Art 3 – due 8/30 – Bones

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LOOK AT THE WAY O’KEEFFE USES BONES AND PLAYS WITH FIGURE AND GROUND, FORM AND SPACE.  In your comments, consider the effect this has on the viewer, whether or not it is symbolic or purely formal, and consider the music that Fogelberg created as tribute to O’Keeffe.  Does it add to or change your response to her work.  You may want to listen to it with and without sound.

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10 responses »

  1. In her work, Georgia O’Keeffe consistently uses size and shape to accentuate either the foreground or background. In her paintings of skulls and bones in particular, I think by using softer colors and edges she is able to make the rigid edges of her models the focus of her work without being abrasive. She is able to really capture her point of view and the perspective she’s chosen through adjusting her background and foreground, as well as changing the scale of her subjects.

    The music that Fogelberg chose for the video didn’t change my view of her work, however the pieces he chose to show did. I’ve seen mostly O’Keeffe’s orchids and flowers, but her other work is really exceptional. Her work is a lot more well rounded than I previously thought and it was great to see her breadth.

    • That’s a nice observation about how important the selection of art was in shaping our response to the pieces as well as the music. I would highly recommend the O’Keeffe museum in Sante Fe. It’s a great way to see the evolution and range of her work and the context of her art. We also have some biographies in the artroom that make for some interesting reads.

  2. Georgia O’Keeffe oftentimes allowed the bones to take up a large amount of surface-area. She played with scale, making the bones appear as if they were much larger than the surrounding hills and mountains. As a result, she put greater emphasis on the bones and gave them a sense of power and mystique that they would not otherwise have had. I like how she utilized both the positive and negative space created by skulls, antlers, and other bones to make her composition more interesting.

    The first time I watched the video I viewed it with the sound off. When I turned the sound back on, the music gave O’Keeffe’s compositions a slightly more dramatic feel. In addition, because some of the lyrics matched up with the images portrayed in the video, it encouraged me to pay closer attention and take a deeper look at those paintings.

  3. Georgia O’Keeffe usually puts bones somewhere close to the sight so it gives you an illusion that they are really huge, and they domain most of the space. When she draws simple-scaled bones, she softens the edges of the bones to give them more artistic feel and let them blend into the background. In contrast, when she deals with more complicated ones, she would let them pop out and catch people’s eyes immediately. However, she emphasizes bones showed her passion on them in either way.
    The music was well engaged with the video but didn’t really change the way I viewed her work. However, it did show us how much effort she paid to the work she loved so much.
    BTW, I really like her work with a tree and starry night, the color is “quietly brilliant” and gives you a feeling of fairy-tales.

    • I love that tree painting as well and especially think of it when I look up into sequoias. I like your use of the term “quietly brilliant” since it captures the intensity and simplicity or unity ot her image. This piece shares that aspect of scale and domination of the space that you pointed out in your first comment about the bones. It’s interesting to see her apply that compositional technique to very different subject matter.

  4. Before viewing this video, I thought O’Keeffe to be sort of drab, and not very well rounded because I just knew her flower paintings. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the more works of hers I saw, and discovered in fact, she was more well rounded than I had previously thought.

    It was interesting to me to see how she played with ground and figure. She personified one object, normally the smaller one, as to give a fictional appeal. For example, the skull and antlers were much larger than the mountains, which is obviously not reality, however I think this technique worked, and made the pieces more interesting. She also played with line quality, choosing some soft lines and markings as well as harder lines. This technique is effective in almost every piece I saw because it made things seem more realistic.

    The music didn’t give me a different view, however it was interesting to see how some of the words matched up with her specific pieces. This forced me to pay attention to the pieces and match what I was seeing, to what I was hearing.

    • It’s always great to get a new insight into an artist by viewing the body of their work more fully. I did not appreciate her work fully until I went to her museum in Sante Fe to see a lot of the different phases of her work over the course of her lifetime. Your comments about figure and ground are so crucial to understanding her aesthetic. She was a big believer in “notan”, a Japanese design concept of light and dark, that she studied carefully as a student and continued to be concerned with it in all her work.

  5. O’Keeffe’s work using bones seems to be more formal than symbolic. In my of the pieces shown, you only see the shapes and outlines of the bones and no specific detail. Because of that, the viewer is able to focus solely on the artistic form of the bone instead of of its details, which would distract from O’Keeffe’s artistic interpretation. Her technique of smooth color application also adds to her interpretation and allows for her artistic style to show.

    I do not like the addition of the music, not because the musical piece itself, but because it incorporates words. The lyrics, to me, distract from her work. Having seen the video with and without sounds, I realized that when I listened to the music I became more focused on making out the lyrics than the artwork. I somewhat agree to what Wisdomrosecreation said about how at some moments the lyrics encouraged her to pay more attention because they matched the art, but overall, I find it much more distracting. I think just instrumental would have been better.

    • I agree, the formal is so important to O’Keeffe, as it was to her circle of friends and her husband Steiglitz. That said, the subject matter still plays a role in interpretation; it’s just not traditional use of the subject. For example, the bones are connected much more to her discovery and familiarity with the bones she found when exploring New Mexico rather than to art historical vanitas themes and mortality. Yet, she also was fully aware that she was reinterpreting by “reassigning” the bones to a new context.

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