Art History Survey II: Fall 2009

December 10, 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — annasthaeyzsia @ 12:30 am

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Self Portrait


Horns Players by Jean-Michel Basquiat has to be my favorite piece from anything we’ve covered in class.  My younger sister painted a picture of what I have decided was a cocker spaniel on a green background.  It looked like a finger painted glob of brown, green, and black for the eyes and mouth.  She was in the paper and received a medal and certificate for painting this picture. I was completely outdone.  I had been painting detailed landscapes since before she could walk, and she came along with a finger painting and received rewards and recognition.  My mom tried to explain to me the appeal behind a painting that looked like it was done by a child.  Now that I see Horn Players, I can relate.

Skimming over Basquiat’s piece, is not an option.  The sketchy, child-like rendering drew me in and once I was captured, I felt compelled to carefully study this work.  When Prof. Siddons, talked about the Basquiat’s reasons for painting in this manner saying that he wanted people to think the piece had been done by a child, I just knew that I had to get to know this artist.  I found way more than I bargained for though.  The most astounding fact I discovered concerned his short life span.  Basquiat was only 27 years old when he died from a heroine overdose.

Born in 1960, Basquiat quit school and left home for one year before graduating from high school.  His first artworks consisted of painted postcards and t-shirts.  Basquiat’s short career spanned a mere decade.  His influences ranged from Leonardo Da Vinci to Abstract Expressionists.  His work is most categorized as Abstract Expressionism.

Upon a cursory glance, I get a sense of nervousness in his works.  When I read about his excessive use of drugs and his constant state of paranoia, it began to all make sense.  Many say that Basquiat lived a rock star/starving artist life.  His assistant of five years remarked that when he first met Basquiat, he came to the door naked in the middle of the afternoon.  The assistant walked into the apartment and found that Basquiat was living in a room with only two pieces of furniture, a mattress with no box spring and a small tv set.  He continued this detailed description saying:

“The floor was covered with an amazing array of clutter: art history books, cassette tapes, art supplies, and clothing including lots of paint spattered Armani that I took to the dry cleaners in a plastic garbage bag. Then there was the more: lots of drawings on the floor, many having been walked on, art supplies including oilsticks, paintbrushes and rollers, and last, but not least, bags of marijuana, and wads of cash”.

Sneed has what I consider the most accurate and believable description of Basquiat.  He recounted, “Jean-Michel could remember details and spew them out with real intensity at a random moment, and that essentially is what I began to realize his art was often about: intensely felt, but fragmented experience and knowledge.”

The more I read about this most interesting artist the more I was fascinated by his existence.  I began to look at his works in a new light, and I remain in awe of his powerful depictions.

1. Sneed, John. “Recollections of JMB.” Web. 8 Dec 2009. <;.


December 9, 2009

The Dugout

Filed under: Uncategorized — annasthaeyzsia @ 3:56 pm

My college career thus far has been very interesting.  I started out in architecture, moved to construction management, and now I am in graphic design.  I’ve always been fascinated with architecture and how it shapes society.  While I was in Architecture, I had a class called Architecture and Society that really opened my eyes to the ways that society and architecture are interconnected.  Architecture is as much a part of history as many of the other more popular well known facts, like who won the Civil War.

Often times when an ancient civilization is discovered it is because someone has come across the ruins of an old settlement or city.  The ruins are more often than not the only pieces of history left behind from a society making it the only key to understanding the lives and behaviors of people of that time and area.  For this reason, architecture plays a very important role in discovering and learning about those that came before us.  Historians are able to learn a great deal about a civilization based on the style of architecture left behind.  Architecture portrays and evidences, among other things, the developments made during that time period telling a story about the conditions those people lived under and how they responded to them.

Since I am from Oklahoma, I decided to explore the early architecture of my home state.  I was surprised and elated to discover the folk architecture that was initially Oklahoma housing.  The style of housing is called ‘dugout’ and the overarching title for this vernacular architecture is called Midland folk architecture (Greiner 1) and was found in the prairie lands of early Oklahoma territory.   Similar to what I read in the assigned reading article about folk designing, dugouts have often been disregarded in discussions of early Oklahoma architecture (Richard 270).  When in fact, the Midland folk architecture of early Oklahoman settlers commonly consisted of dugout houses, which are wood framed, single pen dwellings that are partially underground.  Early Oklahoman settler constructed dugouts either by digging horizontally into the face on a hill or by digging straight down into the ground (Richards 268). These dugouts were both affordable and practical because they provided warmth in the winter, cool in the summer, and protection from infamous Oklahoma tornadoes (Greiner 1).  These houses are perfect examples of vernacular architecture because they are simple, yet resourceful solutions to countering perilous living conditions in the prairie lands of Oklahoma. Below are some pictures of early dugout house in Oklahoma.


Dugouts represented a convenient yet temporary solution to early shelter problems because they were not without certain drawbacks that included problems with lighting, flooding, and ventilation.  As a result, not many dugouts were built in Oklahoma after 1900.  Many of those that were built have been converted into storm cellars.  This style of housing has not been completely abandoned though.

