Text : ‘The presence of animals in contemporary art as a sign of cultural change’ – Karin Andersen
Artist: Kate Clark’s human-animal hybrid taxidermy
Things to explore in the essay:
How the view of animals in art has changed over time, why
Developments of taxidermy
Rogue taxidermy group, more ethical approaches to taxidermy through sourcing of animals
Significance of hybrids
Some of Kate Clark’s work demonstrates racial prejudice… ‘Little Girl’ used in Claudia Rankine’s ‘Citizen’,
I often struggle with having everything such as sources and citations in an organised manner. So, I have created a document which I am adding all of my sources to as I go along with key information such as citations and relevant quotes to make sure I keep an organised approach to make writing this essay an easier process.
Franz Marc was a German painter and printer who was influenced to create vibrant coloured artworks through inspiration from the cubists and Henry Matisse. Animals feature quite a lot in his work and are easily noticeable even when the forms of animals merge together.
I felt that researching into Franz Marc was essential especially due to his abstract colour schemes in a lot of his work as I have started to use vibrant colours in my own work and this will inform these decisions in a contextual sense. Franz Marc uses a lot of complementary colours in his works which I find fascinating as these combinations are one of the first ways I like to incorporate colour into my work.
Information from video:
Happy picture of a cow
Franz Marc rejected the notion of the city, all the sounds of the city and the pollution, the corruption, the materialism. He retreated into the countryside in the Alps to commune with nature. He became very drawn to animal life and spent a lot of his time painting horses and cows as he believed that animals had a god like presence and power.
Marc believed that yellow was a feminine colour embodying sensuality and warmth. While the blues tended to embody the male, the masculine and the intellect, the spirit. Curious combination of these two colours in this painting. All of the experts believe that this is a rather odd marriage portrait as he had recently gotten married for the second time, experiencing the joy of new love. Embodied in the cow
Andy Warhol was a Pop artist who is known for his portraits of famous people and the portrayal of American consumerism. He was encouraged to focus on imagery of cows by a pop art dealer, Ivan Karp, saying ‘Why don’t you paint some cows, they’re so wonderfully pastoral and such a durable image in the history of the arts.’
The image of the cow was chosen by Gerard Malanga who was Warhol’s printer. Warhol was a highly experimental print maker who focused on the range of graphical possibilities in a single image. Manipulating colour to create different levels of contrast was key in his work. This allows him to make typically mundane into something a lot more fun and exciting, such as people suggesting the cow subject was on an acid trip.
The cow image was printed many times for the show at Leo Castelli Gallery in 1966, with a yellow colour way and pasted throughout the gallery – every inch of gallery wall was covered with the printed wallpaper. (rather a shocking experience for viewers upon entrance of the gallery).
“I don’t know how ‘pastoral’ he expected me to make them, but when he saw the huge cow heads ‘bright pink on a bright yellow background’ that I was going to have made into rolls of wallpaper, he was shocked. But after a moment he exploded with: ‘They’re super-pastoral! They’re ridiculous! They’re blazingly bright and vulgar!’ I mean, he loved those cows and for my next show we papered all the walls in the gallery with them.” – Andy Warhol
Although all of Andy Warhol’s artwork is very eye catching, I am focusing on researching into his serial cow imagery as I feel this work goes well with my theme and could inspire me in different ways which could benefit my project.
The vibrant colours in Andy Warhol’s cow prints are fairly relevant to my work as I am starting to incorporate some abstract colours and colour schemes into my farm animal paintings. However as I am unsure of making my work too abstracted as it takes away from the serious topics of my project, the use of the repeated imagery could be a crucial area of research for my project. My aim is to create a herd of paintings of goats and sheep of various sizes, no larger than A3 of different colour schemes to demonstrate how many farms there are and to highlight how many animals go through the same experience.
Although Andy Warhol’s cow imagery is the same size when presented on the wall, I feel it still has the same relevance. The use of screen printing to create multiple versions of the same imagery is something I would like to explore if given the chance as it would make my task of creating a herd of paintings easier and it would give me the opportunity to explore colour schemes easily without having to dedicate all the time that a painting would take. I would like to explore other techniques like this if I can’t do screen printing such as linocuts as I already have a lot of familiarity with this process and so I could get started on it a lot quicker.
Information from video above:
Signed screen prints of a cow by Andy Warhol, 1976.
Created for an exhibition at the Modern Art Pavilion Seattle Centre Washington, information is printed on the edge of the artwork – exact dates of show printed on the other side of the piece (November 18th 1976 to January 9th 1977)
Image was printed again twice in 1971 in a brown colour way and a blue colour way
Pink and purple colour way of the piece shown in the video considered to be the most sought after of all versions produced, seen as most attractive and Worholian in the atmosphere and contrast.
