Arman is was a French-born American artist. He began making art from a very young age, only signing his first name, Armand. A typo in a newspaper later in his career led him to keep misspelling his name for the rest of his career.
His work often features repetition, taking the same object and repeating it so many times it loses its meaning. In his piece ‘Blue Sharp 1979’ it took me a few moments to realise that it was multiple pairs of scissors which he has lined and layered. My eyes are drawn to follow the horizontal patterns which it makes.
It is interesting using a simple, common household object as the medium of his sculpture. I think that this makes the piece much more relatable than using materials which are hard to acquire. As I mentioned in an earlier post, using a household object makes me change my perception as to that object afterwards. Whenever I see it, I see and remember the artwork.
Weshcke’s paintings are very emotive, and are often made from his direct observations and life experiences. He originally trained as a sculptor, but was inspired to paint whilst living on the coast of Cornwall. His paintings ‘Body on the beach’, ‘Caliban’ and his ‘Floating Figure’ series are responses to an accident he had where he almost drowned. In an interview for a television series, Weshcke describes how he was painting ‘Caliban’ whilst listening to a radio adapation of the Shakespearean play ‘The Tempest’, in which he found Caliban’s character relatable to the almost drowned figure on the beach. I find it fascinating how Weshcke has added to the foundation of using his own experience, and taking outside sources such as literature to add to the ‘scene’. The title of the work is the only part which gives that influence away.
His paintings are dark and moody, perhaps a metaphor for that time in his life. The lonely isolated figure, which looks discarded on the sand, has been painted with loose, rough brush strokes. I think this may represent the urgency and desperation he feels to that incident. His background landscape, although obviously coastal, is very simplistic and doesn’t take from the figure in the foreground.
A renowned Fine Art Photographer, Robert Mapplethorpe’s portfolio spans across a variety of subjects: both male and female nudes, flowers, statues, portraits and self portraits. His work was often controversial, with strong homoerotic themes and an interest in the S&M community.
His piece, ‘Self Portrait 1975’ is one of my favourites. The composition is strange, and cheeky. It is unusual to have a photographic self-portrait where the subject’s face is not in the centre of the frame. Instead, Mapplethorpe decides to peek at the viewer from the top corner, and leisurely extend his arm out, drawing across the viewers eye. His smile and expression is relaxed and fun, and although I don’t know much about his personality, I feel like a lighthearted and fun person comes through. But isn’t that the point of a good self-portrait anyway?
Mapplethorpe was only a practising artist for less than twenty years before he sadly passed away from complications due to his HIV/AIDS in 1989. A foundation has been set up to protect and promote the kind of photograph work that he was passionate about. More information on it can be found here.