random art musings #000

AmericangothicAmerican Gothic, ( 1930) painting by Grant Wood Gordon_Parks_-_American_GothicAmerican Gothic, (1942) photograph by Gordon Parks CapricornCapricorn, model 1948, cast 1975 (sculpture) by Max Ernst

So M and I were at the National Gallery of Art (NGA) a few years ago and although I had been to the NGA many times before, we decided to take their “Introduction” tour. While on that tour one of the pieces that they highlighted on the tour and that really caught my attention was Max Ernst’s Capricorn.

It hit me on a few levels, mostly because I am always looking for  the presence of “African design intelligence” or an African aesthetic in art, literature, etc and this piece in particular felt like it had an organic feel to it, in the same way that some many of the African works that I have been exposed to, especially in the sculpture world….I am not sure if it was the fashioning of animals in human “positions” (i.e sitting and standing) or just a kind of symmetry and balance that  I feel in looking at all of these works.

In looking at the Wood and Parks pieces and considering the titles it is clear that the two works are in “conversation” with one another, even if that conversation is oppositional or confrontational, it is there.

The Ernst piece, Capricorn immediately caught my attention because it appeared that it, too, was a part of this visual conversation; its balance the composition, what was depicted all suggest  at the very least a thread of a connection.  The other thing that made me think that they was the timing. Both Parks’ piece and Ernst’s piece were completed very close in time, Parks piece in in 1942 the year of Grant Wood’s death and Ernst a few years after in 1948. I cannot help but think particularly around the time of Wood’s death that engaged artist like Parks and Ernst would not have something say about it in their work.

When I come to a piece of art I am always thinking about its DNA, not just process, materials and aesthetics , but the real lineage of the piece…who, what, where, why or when spawn it…what other ideas or works of art is it connected to, not just movements and manifestos

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