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José Clemente Orozco Perspectives on Art Essay

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Chapter 2.2

Artists have painted on surfaces of various kinds for tens of thousands
of years.

In prehistoric times, artists painted on the walls of caves.

About 500 years ago, artists began painting on linen cloth, a surface
that was lighter and easier to handle.

Modern muralists and graffiti artists paint on walls.

Artists paint on stretched canvases and sheets of paper.
There are many kinds of paints, suitable for different purposes, but they all
share the same basic components:
Pigment + Binder
Pigment gives paint its color. Traditionally, pigments have been extracted
from minerals, soils, vegetable matter, and animal by-products.
The color umber originated from the brown clay soil of Umbria in Italy.
The color ultramarine was ground from lapis lazuli, a blue stone found in
In recent times, pigments have been manufactured by chemical processes
rather than extracted from naturally occurring materials.
Pigments do not stick to surfaces by themselves. They need a liquid binder,
a substance that allows the paint to be applied and then dries, leaving the
pigment permanently attached.
There are many kinds of pigments and many binders. Older forms of binders
include things like beeswax, egg yolk, vegetable oils and gums; modern
binders include complex chemical substances such as polymers.
Cave paintings from Pech Merle cave, c. 23,000 BCE, France.
Researchers have found that some images on the cave walls of Pech Merle
were made of a saliva-and-pigment solution that was applied with a small tube.
The saliva was being used as the binder.
Artists use many kinds of tools to help them paint:

Brushes (traditionally made from animal hair, now often made out of
vinyl and polyester)
Cans of compressed air for spraying paint onto a surface
Palette knives
Pouring or dripping from bucket or containers
Painting with hands, fingers, or other body parts
Commonly used brush types, and the parts of an artist’s brush.
Palette knife, a tool that can be used for mixing and applying paint.
Another binding technique that was perfected many centuries ago is
encaustic, a semi-transparent paint medium that was used by the ancient
Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians. It is still used by some artists today.
To use encaustic, an artist must mix pigments with hot wax and then apply
the mixture quickly. It can be applied with brushes, palette knives, rags, or
simply poured.
Encaustic must be used on a stiff surface, such as a wooden panel or
metal plate, because once it is cool it can crack.
Portrait of a boy, c. 100-150 CE
Encaustic on wood
Mary Black,
Natura 9 (2015)
Painting technique in which the artist paints onto freshly applied plaster.
– Earliest examples come from Crete in the Mediterranean (the palace at
Knossos and other sites) and date c. 1600-1500 BCE.
– Frescoes were also used later, to decorate the inside of Egyptian tombs.
– The technique was used extensively in the Roman world for the
decoration of interiors, and its use was revived during the Italian
While in most painting techniques the pigment is mixed into a binder, in this
technique, the pigment (mixed with water) is applied to a lime-plaster surface
(which becomes the binder). The plaster absorbs the color and the pigment
binds to the lime as it sets.

While fresco is not used as commonly today, some artists, like Walter
O’Neill, chose to keep this artform alive.
Walter O’Neill,
Untitled (2002)
Tempera, also known as egg tempera, is a permanent, fast-drying painting
medium consisting of pigments mixed a binder medium derived from egg
(often the yolk). Despite its rich yellow color, egg yolk does not significantly
impact the color of the pigment; it simply gives off a transparent soft glow.

Tempera is best mixed fresh for each painting session.
Usually applied with a brush and dries almost immediately.
Earliest examples can be found in Egyptian tombs.
Duccio di Buoninsegna,
Entry into Jerusalem (1308-11)
Tempera and gold leaf on wood
Islamic artists appreciated the precise detail this medium made possible
and used tempera with gold leaf to create rich images for the ruling
Riza Abbasi,
Two Lovers (1629-30)
Tempera and gilt paint on paper
Artists have continued to use tempera. Famously, Andrew Wyeth has
used it to create some of the most famous works of American art.
Andrew Wyeth, Christina’s World (1948), Tempera


Painting with oil is relatively new (compared to encaustic, tempera, and

Artists used oil paint during the Middle Ages but have done so regularly
only since the 15th century–particularly in Flanders (modern-day
Belgium, The Netherlands, and northern France). The oil used as a
binder there was linseed oil, a by-product of the flax plant.

