Friday, May 20, 2011

William Kentridge

William Kentridge, Walking Man (2000). Linocut on Canvas (99”x40”)

William Kentridge’s linocut titled “Walking Man” is a very large and distinguishable piece that depicts a massive figure of a distorted “man” with tree branches sprouting from where his head and arms should be. The immediate characteristic of this piece details the dark and light shades and contrasts within the piece. The organic lines in this piece add to the shades of the work through its distortion much like the figure’s distortion. The piece reads off as a critique of nature and technology as we view this large figure of a supposed man literally intertwined with nature, and at the lower right bottom you can see what appears to look like a tiny electrical tower. The size of the figure is exemplified through the vertical and diagonal line that creates a distinct shape which also compares to the vertical shape of the electric towers beneath it. The figure of the “man” is composed of mostly black contrasts with few bold white contrasts that compliment the bold light contrasts of the sky. The diagonal lines influence movement and fluidity much like the fluidity and calmness of the sky. The placidness of the scenery juxtaposed with a supposed negative critique on nature and technology creates a vivid picture of action and resistance.

The walking “man” in this piece, appears to almost walk over these electrical towers as a way to convey the anger developed towards technological advances depletes the natural environment. The distance created by the miniature figure of the electrical tower and the walking figure of nature symbolizes the spatial divide created by hierarchal powers associated with man-kind’s infringement on nature. The fact that the “man” is faceless and cannot physically convey emotion towards this idea the “man” tends to stand in for something larger like a tree, to convey the emotions portrayed.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Final Project

Greg Parks, Untitled (2011)
Leaves, grass, and acrylic polymer on wood board (18" x 24")
For this piece, I was interested in exploring "encroachment"

*I originally posted this last Wednesday, but it seems that it somehow got deleted when Blogger was throwing a fit, so here it is again

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Final Project

Materials: Pork, Ink, Concrete

Monday, May 16, 2011

Final Project

I uploaded this last week but the post was lost, I don't know why that happened - sorry!

Nora Kostow

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Final project

Brieauna M. Bradley
"Simplicity at the Center" 2011
Materials: Form board, spray adhesive, kodak prints
29in x 24in

Friday, May 13, 2011

Final Project - Juan Carlos Perez Borja

Juan Carlos Perez Borja
My Grinnell Experience, 2011. Wood, beer cans (Natural Ice, Keystone Light, Miller High Life) (36''x36'').
I explored the concept of Regression

Final Project

Ellie Garza
"Splinters" 2011
Materials: Toothpicks, wood glue, hot glue, clear string
Approximately 6 ft 7 inches


Ellie Garza
Adjective: Psychedelic
Cardboard and black vinyl

Final Project

Lucy Marcus
"Untitled" 2011. Paper mache, hot glue, flour and water paste, black and white acrylic paint. (about 20.5'' x 22'')

Final Project

Emily Yoon

Remnants, 2011.

Mixed Media: Globe, M&Ms, glue, water, acrylic paint.

13" x 13" x 17"

For this piece I was interested in exploring encroachment.


Adjective: Horny
Cardboard and black vinyl

Final Art Project

Vilma Castaneda.
"Making It Perfectly Queer" 2011. Paint, Wire, Plastic Fan, and String (6"x 12"). For my piece I chose to explore the meaning of the word fracture.

Gregory Armstrong Final Project

Gregory Armstrong

"Untitled" 2011. Sculpture, acrylic paint , paper, tape, thread . 8.5"x11"

Fracture, Encroach

final project- Southern

Hannah Southern

"Can We Leave This Part on the Cutting Room Floor?," 2011. Photography, acyrilic, paper, found object on canvas. 16x20 in.


FInal Project

Claire Lowe
"Untitled", 2011. Paint glass and paper (about 12"x14")
For this piece I was interested in exploring Fracture.

Final Post: Miranda Robert

Miranda Robert
Untitled, 2011. Mirror, thread, kodak print (8''x10'').
I explored the concept of Fracture.

Peer Critique

Emily Yoon

Critique of Ellie Garza’s “Splinters”

Concept: Transgress

Garza’s work is a tall, delicate, but prickly looking columnar structure made of toothpicks. The base sits on a stool, and is composed of several aggregations of toothpicks, with asterisk-like forms. The structure is about 2.5 yards high, from the top of the stool to the light fixture from which it is hanging. The toothpicks have been pieced together with glue and clear string. The structure is bulky at the base and gradually becomes thinner with fewer toothpicks in the middle, and then a length of about 8 inches with no toothpicks, only clear string. Then, the structure again becomes gradually thicker, and another mass of toothpicks is seen at the top, in the general form of an asterisk.

Several principles of design can be seen in Garza’s work that make it a successful piece. To begin, the general gradation of toothpick quantity from dense to sparse and back to dense produces a linear perspective and adds interest and movement to the work. Furthermore, balance is created by the opposite positioning of two toothpick masses at the bottom and top of the structure, as well as the sparse pieces in between. This may be compared to a seesaw with weights on either end, connected by a thin stick. The profuse use of toothpicks creates repetition in the work, with respect to shape and 3-D form – countless lines are created by the toothpicks’ simple linear shape, and 3-D asterisk-like forms are created by the fusion of toothpicks from all directions with a common center. Contrast is also found in the work through the positioning of the toothpick masses. The conglomerations of toothpicks at the base and peak of the structure appear to be opposing each other. Still, harmony and unity are created by the dispersed piecing together of toothpicks in the middle half of the structure. That is, this thin middle piece seems to connect the two dense pieces at the top and bottom, unifying the structure as one. Counter-intuitively enough, the base of the structure may well be the focal point of the work. The assemblage of toothpicks is greatest here, and it demands attention with its sharp points, which give the work a prickly texture and feeling.

