All art, whether it be sculptural, painting, drawing, photography, architectural, musical or literary, is made with intention. The artist themselves create their art with the intent purpose to evoke particular responses within their audiences. However, the idea that the artists’ intention automatically overrules and invalidates the viewers’ personal response is a topic that receives much debate when discussing the role of intention within an artists’ body of work. This essay shall discuss the role of the artist versus the viewer in the debate regarding the validity of the artist’s original intentions in influencing the audience’s reactions.
The contemporary works of Ron Mueck and David Bazquez, alike only in their subject matter (the human body), shall be discussed to delineate between the original intentions of the artist and the response of the viewer. Ron Mueck, a Melbourne artist born in 1958 is a contemporary/hyperrealist artist who works with resin, silicone and fiberglass to create sculptures of people on a monstrous scale. Overpowering and somewhat intimidating, Muecks’ collection examines a broad human condition. Often naked and exposed, his pallid figures are awkward, anxious and vulnerable.
They range from all key stages of life, newborn, infancy, childhood adolescence, adulthood and old age to finally, death. These are sculptures in long artistic tradition; they are the stages of man for a new generation. Completely accessible, Mueck strips away current fashion trends and resists stylistic portrayals to leave us with incredibly poignant reminders of our own mortality. This concept is perhaps most strongly emphasized in the sculpture “Dead Dad,” 1996. Unusually, this sculpture is incongruous with the rest of his collection, as it does not find its power in size.
It is 106 centimeters long; tiny compared to the overwhelming vastness of his other works. Lying on his back, in complete rigid inertness, “Dead Dad” is a portrayal of Muecks’ own father who died a few months prior to the creation of this sculpture. Evidently, Dead Dad is a personal response to the death of the power figure in his life, his father, but his intentions run deeper than that. Through the use of manipulations to size and attention to the tiniest detail, he emphasizes the mortality of human life.
Unlike his other sculptures, which are all hyper real portrayals of humans animated with life, Dead Dad is the only one that captures the essence of death. The corpse is a metonym for complete exposure and vulnerability, and to some extent this is relayed strongly to the audience. However, the intentions of Ron Mueck within his art may influence responses out of the audience, but may not necessarily dictate it. For example, if a viewer has had close experiences with death, they are likely to react more strongly to this piece than someone who has had little exposure to it.
An individual’s race, education, background, experiences and culture will all influence their response to anything presented to them. Following this trend, David Blazquez is also a contemporary artist that creates artworks that are left open to individual interpretation. Born in Spain in 1980, Blazquez creates monochrome photographs of himself, naked, as different items of household furniture. His background in image manipulation is evident in his works, and his series explores the concept of objects, nudity and the self-portrait.
In contrast to Ron Muecks’ work, Blazquez dehumanizes himself to become inanimate objects such as a bookshelf, a table, a lamp and a bath, whilst Mueck gives life to cold, still resin sculptures, turning them from objects into animate things. The underlying intention of Blazquez work however, is not to question existence of humanity, but to examine the individual within their environment. As well as this, the personification of everyday objects makes a comment on the commercial, consumerist nature of society. We are defined by what we have, so much so that in these photographs, he IS what he has.
His photographs evoke introspection and inquiry into the superficiality of human nature, as well as coordinating the portrait, the nude and the still life in a contemporary photograph. Because of the contemporary, quizzical nature of these photographs, it is only expected that such questions will be posed differently to individual viewers. Blazques may have outlined his intention when creating these images, but they were designed to evoke emotion and reaction out of his audience, thus handing the ultimate power of interpretation to over to them.
Art is made to evoke emotions, questions and memories in the people who view t, as well as projecting the ideas and experiences of the artist themselves. An artist creates with the intention to convey a particular message or theme to the audience, thus predicting their responses and reactions. However, each individual is influenced by their own personal context; their experiences, education, race and background. It is these factors that allow an individual to react differently to how the artist intended, forming their own personalized response. Therefore, it is through the intention of the artist and their artwork that evokes this personalized response from the individual, in a cycle of intention and interpretation.
January 9, 2018
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