Her art works as a minimalist was quite unique compared to other minimalists simply because she kept her paintings different in spirit and at the same time retained unmistakable traces and flaws of the hand of an artist. It is this expression of spiritualism in most of her work that made her to be referred to as an abstract expressionist. Another unique thing with the painter is that she avoided most of the social and public events that could make her known or famous in the eyes of the public. Initially, the painter only considered brown, black and white as her main working colors in producing art works (Harrison & Wood 297). However, after moving to Mexico, she started using light pastel washes in her works especially in making grids (this are colors that actually shimmers as light changes). In practice of minimalist, she later narrowed down her painting work by making a reduction of her square canvas and shifting her work to start using band of ethereal color. Martin’s work was mostly as a result of influence by nature but she was not into making a replicate of nature. She only focused on making the customers, viewers and exhibition audience to have a feeling of her work which is almost similar to the feeling they get while in front of nature. Specifically, Martin Agnes was recognized for her alluding work which incorporated rivers, leaves/flowers as well as other features of nature and landscape which expresses the most inner state of existence of nature (Fineberg 198).
Looking at the work of another reductive painter known as Robert Mangold, his paintings and other art works are a clear demonstration of practice of minimalism. Most of his work comprise of elements which are simple but assembled by complex methods and procedures. The typical connotations indicating what exactly should comprise a painted work faces challenges following the works of Mangold which happens to portray an appearance of an object as opposed to the expected image appearance. His paintings have attracted a lot of attention from other painters following their restrained and quiet condition on the design surface. His work as a painter was as a result of exposure to the works of other abstract expressionists. For example, he came up with an art paint called wall and areas which thrived all the way to an exhibition where he earned lots of recognition as an abstract expressionist (Sandler 207). In this work, there was uneven painting where by some parts were painted thinly to express the effects of light while others were painted thickly as assign of approximation of the wall’s sections. In the later 1960s, he started using acrylic paints as opposed to earlier oil paints and subsequently applied techniques of rolling the works of arts rather than spraying the paints on plywood grounds and support designs. He finally started producing his art works on canvas away from other support materials which are industrially oriented (Stiles 236).
Some of the goals and methods of feminist art in 1960s and 190s were as follows: There first goal was to be able to create art works that are a true reflection of the lives of women as well as their experiences. Another goal of feminist art was to alter the foundation, production as well as the reception of various contemporary works of art in order to bring visibility in the lives of women in the context of history of art as well as practicing of arts. These goals were based on three major categories or classes:
Feminist art was meant to expose women to self knowledge so that they can be able to apply self skills like any other human beings to earn a self living without necessarily being dependent. Another category was social analysis where by feminist art was meant to enhance social interaction and exchange of ideas between women so that they can become enlightened members of the society. Since women were politically sidelined, art feminist movement was also geared toward attainment of political voice or democracy among women.
There are a number of methods that were employed by art feminists in their work ad research. They used various strategies such as collaboration and female technologies such as performance, costumes as well as videos. Body art was one of the most practiced art work in the movement of feminists. They portrayed human body including their own bodies in radical and proactive work to enforce women’s beauty, sexuality and the social place/power in the society. Body was the central idea to performance of feminists and involved women artists positioning themselves as sculptures and using their bodies as canvas in art work. For example, Orlan (1970s feminist) underwent a cosmetic surgery in order to involve herself in expression of her body as an art. In this case, the artist uses her body as an art (carnal art) and not to make art. Other methods that were used by feminists, although rarely, include endurance, rituals and happenings (Harrison & Wood 298).
Feminist practices relate to post-minimal art strategies such as the use of non-traditional materials, methods, engagement with the body and process as follows:
Feminists based their ideas on the issues concerning form, gender as well as identity. The non-traditional materials used in their work include videos and other forms of art expressions that are significant in the postmodern world as opposed to the traditional methods (Haskell 23). With introduction of feminist art, there arose a great connection between art and the society where by art was considered as part of the general society. After the wake of minimalism in late 1960s, the art of post-minimalism emerged where by most of the ideas that were in use in the minimalism error were highly opposed or overturned by the post minimalists. Feminists also happen to be among these post-minimalists. “They used tendencies like body arts, Performance, Process art, Site-Specific art, and aspects of Conceptual art” (Broude 254).In terms of body arts, feminist represented women’s bodies as well as their experiences as part of their aesthetics. They also affirmed the authenticity of their experiences and the sexual beauty, spiritual power and body orientation as forms of artistic idealizations. Instead of applying industrial materials such as fabrication in their work as advocated by minimalism, feminists decided to use other strategies such as camera portrayal to clearly show various body arts in emulation of live sculptures. They also went ahead to launch a rejection of the mood and rhetoric of the movement which was termed as cold and authoritarian. Instead they responded with sculptures which exhibited lots of expressive qualities inclusive of the private aspects of the body and sexuality. Their engagement with the body was quite elaborate and more emphasis was put on expression of valuable body aspects in the sculptures, with intentions of attracting attention in exhibitions and presentations. This is how feminist artistic work relates highly to ideas of post minimalism (Fineberg 196).
