Medium/Technique of the Artist: For this component, I chose the piece Geographies, by Celeste Roberge. When I first saw this piece, I was immediately captivated by the wide variation and contrast of the materials, which yet also provided a beautifully minimalist design. As these objects were made from steel, solder, stone, lead, and hair, Roberge created an extremely visually interesting work of art. Upon first inspection, the hair provides the most contrast, as its fragility, flexibility, and organic nature. This is vastly different in its qualities from the sturdy steel cage that surrounds it, and the solidness and lifelessness of the rock and lead objects around it. However, more contrast can be found between the egg-like lead object and the others. While the others are steel cages with a comparatively loose filling, the lead object is small, yet full through and through. Although they all share the same general shape, I found the contrasts in composition and structure to be very striking and aesthetically pleasing.
This is certainly something that I believe has to be seen in person to truly appreciate. While a person may be able to see the different materials, they would not be able to truly appreciate the textures. Also, unlike a painting, this is a fully three dimensional piece of artwork, and can be viewed from angles all around, allowing the view to see it from different angles and heights. This is of course not as easy on a computer. I believe this truly fosters a greater understanding of the artwork and its medium.
Design of the Museum: I found this part of the museum very appealing. The floor to ceiling windows allow a view of the wonderfully designed garden. However, the panes break up the view somewhat, making it more visually interesting in my opinion while still incorporating nature as a large aspect of the design. In this part of the exhibit, there is a significant lack of artificial lighting, with the sunlight serving as the primary light source. The wooden flooring and choice of artwork also contribute to the very organic feel of this exhibit. This wing features massive detailed stone carvings which, while being made out of stone, look like some sort of organic structure, such as a fossil or fallen tree. The natural light highlights the extraordinarily detailed textures of the stone carving, which would not be possible with other two dimensional artwork. Overall, I was very impressed on how impactful this design was, combining several aspects which come together to make a very appealing exhibit.
Art and the Good Life: For this component, I chose Manhattan, by George Grosz. Grosz was an impressionist painter who left Germany in 1932, shortly after Hitler's rise to power. According to the plaque beside of the painting, many others who left Germany for safety from the Nazi regime came to Manhattan, in search of a better life. While Manhattan is certainly better than Berlin during the war, Grosz paints the city in a darker, drab manner, portraying it as a grey, busy, and polluted metropolis. This initially surprised me, as other paintings in the Harn which portrayed such large cities as bright, lively and colorful, which is how I would imagine someone who escaped the horrors of Nazi Germany would view the safer city of Manhattan. However, I realized that while he may have been safe and better off, he did not necessarily have a good, enjoyable life. The awareness of the atrocities that occurred in Germany may have still shaped his perspective, continuing to shape his work. He was quoted saying "My Drawings expressed my despair, hate and disillusionment, I drew drunkards; puking men; men with clenched fists cursing at the moon. ... I drew a man, face filled with fright, washing blood from his hands". While this painting in particular doesn't show anything quite as dark, it still is a generally negative representation of a city that for many, signified salvation. This image provoked me to consider how while you may not be in the absolute worst situation, it does not equate a good life. In reality, achieving an enjoyable life is much more complicated, and involves more than simply avoiding bad situations.
Art and Core Values: For Art and Core Values, I chose the exhibit about the Guerrilla Girls. Equality is one of my core values, and through this exhibit I learned much more about the inequality in the art world. What immediately drew me to this exhibit, and these pieces in particular, was the bold, all caps text found throughout these pieces. These were reminiscent of newspapers bringing dire news, with all the text and images being in a similar font, as well as being all being black and white. While I was aware of inequality in other professions, I was completely unaware of the extent of discrimination in the art world. In fact, I would have guessed that there would be significantly less discrimination in art-related fields.
However, this is definitely not the case. Elsewhere in the exhibit, I learned of harrowing statistics, including that women artists only earn about a third of what male artists tend to make, a halving the already unjust two thirds for the rest of the workplace. In addition, only 5% of the artists in the modern art section of the Metropolitan Museum are women, yet 85% of the nude artworks are female. As someone who believes equality is very important, this was quite upsetting, but at the same time, eye-opening.
Title page image citation: Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art. Digital image. Wanderbat. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2017.