Cultural Difference and Art

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Hybridity

Said and Nochlin emphasize this East / West divide, but hybridity takes a different approach to normal cultural relations.

Hybridity doesn’t concentrate on the separation of cultures – us and them – meaning that culture isn’t always pure, but a mixture different traditions; they interact and shape each other and become a hybrid.

Hybridity is like cultural exchange but there are things it is not.

Primitive-ism is the best example of Western artists using form and visual ideas from colonial cultures: African masks and Oceanic carvings, are but two!

Hybridity is not about the stereotyping of perhaps a closeness to nature, or stylistic borrowing. This was illustrated in 1984 in New York; the exhibition compared modern art alongside tribal objects to show an affinity between different parts of the art world.

James Clifford suggested that the approach to cultural difference we are used to hid an important history. Clifford was about ‘affinity’ thus different cultures share something that transcends history.

Remember, visual affinity overlooks how these artifacts arrived in the West, how we decided they were art, regardless of their use in the locations they were made.

The exhibition attempted to show the influence of tribal artifacts on Western modernism. But, it failed to address how it connected to colonialism.

Colonial culture has transformed the world of the colonized and this was ignored in the exhibition. Clifford argued that affinity connects peoples and cultures but not material and historical process; thus, it ignores the two way process of colonialism.

To deal adequately with cultural encounters requires attention to being historically specific, with the political and ethical issues that underpin these encounters; celebrating non western art is not enough, simply because it is very different.

Theory based on the idea of hybridity, relating to history, using the politics and culture exchange, is far better. For example, David Craven used the postcolonial viewpoint to account for abstract expressionism. Abstract Expressionism is epitome of modernism which is the end point of a teleological process of painting, becoming less representational and more about the paint pigment on the canvas!

New York became the world capital of abstract expressionism. It was used by the CIA to signal American freedom with traveling exhibitions to show the ideology of the US elite, and their global ambitions.

Craven points towards two paradoxes relating to abstract expressionism and American cultural imperialism.

Abstract Impressionism was greatly received in Latin America as well, even when there was anti-American sentiment, thus if abstract impressionism supports imperialism as well as imperialised, there must be something about it. Abstract Impressionism was well received regardless of hostility towards America.

Craven examines Pollocks work from the margin rather than the centre, and attempts to show it is neither pure Western art the modernists would have us believe, nor is it the global politics of the developed world.

Pollock was hugely interested in native America, thus Craven argues that the drip paintings reflect the Navajoansnad. Pollock doesn’t see Navajo as a novelty, like an exotic ‘other’ known by Oreintalism. Instead, he finds common ground rather than distance between him and the Navajo.

Craven also saw that Pollock immersed himself in Navajo art when it was being discouraged and natives were learning conventional techniques to assimilate them; Pollock, in essence was challenging such racism in art.

Pollock did not copy their motifs, but absorbed the values by representing them on the canvas. Pollock was left-wing and fitting with the Navajo values – both being repressed by cultural agenda. McCarthyism at the time didn’t help. Like a mirror image of cultures.

Craven saw beyond native and white American culture. He points out that Pollock’s radical techniques were hugely influenced by the workshop in New York where Mexican, communist painter Siqueiros helped him, with many other white and hispanic artists.

Abstract Expressionism is not just the continuation of European schools and influence. Surrealism yes, has an influence in many ways (anti-colonial and non-western politics) but also Navajo and Mexican work. There is a political affinity as well as appropriation of forms.

There is hence an alternative history of abstract expressionism which explains it as a form of subversive art.

Craven saw abstract expressionism unfolding differently to the one seen as New York being the new Paris, when avant garde becomes American.

Post-colonialism then reveals that Abstract Expressionism is not actually American art but art of the Americas!

It’s origins are global and it continues to move between cultures particulary in a pan-American radical style.

Postcolonialism lacks a specific theory though.

Said used Foucault but Craven used Marxism (because it involves economic and politcs determining art) thus, Craven’s premise is that abstract expressionism is a product of global politics.

Craven and Pollock are linked to native Americans and latin Americans because of the US economy – the world’s largest superpower and economy has a huge influence across the Americas and the globe! Annie Coombes said in 1992 this affects curating and the display in exhibitions; she suggests post colonial anaylsis offers a niave enthusiasm and she figures it to be analagous to feminist art history.

Coombs goes further than addressing the object and thinks more broadly about cultural, social and political structures of ‘it’ when displayed; not just the art but the institutional context, the location, the function rather than just the appearance.

