Vedder's "Memory" -- Remembering Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1413 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Art  (general)

And although the American Vedder, after studying in Paris from 1856 -- 61, returned to the United States at the outbreak of the Civil War, he mainly supported himself by illustrating comic valentines and calisthenics books and drawing for popular magazines such as Vanity. He isolated himself from any sociological or political context as an artist, or even from any new artistic influences. Vedder often used romantic landscape as a setting for traditionally symbolic or allegorical images, even when the America around him was gripped by tumultuous historical events. There is a sense that Vedder's work could occur 'anytime' -- which is not to isolate the artist from the Romantic spirit and period that produced his ethos, but a sense that he actively avoided social commentary, rather than sought it. Even the title "Memory" is vague, unlike the title "Erosions No. 2: Mother Earth Laid Bare," referring to the contemporary erosions and the rapacious nature of man upon Mother Earth and the American environment. ("Elihu Vedder," The Columbia Encyclopedia, 2005)

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Ironically, Hogue's painting strikes the viewer as 'more' realistic in its meaning, in some fashion than Edward Steichen's photography. Steichen used photography as commentary beyond the purely personal -- thus he pushed notions of surrealism farther than did Vedder. But Steichen's photography is more dreamlike, and the photograph's meanings are less certain than Hogue's painting. Steichen's photographs of "Rodin with his Sculptures 'Victor Hugo' and 'The Thinker'" are photographs of works of art by a great artist, and their works in the soft-focus pictorialist scrim of Steichen take on a level of artistic relevance in and of themselves, that add to the sculptured work's original meaning, by using photography to force the gazer to see the human forms present in great art anew. This meaning, unlike the laying bare of mother earth in Hogue is less clear.

Term Paper on Vedder's "Memory" -- Remembering the Assignment

But there is still greater cultural relevance to the forms of Steichen's photography than the image of Vedder, for Steichen chooses not to depict vague and dreamlike faces of purely individualistic relevance along the lines of Vedder, but instead chooses the form and faces of works of great art, as seen through the vision of another artist, in another medium, and thus forces his viewers to see their own artistic culture anew. The realistic medium of photography shows the viewer that, under proper lighting, even reality can become distorted.

Rather than questioning America's social vision like Hogue, Steichen used surrealism to question the common language of symbols and art accepted by Vedder. Like Vedder, Steichen studied in Paris during the early part of his career, and worked afterwards commercially for publications. But Steichen during his European time of study was deeply impressed by the work of Rodin, and made use of his inspiration by the master in his art, rather than creating derivative works inspired by pure Romanticism, or dream like vistas of an envisioned 'old Europe.' Steichen took his European training to return to America and infuse his American landscapes and art with what he had learned from the European tradition. In "the range and quality of his production in the fashion and advertising fields, Edward Steichen might be said to embody the development of utilitarian photography in the 20th century," bringing surrealism to commercial photography during the roaring 20's of American capitalism as Hogue later did to social criticism during the Depression. ("Masters of Photography," 2005) Unlike Vedder's reproduction of European surrealistic spirit and technique, Steichen's photographic images and Hogue's sweeping brushstrokes gave a new life and realistic relevance to the treatment of the human body and human form under the surrealist's ever-changing artistic eye. Hogue and Steichen showed that surrealism, rather than being a form of escapism, can also bring the viewer more squarely in tune with the reality of the world around them, or the expansiveness of their own artistic and visionary perceptions.

Works Cited

"Elihu Vedder." The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2005.

Hogue, Edward. Biography. 2005. 'Masters of Photography: Edward Steichen." 2005.

'Memory." Image. 2005. [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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