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Year 12 Visual Arts Essay

1191 words - 5 pages

This essay question refers to the conceptual framework, specifically the audience and world component. The conceptual framework considers the relationships between the artwork, artist, world and audience in order to form opinions, make judgements and develop an understanding of artworks and the art world in general.
Kathe Kollwitz and Frida Kahlo are artists who... use key words from the question.

Kathe Kollwitz was born on the 8th of July in 1867 and died in 1945. She was a German painter, printmaker and sculptor whose work offered an expressive and often searing account of the human condition, and the tragedy of war, in the first half of the 20th century. Her empathy for the less ...view middle of the document...

Her decision to focus on social themes stemmed from a fascination with how the working classes appeared in her world.

In the etching, Unemployment, 1909, the simple subject of a family grouped around a bed is symbolic of the economic and social conditions of the period. Evident is the despair of the poor and the family pressures unemployment causes. Using the dramatic interplay of light, Kollwitz focuses on the facial expressions and emotion links between the figures. It is a sympathetic representation of the tired and distraught father as he stares into nothingness, contemplating his hopeless situation. The children are thankfully asleep, allowing the parents time to think, but is their sleep a result of peaceful exhaustion or hunger and sickness? Kathe Kollwitz was a powerful, intense artist who produced works of deep affection. Her imagery is based on a knowledge of life's hardships and fleeting joys.

Frida Kahlo was born in Mexico in 1907. Her artwork can be explored from many different perspectives, the most obvious being autobiographical through her extensive output of self-portraits. They are evidence of her need for self expression and her exploration of identity.

The painting, Self Portrait with Hummingbird, 1940 is an example of her surrealist self-portraits. Both native and imported catholic symbols converge in this painting. On the most obvious level, the necklaces of thorns represents Christ's passion, symbols Kahlo has drawn from her catholic upbringing. As a portrait it also suggests the miracle of St Veronica, who, after wiping the savour's brow, found his crown of thorns mysteriously transferred onto her veil. Kahlo also draws from her Mexican heritage, making reference to Aztec tradition of religious rituals involving self-mortification with thorns. The dead humming bird around her neck and butterflies in her hair are Aztec symbols that signify the souls of dead warriors.
The monkey is an omnipresent pet, which makes its appearance in eight self-portraits it functions like a religious attribute and further underscores the iconic quality of the image. The cat, on the other hand seems to be a more generalized symbol of death, it imparts an ominous sense of doom.
Unpacking the various layers of meaning indicates Kahlo's sophisticated and discriminate choices and also suggests how her self-portraits are significant at many levels of meaning. Kahlo never represented a single self, but always a multicultural one.

Frida Kahlo, a well renowned artist not simply for her...

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