Wells

How to Look at Great Art-Tools for 34-36

How to Look at and Understand Great Art - Tools from Lectures 34-36

Lecture 34: Dada Found Objects/Surreal Doodles and Dreams (14.10.2019)

How to recognise Dada art:
⦁ It contains found objects, taken out of their functional context, including ready-mades.
⦁ Collage and assemblage are common techniques.
⦁ It critiques civilization, sophistication, artistic training, and high culture.
⦁ It is anti-art - nihilistic but playful.
⦁ It may seem unfinished or deliberately messy.

Ask yourself:
⦁ How do the materials and style of the work, as well as its negative yet playful attitude, suggest the anti-sophistication of Dada?

How to recognise Surrealist art:
⦁ It is concerned with internal, not external, reality.
⦁ It strongly references the subconscious mind and Freudian psychology.
⦁ It may depict dream imagery: an odd juxtaposition of objects portrayed in realistic or illusionistic style.
⦁ It may be rooted in doodling or automatic drawing.
⦁ It often involves nonnaturalistic scale and proportion or distortion of forms.

Ask yourself:
⦁ How does the dreamlike quality of this work - its style, scale, and proportion, all combined with odd settings and juxtapositions - set this work apart from Realism? From other kinds of modern art?

Lecture 35: Postmodernism - Focus on the Viewer (14.10.2019)

How to recognize Postmodern art in general:
⦁ The focus is on the viewer rather than the artist-as-genius.
⦁ Multiple interpretations of one work are possible.
⦁ The artist deliberately mixes and confuses images, styles, and media.

How to recognize Pop art and Neo-Dada:
⦁ Collages and found objects are common.
⦁ The focus is on the external world, not the inner life of the artist.
⦁ Subjects come from popular media and marketing and from contemporary life.
⦁ Techniques, colors, visual effects come from advertising.
⦁ Uses repetition to reference modern technology/consumer appetites and create sensory overload. The silkscreen process in particular was used because it is fast, cheap, and not too finished.

How to recognize Op art:
⦁ Compositions are optical illusions based on retinal reactions.
⦁ There is a playful interplay of reality and illusion.

How to recognize minimalism:
⦁ Shapes are basic, geometric, and nonrepresentational.
⦁ There is a deliberate lack of artist's manipulation or intervention.
⦁ Pieces are often fabricated not by the artist but by a shop on the basis of an artist's design specification.
⦁ It is a purely formal investigation with no spiritual intent.

Ask yourself:
⦁ How do the subject choices, techniques, colors, and composition of this work differentiate it from Modernist Abstract art?

NB No tools for the last lecture!