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I recently visited MoMA where I was supposed to view various works of art on display. My assumption concerning this is that all the students have seen these works of art and have understood their artistic meanings. Moreover, I strongly urge students to critically examine these works of art, contemplate on their messages, and understand the ideas and concepts concerning the artist’s mind.
The first work of art I am going to handle is Stary Night by Vincent Van Gogh. He was one of the most talented Dutch artists during the early periods of industrial revolution in Europe. The painting has been part of permanent collection at the MoMA in New York since 1994. His wonderful painting as shown below shows the panoramic view of the sky during the starry night from his window at night. The painting however, as some of you are aware was done from memory in the morning. This beautifully made painting can be found at the fifth floor at Gallery 1 section.
He basically painted this picture so that he could send to his brother Theo, who was living in Paris at that time. Theo did not immediately send him feedback that he had received the work of art, so he inquired again and thus received his brother’s comment concerning his work. The year was September 1889 for those who are not aware of the time.
Let us now look at what Vincent wanted to communicate. As we look at the painting closely, it shows that the scenario was some kind of a village. This village was called Saint- Mary and it was situated some few miles from Alpilles. In the distance, we can see some hills forming a clearly defined horizon, with the swindling sky. The cypress tree almost close to the forefront was just but Vincent’s artificial addition to his artistic composition. My reflection on his painting is that he wanted to depict the prevailing peace in the night, the numerous stars that beautifully dot our sky when we are asleep, and the tranquility of the surrounding during the night.
Henry Rousseau was a French artist who did the impressive oil painting, The Sleeping Gypsy in 1897. The awesome depiction of lion closely musing closely at the tired, sleeping woman. The woman could had been very tired and decided to take a little nap, placing her guitar close to her and her water jar. The painting depicts a glorious moonlit night. This painting was first exhibited at Salons Des independants. At this exhibition, he tried to sell this painting to his mayor but was unsuccessful. Later the painting in 1924 was taken to a private collection exhibition room of a certain Parisian businessperson. The painting was later found by Louis Vauxcelles who was an art critic. The painting was later purchased by Daniel –Henry Kahnwiler in 1924. It later found its way to our MoMA the famous historian Alfred H. Barr acquired it.
His painting has served as a great inspiration for poets and musicians, though some artists have replaced the lion with a dog or some other animal.The painting comes with sharp colours, highly precise outlines and fantastic imagery.
Another wonderful work of art I managed to come across during my tour at MoMA was Pablo Picasso’s Less Demoiselles d’ Avignon. It is a very large oil painting and it was originally given the title The Brothel of Avignon. This painting was done in 1907. It portrays five naked prostitutes from Barcelona’s brothel. None of the figures show feminine characteristics if you take a closer look. This is because of artistic distortions made intentionally by the artist. The women have menacing looks and highly contorted body figures. Two of the women are shown wearing scary African masks and the rest exhibiting Iberian culture. This painting was controversial and revolutionary which lead to disagreement, anger, and cruelty from his close friends. Picasso did this painting in the summer of 1907. What influenced his painting was the Iberian culture and the Spanish art. It was also influenced by the African culture and the tribes of Oceonia as exhibited by the masks. Many critics of his work have perceived the painting as immoral.
The work of art Proun found also in the MoMa was done by the Russian artist called El Lissitzky.The word Proun simply means “project for the confirmation of the new” in Russian. His work reflects his profession as architecture before the First World War. His preconception of space is a clear visualization of the basic transformations in a society that arose because of the Russian Revolution.
Meret Oppenheim’s ‘Object’ exhibits a cup and a saucer and it was motivated by a conversation between him and Pablo Picasso. Oppenheim wanted to transform these neuter lifeless items into sexually appealing objects by covering them with fur from a gazelle. Oppenheim later faced many problems from the success of her project therefore, opted to escape from Surrealists. Her work was purely a surrealist sculpture. The sculpture itself was made in Paris from a cup, spoon, and saucer. An artist called Andre Breton once named it the ‘lunch in fur.’ However, the critics of his work saw it as sinister and repulsive. Other people have celebrated his achievement due to her ability to present a common household item as having sensual attractiveness.
Another wonderful work of art I found at the MoMA was Barnett Newman’s ‘Vir Heroicus Sublimis’ which he painted in 1950 through 1951. It was his largest painting ever during its time of completion. When you are at the museum, you are advised to move farther away from it so that you can see all of it at once. When translated he title of his work means,” Man, hero and sublime.” His painting is purely chromatic abstraction. The reason for him coming up with this large abstract painting was to stimulate the viewers’ reaction due to its huge scale.
At the MoMA, I got a chance to come across Andy Warhol‘s painting called Maryln Monroe. He made this painting during the year the film actress Maryln Monroe committed suicide. He used canvas and silkscreened Monroe’s face at the middle of the composition. His work was based on the 1953 movie still Niagara. He combined photography and painting, which made his painting more appealing and natural. In his painting, one can easily see Monroe’s garment that ties at her neck. Her hair is trimmed, though it falls closer to her eyes. The hair is nicely curled at the ends, and the painter painted it with golden colors. The woman appears to have been pausing for a passport photograph. Looking at her eyes one can see that they are heavily lidded and characterized by highly arched eyebrows.
Sol Lewitt was a great American artist who was well known for Conceptual art and Minimalism. In 1968, he came up with sets of principles or diagrams for his work drawn in two dimensions on the walls. His first painting was first done on graphite and later on crayon. He also employed the use of a pencil performing the drawing in Indian ink, acrylic paint and other assortment of materials. His work on ‘Straight and not Straight Lines in all Combinations’ give architects ideas on the construction of towers, pyramids and other architectural designs. His drawing consists of highly colored bands of standard width. The drawings were also are curvilinear, almost random and playful but were drawn following a given set of rules or principles. In MoMA, you can find this awesome painting at Gallery 19.
Rachel Whiteread’s ‘Water Tower,’ was painted on resin and painted steel. It was commissioned by the Art Fund and was initially installed in the year 1998 on top of a roof in Soho. Water Tower is Whiteread’s first sculpture to be displayed in the US. The artist’s idea came from her admiration of the water towers of Manhattan islands, which were perched high up above the busy streets. The water towers were also able to capture the artist’s interest because of their splendor and uniqueness. The work of art was done on the cedar water tower, which was chosen specifically because of the required texture its surface would give. The beautiful translucent outer surface of the tower reflects the glittering of the sky during the day. The color and the texture of the sculpture would change throughout the day becoming almost invisible during the night. That is why the residents have called it “a jewel on the sky of Manhattan,”
‘Self Portrait,’ was done by the Brazilian artist. In his work he used diamonds, sugar, dirt, wire, pea nut butter, remnants of circular paper made by junk, hole punches and other things.
Muniz could draw the portrait of a person by carefully joining these items in a very delicate and careful manner, making sure that the materials he used reflect the person’s looks, moods, and complexion. The materials he used were always present and affordable. He started this work in 1990s when he began incorporating objects into a photographic process to create bold, witty, and deceiving images.