Art Historian W.J.T. Mitchell Asserted Term Paper

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Combined with his attachment to the Catalan heritage, Miro sought a certain universality in expression. In 1918, he found this thread of commonality in landscape, to which he devoted himself. He was particularly thrilled by the areas of Montroig, where he reproduced a "calligraphy" with his brush, a lyrical stroke "blade of grass by blade of grass, tile by tile."

In 1920, Paris became his temporary home, and as he traveled there annually, he sought to integrate the urbane conversation he culled into his bucolic landscapes and home in Barcelona. He developed dual identities, the Parisian and the Catalan, and it was in his landscapes that he found the unity for which he, like so many other binational Europeans, struggled. In The Tilled Field, he assimilated with a pictorial language all his own, filled with the robustness of Paris and still inherently Catalan.

Melding together the land and sky, he converts separate spheres into a holy, earthly union.

While the idea of "landscape" is divided into the distinct variations of terrestrial and celestial, Miro circumvents boundary in The Tilled Field. As national prides and prejudices grew stronger, his own emotional separation between France and Spain, two great rivals, he overcame the struggling ideas of internal union and external unity during the age of World Wars. A hundred years later, again in the age of war, Christo would seek to reexamine the division between land and sky in the hills north of San Francisco.

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In an age of personal propriety and legal definitions that characterize every minute and ounce of life, Christo set out to erect 24 miles of fabric across California ranchland, highway, and coastal plain that was finally completed in 1976. The artist described the "obstructive membrane" as an auspice for changing the public perception of land, giving new rise to its appreciation.

Christo said that it was "a celebration of the landscape ... The fabric is a light-conductor for the sunlight, and it will give shape to the wind. It will go over the hills and into the sea, like a ribbon of light."

Term Paper on Art Historian W.J.T. Mitchell Asserted Assignment

In all his work, Christo seeks to challenge the social fabric with the insertion of new texture; namely the fabric in Running Fence. For its completion, it demanded the effort and assistance of many volunteers, private proprietors, and local leaders, all of whom had to entertain new ideas of art, legal disruption, and image shift. Christo, like his landscaping predecessors, used a simple concept -- landscape painting -- to present an alternative to the accepted hegemony of ideological concept.

Christo, too, demanded something of his audience. "I am absolutely sure that the project involves the subconscious of all these people who have never had any relations with art in a political state....The people who became engaged in the work of art are not spectators in front of it but are part of the process of making art."

With the lines of light and gossamer sheeting, Christo restructured not only a public conception of art, but also of landscape. Like Miro painted in Tilled Fields, Christo created a fluid transversion of sky and land with Running Fence.

Kiefer abandoned the colorful glories of Christo and Miro in his interpretation of landscape. After the devastation of World War II and the social upheaval of the fifties and sixties, Pop art challenged the tenants that guided modern and abstract art; but without the color, confabulation, and waterworks of the Pop artists, the New York School verified the same assertions of divergence. Ignoring the renaissance of popular culture, Kiefer explored abstraction through icon and subject inside the vein of politicized territory.

Kiefer harkened the devastation and destruction embodied in the recent German-European history by evoking the mythifications of the national past in order to further project more fruitful traditions at the same time. Wood, soil, national figure, and health interplayed in the landscape of Nuremburg, creating tension between identification and taboo. Unlike Christo, who addresses the divisions between earth and sky with his own cloth bridge as the concluding piece, Kiefer confronts the observer with the dichotomies in history and belief, leaving him to finish the piece with his own internal feelings of conflict. Ultimately, he turns to the skepticism of the modern adult as a source for answers, collapsing history and timeless truths in the landscape with an organic representation. Instead of abolishing the boundaries presented by landscape, he limns them more clearly, and forces the observer to add the final touch through his own interpretation.

Despite their generational differences, each Poussin, Fragonard, Friedrich, Miro, Christo, and Kiefer addressed landscape as a form of dialogic exchange. Where one sought a return to the classic, others inserted lavish frivolity. Where another saw the lone figure as a singular tide, others embraced the moment of natural romance. Where one saw marred the divisions of land and sky, yet another stretched them further. Ultimately, each artist used his conversation with landscape as a tool for ideological discussion, challenging the constructs of the time and the observer's accordance with them.

Mitchell asserts that landscape's very exhaustion, and thus its power and consequent kitsch with mass culture, may signal a potential return for renewal in other places and other forms, embodied in the transition from Poussin to Christo. Before the age of modernism, landscape was unmasked as an outlet of quiet ideological concerns; in its wake, after wars, tumult, and international metamorphoses, the discourse became undeniably loud. Following the trajectory of landscape through the twentieth century, Mitchell implies that artists fall into two contrasting versions of narration, like that of Christo and Kiefer, but both telling the natural conclusion of boundary and awakening.

Mitchell suggests that twentieth century landscape is personified in two ways, the first of which is "pure" abstraction.

It leads to a conceptual refinement and pulls the painting free of the ideological structure and mores, while the second emphasizes a landscape painting's gradual abandonment of convention in favor of naturalism and "pure" hyper-representation.

These diverging paths are the twin termini of landscape art in the twentieth century, equally important in defining its rise and fall in the post-modern era.

According to Harrison, there is a subverted text in a landscape painting that "cannot be painted and meant."

Counter-intuitively, these landscape artists were capable of providing both technical prowess and this meaning to their works by abandoning the hegemonic protocols of institutionalized cultural mores. Reading the landscape text comes from dismantling the rules to see the interdictions of the modern text.

Mitchell addresses the problem of reading landscapes, all of which provide their own subtext of ideological construct, dissemination, or challenge, as a means of reading a statement written behind the surface of trees, coastline, and sky. In the shoe, rosebud, field's horizon, and flowing gate there exists a new truth of dissertation. Each artist carefully constructed every inch of the painting with meaning and thought, and like a writer liberally engages the word to discuss the status-quo, the artists manipulate the paintbrush or its substitute. What makes the work so notable is the power with which the art transcends time.

"What is notable about both these judiciously historicizing accounts of landscape painting is the degree to which that most apparently spatial of codes remains in the thrall of the temporal," he wrote.

Poussin appealed to time with Phocian, reminding his contemporary of his classic roots and observers for years to come of the way lessons of the past hold truth in the future. Fragonard dissembled age and the expectations of society with the honest romance that transcends people from young adulthood to the grave, and, despite the mores that seek to subvert it, the natural glee that it brings. Friedrich depicted a solitude that would pervade the actuality of Nuremburg, and Miro and Christo would, in different eras, transverse the same sky and land that they viewed not as distinct but instead interminably intertwined.

It is this power of transcendence that gives rise to the successful ideological text in a landscape painting. Each artist wielded the space of sky, land, and horizon as an object of mentality and idea. "If there is no way forward," Mitchell concluded, "then there can be no way out; geography is hamstrung by history. And yet there are contemporary artists who have cleared enough ground, created sufficient space in which to produce 'series' work in this putatively moribund genre, however shadowed by melancholia and enveloped in ambiguity such work may be."

The work that enabled this modern space of openness, emblematic of that of Miro, Christo, and Kiefer, is not a new creation, but is instead the actualization of the temporal heritage left by the painters like Friedrich, Fragonard, and Poussin, who came before.

Mitchell, W.J.T. 1983. The Politics of Interpretation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. P. xvi.

Lamm, Robert C. And Cross, Neal. M. The Humanities in Western Culture: A Search… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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