Well, if you haven’t read the first part of this post then I recommend that you do, namely because I explore the history of the nude, and also how the concept changed in the early 20th Century as we moved from the public to the private space. The other thing is that I am running through is the idea of where the line is drawn, and what we would consider offensive. One idea has suggested as to whether the image is sensual or not, yet there are works of art hanging on the walls of art galleries for everybody to see that are incredibly sensual. The other thing is that we are probably much more relaxed with regards to the naked body that the British of the Victorian era were, who were renown for being rather prude.
There is probably very few things more controversial in art than the idea of the nude. Sure, artists have been painting, sculpting, and creating nude images for millenia, yet there is always this debate over whether it is right to display the unclothed human body, and whether we should prevent the young from being exposed to such images. The question always comes down to where one draws the line between art and pornography. Mind you this line is actually a pretty subjective line, and is also a line that isn’t necessarily set between gender identities – there are women who consider pornography to be fine, while there are men who are absolutely appalled by the industry.
We were fortunate enough to have an exhibition of some of the works of Vincent Van Gogh come to the NGV this year, which has made me expedite my post on my visit to the museum that is dedicated to his works – the main reason being that I really can’t write a post about the exhibition at the NGV (the National Gallery of Victoria, which in my opinion is by far the best art gallery in Australia) without first writing a post about my experience at the titular museum in Amsterdam. The problem was that you aren’t actually allowed to take photos in the museum, the main reason being that because he is such a popular artist the museum is going to be crowded and if everybody were to stop to take photos of the paintings then it is basically going to ruin it for everybody. Fortunately the museum actually have posted all of their paintings on the web, so even though I left my notebook in my bag, I am fortunate enough to be able to simply go to their website and use that, as well as the notes I made on my mobile phone, as inspiration for this post.
Banksy certainly does raise a question as to where you draw a line between art and vandalism, but then the whole modern (or should I say contemporary) art movement that has swept the world theoretically suggests that smashing up a car (that doesn’t happen to be yours) with a sledgehammer could quite well be considered art. It could also be considered a criminal offence, and I doubt that the defence of “I’m just expressing my artistic ability” would work with any judge. Yet isn’t this what graffiti basically is – defacing somebody else’s property? Yet what if that property is public property, and what if the mural that is appearing on that property is actually really good – does it become art, and does the artist escape criminal sanction because they have created a work of art?
I’m not really sure if the four paintings that I have posted in the title are strictly caricatures, but they were on display at the Caricature museum in Frankfurt (which in German is the Museum für Komische Kunst) so I guess they should fall into the category of Caricature (because why would a caricature museum have such paintings on display if they were not caricatures). Anyway, I visited the museum the first night I was in Frankfurt and what was cool was that the concierge suggested that I come back at 8:00 pm (the museum closed at 9:00 pm) because then I would get in for half price – which is what I ended up doing, and while I was waiting I headed off to a pub that happened to be nearby (which was the plan all along, and fortunately for me, daylight saving in Europe stretches out to beyond 9:00 pm).
We basically left off with the Netherlands at war with the Spanish and many of the artists fleeing to the North from what is now Belgium, bringing their styles and skills with them. Initially, this was a form known as mannerism, which focused on the raw beauty of the subject, in an idealised setting. However, in Italy, Caravaggio was starting to make his mark, with a much more realistic feel to his paintings, a more down to Earth, grittier style. As such, this began to filter north to start influencing the Dutch, resulting in a change in style and a movement away from Mannerism.
Since I really can’t decide what works or art to include in my post, and what works not to, I have decided to split this post (though this is something that I seem to do quite regularly when it comes to a lot of these posts on the various exhibitions that I have been to). Anyway, in the previous post we had been following the evolution of art up to the 1920s, but now we move further on, to another style, with one artist we may all be familiar with – Salvador Dali.
Okay, some might object to my title in the belief that John Lennon deserves that claim to fame much more than does Warhol, however considering that the Beatles only hit the scene in 1960 where was Warhol had begun displaying his art in the 1950s he, at least in my humble opinion, is much more deserving. Anyway I have generally found Warhol in the past to be fairly hit or miss with his artwork considering that the only one that I (and probably quite a few of us) are familiar with is his painting of the Campbells soup can. However, when I learnt that an exhibition of his artwork was on display at the NGV (the National Gallery of Victoria) I knew that I had to go and check it out. To say that I was pretty much blown away is probably an understatement. What I can say though is that I seriously underestimated Warhol’s brilliance as an artist.
I guess the problem when it comes to the Rijksmuseum is that I didn’t actually walk through it in any particular order, and never really noticed whether there was any particular order until long after I left. However, I should mention that the museum itself is huge. Well, not quite as big as the Louvre (which happens to be the biggest museum in the world) but it is still pretty massive. We didn’t actually get to explore all of the Rijksmuseum either, though I’d say that we saw about 90% of the place, and the rest of the 10% we simply rushed through trying to find the way to get to where we wanted to go.
Look, I’m probably not going to suggest that this is the largest art gallery in Australia, but it is certainly larger than the Art Gallery of New South Wales (or at least has a much larger collection) and this is only the international collection (I believe the Australian art is located elsewhere). The other thing that stands out is that the NGV is not a traditional art gallery.