Art is a Story
Art has untapped potential and power. From the earlier types of art on forward to modern art, there has been much purpose, meaning, emotion and story within each piece of art created. Khan Academy’s video titled, “Representation and Abstraction: Millais’s Ophelia and Newman’s Vir Heroicus Sublimis,” takes an in depth look at such purposes, meanings, and detailing that can be missed upon first view of the two pieces being compared.2 These two pieces, dramatically different in method, application, and technique do not differ in quality. Both, Millais’s Ophelia and Newman’s Vir Heroicus Sublimis, evoke emotion, capture and focus attention, and tell a story. Newman’s painting is abstract and plays on color, size, texture and depth. While Millais’s painting is naturalistic, with many colors, play on light and shading, and depicts an easier to see story. Both paintings can be viewed as revolutionary as they were both the first of their kind to tip the scale of what is perceived as art. Without knowing the background of the artists or their works, it is easy for some people to miss the depth of statement that can be found in most works of art.
Art can capture moments, thoughts, emotions, dreams and so much more. Pablo Picasso best illustrates this with his portrait of Gertrude Stein, Portrait of of Gertrud Stein, 1905-06.1 Featured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, this piece took so many tries for Picasso to capture Gertrud, in the way he wanted to represent her, that he left and did not complete the portrait until the following year.1 Also according to Khan Academy’s post titled, “Picasso, Portrait of Gertrude Stein,” Picasso’s finished portrait not only upset traditional portrait artists, but was a better telling of the personality being painted.1 Art has allowed for viewers to understand people, events, and places of the past, while paving the way for new types of art to be created.
Picasso was inspired by artists around him, however it was with his appreciation of African art that helped influence his creation of “Cubism”.3 Such Artists, like Picasso, could see the beauty of African Art, and how the art had function, form, a release of spiritual meaning, and could persuade emotional empathy on its viewers.3 Understanding the power that art has helped many artists to explore more artistic avenues, such as architecture, crafting, sculpture, photography, and cinema, to name a few. This lends a path to the expansion of jobs for artists, and an enriched community.
I have found in my own personal experience, viewing art, that I feel like I am missing the bigger picture. I can appreciate the talent, technique and be swept away by most art that I have seen. However, I have walked by some artwork, especially modern art, and did not give it the attention it well deserves. There is always a story to be told. Without the understanding of the backstory many great works can be cast aside by the viewer.
1 Harris, Dr. Beth, and Steven Zucker. “Picasso, Portrait of Gertrude Stein”. In Early Abstraction: Cubism & Its Impact. Khan Academy 2016. Web 17 June 2016.
2 Harris, Dr. Beth, Sal Kahn, and Steven Zucker. “Representation and Abstraction: Millais’s Ophelia & Newman’s Vir Heroicus Sublimis.” In Humanities Art 1010: Beginners Guide 20-2. Khan Academy 2016. Web 17 June 2016.
3 Murrell, Denise. “African Influences in Modern Art.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/aima/hd_aima.htm (April 2008). Web. 17 June 2016.