My Art History 101

I’ve always enjoyed abstract art because no one can tell you what you’re supposed to see in it; you simply determine that for yourself.  I remember when I was a little kid, a huge abstract painting hung over the sofa in our family room.  I insisted that it was a painting of a white wolf and once I outlined the image for them, my mother and father were able to see it too.

The artist was a distant cousin and, when I was older, I found out that the painting wasn’t actually meant to depict anything.  This fascinated me, and I thought it was somewhat like a Rorschach test with inherently meaningless blobs of ink that are only given meaning by the viewer.

That fascination with abstract art was revitalized when I took AP Art History.  Jackson Pollock has basically always been my favorite artist.  And in my senior year of high school, I did not one, but TWO projects on him.  One of them was my final project and I included some slides from the PowerPoint here.

Taking Art History was an enlightening experience because I learned that my appreciation for art isn’t limited to paintings that are created through a process of haphazard splatters and drizzles.  I’ve also discovered that I really enjoy the work of Edward Hopper, probably because I find it very cinematic, with many of his paintings having the look of a film still.  He has even been considered one of the influences of film noir.  If you’re not familiar with his name, it’s likely you have seen his work.

Here is his most famous and recognizable painting, “Nighthawks.”  Since its completion in 1942, the painting of that diner has inspired countless other paintings, sculptures, literature, music, films, television shows and even parodies. For example, in Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner, director Ridley Scott tells author Paul Sammon, “I was constantly waving a reproduction of this painting under the noses of the production team to illustrate the look and mood I was after.”

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