Sunday, 8 June 2014

Choosing one artist out of ten

For Stage Two I have to choose one of the ten artists. I've been finding this rather difficult. I was hoping and expecting that as I went through them there would be one who stayed with me, and the choice would be easy. But it is not - they all have something unique and powerful about them.

Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh - pretty surface patterns and reliefs, and I could certainly relate to the celtic imagery and attractive variety of materials.

Impressive that she influenced Klimt.

Reading about her work led me to drawing these in my sketchbook - a lady and the beginning of a design for a blind.

I want to see her work in person. However, I didn't feel it related to me very closely. And I wonder if I would end up studying how women artists have been ignored rather than her work.

My imagination going overtime on Bakst

Leon Bakst - I loved the creativity, the colours,  and the sensuality of his costumes and sketches. I could enjoy doing something with this.

I hadn't heard of him before, even though I trained at the Ballet Rambert school and we revered Diaghilev and Nijinski. I wanted to find out more about what came before so that I could judge what a difference he made. It was an exciting time of change in Europe.

He clearly had a huge influence on 20th century fashion and decor, and I would like to have more depth of knowledge about that.

Ethel Mairet - I don't know what to think about her.
I couldn't find many photos of her actual weaving on the internet, and the ones I saw were brown and appeared simple and not very beautiful or interesting to me. She was a pioneer of hand weaving and vegetable dye crafts, both of which I find interesting and wonderful, but perhaps not the extent that I want to do a lot of it myself. Studying her would give me more insight into crafts in this country.

Anni Albers - Bauhaus is one of those names that people speak with respect, and obviously continues to influence many designers and architects. The political influences on it would be good to go into more, and the work of Joseph Albers on colour. Again I ended up getting wound up in the feminist angle - she was excluded from fine art training because she was female. And where did appreciation for her work go?

Lucienne Day - I can see that she has influenced everything that came after her. But these prints leave me a bit cold. I could work on this, and on the Festival of Britain, but I don't think I could get into it very easily.

Magdalena Abakanowicz - This artist's work was the first on the list to really resonate with me. I can feel what she is expressing, and when I looked into the neo-expressionist movement she appears to be part of, the other names were often artists who I had admired already - Gerard Richter, Frank Auerbach. The tactile visceral nature of what she makes, and the repetitive references to humanity en masse appeals directly to my sensations.

Sketchbook work in my 'roots' theme book, using
sisal and burlap
I didn't do anything directly in my daily sketchbook while looking at her work, and thought that she had not really inspired me, until I realised that I had in fact created a whole new 'theme book' exploring the use of rough natural materials to express a strong feeling of belonging!

Zandra Rhodes - I did not find her prints or clothes very inspiring. Not sure why, because they are exciting, colourful, and original, and clearly very successful commercially. When I looked closer I could see that she pays great attention to detail, and that she appears to have a great deal of fun. Which isn't me at all! I like a bit more meaningfulness. And the detail stuff doesn't come naturally to me. I was not sure what movement she was part of, and then thought it must be about the sixties and the changes they brought. But then there were other people who were earlier in that change weren't there - Mary Quant?

Judy Chicago - This is a drawing I made BEFORE I researched her work. And another afterwards.

Feminist themes are part of what makes me me
This one came from exploring Fortuny and
Paul Poiret shapes, leading to a further elaboration of
an idea I have about our attitude to excess fat.
Sketchbook work after reading
about Judy Chicago
Bright artificial colour
and less attempt at realism

Judy Chicago's most famous work of art 'The Dinner Party', is a monument to the awesomeness of women through the ages. Not the 'contribution' or 'strengths' or whatever, but genuinely overwhelming with the sheer number of amazing woman in history who have changed our world.

While I was reading about her and her work, I was thinking that I could really enjoy exploring my angry woman side by choosing Judy Chicago. The politics of this movement and the protest movement are areas I would like to go into more deeply because they have formed me, but I never have. My fundamental theme of the masks we make to hide our inner selves has a lot to do with the bits of me that are surprising or not welcome because I am a woman.

I like the way bright tapestries make the work imposing and important. Like a poster but less ephemeral.

I'm not so sure about getting other people to do the craft of it. And the aesthetics of her work are much less what generally appeals to me. I prefer more texture and 3 dimensions. Her work looks very flat and unnatural.

Issay Miyake - All about innovative use of materials, 'one piece of cloth' exciting, interesting, not just pleats but all sorts of new things to do with one piece of cloth, and collaboration with industry, very much in the mode of Thomas Heatherington. Lots to discover. I loved the manipulating fabric section of the last OCA Textiles course I did, and wanted more time to do more. Perhaps I should. But the industrial and commercial aspects put me off a bit. But I don't have to go that way.

Tracey Emin - I have done some exploring before about Tracey Emin (not as part of the course), and her work appeals to me a lot because of the quality of realness about what she's expressing. And the wonderful looseness of her drawing.

Tracey Emin Exorcism of tte Last Painting I Ever Made (detail) 1996

Sketchbook work after reading about
Tracey Emin

She's in the papers at the moment because of Saatchi putting the unmade bed up for sale.

I was interested to read about how she locked herself in a studio for 24 hours with hundreds of canvasses to discover her personal painting style. Perhaps I should give that a go. I've been thinking a little about which course I would do after this. I had been thinking printing, because I have a lot to learn about that, but in fact, painting appeals more. Seems freer and more expressive to me. More direct on the paper.

Who I chose:
I wrote that title without actually having chosen yet!

What I'm thinking is that I want the surface shimmer of Mackintosh, the physicality and colours of Bakst, the texture and visceralness (viscerality?) of Abakanowicz, the feminism of Chicago and the freeness of line and honesty of Emin. OK?!

I'm saying I don't want to exclude some of them by choosing one. But I can go back to the others later if I want.

The inner me is giving me lots of feminist images this week, and awareness of how negative my personal feelings are about being a woman, so I'm going to choose Judy Chicago and associated politics for stage 2.

Sketchbook work inspired by Judy Chicago and Tracey Emin

No comments:

Post a Comment