Constellation, Year 2 Review

During the beginning of the year the tutor I had constellation and had lectures with every week before Christmas was Jon Clarkson. Each week he talked about a different form of contemporary art and its position within the world of art. I found each of his lectures enlightening as it increased my knowledge of what contemporary art is and what its position within social and political aspects in relation to their audience and the many forms in which contemporary art can be found.

The essay we were made to write within 500 words helped me understand how to condense the key elements of what I am trying to say of the artist Berlinde De Bruyckere. This gave me a starting point to study and write about an artist I wanted to write about within my dissertation as her work has highly influenced me. I think this task was really helpful as it gave me a chance to get feedback from Jon Clarkson of what is expected of me in my written work.belgium-pavilion-designboom

The main lectures within constellation about the dissertation and the literature review I found both to general and I felt that they were just giving us the idea of what we are meant to do. In my opinion I felt that they didn’t outline the key areas very clearly leaving me to ask lotsof questions to my dissertation tutor.

BaconFredpope2The tutor I was assigned to for my dissertation was Jon Clarkson. I was very pleased as I feel that he would be most help to me in the areas in which I want to study. He helped me structure the question “How fragility of the human condition is expressed in modern and contemporary art?” This gave me a platform which I then started planning my dissertation proposal around this question. One Artist I felt I have to write about within my dissertation is Berlinde de Bruyckere as to me she captures the fragility of the human condition within her work in a magical way making the viewer’s aware of their own existence. He then gave me the book to read on Francis Bacon called “The Logic of sensation” which was wrote by Gilles Deleuze, a philosopher, This book gave me an insight into a philosophers perspective on the work of Francis Bacon. This book I felt that it really helped me to look deeper into the work of Bacon and in turn, look into works of art deeper finding more in them than what meets the eye.

My dissertation tutor suggested for me to look into the work of the phycologists, Sigmund Freud and Melanie Klein. In doing this and reading Sigmund Freud’s “The ‘Wolfman’ and Other Cases” and “An Introduction into the work of Melanie Klein” by Hanna Segal, let me understand from a psychoanalytic perspective of the fragility of the human condition in the cases of adults that Sigmund Freud treated to the cases of children that Melanie Klein specialised in. Both had very different approaches to psychoanalysis where Freud was highly interested in the key role dreams played within the mind of the adult as Klein was more interested in the way children played with objects and toys in relation to their hidden phantasies. Looking into these phycologists made discover more about how certain fears and anxieties can become highly specific mental problems effecting the quality of life for those who suffer.

maresfie melanie-klein-and-granddaughter

After this reading I had two artists who I was certain I wanted to include in my dissertation, Berlinde De Bruyckere and Francis Bacon however I felt I needed more than these two artist to fully understand how the fragility of the human condition is expressed in art so my dissertation tutor suggested to look at the work of mamanLouise Bourgeois as she suffered many fears and anxieties within her life which fed into her artworks. In doing this I came across a journal article on the mourning of mothers of their missing children in relation to Louise Bourgeois artwork “Maman”. This journal article is on the way in which women came together mourning for their missing 30,000 children creating their personal losses into a collective experience of grief. This gave me not only an insight into the work of the artist but the fragility of the mothers which it consumed giving me a background of the historical context of the piece in relation to the people it captures within it.

I believe that constellation this year overall has been helpful in the contextualisation of informing my own practice as well as my development of further understanding what it is I am trying to achieve within my dissertation. I have really enjoyed looking further into what I want to do for my dissertation as I am naturally intrigued with what I am finding out and discovering about the human condition on what has been discovered and then further expressed in modern and contemporary art as our understanding has evolved.

Deleuze on Francis Bacon

A book I have read which has made me question how the fragility of people is captured within paintings and holds more than just the visual truth of the body is the book, Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation by Gilles Deleuze.  It gives us a perspective from a philosophical view point into the mind of the artist and also into the work itself. It delves into the understanding that Bacon’s paintings were created close to the nervous sensation of the body.

