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.