The Artist Statement:
Dennis J. Quinn
$ -------- An artist's statement (or artist statement) is a brief text composed by an artist and intended to explain, justify, and contextualize his or her body of work.
!--------- Artist statements can be viewed as having a negative and/or detrimental effect on artworks and the art world. Where an artist uses text to explain their artwork it could be seen as an argument that the artwork itself is unable to convey those ideas.
For my first body of work “ The Creature Kit,” it requires a statement because the concept is overall obvious. I decided early in the semester to wrap my drum set with a new approach. I wanted to take a photo of something I loved, manipulate it, and then figure out a way to wrap it around my kit. I chose vinyl for its’ durability and preservation of image quality. This piece could be looked at as a ready-made, Anti-art or a product ready for mass production. This kit is geared towards the modern industrial world where making money is a must. I intend to pitch this idea to drum companies.
My second body of work, “Is it too late?” demonstrates my growing sense of Anti-art. Through learning the various avenues taken by artists and the history that brought us to where we are, I found that I am simply unsatisfied with creating anything that resembles another’s work. I am not saying that this work is completely original, but it is not traditional and I have never seen a piece like it. I am proud of the process and the concept behind the work. I feel is not necessary to define the concept because there are many ideas that I would accept as valid. You be the judge.
My last piece is a composition I call, “ A Pulsar Star Composition.” I am so fascinated by the pulsar star sounds, and space in general; that I had to make something of the files I got from my Astronomy teacher. I took the raw files and subtly manipulated the sounds and created something that for me is a mediation or stress relief mechanism. I then created an image to look at while listening to the composition. The image projects the mood and sensations of these crazy sounds. The image started as a picture of a star that I took looking through binoculars with a cheap digital camera. The light trail from the slow shutter speed created the starting point. From there, I tweaked the space within the canvas to my likings. This piece is semi John Cage inspired. My passion for the sounds and sight of deep space and mind travel will never cease.
I visited Grounds For Sculpture which features a collection of sculptures. One of the pieces that I found interesting was by John Seward Johnson. This piece was titled First ride and it was of a man helping a child ride a bike. The sculpture looks as though it is real people eerily lacking motion. There is an uncanny effect from this piece because of the human imagery. When I looked at the people lifelessly still, I felt as though they weren’t just sculptures, but people frozen in time. First ride reminded me of the piece that I had done with string that was intended to mimic the qualities of a photograph but in a space rather than on paper. It was like I was looking at an event that had actually happened and not just the sculpture of a relatable image. Overall Grounds For Sculpture was an interesting place and it was much different than an ordinary museum exhibit making it appropriate for the sculptures that were part of the gallery.
I have chosen an awesome painting by Yvues Tanguy. Being that I love surrealists painting, I gravitated towards that part of the MOMA. As I walked through room after room, I did see many pictures that I liked and some I didn’t care for. When I walked into the room with this painting, “The satin Tuning Fork,” I just had to get up close and personal. I had to see what the painting was all about. I looked it over and over. I got inches away and then stepped back ten to fifteen feet. I left the room and walked back in. I left the painting and then came back fifteen to twenty minutes later. This painting, to me, was the one I was going to choose to write about because I have a certain attraction to it that I can explain but it is truly hard to understand why it is this particular painting.
As I walked by the room with Yvues painting I immediately saw the diagonal thrust within the dark frame. I stopped where I was and tried to see even deeper. I then noticed and pondered the vast amount of space towards the top of the painting. I now stand about five feet from the painting completely looking it up, down and over. It seems to me that the colors coupled with the textures created catalyze a connection or attraction with the painting. The tones, hues, shadows and lack of outlines placed at the edges of objects or space create the sense of depth. The painting seems to have this barren desert meets ocean floor quality. It’s as if the objects exist within both places at the same time. I was then seduced by the layout of the objects. The objects depicted that exist in the foreground and background at the same time complement each other by the link of that large diagonal thrust. The perspective of that diagonal thrust brings those objects in the back ground into a space that is undefined. The objects create a random composition of vast space and then bit of clutter. Although minimal objects are depicted it still makes you feel a sense of chaos that is in suspended animation. I can imagine that if someone were to hit the play button the objects would fall over or down through the almost cloudy water like ground. This painting also seems to knock on the door of a dream world. Again, the textures that also include light and shadow reflect an almost hazy feeling to the soft toned blues, grays and reds. The cloths being draped look like silly putty or some melting of plastic. There seems to be wood objects within too. The scene depicted seems very serious but moody. Even though the painting seems serious and moody it also projects a cartoonish vibe because of the colors and forms of the objects.
This painting has certain aesthetic qualities that I seek for in creative work. I think the fact that I am seeking something within a painting means that I have my own perception of all of these elements that seems to remind me of Clive Bells’ Hypothesis of Significant form. As formulated by Clive Bell, significant form should be the determining collection of ideas, elements and concepts that are needed for a great piece of art work to speak to the viewer through aesthetics, but untimely through an emotion response. The emotion that springs up from my experiences and perception are bi-products of myself. The fact that I connect with this painting makes me wonder if I would connect with the painter? Or am I connecting with myself and the painting seems to be speaking a language that I need or seek. I do know that I really have a sense of what I like and what I don’t like when it comes paintings and other forms of art. It is only until this class that I have realized that the emotion being radiated through the application of paints to the canvas is due to the aesthetic qualities of forms. The aesthetic qualities, which Bell calls significant form, generate an aesthetic response from an observer by the virtue of its form. By form we mean line, shape, color, texture, and some basic design principles, balance, unity, and variety. Validity and quality does not depend on representation but on the form in which it is represented.” With that very definition, it becomes a bit easier to label the factors that lead to an aesthetic transposition of an emotional response.
In this painting by Yvues, the sense of 3-d space catches your eye just as much as the objects. I think it is important to also note the frame in which the great piece rests. The simplicity of the blackened wood and the gold inlay tie in nicely with the generally simple composition of the objects on the canvas. I do believe the frame of the painting can also make or break it. Imagine if the frame was red or white, it would completely change the initial reaction to the painting and the significant form could be come altered by way of the retina. I do not know if Bell took much into account for the framing of the good and bad works he criticized but I am sure it must be important.
This work has significant form. I do not know if it’s just because I like it or because it has significant form. I would imagine that both play a role. It’s the mood it projects in my mind. It’s what the painting makes me think and feel when I look at it or even pass it by. The language that this painting projects, seems to speak to me. It is the combination of colors, lines, tones, shapes and composition that create the piece overall which in turn translates into significant form which translates into projecting an emotional response through the form represented and not by the represented form. My connection with this painting hangs out with the colors and composition most. The size of the canvas is important too because the painting is eye level and needs to be searched rather than gobbled up in a small all encompassing look of that of a smaller canvas. It is not so large though that the forms are construed and abstracted. It is lastly important to realize that this painting creates an emotional and technical response of abstracted forms. This is important because it proves that because of the forms represented and not the represented forms that even abstracted images can create a sense of emotion in which the viewer can connect to whether it be to the artist or to the canvas.
I conclude however, that even though there is a definition that is universal for significant form it is up to the individual to decipher their definition. This must be true due to the fact that, simply, someone may not like or connect with this painting. Someone may disagree that “ all,” of Picasso's work is great. Of course, respect must be due to an artist who pioneers movements and creates new paths for others to follow, but the truth that someone can and will like only what they like, wither through persuasion or their own intuition is the reason that for me, significant form does exist, and is present in great work but it is not the entire solution to how and why we can connect to and emotion through painting.