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An Art Analysis

January 3, 2014

When I was at school (both high school and university), we spent hours during class analyzing historical paintings. Look at that brush stroke Monet used or the revolutionary subject matter of Manet! Why was Degas so obsessed with ballet dancers? Comparing the different paths of Cezanne, Seurat, Pissarro and Van Gogh, a hundred theories as to what scared the figure in The Scream (or is it a scream of anger?) and so on…

But not until finishing the painting in this entry did I really feel that I had analyzed a painting in such depth. I shall explain…

After completing a number of paintings and after going to see the Andy Warhol exhibition, I stumbled across a painting by Howard Kanovitz called ‘The Opening’ (1967). I loved the pop art style with flat colours in different tones to show shape and shadow.
I want to experiment with this style more, so I decided to start by copying it on a smaller scale.

At this juncture, I’d like to say to all those people who may accuse me of plagiarism – I am not claiming this is an original artwork, nor do I intend to sell it or prints of it. I admit that it is a copy done for technique experimentation and my pleasure!

The original of this painting is 426cm long by 212cm high, so the figures are more or less life-size. The biggest paper I could find to work on was 66cm long so the first challenge was spacing the figures accurately and scaling everything down in proportion. The more observant of you will notice I didn’t quite succeed here and the last figure on the right of the original doesn’t appear in my version.

It was during the painting process that I truly analyzed this artwork. Note that I didn’t do any background reading, nor did I know the name of the painting until after I’d completed my copy. The following things sprung to mind during the process:

  • The clothing of the women is a reflection of the period the painting was created – 1967.
  • Their hairstyles along with the fact that a number of them are smoking reminded me a little of Mad Men (a series I recently became addicted to!)
  • The guy in the middle (eighth from the left) looks a little like Kevin Spacey (more in the original than in my version).
  • At first, I thought the figures appeared to be mingling before or at an interval of a theatre performance. However, when I saw the paper held by the man fifth from the left, I realized it was more likely a gallery opening because this looks more like a flyer than a theatre program (although I have no idea whether theatre programs in the 60s where in glossy magazine format like today!)
  • The man on the very right of my painting is a little like Nicolas Cage!
  • Margaret Thatcher also appears in the painting, wearing white. Well, the back of her head…
  • Ron Howard as he was in Happy Days as Richie Cunningham also attended The Opening (very left)

Ok, so whilst it isn’t the type of analysis that my art teachers would have approved of, it was a lot of fun for me! There is definitely a skill in getting the two tone shading right, and I hope I can translate this over to my own work in the future.

20140102-195613.jpgAcrylic on paper, 66 x 35cm

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From → Artwork

One Comment
  1. Andrew permalink

    Lovely work once again

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