Art and Visual Culture Essays

waterfall and lizard graphic

Issues in Contemporary Art:

Ideology in Society - ©Griggs J, Dec 23, 2008

Ideology plays a significant role in our past and present society and cultures. The way our mind interprets things, all depend on the way we see or hear things. ‘The way we see things is affected by what we know or what we believe’ (Berger, 1972; 8). I believe ideology stems from preconceived ideas that were passed down from generations. Ideology is the status in life. How does ideology affect us? How is it used in propaganda and advertising? These questions and appropriate examples will be discussed and presented through this essay. A bibliography of diverse images is also arranged at the back of this essay to reinforce the concept of ideologies.


Conceptual Art - ©Griggs J, Jan 28, 2009

What is conceptual art? Is conceptual art, art? According to Elisabeth Schellekens, other art movements do not arouse as much debate or controversy as conceptual art. Conceptual art has an inclination to provoke viewers, causing them to react for or against the artwork. Some may find conceptual art very refreshing because is seems to be a relevant art practise in today's world. Others may consider it outrageous, offensive, skill-less, negative or not art at all (Schellekens, The Stanford Encyclopedia of philosophy 2007). Is it necessary to make an artwork if only the idea exists or can the idea be just an artwork? These questions will be discussed through this essay along with references and examples of conceptual artists such as Mel Ramsden, Joseph Kosuth, Keith Arnatt, and Sol LeWitt.


Art and Technology - ©Griggs J, Feb 23, 2009

Technology will always continue to develop and remain as something that is perceived to improve our lives. Some advanced technologies have enhanced considerably, while other inventions or reproductions are perceptively more of a disadvantage to society. As a result traditional ways are sometimes more practical or useful than new or advanced ideas. Technology is used by many in society. For example, artists are using new forms of technology to better their art or to possibly make it more interesting, daring or different to traditional styles of painting, drawing, sculpture and textiles. Technology has given artists more possibilities and opened up a new range of working and creating different styles of art. Examples will be discussed throughout this essay on how new forms of technology widen possibilities to artists. Moreover, negative and positive points will be discussed to compare older technologies with the new and improved, reinforcing the notion of technology in the artistic world.


Contemporary Aboriginal Art:

The Dreaming - The Lightning Men (historical and contemporary examples) - ©Griggs J, June 23, 2010

Throughout Aboriginal history, art has and will continue to play an important role in representing their culture, making it a well known and an interesting subject for many viewers around the world. The Dreaming is a well used European term that Aboriginal people use ‘…to describe the spiritual, natural and moral order of the cosmos’ (Caruana 2003, 10). This term does not imply fantasy as such, but rather is said to indicate an unusual reality which goes beyond ordinary beliefs. The Dreaming is described as the beginning of creation and continuum of existence; it is the Aboriginal culture, spirituality and intimacy within the environment (Berndt and Phillips 1973, 31). Berndt, R., Berndt, C. and Stanton (1992, 21) discuss that the Dreaming is a term used to describe the existence from the beginning of time, and that it is just as relevant in the past as it is today in Aboriginal art and culture, it is also vitally important for the future.


Aboriginal Artist: Kathleen Petyarre - ©Griggs J, July 29, 2010

Kathleen Petyarre is recognised by many art critics and collectors as one of Australia’s well known senior Aboriginal artists, who depicts central Australian desert landscapes with sensitivity and strength through visually compelling paintings that represent her culture and the landscape known as the Atnangker, later named Utopia. Kathleen’s bush name is Kweyetwemp, and Petyarre is described as being her skin name, not a surname as such. In this essay the work of Kathleen Petyarre will be analysed and discussed, with reference to her recognition in the contemporary art world.


Contemporary Aboriginal Artists: Fiona Foley, Gordon Bennett and Tracey Moffatt - ©Griggs J, August 2, 2010

Modern art forms, practises and methods have been a continuing development and inspiring subject for many Aboriginal artists, who have incorporated several art methods of photography, sculptural forms, installations, printmaking processes, textiles and various painting methods; mixing traditional with contemporary. The emergence of such art forms and practises has been adapted by the Aboriginal people quite willingly, as their art has become more and more popular within various cultures around the globe, encouraging them to use contemporary art mediums, but continue with traditional styles. Throughout this essay, the emergence of new art forms and the continuing change and adaptability within Aboriginal art will be discussed, along with references to Aboriginal artists Fiona Foley, Gordon Bennett and Tracey Moffatt, focusing on their artworks, career and their adaptability of changing styles and mediums in the contemporary art world.

Art and the Environment:

Prehistory cultures and their visual expressions in the environment - ©Griggs J, June 23, 2011

This essay will reference two distinct cultures from prehistory with written and visual examples of how artistic expressions correlated to environments of the Palaeolithic period and the Australian Aboriginal culture. For an introduction, the meaning of ‘landscape’ will be brought forth; explaining what it can convey. This essay will then continue to summarize and analyse characteristics of the two cultures, giving specific examples of cultural expressions within the environment; the main examples will be the Chauvet Cave in France and the Lightning Beings in Northern Australia.