There were various feminist approaches and responses to painting:
One of the approaches to painting was through analysis of form. Feminist creating art works employed lines, color, shape and texture as part of the main composition of their works of art. This approach examined the way they applied two dimensional planes of pictures or three dimension sculptural spaces to come up with the art works. They also used representational styles as a form of expression not to directly imitate nature but to come up with an impression of nature (Levin 6).
Another approach used by feminist in response to painting was expression of the real feeling, aspirations as well as longings. They used body art to search for design elements such as beauty, sexuality and body form and all these were used to create works of representational nature as well as expressionism (Lindey 171).
Another approach to paining as employed by feminist was the use of a live human body as an art form. Instead of using fabrics, canvas and other material to make painted art works, feminist decided to use live human bodies to paint and represent them in performances and exhibitions. For example, they used to undergo cosmetic surgery so that their bodies can be easily be painted and represented as part of the artworks (Haskell 42). This was a unique response or approach to painting that was not applied before formation of feminist movement.
The use of recognizable imagery in new image painting implies artists who use recognizable images to come up with new images but in painted form. This is quite similar to the artistic feature of photorealism where cameras were used to get an image of an object and then the artist uses the photograph to draw and paint an image looking similar to the image on the photograph. Some of the similarities between the use of imagery in new image painting and photorealism are as follows:
First, a camera is used as device to capture and record the subject matter and the reality. After getting the images and the real scenery, the artist then get down to work by application of either scientific or technical means to come up with a painted image looking similar to that captured by the camera in the film (Hess 221). The purpose of this artistic style was to expose observers to painted images that will make them react to the pure truth that is represented in the image throughout the whole systematic process. In this aspect, the intervention that exists between the real object and the painted art work serves as a neutralization of the picture’s original subject. For instance, an artist by name Estes specialized in taking photos of landscapes and using them as imagery in creation of new painted images similar to the ones of the landscape (Haskell 67). The artist later diversified his subjected to include landscapes of seas and other imageries used in image printing. As described by some art historians, the use of photorealism in new image painting was not something new since painters had already started coming up with representational paintings from clipping released by press and other imagery sources before turning up of photo-realists. Another specific example of an artist that applied photorealism in the use of imagery in creating new image paints was known as Goings. He created representation painted images through the use of ink, pastels and pens from recorded images (Stiles 237).
Photorealism was actually an advancement of pop art. In pop art, artist used to make use of visual products and commodities such as food products, mass media clippings, advertisements and comic to tome up with painted images or art works that representational of these items. The principles applied in the use imagery in new image painting are actually similar to pop art. There is removal of the target subject or material from its original context and contemplated with other objects by an artist to produce a new image that resembles the actual object. This was actually the strategy that was applied by new image painters before emergence of photorealism and conceptual realism (Lindey 146). Both pop art and the use of imagery in new image paining are similar in a way that they employ images of popular nature rather than elitist images of art culture. Both methods also use mechanical and reproduction means of creating the image by rendering various artistic techniques to make the new image look like a true representative of the observed products or objects. Just like pop art, the use of imagery in new image printing makes use of imageries already in use as advertisements or media clippings to create painted art works that give viewers and observers the same feeling as if they are viewing the real advertisement. Other subject maters that have been common among the two artistic styles include the use of logos and labeling of various consumer products to come up representative images; the sue of labeling of the shipping cartons to come up with new representative images in form of painted artworks just to name a few (Levin 7). One specific example is where Andy Warhol used the labeling on the tomato juice package to come up with a representative painted work art that was referred to as tomato juice sculpture.
However, the use of recognizable imagery in new image painting is different for perceptual realism. This is due to the fact that perceptual realism relies on perceptions rather than real images to create painted works. A recognizable imagery art work is a piece of art work that was painted with reference to a real picture or label of a product. Painted art works created from perceptual realism are as a result of an imaginary situation thought by an artist to be real (Haskell 96). For observers and audience, when subjected to the painted art work, they can not relate it exactly to real life situation except for the artist himself/ herself. For example, perceptual realism takes time to imagine of a real life situation and gets the perception without physically witnessing the situation. They then sit down and create a painted art work that is a representative of the perceived situation and images such as people fighting or sitting arranges in an imagined prayer gathering. This is quite different from the use of recognizable imagery in new image painting where by cartoon images seen on advertisements and consumer products are turned into painted art works as true representations.
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