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Artefact Analysis, Essay Example

Pages: 11

Words: 3089

Essay

Introduction

The unique and prolific artwork of Niki de Saint Phalle, an artist from France, represents her vision and direction throughout her life. Her work embodies strength, courage, and the ever-changing role of women as members of society. The artist’s work also supports the ongoing change in her spirit and focus as she sought to understand how women were perceived, using this perspective as her muse. In particular, her desire to shoot at her paintings to create unique and prolific designs with dripping paint is perhaps the cornerstone of her artistic being and represents her desire to be unique as an artist with a focus and motivation that was different from others. De Saint Phalle developed a series of paintings known as “Shooting Pictures” to represent a means of free expression and courage that artists strive for throughout their lives. The following discussion will analyze the artwork in greater detail and address some of the key points of the piece “t03824” in order to determine the artist’s focus and approach to the work.

Analysis

The painting known as “t03824” by Niki de Saint Phalle is housed at the Tate Modern museum in London, where it was purchased in 1984 (Tate). The painting was purchased from Jean Tinguely, a former spouse to the artist during the 1960s (De Bernardis et.al 1). Common visitors to the museum include tourists and locals who seek inspiration and knowledge regarding different works of art. The museum has sought to enhance its artistic portfolio with modern art from different periods and approaches, and de Saint Phalle’s work aligns well with this vision. This work of art is highly unique and falls into the scope of modern artistic expression to fit within the Tate culture and strategy (Tate).The painting also represents the artist’s unique fascination with color and how it might transform a regular painting or picture into something spectacular when different techniques are used. The cost to purchase this painting is unknown.

The painting represents a series of experiences that the de Saint Phalle sought to convey with her work. Her use of a gun to shoot a painting is not common and represents her style and approach in an effective manner. The painting is located in Room 1 at the museum, also known as the Energy and Process wing (Tate). This location represents artists such as de Saint Phalle because she “explored materials and forms derived from nature and everyday life” (Tate). These contributions are relevant because they reflect her desire to explore the concepts of chance and violence in different forms (Tate). This room within the museum is dedicated to artists of this genre because it supports their creativity and understanding of the need for continued transitions in artistic expression (Tate). The museum captures the relevance of this work and its meaning to society and to the artist as a whole (Tate).

The meaning behind de Saint Phalle’s work of art runs deep and is described as follows: “Saint Phalle filled polythene bags with paint and enclosed them within layers of plaster against a blockboard backing. Spectators were then invited to shoot at these constructions, releasing the paint” (Tate). This form of artistic expression demonstrates the importance of releasing tension and aggression in a controlled setting in order to see what type of art might be created under these circumstances. The artist believed that perhaps much of the work that had occurred in the past should be left in the past and that in order to develop new forms of artistic expression, the old must be retired so that new forms of creativity are likely to occur. (MOCA). In other words, shooting the old is a means of bringing in the new (MOCA).

From an artistic perspective, there is a strong emphasis on color and experimentation within this artwork that is worthy of further consideration. For example, the artist recognized that her passion for shooting was so instrumental to her vision that it forever changed her perspective of life and her creativity. This is perhaps an early form of performance art, although at the time, there was no discussion of art as part of a performance and as a moving target (De Bernardis et.al 1).Therefore, it is important to distinguish this form of artistic expression as a piece well ahead of its time (De Bernardis et.al, 1). The complexity of this painting was further advanced with the use of plaster, plastic bags, and paint, spread somewhat haphazardly when the painting was riddled with bullets (De Bernardis et.al 1). This method was highly unconventional and demonstrated the creativity that the artist sought to convey through this work.

