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“Pop! – Goes the Art World”

You can’t not know what Pop Art is. I mean –you can, but if you saw pop art you’d definitely recognize it. And that’s very much the intention of the movement –to be popular. Not to become popular, but to already exist as something popular. How can this be? Pop Art as a movement creates a mirror for popular culture –it’s things like Campbell soup cans, Wonder Woman, and large balloon animals. Pop artists have faced critiques of originality from the movement’s inception; however, one look at these artworks and you won’t be able to deny their creativity.

Pop art arose in the 1950s as a reactionary art movement to abstract expressionism. Abstract Expressionism concerned itself with the subconscious or the spiritual; it was spontaneous, automatic, and had great emotional intensity. The point was to avoid the artistic censorship that occurred after World War II (and all the political propaganda “art” that came with it) by creating art with abstract or neutral subject matter –think Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko.

Pop Artists entered the art scene in an attempt to lighten the mood from the intensity of this genre by reverting to the everyday realities of popular culture. They emphasized the banal, kitschy, even the cheap elements of society –employed in an almost satirical or ironic reaction to the art of the times. Things you’d normally see in comic books, advertisements, and every day mundane (albeit cultural) objects appeared in compositions whose creators called them “art”. And by the 1960’s, “Pop Art”, as it came to be known, was ready to change the world. Artists such as Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol dominated the art scene. But it wasn’t just an art-movement, it was an ideology; it was a lifestyle

In the 1980s Pop art had a resurgence known as “Neo-Pop”. Like the Pop art of the 60’s it was confrontational and irreverent and witty. The Pop aesthetic never really went away and can be seen today in street graffiti, comic books, photo montage, and large-scale sculpture. The movement remains relevant today because people are drawn to the objectivity of these artworks. Pop culture motifs give viewers a feeling of inclusion or belonging –the artwork has an immediate personal significance.

Were they trying to make a socio-political statement? A critique of society? Or were they finding real beauty in Campbell’s Soup cans? Maybe they just saw everyday objects artistically?

Images by: https://www.themodern.org/blog/Contemporary-Pop-Art/343 & https://mymodernmet.com/what-is-contemporary-art-definition/

 

“The Nature in Ephemeral Art”

As mentioned in our last post, “The Floral Still Life: It’s Stems and Roots”, the traditional still life focused on a moral lesson –perhaps the most frequently used motif being life’s temporality. Flowers as they exist in nature are an art in and of themsleves; Claude Monet even said “My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece”. But these tragic beauties only last a season. They bud; they bloom; they die –such is life.

Here are some contemporary artists who capitalize on the short-lived nature of real live flowers to produce exquisite ephemeral art. Be sure to add any of your favorites I may have missed below!

 

Wolfgang Laib –”Pollen from Hazelnut” at the MoMA (2013):

This artist literally gathers pollen from trees and plants near his southern-German home, bottles it up, and takes it to museum’s all over the world to create dust-carpet installations on their floors. Part of me is impressed by his commitment, the other part wonders how the bees must feel…

 

Image Credit: The New York Times

 

Detroit Flower House – Lisa Waud and others:

Before a delapidated house in Detroit was demolished, florist – Lisa Waud – decided to give it one last hurrah by decking out the place in flowers. She partnered with local floral artists to make the various installations and the results were hauntingly beautiful.  The “Detroit Flower House” exhibit opened for one weekend in October 2015.

 

Image Credit: boredpanda

 

Flower Carpet Festival –Brussels, Belgium:

The event occurs bi-annually on the Grand-Place of Brussels, featuring a different design theme each year. This year’s flower carpet will “bring Guanajuato to the centre of Europe”

Image Credit: flower carpet

 

Jean-Michel; Bihorel: Flower Figures (made out of dried hydrangea):

Image Credit: designboom

 

Carl Kleiner: Postures Series (minimalist floral arrangements):

 

Image Credit: The Cool Hunter

 

“Flower Puppy’ by Jeff Koons:

 

The Floral Still Life: Its Stems and Roots

In this month’s exhibition we’re celebrating flowers and their appearance in various artwork styles from traditional to contemporary. The roots of this subject matter, so to speak, lie within the still life.

The still life grew in popularity, especially in northern Europe, during the 17th century. The intention of the still life at this time was to teach a moral lesson, especially to remind the viewer of the transience of life. Each bloom was imbued with a personal, cultural, or even religious significance –wilting flowers reminded the viewer of the temporality of life, lilies indicated the Virgin Mary, pink roses signified a clandestine love, etc. Despite their beauty and significance, “floral still life” as a subject matter remained at the bottom of the painting hierarchy, trailing far behind grandiose history paintings.

