Good Life Tour of the Harn Museum By John hughes

Medium of the Art and Technique of the Artist

Figuras Constructivas, Joaquin Torres-Garcia, Oil on Board

This composition by Joaquin Torres-Garcia best highlights oil paint as a medium in art. Torres-Garcia wanted to create a universal pictorial language that could be understood by anyone, in any culture, and by any language. Such essence is extraordinarily exemplified in his work "Figuras constructivas" or Constructionist figures. The oil paint on board gives a glistening sort of finish that adds a dimension of space and depth. The vibrant colors made possible by oil as a binding agent allow for this particular work to piece itself together. The dark lines that separate color into specific shapes combine and draw the eye to build the figures portrayed. As Torres-Garcia indicates with the title, the figures are constructed simply by delineation and color that would be lost had another medium been chosen. The viewer can only rest their gaze on the work, and their eyes construct the figures by themselves. The artist's use of rhythm, geometry and proportion can be universally understood without him telling his audience what he has constructed for them: two figures, without race, without religion, without a face, allowing for the viewer to insert themselves into the work.

Design of the Museum

Outside the Latin-American exhibit

One of the many pleasures the Harn has to offer is the way with which it presents the artwork on display. As the viewer walks into the museum, they find that they are directed through different wings and exhibits, rather that simply being put in a hallway that would allow them to pick and choose which exhibits they wished to answer. For instance, when one first enters the museum, they are faced with the African art exhibit, then as they pass through this they find the Latin American exhibit, and so on. Thus, natural comparisons can be drawn between cultures and exhibits, facilitating a deeper connection and understanding to the artwork on display. A visitor to the museum may also find many sharp corners and walls that break apart space in some sections while others are left as vast expanses. They may find that because of this, they may constantly be turning corners and finding new pieces in some wings, while in others the viewer can simply stand back and appreciate an entire wall filled with a collection of prints or alike work. This design can group together and isolate works in harmony, allowing for the visitor to explore and discover on their own accord.

Art and Core Values

The Woodcutter, Robert Gwathmey, Oil on canvas

I believe that the most powerful artwork does not always provoke feelings of happiness and joy, but instead that of sorrow or regret. In such instances the social commentary of some pieces can be the most influential. The plight and hardship of minorities in America. The discrimination against both minorities and foreigners came to light in a big way in recent times. Such topics transcend religion, ethics, and morals as our country attempts to heal wounds created by racial tension. It is important to show that racism and discrimination is wrong, and will not be stood for, and by portraying such a topic on a canvas with oil shows the topic in a light that it doesn't normally receive. Dualities such as love and hate for all people exist in this work shown above by Robert Gwathmey. Some of our nations deepest wounds are on display as Gwathmey shows two African American men engaging in hard labor. I think it is abhorrent that racism still exists today, and we as a people should come together and preach love, not hate. All to often we hear stories of crime and violence, and being able to simply enjoy this artistic peace that subtly refers to some of our greatest divisions rather than force them upon us allows the viewer to subtly reflect on their views and society's views.

Art and the Good Life

Frida Kahlo, Edward Weston, Selenium-toned gelatin silver print

In terms of living the Good Life, Frida Kahlo represents both the best, and the worst parts of what it means to live a good life. While she was a timeless example of freedom of sexual expression and being true to ones-self, she was also subject to intense abuse from her spouse, Diego Rivera. I admire the spirit that Frida showed throughout her life in staying true to herself and her feelings. Much of her work portrays themes such as her battle with her sexuality, her image, her marriage, and her want for children and family. Her personal life was subject to intense sadness and regret. He husband incessantly cheated on her, yet she stayed true to him, she could not have children though she desperately wished to, and she was constantly battling feelings about her own sexuality and confusion. Part of living the good life and being the best one can be is to understand and stay true to yourself and your limits, and while Frida had an unfair share of sorrow, she inspired millions of men and women alike and stands as an international symbol of self and freedom of self expression. I admire her courage, and wish to emulate her in my own life, as many across the globe wish to do as well.

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