Screen printed on wallpaper making it a fragile piece, use of printing rather than painting it was a comment made about the forms of art at the time. Printing onto wallpaper made it a decorative art rather than a fine art
Screen printing can create easily multiplied imagery
Lots of versions – in 1979, he signed approximately 100 of them with felt tip
Iconic Warhol style cow’s head image, image of a sub staid pastoral art which Warhol filled with vibrant contrasting colours
Represents Warhol’s attitude at the time towards the symbols of the art world
Most of the artworks are now framed in perspex box frames as that was Warhol’s preference, very evocative of the framing of the late 60’s to the 80’s of Warhol’s work
Andy Warhol’s cow artwork is featured in the text ‘The Presence of Animals in Contemporary Art as a sign of Cultural Change’ which I have been reading for my Art History component of my CPS module which I felt was quite relevant.
“I consider all that representations focused exclusively on the animal identity, body or eyes, beyond the metaphoric representation; e.g. portraits elevating animal to the status of icona, questioning it as a thinking creature: Cow Wallpaper by Andy Warhol (1966)”- Karin Andersen and Luca Bochicchio
Henry Moore was an English artist who mainly focused on sculpture but relied on drawings to develop his ideas. He also did some printmaking throughout his career.
Although I find all of Henry Moore’s work captivating, I am going to be focusing on researching his sheep drawings as I feel that they correlate with my project subject very well and could help my methods of capturing primary evidence at farms as I’m usually quite particular about things but Henry Moore’s sketchy approach would be very beneficial to help boost the amount of imagery I have to work with and take further in my paintings.
Information about Henry Moore Sheep Sketchbook – In February 1972, Henry Moore was based in his sculpture studios a lot to prepare for an upcoming exhibition. His studios were based in the countryside and he desired a place for peace and quiet so went into a room where he could view fields where sheep were grazed by a local farmer.
The sheep came up close to the window and so Henry Moore started sketching them. Initially he only viewed them as balls of wool but as he started to pay more attention to their way of life, the way they moved, the shape of their bodies beneath the fleece, he got more understanding of them. They had strong human/biblical associations – sight of an ewe with a lamb evoked strong mother and child themes (large form sheltering small form) which has been important to Henry Moore throughout his artwork.
He drew the sheep again that summer after they were shorn so he was able to see the shapes of the bodies properly without their wool getting in the way. With a solid form and vigorous movement the sheep are captured in a network of swirling and zigzagging lines using a ballpoint pen.
The effect is both familiar and monumental; as Lord Clark comments, ‘We expect Henry Moore to give a certain nobility to everything he draws; but more surprising is the way in which these drawings express a feeling of real affection for their subject.’
Rebecca Haines is a Fine Artist who has had a strong passion for art throughout her life. She began her artistic career by focusing on a portraiture subject – predominantly faces, in which she built up a skill in creating photo realistic pieces. In her thirties she began to engage in artwork with an animal based subject which was a lot more abstract through her uses of mark makings and colour. This interest in animals came from her friend lending her a book about the spiritual side of animals and how they connect to humans. This was an eye opener for Haines and she continued to do lots of research into animals and people’s opinions about their purpose.
During her degree, she worked at a gallery and after graduating became the director of that gallery which gave her the chance to exhibit and sell her own work.
She works onto board rather than paper or canvas as she prefers the feel and firmness. I feel that I can relate to that as I am using board for my paintings. She uses oil paints and grease pencils to create her works which I find interesting and I may consider the combinations of media as my own project develops.
Robert Phelps started his artistic career by being a decorative painter at Disney, mainly painting interesting scenes and doing caricature work. He progressed onto becoming a Fine Artist, doing exhibitions since 1996. His subject matter is of vibrant and uniquely coloured figures, both portraits of humans and animals.
I have decided to research into Robert Phelps as I felt his focus on animals and colour relates to my ideas for my project nicely and I could benefit from trying out his methods of applying paint onto a surface. His works have an Expressionist or Fauvist style which I find interesting as I have researched these terms throughout art history and I could benefit by researching these further.
I like the fact that Robert Phelps doesn’t limit himself to one type/group of animals and I feel that I should try to do studies of a range of animals rather than just farm animals although this will involve going to places like zoos to gain primary evidence which I will have to arrange in my free time.
I couldn’t gain access to good quality pictures of Robert Phelps work due to security on the website so I took a screenshot. Although the image isn’t a great quality, this painting relates to my project through the use of the goat and a sense of being in an enclosure. I particularly feel that the combinations of bright and dark colours create a great balance and makes the image very captivating.
Although this painting has a lot more realistic colours, it still has small strokes of colour which add depth and make the audience want to spend more time looking at the painting. An interesting quality of Robert Phelps work is the range of backgrounds and environments which the animals are in, making me wonder if he has a lot of access to different animal attractions or whether he works from photographs.
https://www.youtube.com/shorts/EaFovmt0JUs – short video of Robert Phelps working on some paintings. I decided to include this video as it shows that he likes to use his fingers to apply paint as well as brushes which I think is a really interesting method as it can add texture and make the artist literally a part of their work. I also found out through the description of the video that he likes to experiment with ‘alla prima painting’ which is a wet on wet paint technique that allows you to produce work in a spontaneous style without too much perfectionism.