Week 4 looking at tutor/peer artist recommendations 20.02.20
Sarah and a few others have suggested that I had a look at a number of different artists, so I have started working through the list and looking to see if there is any that I am drawn too. This post is a write up of that journey and what I found along the way.
The list of artists I have been recommended to look at are as follows -
Edward hoppers paintings, Arne Svenson’s photographs, David Hockney’s colour and composition, Vermeers composition & lighting, Edward Kienholz, Cristina Nunez, Laurie Simmons, visit Elgin park, Erwin Olaf, Hans Withoos.
Edited in at end of post. The artists I am left to investigate more after having a brief look at all of the recommendations are – Hans Withoos, Erwin Olaf, Tom hunters Vemeer works, Arne Svenson and Richard Tuschman.
The first artist I am going to look at is Edward Hopper. I am very much aware of Hoppers work including Nighthawks, and the huge range of inspiration his work has invoked for others. When ever I see nighthawks , I am always reminded of Tarantinos’ scene in ‘Pulp Fiction’ where the couple hold up the diner.
To research Hopper and get a background of his work I have gone to a book I own ‘Art visionaries’ , which tells you the condensed life stories, and shows you some of the most important works of some 75 artistic visionaries throughout history, of which Hopper is deemed one. The context of his work being in this book , with this title, is very illuminating in itself. The first thing that strikes me is how the book explains Hoppers career as a magazine illustrator and how “He detested the work.” (Getlein & Howard. 2016. pg 53) , but despite this hatred, his work is undoubtedly imbued with undertones of illustration, in fact , I would argue, that it is this illustrative weave that has made his images so enduring, and made them stand out so much at the time. I was pointed to Hopper as inspiration for my wanting to create tableaux of my family in our home , so images of his like nighthawks and Cape cod morning are of interest, and inspiration. Like Nighthawks, I anticipate that I will be taking the ‘through the window’ shot at nighttime like ‘nighthawks’ , so as to better utilise the drama and cinematic quality that comes with creating a nighttime image. I also have an issue with if I shoot during the day , not being able to eradicate glare of the windows, whereas Hopper didn’t have this issue as with a painting you can simply choose to not include an element that reduces the quality, aesthetics or professionalism of an image, where in photography you have to work technically to overcome these issues, and sometimes, through technical or environmental reasons you cannot.
Unlike in Nighthawks, Cape cod morning, feels very staged and constructed, whereas NH feels very natural, in the moment, documentary in a beautifully cinematic way. I know Crewdson drew much inspiration from NH’s in his work as I have been reading about it in a number of his books, and he discussed it in his two documentary films as well. It says “he set his imagined scenes in the unremarkable spaces of ordinary lives” (Getlein & Howard. 2016. pg 53) This portrayal of ‘ordinary lives’ is very much what I want to portray this module. Our life may not be ordinary for the vast majority of families, but it is ordinary for us, and most importantly ordinary for a huge number of families that are living, or wish to live, in a similar way, without the confines of traditional schooling. It is to these people that I wish to speak .
Off the back of Hoppers work I was pointed too, or found the work of Richard Tuschman who recreates scenes from Hoppers works as photographs. He builds the ‘sets’ as miniature dolls house dioramas and then photoshops the models into the miniature scenes, thereby having total control of the construction and delivery of the final image. This is a truly fascinating project to me, that touches on my work in a number of ways. I am not going to write too much about this here as I plan to come back to his work and research it in more depth.
The next artist it was suggested I look at was Arne Svenson, who photographed his neighbours in Manhattan through their windows, from his apartment window opposite with a telephoto lens. I actually really love this work visually and aesthetically, it’s stunning. However morally, it’s horrendous I think. Sontag says ‘to photograph people is to violate them’ (Sontag 2007 pg 14)and it is no surprise to me at all that the subjects of Svensons work felt violated. The fact you can sit in your house and have images taken of you in the sanctity of your own home is outrageous, and this body of work was actually in a legal case Documented by THE GUARDIAN HERE in which his first amendment rights ( freedom of speech) meant that a family who sued because they spotted their child in an image lost their claim. Personally there is no grey line here, this should be illegal. Nonetheless, the images are arresting in their banality , beautifully framed, and they satisfy a deep down part of ourselves I think we all have, to know what on earth everyone else’s life looks like in comparison to our own. This is central to the theme of my project, where I am aiming to show the inner workings of the lives of families that choose an alternative education for their children.
The next person I was suggested to look at was David Hockney for his form and composition and colour. As I am trying to streamline what I am looking at, I am actually going to give this one a miss for now, mostly because Hockney’s work is so well known to me, I have lots of books on his work, have attended numerous exhibitions of his in the past in a few different galleries over Europe , that I don’t need to look at it especially. I think it is one of those artists who you know so well, that they inspire everything you do, and create, as an artist subconsciously, as you cannot see without their art in your mind once you have seen it. When I saw Hockney’s ‘A bigger splash’ in his Paris exhibition at Pompidou in became impossible to ever frame an image in the same way ever again, (and one of the compliments on my images has been how I am ‘ very sensitive to what I keep in the frame’ (Michelle week 4 webinar), the same goes for his shower paintings angle and framing, I think his work has influenced me so much already, and will continue to do so, that I don’t need to look further at his work at present, as there is more to be gained from looking at new practitioners .