Deleuze makes us aware that Bacon does more than illustrate the human figure, he captures the inside of the being both mentally and physically. What look like deformations of the figure are in actual fact not about the visual truth of the body, but the truth of the mental state and the sensation of being encapsulated within the body, “Sensation deforms the body visually but creates fact”. When he is deforming the human figure by rubbing and scraping into the paint he is discovering more than the person externally he goes into his paintings to reveal the fragile state of the body and mind set of the being.

Bacon was fascinated by meat as Deleuze mentions within the book as meat, even when dead contains visually all the living elements of the animal, “meat is not dead flesh, it retains all the sufferings and assumes all the colours of living flesh”. Meat contains the colours and the image visually of the living yet it contains all the suffering that the animal was put through its slaughter. Deleuze also compares to those who are suffering as pieces of meat, “every man who suffers is a piece of meat”. This I feel could be both mentally or physically, that those suffering are pieces of meat containing all the colours and elements of the living visually but are in actual fact suffering in pain. Humans have been brought down to their vulnerable state making their existence seen as those of an animalistic form.

Freud and Klein

9780141183800Recently I have become interested in the work of psychology. I read the book, Sigmund Freud’s The ‘Wolfman’ and Other Cases. Within this book I have learnt from the first hand case studies of how Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis of his patients, found the core of which the anxieties have come about within the development of the mind. With the use of memory and dream interpretation Freud delves into the person’s state of mind, looking at how specific fears can evolve and escalate to impact the quality of life for the individual. The dissection of the cases outlined has let me see how Freud developed his analysis of different cases, and how the fracturing of the ego is a key role in each. I have discovered how different moments of impact through the development of the patient can link and integrate to create specific anxieties that evolve to develop specific traits of fear within them, for example during obsessive compulsive neurosis within his patients that caused them to act upon their fears and make specific choices within their lives to suppress the fears within them. This book I believe has helped me to broaden my approach to my dissertation as this work is of key importance of how we understand the fragility of the mental state of individuals suffering in today’s society. I believe that the work of Freud is of great importance to understanding the fragility of the human condition and the history of how it evolves in unique cases.

txt-melanieklein-2Without the foundations of Freud’s research and findings within his case studies other psychoanalysts wouldn’t have been able to evolve in the way in which they have, and unleashed specific ways in which the mind works. One psychologist in particular has come to my attention that has evolved Freud’s work in further developing his research is Melanie Klein.  Melanie Klein’s research was focused on the development of the mind within children, specifically to find at an early stage the way in which moments which the child experiences are never fully forgotten when developing into adulthood. When I was exploring her work I became interested in her findings of the “Paranoid-Schizoid Position” followed by the “Depressive Position”. These positions interested me specifically because they illustrate how the mind works against anxiety through defence mechanisms, using introjection and projection. “The ego strives to introject the good and to project the bad” this mechanism is a way of which we learn to deal with anxiety within an early age. This position is then followed by the “Depressive position” later in the development of the infant, where depressive anxiety and pain are encountered by manic and obsessional defences, deflecting destructive feelings onto others to defend their vulnerable states of dependency on their mothers. These positions found by Klein encapsulate the development of the infant in vulnerable and fragile conditions where they rely on the mother in order to survive. I believe her work is of key importance to the development in my dissertation of the human condition.

New forms of Art : Installation

An Installation: Any arrangement of objects and materials or images can be claimed as installation art 

 Is installation a distinct artist practice?

Any arrangement can be installation, no specific process is involved

Where did installation begin?

cave paintings in Lascaux?

Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo?

Marcel Duchamp, Fountain?

Where ever it was created it is nothing without the gallery, Conceptual installation needs the gallery space to be art.


1. Romanticism-Panoramas

Panoramas became popular across Europe and became a more elaborate way of working creating illusion.

Anon, The Rhinebeck Panorama 1810
Robert Barker 360 degrees of Edinburgh 1789

Hendrick Mesdag, The Mesdag panorama 1880, increased illusion with environmental pieces e.g. sand and other materials which made the environment feel more real. This panorama is lit by daylight making the shadows change, illusionism is increased by the moving of natural light. Lack of spacial queue increases illusion as it includes more than a painting. Some of his panoramas contained sound to further the illusion

The Mesdag Panorama 1880

2. Mass spectacleackermann-rudolph-microcosm-083720

The illusion that you are inside of something. Engulfed within a space.

