Visual Studies 1: Creative Arts Today: Part one: Contemporary Art: Page 30, Exercise 5

Still Life – “Nature Morte”

I have chosen two very different pieces of still life which incorporate fish. One is realistically painted by Salvador Dali and the other is abstract and angular by Dmitry Krasnopevtsev.

I chose images I liked and have drawn sketches of them below with some accompanying notes.

Still Life: Fish with Red Bowl – Salvador Dali 1924

Still Life with Fish and Eggs – Dmitry Krasnopevtsev 1955

Khan Academy – Damien Hirst’s Shark

A discussion on Hirst’s Shark from the Khan Academy and some of my notes in various areas as listed.

https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/global-culture/beginners-guide-contemporary-art1/v/hirst-s-shark-interpreting-contemporary-art

The Piece

  • The title can be interpreted in different ways
  • The impossibility of really coming to terms with death?
  • Are we afraid of death because we cannot process it?
  • The tank in the piece frames the shark, different frames have different views
  • It could be in a museum to be studied
  • Impossible to comprehend death if you are alive
  • Facing shark = facing death in multiple dimensions
  • Comparisons with “Jaws” Movie Poster
  • General consensus that sharks are scary (media hype?)
  • Are you really processing death or fearful of things you cannot process, and that is what you are afraid of?
  • Original shark decayed, it has now been replaced.
  • Trying to preserve a moment in time by using formaldehyde, yet it failed.
  • By accident or design that it fails?
  • Could have used a fake shark but used a real one, created the impossibility of its own preservation (much like our own!)

Hirst’s Other work

Has done other pieces using dead animals. E.g., sheep slices lengthwise and put in tanks

(A quick Google search shows he uses a lot of animals in his work!!!)

Artists concerned with mortality

  • Is art created to outlive us? (museums, renaissance pieces, architecture?)
  • Contemporary artists not as concerned with this, work can have a “shelf life”
  • Jaws Movie cover/poster art.

References to Time

  • Shark looks like it is moving but it is not, a snapshot in time.
  • It is dead!
  • Nothing can stop time.
  • History of humans trying to stop time e.g. mummies, plastic surgery etc.

Final Thoughts

After reading the interpretations and contextual information about the piece I understand more about what it is trying to say. Although I am not happy about real sharks being used I now understand the reasons for doing so. For example, demonstrating that although we try to beat/slow down time with chemicals etc. we cannot. A shark is a great example of this, although we are trying to preserve a moment in time, we cannot as although taken at its point of death, the shark is still decaying beyond this. The piece is still somewhat confusing, although I understand that this is somewhat the point, as it can be interpreted in a different way by each person viewing it, and not always the same way the artist intended it to be interpreted.

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