Art History Comparison

Every art is unique in shape, size, quality, style and techniques. Artists work with different materials, colors, textures and periods that influence them as well as their work. Most artists have a motive of what they want to convey to the viewer, whether it is to anger us, put us in awe or just make us question our eyes and perception of art. When Kazimir Malevich painted his Black Square on a White Field he thought this was it and that everyone would get it. Shockingly to him, a lot of people didn’t comprehend the meaning behind many of his paintings or find any in them at all. The two paintings, Joan Miro’s The Birth of the World and Jackson Pollock’s One: Number 31, 1950 give us a similar quest and wonder of what it is the artists are really trying to convey.Different time periods bring upon various art movements and ideas to artists, sculptors, even writers. Joan Miro was an artist that was influenced by Cubism, Fauvism, Dada and was mostly associated with Surrealism. Surrealism was started by a writer, Andre Breton who wanted to explore the unconscious mind. To do this, artist would take drugs or deprive themselves from food and work from their hallucinations. During Surrealism, artists also did atomic drawing, letting the pencil lead their scribbles and making something appear in the whole mist of it. Surrealism was an art form that did not want to work in a traditional style but was seen as irrational and anti-logical.Jackson Pollock was also an artist that went up and beyond to create art that was not traditional and was questionable for its logic and meaning. Pollock was an American artist and part of an American art movement, abstract expressionism. The idea of this art movement was all about taking chance and accepting accidents, even though every artist had control of what they were doing. Abstract Expressionism was a post World War II art movement full of tension and anxiety and can be seen through painting like Willem de Kooning Woman I. There was also a sense of freedom and movement in most canvases during this period especially in Pollock’s works.Joan Miro’s The Birth of the World is oil on canvas that stands about 8feet high by 6.5 feet long. The painting is dark and mainly composed of black, and hints of orange, yellow, blue, and white paint. Miro gives us a clue what the composition is about by giving the canvas a title, The Birth of the World. The title also throws us of and makes us wonder how can this be the birth of the world, is the orange circle a balloon or a sperm? Is the black triangle a symbol of a woman or a kite? The canvas could be a representation of the beginning of the world or maybe the world of new inventions. In the Chipp’s book Miro said that; “For me a form is never something abstract; it is always a sign of something. It is always a man, a bird, or something else. For me painting is never form for form’s sake…” (pg 432). After the First World War, the economy did not flourish well and this painting could be a great example of the dark and hardship new world that had to start from scratch.Jackson Pollock does not name most of his painting and if he does, he gives then numbers or weird titles that have nothing to do with his vast swirl of lines. Pollock painting is oil and paint on canvas that stands about 9 feet high and 17.5 feet long. Like the Miro painting, it is also composed of dark and few colors; black, white, grays, brown and greens. Instead of just making us look at one spot or form, we have to observe the painting fully from one corner to the other. Pollock’s One: Number 31, 1950 is not a portrait, a still life or a landscape but it is a canvas that is in motion and full of anxiety and heavy paint. The movement in the painting makes me think of nature and massive wind combusting everything together and making it hard for us to see the landscape in it.Pollock and Miro are artists that were both part of movements that wanted to be distinguished from the rest and aim higher than the legends and movements before them. Pollock’s way of painting became revolutionary and also was seen as true American art since there really was not one art movement that belonged to America until abstract expressionism. Pollock used house paint and different size sticks to compose his works of art. He composed huge canvases that were laid flat on the ground and were stepped and walked on in order reach the whole canvas and create the texture and style that Pollock desired. Jackson Pollock physically stepping onto the canvas in order to create his work makes him part of the canvas.Miro did not step onto his canvas but his art was also admired by some and seen as true surrealism. When looking at The Birth of the World, the cubism and dada influence are defined by the geometric shapes, lines and the nonsense or surreal images. Like Pollock, Miro also looked like he liked lines but used brush strokes and paint to create them. Miro’s brush strokes are wild and fast as if he was just trying to dirty the canvas before he paints in his figures or objects on it. There are five black horizontal lines at the top left part of the canvas that may be a reference to the dark, night sky. Next to the horizontal lines are five blue vertical lines on the right that may define the days, bring, blue sky. At the bottom left corner of the canvas is a person-like figure with a white head and maybe five long finger-like structures being stretched out. Unlike Pollock’s painting, Miro’s lines have a beginning and an end and do not project the same movement and sense of motion in them. In an interview with Johnson Sweeney in 1947, Miro talks about one of his paintings, The Farmer’s Wife, and how he added the circles and angular lines for balance. He said; “They look symbolic, esoteric: but they are no fantasy. They were put in to bring the picture into equilibrium” (Chipp, pg 432). Even though there are five lines on the three corners of the painting they might be there just for balancing out the canvas instead of having significant meanings.Jackson Pollock’s line drawings are very whimsical and form a ritual dance almost. The circular lines flow in a musical swirls and in some ways is spontaneous but have a controlling gesture and focus. There is a degree of control and even equality on either side of the all over composition. Pollock said; “I have no fear of making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through. It is only when I lose control with the painting that the result is a mess. Otherwise there is pure harmony, an easy give and take, and the painting come out well” (Chipp, pg 548). Pollock’s One: Number 31, 1950 is in the harmony that he speaks of even with the thickness and heaviness of the layering in the paint it gives of musical notes.Miro’s The Birth of the World is composed of lines, circles, triangles and smaller circular dots. The way that the dark parts are painted makes it look like there was charcoal smudged into the canvas and not paint. Until Pollock’s canvas, Miro’s is not an all over composition and does not have a thick layering or dripping process but they still both have equality and well balance compositions. Both artists also share the freedom of letting the canvas do its wonder with the painters only being able to help by feeding it paint. In Pollock’s case, the freedom to work from the unconscious, spontaneous mind is what made his painting a breakthrough and made him eager to mark his territory. For Miro, being hungry and forming hallucinations out of blank walls, seeing things that are not there and projecting them onto the canvas was working with his unconsciousness and great imagination.Joan Miro’s The Birth of the World and Jackson Pollock’s One: Number 31, 1950 are two big canvases that have numerous similarities. Both artists incorporate lines to their work and try to step away from the traditional ways of working, painting, and creating art. Artists have different reasons for why they do what they do and Pollock and Miro are no exceptions. Pollock saw movement in his work and natural beauty by working with his unconscious mind and adding control and at the same time randomness to his canvas. Miro worked outside the traditional way as well and deprived himself of food, living on figs, in order to achieve the hallucination that would make him want to share with the world. Unlike Pollock’s, Number 1A, 1948 canvas, we do not see the artists using his hands or fingers or adding the color pink. Pollock’s One: Number 31, 1950 painting is tick, web of paint, layered in such a heavy way that certain parts of the canvas still look wet. Miro’s painting on the other hand is not a heavily layered but still has the violently fast brush strokes that show the need to be express. Both artists, Pollock and Miro worked in their time period to create something beyond their fellow friends and succeeded in making us pause and wonder.

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