Saturday, January 11, 2020
Philip Pearlstein Two Models with Blow-Up Chair & Salvador Dali Essay
Through the development of art, the fascination of the female body has been a main motif. It is Venus, Roman Goddess of love who has intrigued the artist, and held their attention for well over a few centuries. She has been not only Venus, but also Aphrodite (the Greek Goddess of Love), she has been Mary, mother of Christ in Gothic tradition and she had been found in the countless faces of women depicted by Picasso, Monet, Degas, Warhol (for isnÃ¢â¬â¢t Monroe a goddess? ). The link in these references is that this goddess, whomever she is, is holding the fascination of male artist. This is not to say that female artists have not taken up the trend which she invokes, but the purpose here is to discover how differently she is seen through their eyes in comparison with male visions of Ã¢â¬ËloveÃ¢â¬â¢. PearlsteinÃ¢â¬â¢s innovation in completing this project is one of Modernism, mixed with Realism. Pearlstein paints an oil painting of two females. They appear plastic wrapped within the canvas due to the severe highlights Pearlstein applies to both of their bodies. They lay beside each other, one on the chair the other next to the chair, and they both appear to be asleep. These two models or VenusÃ¢â¬â¢ are full frontal nude. The viewer is unable to see if they are ashamed or not from their faces because one of them is hiding her face and the other oneÃ¢â¬â¢s head extends beyond the canvas (this is a trademark of Pearlstein). Though both VenusÃ¢â¬â¢ are or appear asleep they are active with the coloring and highlights which Pearlstein has seen fit to attribute to them. The line of light glares down the frontal figures body, highlighting the left breast, the stomach wrinkles and over the curves of both of the legs. This mimics the curves and highlights given to the plastic chair which she Ã¢â¬ËsleepsÃ¢â¬â¢ upon. The other model fades into the background, yet still has that tiny shot of highlight upon the same appendages and other body parts which the first Venus had on her. The interesting item in this painting is that there are two female figures being painted. This is coupled with the fact that here too, like all the ones before it, Venus is apathetic, or at best the viewer is unable to tell what she (they) are feeling. Never mind the composition, Venus is still without a Ã¢â¬ËvoiceÃ¢â¬â¢ in this painting. Through the very brief glimpse of feminine fecundity, and pulchritude, Venus remains elusive, and stoic. It has taken the art movement of the 20th century to see the full force of Venus. She has, with the help of female artists, broken her silence. In DaliÃ¢â¬â¢s oil on canvas The Persistence of Memory (1913) the theme of paranoia is persistent in this dreamscape. The distortion of the piece exudes a frightening use of spatial mobility and form. Surrealism is a way in which the expression of fantasy can be forthcoming in the world of Art. Dali exemplifies this notion in his use of foreground and background shapes and the pure psychic automatism which is symbolized in the clocks. DaliÃ¢â¬â¢s focus in this work is mainly about freedom; although the context of this work is based on paranoia and the weightiness of time the work is also free from previous constraints of other artistic movements in that it is not a painting dedicated to reason or moral purpose. DaliÃ¢â¬â¢s painting is that of a dream and reason becomes a series of disjointed objects in space; there is no rhyme in his work unless it is free verse; that is to say that there is no structure as prior to surrealism the viewer is used to seeing structure. DaliÃ¢â¬â¢s work often reflect what Virginia Woolf was so diligently experimenting with, which is unconscious writing or free narrative. Dali painted as though the conscious mind was sleeping, and that is why his paintings are so often reminiscent of dreams as Janson states, Ã¢â¬Å"The notion that adream can be transposed by Ã¢â¬Ëautomatiatic handwriting; directly from the unconscious mind to the canvas, bypassing the conscious awareness of the artist, did not work in practice. Some degree of control was unavoidable. Nevertheless, Surrealism stimulated several novel techniques for soliciting and exploiting chance effectsÃ¢â¬ (Janson Ã¢â¬Å"The History of Art 807) . Even the central figure in The Persistence of Memory is portrayed as though it were sleeping. The unfinished background is almost anachronistic with the foreground as it exhibits a cliff sliding off into a body of water. It seems as though Dali made the background on purpose to confuse the viewer since dreams are intended to be symbolic of personal meaning. The sky in the background also seems incomplete with no visible clouds but merely a color palette that drifts off into a sfumato haze. The background however is not what Dali wanted the viewer to be stricken with as a first impression. The central figure of the painting is unfinished as well. Dali painted an eyeball, and a nose and made no more attention to the rest of the figure. This feeling of incompleteness is unnerving and truly embodies the emotional state and perception of dreaming. The painting is purely inspired by that part of DaliÃ¢â¬â¢s unconscious mind. Although the painting exhibits that Dali used controlled in certain aspects of the work such as the use of diagonals, and linear shapes, but the overall impression of the painting lies within the angles, the objects and the general ambience of the piece. The clocks themselves prove to be unnerving both their positions and their lack of solid form, as though they are oozing across the plane in the foreground and the limb near the horizon of the painting, as well as across the half finished face. Another artistic ploy that Dali uses in The Persistence of Memory is his use of shadow; not merely darkness but the chiaroscuro so prevalent in the piece. This furthers the theory of this paper that Dali uses surrealism to tap into the unconscious and the dream world. Dali does the opposite in this painting of previous artists; he places the darkness in the foreground of the painting and the brightness in the background. This is symbolic because Dali wants to evoke to the audience that in the dream world the objects that are in front of the dreamerÃ¢â¬â¢s face are not always tangible but looming and undefined. In the background the objects are illuminated but this illumination does not add in defining the object because Dali here uses space to further illustrate his unconscious perspective; the objects in the background are too far away and cannot be seen. Thus, each part of the painting is uncomfortably defined. It is almost nonsensical; these objects of DaliÃ¢â¬â¢s in space without a coherent theme except for these persistence clocks. The clocks are the main meaning and focus of the painting and it is through these objects that the theory of this paper rests. The clocks present the theme of paranoia (as mentioned prior). Not only are they draped over the main objects in the foreground but their rendering is disconcerting. Each clock offers a different time, and one clock is closed so that the viewer cannot decipher its time. It is interesting that Dali did not distort the closed clock; it signifies a secret and further exemplifies the state of the dream world present in this painting; that is, the one clock that could offer a valid time is closed and unable to be seen by the painter, or the audience. The contention in the painting is that the central figure of the face is sleeping and is thus oblivious to the clocks, to time, to the unfinished landscape. That is the quintessential meaning of a dream; the sleeping figure is unaware to symbolism, to action, to time, and that is how Dali exudes incoherence in the dream world.