Garza intended to explore the concept of transgression, which may be defined as the violation of a law, command, or moral code. Inspired by an image of iron filaments reacting to two magnets, the artist desired to capture a moment in time when the filaments were in mid-movement through space. That said, Garza’s work might portray transgression of time and gravity. Time is transgressed because the work attempts to freeze time, by representing a single moment when magnetic filaments are moving through space. Furthermore, the law of gravity is transgressed because the toothpicks (representing magnetic filaments), hung by clear string and glue, appear to be floating in space. This violation of gravity is taken farther by the great visual weight of the structure, especially apparent in the two masses of toothpicks at the base and crown of the work.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Critique of "Splinters" by Ellie Garza

Ellie Garza’s piece Splinters is a tall (approximately 6,2 feet), thin sculpture made of toothpicks that are connected to each other in different patterns. The whole object sits on top of a stool, and is connected all the way to the ceiling through an almost invisible plastic wire. Attached to this wire are many toothpicks that are glued to each other (with clear hot glue) and give form to the structure. If seen from the right angle, the wire becomes unnoticeable and the toothpicks appear to be holding the structure by themselves. The size of the structure generates an illusion of apparent weight, as it seems that even though the structure is big, its weight is extremely low (making the whole structure very fragile).

While both the base and top of the object have an immeasurable number of toothpicks forming two very condensed areas, the middle part of the structure consists of a much smaller number of toothpicks that appear to be strategically glued in order to hold the entire sculpture together, providing the viewer with a sense of unity. In general, this sculpture can be considered a discrete object (constructed of multiple parts but read in a single form) that portrays a dynamic relationship between its parts. Especially, the smaller number of toothpicks used in the central part of the sculpture gives the viewer a sense of fragility. In my case, this fine connecting line made me want to stay away from the structure, as it seemed that even a very slight movement could break it apart. It is important to mention that the viewer can walk around the structure, allowing the reader to analyze the structure from different angles. This suggests that all sides of the sculpture were crafted with the same dedication.

The concept Ellie chose was transgression, which generally refers to a breach of a law. In this case, with Splinters, I think she was trying to show the viewer that even though splinters are commonly viewed as dangerous and harmful, as well as broken part of a main body, they can also be used to generate an opposing concept. In other words, she was trying to show that splinters, if arranged properly, could form a beautiful, harmless, and very well connected piece.

Formal Critique

Zhaoyi Chen

COULD WE LEAVE THIS PART ON THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR? by Hannah Southern is a black and white collage mounted on a 16’’ by 20’’ cardboard covered with canvas. And it is pined on the wall with 25 push pins.

Critique of "Be A Child"

Greg Parks

Critique of Zhaoyi Chen’s Be A Child (2011). Paper, paint, dandelions, acrylic medium, foam core board, hot glue (~7’ x 1’ x 1’).

Chen’s Be A Child occupies two planes of a ninety-degree room corner, with two black foam core board “shelves” comprising two more planes that lie perpendicular to the first two and jut out towards the viewer into the space of the gallery. Although all of the surfaces are essentially two-dimensional, the intersecting planes seem to describe a columnar “volume” that most of the rest of the piece occupies (although the paper extends above and below the “shelves”). The two planes of paper and the foam core boards thereby serve as a means of containment and, ultimately, unification of this piece. The artist has also achieved unification through use of repetition, evidenced by the identical form and proximity of the seeds attached to the paper. The wispy placement of the seeds creates an implied line that draws our eyes from the base of the piece up its considerable vertical dimension and towards the top “shelf.” On the bottom shelf, we see more repetition with the repeated form of three dandelion inflorescences “growing” out of the foam board. One still contains its seeds; the other two have probably lost theirs to the paper behind and above them. The proportionally large, bright yellow text towards the bottom of the work establishes itself as the focal point. Its coarse, imperfect letters declare, “Be A Child.” This text, combined with the presence of the three dandelion stalks, and the fact that the line of seeds is much denser towards the base causes the balance to be shifted towards the bottom of the work, though as already stated the thinning line does draw the viewer’s eye upwards through the rest of the work. Another, proportionally much smaller bit of text, this one red and printed from a computer, appears on the bottom shelf and commands the viewer to “SQUAT AND BLOW.”

The open volume and bright colors of the piece form an inviting, secluded space for the viewer. The large yellow text literally suggests the viewer to regress to a state of childhood, when we picked dandelions to blow the seeds of the seed heads and watch them fly into the distance. The smaller red text, too, tells us to perform an act. Its capital letters suggest a rather forceful command. Squatting, we become about the height of a child and the work becomes most accessible because now the lower shelf is at our height. This smaller text also encourages us to interact with the artwork, something that children often feel an urge to do (an image of a mother telling her child not to touch an expensive oil painting in a museum comes to mind). Here, the openness and brightness of the piece, along with the text, beckons the viewer to give into his or her childhood desires and interact with the artwork. Because the work occupies a small amount of space and the white background contains no hint of a landscape, we are also invited to use our childlike imagination to visualize the seeds being swept off far into the distance. The title and text of the work are also very accessible and simple enough to be understood by a child. My only qualm is that the black foam core weighs down the otherwise light and airy feel of the work. The message of Be A Child likely deals with being playful and enjoying simple, fun things that we did as children.