“ . . . Even if the painter of flowers need not make the same studies to make or conquer the same difficulties as the history painter, does that mean flower painting is a lower or more limited genre?”—a review of the 1817 Salon

In the 19th century, French realists and impressionists alike began to move away from painting still lives as Memento Mori/Vanitas artworks and began to paint scenes of everyday life –their objects and subjects –for their own sake. This shift was very unpopular; the painting was no longer edifying –just beautiful. Can you imagine a time when the impressionist “still life” was considered “modern” and ruffled the feathers of traditionalists? To best appreciate this genre, it’s important to understand that even the simplest subject matter faced criticism.

“(The) poor fabricators of still lifes, who have been so violently disbarred just when they least expected it . . . [T]hey are multiplying at an alarming rate. The rats in the Paris sewers are less numerous and less menacing. If the academic order ever crumbles, it will be because the still-life painters, down below, have gnawed away, one by one, at its foundations.”—Critic Jules Castagnary, writing about the Salon des refusés in 1863

Here are some quotations from the floral artists from the 1800s to help give some context to this genre (and perhaps redeem the critics’ harsh reviews with some romanticism). Enjoy this behind-the-scenes glimpse of still lifes and their hidden roots!

  • “I am following nature without being able to grasp her, I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.” – Claude Monet
  • “I must have flowers, always, and always.” – Claude Monet 
  • “A painter can say all he wants to with fruit or flowers or even clouds.” – Edouard Manet
  • “How right it is to love flowers and the greenery of pines and ivy and hawthorn hedges; they have been with us from the very beginning.” – Vincent Van Gough
  • “I am working at it every morning from sunrise on, for the flowers fade so soon, and the thing is to do the whole in one rush.” – Vincent Van Gough
  • “What seems to me to be one of the most important things about our movement is that we have freed painting from the tyranny of subject-matter. I am free to paint flowers and call them flowers, without having to weave a story round them.” – Pierre Auguste Renoir 
  • ” . . . I think that nothing is more difficult for a true painter than to paint a rose, since before he can do so, he has first to forget all the roses that were ever painted.” – Henri Matisse
 

How to Smell the Roses at our “In Bloom” exhibition

This week marked the start of our “In Bloom” exhibition here at Art Leaders. We look forward to celebrating floral art in all its forms –each painting as unique as the flowers they represent. But before we get too far into this exhibition, I wanted to offer some tips for appreciating the details during your visit in the gallery this month –a quick lesson in “slow looking”.

Despite the fact that the 70-plus paintings are of the same subject matter –the bouquet –they each offer so much beauty and interest when explored more carefully. Here are some ideas for how to prolong that quick glance into a slow look. You might be surprised at what beauty unfolds before you when you spend time with a single painting.

 

1. Scan the painting. I know, I know –I told you to slow down and now I’m telling you to “scan the painting”, but we can’t help of course but to take it in quickly at first, so do it. Scan the painting from left to right and top to bottom. Where does your eye fall within the painting? What grabs you as you eye wanders?

2. Get Close –so close that the painting becomes out of focus. From this perspective, try to figure how the artist created this piece of art one paint stroke at a time.

3. Step Back. How does the composition change when you step back a few feet? How do those details interact with each other to make the whole?

4. Consider Color. Spend some time with our flowers painted in the impressionist style. Chances are you’ll find multiple colors –perhaps the entire rainbow –within a single petal.

5. Seek out Details. Bugs like flowers too –can you find any hiding within these paintings? How about dew drops, perfectly poised to roll off smooth petals? Whether it be a tiny ant or an ironic swath of color –the beauty of each painting lies greatly in their details.

 

We hope to see you this weekend or throughout this month to enjoy our flower exhibition. Come in to practice your “slow looking” –after all, we can only appreciate life’s beauty when we take the time to stop and smell the roses.

 

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Address:
33086 Northwestern Highway
West Bloomfield, Michigan 48322
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Phone: 248-539-0262

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From fine art and custom framing to design consulting and art appraisals, Art Leaders Gallery is dedicated to offering the best selection and service in the Metro Detroit area.


Art Leaders Gallery has been providing Oakland County and the Metro Detroit Area with unique fine art and custom picture framing since 1992.