Project 3: Place in Art – Research Point 1

We are asked to:

Make a list of the artists mentioned in Dean and Millar’s essay. Look up at least one piece by each of the artists mentioned whose work incorporates text. How many of these pieces are relevant to the theme of ‘place’ and how do they reference place? Make notes in your learning log.

There are quite a few artists mentioned:

  • Caspar David Friedrich
    Known for landscapes featuring contemplative figures.
  • John Constable
    Famous for his landscapes of the Suffolk countryside.
  • Ian Hamilton Finlay
    Finlay was a poet and writer, as well as an artist (and gardener). He has many works incorporating text. One that I thought was interesting was Midway I (1977).
    It is a screenprint on paper, represent the American defeat of Japan at the Battle of Midway in June 1942. There were 7 aircraft carriers involved and Finlay has represented them as beehives, sending out their planes (their petrol like honey) to attack their enemies. There were vast distances between the carriers and these are represented by rosebushes. There was a second image to go with this one which was just lettering in English and Latin, a language Finlay used often in his works.
    Midway Atoll itself is roughly halfway between North America and Asia, and the battle there was the turning point of the war in the Pacific – the beginning of the end of Japan’s control over the waters.
    I tried to find out why it was important enough for Finlay to produce a piece of art based on it, but I couldn’t find out much, other than the fact that it was about midway through Finlay’s career at the time.
  • Claude Lorrain
    French landscape artisist who spent most of his life in Italy.
  • Nicolas Poussin
    Leading French Baroque painter who worked mostly in Rome.
  • Guy Moreton
    Artist and Associate Professor in the School of Art, Design and Fashion, Southampton Solent University.
  • Alec Finlay
    Scottish-born artist whose work takes various forms and media, including poetry, sculpture, collage, audio-visual, neon, and new technologies. Often it reflects on human engagement with landscape.
    Finlay frequently uses text in his photographs. He attaches labels to items in the the foreground of his lanscape shots of hills and mountains. The labels bear what he calls word-mntns or ‘word mountains’. The letters of the name of the mountain in written in such a way that it resembles the shape of the mountain/hill.
  • Dan Graham
    An American contemporary artist, writer and curator, incorporating writing, photography and performance into his works.
  • Joachim Koester
    A Danish conceptual artist working mainly with photography and video. his work is both a documentation of the past and a commentary on what happens to the places after the events have passed.
  • Doug Aitken
    An American contemporary artist who uses many mediums – photography, sculpture, architecture, sound and video installation. He has many pieces that are words made out of various media. FREE is constructed out of foam, wood and mirror. A piece that I like is called UTOPIA (2011) and is an LED lit lightbox of the word UTOPIA, with the fill of the letters being a photograph from Altamont Motor Speedway. I couldn’t find any background to this, but I would assume the photo used is taken from the Altamont Free Concert, which resulted in one murder, three accidental deaths and four births. I guess the word Utopia is being used ironically here, considering that the event that had hoped to be the ‘Woodstock of the West’ has been dubbed by some as rock’s darkest day. I don’t know what Aitken’s link is to the event or to Altamont (he would have been 1 at the time of the 1969 event and he was born over 300 miles away from Altamont), but he knew enough about the event to use a photograph of the massive crowd in a calmer moment that perhaps did feel like a utopia earlier in the day, before the violence and tragedy of the later hours.
  • Jane and Louise Wilson
    British siblings working as a duo producing viseo, film and photography based art.
  • Roni Horn
    An American visual artist and writer. Horn uses a lot of text in her work and she has talked about it in interviews. An example is the series of sculptures she started in the 80s. These aluminium bars were embedded with plastic letters spelling out lines from Emily Dickinson’s poems and letters. The letters ‘bled’ around the sides of the bars in straight lines, making them resemble bar codes. I don’t see much relevance to place as we are talking about it here, but Horn has said that she likes viewers to have to move around her works in order to see all the different angles, so perhaps this instils some deeper connection to the exhibition space for the person looking at her work.
  • Alexander and Susan Maris
    Scottish husband and wife duo using a variety of mediums to explore landscape in cultural history and myth.
  • Graham Gussin
    London based artists using a huge variety of mediums – film, sound, installation, events, photography, text, painting, and more. He incorporates text in many pieces, but his ‘Someplace Sometime’ neon sign stands out to me. The idea was orignally as a piece for Middlesborough. He says he made it purposely vague and not specific to the space or time that it was displayed. This has an obvious reference to place, but in the opposite way as many other pieces we’ve looked at. He meant for the sign to be ‘nomadic’ – a nomad being someone who moves about from place to place with no permanent home. This work, then, is not meant to have a deep connection to a particular place, but it designed to be moved around, and for the meaning to change according to the mood or memory of whoever is looking at it. The piece has been dispayed in various locations as it is available for hire as well as purchase.
  • Mette Tronvoll
    A Norwegian artist who appears to mainly use photography as a medium. Her works seem to feature people in their home or work places. She has a few landscape photographs as well as some studio portraits.

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