Roy Lichtenstein (1923 - 1997)
Article: Khari Walser
It is sometimes said that as beings our work is never done. We create our identities and our surroundings only to reinvent ourselves and discover our purpose on this earth. The same can be said for artists. They create, they revise, and when they feel that they have accomplished what they have set out to do, they deem a piece of work “finished”. However, this idea of being truly finished varies from person to person and is reflected in the human experience because of the process that we go through to be “finished”. This concept has been explored throughout the history of art, and in the exhibit Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Breuer in New York, it is displayed for the viewer.
The art displayed spans two floors with over 500 years of art represented showing artists ranging from Rembrandt, to William de Kooning, Lichtenstein and Bruce Nauman. I discovered that each artist had their reasons for leaving a piece finished or unfinished. Sometimes it was intentional and other times it was circumstances out of their control. But what holds true with all of them is the artist’s belief in showing truth through their creation.
Paul Cezanne, who is one of the artists talked about extensively in this exhibit, believed that a canvas did not have to be completely filled for a work to be complete. The choice was up to the artist to decide the completion of the artwork. His views inspired artists like Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock, and it is seen in their work that is displayed. The idea of “finishedness”, as it was called in the exhibit, was open for interpretation. Artists like Jackson Pollock and Lygia Clark believed that the viewer could extend the life of the artwork through physical action, or simply by using their imagination.
Piet Mondrian (1872 - 1944)
Other concepts discussed during this exhibit also included ideas like continuous change, infinite life of an artwork, the artistic process and the deterioration of life. All of these concepts contributed to the main focus of how an artist reaches the conclusion that is their work. Felix Gonzalez Torres represents deterioration through a pile of candy that viewers can take a piece from. While Piet Mondrian left a draft of his famous painting 'New York' unfinished to show his process.
I have never thought this hard about art and how it reflects the human experience in this way before, and for the people that come to see this exhibit they will find their life and experiences reflected in the art. The art is relatable because it is a known fact that art imitates life. As I walked through, read and learned, I found that as an artist and a human being, the outcome of my life is in my hands. The finished work that I produce may be finished in my eyes, but will live on in the people that I have touched with my work. Much like the artists represented in this exhibition. The viewer is invited to reflect on their own lives and notice how the pieces exhibited also reflect their lives and experiences via human similarities.
Metropolitan Museum of Art New York
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