The LACMA experience was unexpectedly amazing. After almost two months of classes, I know how to apply the abstract ideas and descriptions we learned in class to the actual appreciation. I never had so much fun in any art museum before and never had I paid such attention to each artist’s brush stroke. LACMA did well on making people to experience and interact with art without having a solid background in art history.
One of the art piece that I was especially intrigued by is White Center, created by Mark Rothko in 1957. It is partially related to Expressionism that we talked about on class, however not exactly the same. This painting is under the category of Abstract Expressionism. The two “isms” shared some common ideologies, for instance both Expressionists and Abstract Expressionists believed that art could express the truth of the human condition.(Phillips p34) However, Abstract Expressionism is less objective and figurative. White Center only has two colors on the canvas, and the color pattern is similar to the stop sign which metaphorically made me stop in front of it. From my perspective, the two shades of red imply the chaos and disorder in the outside world that surrounds us everyday, whereas the center’s whiteness imply the calmness inside the painter’s mind.
The redness gets more intense in the center which seems to me that is pressuring the whiteness in the middle. Mark Rothko blurred the edges of each shade of red to make it looks less aggressive. This painting perfectly conveys the original feeling and mood of Mark Rothko as if the viewers could read his mind through only two colors.
This painting also related to my experience in Breathing Lights, which is a huge surprise of this trip. Both of them can help me meditate and think more deeply about what art is in real life.
Compared to Arnold Schoenberg’s expressive music, Debussy’s Clair de lune can be regarded as a complete opposition to Expressionism. While Schoenberg’s music revealed the naked and deep feeling of human with the least decorative and the most direct way, Debussy’s Clair de lune blurred all the feelings brought by the nature and mixed them together into a smooth and pleasing dream. After reading the texts of Pierrot Lunaire by GiraudIn, I failed to find any connection to Schoenberg’s Serenade; however, the content does help me understand the bizarre atonality better. If other people ask me about the first impression of Schoenberg or a brief introduction to him, I completely consider him as an expressionist. For some of the Expressionist paintings, the aesthetic effort is to “give a deepened expression and intensification of the essence, instead of hasty impression”(Albright, 74), with the same ultimate purpose, Schoenberg made all the mixed and anxious feelings audible in his creations, which are especially expressed with the absence of tonic and large amount of dissonance. The idea of atonality is to reveal the deepest feelings without any constraint rules bound. Their absences of conscious mental control and against mainstream’s taste in music are what truly drive the followers.
A Handkerchief by Gertrude Stein especially attracts my attention. This series of her poems all have very solid and objective titles; however, through Stein’s short few lines, she made the image of that specific object abstracted. I find it really strange and hard to interpret the first time I read it, but the mystery behind her simple words draw me to go back to it again and even to read it out loud. “A winning of all the short blessings” seemingly is to describe a handkerchief that any blessing can be enveloped. Readers don’t need special knowledge to read or interpret her poems. Because the poem itself is a creation of steam of consciousness; I think readers are expected to capture the feeling of words, not the literal meaning behind the content. Additionally, the objects she described can be seen or heard everyday. However, she provided entirely new perspectives to observe these objects that are sometimes neglected by people.
First of all, I just want to address my overall first impression of my chosen work, the 1918 Manifesto and Kurt Schwitter’s “Usonate”. Personally, I feel really uncomfortable when accepting or even just knowing Dadaism, because I like the things that has at least some organization; however, in Dadaist world, everything can be regarded as Dadaism, but at the same time nothing is really the Dadaism. It’s such a world of chaos. Even writing this blog makes me wonder why can’t I just choose 200-300 random words, read them in front of others and tell them that this is my Dadaist blog. However, when I truly start to interpret the Dadaist art, I seemingly begin to understand its value. Indestructible Object, as later retitled, is a simple metronome with a drawing of eye in the middle. Such random and arbitrary composition leaves the viewers plenty of space to think and interpret in their own ways, which largely expand the creator’s intention and make art boundless. When I first saw the Indestructible Object, it reminded me of Eye of Horus in ancient Egypt, which later appeared in the background of a pyramid. The shapes of these two objects are very alike: both have an eye in front of a triangular object. Because it’s a piece of Dadaist art, any interpretation is acceptable and won’t be more ridiculous than the art itself. Indestructible Object to me perfectly matches the ideas in Dada Manifesto in which it mentioned Dadaism is self-contradictory. Man Ray changed the title of his artwork from Object to be Destroyed to Indestructible Object, which explains the seemingly existed rule in Dadaism.
The editor of the yearbook not only selected the pieces of article and photos that represent college life overall, but also fitted these information into special and simple layout that informs the readers the style and unique characteristic of Occidental College. It’s not hard to see the editor’s intention to artistically designing the first letters of every piece of article to add more creative elements into the yearbook. The yearbook silently introduces the readers all the members in fraternities and sororities, sports team, hall presidents, student organizations and so on. The thickness of each page implies its delicacy and the editor’s wish that readers will respect the information presented. As I was carefully turning the pages, because of the paper’s thickness, I could feel the editor’s wish to let readers have a whole appreciation of this yearbook, not only the words and photos on the paper, but also the paper itself.
Being able to interact with the work directly, I feel more attracted to the content more willing to learn more about the background of it. And thinking that other occidental alumni throughout the history may have also read the yearbook as as I do today , I feel more connected to this school.
Upon my first glance at Violin and Guitar, one of the of artworks Pablo Picasso created during his Cubism period, I was amazed by how Picasso disassembles the violin into small parts and put them in such dimensional way on canvas that allow the viewers to reassemble these parts into a complete instrument while interpreting this artwork in their minds. This piece was painted during Picasso’s late period of analytical Cubism, during which I think he “subjective” the object and maximized the information while he painted. After I took a more careful look at this artwork and noticed more details, I realized he somehow combined the two string instruments together on the painting because of their certain similarities, but depicted detailed difference as well. For instance, from Picasso’s perspective, these two pieces of instrument shared the same “body”, but have different top parts: the violin has a leaned top part while the guitar has a vertical. The sound holes that only violins have also illustrate the difference. After a closer look, I realized it is the seemingly dimensional shapes in the middle of the painting that create a sense of dimension for the first impression.
Analytical Cubists works compared to impressionist works have more lines and apply more dark colors. In contrast to Monet’s artworks, Picasso’s paintings used less bright colors and have more clear and even maximized characteristics of an object. Additionally, Cubism artworks are more involved with geometry and mathematics.
Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lilies is a very early piece of painting by Claude Monet. Monet had drawn a lot of water lilies throughout his entire life. Compare to his late painting of water lilies, this piece shows more content and makes people hard to catch the main character in the painting at the first glimpse. The bridge cuts the picture into two parts: the upper part is the background of this painting which consists of reeds, bushes, willows and trees, while the lower part focuses on the water lilies and the shadow of the bridge. Monet used heavy layers of dots to imply the endless greenness in the background and the blooms of water lilies in the pond.
Monet didn’t choose bright colors to present this painting; it even looks a bit messy and chaotic with the mixture of pink and green colors. The brush strokes presented here are also complicated with the horizontal drawings for water lilies while vertical for the greenness in the background. However, because there are only two main colors, the painting doesn’t give the viewers a strong and sharp image but instead leaves a peace and clam impression.
This painting perfectly matches my idea of impressionism that the artists don’t depict the landscape with exact and real details but the sensation produced by the objects. As the impressionists claim that when they draw a landscape they are drawing the air around it instead of the object itself. In this piece of painting, it’s not hard to see Monet’s effort into illustrating the sensation of the bridge and water lilies instead of elaborating a certain detail.