15th century Flemish painter Jan van Eyck (1395-1441) has been
credited with the invention of oil paint. It turns out he did not actually
invent it but he was one of the earliest practitioners of oil painting.
Jan van Eyck,
The Madonna of Chancellor Rolin
Oil on wood

Because it’s so flexible, oil paint adheres to cloth (like canvas or linen).

The medium’s transparency allows it to be painted on in thin layers
called glazes. It has the potential to create a sense of rich luminosity,
as though lit from within.

Oil paint is very slow to dry so artists can blend it or make changes
days after an initial coating has been applied.

The linseed oil in oil paints can be quite strong. That, in addition to the
fact that oil paints can only be dissolved in turpentine or mineral spirits,
require artists who use oils to work in well-ventilated areas.
The use of transparent pigment in glaze painting encouraged the use of
underpainting. An underpainting is a preliminary layer of paint that is
intended to support the final version of the work. A grisaille is a
black-and-white underpainting that establishes the light and dark values in a
work. After creating the grisaille, the artist would add full color through the
use of glazes.
French artist Jean-Auguste-Dominque Ingres (1780-1867) created a grisaille
and did not add the finishing layers as an example for his students.
You may remember his painting Grande Odalisque?
This is his painting Odalisque in Grisaille.
Oil paint became a popular medium for artists wishing to depict energetic
scenes. One such artist was Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899).
You may recognize this painting from Chapter 1.9 in Week 4.
Rosa Bonheur, Plowing in the Nivernais: The Dressing of the Vines, (1849)
Rosa Bonheur, The Horse Fair (1852-55), Oil on canvas
Bonheur was the eldest child in family of French artists. She was a freespirited child. In her early life she was such a disruptive/rebellious student that
she was moved from one school to another until at last her father decided to
just educate her himself.
Bonheur had a disdain for convention that she carried into her career as an
artist. She was a feminist and hugely successful as a woman artist during her
lifetime–which was rare. During this time period a woman needed familial
support to pursue her own profession and Bonheur was lucky to have a father
who believed in the equality of the sexes and supported her.
Bonheur defied other gender norms of the time as well. She was well-known for
wearing pants, which was radical at the time. She had to obtain a special
permit to get permission to wear men’s clothing. She claimed that she needed
to wear trousers in order to move freely around farms, in the countryside, etc.
and that was how she was able to use her success and reputation as an artist
to receive this permit.
Some contemporary artists have chosen to use oil in an impasto fashion.
Impasto means thickly painted. Oil paint is thick enough to hold its shape
when applied to a surface and can build up, giving a three-dimensional
Joan Brown,
Girl in Chair
Oil on canvas
Another contemporary artist who works in oil is Hung Liu (b. 1948).
Hung Liu,
Oil on canvas
Hung Liu (b. 1948)
grew up in Communist
China before
immigrating to the US.
She uses the various
qualities of oil paint to
create her own unique
style and explore her
cultural roots.
Traditional Chinese style
is reflected in the idyllic
figures in the upper part
of the work.
The figures in the lower
section of the painting
depict the backbreakingly hard reality of
life under the
Communist leader Mao
Hung Liu is trying to
convey the discontinuity
between the ideal and
the realities of life.
Ink Painting
While ink can be used for writing and drawing, it can also be used for painting.
Chinese literati painting grew out of the rich tradition of Chinese poetry. Any
young aspiring government worker in ancient China was expected to be
well-versed in the creation of poetry in a calligraphic style. The artistic
influences of these two disciplines led artists to go beyond the decorative use
of language into the visual form of ink painting.
By the Song Dynasty (960-1279) an established academic painting style had
emerged that was different from the calligraphic style that had been used for
hundreds of years.
One of the great practitioners of this style was Guo Xi (1020-1090).
Guo Xi,
Early Spring (1072)
Ink on silk
Guo developed a process that he called
the “angle of totality.” This system
enables artists to present a scene from
many vantage points at the same time.
Early Spring displays this kind of
perspective, referred to as “floating
perspective” because the viewer is not
set in a fixed position.
Lui Dan, one of China’s most famous living artists, uses traditional techniques
to create modern works of art with ink on canvas.
Watercolor and Gouache