Like Griselda Pollock, Coombes suggests you don’t just add a new group of items to the gallery!

All of a sudden including non-Western (or colonial) work isn’t enough – appearing as the token gesture – and more importantly there are fundamental principles surrounding the museum set up itself, thus, each gallery is different as is each exhibition.

Coombes was challenging the Western structure of ‘them and us’ which underpinned Said and Nochlin’s arguments.

Curators were showing hybrids, thus many exhibits were the result of cultural contact and interaction.

There was still the need to show unique qualities with the exhibits being different from Western art though, and craft essentially gave both types their identity but at the same time bringing the whole ‘thing’ forward.

Does this challenge Eurocentism or celebrate postcolonial culture?

Attention and celebration of the object displaced a sense of history, the location and its journey from one part of the globe to another, giving it a sense of continuing history.

Celebrating difference and diversity, however, ignores the problems of history, giving us visual pleasure, without the global issues involved. Multiculturalism might be another word for this. Ethnic groups appear in a city like New York but they evolve there and art marks these changes in a great many ways.

Hybridity is more than this though. More than the happy ending of fusion of artworks rather than ongoing politics.

The exhibition in London called “Hidden Peoples of the Amazon” had Indians shown interacting with the West, whilst embodying their own identities. What was not shown was the struggle between the Indians and the Brazilian government; hybridity was not shown for its politcal problems.

Something similar happened in Paris with “Les Magiciens” which presented hybridity alone and ignored the unchanging native culture. It was only the cultural artefacts presented as hybrid becuase they were mobile but ignored the scattering of people around the world; voluntary or forced migration.

Exhibitions were accused of presenting cultures interacting at a distance, when many artefacts were geographically static. How then does hybridity account for the African community in Paris?

Hybridity became the same notion everywhere, when clearly some benefited more than others with regard to the balance of power.

Coombes recognized that hybridity was as problematic as any other theory. Like the anthropologist Nicola Thomas who used the term ‘entanglement’ to describe the interweaving of cultures that perhaps cannot ever be seperated. Cultures do not blend smoothly but comprise with relationships visible and invisible.

This is not a review of token cultural exhibitions but research into key problems with postcolonialism as a way of doing art history.

When art historians assume a painting or sculpture is tied to its culture – like so many do – we really need different criteria to evaluate it if it is not our own culture.

Coombes figured there may be no way of doing this properly. Like Said and Orientalism we may have to insist on difference and similarity at the same time.

Hybridity may well be a mistaken notion that hides unpleasant histories.


Who it was that appeared in colour for the very first time
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“The Band Concert” is an animated cartoon about a small, musical group conducted by Mickey Mouse. Directed by Wilfred Jackson in 1935, “The Band Concert” remains one of the most highly acclaimed Walt Disney shorts of them all.
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Middle East

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Edward Said and Orientalism

Postcolonialism stems from Orientalism and it is a relatively new part of art history.

Edward Said from Palestine moved to America to teach. Negritude for Cesaire was social determination of black consciousness; hence, the way colonialism shaped African identity. Senghor described it as black identity that had fixed nature with characteristics that persisted through different historical experiences. Fanon found how black psyche was distorted with colonialism but Said benchmarks the beginning of post-colonialism. Said focuses on the Middle East and North Africa. He uses Orientalism to divide the world between West and East.

Europe colonized the Middle East and took land, subjugated people and intellect.

Post-colonialism isn’t really that theoretical but a viewpoint using established approaches: Said used Michel Foucault’s approach on the relationship between East and West. He draws on the notion of discourse and the philosopher argument that knowledge is inextricable from power. The Orient being a product of discourse, discovered and analyzed by the West with Western ideas. Power being a huge part of both East and West.

Ideas circulate as part of Western activity in the Middle East. Said’s most important argument was: how colonizing told us little about the colonized cultures; but more about the colonizers themselves!

Paris and London shaped their experiences the way they wanted on their travels to this region.

Said was influential in demonstrating how post-colonialism became concerned with the effects of colonialism on the colonizers own culture. He did not address visual art.

Linda Nochlin did in 1983 “The Imaginary Orient” which was an article initiating postcolonial analysis of oriental paintings. She reiterates the fundamental notions of Said’s argument: the harems, mosques and temples depicted were nice to look at on the one hand; but the postcolonial position revealed more about the French culture, occupying the region.

Okay the pictures represent the scenery well, but only illustrate the beliefs of the Europeans. Hardly accurate portrayals of Oriental life, they are fantasies as the title of Nochlin’s article suggests, and she borrows this from Said.