Formal Critique on Miranda Robert's Piece 'untitled' By:Vilma Castaneda

Miranda Robert’s piece ‘untitled’ uses the materials of a broken mirror, string and a photo of the artist herself to explore the idea of fracture. Her piece provides visual aid as well as an object to illustrate the meaning of the word fracture. The piece is composed of shattered broken mirror pieces hung lightly with pieces of thin string attached to the pieces individually. Across from the broken mirror there hangs an image of the artist holding a camera that covers her face while taking a picture. The image starts to stand in for the mirror as depicted in both the photograph and in the broken mirror you are unable to see a reflection. The jagged broken edges of the mirror begin to construct a uniquely distinct form that differentiates from the photograph. The direction of the jagged diagonal lines starts to imply some sort of action, which correlates, with the meaning of fracture that includes the act of breaking. The line quality itself begins to influence the emotional impact of the artwork itself. The way that the mirror is hung makes it difficult for the viewer to even formulate a reflection of ones self. Another contributor to this ambivalence of reflection is through the organic shapes that depict a narrative that cannot be seen literally through the irregular curving and shattered aspect of the piece. The student artist chose to accentuate the lighting that frames the faceless artist in the photo, which begins to open up the question as to why the reflection is not seen in both areas of the piece. The organization of space begins to come into question as well. The distance from the photo and the hung broken mirror suggests the spatial separateness from the person and the emotional tensions involved. The photo itself connotes space, as we are able to see a close up of the camera lens but not of the face of the person holding the camera. Another signifier of organizational space in this piece comes from the negative spaces created by the shattered pieces. The strings attached to the piece create a parallel between line and space essentially harmonizing the piece as a whole as they converge to the main point of the piece. The emotions conveyed in this piece are positioned as pictorial figures meant to be further away which creates a distanced linear perspective that in turn unifies the composition. The piece by Miranda Robert shows the use of the word fracture in a literal sense as well as a figurative one. The broken mirror begins to exemplify larger formal elements that extend to the organization of the piece. It seeks to address the meaning of fracture in a figurative way that creates multiple different perspectives considering there is no singular vanishing point. The breaks in the piece begin to explore more than just a fractured mirror but rather a fractured self by depicting a non-clear image of ones self.

Final Critique

Chris Barbey
Critique of Greg Parks’ Untitled

Untitled is a collage mounted on an 18” x 24” board. It is constructed of fallen leaves and of grass stems. These appear to have been fixed to each other and the board with matt medium. The strongest compositional element in this piece is the pattern of vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines that originates from the lower right hand corner of the piece. This arrangement of grass stems decreases in density and complexity as it extends from the lower right hand corner towards the upper left until it tapers down to only one stem and then stops near the top of the board and approximately half way along the horizontal axis of the composition.
Behind this pattern of stems is a mottled, brown field of varying color and intensity made of fallen leaves that have come from a variety of different trees and are of multiple sizes. The covering of leaves appears to be quite thick and rather soft, as if there are many layers. The lower left part of the field is slightly darker than the rest, possibly suggesting a receding or approaching darkness. On the left and upper edges of the composition, the tips of the leaves extend over the edge of the board. This together with the pattern made by the diagonally arranged grass stems suggests slow movement towards the upper left.
The geometric pattern of grass appears to suggest roads and the composition as a whole is reminiscent of a view of the Midwest after harvest from an airplane. Yet, at the same time, the still very obvious leaves bring the image back down to scale and the composition also appears to be a section of ground in a deciduous forest.
Given that the artist was interested in exploring the idea of encroachment, I assume that the piece was intended to be viewed as if it were a picture taken from an airplane or as a map. If we take this perspective, and acknowledge the artist’s choice of natural materials, then we may interpret that the artist was attempting to explore some ideas about environmentalism in relation to encroachment. The “roads” appear to be expanding and they are expanding over a field of dead natural material. This suggests the idea of invasive vines, which constantly grow and colonize new areas, suffocating and destroying the native flora and fauna as they go. Very straightforwardly, the pattern roads makes a point about urban and suburban sprawl where structures built by man extend over a natural environment. Does the artist mean to liken us with organisms like invasive vines? How about parasites?

Written Critique on Juan Carlos

Juan Carlos took a wooden board and on it recreated a the Grinnell logo out of beer cans and displayed it on the ledge by the window of the art room. As I glance upon the large symbol of Grinnell College made of beer cans I start off my observation by noticing the display choice of this artwork. The artist chose to put the piece of art on the ledge by the window; rather the specifically have it up with proper lighting he decided to display it in a more pedestrian way. Moving on past the presentation of the piece I pay attention to other visual aspects of the work. The project is very clear in the form of what it is visually representing and because of both the material and the symbol it says something about the person who created the work. The visual aspect of the piece looks to be time consuming and necessary of effort from the specific way that the can are crushed and glued upon the board , the form may not be the hardest but the content behind the project is strong. Looking at the project the size of the work makes a statement too about the importance of both the symbol and the material, rather than a small 8’by 10’it is about 4 times the size of that. The visual aspect of the piece uses both repetition and continuity in the way that the beer cans are both placed and crushed on the board in an order that work well. As I begin to really look at the work entitle, My Grinnell Experience and I think about the concepts that the artist wanted to develop through his work. When determining the content of the piece there is different elements of the work that represents different thing.

From the symbol that the beer can represent that artist is seemly making a comment on his role in the Grinnell campus the G that is embroidered as our logo mean a lot to those who wear it. From the idea that the symbol is an image representing the artist’s interpretation of his role on this campus he is stating that Grinnell is a part of him and it is something that is important to him. The material that embodies the symbol makes a statement on the artists in heavily involved socially in Grinnell and the parties that happen. For me this piece is more about the content and the statement that is being put across rather then the form that is put on the board. In the Critique handbook we read that material are meaning and from this I get the understanding that the artist through his material is making the large statement of the experience that he has had on this campus along with the drinking social life. This project is one of which we discussed where the statement is what really trying to be conveyed through both the symbol and material of this work.