Watercolor and gouache suspend pigment in water with a sticky binder
(usually gum arabic) which helps the pigment adhere to the surface of
the paper when dry.
Watercolor is transparent.
Gouache has an additive in it (often chalk) that makes the paint
Both are usually painted on paper because the fibers in the paper help
to hold the suspended pigments in place.

Watercolor is very portable (all the artist needs is brushes, tubes or
cakes of paint, water, and paper) and this makes it a good medium for
traveling with, painting outdoors, etc.
The whites of the image need to be left unpainted– allowing the paper
itself to be the white that shows through. This requires very careful
work on the part of the artist.
John Singer Sargent, Mountain Stream, c. 1912-1914, watercolor
Albrecht Dürer,
A Young Hare,
Watercolor and gouache

Acrylic paints are composed of pigments suspended in an acrylic polymer
resin. They dry quickly and can be cleaned up with relative ease.
Acrylics have only been in use since about 1950.
Unlike oil paints, which dissolve only in turpentine or mineral spirits, acrylics
can be cleaned up with water.
When dry, acrylic paints have similar characteristics to those of oil paint, but
can also be used in ways that mimic the soft effects of watercolor.
They also can be used on a wide variety of different surfaces.
Many professional artists prefer acrylics as their primary painting medium.
One such artist is Ethiopian-born American artist Julie Mehretu (b. 1970).
Mehretu likes to work in many layers, alternating between drawing and
painting. Other painting media would not allow her to do this in the same way.
Acrylics can offer versatility to an artist because they are compatible with other
water-based media (can be used with ink or collage for instance, such as in
Mehretu’s work).
Julie Mehretu, Excerpt (Supremacist Evasion), (2003), Ink and acrylic
In the following painting, by Ralph M. Larmann, you’ll see acrylics used in a very
different way. In this painting, Larmann uses an old-fashioned glazing technique
(similar to how Van Eyck used oils) with this newer medium of acrylic paint.
Ralph M. Larmann, Coalopolis, (2010), Acrylic
Mixed-Media Painting
The traditional boundaries between art media have been blurred as artists
explore new ways to express themselves. Mixed-media and collage work
have become popular ways of integrating imagery into a painted artwork.
Does anyone remember the name of the artist who first began the
exploration of these techniques and approaches?
Robert Rauschenberg
Robert Rauschenberg,
Oil and pencil on pillow, quilt, and sheet on
wood supports
Robert Rauschenberg,
Robert Rauschenberg,
Robert Rauschenberg is the best known master of mixed-media painting.
Jane Frank (1880-1966) was one of the first leading female practitioners of
mixed media painting.
Jane Frank, Frazer’s Hog Cay #18 (1968), Mixed media (oil paint and stones)
Jane Frank, Sculptural Landscape Grey and Green, Mixed media (oil paint, driftwood,
burlap, and medium on canvas)
Jane Frank, Sculptural Landscape Earth Tone, Mixed media (oil paint, driftwood,
sand, and medium on canvas)
Jane Frank, Crags and Crevices, Mixed media and collage
Mural Art and Spray Paint
The Mexican Muralists began a movement in the 1920s, with social and
political messages as part of their efforts to reunify the country after the
Mexican Revolution.
They believed that a painting should belong to all the people of a
community, so they often worked outside, usually on a large scale.
The murals were executed in techniques including fresco, encaustic,
mosaic, and relief.
The three leaders of the Mexican Muralism movement were:
José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and David Alfaro Siqueiros
Sidenote, Diego Rivera was married to a very famous and influential
artist we discussed earlier in the semester. Do you remember who?
Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo

Murals have remained an important tool for community building.
Durham’s Civil Rights Mural is an example of this in our community–

Spray paint–applied using a spray gun or spray can–is a favorite of tag
and graffiti artists. Graffiti artists prefer to use spray enamel, a
commercially produced paint, packaged in an aerosol can and generally
used for applying an even coat on a slick surface.
Graffiti artists are considered vandals and criminals by local governments
when they paint places without the permission of property owners. For this
reason, many keep their identities secret and sign their work with an alias,
called a tag. Even so, many graffiti artists have become widely known and
celebrated–perhaps mostly famously, Banksy.

Before watching, for context–
Sotheby’s is a British-founded American multinational corporation with
headquarters in New York City. It is one of the world’s largest brokers of fine
and decorative art, jewellery, and collectibles.
Before moving into your written assignment for this chapter, I’m going to
share some context.
A story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden
meaning, typically a moral or political one.
Prometheus: The Fire Bringer
In Greek mythology, Prometheus was a Titan. Titans were the descendents of
Uranus (Heaven) and Gaea (Earth). Prometheus had the reputation of being
a clever trickster. At the time, only the gods had the power to create fire.
However, after a quarrel between Prometheus and Zeus about Zeus’s unfair
treatment of human beings, Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gifted it
to humanity. From that point on, human beings had the power to create fire
for warmth, cooking, and for the purposes of metalwork.
Zeus punished Prometheus for his actions by chaining him to a rock for all
eternity where an eagle would come every day to eat his liver which would
regenerate over night only to be eaten again.

