Sunday, September 30, 2012

Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Canvases of the World

Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Christo was Belgian born as Christo Javashev during Jeanne-Claude's (born as Jeanne-Claude de Guillebon) birth in France. Being both born on June 13, 1935, they seemed as if in the hands of fate when they met on an October day in Paris at the age of twenty-three. Staying  together through thick and through thin, they had a son named Cyril in 1960 and then shortly moved to the United States in 1964. As their lives unfolded before them, they began pursuing art in the most imaginational ways by using the world as the canvas. On November 18, 2009, at the age of seventy-four, Jeanne Claude completed her very full and inspiring life as an artist, a mother, and the other half of Christo. She left behind many magnificent works, allowing her to still influence the world today.

Ponte Neuf (Paris, France)

Part of what made this work so special, to the artists especially, was the effort taken to get it there. They were persistent with the Mayor of Paris and the President of France for ten years before they were granted permission to wrap the ancient bridge to show the unique joy of nothing lasting forever. They conceived this idea in 1975, but it was not completed until 1985.  

The Umbrellas (Japan)

The Umbrellas cover two inland valleys. One is twelve miles of Japan and the other is eighteen miles of the United States. This work took place from 1984-1991, after the bombings of Pearl Harbor and Nagasaki and Hiroshima. This was based off of these major disagreements and was used to express the similarities and differences in beliefs and the ways of life of the separate nations. 

The Umbrellas (USA)

Surrounded Islands 
(Biscayne Bay, Miami, Florida)

From 1980-1983, Christo and Jeanne-Claude produced this 6.5 million square feet of hot pink art around the islands of Biscayne Bay. They not only made this environment prettier but cleaner and healthier, too. Before ever touching these pink sheets to the water they cleared with scientists that it would not harm the environment but also guaranteed them that they would try to clean the islands up as much as possible prior to and after the job. This project added to the success of this dynamic duo by accomplishing the goal of bringing joy to yet another community.

The Gates (Central Park, New York City, New York)
This very interesting portrayal of the overwhelming joy of life is brought to the world in a very interesting way. These twenty-three miles of bright orange gates that bright up central park in a way that nothing else could came to life from 1979-2005. This is perhaps one of the most famous actions of Christo and Jeanne-Claude to America.

What significance, if any, does your subject have to the American culture?

Over the years, Christo and Jeanne-Claude have not just impacted America and its culture, but they have changed it. They each have added their own sense of creativity, joy, and outlook on life. They have greatly expressed the importance of freedom and the cries of hope throughout each work of art. Differences of the world and the individual point of views have been witnessed by many individuals and even countries. Christo and Jeanne-Claude, like many other artists, have changed the perspective on the everyday of American culture and turned over a new leaf of hope and imagination.

What are some major themes that your subject adresses?

"The work of art is a scream of freedom," confessed Christo. Behind each piece of art ever created there is more to be found. Art is the way of expression, of free, indifferent memories rushing to the surface. This dynamic duo shows the world that no matter how difficult anything may be that there is hope and all is possible. These are some of the many themes portrayed along their canvases of the world.

Is your subject responding to another cultural movement? If yes, how?

In a way Christo is responding to the communism that was going on in his home country of Belgium in the 1950s and the 1960s. He, Jeanne-Claude, and their son moved to the United States to escape this in 1964. He continued to portray his feelings of the newfound freedom but also the lack of control and hope had previously through his masterpieces. 



Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Inside the Art
Artists' Profiles
More Pictures

Yves Klein: Abstract Artist

For my blog post I chose to tell y'all about Yves Klein. 

He was born on April 28, 1928, in Nice, France. He died in 1962. His parents were artists, his mother was in the Art Informel movement and his father painted figures and landscapes. Klein received no formal artistic training. His family lived in Paris between 1930 and 1939, during the summer he stayed with his aunt, who gave him a pragmatic outlook unlike his parents who gave him a free spirited attitude. These views combined led him to restrict color in his early paintings.

Leap into the Void

He stated when he made this leap into the void, "to paint space, I must be in position. I must be in space."  This was said during the time Russia and the U.S. were sending astronauts to space.

Untitled Fire Painting

These paintings were part of Klein's exploration of living materials. He found Fire, he considered fire "the universal principle of expression". He used a gas gun as his new "brush" to "paint" with.