In my mom’s neighborhood/town, Forest Park, Oklahoma I grew up watching the evolution of an actual dugout house.  I saw the house for the first time while riding the bus to school in kindergarten.  I was enamored by the fact the half of the house was below ground.  A friend of mine moved into the house when I was 12 years old, and I was so excited when I got the chance to visit her “underground” house.  The inside had been totally renovated by her father.  He gutted the inside of the house and reinforced areas of the walls and foundations, but the house remains partially underground.

After exploring vernacular architecture in Oklahoma, I naturally was surprised to find that this style of housing was not just a cool way of building a house but actually an integral part of Oklahoma’s history.

Below are some pictures of my friend’s house.

1. Greiner, Alyson L. “Folk Architecture.” Oklahoma Historical Society’s Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. Oklahoma City, OK: 2007. Web. <;.

2. Richards, Lynne. “Home was a Hole in the Ground: Memories of Oklahoma Dugouts.” Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal 23. (1995 ): 268-270. Web. 8 Dec 2009. <;.

Rags to Riches?

Filed under: Uncategorized — annasthaeyzsia @ 3:15 pm

There is a cross-cultural link between a few works from class.  The stories behind the painting of Gustave Courbet’s The Stonebreakers, Jean-Francois Millet’s The Gleaners, and Jacob Lawrence’s During the World War there was a great migration North by Southern Negroes share a similar purpose.

In class we talked about Jacob Lawrence’s piece, and I was immediately moved to learn more about his work.  I found that this piece was part of a 60 piece series of works he did documenting the migration of African-Americans from the poor, repressive rural South to the more industrialized, urban North during the time between the World Wars (Cotter 1).  Going through the different paintings, I witnessed more about a different historical point of view of that time, one that is not included in school textbooks.

Lawrence lived this history and documented it in tempera paint on hardboard panels at the young age of 24 (Cotter 1).  He painted the 60 pictures simultaneously in a production-line style:

“In a given studio session he would apply a single color to several paintings in progress. In the next session he would apply another color in the same way” (Cotter 1).

Lawrence called his style “dynamic cubism,” and attributes his use of color to his experiences in Harlem, with vibrant use of color in African-American homes to shine through the dark times of Depression. Studying his work, and specifically this piece, made me take notice and also answered a few questions I had had regarding the sudden vast presence of African-Americans in the North during that time.  I had heard my grandmother talk about this fact as a child from a literary and musical perspective, with stories of the writers of the Harlem Renaissance and jazz artists of that time, but to be able see it documented through art provides vivid imagery to accompany that tales that I have previously heard.

I was further intrigued by the titles of the some of the pieces in Lawrence’s series.  The unique titles are short sentences or one word phrases that provide background facts to each painting, each telling the story of the conditions, activities, and lifestyles of African-Americans during this migration.  The nature of this series can be classified as documentary.  The titles of the various pieces within in the work include:

  1. “Another great ravager of the crops was the boil weevil.”
  2. “In every town Negroes were leaving by the Hundreds to go North and enter into Northern industry.”
  3. “In many places, because of the war, food had doubled in price.”
  4. “One of the largest race riots occurred in East St. Louis.”
  5. “They arrived in Pittsburgh, one of the great industrial centers of the North, in large numbers.”
  6. For African-Americans the South was barren in many ways. There was no justice for them in courts, and their lives were often in danger.”

This documentary style exhibit relates to the The Gleaners and The Stonebreakers in that they provide a behind the scenes look at the struggles and journeys of an under-accounted for population during significant historical moments.   Courbet and Millet exposed the world to the poverty and suffering of the rural farmers and families of the late 1840’s, as people left the rural areas in search of more prosperous possibilities in industrialized, urban areas.  This correlates with the story and purpose behind Lawrence’s The Migration of the Negro series.

1. Cotter, Holland. “Visions of a People in Motion.” New York Times: Art and Design 27 Dec 2007: n. pag. Web. 8 Dec 2009. <;.

December 8, 2009

if only i found this video before the final…

Filed under: Uncategorized — lptmac @ 3:51 pm

December 7, 2009

Colorado Ntl. Monument

Filed under: Uncategorized — evangrether @ 6:23 pm

I know the last blog post intended to be over a piece of artwork or something of the like found in Oklahoma but, seeing that I left the state for a solid week and wasn’t traveling around Oklahoma much I figured I would touch on something from somewhere else. Over Thanksgiving break I traveled to Colorado where I was able to visit the National Monument during my stay. Regretfully, the day we drove up there I forgot my camera and was unable to take any pictures for you guys, sorry!

