Monday, October 15, 2012

Jacobs Gallery Retrospective Redux

Students in ART 414 have been learning about modern art and are using works from artists associated with the Jacobs Gallery to make connections between art of the modern and contemporary eras. This assignment was planned and enacted in conjunction with the 10th Anniversary Celebration which kicks off this Friday, October 19th in the Dr. Donald L. and Dorothy Jacobs Gallery in the LRC. Please come join us as we mark this milestone in the gallery.

In the classroom over the past week, each student made a presentation about an artist represented in the collection, choosing to emphasize the visual, formal, contextual, or other parallels that may be drawn between artists from different decades, cultural contexts, and frameworks.

All of the presentations were vetted by their peers. The students selected two papers to post online. Actually, they were to choose a single paper/presentation, but the vote ended in a tie. Thus, both student works are excerpted here. You'll hear Senior digital art major Daniel Cantu II responding to the work of Matt Carone and Junior Art History major Lynsey Jordan responding to Dan Ludwig's works. Let us know what you think!

Senior digital art major Daniel Cantu made connections between Matt Carone's Smokers and Pablo Picasso's Les Demoiselles d’Avignon writing that: "Just as large, Picasso’s painting looks similar to Carone’s modern painting, which could easily pass as a homage to Picasso’s work. Whether or not Carone purposely looked back at Picasso’s cubist painting, the similarities are strikingly noticeable. Both paintings include five figures who happen to be nude. But the style in which they are painted–cubist or surreal–depict the figures as nude, without showing nudity. This method creates abstract people who are not naked, but exist as they are."
Cantu continues, "Both artists aimed to portray these figures in their own way, and their subtle way of representing them in their abstract form helps them depict various moods without identifying a class of people. The abstract faces and bodies of Picasso’s figures do not indicate if they are beautiful or not, they are simply women. Carone’s abstract figures are also able to classify the smokers as they are without assigning them to a class or culture."

Cantu also made connections between the nude figures in these pieces and the wooden models used in art classes, particularly drawing. He pointed us to this work: “Wordbones,” The Sisyphus Syndrome, wooden figurine on stairs, 2010.
Junior art history major Lynsey Jordan made connections between Daniel Ludwig and several other artists. She wrote, "I found it very difficult to pin down an artist to compare Daniel Ludwig to because he is so diverse in style. From the 1980s to now, he has had a major focus on the human form, usually female, but in his most recent works, he focuses on the male and female. These recent works are very abstract, but use very realistic human forms with jarring colors and shifting shapes to make the overall effect a very strange and unsettling one. These human forms, again, have the style of the “old masters” such as Delacroix or Titian and have a great passion and drama to them."
Eugène Delacroix, Death of Sardanapalus, 1827, Musée du Louvre. Image source:
 Jordan continues, "When comparing a modern artist to Ludwig’s 1990s works, the most accurate comparison I could find was the Post-Impressionist Paul Cézanne. In order to pinpoint the similarities and differences between the two, I used Ludwig’s Another Season II and Cézanne’s Bathers, 1874-1875. In terms of biography, however, Ludwig achieved both his Bachelors and Masters in Fine Arts and taught at a university for 16 years. Cézanne only took drawing classes. Cézanne also had few artworks exhibited, and Ludwig has had many exhibited already. In terms of painting, Cézanne’s Bathers have the visible brushstrokes and bright palette and the experimentation of color. The eye takes in the different greens of the trees and grass and forms them into one, and the lighter tones emphasize the light’s reflection. The colors are very much simplified. The women are also made with these differing brushstrokes of color, but are abstracted and not quite realistic. Here, you wonder what story or moment you have stepped into."  

Daniel Ludwig, Another Season II, 1990s. Image source:
Paul Cézanne, Bathers, Oil on canvas, 1874-5, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image source:
Jordan concludes, "In Ludwig’s Another Season II, the brushstrokes are less visible, but still separate, yet much better blended together. The white and light colored brushstrokes emphasize the natural light reflecting off the girl, the river, the trees, and the rocks. Ludwig’s color palette is also quite bright. The girl’s nude form is formed by brushstrokes, but is much more solid and much less abstracted. She is also more realistic. Here, you also wonder what the story could be: why is she naked? Is she a bather, like in Cézanne’s work? Both works do have a sense of movement, Cézanne’s being more harsh because of the very obvious vertical and horizontal strokes. Though Ludwig’s works have a more realistic feeling to them, it seems like there are some present parallels between the two artists."

Join us this Friday evening when the Jacobs family will be here, along with several friends of the galleries. We hope to see you there!

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