Untitled Blue Monochrome

This Blue color is Klein's own creation an ultramarine blue called International Klein Blue (IKB)
The feeling of freedom, it has the quality of immaterial spirituality. You get lost in this sea blue, this sky blue, a void is what I believe Klein was trying to create.

Untitled Yellow and Pink Monochrome

Another one of his Void works. He wanted people to leave the exhibitions in a void, to see art in a new way. His lesson in this is "about a different way of being together."

What are some major themes that your subject addresses?

Yves Klein addressed Abstract paintings, dominated the 1950s and had the "notion that an artists could communicate with the viewer." Nouveau(New) Realisme, things taken from real life. He has an "eccentric blend of mystical and materialist attitudes."

What about your subject is particularly "French"?

He was associated with the Parisian Nouveau Realime movement supported by the French critic Pierre Restany. He formed an over the top range of avant-garde work. which is any creative group active in the application of new concepts and techniques.

How has your subject influenced a particular cultural movement?

He was "the most influential, prominent and controversial French artist to emerge in the 1950s." He is remembered by his use of his only color, International Klein Blue. He attacked many of the ideas that underpinned the abstract paintings. He is compared to many artist like Marcel Duchamp or Kazimir Malevich. He is very influential for artists today.

Link to Gallery:

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Niki de Saint Phalle: Rifles and Nouveau Realisme

For my first post on French Contemporary art, I thought I'd share one of my favorite female artistes, Niki de Saint Phalle.

Niki with husband, sculpter Jean Tinguely

Niki de Saint Phalle's haute class, but financially broken family was driven out of Paris during the Great Depression. After reinstalling in New York in 1933, her mother, your typically glamorous parisienne, enrolled Niki in the prestigious Brearly School where she was promptly dismissed for painting red fig leaves on the school's statuary. From then on Niki was was sacheted from prep school to prep school until she learned to hone her beauty and chipped out shoulders into a modeling career. At the age of 16, her prim n' trim mademoiselle face appeared on the cover of Life Magazine and three years later on the cover of French Vogue.

At 18, Niki eloped with childhood friend, Harry Matthews, shot-gunning herself into a life that she quickly grew to hate. In 1953, she suffered a tremendous nervous breakdown, moved to Spain and started to ferociously paint away her troubles.

After dabbling briefly in oil painting and collage art, she famously turned to a new medium--the rifle. She cocked her gun, aimed and fired at giant paint-loaded canvases.

Shooting Picture, 1961

The point of the "shooting paintings" was to bomb, to FIRE!, to BLOW UP!! this house-cat life she had led by default. It was a big, loud NO! to her hypocritical, sexist society.

Her next art phase had a lot to do with auto-destruction and the rabid consumption of pointless, plastic materials. That means a lot of dismembered Barbie dolls, shredded stuffed animals, and cheap "female" products strangely manipulated and cemented onto canvases.

As the 1960s turned into the 1970s, Niki's name got bigger, and so did her art. Um... like a LOT bigger. In 1979, she acquired a stretch of land in Garavicchio, Tuscany and began the 19-year Tarot Garden project that she worked on into her seventies. The bright, fiber-glass Tarot women came to personify her entire career. A visual feast for critics, kids, and even the non-art-inclined, visitors can climb up the heads, slide down the tongues, walk between the legs, and look out the eyes of these creatures even today.

How has your subject influenced French culture?

Niki de Saint-Phalle was part of the 1970's feminist movement in France. Along with other famous french feminists like Simone de Beauvoir, her work challenged the conventional roles that women held in society at that time. It was not very "feminine" for a woman to pick up a rifle back then. Women were looked down upon for being boisterous and unconventional, when society expected them to look pretty, wear high heels, and act proper. Niki's work made French women, and women around the world, realize that if they have something to say, they are allowed to scream it, and if they have something to show the world, they can used big, loud colors.

How has your subject influenced a particular cultural movement?

Niki de Saint Phalle is part of the New Realism movement, or Nouveau Realisme in french. New Realism was a form of abstract art popular in the 1960s. Members of this movement believed in taking elements from real life an incorporating them into their art. Basically, this means recycling material from the world around them and using it to make something that challenges the way the average person looks at it. The whole idea was to use art as a way to criticize reality. Niki's shooting paintings and Tarot women are an example of this.

Here are a few Niki de Saint Phalle links for more information about Niki.

"Living with Niki"- an interview with her first husband, Harry Matthews

See you in class!