Showing 121 - 130 of 175 Visual Arts annotations

Cloud Gate

Kapoor, Anish

Last Updated: Jan-11-2006
Annotated by:
Henderson, Schuyler

Primary Category: Visual Arts / Sculpture

Genre: Sculpture

Summary:

A 110-ton, 33 foot by 60 foot elliptical sculpture of stainless steel plates welded together with almost invisible seams, polished into a smooth rounded shape like an enormous glob of mercury. It rests in Millenium Park in Chicago, where its organic form has earned it one of those epithets so damningly accurate it becomes an endearing nickname: informally, the piece is called The Bean. The concave shape has a 12 foot high arch, through which spectators can walk into a 27 foot high chamber.

This central curvature is called the "omphalos": omphalos is a term that can mean center or hub, or a raised prominence within the base of an object (its literal meaning here), but also has connotations of a navel or a belly. Like a mercury Henry Moore, this piece refines the human form into its most basic curves: "Cloud Gate" is so titled by Kapoor because it invites the sky and clouds into the city, but it is also a body, kneeling perhaps, with the sky above and the reflected bodies of those walking under it cupped in its belly.

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This is the meticulously researched and beautifully constructed catalogue for a 1999 exhibition at the Duke University Museum of Art. Over one hundred items originally produced to serve the science of medicine were culled from the history of medicine collections in four North Carolina institutions: Duke, East Carolina University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Wake Forest.

Covering a wide range of time periods, media, and nationalities, the exhibit was coordinated by Suzanne Porter, librarian and curator of the History of Medicine Collections at Duke University Library, and Julie Hansen, an art historian. Martin Kemp, Professor of Art at the University of Oxford, supplies a foreword to the catalogue.

The rich and unusual yield of materials is grouped thematically rather than chronologically in five sections: "Art and Anatomy," "The Surgical Arts," "The Doctor's Practice," "Obstetrics and Gynecology," and "Non-Western Medicine." All images and objects are accompanied by historical information, biographical detail, thoughtful analysis, and precise description.

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Reproduced in the blood-red and black of horror films, this series of prints shows the electric chair in the death chamber at Sing Sing prison, arranged as twelve identical images: three across and four down. Warhol frequently repeated silkscreens with variations in colour, size and number of repetitions of the image.

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The Doctor's Visit

Steen, Jan

Last Updated: May-09-2005
Annotated by:
Clark, Stephanie Brown

Primary Category: Visual Arts / Painting/Drawing

Genre: Oil on panel

Summary:

In 17th Century Dutch depictions of "scenes from everyday life," the so-called genre paintings, the single most popular medical representation is the "Doctor's Visit." Among the most comical and complex are those of Jan Steen, who painted at least 18 works with this theme. Typically the patient is a young female, often suffering from a variety of illnesses related to love, either "love sickness," erotic melancholy, or pregnancy. [See relevant paintings by Steen at the Web Gallery of Art: "The Doctor and His Patient," "Doctor's Visit," and "Love Sickness," at http://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/welcome.html. Select "S" from Artist Index, scroll down for Steen, select "Page 1".)

In this painting, the doctor looks with concern at his patient, a young girl, dressed in silk and leaning on a table, as he takes her pulse. Behind her stands a smirking young man who holds a holds a herring in one hand and two small onions in the other. At her feet is an opened letter, alongside a bowl with a piece of burnt ribbon, and a heating box filled with coals, known as a brazier. Behind the physician, a woman playing a harpsichord smiles at the young girl. Behind her, a maidservant beckons a tall, dark, and handsome young man in a red cloak to enter the room.

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Science and Charity

Picasso, Pablo

Last Updated: Nov-12-2004
Annotated by:
Bertman, Sandra

Primary Category: Visual Arts / Painting/Drawing

Genre: Oil on canvas

Summary:

A sick woman (dying mother) in a comfortably made-up bed serenely occupies the center of the canvas's diagonal composition. She lies between a seated doctor focused on his hand-held watch while he takes her pulse, and a nun who holds the woman's child and extends her a drink (tea, medicine). The simple, calm, orderliness of the sparse setting is echoed in the postures and countenances of the four figures.

In his biographical study, Robert Maillard documents that Picasso's father--art teacher and model who posed as the doctor--worked out both the composition and the title of the painting for his 16-year-old son (Picasso. New York: Tudor, 1972, p. 180).

An earlier watercolor draft of this work sketches the child with arms outstretched reaching forward to the sick mother. In the draft, the physician and nun, too, are more concerned with the mother's condition. Though strengthening the allegorical significance of this academic composition, the dramatic intensity is lessened if not lost in the final version (1897), which was awarded an honorable mention in Madrid and a gold medal at the Exposición de Bellas Artes in Málaga.

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The Dropsical Woman

Dou, Geritt

Last Updated: Jul-27-2004
Annotated by:
Clark, Stephanie Brown

Primary Category: Visual Arts / Painting/Drawing

Genre: Oil on wood

Summary:

Framed on one side of the painting by a luxurious fabric curtain, a doctor, wearing the robe and hat of a degreed physician, stands in the centre of a well-appointed room, examining a specimen of urine in a glass flask. To his right the patient, an older woman, sits languidly with her face turned towards the light of an arched glass window.

A well-dressed middle-aged woman has evidently been feeding the patient, leaning towards her, concerned and attentive, holding a spoon. She is looking at a young girl who is seated on the floor holding a cloth with one hand and the patient’s hand with the other and looking anxiously at the face of the patient. The patient is possibly a grandmother being cared for by her daughter and grandchild.