Nora Kostow reviews Gregory Armstrong's final piece

Nora Kostow reviews Gregory Armstrong

“Untitled” by Gregory Armstrong is a sculpture about 9” by 12” by 3” made of a stack of paper completely covered in tape. The middle has been carved away to create an abstract shape. The shape along with parts of the covering tape is mostly painted with different oranges and pinks and is stitched with thread in some parts.
The process is extremely evident in this piece which reminds the viewer of the fracturing that went into creating the piece. The shapes are organic but the process is very artificial – you can see where Armstrong hacked away at the stack of paper. The cuts into the stack vary from shallow to deep and from steep to gradual which creates a lot of movement and places for the viewer’s eye to rest or wander.
The fact that the stack is covered in a layer of masking tape gives it a thick and skin-like quality. Is this skin being peeled away and stitched back on or verse visa? The way that the tape curls up around the carved out shape is especially disturbing and resembles horror movie images. Is it meant to be disturbing or natural or both? I think that the stitching is a successful part of this piece and should be explored further. The stitching adds a welcome contrast to the curved lines of the shape. The stitching and the tape add an interesting contrast to the use of paper. This contrast calls on ideas of cutting and pasting. Is the skin being put on? Is it being put back on? Is it tearing through the stitches that once held it together?
Another interesting element of the piece is the use of paint. The paint is darkest in the middle of the carved out piece and gets lighter and is applied less thickly as it moves outside of the shape and eventually onto the flat tape surface that the piece rests on. The paint is a good way of portraying the idea of encroaching because the viewer sees the paint that originates inside the figure encroaching on its surroundings. However, it is also unsuccessful because it does not appear to be done with purpose or attention – it seems like more of an after thought because of the poor craftsmanship. The carving is also not precise and the painting looks sloppy which distracts the viewer. With more precise craftsmanship I the viewer could focus more on the forms and what they mean and would not be distracted by the imperfections.
To me, this piece seems violent and recalls the idea of an organ or a cut up body. But the rectangle enclosing the piece is very constructed and not bodily. Perhaps this is an exploration of the nature of institutionalized violence. Or perhaps the use of tape and stitching refer more to the act of repair after a violent act than the action of the violent act.

A critique of Brieanna M. Bradley’s Simplicity in the Center, 2011. Photograph collage on black foam board.

Lucy Marcus

A critique of Brieanna M. Bradley’s Simplicity in the Center, 2011. Photograph collage on black foam board.

Simplicity in the Center, by Brieanna M. Bradley, is a collage of photographs pasted on four layers of black foam board. Each layer is composed of cut up pieces of themed photographs, suggesting the different stages of a dance performance. The outermost layer is of Roberts Theater, and contains jagged placed pieces of the outside of the theater. The next layer is composed of the seats in the theater, also jagged and pointed yet positioned to fit together. The seats are a bright red color, and while no people are seated in them, this layer is suggestive of the aspect of the audience in a dance performance. The third layer is of stage lights, which are pointed towards the fourth and final layer at the bottom center, of a single woman dancing. The layers possibly represent the different stresses that go into a dance performance, yet the title suggests that at the core of a performance the most important part of it is the simplest: the dance and the dancer.

The outer layers are chaotic and exude stress. What serve as unifiers of the piece are the rectangular layers and the centered dancer at the middle. The simplicity of the centered photograph guides the viewer’s eye away from the chaos of the other layers, although these layers (and stresses) are still viewable in the viewer’s peripheral vision as well as in the dancer’s peripherals.

There are two prominent colors in the piece. The most obvious is the red of the seats in the second outer layer. The bright red possibly refers to the importance of the audience and yet the seats are empty which could refer to the looming presence of audience members to come. The other color in the piece is the blue in the layer with the lights. It is a bright light blue and is the curtain of the stage in Roberts Theater. The blue is positioned as to appear to be behind the dancer in the center and bottom layer. Blue is a calming color and could refer to the security of the curtain that separates the dancer from the audience and the front stage from backstage.

The concept Brieanna chose is transience. The aspect of transience in this piece could refer to the evolving process of a dance performance. Although I am not a dancer I am aware that, like this very project itself, the vision a choreographer and dancer have prior to learning and executing a dance is vastly different from the final project. There are often changes a dancer must make to adapt the dance to her body and skill set as well as to the resources such as the theater and stage. The dancer must also adapt the performance to the audience, and each individual member of the audience perceives a unique interpretation of the dance. Thus, the entire process of a dance performance is not concrete but transient.

Written Critique

Claire Lowe
Chris Barbey’s piece Ozymandias consists of two slabs of pork on top of a rock and is dealing with the concept of transience. All of this is sting on a pedestal covered in black fabric. The poem Ozymandias by Percy Shelley is written across the two slabs of meat where the first part of the poem is on one piece of meat and the rest of the poem is on the other slab of meat. The slabs (which are each about the size of a hand) are situated in the center of the stone. The stone is about the size of two heads and, though more precariously situated on the pedestal, is still very stable and solid. The pedestal appears to be a stool wrapped up in black fabric.
All three parts to this piece deal with the concept of transience. The meat, not being properly preserved will eventually rot away. The stone (which was more than likely not found in the hallway as Bucksbaum) has been moved from its original place. Stone is usually thought to be a permanent object that cannot be moved. However, in this piece it has been moved and though this does not mean that it is not permanent. While the stone may have been moved and may be moved in the future, it will last longer than the slabs of meat. It proves to be an object which is both permanent and not permanent. The covered stool will not always be a pedestal. Given a much longer period of time, the fabric, like the meat, will eventually start to break down.
There is an interesting selection of materials here. By essentially tattooing the poem onto the meat, it ensures that the poem does not last forever. The meat will eventually go bad and rot which means that the poem will slowly start to fade away. This alludes to the idea of decay and a lack of permanence. The poem written on the meat is a large part of the piece. It depicts a ruined statue of a once great king and shows how in the passing of time, there are things that fade away. The piece Ozymandias appears to be a visual representation of this poem. It is interesting then that the poem is written on two slabs of pork. Perhaps the fact that it is mean it meant to allude to how humans fade in the passing of time and is meant to represent humans. What then is the significance of the pork? Would the piece have worked just as will if a different kind of meat had been used?

