How to look at works of Art — Lavinia Jones – 18th April 2016.

Lavinia is a local artist, and lec­turer on art appre­ci­ation, who has talked to NADFAS and runs her own classes.

She began her talk with an over­view of art, defined as ‘An expres­sion of Emotion’, which, through form and con­text, com­mu­nic­ates some­thing, excites, and moves, by using skill, cre­ativ­ity, and ima­gin­a­tion.

Looking at art, one has to be in the right frame of mind, to think, con­tem­plate, con­cen­trate,  reflect, and appre­ci­ate the sym­bol­isms, which can, for example, be polit­ical, as in Russian revolu­tion or reli­gious paint­ings. These have a func­tion to com­mu­nic­ate a mes­sage and if removed from con­text, and viewed unnat­ur­ally, can be mis­un­der­stood.

Art has to be approached with a mix­ture of inno­cence and exper­i­ence, naiv­ety and open minded­ness, and not to be too cyn­ical when faced with ‘art’ such as Duchamps  ‘Urinal’, in 1917 signed R.Mutt and titled ‘Fountain’ (voted the most influ­en­tial con­cep­tual artist of the 20th cen­tury, even though he was appar­ently taking the micky),  Malevichs 1916 ‘White square on White’, Picassos’ 1907 brutal work of art of pros­ti­tutes, or Mondrians ‘Rhythm of Straight Lines’, show­ing order and bal­ance in life, so that no art is needed. These examples are manip­u­lat­ive, and are to be viewed more spir­itu­ally, as they are trying to decon­struct the norm and require you to empty your­self, to look at ‘things’ dif­fer­ently. Art has to be taken apart, but also seen as a whole.

Having set the scene, Lavinia then showed us a range of pic­tures of art, taking us from the ritual sym­bolic bison cave art of 15000 BC  in the North Spanish Altamira caves, where art deals with the human con­di­tion and aes­thetic beauty no longer mat­ters, to Tracy Emins bed, which is a per­sonal fem­in­ist state­ment about her gender and  polit­ics.

Other pic­tures shown included paint­ings by Giorgione, who painted a pic­ture entitled ‘The Tempest’ no-one under­stands, as there is con­flict­ing sym­bol­ism, Constables’ hay­wain of 1821 which she described as organ­ised real­ity, Michelangelos skil­ful statue of Christ, a reli­gious icon, in St. Peters in the Vatican, done when he was only 22 years of age, and Donatellos ‘Mary Magdelene and Angel’, show­ing human pathos, repent­ance, and suf­fer­ing, with a psy­cho­lo­gical pause between the two sep­ar­ate fig­ures.

Some artists are cred­ited with an idea only, like Damian Hirsts spot paint­ings, or dia­mond skull, where other artists do the work, as art should be free of every con­trol. His works are posing, pos­tur­ing state­ments.

Jackson Pollocks ‘Lavender Mist’ in the 1940s is an Impressionist paint­ing. Giorgio Marandis min­imal still life is a philo­soph­ical state­ment, show­ing pastel col­oured objects nudging up to one another.

Rubens self por­trait says ‘life is good’ but Van Goghs self por­trait says ‘life is pain­ful’.

Davids ‘Napoleon’, Paul Nashs ‘Dead Sea’, Matisses ‘Icarus’, Jenny Savilles ‘Hybrid’, Titian, Claude Lorrains ‘The Judgement of Paris’, Andy Goldsworthys ‘Frozen Arch’, showed a vari­ety of styles and sub­ject matter through the ages.

We were left with the thought that more effort we put in to under­stand the art, then the more we would gain.

This morn­ing was a window on a huge sub­ject, delight­fully delivered and illus­trated, with much par­ti­cip­a­tion from the mem­bers.

Very thought pro­vok­ing and enjoy­able.