Friday, November 9, 2012

Content & Context


  1. Art is a major part in human life and has been for many years. Throughout time, art has been able to tell stories, passed down from many generations. Even though many artist made their piece (art work) to depict a specific issue or emotion, many others seem to have different opinions on what is being addressed in the art work. Some people are able to understand the piece and compare it to modern while others cannot. Two art works that I chose were “Paul Signac, Evening calm, Concarneau” and “Rackstraw Downes A stop on the J Line.” When looking at these pieces, they can be compared a lot, yet not be related at the same time. Context and formal elements help understand the content of these paintings. “Paul Signac, Evening calm, Concarneau” is a representational artwork made in 1891 showing the sail of ships to a new land. The artist is letting us know that this is a voyage of many others. It is easy to understand the content among this painting by understanding the formal elements. This painting uses complimentary colors. When looking at this piece, you are able to observe a few things to somewhat get an understanding of what is happening in the painting. Lines portray a very important part because it shows the movement of the boats. The diagonal lines shown on the boat tells the direction it is sailing, revealing a form of movement. Lines also help understand the mood in this painting when looking at the ocean. As you see the water, it takes the form of a horizontal line, showing that it was most likely a peaceful voyage to the new land. Shapes are also a main part in this picture as it reveals geometric and organic shapes. Organic shapes can be found while looking at the ground and rocks while geometric shapes can be seen when looking at the houses and boats. Unity is also shown in this painting since the boats are traveling in a a pack, showing a sense of “oneness.” “Rackstraw Downes A stop on the J Line” is another piece, made in 2007 that shows the foundation of an aboveground train tracks. This piece was interesting when looking at its content because the streets are not flooded with people driving or walking, yet shows a train station above. After observing this I came to the conclusion that people are using the subway rather than traveling on their own. This painting takes on a different approach than the first one because it showing that transportation has changed. Many formal elements can be seen in this artwork as well, such as lines, shapes, pattern, and color. The colors being shown are complimentary. Lines take on many roles in this picture as it reveals vertical and diagonal lines. The diagonal lines show the movement of direction that the tracks are going in as well as the streets too.

  2. Vertical lines can be seen on the pillars that connect the trains to the ground revealing the support that it has to keep the tracks standing. Shapes shown are more geometric than organic. Geometric shapes can be seen in the buildings, train tracks, streets and cars, while organic shapes can be found in the trees. Pattern also plays a role in this picture when looking at the train tracks itself. The tracks are repeated many times showing a pattern. After observing these paintings, comparing and contrasting is an easy thing to do. Both paintings use a great use of formal elements to tell the story that is being portrayed inside the artwork. The way the lines are positioned in each artwork is an important thing because knowledge of what mood being shown can be revealed. Both show a source of transportation that many use to travel to other places. Even though they can be compared, there are much more different things than they have in common. For example, in the first painting, a lot of organic shapes can be shown because nothing was industrialized yet. Nature was more likely to be seen back then because the world was still new. While organic shapes can be shown in the first painting, geometric shapes were more common in the second. The buildings took on geometric shapes in the second painting, while organic took the shape of nature in the first. Another difference was mood and source of transportation being shown. For example in the first painting, horizontal lines showed the calmness of sailing many years ago. When looking at modern day transportation, the lines take on many shapes, giving off a “busy” vibe rather than a calm one. When observing paintings, context helps understand what is happening in many art pieces. Context helps viewers understand what was happening at the time the painting was made. This helps understand how conditions or events at the time the painting was made had a major impact on artwork. For example when looking at the painting “Paul Signac, Evening calm, Concarneau”, some might say, “why did the artist paint ships sailing if we have cars and trains to ride in?” Well the answer is simple when understanding the context of this painting. “Paul Signac, Evening calm, Concarneau” was made in 1891. The reason being might be that the artist painted all of these boats was because it was a common source of transportation to travel to other lands and most likely sailors were still traveling to new lands.

    The context of “Paul Signac, Evening calm, Concarneau”, would not be changed because many events during this time points to life reflecting what is shown in the painting. Transportation was limited and a lot of technology that we have today was not available. Even content might not change for pieces in the future. People may look at “Rackstraw Downes A stop on the J Line” and compare it to “Paul Signac, Evening calm, Concarneau”, saying that it shows the only source of transportation since technology would more than likely advance. Artwork is a very special thing because helps paint a story of past events on how life was actually like. Formal elements and knowledge of the time and place the painting was made helps understand the story that an artist has made in their art.