Critique of Nora Kostow's Work, Untitled, 2011

Miranda Robert

Nora Kostow's piece, Untitled, 2011 explores the concept of fracture. The work is placed on a white podium in the center, suggesting that the context of the room may not matter. There is no play between the piece and the room. In terms of material, there are multiple layers of thick, white paper stacked neatly in two stacks. These two layers depend on each other for support and balance. There is also balance of color, since the surface on which the work is placed is white, as well as the pieces of paper themselves. There is texture created by the tearing of paper, which appears to have been a slow and tedious process. Each fiber is visible and creates a almost a soft edge, although it is disorderly at the micro level. The tears themselves are straight lines, on the top side of the paper, perpendicular to the other sides of the rectangular shaped paper. The lines produce a linear network of hatching because of all the parallel straight lines throughout the work. All of the sheets of paper are the same shape, but towards the center of the piece, they increase in height only. This moves the eye upward and back and forth along the torn edges. The piece creates tension between the two stacks because they lean on each other and the viewer may worry it might fall over. This piece is unified because all of the elements (each piece of paper) belongs. They are in very close proximity to each other within each stack, suggesting more stability than the piece gives overall, because it looks unbalanced from a distance. Space and negative space is utilized and there is a play between the two. The two stacks lean against each other, but produce a small, rectangular space in the middle, which can suggest containment. However, I think it is more for the movement of the eye, rather than containment, because the space is open in the front and the back. There is a lot of movement in this piece, which I noticed because my eyes followed the lines up the side of the piece and along each torn piece of paper and to the other stack.

This piece explores fracture of paper. This is shown to be tedious and slow, but beautiful and soft. The nature of paper is to be written on or to be folded, so I think the careful tearing of the pages was an interesting way to explore fracture of this material. The piece is very simple from afar, but complex as the viewer looks at each torn piece of paper and all of the fibers which produce a line. Could this piece be an exploration of the destruction of nature--as paper is made from trees? Could it be a commentary on judgment of a work without paying attention to the detail? Is the viewer supposed to pay more attention to the tension of the precarious balancing act of the two stacks or the small fibers in each torn layer of paper?

Monday, May 9, 2011

William Kentridge

William Kentridge, Walking Man (2000). Linocut on Canvas (99”x40”)

Kentridge’s large achromatic linocut depicts a (male?) figure with the head of a leafless tree walking (or perhaps stomping) across a very low horizon line. There is some sort of small human-made construction (exemplified by a electricity tower) placed in the bottom left of the composition and located on the horizon line. It is unclear what this construction might be- is it a town? Do people live here? The subject figure, or Walking Man is mostly black in value and creates the effect of a silhouette against the higher key sky. His diagonally leaning form create a strong compositional line that starts at the bottom left and extends to the top right. In the place of his head are a upward moving cluster of bare branches. Is he transforming and taking root? Is he some sort of legend? Action and design elements seem to be framed into space via a black border giving the piece a closed compositional feeling. The large expanse of the sky is created through variously spaced and sized horizontal lines- their proximity to each other creates some tonal effects, but clearly stay graphic. As the horizontal sky lines move up closer to the branches, they change direction and begin to frame in the branches. Are these leaves? The lines seem to suggest foliage, but compared to the stark black branches don’t seem to resolve into anything more than an eerie suggestion of chaotic movement. This piece is unified by continuation and repetition. The piece develops an interesting spatial tension, as the piece can be read in exaggerated perspective with the human-made construction in the distance or the feeling that it is about to be crushed under the boot of the Walking Man. I am leaning towards the exaggerated perspective read, because the figure doesn’t seem to have any signs of violence. So perhaps this distance is to emphasize a remoteness, or removal from society? I can’t help thinking that the content is related to the dichotomy of walking and taking root. In this context the endlessly walking figure must keep moving and I can’t help but to feel empathy for the effort.

The large vertical format of the piece is unusually tall, and suggests human proportions. Our reflections can also be seen in the protective Plexiglas frame, though I think this unintentional and simple the result of protecting and archiving the work. Placed in a narrow staircase the work can be seen from below and above, but is usually seen while walking up and down the stairs. Contextually this seems like an interesting location as the viewers participate in the witnessed action of the artwork.

The most unresolved element in the piece are the white lines on the interior of the Walking Man form. The lines seem to want to suggest a suit, or clothing, but fail to convince and instead become an abstract jumble of lines and dashes. They remind me of tailor’s marks on fabric. Perhaps meant to move the viewer’s eye to the figure, I can’t help but wish that these marks had been handled in a different way.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Kentridge, "Walking Man"

Kentridge's "Walking Man" is a large scale linocut, or the cutting/carving of a sheet of linoleum, and pressing the resulting pattern onto a canvas or paper. Kentridge uses an intricate repetition of line and large areas of solid color, black, to create the monochromatic image of the walking man. Kentridge uses lines of white to define areas within the man's body, and cross-hatches the background to produce areas of gray. The lines of the work create fluidity, drawing the eye upwards from the feet to the lines that create the branches that grouw out of the man's body and reach out to the top of the work. There is a definite sense of space and framing in the work, as Kentridge outlines his work with a black edge.
The figure of the man appears very heavy and powerful, and takes up maost of the space of the work, while tree branches grow out of where the man's head should be. The powerful stance, weight, and motion of the man suggest the bad effect of humanity has on nature. However, the numerous branches growing upwards out of the man's head suggest the resilience of nature even after the heavy footsteps of the man. The relationship between the man and the branches seems strange and opposite, yet somehow fluid, as there is no boundary between man and tree. The small branches growing out of the man's hands also complicate the relationship of the two ideas.