From a theoretical perspective, de Saint Phalle’s work extends far beyond the shooting paintings and into a world that sought to understand the ever-changing role of women within their own communities and throughout society (Neal). This work conveys the importance of allowing the audience to have greater insight into the artist’s mind and to recognize the extent of her passion and motivation to maintain artistic creativity (Neal). By allowing others to watch the creation of the painting, it was perhaps a defining experience for the artist to share her vision with the world as it happened (Neal). These elements contributed to her willingness to experiment and to share her artistic creativity with the world in a open manner (Neal). This painting might be observed in different ways; however, the concept remains the same, as the artist sought to make a name for herself and to release tension and aggression in the process, which was a highly liberating and unique experience for her and drove her creativity to new levels (Neal). For these reasons, de Saint Phalle is synonymous with perhaps one of the most unique forms of creative expression that has existed in the modern era (Neal).

The alternative nature of de Saint Phalle’s painting continues to mystify new generations because of its approach, almost violent nature, and complex perspective (Foster et.al). This painting explores the depths of modern art and the origins of performance-based artistic expression that have thrived for many decades (Foster et.al). These conditions represent a means of evaluating the depths of performance art in its early stages and in allowing an artist to share her vision with the world in real time (D’Alleva). These conditions supported de Saint Phalle’s ambitions and frustrations with the world and with her surroundings to the point that she was able to use the negativity and transform it into something productive and rare. The effort put forth by the artist demonstrates the importance of her tried and true motivation to express herself without reservations and to test new boundaries with her art and creativity (D’Alleva).

The artist’s painting also conveys a deeper significance that warrants further exploration and analysis, as it represents a larger element of society and how it is perceived. The painting represents elements of society in the 1960s that explored new directions, trends, and even violence in order to establish new forms of creativity. Furthermore, de Saint Phalle sought to understand and convey new ideas in a format that could not be duplicated. Her notion of art at this time was part of a much larger movement known as New Realism, which explored the boundaries of reality and sought to establish a new realm to test these boundaries (On the Boards). These efforts were indicative of de Saint Phalle’s experience, her background, her culture, and her commitment to her craft (On the Boards). Therefore, she sought to explore her own boundaries as an artist and to better understand how violence played a role in shaping society and in the artistic world (On the Boards). The New Realism drove de Saint Phalle to new heights and to consider combining different worlds and to see what would happen when they collided, such as a bullet hitting the plaster and the plastic bag filled with paint underneath (On the Boards).

Niki de Saint Phalle sought to convey her own new realism with her shooting paintings, thereby conveying her true purpose and focus during this era: “Her shooting paintings were widely acknowledged, and Niki de Saint Phalle developed them into large-scale reliefs and altarpieces against the hypocrisy of the church and the devastating omnipotence of the patriarchy… Aiming her gun at the work of art, she portrayed a female version of a fairytale hero, or as a super-heroine of her contemporary adventure genre” (This is Tomorrow).  From this perspective, de Saint Phalle demonstrated her willingness to explore perhaps a new means of controversy and to advance her own artistic growth in a unique manner (This is Tomorrow). Her growth as an artist and as a human being represents a new form of realism for which there was little understanding during this era (This is Tomorrow). However, as time passed and de Saint Phalle was recognized for her artistic contributions, it was not surprising that she sought to convey her beliefs and her perceptions of reality in new forms (This is Tomorrow).

The concept of de Saint Phalle’s shooting painting also represents her vision of the world that existed during her era, as well as the influences that played an important role in shaping her life and unique circumstances. Therefore, she sought to gain a greater sense of control and to become more liberated with her artistic creativity. As a result, the shooting paintings support this perspective and enabled her to make a daring and courageous statement regarding the reality of the modern world and the fears that are often represented within that world. It was evident that her own fears were on display with the piece in question because she used a gun, a dangerous killing tool, to make sense of the world and the chaos that existed during her lifetime, particularly in a world that was divided by conflict and other problems. It is important to recognize that her vision and focus in establishing this painting also takes a stand against the system and how society treated other people, including women. This was one of de Saint Phalle’s primary objectives in developing her artistic focus and objectives in seeking to be as creative as possible.