Germone and Delacroix were very imaginative and stereotypical.

Gerome did Snake Charmer with a young boy performing to an audience in a beautifully exotic manner; a culture mired in the past with their religious fanaticism.

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Gerome, The Snake Charmer (1870). Oil on canvas, 83.8 x 122.1 cm, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Massachusetts

It may illustrate depravity but many Western appetites required this, so instead of presenting an image of Oriental morals it illuminates the sexual attitudes and hypocrisy of colonial Paris!

Nochlin sees what is missing in the painting. For instance, no Europeans, and no sign of the West interfering.

The art often showed the warped image of the West having never intervened in the Middle East, and left this exotic society completely untouched. It does provide an image of another people, a group of people; a culture!

The viewing public would see these other people as the opposite of civilised French society. Paintings without intercultural contact emphasizes the dyad: West and East / Us and Them. Nochlin not only saw what was included and excluded, but the style in the paintings.

Gerome was perhaps the most established French artist of Oriental paintings. Nochlin noted the smoothness of the surface, the attention to detail, the naturalism: all playing their part in the construction of the Oriental Other.

If you read a painting like a book the artist is telling you that this is a true depiction and not an invention, it is not politically loaded reflecting society and its resources.

Nochlin then uses the fundamental notions of Orientalism used by Said. There is a purpose to construct an Other – create a dyad – of the West and East and consolidate a notion of the world in two distinct parts divided geographically, morally and culturally.

The images remind us that there was a political purpose to help justify Western intervention in the East. The paintings represent a culture that needed moralizing or rescuing from its decline.

Said and his work – unsurprisingly – have been subject to much debate and criticism.

The two things that stand out are: firstly, the internal theoretical contradiction of Orientalism which is the idea of it being a modern mechanism of colonialism; secondly, the ‘Other’ or the Orient is always a construct, meaning it is difficult to get the truth about another culture.

Said finishes by saying ‘orientalism doesn’t identify with human experience and doesn’t recognise the common enterprise of promoting human community’ thus, he defends human freedom and knowledge. Foucault thought knowledge was an effect of power and freedom is an illusion.

Postcolonialism has to attempt to answer these problems if it is to be part of the infamous hermeneutic problem.

Secondly, the way the West Orientalises the culture of the Middle East to give a kind of Western identity. This has been criticised for being too monogamous of the West and too homogeneous of cultural relations. Us and Them overlooks the dynamics between cultures.

Moreover, critics believe the West has failed to address the material effects of colonialism on culture. There was resistance and many other texts Said didn’t dissect.

The second model of post-colonialism was thus developed to deal with this.


What these two ducks and a robot have in store!

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“Quasi at the Quackadero” is an animated short film that was directed by Sally Cruikshank in 1975, thus the cartoon follows two ducks and a pet robot to an amusement park in the future!

Two ducks and one pet robot, go off to visit a futuristic psychedelic amusement park, where time travel is exploited: it is a place where you can see your thoughts, watch yesterday’s dreams and even visit the past, thus this is quite a surreal place to be.

Quasi is the star of the show and they work their way through the Quackadero which is a sideshow type of a place; here in Quackadero land they find some amusing and interesting attractions: there is Hall of Time Mirrors, which show the future appearance of the viewer; there is a Roll Back Time Machine with a skyscraper building backwards; the Think-o-Blink Machine simulates your own thoughts; the game-show type thing is called “Your Shining Moment”; Madame Xano’s is when people can see last night’s dreams and the Time Holes are how you can lean on a railing and see three million years unfold from the past – these are but a few, of the mind bending things encountered in Quackland.

At the end of the film, viewers are told that if you trip over the rail when playing on one of the attractions – Time Hole – you will vanish into the hole forever and never escape; it is a prehistoric land from three million years back and Quasi ends up running from a Triceratops dinosaur for his troubles.

Sally Cruikshank is an American cartoonist and animator who worked on Sesame Street and developed a very distinctive style of her own; it was psychedelic and her animation was just like her paintings. Sally’s images are wonderful; they really move in a very surreal style all of their own, thus it has been said the higher the quality of media (with high definition and even three dimensional glasses) would surely make this cartoon short, even better than it already is!

The music used in Quasi was carefully selected by Sally Cruikshank and it includes: one slide flute, a xylophone, a ukulele, a duck call, a boat whistle and bagpipes. This created what Sally would call the ‘strange, gallopy feeling’ of dance-band music from the early nineteenth-century, thus, being a fan, this all adds to the strange feeling of surrealism that you get when you watch the film. This colorful short speaks volumes about the attention to detail required when making cartoons.