(Sorry if this doesn't exactly cover the assignment, I wasn't fully sure of what the prompt was.)

Critique of William Kentridge’s “Walking Man” (2000)

Right away, I focus on the walking man, which Kentridge emphasizes by its sheer enormous size. My attention then progresses from the man’s neck up to the tips of the branches, which occupy the upper half of the work and create movement in the work. Though the balance is asymmetrical, with the walking man carrying the greatest visual weight due to its size and darkness, the background counteracts with its horizontal cuts and lightness to create balance. Many patterns can be seen in the work, both in the numerous lines that compose the sprouting branches and the repetitive horizontal lines in the background, which help unify the work. With regard to artistic form, Kentridge successfully utilizes line, shape, space, form, and color to incorporate many principles of design into his work, including emphasis, movement, pattern, repeition, and most importantly, unity.

The tone of the work is dark and imposing due to the large and dominating figure, as well as the threatening motion of the man mid-walk. The black and white color scheme (or lack of color) also contributes to the austere mood of the work. Then I spot some trees and electric towers at the bottom right hand corner of the work, miniscule in comparison to the man. This leads me to believe that Kentridge’s message may possibly be one that deals with human encroachment on nature. Subsequently, I learn that Kentridge grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa during the pre-democracy era and that many of his works deal with political and social themes. Thus it may be believable that Walking Man represents change over time with respect to politics and society. The change may be personified by the walking man, and it is likely that this change is seen as a negative process, because the motion of the man appears to be menacing. Furthermore, the medium and process of the artwork may be paralleled with this theme of man imposing change, as the print was ultimately produced by the removal and cutting away of linoleum. In this way, the medium lends itself to content. To conclude, Kentridge employs several principles of design to supply content to his work and communicates this content effectively.

-Emily Yoon

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mask: "Florid"

Cardboard, masking tape, glue

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Adjective: temperamental
Material used:
Cardboard, tape,

Monday, May 2, 2011

Critique: "Walking Man," William Kentridge, 2000

William Kentridge, “Walking Man,” 2000

William Kentridge’s linoleum cut entitled “Walking Man” is a huge work, able to occupy an entire wall. A large figure of a man with a tree sprouting out of his head and arms occupies the majority of the work’s space. While the black and white color scheme and the shapes of the cutout lines lend some continuity, the piece is filled with contrasts. The strong vertical dimension of the piece echoes the figure’s vertical stance, and both contrast with the horizontal lines of the background almost as starkly as the black and white colors of the piece oppose each other. Our attention is drawn immediately to this dark, bold figure that pierces the composition. The man is almost entirely black, save some chaotic white dashes that serve to indicate the seams and wrinkles of his clothing; in juxtaposition with this is the comparatively light tone of the sky. His vertical or diagonal orientation, combined with the fact that his form conveys quite a bit of action (the organic lines of the branches and the movement suggested by being in the middle of taking a step), gives a sense of great energy. The leaves that surround the tree’s branches mimic the style of the lines that compose the placid sky, but they are arranged in a stochastic manner that gives an energetic “aura” around the figure’s head. The sky’s repetitive, parallel horizontal lines seem almost geometric in comparison because of the continuity of their orientation, and they certainly lack any energy. The power line towers far in the background are composed of rectilinear shapes and also contrast with the organic form of the man.

Although it is obvious that the tree and power line towers at the bottom of the work are supposed to be far away, one still gets the impression that the man is lifting his foot in preparation of stomping on them. This tree-man, who is juxtaposed so sharply against the sky and the towers, may feel out of place in his environment. His presence seems to menace his surroundings. The leaves disturb the horizontal lines of the sky, he seems ready to crush the towers, and his large, dark, looming presence feel threatening. Oddly enough, his face is indiscernible, so in that way his intent and emotion remains unknown; of course, the unknown can also be the most frightening threat. This piece may represent the resentment felt by some toward industry or the encroachment of civilization into natural areas; however, if this is the case, their cause is not presented in a very favorable light by Kentridge, as the figure seems to dominate and threaten everything around him.


Adjective: Flowing

Critique of "Walking Man"

William Kentridge's "Walking man” is a rather big scale linocut print hanging in the stairwell. When standing right in front of the print, one can hardly to see the top of the picture. You can suddenly feel the pressure that the “walking man” is imposing on you. And the clear black and white print lines show us the detailed work that the artist has done. The use of different kinds of lines also implies the shape of the man, the cloth he’s wearing and also the depth of the background. The print is framed in a thick plastic transparent cover, so it does not give us a sense of distance, rather it is more like a real person stands (or walks) in front of us. The horizontal white lines really helps to push out the person without losing the function of depicting the background.
I we keep walking up the stairs, we can start to have a comfortable distance with the person and see the whole picture. Clearly, the subject is a man with his head and hands turning into branches instead of the real body. The top half of the print is filled with the branches reaching out of his collar. The branches are robust and healthy, and are energetically reaching out of the work. And the person is leaning forward with two hands on his back and one foot step up. He seems more inactive, and the branches on his head seem to give him too much pressure to take. And on the right lower corner there are two wire taps and a tree and a factory far away. There are right next to the lifting feet, so it seems that the person will step on to them. The walking man, in my opinion, represents the development and industrialization of the world. And the branches on him imply the problems that the development has brought to the environment. The person is struggling between trying to conserve the nature resources and the industrialization.