3. Romanticism

Gesamtkunstwerk- this is translated as a total work of art and is when the spectators’ senses are being attacked by all or many art forms e.g. music, poetry, painting, drama.

Richard Wagner- The Ring Cycle 1848-74 -This is artwork in many forms and is every way of representation overflowing of dramatic gesture.

images (1)Robert Wiene, film stills from the 1920 movie “The Cabinet of Dr Caligari”. The scenes are painted and dramatic lightening is painted encompassing the whole space.

4. Modernism– an attack on easel paintingimages (2)

El Lissitzky- Proun Room. This piece spreads around the whole environment creating a new world or environment.


first_international_dada_fair_in_berlin1334463845579There is not just paintings but posters and slogans on walls, the whole wall was used.

1st international Dada fair- This was a show of Dada artists work in Berlin in 1920. The mannequin on the ceiling is dressed in a German military uniform and has a pigs head on it. as this time was just a couple of years after WWI this was highly offensive.

merzbau2-643x896Kurt Schwitters, “merzbau” was Schwitters equivalent for Dada. His studio was made into an abstract sculpture but there was hidden compartments with pieces of his life and pieces that were meaningful to him, making this piece of work sentimental and highly personal.

Оформление-вводного-зала-советского-павильона-на-международной-выставке-«Пресса»-в-Кёльне.-1928-300x244El Lissitzky- Soviet Pavillion, Dresden 1928

Propaganda for Russia was displayed on every part of the building. The use of three large belts was playing on the idea of motion and the piece can do more.than just wait quietly for the viewer to come.

Big_Gallery_Image_311Paris1938Surréalisme3Marcel Duchamp- Coal Sacks, This piece was 1200 coal sacks hanging down from the ceiling of which you walked under. The piece’s intention was to imaging the sacks full of coal, making them threatening and a danger. This piece was part of a larger exhibition.The International surrealistic exhibition in Paris in 1938. Beds for artists, the floor of the exhibition was gravel and earth with the place having an overwhelming smell of coffee. The sound in the place was the sound of someone laughing, shown in a dark environment, this overwhelmed the visitors, visitors were given bike lamps to see. The over all effect on the viewers made this an overwhelming environment.

downloadMarcel Duchamp- One mile of string made in 1942. Duchamp took over a gallery covering it from corner to corner in taught string making it difficult for the audience to see the artworks on the wall. The string occupies all the available space and the artist brings kids into the space to distract the viewers.

Yves Klein- The void 1960. This piece was the audience was given a blue vivid colour cocktail when they arrived. the gallery they went into was entirely empty with nothing to look at other than white walls. The dye in the drink would later turn their urine blue. The work thus had a shared and a private dimension, waste product of the body leaving the gallery.

oldenburgs-storeClaes Oldenberg- The store 1961. Making ordinary consumer goods; replicas made in mesh were messy, inadequate, oversized, the painting of the wall itself,the display cases reused to become a part of the installation as a whole.

download (1)Allen Kaprow-Words 1962. This piece was a dusty environment were visitors created the work themselves and used the words to make new poems and become creative actors within it. A number of record players in the space on which the visitors were invited to record onto and play into the space.

5. Modernism- The installation shot

Photographic reproduction became cheaper individually and collectively and more widely shot. What the work looks like  inside the room and the relation of the object and the spaceit is not difficult to imagine them to create this installed space.

download (2)Joseph Beuys- The Pack. Collectivity is evident, the photography of this work makes the work look so good as it has been made to look good to reproduce.

Survey 1. Spectacle- The minimalist panorama

richard_wilson_2050Richard Wilson- Oil black floor. The silence within this piece is consuming, disorientating the viewers, giving them a sense of vunerability. The flat reflective surface only has a thin layer of oil through it, however it appears to be deep. The reflective surface gives a sense of vertigo.

They create  an imbalance between the viewer and the work. This imbalance may be experienced as:

  • Exciting
  • Relaxing
  • Disturbing
  • Frightening

The idea is to limit perceptual stigma on the one hand and on the other floods the viewers.

download (3)Olafur Eliasson-  Weather Project. This artist very cleverly plated the ceiling with mirrors to massively increase the sense of space. Interestingly this lead to a change in behaviour among viewers. Many lay down on the floor to contemplate their reflection high above.

