A White History of Art
|A White History of Art|
I knew that I wanted images representing the shift in how we see art that was partially caused by the role of the colour white in art history.
The premise of the White documentary is that during the Renaissance, white art, particularly the sculptures of the Greek and Roman times, were seen as representing purity, simplicity, and elegance. White slowly evolved to represent the elite art of the establishment and eventually the superior white of conquerors.
The White of the Renaissance
The top corner images represent the Greek and Roman marble sculptures that were so admired from the Renaissance to the early 19th century.
|Marble bust of a Goddess|
In the top space are free motion quilted or embroidered words: purity, elegance, virtues, and simplicity.
|Marble torso of a man|
In the top centre is a piece representing a white honey dish, made by the potter Josiah Wedgwood. Wedgwood experimented for years before coming up with the perfect white glaze for pottery.
|White honey dish in a style made by Josiah Wedgwood.|
White as elitist
The purity of white that was so revered from Renaissance, slowly changed from elegant and virtuous to represent an elitist, cold and sterile perfection in the modern era. As described in the documentary, one of the artists who started art's journey toward this exclusive and elitist path was James Abbott McNeill Whistler, an American who lived mostly in England.
|Representation of a Symphony in White, No. 1: The White Girl by Whistler|
Through his paintings and the manner in which he displayed his art, Whistler represented a world where art was less approachable and more exclusive. He was one of the first artists to present his paintings on white walls with large spaces between each painting. Before this time, paintings were usually hung on walls with very little space between them, almost from floor to ceiling.
This change, which was eventually called the white cube, resulted in art galleries, and the art within, to be seen as special spaces that were less accessible to the general public. The image below is the White Cube.
|White cube - a huge shift in how we view art|
During the years that followed, many modern artists started rebelling from this view of art. One of these is my daughter's favourite artist, Marcel Duchamp. In 1917 he created Fountain. My image isn't that obvious but it's a very white porcelain urinal. This was part of Duchamp's use of "ready-mades", everyday objects seen as art.
|Fountain - questioning what we see as art|
From Duchamp, the documentary takes a journey to the fascist environment in Europe around the Second World War. It would seem that Hitler, Franco and Mussolini were huge fans of the purity of white marble. They had buildings, sculptures and monuments built to represent the new era. At this time, white is seen as austere and superior - the blanc moral. It is the colour of conquerors.
|The fascist view of white art|
The White documentary approached the history of art from a different point of view. I found it all very fascinating. My hope for the future is that art starts being more accessible as it is shared and seen across the world through the internet. I also believe that the definition of art is also changing as people who would never have considered themselves artists a couple of decades ago are now seeing themselves and are being accepted as such. I suspect that the white history of art is far from finished!
What I learned
- The background is an improvisation of white and off-white batiks that I used to make the background diamonds of the Kingfisher Stitch-Along blocks.
- I used many techniques to create this piece. I started with the centre panel of the White Girl. I wanted to make her three dimensional since there is no reason for a dress to be flat! I even pleated the top of her dress. It took a lot of experimenting but eventually I managed to get it all together.
- Next came the marble torso and bust. For the torso, I was able to use an image, freezer paper, a light box and free motion quilting (FMQ) to get a fair semblance of a ripped torso. I didn't have any luck with that technique for the bust of the Goddess. I ended up using some photo transfer medium to create it. Unfortunately it turned out more grey than white. I covered it in white gauze to get a paler colour.
- The white honey pot was a lot of fun to make. I used a shimmering tulle for the background and then used some shiny sheer fabric for the pot. I even added some metallic thread through the bobbin in the FMQ. Finally I found some perfect lace to go around the tulle to give it the look of a table cloth.
- The fountain was next. In hindsight, I wish that I had chosen an image that showed it from a different angle so that it looked more like a urinal. I used a rougher, looser woven fabric for the background, with the look of burlap - to contrast with the shininess of the satin of the Fountain.
- The last two images were commissioned by Mussolini. There is the marble obelisk which has Mussolini's name engraved upon it and the marble statue of a boxer at the Stadio dei Marmi in Rome.
- I added words that were used in the different eras to talk about white. Some are embroidered while others are FMQ. The latter are much more legible but the embroidery adds texture.
I will be linking this post to many linky parties. Why not check out what everyone else is doing? Below you will find the links to the other participants in the blog hop. Check out the great art with fabric😊 Tuesday Colour Linky Party, Linky Tuesday, Midweek Makers, Off The Wall Friday, TGIFF, Can I Get A Whoop Whoop?, Friday Foto Finish, Finished or Not Friday, Needle & Thread Thursday, Finish It Up Friday, Monday Making, Main Crush Monday, Design Wall Monday, Moving It Forward, What I Made Monday, Wondering Camera,
A White History of Art, based on the History of Art in Three Colours, WHITE
17½" x 17¾"
Materials: batik, cotton, satin, tulle, gauze, lace, burlap-type fabric, stabilizer, embroidery floss, beads, felt, metallic thread, Kimono silk thread
Techniques: photo transfer medium, improv piecing, markers, beading, embroidery, appliqué, FMQ, thread colouring.
Art with Fabric Blog Hop Schedule
Monday, November 5, 2018 - Day 1
- Heather at Heather Quilts
- Tami at Thrift Shop Commando
- Moira at The Quilted Snail
- Marian at Seams T Be Sew
Wednesday, November 7, 2018 - Day 3
- Janeen at Quilt Art Designs
- Carol at Quilted Fabric Art
- Andrée at Quilting & Learning: What a Combo! You're here!
Thursday, November 8, 2018 - Day 4
- Melva at Melva Loves Scraps
- Barb at Bejeweled Quilts
- Anita at Domestic Felicity
- Alida at Tweety Loves Quilting