The symbolism that is represented in de Saint Phalle’s shooting paintings is instrumental in capturing the attention of the desired audience. Her life experiences shaped her personality and introduced her to different ideas and concepts that had not yet been explored at great lengths during her time. Therefore, she sought to understand some of the darkness in the world and to allow some of her own pent-up aggression to be released through creative expression. In this context, it is observed that de Saint Phalle sought to expand the New Realism movement in a new direction with the support of her fellow artists and others interested in this type of freedom and expression. The artist sought to establish her roots and her abilities in the New Realism movement in order to push these concepts forward: “these artists performed archaeological excavations of everyday life; their works ranged from torn and lacerated posters, wrapped objects, and accumulations of found objects to assemblages of junk materials and urban detritus” (Guggenheim). This movement was particularly interesting because it challenged the core existence of humanity and sought to bring creativity to a new place, one that had yet to be explored (Guggenheim). The efforts made by de Saint Phalle and her colleagues represented an opportunity to explore the different dimensions of existing items and products and to use them in an entirely new light (Guggenheim). For example, the author sought to convey her interest in guns and shooting into an art form by combining these elements into a single piece of art that embodies the ideals of creativity and freedom of expression (Guggenheim). These efforts were critical in that they advanced the New Realism movement and supported its continued growth during the 1960s (Guggenheim).

For Niki de Saint Phalle, it was important to recognize the value of guns as a work of art and the cause of an entirely different type of artistic freedom. Therefore, she sought to explore this dimension and to make it attractive to a more widespread audience, in spite of its controversial basis. These developments supported the growth of de Saint Phalle’s body of work and her dedication to her craft. At the same time, she sought to convey the importance of a new style and strategy with which to approach art, rather than depending on what had already existed in the past. The shooting paintings are a prime example of the ability to shed the old and bring in the new, as the artist sought to convey her own desires, ambitions, and curiosities through her work in different ways. However, she also demonstrated that she possessed strength, courage, and dedication to her work at all times. The perceptions of her shooting paintings widely vary and demonstrate her ability to be diverse in their interests. Through de Saint Phalle’s shooting paintings, there is a greater understanding of color, randomness, spontaneity, and courage that had not been seen before in the context of the materials used and the approach taken to these paintings. By shooting into the canvas, there was a significant opportunity to explore the different dimensions of artistic expression that had not been explored in the past.

The painting in question also demonstrates the significance of chaos and its impact on de Saint Phalle’s body of work. It was important for the artist to represent herself in the most natural and organic light so that she could gain the respect and attention of her peers and of people throughout the world. Her creativity in developing these paintings is second to none and demonstrate her willingness to take risks without knowing whether or not there could be consequences. These efforts are important because they convey the real ambitions of the artist and her painting, including the strong and diverse use of color, the chaos of the paint dripping randomly down the canvas, and the ability to persuade both avid and casual observers that the painting was worth taking a look. Through the eyes of the observer, de Saint Phalle’s work demonstrates her strong commitment to exclusivity and her willingness to take a risk without knowing the consequences.

Based upon artistic theories and approaches, it is evident that Niki de Saint Phalle attracted viewers to her art, particularly her shooting pieces, because they were fresh, interesting, and somewhat frightening, considering the fact that the artist used a real gun to shoot at the canvas and created a unique painting that is unlike any other. The artist sought to convey her own reality through her work and in the process, created art that is irreplaceable and unique. The artist’s work has been part of a number of important exhibits held throughout the world and supports her drive and ambition to be successful as an artist and as a spokesperson for the New Realism Movement. Based upon the concept of freedom of expression, de Saint Phalle sought to express herself in a manner that was consistent with her own perception of reality and her fascination with chaos and violence. Although these topics appear to be difficult on the surface, they nonetheless enhance the artist’s vision, creativity and strength in many ways. Her shooting paintings are rare, irreplaceable, and unique, thereby creating an environment of distinctiveness and exclusivity that cannot be duplicated. De Saint Phalle’s artistic vision also represents her motivation, drive, and commitment to creating works of art that enhance her creativity, strength, and courage as a human being and as a woman in a challenging society. As a woman, De Saint Phalle sought to convey her beliefs regarding women and perhaps her vision of the shooting paintings filled this void. These efforts demonstrate the importance of De Saint Phalle’s ambitions and strengths as an artist and as a visionary. She sought to create an environment that embraced the extraordinary and the unique in order to accomplish the objectives that were sought and the ambitions that she held.