The change in behaviour makes this a relation work.

Both these works use reflection and contemplation to product a benign sense of the infinite.

blog-lightsYayoi Kusama, Installation sense( or mirror room) 1992. This piece uses reflection in a more aggressive way. She is interested in how repetition and reflection can cause objects and individuals to disappear. She often photographs herself as an object being absorbed into her environment. However this is not a self portrait it is more that the artwork is containing her, engulfing her as it dangers and dominates her.


Mona Hatoum, Marbles carpet. This piece was an aggressive use of space as the marbles forced visitors to walk around the edge of the room. Her other work, Light Sentence is also quite disturbing as the moving light at the center of the installation creates threatening shadows which tend to keep visitors towards the edge of the (4)

Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View 1991 by Cornelia Parker born 1956Cornelia Parker- Cold, Dark Matter. In this piece the use of light is in quite a different way from the previous artists. The material stays constant it is still the same shed and the same amount of light within it from beginning to end. However as the form changed after blowing up the shed the light coming from the center of a once functional shed shines around the shattered pieces of wood. The light tends to draw the visitors in as the objects are presented with life to them.

meireles_missao_missoes2Cildo Meireles Missoes- how to build cathedrals. This piece contained 600000 coins, 800 communion wafers and 2000 animal bones being hung from bags above the audiences’ head illustrating the power of religion.

2. Narrative Installation

Ilya_KabakovIlya Kabakov- The Man who flew into space from his apartment.  How do we know what the story is, the work shows a habitable but unusable space with doors, beds,tables  e.t.c. Often the viewer is kept out of the space. The man who we imagine living in this room has dreamed of flying into space. The artist planned to take a whole disused apartment block and in each flat make an installation about a particular obsessive character.

04-cell-XXVI-vw2_300Louise Bourgeois- Cell XXVI. Her work is more abstract than Kabakov’s apartments, but they present us with an enclosure and a sense of habitations, questioning what form of life is this? We feel empathy for the being in the cage fearful and full of anxiety as the body turns into shit. This piece is a self reflection of the artist’s mental state looking at self reflection of feeling trapped in a metaphorical cell, we dive into the human mental state. You are not allowed to go into the cell however your imagination lest you imagine going in and getting trapped inside your own head. You can look into the mesh and look at the being but you can never feel what the being can actually feel as we can’t get in.

Louise Bourgeois- Cell V. This piece contains heave dense balls behind lots of doors enclosing them into a lowery6-15-10-6small space. Is this home or are they trapped as there are ways in and out of the cell.

Cell-Hands-and-MirrorLouise Bourgeois- Hands and Mirrors. There are doors within doors in this piece and inside there are many mirrors. We question what are the hands doing? showing affection/aggression?

What is evident in all of these pieces is that the closure is dominating. Is this connected with a child’s curiosity and fear of the adult world? Louise Bourgeois uses the spider in her work to symbolise her mother. Seeing sewing as a livelihood and feeling of being a bad daughter, maintaining the mystery she hasn’t been able to get into order.

Mike-Nelson-The-Coral-Ree-006Mike Nelson- The coral reef. This piece makes the audience question what might have been going on in each installation. Difficulty to relate to the direction, disorientation is in someways threatening as the installation portrays forms of life being in neglected parts of the city. It is not symbolically unsettling, partly ridiculous, all rough, not a fine work, narrative/inhabitant in each and all of them disorients the viewer.

3. Relational Works

Relational aesthetics- Human relations. This type of installation makes the audience react differently than they usually do in a gallery space prompting the audience to work with each other. This type of art produces a model of sociability, deconstructing the rules of everyone looking the same way at several paintings on the wall, each viewer gets an individual experience. Is this form of art more or less democratic? Artists could equally spend their time creating an arena for social interaction.