Critique of "Walking Man"

William Kentridge’s “Walking Man” uses line, texture, values, and composition to create a dynamic image that comments on man’s interference with nature.
Kentridge uses the linoleum medium in an evident way to create different lines and textures. For example, the outline of the man is not carved out but rather implied by the ends of the lines that make up the back ground. His use of line creates interesting textures. The thick cuts create a dramatic effect by showing harsh positive and negative spaces. This is evident in the difference between the almost all black shape of the man’s body and the texture in the tree. The texture of the back ground and the texture of the tree are distinguishable because of the thickness and curviness of the lines. The background is made up of horizontal lines stacked on one another, but the fact that they are slightly wavy and vary in thickness creates a surreal, unnatural texture to the background. He breaks up the background by creating shapes of different values which adds to the unnatural feel. This use of texture in the background may indicate dark clouds of pollution or another kind of human interference with the sky.
The composition creates a unified piece. The man is clearly the center of attention because he takes up most of the composition and he towers over what little ground we can see. But his implied direction and that he is tilted to the right brings our eye into the background, down, and toward the small scene happening on the ground so that we get the overall image and are not stuck on one part. Although the tree has a different texture than the background, it has a similar value such that the figure is almost surrounded by these different types of grays which also keeps the eye moving. One interesting compositional choice Kentridge makes is to only uses straight lines inside the form of the man walking and in the phone towers on the ground. The lines inside the man show the stitching and light on his clothing which are the only parts of his body that are not made of tree. He doesn’t show his face or hands or other identifiers of humanity. That he only reveals the clothes part of the man and makes all his other parts into parts of a tree may intend to create a visual distinction between the natural and the man-made. Man is not inherently bad – after all he is natural and part tree. But what man does is bad – crushing the county side nonchalantly. Kentridge is interested in the issue of relations and interference of humans on nature.

Critique of "Walking Man" by William Kentridge

This work was produced by using the process of linocut. This is cutting or carving a design into a sheet of linoleum and pressing it onto paper, or in Kentridge's case, canvas. This process seems like it would be long and difficult. This work has a lot of repetition of line and color. Straight lines are used most often, whereas broken lines are used in the "body" which dominates the space on the canvas. The lines vary between straight and curved, making the piece more dynamic and fluid. There is a lot of continuity in the piece because of all the lines. My eyes went from the bottom up and through the branches. The work has a black border, and a few branches at the top are the only ones which cross this border. There is a balance of black and white, and grays produced by the black and white lines that are close together in the background.

The process of linocut and the size of the piece seems to indicate difficulty and possibly struggle. The figure if the man combined with nature seems to suggest a relationship between the two which may be a conflict. This is suggested by the blackness and size of the figure. There seems to be something powerful about the man because he dominates the space and is considerably larger than the tree on the landscape. Because there is no face, I feel that there is something dangerous and maybe destructive about the figure.


A response to "The Walking Man" by William Kentridge

The artwork entitled The Walking Man as a visual piece is very pleasing to the eye because of the balance of lines in the piece the flow in the background of the piece. The direction of the piece is in consistent in the way the sky and the ground are created and through that technique it leaves the audience to pay more attention to the actual man rather than the object behind him. With the actual image of the man the artist pays less detail to the clothes that the man is wearing and a great deal of attention to the trees that is growing from the man’s head. The detail of the tree stands out from the rest of the piece in the flow of the leaves and how collectively the work so well to the image of the tree. Within the context of the piece from the imagery it leave me to imagine struggle and confusion on the mind of men. This comes from the tree coming out of the head the complexity of the tree cause the mind to wonder how many ways thought can go. The tree for me signifies the complex thought and confusion in the everyday notion of walking through the world. The picture as a whole as the man walks through the land the insignificance of the other object cause me to think of the way that people are so concerned with their everyday struggles rather than things in life. Another aspect that is comes from the geometric lines of the background the idea of nature and natural creation while the solid black of the figure establishes durable man-made things. The fact that the man is both a man and a tree represents the unity of man and nature. The man comes from nature and nature in developed more through the help of man. The man walking through the world gives off the image that complex thinking in such a simple environment while the incorporation of the two leave the mind to wonder how the two element need each other so much, world made the man and the man maintains the world.

Critique of "Walking Man"

William Kentridge’s Walking Man is a vertically oriented linocut print on canvas that prominently features the figure of a walking man who, apparently lacking arms, has had his head replaced with a tree or some similarly formed shrubbery. This man is situated in the print such that his feet (in the process of taking a step) are in the lower-left corner of the print and his shoulders are located in the center of the print and his tree-head takes up almost the entirety of the upper half of the print. This creates a dark mass of visual weight that cuts diagonally across the otherwise light print from the bottom left to the to the top right. The background is composed of free-hand horizontal lines that vary in weight to give the impression of a cloud-filled sky. These horizontal lines suggest a kind of movement – possibly wind – which the figure, leaning forward, appears to being struggling against. In the lower right corner there are two, small electrical towers with a tiny tree situated between them which together suggest that the figure, who is the dominant feature of this print is an enormous giant.

This print appears to be rich in symbolism. Trees are commonly used to represent “green movements” or environmentalism and the power lines or electrical towers are no doubt a symbol of industrialization or everything that is opposed to environmental or naturalist movements. The relationship of these two symbols in the field seems to suggest something about the relative value that the artist places on the ideas of nature and industrial civilization. The power lines are placed below the figure, suggesting that they are subordinate to the figure.

