The Evolving Framework Of Art

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Even before I enter an art gallery or an exhibition space “certain expectations” are in play regarding proper behavior, etiquettes and expectations. I noticed that preconceived notions such as “do not touch” or “very expensive” are evident due to prior communications or certain rules. These usually create a distance between the art work and myself. There are three elements of fine art in an institutional setting, “the viewer, the space of viewing and the object that is viewed”. When viewing the displayed works, I tend to relate the object being viewed based upon the space in which it appears. The relationship between these components further creates distance between viewer and content of display. It transfers power from the image to the viewing method in the exhibit space.

This thesis will examine the relationship between viewer and artwork in terms of spatial narration and representation by examining how much of art viewed is artist intent and how much is viewer interpretation? What role does a viewer play or is allowed to play in the presentation of art? We will examine the intent to focus only on the object, role of the surrounding space and display conditions and even if both, the artist and the viewer, necessary for an art to reach completion. I will also discuss some of the post war period art that challenged the display of art, by providing many ways to perceive and experience it, including visual, physical and emotional representation. Marcel Duchamp, an artist with pioneering works in The Dada movement from 1950s, discussed that the creation of art began with the artist – often in isolation in the studio – and is not completed until viewed by others (Duchamp n.d.).

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Several artists organized events, crafted performances, as well as massive scaled installations which helped increase public participation by breaking down traditional and perceived barriers between themselves, their work and the viewer. Hence, the work of art, became a two-way exchange. Richard Serra’s explored intimate relationship of an art work to a specific setting. He considered the visual as well as physical relationship of a viewer and the way experiential spaces were created based on its universal qualities of gravity, weight, and ageing (Figure 1). On Top Prop (House of Cards) Richard Serra 1969 Robert Morris, a Minimalistic artist from late 1960s experimented to explore conditions of perception and display as a sculpture always exists somewhere in relationship to someone at some time. His art works were geometric shapes stripped of textures, curated in different configurations and focusing only on the viewer interaction. Robert Morris, Untitled (L-Beams), originally plywood, 8 x 8 x 2 feet, 1965

For his first prominent earth work, Double Negative (the 1960 capture of the two trenches cut on Mormon Mesa, Nevada), Michael Heizer quoted “There is nothing there, yet it is still a sculpture”. . He set a new relation of the viewer, the earth and the art itself with his massive scale of modern art. He used earth as his medium and created an incomplete trench with empty space (Figure 3). (Tarasen n.d.) Michael Heizer – 1970 Double Negative: 1500’ long, 50′ deep, 30′ wide Art can be much more than a painting on a wall, or a piece of sculpture on a pedestal. Over the mid-20th century, art continued to evolve in more forms by opening the process of creation (cast, press, fold, excavation, etc.). Hence, mid-20th century artists gave up a measure of control over their works and had more trust in the viewer-turned-participant.

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