Friday, December 7, 2012

Iconography: Homework + Critique Assignment

(See here for Parts One, Two and Three) Circling back to the initial sampling of images using personal examples, and posted throughout this series, we can now see how artists utilize and apply iconographic content to create their own "visual remixes." By incorporating and updating classical motifs, or the reverse, re-contextualizing contemporary icons, the thematic meaning can be deepened in both the making and analysis of a work of art.

Here's couple other examples that I show in class which pertain to our upcoming assignment.

One favorite is from German digital artist Till Nowack and his 2006 piece “Salad.”

Studio Ghibli (Hayao Miyazaki) / Where The Wild Things Are tribute (Maurice Sendak) ©2012 Justin Hillgrove

Here's a wonderful painting by Washington artist Justin Hillgrove for an upcoming exhibit "Icons and Influences" that combines characters from Japanese manga artist/animator/director Miyazaki's films and recast them into a classic Maurice Sendak setting.
Often I'll have students take their trusty sketchbooks to the library and open up any tome of art history for endless inspiration on ideas to use for this project, especially armed with the conventions of science-fiction, fantasy and horror. Combined with contemporary tropes in the media there's an almost infinite number of possibilities, along with on-line resources (ex: Social Realism: MoMA).

Another excellent example of what we're looking for is in “Death of a Cyborg” by Toronto-based artist Shorra (2012), who has adapted “The First Mourning” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (many additional examples can also be seen at Worth 1000).

As per my usual MO with teaching a studio art course, these lectures tend to be short and to the point, showing examples, and including a handout with thumbnails and additional references and terminology (ex: memes, monsterizing and mash-up) - which also serves to specifically highlight the all-important deadlines. In my experience it's been most advantageous to adopt a working relationship with students as though they were freelancers and I am the client. This means there are many intermediate steps along the way for checks on progress, course-corrections, and constant monitoring with feedback, so as to avoid making fatal mistakes later when it's too late.

Update: Check out NYC artist Matt Buck's "Galactus Devouring His Herald" (via Boing Boing), riffing off of Goya's "Saturn Devouring His Son" painting. Now that's what I'm talkin' about - excellent.

There are other potential variations on this theme to use in a wide range of other interdisciplinary courses, and several spin-off assignments that can be adapted in the art department for varying degrees of skill levels and any medium. What the topic of iconography ultimately does is provide a unique perspective on the creation and appreciation of art.

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