Read page 213, Perspectives on Art: José Clemente Orozco.
Respond to the following prompt in a one-page response of 350-500
words. Your response should be organized into paragraphs, with minimal
typos. Points will be deducted to excessive typos or grammatical errors.
Describe Orozco’s fresco mural, Prometheus, looking at the artist’s use of the
elements of arts (line, form, shape, volume, mass, color, texture, space,
motion and time, and value) and the principles of art (contrast, balance, unity,
variety, rhythm, emphasis, pattern, scale, proportion, and focal point).
Bearing in mind the historical context described in the text and what we
learned about Prometheus in class, consider why the artist might have chosen
to paint Prometheus and what this character might have represented to him.
Chapter 2.3
Before the invention of printing, there was no way of reproducing imagery.
Artists could copy something over by hand, but inevitably, each rendering
would be different. Printing changed all of that, allowing a design to be
reproduced and distributed to many people.
The first printing, in which ink was used to print patterns on fabrics,
emerged in China in the third century CE.
Ancient civilizations in Egypt and Mesopotamia reproduced images by
rolling cylindrical incised stones across clay or pressing them into wax.
These printed impressions were used as a tamper-proof seal to ensure
packages couldn’t be opened without detection.
The earliest prints on paper were created in China in the eighth century
CE. Note: Paper itself was also invented in China.
By the ninth century, printed Buddhist scrolls were being made across
east Asia.
By the beginning of the fifteenth century, woodblock printing and
papermaking workshops had become common throughout Europe.
The woodblock print remained the standard in Asia, but the West began
to develop and explore a range of different printmaking techniques.
There are four main printing processes:
Each of these processes involves a different matrix. A matrix is a physical
surface that can be manipulated to hold ink, which is then transferred to paper.
Relief printing:
A print process where the inked
image is higher than the
non-printing areas. Relief prints
are made by carving away a
certain amount from the block in
order to create a raised image.
Types of relief printing include
woodcut and linocut.
Woodcut uses a
woodblock for a
Woodcut print
from the Diamond
Sutra from the
Tang Dynasty in
China, the world’s
earliest printed
text, produced in
868 CE.
Woodcut by Elizabeth Catlett,
Linocut uses blocks or sheets of soft
linoleum for a matrix.
Linoleum is easier to carve into and
often has a smoother resulting
image (woodcuts can show wood
grain). For those reasons many
contemporary printmakers prefer it
for relief printing.
Linocut by Edward Bawden, Brighton Pier (1958)
Intaglio printmaking:
Any print process where the inked image is lower than the surface of
the printing plate (from the Italian for “cut into”). Include non-chemical
processes (such as engraving and drypoint) and chemical processes
(such as etching and aquatint).
The following are all examples of intaglio printmaking processes.
Albretch Dürer, engraving
Adam and Eve
Max Beckmann, drypoint
Adam and Eve
Rembrandt van Rijn, etching
Adam and Eve
Francisco Goya, aquatint
(c. 1818)
A print process done on a flat, unmarred surface, such as a stone, in
which the image is created using oil-based ink with resistance to water.
Honoré Daumier, lithograph, Rue Transnonain, April 15, 1834 (1834)
Serigraphy (Silkscreen Printing):
Printing that is achieved by creating a solid stencil in porous screen and
forcing ink through the screen onto the printing surface.
Andy Warhol, silkscreen
Four Marilyns
We have now talked about the four main printing processes (relief,
intaglio, lithography, and serigraphy). A fifth, and less common, form of
relief printing is…
While relief and intaglio printing rely on manipulating the matrix by cutting
into it, in collagraphy the artist “collages” onto the matrix, creating raised
Glen Alps, collagraph
Roll-Up #2
Prints are usually produced in a limited number of reproductions, called
editions. The printmaker ensures each print is as close to identical as
possible, and then assigns it a number in the production sequence. For
instance, in an edition of twenty-five prints, the second print would be
marked 2/25. Creating a limited edition, makes the prints more rare and
increases their value.
Monotypes and Monoprints
While most printmaking is done in editions, monotypes and monoprints
allow an artist to produce an individual, unique work which will not be
A monotype image prints from a polished plate (generally glass or metal).
The artist makes an image on the plate in ink, or another medium, and
then prints from it.
Hedda Sterne, monotype
Untitled (Machine Series)
Monotypes and Monoprints
Monoprints can be made with any of the aforementioned print processes,
so long as the artist prepares for the printing in a unique way which will not
be repeated. They can do this by varying colors, manipulating the
distribution of ink across the matrix, or adding features by hand.
What follows is a selection of ten monoprints (from an even larger series)
created French artist Ludovic Lepic (1839-1889). These were all created
from the same etched matrix and manipulated differently.

Chapter 2.4
Two fundamental approaches to sculpture:
freestanding vs. relief
Freestanding Sculpture
Also known as sculpture in the round. These are sculptures that can be
examined on all sides. That said, some freestanding sculptures are made so
that we can move around them, but they can also be displayed in ways that
prevent the viewer from seeing every side of them (for instance, placed in a
niche or standing against a wall). The location of the statue determines the
vantage points from which it is viewed and the sculptor will design his or her
work with this in mind.
This freestanding Egyptian sculpture, from 1971-1926
BCE, entitled Sculpture of the Lady Sennuwy, was
designed to be viewed from the front. Many Egyptian
sculptures, like this one, were made to be displayed
with their backs to a wall or a pillar.
This freestanding sculpture, however,
was designed to be viewed from every
angle. Rape of a Sabine, sculpted by
Giambologna in 1582 in Italy, forms a
visual spiral that draws the viewer
around to view its many changing