09-Oiticica_Tropicalia_with_Penetravels_PN2_PN3_kleinHelio Oiticica- Tropicalia. In This environment you can explore, lie down, even having a cup of tea can be appropriate behaviour in this art form.

ntm3-1-21Ernesto Neto- Walking in Venus- Blue Cave. spices and flour are in the giant bean-bag like surface, they release a smell which is noticeable but not overwhelming. the artist wants people to play with the objects he makes, they are to interact with and the art form is not complete without interaction.

wpid-1139532779humanoidsHumanoids- These pieces can only  become art forms when people put them on. They are not designed to do anything but make people communicate and laugh with each-other over how foolish they look and feel in these forms. sharing foolishness with other people, have a bond with people doing the same thing.

Rist_momaPipilotti Rist- Pour your body out. This is not just a piece of video art, it is also an installation with more than one screen, this piece encourages different  while watching it as their is big pillows to lie and sit on. You could have a conversation with someone and it could actually compliment the video instead of fighting with it.

lap-lamp_420Pipilotti Rist- Lap Lamp. This piece is more about the individual than the audience as you are forced to watch the projection on your lap and as the audience enters the space they feel as if they are intruding on something personal as the projection makes the one watching the projection vulnerable.

CRI_234951rirkrit tiravanija- Untitled. This is an artist who creates the gallery into a space where people can come and get free food. He divides the room, making conventional gallery behaviour exposed to those eating in the space.

images rirkrit tiravanija- Fear eats the soul. This piece is democratic as it opens people up to having a conversation.

All his work is temporary events, with traces of the event left on show referring to the activity that occurred. Does this become art or not art? The packing cage could be a plinth, rubbish takes on another aura of art form as it feeds art world insiders.

316-t-hirschhorn-2002-v2Thomas Hirschhorn- Bataille Monument. This piece was created in a rough housing estate and the only way to get there was by a cab that was designed to take people to and from the place. It usually was closed when they got there making people interact and communicate. This shed like hut had a bar and also brought money into the area.

fgt_installation_3Felix Gonzalez Torres- Untitled (placebo). This piece is a floor full of sweets, representing the wait of his lover, symbolic, relational quality within as he invites you to eat the sweets and drop the wrapper somewhere in the gallery.

images (1)Ai Weiwei- Sunflower seeds. This installation let the audience interact and walk over the individually painted ceramic sunflower seeds  making the audience behave in a non-gallery way. Each seed is hand painted and there is 2 million seeds, representing the population of china and how there is a mass of people however each one is individual. This piece was then restricted to the public to interact with the seeds and there was barriers so people couldn’t touch the seeds making it a much more ordinary piece of art. The changing of interaction completely transforms the piece as you can’t make out the individual seeds, they have just become a mass.

Is all Installation art Theatrical? 

belgium-pavilion-designboomBerlinde  de Bruyckere- Cripplewood. This installation is made up of wax showing that the inorganic can suggest the organic, dark, wood, created into a grotesque being, suggests more than it shows. There is pillows and rags illustrating a insured being. There is nothing wrong with it being theatrical as it makes it more suggestive.

Modernist- During this period in art, artists were showing more painting with brushstrokes shown clearly and where honest about the paint. Paint was declared as paint on the canvas and the public was disgusted by this change. This was true to the paint but theatrically it was seen as impure as theatrical qualities were for decoration and suggested an over exaggeration.

Is it better to represent something or experience it ?

309friedCasper David Friedrich- The sea of ice. This piece I believe is a greater representation than the experience as it shows the emotional coldness within it.

anya_gallacio_main_imageAnya Gallicco- Identities and surfaces. With this work you can feel a physical coldness within it.

Tilted_arc_enWhat do you understand by co-existence criterion? How can our behaviour in relation to an artwork be used to judge its quality, social discipline, exercise of power, in the presence of the art work can judge the quality of the artwork.

Richard Serra- Slanted arc

Liam-Gillick-Discussion-Benches-Casey-Kaplan-Gallery-Exhibition-ViewLiam Gillick- Discussion Benches. Are they working? Social exclusion. Gillick is happy for people to ignore his work,  he makes it  to not hold visual interest. Instead he has posters and prompts for discussion. Cooperate conversation existing. His piece “Rescinded production” was the background to other activity.

