Jan 16, 2009

Five Works of Art that Define: RestrictionsApply

Ok, the last time I had an assignment this challenging was when I was asked to come up with a headline for a company Christmas card, on the spot, in the presence of six Senior VPs.

I won’t go so far as to say that these works define me, but I’d like to think that each choice speaks volumes about my character. Aside from the two exceptions you’ll see below, I made it a point to not include works from the 20th century or anything commercial; it would’ve been too easy.

Ok, so here I go…

“Nike, or Winged Victory of Samothrace” –
My love for art was sparked by this statue. I was a child (maybe 10 or 11), and my dad, a frustrated painter, showed me this from one of his many Art History books. The fact that it has no head freaked me out in a curiosity-killed-the-cat way, but what caught my attention was that this was made of stone, yet the cloth looked so real. How was this possible? How can you take marble and make it look like (and visually feel) like a drape? How crazy! And to think this was created thousands of years ago. According to Wikipedia, the statue was eight feet tall and was created by a Rhodian sculptor sometime around 200 BC. The Nike statue was discovered on the Aegean island of Samothrace in 1863.

“Tan Tan Bo Puking” by Takashi Murakami –
People, this is the future of modern art. This Japanese dude takes Warhol one step further and challenges the snobby art world with the eternal What is Art? vs. What is Commerical? quagmire. Plus, he’s one of the few dudes who dares to use digital means to create “real” art that cost a shitload of money. His style is so 25th century. In case you’re wondering, he did the cover for Kanye West’s third album, “Graduation”. According to Wikipedia, Murakami is a prolific contemporary Japanese artist who blurs the boundaries between high and low art. He appropriates popular themes from mass media and pop culture, then turns them into thirty-foot sculptures, "Superflat" paintings, or marketable commercial goods such as figurines or phone caddies.

“Saturn Devouring His Son (1819)” by Francisco de Goya
Isn’t this freaky? I bet you can’t look away. I came across this work in college during a film history class, of all places. It was once owned by Orson Welles (my hero and inspiration) and it immediately clicked with me. I see this work and I feel pain, terror, in danger. It takes me to another world where I am not safe. According to Wikipedia, the work depicts the Greek myth of Cronus, who, fearing that his children would supplant him, ate each one upon their birth.

“Pieta” by Michelangelo
For better or worse, religion has always been a big part of art. Case in point; this marvelous sculpture by one of the Italian masters. Of course, nothing compares to seeing it in person, which I did once upon a time. This is the one and only work of art that has brought tears to my eyes, I kid you not. You can actually feel the pain and heartache in Mary’s eyes, the suffering of Jesus (actually, he’s dead at this point), the inevitable doom. This work causes a true sense of saudade, a Brazilian term for lament, longing, the joy of heartache. According to Wikipedia, The Pietà (1499) is a masterpiece in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. It is an important work as it balances the Renaissance ideals of classical beauty with naturalism. The statue is one of the most highly finished works by Michelangelo.

Nefertiti (c. 1370 BC - c. 1330 BC) –
Ancient Egypt is full of mystery. Even Dr. Indy Jones got his action on there. And nothing says Ancient Egypt like this bust of Nefertiti, the Great Royal Wife of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten. You look at this, and it looks at you right back, challenging you.


stewbie2 said...

The Satan eating his children is fantastic. I've seen it before, and it always holds my attention. I'm also a great fan of Greek mythology. Cronus, indeed, did eat all of his children--for fear that one would overrule him. The only one that got through was Zeus. His mother so feared that Cronus would eat him, too, that she gave him a rock, and he ate that. Later, Zeus overruled him... And that, my friend, is your mythology lesson for today! :)

Anonymous said...

Okay this looks like fun. I am going to join in on this and do a post.

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