Relief Sculpture
The second fundamental approach to sculpture is relief, a type of sculpture
designed for viewing from one side. The image in relief either protrudes
from or is sunk into a surface. It can have very little depth (bas-relief) or a
lot of depth (high relief).
The French word bas means “low.” In bas-relief the sculptor’s marks are
Dying Lioness, limestone relief from the North Palace of Ashurbanipal,
Nineveh, Assyrian period, c. 650 BCE
Assyrian Lion Hunt of Ashurbanipal, limestone relief from the North Palace of
Ashurbanipal, Nineveh, Assyrian period, c. 650 BCE
Jacques Lipchitz, Picador, c. 1932
Bas-relief by Karen Heyl
High Relief
High relief sculpture is relief sculpture with much greater depth.
Notre Dame, 1163
William Morris Hunt, The Horses of Anahita or The Flight of Night, 1848-59
Monument of the Valier, Interior of Santi Giovanni e Paola in Venice
Modern American artist Brad Spencer creates sculptures in high relief out of
Sometimes bas-relief and high relief are used together, to suggest that certain
figures or objects (those carved in high relief) are closer to the viewer.
Susan Durant, Memorial to King Leopold of the Belgians, 1867
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, known simply as Michelangelo,
was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect and poet of the High Renaissance.
Michelangelo stands out in art history because of his unique mastery of the
materials and methods of sculpture.
Most sculptors would remove stone
progressively from all sides while
working. Michelangelo, however,
began on one side and carved
through to the other side. He said he
believed he was freeing the figure
from the stone in which it had been
His unfinished sculpture, Awakening
Slave, provides a glimpse into the
artist’s process.
While he is revered as an architect, painter, and sculptor, Michelangelo
himself believed sculpture to be the highest art form.
The figures Michelangelo has painted on the ceiling of the Sistine
Chapel have such a convincing sense of three-dimensionality, that they
have been mistaken for sculptures.
This ceiling is
completely flat and
smooth–any illusion of
was accomplished
through Michelangelo’s
Michelangelo painted
darker shades in the areas
that would have been
carved more deeply had
the figures been
sculptures. This shows us
that, even when painting,
he was thinking like a

Contrapposto: (Italian: “opposite”), in the visual arts, a
sculptural scheme, originated by the ancient Greeks, in
which the standing human figure is poised such that the
weight rests on one leg (called the engaged leg), freeing
the other leg, which is bent at the knee.
Methods of Sculpture
Methods of Sculpture
Sculptural methods are either subtractive or additive.
In a subtractive process, the sculptor uses tools to carve, drill, chisel, chip,
whittle, or saw away unwanted material.
In an additive process, the sculptor adds material (through modeling,
casting, or constructing) to make the final artwork.
The most ancient works of art that still exist were made using subtractive
methods of sculpture. Most of these were made of stone or ivory (wood
eventually decays), by chipping, carving, sanding, and polishing.
This nearly 9-foot-tall figure of the Hawaiian war
god Ku-ka’ili-moku was carved from large pieces of
wood in the 18th or 19th century. The sculpture
represents a god whose name translates from
Hawaiian as “Ku, the land-grabber.”
Originally created for the powerful King
Kamehameha I, the image of the god was probably
intended to gain divine favor.
Carving is not limited to the
ancient world. Twentieth
century sculptor Henry
Moore carved large
Henry Moore, Recumbent Figure, (1938)
Henry Moore, Reclining Figure, (1939)
Henry Moore, Reclining Figure, (1939)
One of the largest and most famous sculptural portraits was created using
subtractive methods on a mountainside in South Dakota.
John G. de la Mothe Borglum, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, (1927-41)
This sculpture,
carved out of granite,
depicts portraits of four
US presidents– George
Washington, Thomas
Jefferson, Theodore
Roosevelt, and
Abraham Lincoln–
with their faces roughly
60-ft tall.
Borglum selected
these four presidents
because he believed
the time periods of their
presidencies contained
the most important
events in US history.
Most of the sculpting
was done by skilled
miners using dynamite,
placed strategically, to
remove large masses
of stone.
Look at the next slide
to get a sense of what
it is like to work on and
maintain a sculpture
of this monumental
Modeling is an additive process; the artist builds up the work by adding material.
This can be done in clay or wax, among other things. Clay and wax are pliable
enough for sculptors to model them with their hands, or use tools to manipulate
Sometimes an artist will use a skeletal structure, called an armature, to support
a structure they’re building in clay until it has dried/hardened. Permanent
sculptures created from clay will most often be dried, then fired in a kiln. Kiln
firing changes the chemical structure of the clay, producing a very dry and hard
material which can survive the test of time. Many clay works from antiquity still
exist today.
For instance,
this Etruscan
from c. 520 BCE.
This sarcophagus
is composed of
four separate
terra-cotta pieces,
fired separately
and then put
together to contain
the ashes of the
Casting is another additive process. It involves adding a liquid or pliable
material to a mold in order to set a form in a more durable material, or to
make it possible to create multiple copies of a work. The first step in casting is
to make a model of the final sculpture. This is used to make a mold. A casting
liquid (often molten metal, but other materials can be used) is poured into the
mold. When it hardens, the result is a detailed replica of the original model.