55146ddfbb2b1d62b3ed0362d0635beed2805685Carsten Holler- Test Site. You as the audience become part of the artwork, an object for other people. people willing to queue can be the artwork in itself. Is it a democratic form? Visible yet private experience, it is a sketch of how a city could become. This became an advertisement, experimenting with concept, confrontation death, cannot change the order you just have to submit to it, a brush with mortality. Everyone is reduced to a child-like state.

160 cm Line Tattooed on 4 People El Gallo Arte Contemporáneo. Salamanca, Spain. December 2000 2000 by Santiago Sierra born 1966Santiago Sierra- A 160cm line tattooed on 4 people. This piece really interested me, He got together prostitutes and drug addicts and paied them the equivalent of two blow jobs or a shot of heroin to get this line tattooed on their backs. When it was happening they were laughing and joking at them all having this line on their backs, however that line will be with them forever, mental scared, their bodies are not their own they are used and are not their own self.

200092Santiago Sierra- workers who cannot be paid, remunerated to remain inside cardboard boxes- This was a rather uncomfortable installation as people were paid to be in a box. As a form is this democratic? This is a political statement. The concept behind this piece was make the issues with benefits and guards that are paid to do nothing to be made aware of. They were paid to be in a box, this changes the way people react to the boxes as people are caged within them for up to 4 hours in a box. This piece made aware the repeating problems occurring in society, creating people into objects.

The 1990’s and the Young British Artists

Sensation was an exhibition which included the artworks of the young British artists of the time exhibited in the Royal Academy of Arts. This exhibition revolusionised the view on contemporary art at the time. Firstly I must look at the question “who were the YBA’s?” In Goldsmiths art college a young artist called Damien Hirst decided to set up the exhibition “Freeze” in 1988 showing the work of artists:

  • Angela BullochFreeze-participants
  • Mat Collishaw
  • Ian Davenport
  • Angus Fairhurst
  • Anya Gallaccio
  • Damien Hirst
  • Gary Hume
  • Michael Landy
  • Abigail Lane
  • Sarah Lucas
  • Lala Meredith-Vula
  • Richard Patterson
  • Simon Patterson
  • Stephen Park
  • Fiona Rae

Some of these names now are well known, some of them are not so much but this exhibition was the start of the making of the young British artists at the time.

The “Sensation” exhibition shown artists of the YBAs however more artists were shown like, Jenny Saville, Marc Quinn and Jake and Dinos Chapman.




What did the YBA’s have in common??

One thing they all had in common was Shock, every piece of artwork through all the artists had the element of shock engaging the audience making the Sensation exhibition instantly popular.

common in all the YBA’s work:

  1. Suprise
  2. Using Taboo subject e.g. sex, death
  3. Immoral or amoral statements


Not all the YBA’s were Neo-conceptual, however the best known YBA’s artworks were both shocking and neo-conceptual.



Why did this painting cause such a public out cry when it was shown in the Sensation exhibition in London?

Do you think the painting has a message ? If so what is it ?

This painting is a painting of a criminal who helped the child killer Ian Brady hide the bodies in the Moors. the painting is painted with children hand prints which creates the image.

Did Marcus Harvey do this for fame? Publicity? or was this a social experiment? What ever the cause it created an up roar with protests outside the exhibition and eventually one of the protesters thrown ink all over the painting. How can an image be so powerful in a gallery when it is mass produced in the papers and on the news. Why is it her instead of Ian Brady? Is it because it is more shocking that a women would commit this act as they should have a motherly instinct? This image is an iconic image which has powerful symbolism that when put into a gallery made with hand prints of children it brought the audience to hate the artist who did this but is the artist doing any wrong in using this image as it is so used? The hand prints in symbolism with the about of children she helped kill and hide seemed to be too much for the public to bare.

Myra Hindley- Marcus Harvey


Why when the Sensation exhibiton was in New York did this painting cause the most controversy? This piece didn’t cause much trouble in London so why did it shock more than Myra Hindley?

Why might this be described as shocking ?

Where people justified in objecting to it? 

This piece was the Virgin Mary as symbolised through the blue around her . She is shown as black and the pieces stuck to the painting is vaginas and bums. The piece has animal faeces on it also. I don’t see it as religious but others saw it as mocking and making the virgin impure de-idolising her as this iconic symbol.


