Art is defined as the expression of human creative skills and imagination typically in a visual form. Typical examples of art include paintings and sculptures. Different people have different ways of expressing their techniques. How an artist portrays, their work can differ from what other artists may do, depending on various factors. Artists find inspiration from their surroundings. Art may be based on nature, emotions an artist goes through, or an experience, among other factors. It is therefore essential to look at the background of an artist before analyzing their work since the inspiration of art is most likely to be intertwined with real-life situations. This paper will examine and compare two pieces of art by two different painters from different geographical locations and times, to try and understand the similarities between the two arts and their differences, and how their features are related to the respective artists.
The first artwork to be analyzed in this paper is a silkscreen ink on canvas painting known as “Ten Foot.” This piece of art belonged to an artist called Andy Warhol and was created in 1967 in New York. Andy Warhol was an American artist, commonly credited for his leading role in the visual art movement referred to as pop art. The pop art referred to a concept of paintings that focused on mass-produced commercial goods. This movement introduced comic books, adverts and other images of popular and mass culture instead of the elitist way. Pop art is also credited with the use of mechanical means of reproduction. Andy Warhol was one of the pioneers of the pop art culture, probably the reason he became fame famous as “Pope of Pop.” This is evident even from his early paintings which were mostly taken from advertisements and cartoons; which were hand painted by use of paint drips.
Andy Warhol’s work has been known to explore the relationship between artistic expression and celebrity culture that was on the trend in the 1960s, the period when he painted the Ten Foot Flowers artwork. In this painting, Warhol got his inspiration from the flower. He had painted several other flower paintings in the previous years, but the Ten Foot Flowers painting was probably the most successful. In this painting, he drenched the floppy shape of the flowers with vibrant color and set them against a rich undergrowth background. An art critic noted in a Village Voice article in 1964 that the flowers appear to float right off the canvas, like cut-out gouaches by Matisse set adrift on Monet’s lily pond (David Bourdon 3). The flower paintings have been interpreted as a possible tribute to the President of the United States, John F Kennedy who had been assassinated. Others believe, however, that the flower in the paintings represents certain aspects of the flower power movement.
The other artwork that will be analyzed in this paper is the Les Demoiselles d’ Avignon; an oil on canvas painting by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso in 1907. Picasso was born in Spain in 1881. Although he lived the majority of his adult years in France, Picasso came from a town known as Málaga which is located in Andalusia. Picasso’s background may have influenced him to become an artist from his childhood days (O’Brian, Patrick 23). Raised by a father who was an artist himself. Unlike Warhol, Picasso used the cubism and surrealism movements in his work. His art mostly depicted objects with complex geometric forms. Picasso, together with other fellow painters saw the beginning of the cubist movement around 1907 to 1912. These paintings used a palette of earth tones. The artist worked with fellow painter Georges Braque in creating the beginnings of the Cubist movement in art. Their paintings utilize a palette of earth tones. The works depict deconstructed objects with complex geometric forms. Between 1912 to 1919, Picasso improved the cubist movement by introducing collage, a new art form, into some of his work. (Clark et al., 76)
Les Demoiselles d’ Avignon is one of the most famous examples of cubism painting. In this painting, Picasso used distortion of the female’s body as well as geometric forms to show an innovative twist and reflected the influence of African art on his work. According to (Steinberg 3), the five ladies in the painting all appear to be frightfully detached, to be sure entirely unconscious of one another. Instead, they concentrate singularly on the viewer, their disparate styles just advancing the power of their glare.
After looking at the details of the two artworks and the background of their creators, it is now possible to compare the paintings according to their visual features. The main difference between these two paintings is the movement or style that was used to create them. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon represents a radical break from the traditional composition as well as perspective in , and The Ten Foot Flowers represents a new era of painting based on mass production.
The visual elements in the two paintings are different, given the motivation of each artist. For instance, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon shows five nude female prostitutes from a certain brothel on Avinyó Street. In this painting, each prostitute is portrayed in a confrontational and disconcerting manner. This is probably as a result of an influence of African art he had viewed on different exhibits. On the other hand, the use of flowers by Warhol might have been an attempt to bring out a condolence message after the death of John Kennedy. The flowers could also have been used symbolically to depict a significant cultural touchstone as well as an ideal structure that evaluates the beauty and the scientific relevance of flowers. On the contrary, the five prostitutes in Les Demoiselles d’Avignon have only been used merely as icons to represent the subject matter of the art
Another aspect that can be used to distinguish these two paintings is the physical features of the arts, how they appear visually. In the case of The Ten Foot Flowers painting, the artwork is a two-dimensional silkscreen ink, pencil, and acrylic on canvas painting that utilizes the square format. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, on the contrary, is a two-dimension oil painting, that uses cubism to illustrate a sharp geometric shape. The implication of light in these two paintings is also different, with Warhol using natural light inside the frame of the picture while Picasso was implying light in his art through cubism.
Color is another feature that has been used differently in the two paintings. In Ten Foot Flowers, colors have been minimized to blues, oranges, and pinks. High contrast was used for the paintings, with distinct tones for every flower. In Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, on the other hand, darker colors were used on the left side of the artwork, and warmer colors on the right side. In terms of the patterns used for the painting, the shape of the flowers in Ten Foot Flowers is drenched using brilliant colors while in Les Demoiselles d’Avignon cubism has been used.
The volume of Warhol’s painting is 292.2 x 292.2 centimeters as compared to Les Demoiselles d’Avignon’s 243.9 x 233.7 centimeters. The humans illustrated in Picasso’s painting are angular and distorted instead of being round and voluminous in form. Taking a look at the proportion of each painting also brings one major point of difference between the two arts. In Warhol’s Ten Foot Flowers, flowers have equal proportions on the grass background. In Picasso’s painting, however, it is divided into portions; three fifths on the left and two fifths on the right side. This painting has also failed in creating a real scale, with some of the women on the art being larger than the others, unlike the flowers in Warhol’s painting which are relatively small scale.
It is important to note the various similarities in the general look of the paintings, which probably show similarity in some of the techniques the artists used in their work. One of the similarities between the two paintings is the use of near and far foreshortening, the use of spatial time and motion, and also the portrayal of unity and variety in both arts. This probably points out the fact that despite the differences in the styles the two artists used, they still shared some principles in how they created their arts.
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