Compulsory question 1: Contextualize, compare and discuss images A and B with reference to ideas about the changing reputations of artists over time.
Both the artworks brought a changing reputation to the artist who created, as well as the public’s recognition towards a certain issue. The Last Resort is a series of colored photography documenting the holidays in New Brighton, England. Martin Parr is known for being one of the world’s most iconic photographers for his skillfulness at capturing the essence in small moments. His work of The Last Resort propelled him to great success for presenting the unknown side of the Britishness. The work itself is just a series of photos of the working-class families taking a vacation at the New Brighton, yet it’s so shocking to find the hidden meaning behind those pictures. Compare to many other photographers back then, Martin Parr is different in a way how he dares to show the world the real look of those marginalized group of people in British society. All he did was just showing the world what New Brighton was like, and what the working class living there are like, while it’s became to shock for those who had never been to places like New Brighton crowded with working classes. The documentary is very impressive in how the details were captured vividly, “this is a clammy, claustrophobic nightmare people swim in polluted black pools, lie knee-deep in chip papers, and stare at a gloomy horizon of the urban dereliction (quoted in Parr and Walker, p195). What the photos reflect is more than just a seaside resort where poor people having vocations, video arcades, overcrowded beaches, beauty competitions, chip shops and tea rooms. The series of pictures are actually revealing the depressing economy in Britain back to the 1980s. Many people found his work shocking because back then, art like photography was normally applied to the upper classes and the media was used to expose the life of rich people. People live in bubbles didn't even know that in northwest England, there was a group of people still living a life like this. His work is subversive back to that time when traditional documentary photography in Britain was still focusing on glorifying the working class, and he showed the real, somehow the ugliness and darkness of the British society.
In the artwork of Millais Mariana by John Everett, we can see a woman stretching in front of a desk. By the leaves scattered outside the window, we can see that it was autumn, and the women were apparently pausing from work. The work was fundamentally inspired by the character of Mariana from a Shakespeare's play named Measure for Measure. In the painting, she was longing for Angelo, which suggested that she was still in love with him. The dusty glass of windows in front of her, is showing the Annunciation, on contrary to the Virgin's fulfillment with Mariana's longing and upset (quoted in Prettejohn, p 10). In Mariana, Millais has created an evocative literary female portrait and Pre-Raphaelite execution. The painting was chosen to exhibit at the Royal Academy in 1851 from which Millais received a lot of critics for his innovative style of drawing. Millais loves to build a context for his artworks from literature, and in the painting, he would apply intense colors and authenticity to the nature of the objects he was drawing. His reputation was not as good as his works and his Pre-Raphaelite, while he made a turning point in the history by his works for both the future of the Pre-Raphaelites and for Millais, whose future is somehow linked with Ruskin was to be eventful (quoted in Parris, p89-90).
Question 2: Discuss Hogarth's 'Gin Lane' in relation to the idea of Englishness
In the painting Gin Lane by William Hogarth, he portrayed a street full of chaos and suffering due to the sickening addiction for the foreigner spirit of gin. There was a political context for the drawing as the Gin Act of 1751 enacted by England during that time period, calling for controlling the sale of cheap gin, as well as the pollution that comes with the cheap gin. In the work of Gin Lane, we can find many details which can express the Hogarth's despise for the over-consumed gin and his patriotism for calling for the rejection of the foreigner liquid. Apart from the overall chaos and depression causing from the gin addiction, in the painting, there is a detail to be noted which is quite shocking to its audience after a throughout the analysis. In the foreground, there is a woman in the half-naked without concerning anything at all. On her legs, we can find the syphilitic sores which insinuate that she is in prostitution. Moreover, a baby was slipping from her arm and plunge to its death in the stairs of the gin cellar below. Such a case provided a focus, as well as evidence of showing how dehumanizing the gin addiction is, which made the painting one of the most famous anti-gun campaigns. The Englishness be found in Hogarth's work is not only on the hatred he had for the foreigner spirit stem from uncontrolled production and sale of cheap gin polluting the nature of Englishness, but also in his pair work with the Gin Lane named Beer Street which illustrate the celebration of Englishness and depicts of the benefits of being nourished by the native beer. The information was presented in artworks following a timeline combined with many other medical types of research and knowledge. Apart from those artworks, there are also many other related art objects so that to create a cross-sectional sense of the disease within society. The comparison between the two artworks contains more than just exhibiting it’s aesthetic value, it's also about reclaiming and reeducating the public about what happened in our history. The diversity of sources presented in the artwork form fitted in the historical frame created a new kind of art display. Moreover, people tend to care less about the authorship when being exposed in front of massive information lumps, leading to the loss of authorship in many artworks that’s being displayed, and the role of authors in their own works shifted. The way how the two pair artworks are combined contribute to a powerful visual impact to the audience who get the see the paintings. What's more, this form of artistic collaboration offers easier access to the public for information worth shared, and it enabled a more frequent and intimate involvement between artworks and the public. The pair painting posed a vivid comparison with the work Gin Lane for showing the audience the happy and healthy scenes English people are having by consuming local English ale. It was shocking for the audience to find how Gin Lane is full of infanticide, madness, starvation, and suicide while Beer Street revealed only industry, richness, bonhomie, health, and thriving commerce (quoted in Einberg, p.1675-1709. Hogarth's was expressing his faith for Englishness through the painting on how he depicted the gloomy scenes caused by the sickeningly foreign liquor addiction in the Gin Lane and the opposite happy celebration on the Beer street where everybody was drinking local English ale. The happy celebration of Englishness on the pair painting is also the celebration of Englishness inside Hogarth's mind.
