Critical Essay 4: Norman Rockwell’s “Rosie the Riveter”

I had always heard about “Rosie the Riveter” in American history classes but as most things you here from history, they do not have a large impact on someone at first, especially a simple advertisement. That is what I had thought it was for the longest of times, I did not even know it was a painting. Things like that seem to get lost in all the grades and tests of American history, especially in high school.

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“Rosie the Riveter” by Norman Rockwell is an oil painting on canvas, measuring 52 inches by 4o inches. Rockwell completed the painting in 1943.

Because I did not know that this was a painting at first, when I first saw it at the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art I was very surprised at how large it was. Being almost 5 feet tall, it is an intimidating piece of work. Not only is it a large piece, it a very skillfully crafted work that displays a very large level of realism. It also illustrates many elements of art that are necessary for becoming famous. It has a good since of direction of movement throughout the painting. We can follow the direction of her eyes that leads us to her knee/rivet gun which then follows the pipe that lines up close to the waving of the red flag that can be followed back up to the top of the painting. Being painted in some way as an advertisement, but more as a statement, putting “Rosie” in the middle makes it the most effective for creating a message that Rockwell was trying to display.

That message was the idea of the American spirit and strength, especially for women. At the time, World War II was in full swing for the US. As many men were going ever seas to fight, the women left behind were forced to take their places on the assembly lines. This was Rockwell’s inspiration. The women fighting the war back home were part of the driving force that helped win the war. Rockwell wanted to create the image that the women created for themselves. When he was making the piece, he has a tiny 19 year old girl model for him. In stark contrast to the actual piece, the one in the painting is much larger and stronger than the actual one. Rockwell was creating the image of empowered, strong women that were making a difference. After he published the painting, the number of women volunteers to work in the factories rose to new heights. When a painting can make a difference in the result of a world war, it has accomplished more than its purpose.

Going and seeing this painting gave a strong sense of nationalism and pride. As long as their are people like Norman Rockwell to help us remember our history, how can we forget our past. Art, without a doubt, has a large impact on everyones’ history and future.

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Critical Essay 2: James Siena’s “Upside Down Devil Variation”

Whenever I look at pieces of art work, I try to go into the mind of the artist and figure out what was going on in their head when they were first thinking about the work and also while they were creating the piece. Sometimes however, I just have absolutely no idea what they were thinking.

One day between my classes, I decided to take a trip down to the Fine Arts Center Gallery. They had just put up a new show and as I was examining the wall of works, not many of them were catching my attention. They were not making me go “Wow,” as only a few can. Not until I saw this drawing.

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This an engraving on some type of special foreign extra white paper entitled “Upside Down Devil Variation” by James Siena. He made this piece in 2004 and it is roughly 19 inches by 15 inches.

Although the concept of this piece is in itself very simple, it is so complex that the simplicity is drowned out by the complexity. I would go crazy trying to draw all of those lines that perfectly for such a long amount of time. He may have been using a ruler but even if he did it still is a very impressive piece of work. I suppose that it is what he may have been thinking when he was making this, “WHEN WILL I BE DONE?!” On his website it said that this was one version of 42 others. Does that mean that he made 41 other types of this exact same drawing? Again, very impressive.

This work is basically the exact opposite of the economy of line project that we did in class. Unlike where we had to make the most out of the least amount of lines possible, Siena used an over abundance of lines to create his work. By bunching many lines together he created areas of value that helped to create focal points and areas of interest. He also created implied lines by having the extending lines come up to a point and stop, thus creating the illusion of even more lines.

Going back to the time when I first saw this work of art, I had to stop and just look and examine the work. Even now when I am looking at it again, it just about gives me goose bumps. I know that looking at something in person is far more impactful then just looking at a small image on a computer screen. But if an artist has made such a work of art that it is still very influential and makes people stop and look then they have achieved something great.

 

Critical Essay 1; “Ward” by George Tooker

I had never really thought that seeing a piece of art in person made a difference in the perception of how we see it and the reactions that we get from it. Never until now. In my junior year of high school we were looking at some art work online and discussing what type of emotions we got from them, George Tooker’s “Ward” was one of them. At the time, I didn’t think much of it. I knew that it was significant and that it was supposed to evoke some sort of dark, dreary emotion from it but I never felt that.

Moving forward to the summer before my freshman year of college, a friend of mine invited me to the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville. I had never been before but I had always wanted to visit. After making it around most of the museum we came across this particular painting.

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A picture gives it no justice. The moment I saw it, I had the emotional reaction that I knew I was supposed to.

The painting is just very dull. The entire piece consists of dark, grey and blue values, with the exceptions of the American flags. I believe that Tooker chose to have the flags stand out as to demonstrate that no matter what the American spirit will not go dark, it will not fade, and we will not lose hope. This is a stark contrast to the rest of the piece. All of the featureless and similar figures lying in the beds give off the sense of lack of hope and spirit, even death.

From an an element and principle view this painting has many things to offer. I get a sense of unity and harmony when I look at all the similar shapes and colors. It has many repeating patterns such as the beds, the rails, and the curtains. Another principle of art that George Tooker utilizes is movement. Even though the scene is supposed to be still and quiet, the piece itself directs the eye all around the painting, thus creating a sense of movement. It use the element of line to achieve this. The rails have a vertical direction as well as the angled one towards the lower left and the upper right hand corners. The edges of the beds also create some what perpendicular lines to the rails that move up towards the top left. These lines are essential in creating the very solemn mood.

This painting has a lot of significance to because, for one, it reminds me of my time in high school where I met the absolute best english teacher in the world. She showed me this painting and since then it has been in my mind as one the grabbing art pieces that i have seen in person. Seeing it in person made it all the more special. A photo cannot give you all the details of a piece. The actual thing has more character and personality. I could see the careful brushstrokes and the carefully crafted homemade paint colors.