The next artist I was recommended to look at was Vermeer , and his use of lighting. I obviously know Vermeer and his images well, but admittedly not in any great detail. I have looked in a couple of books and websites just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything huge. I do feel that his work is obviously exceptional in respects to light and composition. However, like with Hockney above, I think once you have basic knowledge about his work, unless you are going to go into huge depth about his angles, and set up with mathematical angles jumping at you from everywhere , once it is in your brain, it’s in your brain. It has been said consistently through the MA that my lighting is really knowledgeable, and as I have built my whole practice through birth photography , using natural and available life, and capturing drama through that, I feel like I am ok here at the moment, and again, my time could be better spent somewhere else at the moment. One thing that I did come across that was interesting in relation to Vemeer was Tom Hunters ‘woman reading a possession order’ , which was inspired by Vermeer’s girl reading a letter. I read this interview in the Guardian where Hunter discusses how Vermeer’s use of everyday people, not kings and queens as was the done thing at the time, was what inspires him most. This element of Vemeers work does really interest me so I am going to look more at how this has inspired him.
Next I looked at the work of Edward Kienholz, and his constructed work , it’s absolutely amazing, but given I am not going to work much in tableaux now, if at all, and am not going to be doing the constructed scenes where I fabricate the photographed items, this recommendation is a little redundant now.
The same can be said for Laurie Simmons‘ work as well, as does the Elgin park work. These are all really very very interesting, but much less relevant to my work now I am not going for constructed scenes, they could potentially help me with the still life’s I am doing, however I think looking directly at traditional still life work could potentially help more with this, however I am acutely aware that I don’t want to be influenced too much on this as I want these images to be a true representation of the traces of my children , and our lives, so I don’t want to look at too much ‘constructed’ work. I think looking more at photographers who photographed a cross of documentary and still life would be better.
Next on the list was Cristina Nuñez , I wasn’t especially drawn to any of her work, I did however pass this video on to Raeann, another student in my cohort, as it really connects with her work.
Erwin Olaf was he next photographer that was recommended to me, and I really like this work, it sits really well with the body of work I am producing , even though I am not thinking I am going to do the staged Tableaux scenes anymore, so I am going to look at this work in more depth as well.
The last photographer that was recommended to me was Hans Withoos, http://hanswithoos.com/gallery/withoos-meets-withoos-the-people/ , just like with Erwin Olaf above, I really connected with this work and plan to research his work more.
Getlein Mark & Howard, Annabel . 2016. Art visionaries. London, Laurence king publishing.
Sontag, Susan. 2007. On photography. London, Penguin modern classics.
Hockney, David. Centre Pompidou 2017. Available at https://boutique.centrepompidou.fr/en/evenement/g446/david-hockney-exhibition/1/ (Accessed 21.02.20)
Hunter, Tom. My Best shot. The guardian. 2009. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2009/nov/04/photography-tom-hunter-best-shot (Accessed 21.02.20)
Kienholz, Edward & Nancy Reddin Kienholz, The Caddy Court, 1986–87, mixed media assemblage. Available at https://www.artnews.com/art-news/retrospective/a-catalogue-of-horrors-suzi-gablik-on-edward-kienholz-in-1965-6866/ (Accessed 21.02.20)
Nunez, Cristina. Higher self. Available at https://www.cristinanunez.com/portfolio/higherself/ (Accessed 21.02.20)
Svenson, Arne. 2014. Neighbours Available at https://arnesvenson.com/theneighbors.htm (Accessed 20.02.20)
Simmons, Laurie. The instant decorator. 2001-4. Available at http://www.lauriesimmons.net/photographs/the-instant-decorator?view=slider#5 (Accessed 21.02.20)
Tuschman, Richard. 2014. Hopper meditations. Available at – https://richardtuschman.com/Fine-Art-Portfolios/HOPPER-MEDITATIONS/1/thumbs (Accessed 20/02/20)
Weeks, Johnny. The Guardian. 2013. The art of peeping: photography at the limits of privacy. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/photography-blog/2013/aug/19/art-peeping-photography-privacy-arne-svenson (Accessed 20.02.20)
Vermeer. Johannes Vermeer’s Woman Holding a Balance. National gallery of art USa. Available at https://www.nga.gov/features/slideshows/johannes-vermeer-woman-holding-a-balance.html#slide_4 (Accessed 21.02.20)
Fig 1, Graham, Rebecca 2020. iPhone shot of pg 22 in art visionaries. Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.
Fig 2, Graham, Rebecca 2020. iPhone shot of pg 24 in art visionaries. Cape cod morning by Edward Hopper.
Fig 3, Tuschman, Richard. 2014. https://richardtuschman.com/Fine-Art-Portfolios/HOPPER-MEDITATIONS/1/thumbs (Accessed 20/02/20)
Fig 4, Arne Svenson. 2014. Neighbours Available at https://arnesvenson.com/theneighbors.html (Accessed 20/02/20)
Fig 5, Olaf, Erwin, Rain. Available at https://www.erwinolaf.com/art/rain_2004 (Accessed 21/02/20)
Fig 6, Withoos, Hans. milkmaid_in_kitchen Available at http://hanswithoos.com/gallery/withoos-meets-withoos-the-people/ (Accessed 21.02.20)