Conclusion

From the artist’s perspective, Niki de Saint Phalle conveyed her willingness to test the limits of reality and to drive home a point that artistic exploration and discovery are critical, even if they involve symbols of violence, such as guns. The shooting painting in question is observed as a specimen of aggression that perhaps enabled the artist to begin anew with a fresh perspective and a renewed spirit regarding her work. This was an important and meaningful step towards new discovery and a new and improved strength regarding art and its meaning. The painting in question also represents her vision of the world at the time and how it transformed through life experience and other factors. Niki de Saint Phalle was a revolutionary artist during a particularly unique period in history when realism took a dramatic turn towards another type of vision and approach towards life and existence. Therefore, her work, and in particular, her shooting paintings, are representative of her unique and steadfast vision in a society that explored new directions and areas of focus that had not yet been explored in great detail. With this framework, Niki de Saint Phalle was a true visionary and  supported the unique, diverse, and chaotic throughout art and life, using color and disorganization to accomplish these objectives without any regrets or assumptions regarding her work and her creative mind. With these perceptions, the artist’s portrayal of her own reality is perhaps different from others, but it nonetheless aligns with her beliefs and supports her objectives as a unique and creative force to be reckoned with, not unlike her shooting paintings that have captured the attention of art lovers and critics throughout the world.

Works Cited

De’Alleva, Anne. Methods & Theories of Art History. Laurence King Publishers, 2012. Print.

De Bernardis, Sara, Townsend, Joyce H., Ormsby, Bronwyn, Green, Tim, and Smithen, Patricia. “Shot and dropped: the conservation of a Niki de Saint Phalle Shooting Picture.” 30 October 2013: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCkQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fbh1.fpc.pt%2Fwinlib%2Fwinlibimg.aspx%3Fskey%3DAC64EF11C8D94C1A9ECDAD8DB89DE0DF%26doc%3D13897%26img%3D3685%26save%3Dtrue&ei=r4BxUsidEoGGyAHSsoHADw&usg=AFQjCNE9wC5x7e-w6OfZyoWyMIQhf21dcA&bvm=bv.55617003,d.aWc&cad=rja

Foster, Hal, et.al. Art Since 1900: 1945 to the Present (Second Edition, Vol. 2). Thames & Hudson, 2011. Print.

Guggenheim. Movements – Nouveal Realisme. 30 October 2013: http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/collections/collection-online/movements/195225/description

Harrison, Charles, and Paul J. Wood. Art in Theory 1900-2000: An Anthology of Changing Ideas. Blackwell Publishing, 2002. Print.

MOCA. “Ready! Take Aim! Fire!” 30 October 2013: http://sites.moca.org/thecurve/tag/niki-de-saint-phalle/

Neal, Jane. “Niki de Saint Phalle: the power of playfulness.” 30 October 2013: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/3671457/Niki-de-Saint-Phalle-The-power-of-playfulness.html

On the Boards. “Beginner’s guide to Catherine Cabeen and Company.” 30 October 2013: http://www.ontheboards.org/blog/beginners-guide-catherine-cabeen-and-company

Tate. “Shooting Picture: 1961.” 30 October 2013: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/saint-phalle-shooting-picture-t03824

This is Tomorrow. “Niki de Saint Phalle: the girl, the monster and the Goddess.” 30 October 2013: http://www.thisistomorrow.info/viewArticle.aspx?artId=2014

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