                                                                                                                                            Chris Ofili-The Holy Virgin Mary

Conceptualism+Pop= Neo-Conceptualism

Conceptual Art

  1. Form- governed by an idea
  2. Documentation
  3. Expressed in language

Neo-conceptual art

  1. The work is visual
  2. Subject is striking and possibly controversial
  3. The tone is ironic/humorous
  4. Raises questions about the role of the author
  5. It uses traditional form

Puzzling out Contemporary Art

This week was the first week of constellation I chose Dr Jon Clarkson subject of “puzzling out contemporary art”. We started at the the fundamental question of “what makes a work of art Contemporary?” Is it depending on the time in which it was made? Is Contemporary art a kind of style? we looked at Jack Vellriano- The Singing Butler. We analysed it as a group and came to the conclusion that we all thought it wasn’t contemporary as it took influences from classical works of art from history even though it is a quite recent painting. We questioned if it was art at all and if it was just a “kitch” representation of the past as romantic only had nostalgic value of the past. The singingbutler

The 1990’s : Political change

We discovered that contemporary art came about during the fall of Communism and representing this fall was the fall of the Berlin wall in November 1989. The rules of classical, beautiful, precious artworks collapsed due to this change.

Information Technology

The availability of viewing art increased with the increase of computers and the usage of them. Today we have Phones, Tablets, laptops and desktop computers which makes us be able to access images of any artwork you can think of at a click of a button. You can get all the information you need about artworks not letting you experience it in a gallery environment. Images of artworks have no home any more they are replicated onto the internet and products you can buy in someways this makes me question the value of art if it is being duplicated and mass produced.

The Rise of the Biennale

Before the 1990’s there was about 25 Biennales including the Venice Biennale which is the oldest and most well known. Today there is over 200 making art more available and closer to us. There has been a rise in Art in an international scale with more countries having Biennale exhibitions.

I now have a better understanding of how Contemporary art has been formed over time. However the subject of Contemporary art moved to how to analyse an artwork. We looked at an artwork by Isa Genzken called Leonardo’s cat as the fundamental piece to analyse. Slide1(4) (2)

How would you start working out what a artwork is about?

there is three main factors of analyzing an artwork they are

  • Imagery
  • Materials
  • Arrangement (form)

These three key things helped us to further try to understand the piece Leonardo’s cat by Isa Genzken while looking at work from other artists in order to further our understanding of analyzing contemporary art


david batchelor   rachael harrisonCampana_All_animals_Banquette0


David Batchelor-Parapillar 7      Rachel Harrison- A man contemplates a rock        Campana Brothers- Banquette Chair

In all three of these pieces we have no difficulty recognising the objects as a collection of “ready-mades” however some may argue that paint is ready made as it is commercially available. Looking at the imagery within Leonardo’s cat there is a sense of leisure and coherence.


julia dault matthew darbyshire


Julia Dault- Moonwalk        Matthew Darbyshire- Furniture Island 2 

Both of these pieces are doing what materials are meant to do. nothing has been skewed or distorted in anyway they are acting exactly how they are supposed to act. The modern materials also relates to Leonardo’s cat as the materials are functioning the way materials are supposed to.

Form or Formless

aiweiwei alfredo jaar Untitled 1967-8, remade 2008 by Robert Morris born 1931

Ai Wei Wei- Sunflower seeds         Alfredo Jaar- The eyes of Guete Emerita         Robert Morris- Untitled

In all of these form and lack of form is evident. Robert Morris’s Untitled you can tell that the artist can not control the way in witch the material flowed, it selects its own form. Ai Wei Wei’s Sunflower seeds do not have a particular form they create their own by taking up the shape of the space. Alfredo Jarr’s The eyes of the Guete Emerita creates its own landscape, enormity is evident and the sheer mass of the slides makes u feel as the viewer feel overwhelmed as you cannot look at them all.

