Monday, 14 October 2019

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Art and Text - A brief history of the word in art from 20th Century

I've just delivered the first session as part of the Art and Text Strand that I am leading for 2nd year Fine Art students at Newcastle University.

Here is an overview of what I covered in my introduction to the strand.

By the late 19th century, advertising was emerging as an art form in its own right, and well known artists created posters that blurred the boundaries between fine art and advertising campaigns



Henri de Toulouse
LautrecLa Goulue at the Moulin Rouge
1891



In the 20th Century, Cubism made text part of the image, frequently combining lettering and fractured motifs on a canvas. Text was thus more than a sign, symbol or a signifier; it had an importance equal to that of the painted or drawn object.

Braque, Pablo Picasso and Juan Gris began to introduce collage, including newspaper cuttings, into their compositions, bringing together the art world and the outside world

The formation of Dada in 1916 lead to the word in art taking on new possibilities.



Picasso
Bottle of Vieux Marc, Glass, Guitar & Newspaper
1913



The Surrealist artist Rene Magritte made a series of word-image paintings.

In The Treachery of Images (1929), he presents a painting of a pipe with the words ‘Ceci n’est pas une pipe’ painted beneath. Magritte’s statement is one of plain fact: ‘This is not a pipe” – it’s a painted image of a pipe, and in making this statement, the artist confronts the acceptance of an image of an object as being the object itself



Rene Magritte
The Treachery of Images
1929


After WW2, a new generation of artists were able to challenge notions of beauty and art.

Artists such as Dubuffet, Tapies and Gysin took a deep interest in graffiti and calligraphy, incorporating them into their paintings.

The idea of using existing texts and cutting them into pieces to be rearranged into a new text influenced a generation of artists in music, film and literature as well as in fine art




Brion Gysin & William S. Burroughs
unused cut-up for the book that would eventually become The Third Mind
1965

In the 1960s, the use of the word in art exploded as movements such as Pop art found ways to incorporate the signage of daily life.

Pop took inspiration from the mass media and advertising.

Dieter Roth, Dick Higgins, Ian Hamilton Finlay and Yoko Ono experimented with concrete poetry, which focuses as much on the shape of the poem on the printed page as on the language, rhythm and rhyme.



Décio Pignatari
Terra (Earth),
1957



In the late 1960s Cy Twombly developed his ‘blackboard’ paintings, waves of looping, illegible white script painted across a monochrome grey ground.



Cy Twombly
Untitled
1968


Rauchenberg, Johns, Cage and Cunningham were greatly influenced by Duchamp, and embraced his ideas of bringing art into life.

Rauchenberg incorporated advertisements and original and found texts from newspapers and magazines.

Johns also turned to commonplace objects, as well as to depicting letters and numbers.



Robert Rauschenberg
Coca-Cola Plan
1958


Roy Lichtenstein used what appear to be enlarged comic book images as the basis of his paintings.




Roy Lichtenstein
Whaam!
1963


The dominance of Pop art led to a counter reaction and from the late 1960s the development of what came to be known as conceptual art – art that takes the idea, or concept, as its starting point, existing separately from physical form. The finished work – if it exists at all – is a documentation of this idea.

Weiner made site-specific works that were, at first sight, disruptive to the gallery system.

The texts were painted directly onto the gallery walls and seemed completely at odds with the commercialism of Pop



Lawrence Weiner
TO SEE AND BE SEEN
1972


In the early 1960s, Alighiero Boetti, (a leading artist of the Arte Povera movement, sculpting works from common place, non-traditional materials), began to conceive ideas for works of art, but left their execution or production to others.



Alighiero Boetti
Untitled
1989


In the late 1960s and early 1970s, neon increasingly came to be used as an artistic medium.

In the 1980s Jenny Holzer started using other types of light-emitting technology such as LED and projection for her text works.

The introduction of moving words (in neon, LED and video) added a time–based dimension.


Jenny Holzer
BLUE PURPLE TILT
2007

The 1980s saw the emergence of postmodern art world in which there was no single style.

There are a number of ways of categorising the use of text in art;

Installed Words


Text works installed directly onto the gallery walls or in complex social situations



Mark Titchner, An image of truth, 2014


Three Dimensional Words

Words as sculptures



Ildiko Buckley and Jane Palmer, YES, ongoing since 2011



Light




Nathan Coley, THERE WILL BE NO MIRACLES HERE, 2007-2009


New Media

Digital (online and offline)

Video works

Using computers or new technologies

QR codes

GIF animations





Christian Marclay, Surround Sounds, 2014–2015

The Conceptual Word



Ceal Floyer, Monochrome Till receipt (White), 1999


Social Comment

•Work that is critical of the art world itself
•Work that deals with contemporary politics
•Work based on identity issues
•Artworks that concern the world of work




Bob and Roberta Smith, Make Art Not War, 1997


The Drawn Word

Seeing is different from reading

A painting needs to be seen as a whole, including its construction as well as content.



Mel Bochner, Oh Well, 2010


Books

Artists who use books as the material for their installations or who rework them into a different kind of textual object.

These artists are different to those who make artist books. Artist books are works of art in their own right.





Thedra Cullar-Ledford, Five Thousand Trashy Romance Novels, 1997-2016

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Facilitating Text and Art Strand for Newcastle University 2nd year Fine Art Students


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I am excited about facilitating my first Fine Art session of the new academic year (2019-2020). I am leading one of the strand electives for the Newcastle University second year Fine Art students. I have written the programme documentation and will be delivering all the sessions. Here's is a brief introduction to what's in store for the students!

This strand is about exploring the use of text within artworks.


I will begin by giving a brief history of the word in art from 20th Century. We will look at examples of artists working with text, and consider the different forms that text can take in an artwork such as through writing, performance and sound. We will discuss how the form of text changes the meaning of an artwork and alters the way that an audience engages with the artwork. We will think about how text can be an individual artwork, or act as a component for a larger artwork.

It is not about writing about art, writing text to accompany exhibitions or writing about your practice e.g. artist statements.

Teaching will take a number of forms, including individual 1-1 tutorials, seminars and group sessions presenting and discussing ideas and artworks. The strand will culminate in a group exhibition. Students are expected to work together to plan their contribution to the exhibition, and think about the most appropriate way to realise their artwork.

Eyesore - progress by marginendeavour


Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Cut and Paste exhibition at Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art , Edinburgh

This was the first ever survey exhibition of collage. It gave a comprehensive review of collage in all its forms, including cut, glued, stitched and stapled paper, photography, stickers, scrapbooks, botanical specimens, patchwork, Cubist and Surrealist artworks, films and more. The exhibition started with books published in the 1500s with flaps stuck into them and ended with digital photographs made a few months ago.






Kurt Schwitters
Mz 229:Hot Water, 1921


Hannah Hoch
Untitled, 1924


Hannah Hoch
Astronomie, 1922


Jacques Villegle
The Jazz Men, 1961




















Peter Blake
Museum of the Colour White 2, 2001

I left the exhibition with a real desire to do some cutting and sticking! It seems that technological developments have had a major impact on the history of collage and the direction that it is going. It seems there has been a move away from the more traditional means of collage (cut and stick) in the artists using collage in the present day, instead preferring to use photoshop or digital means of creating layers. I believe there is still a need for the more physical and tactile collage, and so I have been encouraged to carry on with the collages that I am creating. 

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