Cruikshank is best known for “Quasi at the Quackadero” though she has contributed enormously to the field of animation; it took her two years to draw the pictures for Quasi and she managed to finance the whole project all by herself. Working and studying in San Francisco as an editor, Cruikshank’s work was quickly noticed and she was hired to experiment in animation (plus work on television commercials) and finally, in 1972, Sally became head animator at Snazelle Films.

More recently, “Quasi at the Quackadero” has been voted into the world’s 50 Greatest Cartoons by animation professionals and in 2009, the short film was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress as part of the United States National Film Registry.

Postcolonialism

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When to apply a huge political agenda to art!

One way of beginning when singing the praises of a modern approach to art history is to undermine the older ones.

If the class difference is Marxism and gender difference is feminism, thus post-colonialism is about racial difference: all avoid making general statements about art.

Post-colonialism does not mistake universal claims as a template for everyone. It does not assume Western values and ignore cultural difference.

By using the word ‘post’ already we are decolonising which does assume a huge political agenda.

Lots of decision making in the centre and exploitation in the outer.

Most would agree a different account of history would appear if it were written by the colonies rather than the colonizers!

Postcolonialism challenges authority; thus, something different emerges in the way of looking at history.

Postcolonialism wouldn’t just look at modernism in Picasso but how it was then used. How it was emulated in Mexico and India for instance. Postcolonialism expands the canon around the globe, and exposes the preconceptions and prejudices.

It will show how cultures have been misrepresented in many ways and correct some errors.

The value system of the analyzer means for instance, means African artifacts would be misrepresented.

Post-colonialism uses geography to address the hermeneutic problem. There will always be barriers for people of different cultures trying to understand art of another culture, when culture is inextricably linked to it!

Outsiders always found it difficult to interpret the art of a different culture, but post-colonialism is never the study of another culture; postcolonial analysis looks at cultural interaction between imperial nations, and their colonies, rather than studying perhaps just a cave painting’s morphology.

Post-colonialism looks at what happens when two cultures meet, the effect of this and what changes. This obviously includes how the colonised were changed by the colonisers, but also the reverse. E.g. Britain in India became very political but the reverse spinoff was the billion pounds a year ‘curry’ industry with the spices arriving in London, the fusion food market appearing and sweeping across the Empire. Art has similar analogies!

Such ideas though, are not systematic like many theories. Postcolonialism does use mono approaches but has no single model. Marxism and the economy clearly play a part in intercultural exchange and always have done – even before Karl Marx!

Politics and economics and struggles equate to war, thus, decolonization and racial equality / inequality right across the world and a great many cultures are involved with post-colonialism.


Why a loving husband is ridiculed by his wife

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“The Unicorn in the Garden” is a short story that was made into an animated film by United Productions in 1953. The story features a loving husband, who is being ridiculed by his wife for seeing this strange creature from mythology!

Written by James Thurber, “The Unicorn in the Garden” is a humorous modern fable and now his most famous, as it is often used in education and on academic courses; thus, the tale begins “once upon a Sunday morning” with a dickie bird flying around. When the man sees this thing eating roses in the family garden, he touches the end of its pointed horn and runs back into his house to tell the wife, only to be told to “go away” because “the unicorn is a mythical beast.”

He goes back and feeds the beast a lily and tells his wife again, so she threatens to send her hubby to the “booby hatch,” which is mental hospital for crazy people who have seen weird things. When the authorities are alerted and subsequently come round to the house, oddly enough, she explains the situation and they section her instead, dragging the lady away in a straightjacket. When asked about this so called unicorn, all of a sudden the man knows nothing of this mythical beast and with a big smile on his face, he watches them take his wife away (to the boobie hatch) and the moral at the end says: “Don’t count your boobies until they are hatched.”

James Thurber’s unicorn story is a wonderfully, humorous fable about the glories of imagination and the follies of bitterness, because the man here sees something unreal and his wife really isn’t impressed at all. People have two choices when watching this cartoon: to believe the man actually saw the unicorn or whether he dreamt the whole thing in order to get his wife committed. It is clear that she wanted him out of the way, but he was glad when she was sent off, thus she doesn’t smile like him (other than when she thinks he needs a straightjacket). However, the husband is victorious in the end when the roles are reversed and the wife repeats the very thing for which she tries to get him in trouble. Ironically, it is she who gets taken away.

