Category: American Art

Mary Cassatt (American, 1844-1926), A Woman an…

Mary Cassatt (American, 1844-1926), A Woman and a Girl Driving, 1881. Oil on canvas.

‘Madame Beauvoir’s Painting’ and ‘Marie-Antoin…

Madame Beauvoir’s Painting’ and ‘Marie-Antoinette Is Dead’, by Fabiola Jean-Louis

“The materials used for the paper gown sculptures are transformed in a way that allows me to represent layers of time and the events of the past as they intrude upon the present. Through the materials, I suggest that although we cannot change the past, we can act to change the present, as we activate the memories, visions, and legacies of our ancestors.”

Undine Rising from the Waters, 1880’s, b…

Undine Rising from the Waters, 1880’s, by Chauncey Ives (1810-1894)

Gettin’ Religion (1948) and Black Belt (1934…

Gettin’ Religion (1948) and Black Belt (1934), by Archibald Motley Jr. (1891-1981)

The Greek Slave, 1843, by Hiram Powers (1805-1…

The Greek Slave, 1843, by Hiram Powers (1805-1873)

The Octoroon Girl, 1925, by Archibald Motley…

The Octoroon Girl, 1925, by Archibald Motley (1891-1981)

Paintings from contemporary artist Emilio Vill…

Paintings from contemporary artist Emilio Villalba’s ‘I Don’t See’ series.

Harry Wilson Watrous (American, 1857-1940), Th…

Harry Wilson Watrous (American, 1857-1940), The Line of Love, c. 1915. Oil on canvas.

Tom Friedman, Untitled (A Curse)Here’s somethi…

Tom Friedman, Untitled (A Curse)

Here’s something I’ve been researching for my homework that I thought you might all have an interesting opinion on. This work, created in 1992, is by artist Tom Friedman. It presents the viewer with a simple plinth upon which – it appears – nothing rests. However, this is not the case once you know the context and history of the artwork. Right about the “empty” plinth, the artist hired a professional witch to curse the space. This begs the question of each individual person that views the work: Do you believe that the space is cursed – and therefore not really empty at all? Or are you not at all superstitious, but admire the response many would have to this invisible artwork?

The idea of stressing the importance of context of a piece of work is an idea that reminds me of a few traditional paintings. The painting Salomé (1909), by Paul Antoine de la Boulaye (1849-1926), comes to mind. That painting doesn’t at all portray “an icon of dangerous female seductiveness” until you learn the context behind it. Although the artworks couldn’t be more different, I think that idea resonates quite a bit with Untitled (A Curse) – that what you see is not exactly what you expect. That once you know the history behind what is being portrayed, it can completely turn your view of it around.

“At the time I was thinking about how one’s knowledge of the history behind something affects one’s thinking about that thing.”

This also asks the question, does art have to be visible to be appreciated? Does art have to be made of a material object at all, or can art can be expressed purely as a thought or as an action? Even the most visually beautiful artworks often are made with the idea to portray a thought or feeling, and all artwork is made to get some sort of response. While invisible, this work is actually a very loaded space for some.

Sir Galahad and the Holy Grail, 1896-1901, by …

Sir Galahad and the Holy Grail, 1896-1901, by Edwin Austin Abbey (1852-1911)