Art Crit. I
13” x 20” x 20”
Vortex is an abstract piece by Ellen Schon. It has shades of brown varying from a light tan to charred chestnut. There is a cylinder extended from the more half-sphere sort of shape that branched out into tendrils, all burrowing into the centre which leads to a thinning crater, seeming to either suck everything in or create things from its origin. The piece almost looks like it's made of wood based off of the shades of brown throughout it, but it is actually smoke-fired clay. It looks to have a smooth texture.
This piece has an organic looking form, falling victim more to the curved tendrils of art than any sharp geometric edges. This organic form holds smooth physical texture, even though the smoked clay gives off a more rough visual texture. Regardless of the disorganization of the colour on the surface of this piece, it holds unity -- as well as asymmetrical balance.
This vessel could be seen as many things: a flame, a splash spouting from water, the tentacles of a squid or octopus -- the possibilities are endless. That's the beauty of abstract art. Everyone interprets it differently depending on their own personality and views and past experience. My father saw it, and he thought it was a flame. When I looked at it, it seemed more like a black hole sucking in all of the things near it into the deepest, darkest part of the piece -- its centre. Once could see the tendrils on the outside in many different ways. It could seem like they're reaching out from where they were created, licking anything audacious enough to get too close, loose ends of an item, much like the end of a frayed knot, trailing behind the source, or, as I see it: items being sucked into the vortex, reaching out in hopes of holding onto something that doesn't get pulled in as well. I see this piece as something darker than some people might, but I also have looked at this piece for much too long. To me, this object is a beautiful disaster.
I believe this piece is very successful. The fact that it's abstract gives it infinite possibilities of what it might mean, and anyone can interpret anything from it, not just what the artist intended. For all we know, the artist may have just thought this looked neat! Of course, one could also see no meaning in it at all, wherein the piece would be unsuccessful. For them, it could simply be a weird looking clay vessel. It could seem too crazy with the disorganized streaks in it, or chaotic from the tendrils all reaching out in different directions. It's all a matter of what you see in it, if anything at all.
Art Crit. II
Laocoön and His Sons
Agesander, Athenodoros and Polydorus
1.84 m in height
Laocoön and His Sons is a sculpture made of the Trojan priest Laocoön with his two sons, Antiphantes and Thymbraeus, being strangled by sea serpents. It is a life-size work made of white marble. There is a single fabric draped over the son on the right's left shoulder, falling to the floor next to his foot. A second cloth is on the platform Laocoön and his other son are standing on, with a third cloth lazily strewn over the back of a serpent. It is difficult to tell where the sea serpents begin and end, or which body belongs to which snake. One of the reptiles, however, is biting Laocoön's hip, while the tail of another(?) is coiled around the right son's left leg. It seems that another serpent is coiled around the left son's right arm, pulling it at a strained angle. Both sons' arms have broken off, more likely out of age than the artist's original intention.
This marble piece's form is both organic and geometric, all of it being anatomically correct. The physical texture is smooth throughout the entire form, regardless of whether or not that particular section would be actually smooth if it were real. There is no colour in it at all, the entire piece being the marble white. There is, however, unity and asymmetrical balance. There seems to be more emphasis on Laocoön than either of his sons, being the tallest, the one in the centre, and the one with the most outstanding position.
Although it's difficult, at first, to tell that the serpents are even in the image, one can see that at a closer look. The chaos in this image is very confusing, but, if you actually look, you can see that every detail is necessary in making this piece what it is. The agony in their expressions, the positions of cowering away from the beasts or simply writhing in pain from the serpents' cruel bite. One of the sons is even trying to pull the snake off of him, doubtfully having any luck with that, having the reptile coiled around his ankle. The pain and fear of their looming doom is so accurately portrayed in this sculpture that you can almost feel it.
I believe this is a very successful piece. The pain and horror shown in this piece is so beautifully portrayed, regardless of how real it is. The boy on the right is struggling to get out of the serpent's grasp, while his father is actually writhing in pain from the bites and pulling from the snakes. The fact that it is so real to the point of feeling it yourself is what makes this a successful piece.