Tag Archives: Project 1 Art and Ideas

Project 1: Exercise 4 – Looking at context

So I decided to have a little look for a different view of Damien Hirst’s piece, ‘The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, 1991‘. Simply because it’s really hard to get a good idea of what a piece is about when you’re looking at only one view of it in a small photo.

I found his own website and you can see a lengthways view of the piece, which I guess gives a slightly broader perspective, see link below:


Damien Hirst,The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, 1991 - Image: Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2012

Damien Hirst,The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, 1991 – Image: Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2012

First Reaction to piece:

Disturbing, Intriguing, am I supposed to feel sorry for the shark?

Emotional response:

Mixed, I guess I see the shark as a symbol of terror or fear. It’s associated with causing harm or death. I’m also slightly disturbed by seeing it in a large container of glass, it’s unnatural.

What do I think it’s about?

I think my answer would be different if I hadn’t known the title. Without the title, I guess I would’ve thought about why the shark is in a container, is it about dominance? Is it about demonstrating even powerful creatures succumb to man or to death? Is it about containing things that make us afraid?

What do I think about the title?

I think the title helps set the piece in a context, or gives it a frame of reference. It suggests that the piece is about confronting our view of death, that we struggle to face death head on and the piece is literally showing us death or the decaying process in action through the slow decay of the shark in the formaldehyde solution. Without the title it really does come down to how we view the shark and the structure.

Edwaert Collier Still Life:

Edwaert Collier,Still Life with a Volume of Wither’s ‘Emblemes’, 1696, Copyright Tate, London 2014.

Edwaert Collier,Still Life with a Volume of Wither’s ‘Emblemes’, 1696, Copyright Tate, London 2014.








First Reaction to piece:

It’s a technically good painting, has a moody feel, it’s a dimly light scene. I notice the skull in the background and some text underneath a vase – I wonder what this means? The cup and grapes reminds me of the bible story of Joseph and the cup bearer and how people would taste the kings wine to test for poison.

Emotional response:

Initially not much, slightly more sinister feeling once I noticed the skull in the background. I guess a sense of sorrow, everything feels sombre, still a bit lifeless.

What do I think it’s about?

Without the title to reference – I would’ve said some kind of collection, maybe a particular persons interests, or passions. Maybe there’s some political nod to the times, perhaps death, I say this simply because in the shadows of the painting there lurks a skull. Maybe the fleeting nature of life?  Perhaps the connection between the music and the skull is to do with time, a piece has a set duration and then it’s finished, just as a human is mortal, living only a certain amount of time?

What do I think about the title?

I honestly am not sure what the word ‘Emblemes’ means. It suggests a persons belongings, is ‘Wither’ a person?

Project 1: Art and Ideas – Exercise 3

Notes below are all on reading the extract from ‘Art History: The Basics by Grant Pooke and Diana Newall, 2008, Abingdon:Routledge’.

New Words List:

Acquiescence – 

verb (used without object), acquiesced, acquiescing.

to assent tacitly; submit or comply silently or without protest; agree;consent:

to acquiesce halfheartedly in a business plan.

Duplicity – 

noun, plural duplicities for 2, 3.

deceitfulness in speech or conduct, as by speaking or acting in twodifferent ways to different people concerning the same matter; double-dealing.


an act or instance of such deceitfulness.

Arbitrary –



founded on or subject to personal whims, prejudices, etc; capricious

having only relative application or relevance; not absolute

(of a government, ruler, etc) despotic or dictatorial

‘The academy’? – 


Hegemonic – 


having hegemony, or dominance:

the ruling party’s hegemonic control of all facets of society.
Hegemony –
noun, plural hegemonies.

leadership or predominant influence exercised by one nation overothers, as in a confederation.

leadership; predominance.

(especially among smaller nations) aggression or expansionism by large nations in an effort to achieve world domination.

Theories or Concepts to research:

What is the ‘Institutional Theory of Art’?

A little bit of ‘research’, by that I mean googling, leads me to some websites, one a postgraduate research piece about ‘The Artworld and The Institutional Theory of Art: an Analytic Confrontation, by Massimiliano Lacertosa’, see link below:


And the other the Standford Encylopedia of Philosophy, see link below:


Both note two philosophers, Arthur Danto & George Dickie, as theorists of Art who offer more modern ideas on art. One Arthur Danto is the founder of Insitutional Art theories – seems to be concerned with how art institutions create a sense of culture which influences the work of artists.

I leave my research there because I’m not sure these are good sources or not! I’m going to buy the Tate Guide to Modern Art Terms and see if that helps…

Interesting to see the distinguishing of craft from art. Also to read that, that distinction was clearer in previous periods than now, where perhaps our definition of art has become so broad that it’s too encompassing and maybe we’ve lowered the standards.


Project 1: Art and Ideas- Exercise 2 pt.2

Is technical skill an important quality in artwork?

Sometimes, I think it really depends on the aim behind the artwork. I think we associate technical skill with a historical view of ‘good’ artwork. It’s also subjective, what I think is technically skilled or shows brilliant skill another might not.

Do you think art needs to move you emotionally?

Yes – but I don’t think that has to be it’s sole purpose or that art is bad if it doesn’t. I mean how do you as an artist predict what emotional response your work will get?

Does art have to be unique?

I think it helps if art is unique, it feels more valuable because it’s different or rare. Does that mean you can’t take something mass produced and call it art? I think that art isn’t just the objects or things presented it’s also the context of presentation, so a mass produced object can become something else when presented or arranged in an unique way that helps you divorce it (in your mind) from it’s original purpose or use.


Project 1: Art and Ideas – Exercise 2 pt.1

What is art?

I think art has a very broad definition and as such it’s hard to pin down what it is because it can be so many things. I think simply, it’s something created or assembled or arranged with thought or meaning, it exists to challenge or stimulate or to console, or reflect on life. I think art is something that comes from a creative person, but I’m not sure it has to come from someone that has a formal background in ‘art’.

How do we know it is art?

I think context helps us to determine if is something is art, so often seeing something in a gallery or on someone’s wall at home, or in a restaurant or shop helps us to decide if that’s art. Obviously there are people who buy or display that art and they help us to decide.

I think the thought or the consideration behind the creator of the work helps us decide if it’s art or not, we struggle to believe something is art if it’s maker didn’t give any thought to how it was created or why it was made.

Who decides what is art?

The individual, the person who made it or assembled it or arranged it, the public, curators, the media. I think it’s very subjective, and based on an individual’s mindsets and beliefs, so one person’s art might be another persons junk, and I think that’s actually okay!

Is it enough just to display a found object and say ‘this is art’ because it’s in an art gallery?

Why not? That clearly causes and provokes a response from the viewer, perhaps its the intention of the work? It causes people to stop and consider and question. Sometimes I think that’s a good thing.

Duchamp said he wanted “to put art back in the service of the mind”. What do you think he meant by this?

I think he’s suggesting that art had become maybe too attached to emotion or eliciting emotion rather than being used to cause the mind to reflect or consider. I think he’s trying to say that art should come from a place of reason or be something considered intellectually not just practical.  That the start point of creativity or art should be conceptual, not merely practical or a ‘felt’ response to something.