Driving through the monument is a great experience. It is really something when you stop at one of the many points and walk out to the ledge to find yourself looking over a huge mass of land spreading for miles below you. It really makes you feel like you are on top of the world and almost as if that every breath you take while up there is air that was meant for you and only you. It’s hard for me to explain but if you all ever get a chance to go there I would highly suggest it. There are also a ton of trails and hikes that you can take if you are into it. Along the way through I was glancing at the map and found an area titled “Artists Point.” “Hmmmm, What is it about this area that gives it such a title?”, I wondered. After we stopped it all became clear to me. The view from Artists Point is PERFECT for a landscape piece. The horizon line is not too low, but not high enough to where the land seems like its being engulfed by the sky, it’s just right. The layout of the land is very admirable as well. There is a section of mountains the start out highly concentrated to the right end of you view but slowly tapers down the further you turn your head to the left, avoiding the ‘too much centered subject matter’ look that most artists avoid. Finally, (depending on what time it is) there are some really great cast shadows from the mountains that would really help pull a landscape together from that point. Overall, it’s just perfectly perfect for any artist looking to do a landscape involving mountainous terrain. Posted below is a link that will take you to a picture from Artists Point.


Filed under: Uncategorized — evangrether @ 5:16 pm

During our week 13 session we covered a good amount of material concerning the collage technique. The class went over works like “Glass and Bottle of Suze” by Pablo Picasso and “Just What is it that Makes Today’s homes so Different, So Appealing?”  by Richard Hamilton. Both of these pieces were created by compiling different subject matter into one form of artwork. When you think of the word collage one can’t help but think of it in it’s most basic definition which is the art of cutting, pasting, and gluing a compilation of subject matter to create an artistic piece of art. After studying the article “Merce Cunningham and the Aesthetic of Collage” by Roger Copeland I found that a collage piece can be formulated in a very different way than mentioned above. Merce Cunningham was a dance choreographer which used a technique he called collage to choreograph his dances. Cunningham would use a technique called”splicing” in which he took multiple symphonies and cut out fragments of the music. Afterward, he would rearrange the spliced fragments into his own series of sounds to create a whole new symphony entirely. That technique alone relates to methods of collage but there are more references to be found. Cunningham would also strategically place his dancers in specific areas on the stage (for example: foreground, background, etc…). Along with stage placement he would direct different groups of dancers to wear certain types of costumes to build, not only an aesthetically pleasing piece of artwork through music, but a visual experience as well. I just found it interesting how the term collage could be stretched even further than simply cutting and pasting. Here is a link to one of Merce Cunninghams dances, you can find more at youtube.

abject art: ron english

Filed under: Uncategorized — kelseyjackson @ 4:16 pm

ok so i thought abject art seemed kinda cool, and while i was researching it, i found this guy: ron english.

from wikipedia: “One aspect of his work involves ‘liberating’ commercial billboards with his own messages. Frequent targets of his work include Joe Camel, McDonalds, and Mickey Mouse. Ron English can be considered the “celebrated prankster father of agit-pop”, who wrangles carefully created corporate iconographies so that they are turned upside down, and are used against the very corporation they are meant to represent. Ron English is considered one of the fathers of modern street art and has initiated and participated in illegal public art campaigns since the early eighties.”

i think it falls more under pop art than abject art, but either way, it’s still interesting.

Nude vs. Naked

Filed under: Uncategorized — sammieso @ 2:30 pm

Venus Of Urbino, Titian (1538)

Olympia, Manet (1863)

When Manet presented Olympia to the public it sparked controversy. Conservatives condemned the work as “immoral” and “vulgar”. But in 1538, Titian presented Venus of Urbino, and did not get the same reaction, the painting was socially accepted. Because Titian presented a nude goddess in an atmosphere of fashion it was accepted to the public. But many years later Manet painted a similar piece, replacing Venus with a naked prostitute and it was socially rejected. This raises a question, why can only goddesses be “nude” and not known as naked. Why are they socially accepted in being naked? What are your thoughts on this question?

LandArt in Oklahoma Relating to Spiral Jetty

Filed under: Uncategorized — sammieso @ 1:58 pm

This summer I went to Hinton, OK where they have a camping ground called Red Rock Canyon. I heard that they hold weekend get-a-ways for artists to come together and experiment on nature with art. When I started to wonder around I started to notice throughout the wooded area that there were sculptures of animals made out of the nature that surrounded me. When observing this it reminded me of the Spiral Jetty by Robert Smithson, and how he used nature to create a work of art and how he demonstrated that the idea of art is not just a commodity by removing it from a gallery setting. I felt that the artists portrayed the same idea by going into the wooded area and creating the sculptor out of it’s surroundings, basically making the work of art a part of the nature surrounding it, as if it were supposed to be like this. What are your thoughts on this?

Westhope Frank Lloyd Wright

Filed under: Uncategorized — megan8820 @ 1:58 pm

Westhope Frank Lloyd Wright

I had never paid much attention to architecture until I came to college, and now after learning more about architecture in art history I have gained more appreciation for the art. My sister is a architecture major, and one of my other friends really appreciates architecture. For a while now we had all planed on visiting Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Westhope” building but for some reason we never got around to it. I’ve gained much more respect for art because of this class and now I want to see all of what Oklahoma has to offer. Over break I want me and all of my friends to drive to Birmingham Avenue and see Frank Lloyd Wright’s building.
I heard you can’t go inside the building because someone is living inside, but the landscape and exterior is beautiful to look at.
Here are some photos of the exterior of Frank Lloyd Wrights, “Westhope”


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