Monday, November 14, 2011

Learning From Art History: Pop Art and Minimal Art

Basically the lesson from Art History of the Pop Artists and the Minimal Artists boils down to the fact that it is the artist’s intention that makes an object a work of art. The idea behind the intention is what matters. The object has no meaning in the art process, it is just a means to an end, and a statement that it is art because the artist says it is.

The context in which the object appears is also important. Is the object located in a place where objects are seen as art? Duchamp’s urinal and bottle rack are simply objects, ready-mades that he deemed as art objects. He placed them in the context of an art gallery, therefore, and voila, art object! With “Bottle Rack” he then took this idea full circle by taking the common object, bottle rack, back to its original location where it then ceased to be an art object. With Minimal artist, Dan Flavin, his fluorescent light pieces carry this idea out also. Once the lights are unplugged on his Light Art Objects, they cease to be art objects. The object can vacillate between being an art object and just the plain common object.

The other thing that the minimal artists were getting at was that the object was to be simply the object itself and not be an aesthetic or meaningful presentation. It was to give to the viewer an experience of simply being present with the object, much like meditation as Matthew, my art history professor, says. Musicians were in on this scene as well. I really like the pop music artist, John Cage’s piece “4:22”. I’m not sure how I would have reacted during the concert. But, the idea behind it was quite interesting, that the sound of the audience was the music. This is akin to the idea of the minimal artist who wants the viewer to be the experience with the object. It’s like the person witnessing the “thing” becomes part of the piece. This is pretty cool, really. It takes on the meaning of being interactive art.
My Cat, Sir Kitty, loves my Nature Art piece.

Andy Warhol was pop art personified. I have seen numerous documentaries on him. Every time I see him he plays the shallow role, like there is nothing, absolutely nothing behind those eyes and nothing in his brain, like a ghost. Chilling, actually, now that I think about it. But this is what his art was showing us, the shallowness of the time and that we too wrapped up in the wrappings like packaging and celebrity. So this makes perfect sense. He was his art. He was his message. And he played it to perfection.

I appreciate Carl Andre’s pieces. They remind me of a past experience when I went to a gallery in New York City, most likely the Whitney. One installation piece was just a room piled with dirt. At that time, I thought, “It is just a pile of dirt”. And it was! Now I know that was the point. I guess I got it back then when I didn’t think I did. Ha!

One of my favorite art and artist of this time period, late 1950s and early 1960s, is the Light Art of Dan Flavin. I know I am not supposed to have an aesthetic experience with his light fixtures, but I do. I think they are just the most elegant beautiful art objects. They glow with simplicity. One of his pieces especially gets my attention. It is the multicolored grid of lights. I also like the fact that this can be turned on and off as an art object which is the statement of the minimalists.

Do you like the art of this period? Does your art have any of these qualities? If you are an art collector, do you collect art of this period or contemporary art work that is influenced by this period?

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