Kitaj was an American born artist from Cleveland Ohio. He would go on to study at the Vienna Acadamey of Art. Kitaj would go on to study at many artistic institutions, including the Royal College of Art and the Ruskin School.
Kitaj’s style is one that could be defined as “polarizing” to say the least. The general public may have viewed his work as naive, rough, or even unfinished, and they’re not completely wrong in saying that. Kitajs work do resemble underpaintings, but their conditions serve great purpose. The seemingly ragged images exemplify moments in their entirety; capturing the emotion of a instant. He captures what it’s like to really take in your surroundings, where you can only fully interpret parts in full and others with fleeting ability.
“The Man on the Ceiling,” 1989
“His more complex compositions build on his line work using a montage practice, which he called ‘agitational usage’. Kitaj often depicts disorienting landscapes and impossible 3D constructions, with exaggerated and pliable human forms. He often assumes a detached outsider point of view, in conflict with dominant historical narratives.”
“Juan De La Cruz”
Kitaj credited his influence to British pop artists, his work resembling collages in their busy and overlapping nature.
“Allusions to political history, art, literature and Jewish identity often recur in his work, mixed together on one canvas to produce a collage effect.” ~Wikipedia.com
“The Psychopathology of Every Day Life”
Kitaj lived an interesting personal life as a Russo Jewish artist living in the states. Growing up in the WW2 and post war period, there would have been undeniable tensions. He would spend the majority of his life in England and as a merchant seaman in Norway in his teenage years. His first wife would commit suicide in 1969, but would remarry in 1994 in her 40s. Needless to say, in the way of being a “tortured artist,” Kitaj had plenty of material to draw on. He died in 2007, and the coroner would declare the cause as death by suffocation, stating that the artist had suffocated him with a plastic bag over his head.
“The Oak Tree”
In light of his legacy, Kitaj is known as one of the world’s leading draftsmen, often being compared to Edgar Degas. He was taught draughtsmanship by a 3rd generation pupil of Degas, which would explain the resemblance.
His style and ability is greatest exemplified by his masterpiece “Autumn of Central Paris”, resembling a semi cubist interpretation of a cafe, showcasing his unique interpretation of distorted figures and settings.
“Self-Portrait After Rembrandt’s Last Self-Portrait” (2004)
When discussing the wide array of variety that is abstract exoressionism, Franz Klein is an important yet complicated character. One might say that he is the epitome of the genre— with his bold, semi brutalist brushstrokes. On the other hand, another might add that he is not like his counterparts, and creates a category of his own, standing apart from the abstract community entirely.
Klein is most well known for his black and white pieces that have oddly enough been linked to the New York skyline. It definitely takes an eye of an artist to see this in his work. His work is bold, and the definition of conceptual. An average onlooker would not be incorrect if they were to exclaim, “Well I could have done that. Throw some black paint on a canvas and anyone can be an artist.”
“Orange and Black Wall”
But you see, that statement in itself is what gives Klein’s work its captivating quality, its deep and unyielding sense of mystique. The thing is, is that truly, anyone could have created Klein’s pieces, but they didn’t. Simple as they may be, the works are a departure from the though out pop art of the 40’s and 50’s, and even the abstract expressionism of his fellow counterparts, Klein truly put emotion on to a page. His work appears to be the visual representation of instinct, energy, and much more.
Klein starred his artistic career as a realist, as many do, coming from a strict academic background. His moving to New York, a newly deemed cultural hub for activity and outrageous personalities, influenced him to convert to pure abstraction. He was particularly influenced by Willem de Kooning. This change served him well, as he received international praise for his simplistic yet immensely bold pieces.
Klein also sets himself apart from the expressionists, claiming that his work is less so an expression of himself rather than a way to “physically engage the viewer.” To put it simply—Klein was not one for hidden meaning or whimsical artistic influence. As stated by theartstory.com, Klein’s “powerful forms of his motifs, and their impression of velocity, were intended to translate into an experience of structure and presence which the viewer could almost palpably feel.” The absence of secret meaning in his work would later go on to influence the minimalists of the 20th century as well.
On a more personal note, it took some effort to come around to abstract expressionism and pop art. For the most part, I must say it’s not for me, and when searching for artists to work on this week I was struggling to find one that captivated my attention. When I came across Klein though, I was fascinated. How bold and defiant and new his work seems! Even today, when we as the audience have unlimited access to all different types of art, his work seems refreshing. I will always have respect for those who simply follow their minds eye. I find myself especially partial to Klein’s work because of its lack of meaning or symbolism. I love that the pieces are there to simply see and feel, not to contemplate and fret over. Additionally, I respect the expert composition his pierces feature, seeming effortless in nature.
Stop everything you’re doing and read this. You think pop culture is weird now? Get a load of this shit.
Elektro the Moto-man was, indeed, the worlds first robot celebrity. He doesn’t quite stand up to apples Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, but has some pretty astounding endearing qualities for the day.
Standing approximately 9 feet tall, the man-made-of-gears represents an odd optimism that was harboured among American citizens during the great depression. People were looking forward to better times, and that meant being terribly imaginative. Things were pushed to futuristic extremes, and Elektro was quite literally the physical embodiment of it.
He was talented! Tall! Handsome! And could perform a whopping 26 tasks! Ladies, who needs a man when you can have a nine foot robot who can smoke?
If it sounds like Elektro’s creators were trying to make him be the optimal interesting human, you’d be correct. He (It?) was designed to be an entertainer above all else. He could blow up balloons, smoke a cigarette, even flirt with audience members using his 700 words of built in vocabulary. Flirting was popular with Elektro. “Toot” was a popular adjective within his vernacular, because it was the 1930’s and when you’re a 9 foot electric human in the 1930’s, that’s what you call people. Obviously.