“The Unicorn in the Garden” was really a short story, but is often included in the older literary genre known as the fable, though fables do use anthropomorphic animals for characters and this story clearly avoids such a thing.

In summary, the moving images and creative artwork are a true delight to watch in this wonderful piece of visual culture; quite unique in style, this colourful contribution to the world of animation, “The Unicorn in the Garden,” was included on the list of top 50 Greatest Cartoons, when voted for collectively by senior members of the animation field!

Peter Samuels

Peter Samuels 1951 Nigel Henderson 1917-1985 Purchased 2007 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/P79304

Henderson, Peter Samuels (1951). Photograph, black and white paper 447 x 390 mm. Tate Britain

This photograph belongs to a series done by Nigel Henderson when living in London’s East End. One of his neighbours was Peter Samuels. Peter is slouching in an alley. The composition is divided where his shoulder leans and there is graffiti on the wall.


Yo-Picasso-Self-Portraits

Pablo Picasso was probably the most famous artist of the twentieth-century and way ahead of his time!

He began in Malaga and spent time in Barcelona, Paris, Rome and the South of France.

Cavey

Cavey 1991-7 Gavin Turk born 1967 Purchased with assistance from the Knapping Fund and Tate Fund 2010 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T13208

Turk, Cavey (1991). Ceramic, 484 mm. Tate Britain

This blue plaque commemorates work by Turk at the Royal College of Art, and marks the presence of an artist by his absence. The rest of the wall space is empty meaning the audience imagines the work that once filled the space.

It is an implied body of work, named after Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” which is the story of hidden reality we can neither see or know!

This is one of Turk’s most iconic works.


There are many approaches to interpreting art and one method is formalism 

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When an art gallery closes its doors and turns out its lights at night does the meaning of each painting change now no-one is looking?

Some people believe paintings only have meaning if they are being looked at. If this is the case, is the meaning the same for everyone or different for each viewer? If the meaning changes depending on who is viewing the painting, is one interpretation of art more valid than another?

Some interpretations are better than others; not all are equally valid and the plot thickens when we try to uncover meaning in a painting.

Artworks have aboutness and demand interpretation, thus responsible interpretations present the artwork in its best rather than its weakest light.

Interpretations are arguments, thus they are persuasive and interpretation is the philosophy of art, giving an explanation of the meaning of some works of art by expressing an understanding of a painting, musical performance or poem and it is what scholarly people do when they write articles for specialist magazines.

Aesthetics is an interpretation using the appreciation of beauty in art and pluralism is a variety of approaches, rather than one single way of interpretation, thus becoming more representative in explaining the symbols in art.

The “intentional fallacy” is one theory about how we interpret art relating to how much meaning we gain as viewers compared to how the artist – let’s say Caravaggio in the Renaissance – actually intended his painting to be interpreted himself back then when he painted it and this is one framework for thinking about paintings and what they mean.

Quite often with the passage of time, the communication or perception of art is altered, opening up a huge philosophical debate about interpretation.

Furthermore, the representation of signs in a painting – semiotics – make interpreting art like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle. Art is constructed often in a pre-planned, logical manner as a mode of expression.

In literature you have metaphor and analogy where one thing represents another and Shakespeare compared a winding river to the course of true love; a painter would often use a skull to represent death, or a globe meaning colonisation, or mathematical instruments reflecting academia and education.

Because a picture paints a thousand words and some would claim meaning is lost in translation, a painting quite possibly has a vast amount of interpretation; it can be interpreted with regard to the society and culture of whence it came, or in relation to the materials used in its construction, or the angles and geometry of it, or the symbols within it, or the representation of gender, or the personality and behaviour of the artist who created it – a good example of this is the harsh brush strokes used by van Gogh in Sunflowers which relates to the temperament of a man who self harmed and eventually committed suicide.

Konsul

Konsul 1962 Sir Eduardo Paolozzi 1924-2005 Presented by Tate Members 2007 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T12487

Paolozzi, Konsul (1962). Gunmetal and brass, 2337 x 597 x 635 mm. Tate Britain

This tower sculpture is part of a series. The metal forms have been welded together; part of it is smooth, while other bits are embellished with designs.

Konsul is taller than most humans, with three antennae pointing out the top and is another robot sculpture.


Cubism came about through Pablo Picasso early on in the twentieth-century 

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Pablo Picasso pioneered Cubism in the twentieth-century which became an avant-garde art movement meaning innovation in painting.

