While I did not go with the class for the LACMA trip as part of our CSP, I did manage to get a look at a lot of the artworks on display during LACMA College Night. This was fairly after we had learned about Impressionism in class, and because I personally also enjoy Degas’ art, this painting captured my attention. Although the painting was not the most obvious work of art in that gallery, I was actually really happy to see a familiar painting. I remember looking very closely at the rough strokes and the graininess of the drawing, and remembered what we discussed in class about Impressionism and the attempts it had at capturing the essence of the scene rather than the physical details. The obvious sketchiness of the drawing and the candid postures of the dancers really encaptured that for me and I was glad to be able to appreciate this rather small drawing better after learning about it through our readings. I could really see more clearly how that took effect by seeing it in person. Seeing the same drawing through the computer definitely creates a different impression because the different strokes are not clearly visible through the screen. Although I do not have a photo of the painting from the museum (we weren’t allowed to take photos in that part of the gallery), the colours, especially the blue in the dancers’ dresses, were much more bright when seen in person. The perspective in this drawing was a lot similar to that of the Degas paintings we had looked at in class such as how the viewers were looking from a rather candid point of view. While I did not have much time to carefully look around the entire museum, this drawing was one of the artworks I remembered the most that night because it related to something I had actually learned about and could now appreciate better.
Schoenberg’s music reminded me a lot about the practice of free writing/drawing and works such as Ulysses and Finnegan’s Wake, both by James Joyce. Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire (1912) has strong atonality through out, making it often hard for listeners to appreciate or understand the composer’s intentions in creating the music work. The strange tonality of the composition removes any apparent structure and orientation, rejecting harmonic rules emphasizing the free use of dissonance. This formless impression resembles the impression of Joyce’s work, where the sentences and words do not necessarily make sense as a whole. Reading Albert Giraud’s original text of Pierrot Lunaire, the impression it creates compared to the musical ‘translation’ is vastly different. Giraud’s Moonfleck and Serenade suggest rather comical and light tones, whereas the dissonance that is prevalent in Schoenberg’s version is much more heavy and dark, even ‘perilous’. While it does appear to be rather disconnected from the original textual form, I would consider his work to be expressionist, because art is subjective and Schoenberg’s own expression of emotion through his version of the two poems. His use of atonality acts as the freedom which he uses explores the deeper aspects of emotions and to break boundaries of what music should sound like and how it should be portrayed.
Upon reading Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons, the poem that seemed to make at least a little sense to me was A Sound. Gertrude Stein’s poetry really seems to embody the method of automatic writing, seeing how a lot of the experimental words that she uses does not really have any direct link to the subject of her literature. This made it hard to focus on some of her poems seeing how I felt often there was not much I could hold onto or absorb. However I felt that the words and they way they sounded in A Sound made more sense to me. There is only a single line; “Elephant beaten with candy and little pops and chews all bolts and reckless reckless rats, this is this”, which is from page 15 of the handout. I could sense the “Sound”, through her choice of words, where the pronunciation of words created a subtly cacophonous effect. Hence I felt that the poem made more sense under these terms rather than directly through the meaning of the sentence and I liked how you don’t really need to have extensive literary knowledge to get a gist of the poem.
Personally, the Dada Movement really gained my attention. Their attempts to degrade the “meaning” of art and what society would pass as art, through creating more art, seems rather contradictory. Especially if their whole point was to emphasis that art in itself had no meaning; “every pictorial or plastic work is unnecessary”. The Dada manifesto was defined as one of the earliest “anti-art” movements, because of their rejections of what society defined as beauty, and what the traditional meaning of “art” seemed to be. Art was focused on the aesthetic, the techniques and the meanings that were behind a certain work of art but the Dada artists defied many of these traits. Marcel Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel is a readymade with a bicycle wheel mounted upside down on a stool, and this piece of “art” is an example of why the Dada Movement was considered anti-art. The items were found in everyday life, simply put together without great alteration. This piece, like the Dada Movement promotes, means absolutely nothing. Ready-mades were easily put together, and hence easily discarded of or thrown away. This can be seen in how these “art pieces” were actually recreated for viewers. This act in itself shows how the art piece in itself was not worth a high value, working along the lines of the Dada Movement aims. However the fact that they were recreated shows their value as a symbol of “art”, even though it seems like a contradiction to what the manifesto argues for. This provoked thought into the idea of whether the Dada Movement was intending to draw response in order not to prove that a response should not always be drawn.
The Ballad of Reading Gaol was what had caught my eye at the Special Collections. The fact that Oscar Wilde had not used his real name in publishing his work felt fitting to his situation, and I felt that the book in its entirety was a physical reminder of his time spent in exile. The Ballad of Reading Gaol was first published in 1898 after Wilde’s release from prison in 1897. The book is small and light, with a very simple, neutral coloured cover. Notably the author is stated to be “C.3.3”, and only when the 7th edition was published was it known that “C.3.3” was in fact Oscar Wilde. The inside of the book remains rather simple without images or a specific design. Despite the bland exterior of the book, the content and its context paints an in-depth picture of the meager and depressing penal system through the poetic illustration of the execution of a fellow inmate. The exterior of the book accompanies the dark themes within the book and the structure of the content (one single, long poem) also created the impression of what prison would seem like; long and inexorable. While Oscar Wilde’s poetry is in itself known as a significant work of art, I felt that seeing this book in its fragile and unnoticeable state ironically gave it poetic life.
The seemingly unfinished aspect of this art piece first attracted my attention. I found that this art piece was relatively different from what I would normally think of when I thought of Picasso’s work. This oil on canvas painting shows two very different aspects. One is the boy, the main subject of the image, who is depicted in color and detail and the other side of the painting is the sketched and unpainted part. This creates the impression that this is an unfinished piece of work. I liked this piece due to this deliberate presence of emptiness surrounding the boy, who was actually Picasso’s first child. My focus then went to the simplistic depiction of the child’s face and expression, creating the impression of affection that Picasso felt for his son. This art piece was produced during the time of Picasso’s turn to classicism and surrealism. This is very different from his period of analytical and synthetic cubism, as the subject in this piece is clearly depicted more naturalistically compared to pieces such as Les Demoiselles d’ Avignon 1907. While this piece is rather different from impressionist paintings considering techniques and methods of expression such as having more detail in the hair and ruffles on the costume, I felt that there could possibly be similarities with impressionist intentions where the deliberate blankness of the chair, the child’s feet and background could have been to emphasize more on the subjective rather than the objective.
In Edgar Degas’s 1879 illustration, his impressionistic methods capture the essence of movement on the stage. His brush strokes are noticeably rough, especially in the background and the dancers’ dresses. The rough brush strokes, while it may make the painting seem less detailed and lazy, depicts the movement of the dancers better. It also gives the dancers and the stage greater flexibility and the viewers are able to take in the idea of movement more naturally. The painting overall, does not create an immediate impression with its use of color. The color palette for Stage Rehearsal is rather neutral and dull. The dancers may catch the viewer’s eye, as their white dresses seem to illuminate the space around them. The color gradient moves from up stage to down stage, from dark to light, adding more depth to the overall image. With regards to the composition of the painting, the scene of dancers is captured from an angle rather than the center. The dancers are scattered around the painting and there is no single apparent subject because there is no exact center. This lack of a clear frontal view is apparent when compared to other impressionist paintings. This allows for the view of the others dancers who are waiting on the edge of the stage (left of painting), capturing the essence of a real ‘rehearsal’. Overall, Degas’s use of rather muted and neutral colors, rough brush strokes and angled perspective shows the realness of a stage rehearsal, which can be seen in the tired faces of the dancers.