I think, though, that the artist was not trying to make some sort of simple statement like “nature will prevail over technology and industrial civilization” because certain other elements of this image complicate that simple analysis. For one, the figure appears to be dressed formally as he is wearing a suit and shoes with heels. Also, the figure lacks arms and is apparently leaning forward, struggling to move through the wind. Puzzlingly, figure’s suit is almost entirely black. Black is a color that we often associate with nefarious or scary things. It seems like it would be odd to dress a symbol of nature in this attire and paint him this color.


The piece “Walking Man”, a linocut on canvas by William Kentridge, is presented in a glass case and depicts a black and white image of a man walking across the earth. The figure has the appearance of a man from the feet to the shoulders but where a head would be, tree branches extend to the top right side of the canvas. The feet of the man are placed in the bottom left corner of the canvas and his body moves diagonally up the top of the canvas. One of his feet is raised as if he is about to crush the scene below him. He dominates the tall and narrow canvas. Below the man, in the very bottom corner of the canvas are power lines and behind the man are clouds. It appears as if the man is going around and crushing the man made things below him.
The scale and composition of the images in this piece creates the idea that nature is an alive and dominating force and that has power over man made creations. Compared to the power lines, the man is larger and thus has more power. What furthers this concept is the contrast between the man and the background. The man is in all black save for some white detailing on the clothing and on the leaves of the man’s branches. The clouds in the background are made up of white and black lines. This contrast causes the figure of the man to stand out against the clouds and appear more dominant and overpowering. The geometric lines of the background also enhance the idea of nature while the solid black of the figure is more comparable to solid, durable man-made things. The fact that the man is both a man and a tree represents the unity of man and nature but how, ultimately, nature is more dominant.
All of these elements effectively enhance the meaning of the work and create a natural path for the eye to follow as it moves across the canvas. The geometric lines of the clouds also create a sense of height in that they are stacked on top of one another. However, the eye gets lost in the figure’s leaves because they, like the clouds behind them, contain equal amounts of black and white and have similar lines which can make it difficult in places to figure out what is part of a cloud and what are part of the leaves. Overall, this piece effectively accomplishes what it sets out to do.

Walking Man Response

A response to "The Walking Man" by William Kentridge

Emerging from the bottom left corner of the artwork, the Walking Man’s body is seen twisting like the bark of a tree. Moving up from his large shoes, we are introduced to a lower half of a human form with small broken lines indicating where his trousers might be. His torso is next, twisting in different directions with a jacket that is full of wrinkles and a hint of wear. We see an arm emerging from the left hand side of his body with an open palm as if he is waiting for something. Still moving up the figure we stop at his shoulders to acknowledge the thick and sturdy branches growing in the place of where we imaging his head should be. The branches stretch toward the top of the artwork until the branches become smaller with twigs attached to all sides and many leaves growing along them. The lines that allude to leaves are at all kinds of angles, which contrasts with the horizontal lines that form the background of the piece. The horizontal lines make up a skyline of clouds, which is indicated by the difference in thickness of every other layer. Right at the horizon line lays a small farm with two twin electricity towers interrupting the quiet landscape. Also caught in between the towers is a small tree that almost points straight up to the sky with not very many branches. The man seems to be looking at the tree as if to let it know that he sees the impending doom of the tranquility of the nature around them. The towers symbolize the modern hustle and bustle seeping through the cracks about to engulf everything in its path. In an attempt to concur back nature from “the man”, the figure begins to transform from a solid black figure with small, broken white lines into a more fluid and natural object.


cardboard, vinyl tape, clear tape
Emily Yoon

Walking Man Response

William Kentridge's "Walking man" is a highly textured print. The subject of the composition begins as a man, yet becomes a tree as you trace upwards from his boots. His size is given by subtleties in the background of small trees and iron towers that are tiny in comparison to the man. The man towers over his landscape and yet becomes his landscape at the same time, as the tree that grows out of him stretches way beyond the borders of the composition.
The negative space is depicted in horizontal lines and is mostly white, while the positive space is represented by vertical lines and is mostly black. The lines create texture and motion. The man is walking and because of his titanic size even just the suggestion of a step leaves the impression of colossal motion. The motion in the composition serves as a unifier. Although the man is not centered, the direction of his step balances the composition.
The sporadic branches coming out of the man create chaos in the composition, yet they are all stretching upward and are therefore not chaotic in their overall appearance. The texture, enormity of the subject, and line directions all have the above affect. They are chaotic in their detailed appearance, but overall, as a whole, the piece is balanced and unified.
The man is also wearing clothing, possible denim, and boots that appear to be of a working man. The man has such power in the artwork yet the clothing he wears suggests that he lacks wealth and power in terms of prestige. It is also interesting to view a portrayal of a half man-half tree where the top half is the tree and the bottom half is the man. A tree is often used metaphorically as something sturdy and rooted into the ground, yet this man-tree is in motion and not attached to the ground he walks over. In this way, Kentridge plays with the representational ideas and meanings of a man and tree. While a tree is often portrayed as massive and a part of nature, and while man is often portrayed as minimal next to nature, Kentridge combines the two to create an equal, balanced, creature.

The Horny Mask

Sunday, May 1, 2011


adjective: cold

Monday, April 25, 2011

Cardboard Mask: Scared!

Vilma Castaneda

Cardboard Mask: Jovial

Miranda Robert
Materials used: cardboard, adhesive vinyl, scotch tape

Replication Project: Trash

Miranda Robert
Materials used: Acrylic Paints, Skittles wrapper, trace paper, gloss, foam board