The triangle of women is physically close, and the emotional intimacy of the two caregivers, their anxiety for the health and physical comfort of the patient, are finely rendered; the disengagement of the patient is conveyed in her gaze beyond the figures in the room towards the light. The physician, whose gaze is directed to the flask, is part of a second triangulation of caregivers surrounding the patient.

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The haunting eyes of a beautiful young woman stare directly at us as we witness the final moment of her plummet from a New York skyscraper to the sidewalk, a stage-like platform in the lower foreground. Her barefoot body and its shadow protrude into the inscription panel where blood-red lettering records the facts: "In the city of New York on the 21st day of the month of October, 1938, at six o'clock in the morning, Mrs. Dorothy Hale committed suicide by throwing herself out of a very high window of the Hampshire House building. In her memory [words apparently painted out] this 'retablo,' executed by Frida Kahlo." Though her blood flows from her morbidly erotic body and seeps through the canvas into the painted wood frame, the bright yellow corsage of tiny roses pinned to the black velvet dress on her intact, virtually undamaged body and face eerily insinuate vitality and sensuality.

Two stages of her fall from the window of her apartment building, as in a multiple-exposure freeze-frame photograph, are surrealistically softened by swirling blue, white and gray cloud-like sky coloring which covers the entire background and the rest of the wooden frame. Barely visible, in the top of the frame is the suggestion of an angel holding a banner on which [now erased or whited-over] was proclaimed "The suicide of Dorothy Hale, painted at the request of Clare Boothe Luce, for the mother of Dorothy."

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Annotated by:
Bertman, Sandra

Primary Category: Visual Arts / Painting/Drawing

Genre: Fabric and Thread

Summary:

Surrounded by Family and Friends is a collection of six life-sized fabric and thread wall hangings that explore the relationships between dying persons and those human or animal companions they are about to leave behind. Scherer’s drawing tools are her scissors and sewing machine; she sculpts in fabric--a warm, tactile and inviting medium.

In "At Night," a dying man, though weak, is alert, conscious, and comfortable. His direct eye contact with the viewer draws us into the family grouping of standing daughter or wife with eyes downcast on one side of the bed, and a seated elderly woman and middle aged man on the other side looking at her. The artist met and did a pencil sketch study of her protagonist 21 days after he had rejected further dialysis and other treatments. Scherer documents in her notes, "He wanted his doctor to see the drawing--proof that he was still here, doing it right, dying his way. He told his wife, ’The doctor should see this! I did it MY way!’ We agreed to write those words on the drawing." (Project on Death in America newsletter, 2002: (10) p. 7)

"Open Window" shows an elderly woman in bed with a window open to a breeze that gently stirs her long gray hair splayed out around her head like a crown. Although the woman is fragile and bedridden, the hair is striking, gray with age, but thick and vital. Her cat stands sentry beside her, greeting the viewer with a steady gaze.

In "Child" a seated mother is kissing the head of the dying child on her lap. The supportive medical technology is barely visible. A teddy bear, colorful patterned quilt, and a clean gauze-like curtain communicate the essence of palliative care.

Two standing figures tenderly touch and comfort themselves and a third who is dying in bed. "Three Men" is exceptional for its unselfconscious display of the loving relationship between the subjects. They might be brothers or friends, lovers, or professional caregivers. Intergenerational and non-traditional families from culturally diverse groups apply to all six of these works.

"In Her Room" appears to be a husband and wife, though the actual relationship doesn’t really matter. Directly gazing at the viewer, the calm subjects invite us into the comfort and intimacy of this moment. The "husband" might well be the caregiver. He sits close to the woman’s bed, his hand wrapped firmly around her outstretched arm.

"Bigger than Each Other" is a composition of a couple seated on a couch holding hands, fingers entwined. The woman--with tubing supplying nasal air/oxygen--is enveloped in the body of her husband (partner? Physician?). Although physically present to each other in an embrace, they appear to be lost in their separate thoughts.

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The Tragedy

Picasso, Pablo

Last Updated: Nov-21-2003
Annotated by:
Bertman, Sandra

Primary Category: Visual Arts / Painting/Drawing

Genre: Oil on wood

Summary:

In a bleak setting, at an ocean's edge, a family grouping of three poor people, barefoot, huddled and shivering, are lost in contemplation. The figures' proportions are elongated. Imposing in their size, they take up the entire canvas. Rendered entirely in shades of blue, all other details are eliminated from the composition adding to the mood of blue empty coldness of sand, sky, and sea.

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The Scream

Munch, Edvard

Last Updated: Nov-18-2003
Annotated by:
Bertman, Sandra

Summary:

This well-known image has become one of the 20th century's most potent symbols of psychic agony. A lone emaciated figure halts on a bridge clutching his ears, his eyes and mouth open wide in a scream of anguish. Behind him a couple (his two "friends") are walking together in the opposite direction. Barely discernible in the swirling motion of a red-blood sunset and deep blue-black fjord, are tiny boats at sea, and the suggestion of town buildings.

The composition, colors and dramatic use of perspective, the undulating curves of the landscape and hollow figure personify alienation and anxiety. Munch described the event which took place on a trip to Ekebergsasen (view of Christiania in background) in his diaries: "I stood there trembling with fright and I felt a loud, unending scream piercing nature."

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