Ralph Larmann

Art Department

University of Evansville

back to: Chapter 9

200 Campbell's Soup Cans
Pop Art
oil on canvas
by Andy Warhol

Spiral Jetty
environmental sculpture
by Robert Smithson

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Cleveland, Ohio
by I. M. Pei

Contemporary and Postmodern Art

Pop Art
-Pop artists were interested in raising mundane everyday things to heroic proportions

Andy Warhol
-artist who took images from popular culture, soup cans, etc. and through his art gave them greater than usual importance
-used a workshop of artists who mass-produced work, just like a factory (so he emulated the manufacturing process for everyday items in the art process)
-recognized cultural icons (Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, etc.) and used them as heroic figures by mass producing their images (just like the Greek ideal human forms)

Claes Oldenburg
Worked with soft sculptures and large scale examples of everyday objects.

Buckminster Fuller invented the geodesic dome. This gave rise to engineering on a number of scales. Architects use a series of tetrahedrons to create a perfect sphere that is structurally sound (like Epcot Center at Disney World). Scientists now have invented a manufactured molecule called a "Buckyball" which is based on this use of tetrahedrons to create a perfect and exceptionally strong manufactured molecule.

Alexander Calder invented the mobile. His expertise in moving or kinetic sculpture led him to create interactive art that was based on balance and the movement of air. His mobiles and stabiles (those which are fixed and do not move) are abstract forms done in 3-D which are extracted from nature.

Lobster Tail and Fish Trap, 1939, mobile

Postmodernism is the term most associated with the art which has been done since around 1980. The works of this movement are characterized by their subjectivism, regional character, interest in social and political issues, and their eclectic character. It is basically a reaction against the simplicity and theoretical nature of the Modernist movement. Postmodernist artists draw from a variety of historical sources that are Modernist, Classical, Prehistoric, Asian, Hispanic, African, etc.

Robert Rauschenberg who was originally associated with the Pop Art Movement of the 1960's and 70's is truly a Postmodernist. He has set up a non-profit organization called ROCI (Rauschenberg Overseas Cultural Interchange) through which he funds projects which involve cultural interactions. His works are conglomerations of images and objects which identify a culture. He did a number of works in the 60's dealing with JFK and the NASA space program.

Odalisk, c. 1960, sculpture

Earthworks/Site-specific sculpture

Robert Smithson used the earth itself to create sculptural landscapes called earthworks.

Spiral Jetty is a spiral extension into the Great Salt Lake in Utah. The work was done through the use of heavy equipment moving earth around. Its form was invented by the the mound-building societies of early native American people. The best example is the Great Serpent Mound in Ohio.

Christo creates works by wrapping large easily-identified objects, like buildings, bridges and islands. His works grow out of the idea that an artist's job is to make a viewer see their world differently. Like the Chinese painter, one sees the world differently after it has been partially concealed.

Valley Curtain, 1972

Wrapped Reichstag, 1995

Super Realism
The artists Chuck Close, Richard Estes, Ralph Goings, and Duane Hanson did wokrs which describe the world in its most believable way. Their works are so realistic that they actuallly allow a viewer to see more than they would normally be able to with the naked eye.

The last ten years has seen the rise of Neo-Expressionism (Kiefer), Grafitti Art (Haring, Basquiat), and a host of other small regional movements. Art today draws from every conceivable source and exists in the most basic conceptual context to the most primitive and immediate. It really depends on the artist's intention, the ideas that they want to communicate, and the need to create and discover.

Postmodern Architecture

Postmodern architecture questions the many previously-held beliefs about architecture. It also is drawn from a plurality of sources.

I. M. Pei, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, Ohio, 1998
National Gallery of Art, East Wing, Washington, D. C.

Michael Graves, Portland Building, Portland, Oregon, 1980

Frank Gehry, Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain, 1997

Frank Lloyd Wright, Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1959

Eero Saarinen, Gateway Arch, 1966, St. Louis, also did Dulles Airport, Washington, D. C.

Cesar Pelli, Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 1998, also did Artsgarden in Indianapolis.

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