Question 7: How does this painting by Lubaina Himid represent a ‘revenge’ over colonial history? Discuss.
In the artwork made by Lubaina Himid called Between the Two My Heart is Balanced in 1991, she expressed her grievances towards the colonial history imposed on Africa by those European countries. The painting depicts two women on a small grey boat on the sea while the scene is painted from a vantage point inside the boat facing the two women (Pollock, p.173–6). Two women on the boat are both wearing African-style clothing and they are both black. The women on the left wear a grey dress and a tall black headdress, and the women next her wear a red dress and headdress. The woman on the left is turning towards her companion while dropping blue objects into the sea with one hand. The woman on the right is playing with two of the blue objects while her eyes turning to her left. Designing hatred in art creating reflected the part of human nature as resolute and sagacious. Because using our intelligence as a mean of getting what we want is a part of human nature, and hatred is an radical way of expressing one’s disagreement on certain issue. Himid did it in her painting presenting her revenge and her hatred trough the subtle details on the painting. There is a pile of flat colorful objects behind the two visible women, and the water in the background was in dark green and white. One the one hand, artworks are not being presented in an individual way, which would lead to the ignorance from the audience for that the authorship wasn't really markedly noted on every painting since it was only a part of the group material. This abstract form of art material's display actually diluted the authorship because when artistic collaboration is presented in this way, people tend to care more about the information and the knowledge they've learned from the material rather than the personal art style form each art workers. Individual impact on the artwork being created was eliminated given the consideration that something bigger has occupied the dominant position. Apart from the dilution of authorship in this form of artistic collaboration, the activities of group material have also transformed the idea of art from individually isolated models to a self-consciously cultural and political approach to our social communication. Artworks functioning as the interface between the spiritual world and the society, the presentation space for artworks was adopted as a vital artistic media, which has removed the distinction between curators and artists. According to some interpreters, the pile of colored objects that stands between the two women in this work is referring to the position taken by the male figure in Tissot’s etching, represent maps.
The two women in the work seem to be tearing the maps apart as a rejection to male hegemony. Hamid was born in Zanzibar in Tanzania but she moved to England shortly after her birth. As an artist, her works mainly focus on the contribution of African migrants on the European culture’s development (Rice 2003, p.72). A lot of women in her works are wearing African-style clothing, and many objects in her paintings are depicted as a representation of African culture. In the work, Two My Heart is Balanced of two women traveling in the boat insinuated the connection with the journey of Africa and the complex cultural politics that stem from such voyages which depict the survival of African culture after the cruel intervention of slavery and colonialism. The series would reflect Himid’s reimagining of the role of the black women in the colonial history, combined with the activities of her female protagonists generating alternatives to conventional historical narratives. Those who survived on the ships, like the two women would then take control, tearing apart the Western charts and maps which has been seen as the tool for westerners to explore the world, to enslave blacks (Rice 2003, p.75). By picturing the two women tearing these maps which have been reckoned as the knowledge of navigation controlled by white people, Hamid was expressing her discontent towards the colonial history which deprived the freedom of African people and intervenes the African culture. She is taking revenge in being who she is as an African artist, and their creativity would still be committed to change for the good, change the world and society to a more equal place with her own creativity. (Rochdale Art Gallery 1992, p.32.).
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