Lost-wax casting is the process by which a duplicate metal sculpture is
cast from an original sculpture.
Patina is the surface color on a sculpture that can either occur over time
due to exposure to the elements or be applied artificially through
chemical preparations.
Pushing beyond Traditional Methods
Traditional methods for sculpting include those we have just discussed.
But artists have found other ways to explore sculpting beyond the
conventional additive and subtractive techniques.
These less traditional methods include:
– Earthworks
– Construction
– Assemblage
– Readymades
– Kinetic and Light Sculpture
– Installations
There are prehistoric examples of earthworks, including the Great Serpent
Mound near Locust Grove, Ohio. At this site sometime between 800 BCE and
100 CE, prehistoric artists of the Americas made monumental sculptures that
used the surface of the Earth itself as material.
This was additive sculpture on a very large scale. The sculpture depicts a
snake with its mouth open, ingesting an egg.
In the 1960s artists again became interested in earthworks. The best-known
modern example is Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty in the Great Salt Lake in Utah.
Smithson chose the shape
of a spiral, a shape found
in many contexts in nature.
He created the coiled artwork by dumping 6,550
tons of rock and dirt off
dump trucks, gradually
paving a spiralling roadbed
out into the salt lake.
The sculpture continues to
interact with nature over
time. Over the years the
lake has repeatedly submerged and then revealed
it, so it is constantly shifting
and evolving.
Just as engineers make pieces of machinery by using a variety of methods to
create and join its components, some artists construct sculptures in a similar
Naum Gabo,
Constructed Head No. 2,
The idea of constructing sculptures is relatively new but has become common,
especially with artists repurposing scraps and old materials.
Can you think of any artists we have already discussed this semester who have
worked this way?
Three artists we have looked at this semester who construct their sculptural
works are:
El Anatsui
Simon Rodia
Vollis Simpson
The practice of gathering objects and fabricating them into a work of art is
called assemblage. The gathered objects, sometimes called found objects,
are repurposed so that they support the visual ideas and compositions of the
Betye Saar,
The Liberation of Aunt Jemima,
Betye Saar,
The Liberation of Aunt Jemima,
“For her best-known work, The
Liberation of Aunt Jemima (1972), Saar
arms a Mammy caricature with a rifle
and a hand grenade, rendering her as a
warrior against not only the physical
violence imposed on black Americans,
but also the violence of derogatory
stereotypes and imagery.”
Can you think of some artists we have already discussed this semester who
used assemblage in their works?
In the early twentieth century, a few artists began to take found objects–
barely modifying them, if at all–and designating them as works of art.
In 1942 for instance, Pablo
Picasso made this work, Bull’s
Head, by combining the
handlebars and the seat of a
Can you remember which artist we discussed this semester was the father of
the readymade?
Marcel Duchamp
Kinetic and Light Sculpture
Technological advances in our society have opened the door for new possibilities
of expression. Moving and lighted sculptural works rely on mechanical
engineering as well as the creative input of the artist.
Kinetic and Light Sculpture
Can you think of some artists we have already discussed this semester who
have created works that could be classified as kinetic and/or light
Installation sculpture involves the construction of a space or the assembly of
objects to create an environment. Viewers are encouraged to experience
the work physically using all of their senses, perhaps even entering the work
Installation work by Athena Tacha
Can you think of some artists we have already discussed this semester who
have created works that could be classified as installations?
Jenny Holzer

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