SEE? I told you. He can smoke.
His limbs were functional, he could move them, but whether or not he could successfully walk is unclear. His (still unsure if this situation requires pronouns) body consisted of gears, a speaker, and aluminum sheets, which appear to be spray painted gold. A dream man if you ask me, even complete with a bushy moustache.
The phenomenon was popular at the time, but Elektro the Moto-Man has mysteriously been swept under the rug within the discussion of history. Possibly because he was solely created for entertainment and didn’t serve the public in any other way than making them laugh and blush on occasion, but most likely because people prioritized the War and the technical innovations that occurred in more useful areas (no offense, Elektro).
The poster for Elektros big unveiling.
However, whether Elektro is on the covers of our history books or not, there is no question of his influence. Today we see artificial intelligence making its way into almost every aspect of our homes: we have Google Homes, Amazon’s Alexa, and not to mention Siri.
You could say that a direct descendant of Elektro is Sophia the Robot, a highly controversial AI creation that pushes the boundaries of technology and blurs the lines of artificial humans and real breathing ones. Perhaps we would never have these robotic companions had it not been for our faithful Elektro.
Our tin-clad companion was first unveiled at the New York World’s Fair in the 30’s but now stands tall in the Washington D.C. National Building Museum. Well, kind of. It’s a replica, but pretty damn close to the real thing. No word on whether his flirting game is still as strong, but one can only hope.
Today we had our last lecture! I’ll never see “Done Talkin'” again, and I’m a little heartbroken. I’ve really genuinely enjoyed this class and the lectures that come with it. It’s fascinating to see the context in which our entire modern communication is built, and I feel fulfilled leaving with a whole new lexicon of inspiration to work into my art. Thanks Judy, for being so patient with us and always being kind. I really appreciate your class and the way you’ve taught it.
Anyways, sappy shit over, today we talked about the 1930’s and 40’s. This is a particular topic that I happen to know quite a bit about, so it was really nice to learn more about a time period that I’m passionate about. I was particularly interested to hear about the designers migrating to the US, seemingly in flocks, and the way that they immediately brought American design from a mediocre-genre to an iconic representation of businesses on an international level. Especially the Container Company, and their conceptual representations of their brands. It was kind of mind blowing that business ads did not have to directly focus on the product. I’ve never seen that before, but I’ll certainly be incorporating it in to future projects.
For this spread, we focused on women’s suffrage in the years 1905-1915. I wanted to contrast the typical feminine depiction of the Art Nouveau style of the time with the brazen determination of the Suffragettes. I had a couple of struggles with this layout–I forced myself to redo it three times. I knew that i wanted to depict a strong woman, but I kept running into barriers of how to illustrate it in a way that would do the cause justice, especially with the factor of the airy art nouveau colour scheme and whiplash curves. Finally I settled on the design attached here with some brainstorming help from classmates. I chose to have the suffragette large and featured across both pages, and vertically to make the figure stand out even more in her size. The blue background and text is symbolic of art nouveau as well as to introduce an aspect of stereotypical masculinity that the suffragettes were fighting against. I wanted this aspect to contrast with the idea of feminism and the character on the ride hand side. For my title, I used Arnold Boecklin Std Regular, a font that was typically used in decorative art nouveau posters. I would give myself an 8/10, simply because the text could have been done better, especially the area in the last paragraph where it bleeds onto the green of the bush.
The Bauhaus (1913-1933) was a school of art and design that existed in pre-war Germany before being shut down by the Nazi party in the face of World War 2. Founded by Walter Groimus, the primary objective of the Bauhaus was to redefine the relationship between function and design. In other words, as stated by www.metmuseum.com, the objective was to “reimagine the material world to reflect the unity of all the arts.”
The Bauhaus housed a multidisciplinary focus. Students learned painting, architecture, sculpture, and design, as well as specialized workshops like cabinet making, among others. Their coursework was intensive and diverse, allowing students to make creations that drew on a large vocabulary of historical and artistic references. Students themselves were diverse as well, bringing their own cultural influences and social-economic lenses to each discipline.
“The Bauhaus combined elements of both fine arts and design education. The curriculum commenced with a preliminary course that immersed the students, who came from a diverse range of social and educational backgrounds, in the study of materials, color theory, and formal relationships in preparation for more specialized studies.”
One of the most culturally impactful outputs of the Bauhaus was their furniture. It was created with the goal of “form follows function.” The furniture and cabinetmaking department was headed by Marcel Breur, who is said to have “reconceived the very essence of furniture, often seeking to dematerialize conventional forms such as chairs to their minimal existence.” (metmuseum.com).
An excellent example is the chair below. The extremely basic design is complimented by the unique use of material, contrast, color and essence of extremist minimalism. In contrast to the arts and crafts/art nouveau movement of the previous decades, the modern qualities of the Bauhaus designs were refreshing to say the least. This had an especially profound effect in its homeland of Germany, notorious for its heavy gothic design style during the early 20th century.
Unfortunately I was not able to attend this weeks lecture, but I was able to review the notes and handouts. The things that jumped out to me tended to stay within the geo-political sphere, mostly the famous “Persons Case” in Canada with the supreme court. This is always something that I’ve been appalled by, and to an extent I can’t believe that this event had to happen at all in history. Additionally, my spread from a couple weeks ago focused on women’s suffrage, and the persons case highlighted the Famous 5. I found that I will always be partial to women making advances in government throughout history, but that feeling is not the same for current politics. I also gravitated towards The Lindberg making its way across the Atlantic, as plane technology is something that I’m still fascinated by today every time that I’m in one. Slightly terrifying, but very cool to know where it all started.