Art Criticism and Art History Essay
Art Criticism and Art History
The origins of the practice of assemblage can be traced back to its early twentieth century roots based on ideas presented by Dadaists. The Dada movement was a literary and artistic movement during the First World War and further developed as a non-art movement. The main idea of Dada was to not follow a uniform rule of what an artwork entails in order to be valued. This movement was significant in the development and history of art as it challenged society with new ideas therefore provoking change in our perspective of what can be classified as aesthetically pleasing and all the possibilities of what art is.
Also, the emergence of Dadaism occurred when the world was in an affluent, strong, materialistic and consumer oriented mindset and was created out of the frustration and pain felt by young artists provoked by a revolt against the horrors of war. By their governments allowing such barbarism to take place, they then adapted beliefs in opposite to those implemented onto them: For example, in a time where impressionism was celebrated as influenced by realism, romanticism, baroque and renaissance movements, Dadaists disregarded past influences and made their own art from whatever was considered non-artistic.
The Dadaists stood for anything that wasn’t classified as art due to criticism of this war and created non art by using Shock Art to capture the attention of viewers at the time. The Dadaists would use vulgar words, scatological humour, visual puns and found objects to create non artistic pieces. This generated reactions of offence and shock by society at the time and therefore achieved its purpose, which was to provoke an emotional reaction from an audience. A clear example of this is represented in Marcel Duchamp’s ‘L. H. O. O. Q’ where the artist has painted moustache on a copy of the Mona Lisa.
This became one of the most well known acts of degrading a famous artwork as Duchamp’s postmodern viewpoint challenged what the image originally had to offer and changed its meaning completely. This ‘degrading’ of the Mona Lisa achieved another level of offence through the title of the image being a pun, which, when translated in French, the letters’ pronunciation says “She has a hot ass” whilst being displayed as post-card size rather than being large and therefore admired as Da Vinci’s masterpiece was as well as many influential artworks of the past.
The subjective viewpoint of this artwork is to provoke an emotive response from viewers and is a form of satire against the ‘Mona Lisa”. The Dada movement was a revolt against the “high cultural” content of the visual arts of the time. To truly act against high content of artwork, the Dadaists elevated ordinary objects into the outlook of the ‘aesthetic’ by forcing viewers to observe everyday objects in new frameworks.
Assemblage in the Dada movement varied widely as there was no predominant medium of use in any of these artworks and left the construction of the work to the imagination of the creator rather than implying that only a painting suiting the era is considered art. The Dada movement self destructed when it was in danger of becoming an acceptable art practice in society. Due to use of assemblage, ready made objects and montage of all sorts, these techniques of art gained acceptance from Dadaism and became popular within the upcoming years of the movement.
Dada was influential in the creation of surrealism as these works are not only an attempt to express the mechanism of the mysterious subconscious but are also characterized by fantastic imagery and bizarre juxtaposition of subject matter trying to be represented in this form. Another representation of Dada is Marcel Duchamp’s exhibition of a urinal (left) as his sculpture aiming to persuade audiences to view the urinal as a work of art and called it a “readymade”.
Due to Duchamp’s Dada contributions and challenging of the social order of the art world, he is now seen as the originator of conceptual art. Duchamp’s works are both seen as postmodern as they use postmodern conventions such as appropriation and parody (as seen in L. H. O. O. Q) and recontextualisation in ‘Fountain’ (above). The re-emergence of the found object in pop art was significant in the development of the history of art as it reinforced previous ideas presented by the Dada artists of aesthetics and of what society will accept as an artistic work.
The re-emergence of the found object in pop art looked at artworks using contemporary theories and knowledge that were established in the 1980s to challenge traditional and modernist ideas, which was exactly the aim of the Dadaists. It is due to the challenging of contemporary perceptions of art in which the found object would be considered a postmodern practice in its time. Found art (also known as Ready-mades) is a description of art created by modified and undisguised objects that are not considered art for the main reason of their non-art function.
The art created by these found objects convey meaning through their context, assemblage/composition and by the artists intention and approaches taken to montage pieces together. The use of assemblage and the found object in Pop Art practice became an artistic trend and is exemplified by Robert Rauschenberg where he combines installations with the assemblage of large physical objects and commercial photography to form ‘Combine’ in 1963. Rauschenberg merges various non-traditional materials and objects into innovative combinations and through this process, has combined contemporary art with the found objects.
This demonstrates Rauschebergs’ movement from abstract expressionism to pop art. Raschenburg’s process of art making involved entailed walking around a block of area in his studio and collecting junk and rubbish, as demonstrated in “Combine”. This artmaking practice was seen as a further development of Dada’s use if rubbish and readymades. Raschenburg is now considered to be a neo-Dadaist due to these unconvential traditions. His works such as “Combine” are subjective as they are personal works expressing thought and imagination.
Claes Oldenburg’s “Giant Hamburger” is another example of the found object’s re-emergence in pop art as it reflects his concerns of making art materials from products of the commercial world and succeeds in showing the everyday complexity of 1960’s American culture, being that of fast food. “Giant Hamburger” is unconventional in its subject matter and materials as it simply displays a massively oversized American icon at 132 cm high and 213 cm wide. The use of imitating a symbol of American culture enhances the impact of this work and the soft texture of the sculpture also challenges the idea that a sculpture’s form must be solid and hard.
This artwork is cultural as it highlights a the American culture that has become fast food and is subjective as Oldenburg sums up his ideas of fast food in hope of provoking a response from audiences, therefore creating a link between the artist and the artwork. Richard Hamilton also represents the re-emergence of the found object in Pop art as he became known for “Just What Is It that Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing? ” in 1956. This collage consists of various images found from American magazines all within a household environment.
The staircase is taken from a model advertisement for a vacuum cleaner and the woman posing is believed to be Jo Baer who had posed for burlesque magazines in her youth. The rug is a blown up photograph once used as a magazine feature and the figure of the Earth cuts into the top of the picture. Features of Pop Art are present in this image through the use of bright colours and collage is used in Hamilton’s artmaking adding a unique and distinguishable factor to his work. The objects that are displayed are also significant and can be related to Hamilton, therefore making the artwork subjective as well as postmodern.
These articles and cutouts from around the room are from Hamilton’s collection over time from texts he found to be interesting. Through expression of Hamilton’s experiences, the audience is able to reflect on the artists’ imaginative qualities produced by the above artwork. The conceptual framework is visible in this image as the artists’ ideas are tied in with the world (being current affairs as shown by the media/articles/magazines) to form an artwork for a broad audience. The cultural frame is also portrayed in “Just What Is It that Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing?
” Through ideological aspects in society such as the medias influence as represented by magazines, celebrities and newspapers. This artwork is therefore significant as it acts as a zeitgeist reflecting the culture of the time when pop art was emerging. This allows audiences to understand the artist’s world at the time and the audience he was presenting to as well as his influences. The earth cutting into the top of the artwork may represent advances in knowledge regarding evolution of Earth that may have influenced Hamilton.