So what has these key aspects taught me about how to perceive Genzken’s Leonardo’s cat? Is the title of a piece a clue does any of thess pictures help us understand Genzken’s work any better? What about the context of her work

Isa Genzken

isa genzkenIsa Genzken uses the head of Nefertiti  as a maequin for various sunglasses, de-glorifying the well known queen to nothing more than a stand to advertise sunglasses. The juxtaposition of the cheap and mass produced and the expensive is evident. the mass culture, imagery and materials disturb our sence of form






Rachel Harrison

Display-Furniture-Glasswork-621x410 Rachel Harrison is an artist who makes plinths and supporting structures more interesting than the sculptures they are supporting. she has plinth on wheels defeating the purpose of a plinth making it able to move. in some ways her plinth is like Isa Genzken’s plinth supporting “Leonardo’s cat” the plinth is being ooverwhelmedand engulfed into the sculpture becoming a vital part of it .



Display Furniture & Glasswork



Modernism has prompted the idea of the autonomy of the work of art. This means two things

  1. The artwork is independent
  2. The artwork was self-contained , that is, you did not need to look outside it to understand it


We were now asked these questions about the piece by Isa Genzken- Leonardo’s Cat

What is your subjective response to the work? 

How does it (make you) feel? 

Our answers as an audience were:

Childish from the random assemblage of materials, Far from simplistic, tacky, comforting/uncomfortable.

Context- because it is in a gallery we have to question it as an artwork.

the use of “Leonardo” in the name- Pretentious, frustrating.

No one has made this before? is it chaotic, effortless, static, irritating, flashy? however it isn’t easily dismissed from your mindas its presence in a gallery makes you want it to have a profound meaning.


Two models of meaning

Meaning is often thought of as a kind of archeology. Often more like constructing or assembling a network of association.

  • In the first model, meaning is buried.
  • In the second model, meaning is dispersed.

We think about artwork influencing or being influenced by another thing. In the second model we would talk of an artwork emerging from a population of images.




A Review on Berlinde De Bruyckere’s installation “Cripplewood”

imagesThis essay will analyse the installation Kreupelhout (Cripplewood) by the Belgian artist Berlinde De Bruyckere. It will explore the theory of metamorphosis through the tree’s transition from its natural state to a vulnerable and disfigured body and how emotion is conveyed through its physical state. The installation is found within a dark atmospheric room, illuminated by a single muted light source of a skylight covered in hessian sacking giving the piece a theatrical feel. It is this threadbare-covered light that expresses the installations humanistic features.

The tree has a flesh-like surface made from wax and silicone displaying the branches as twisted tendons and limbs. The trunk of the tree has exposed wounds made up from the knots on the tree surface from underneath. Both the tree and the skin layer are working in unison to reveal not the physical but mental state of the being as it contorts and transforms from a dead tree into a fragile, deformed body.

The installation is tied with ropes and is cushioned by pillows and bound by red cloth representing bloodstained bandages of a body that has been nursed. The recovery of the body is symbolic of the emotional state slowly healing from being hurt. This piece is a representation of Saint Sebastian, the Saint the Venetians assumed saved them from the plague. Saint Sebastian has become the tree healing from the suffering he has been through revealed in the scars and tears within the tree exposing brittle skin tissue.

The body doesn’t seem to have any identity to it as there is no face or genitalia to suggest who it is. This is a significant aspect of the piece as the audience can find recognisable features of themselves within the installation.

Berlinde De Bruyckere’s installations reflect her childhood of having a father who was a butcher. The slaughter she witnessed as a child is revealed within her work, however she forms her installation as looking alive yet suffering, making the audience feel their own fragility and recognition of the human condition within her installation.

This transformed tree is captured within a room quite like a mausoleum. This dramatic yet subtle change in the light creating darker shadows brings the audience to the realisation of their own mortality.  This tree-like body is recuperating, but is in fact close to death as it is shown in such a delicate state.

In conclusion Berlinde De Bruyckere has effectively created an installation that has characteristics that the audience can identify with. We are all human beings made of flesh and bone and we may not look like the installation “Cripplewood”, however, our mental state may recognise the feeling of being in that state of suffering. “Cripplewood” is a very powerful piece as it symbolises the psychological image of the body rather than a figurative image. The tree has transformed into this distorted human figure and illustrates the body of our minds being in some ways twisted and disrupted due to the reality of everyday life.Cripplewood-06