Saturday, April 9, 2011

Modern Art and College Visits

Hello, everyone! I feel as though it is time for me to contribute something new to the blog. I know this post's topic is a little after the fact, but I still think that it is worth the time. When I was touring Princeton, I came across the sculpture pictured above. Around five seconds after first glancing at it, I did what must have been a rather hilarious double-take. With excited curiosity, I approached the work and confirmed my suspicion: that this was a member of David Smith's Cubi series. The sculpture above is none other than Cubi XIII.

The experience definitely made me appreciate Mrs. Quinet's attempts to improve our cultural literacy. However, I think that the event is interesting for still another reason: how was I able to recognize Smith's work without ever seeing it before? How does an artist manage to find a distinguishable style amidst the proliferation of Minimalist and Abstract Expressionist art? Smith's sculpting material (steel), use of geometric shapes, and configuration of disparate elements is simultaneously commonplace and characteristic of his art specifically. I suppose this dichotomy points to the modern artist's ability to appeal to subtle and subconscious psychological processes for pattern recognition and analysis. In other words, the artist toys with our presuppositions and takes full advantage of our ability to think symbolically. What do you all think?


chrissy said...

I, too, felt quite informed while visiting colleges this weekend thanks to Mrs. Quinet's cultural literacy. As I toured Tufts, I saw flyers for an upcoming celebration of Holi, the Hindu festival of colors. The festival includes throwing colored powders and water on people, something the Tufts students I'm sure will enjoy.

Katherine said...

I love using what we learn especially from the art history part of our class. Olivia and I were very well informed about all of the types of art we discussed in art class a few weeks ago, and Mrs. Thomas was very impressed hah. Not only could we identify the pieces but also critique them and explain various aspects of them. I think that David Smith's work is especially distinctive and the characteristics of his work make it recognizable for us.

Steven said...

That's a really good point, Katherine. Any sort of artist--including playwrights, poets, novelists, visual artists, etc.--prides themselves upon a distinguising style. I'm not actually sure, but I believe that last year in AP English III, Mrs. Klebba made you read an excerpt of a literary piece you had not previously seen and identify its author based on the style. It seems clearer to me how that is an instructive exercise. I think Collin has mentioned this before in class, but he actually has a Roy Lichenstein print in his room. If you saw it, you'd recognize the style based off of the one comic-strip-like piece we saw in class.