Objects were broken up, analysed and re-assembled in abstract form so they can be seen from different viewpoints; this helps represent the subject in a greater context, thus the background, subject and object often interrelate, and this is one of cubism’s distinct characteristics.

Picasso, when in France, revolutionized European painting and sculpture, thus inspiring music, literature and architecture as well.

Analytic Cubism was followed by Synthetic Cubism, leading up to the Surrealist movement made famous partly by Salvador Dali.

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon was painted by Picasso in 1907, it is oil on canvass and housed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Demoiselles is considered to have been a major step towards the founding of the Cubist movement and portrays five nude prostitutes all depicted in a disconcerting confrontational manner and none are conventionally feminine. The angular shapes and mask-like faces are a departure from traditional European art.

Les Demoiselles was seminal in both cubism and modern art. It was revolutionary and controversial because the artist denied researching African and Tribal art and insisted that Iberian sculpture was his main inspiration.

As with much of Picasso’s work, Demoiselles resembles some paintings by El Greco, as well as Gauguin and Cezanne all being instrumental in this creation and the formation of Cubism as a whole; however, even though it has been said that Demoiselles is generally referred to as the first Cubist picture as Picasso violently overturned established conventions, it does have a disruptive, expressionist element contrary to the spirit of Cubism.

Each of the figures in Les Demoiselles is drawn differently. The far right woman pulling the curtain embodies cubism with her sharp, geometric shape the others incorporate a multiplicity of styles.

It was shortly after Cezanne died that Picasso gathered some ideas for Cubism from a posthumous exhibition at the Salon d’Automne and it was observation of nature as if it were composed of basic shapes like cubes, spheres, cylinders and cones explored in a geometric simplification of form, which inspired the Cubism movement.

Cubism lives on even today with a legacy informed by many. Cubist imagery has moved into advertising, becoming a commercial success and Cubist sculpture again with Picasso’s “Bronze Head of a Woman” influenced a whole movement in architecture in Prague with Czech Cubism such as “The House of the Black Madonna” becoming a Cubist museum.

W Graham Robertson

W. Graham Robertson 1894 John Singer Sargent 1856-1925 Presented by W. Graham Robertson 1940 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N05066

Sargent, Graham Robertson (1894). Oil on canvas, 249 x 136 cm. Tate Britain

Graham Robertson bequeathed many paintings to the Tate Gallery, thus he was 28 when he posed here with his 11 year old poodle, Mouton!

As a London dandy, Robertson is wearing a long coat (even though it is summer) and leaning on a cane while looking as thin and youthful as possible.


Different types of art
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Creative arts can be divided into categories such as decorative arts, plastic arts, performing arts or literature.

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Paint is the medium used in painting and paper is the medium used in drawing and the form refers to the space it occupies. Sculpture for example, has three dimensions, paintings have texture and brush strokes.

Genre in movies are easily recognized such as horror or comedy and in painting you have portraits, still life or landscape; styles in fashion are casual or smart and in paintings you have Expressionism, Cubism or High Renaissance.

Art has a purpose, though this function is difficult to define and art influences the senses and emotions of our brain because it is a mode of expression, ranging from things like: music, literature, film, sculpture, architecture and of course painting.

Often seen as an upper class activity, art is associated with wealth in owning it and enjoying it, with regard to paintings; however, these days art of this type is often talked about as visual culture and this includes computer games, embroidery and advertising.

Cave paintings dating 40,000 years back, tell us a little about these pre-historic cultures and medieval art in the Middle Ages focused on the bible, thus using gold to highlight their paintings in a heavenly manner.

With Renaissance art came naturalism and more realistic embodiments of people in our world. Three-dimensional aspect of plane and recession, building upon biblical, medieval art, was common and becoming more technical in the depiction of biblical stories.

Islamic art preferred geometry and patterns in its art rather than Europe’s use of symbols. Calligraphy and dance were considered art in Asia and the Chinese sculpting of the terracotta army reflected the politics of the Qin Dynasty ruling at that time and woodblock printing was prominent in Japan in the seventeenth-century.

All of the above, culminated in new styles in the twentieth-century when artists developed new ideas. For example, Picasso used African masks in Les Demoiselles d’Avignon and this was reciprocal with the West influencing the East.

Art means creative skill, whether we study, use or enjoy this creative skill, it is for everyone the world over, and begins at the earliest of ages. It can be fun, educational, religious or peculiar, but one thing is for sure; without different types of art, the world would definitely be a poorer place.

With prejudices involved within the Academy and canon of art history, the repression of women as artists should now be a thing of the past, paving the way for more art and different art to come in the future.