Garden designs of Humphrey Repton and Lancelot Brown - ©Griggs J, July 18, 2011

During the mid eighteenth century poets, garden amateurs and professionals came to an agreement that the doctrine of a landscape should express poetic impressions rather than a standard visual concept or perception (Adams, 1991; 159). “When both national poetry and politics are introduced into the debate on what was the most rational, modern, and appealing approach to the laying out and ornamenting of a garden or park, the subject and the underlying philosophy are bound to become more complicated” (Adams, 1991; 159). French poet and critic, Charles Baudelaire, described certain landscape designers, such as Humphrey Repton and Lancelot Brown, as Romantic artists: “Romanticism is precisely situated neither in choice of subjects nor in exact truth, but in a way of feeling” (Brown, 2001; 8). In this essay several accounts on ‘picturesque’ styles will be brought forth, following visual examples and written discussions on the styles and features of two landscape designers, Brown and Repton. Some main differences between these two landscape designers will also be discussed with reference to the change of styles and perceptions of landscaping through the eighteenth century.


British Environmental artists, Andy Goldsworthy and Richard Long - ©Griggs J, August 19, 2011

Throughout history the meanings of art have changed vastly and the concepts or ideologies in artworks have somewhat become more important than the actual object of art. Sturken and Cartwright (2001; 21) state that photography, text and visual images of any kind are distinct ways in which ideology enters into society. Ideology plays a significant role in our society; the way our mind interprets things, all depends on the way we see or hear things: ‘The way we see things is affected by what we know or what we believe’ (Berger, 1972; 8). Remollino discusses that artworks are impossible without ideology; art is a conduct or aspect of life because it uses visual, textual and auditory devices that arouses our thoughts and appeals to our consciousness (Emanila, 1998-08).

Modernism and the Visual Arts:

Artist: Edgar Degas - formal leisure activities - ©2009, Griggs J.

Numerous artists convey, capture and portray a sense of pleasure through their work and aim to represent things that are enjoyable or of importance to them. A number of particular artworks by Edgar Degas will be discussed and examined throughout this essay. Kleiner (2005, p. 828) aptly states that Edgar Degas was famous for depicting ‘formal leisure activities’, such as ‘classical ballet’ which was one of his favourite subjects to paint or portray. Degas uses pictorial clues, random layouts, subtle colours and superb painterly techniques to capture a viewer’s attention into a space in time that tells a pleasurable story through imagery.


Architecture: Le Corbusier - ©2009, Griggs J.

Introducing a brief discussion by Sturken and Cartwright (2001), will be presented to point out why large cities are a feature of modernity. A concise analysis of two artists will then be put forward for an example to reveal the experiences of city living through some of the artists work. The main body of this essay will be based on aspects of modernist architecture, and the experiences and effects of urban living, analysing the architectural work and experiences of Charles Edouard Jeanneret, better known as Le Corbusier.


Artist: Frida Kahlo - social constraints - ©2009, Griggs J.

Numerous challenges for women artists were presented during the Modernist period, as this particular movement was in contrast to past ideologies and changed many views in art and society. It was noticeable in the Modernist period that women were expected to pursue the expectant role of mother or homemaker and artworks or written articles by women were not really encouraged or accepted in the wider community. Frida Kahlo, a famous artist during the Modernist period, was challenged with many social constraints during the modernist period and many cultural views are recognised throughout her artworks. The majority of this essay will analyse the art and times of Frida Kahlo, discussing various impacts and responses which she had toward Modernism and the culture around her.

Fashion in the 20th Century:

Coco Chanel - ©2011, Griggs J.

When it comes to fashion, a lot of importance is placed on the design, style, form, colour and pattern, and of course who will wear it. Fashion is a way of re-writing history; it continually rotates to make old styles new; not always as completely different or new, but opposing, improving or transforming the fashion to make improvements on previous clothing designs. The designs by French designer, Coco Chanel, are significant styles to be considered when thinking about alterations from previous fashions to current fashion. Dr. Ulrich Lehmann (1999; 301) considers fashion to work through methods of quotation. “It wilfully cites any style from the past in a novel incarnation or present rendition. Clothing types may be retained, yet their appearance is renewed by using past elements. Fashion thus constitutes an aesthetic rewriting of history.” In this essay, fashion designs by Coco Chanel will be explained with significance to fashion in the 1920s and post World War 2. Chanel’s designs will be researched and discussed with ideas of the change in fashion during her time, as well as aspects from today’s fashion.


Is fashion just another commodity? - ©2011, Griggs J.

This essay will present a main focus on fashion in the 1980s, with research and discussions on whether or not fashion during this decade was another commodity. This essay will begin with brief explanations of aspects in fashion during the 20th century. A description of two fashion divisions will also be noted to reveal ideas about designs for mass production and custom-based fashion. Furthermore, deliberations on the 1980s memorable and quite distinctive fashion will be analysed, bringing into account the fashion designers and styles of the decade, along with commodities and consumerism.


Vivienne Westwood and Jean-Paul Gaultier - ©2011, Griggs J.

Artists and fashion designers, throughout history, have come to appreciate one another in the world of art and couture, and although the two have somewhat blurred or blended together since modernist times, they remain as two separate fields, and are equally successful in their approaches to reveal messages, express culture and display modern views. Within this essay, discussions of fashion and the visual arts will be brought forth as examples of individual fields that have effectively merged together, with increased vigour in the 1990s. This essay will point out various written statements of art and fashion, and then bring into account the transformations of combining and displaying visual arts with couture. The designs of Vivienne Westwood and Jean-Paul Gaultier will also be referenced to portray the ideas of integrating art and fashion.

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