I am going to run with an idea in order to exercise it. I wrote in the last blog that representation has the effect of mooring the artwork in front of the viewer to whatever real-world object we can recognize from our experience. And the art of Joan Miró is a project to free (at least his own artwork) from that anchor. I liked this idea well enough that I wanted to use it against an artwork that is not wholly unrepresentational. The exercise goes like this: to analyze the work as a standalone object, using—but apart from—what it is representing. I have an intuition that through this I can see whether Miró was showing us anything really new in his own work, which we should take to heart when we view other works.
If we take the art-object as the thing-itself, the art is not a lens through which we view the thing in the outer world. If we take the art as the thing-itself, the work takes use of the thing in the outer world to create something new. So in this piece—we know from the title: Warrior—Kohn is using a warrior to create something new on the paper. So what new has Kohn done with his model to create something new?
As I noted at the top, the piece is not wholly representational, but leaves somethings which we would see in the “real world” out, while focusing in on other aspects. The feet, for instance, basically look exactly like feet. Make your way up, and you can see the outline and dimension of a figure, but what we notice in a real person standing in front of us (the face, hands, and arms) is left behind in this work. It focuses primarily on dimension. Notice the thick black lines which are skirted by the lighter shadows. This creates the feeling of depth to the piece; and the details make up what looks more like armor then any true person.
You see here Kohn gives us a different kind of representation. He focuses on one aspect to leave the other out. Representation is certainly present, but what he chooses to represent creates a new object, one separated from the outside world.
—Will Harrington, St. John’s College A20
This exhibition is generously supported by the Helena Foundation.
Organized by the Syracuse University Art Galleries.
The Mitchell Gallery relies on community commitment, through generous individual donors and corporate memberships, to support its diverse exhibitions and programs. We thank the following for their continuous funding and support:
Anne Arundel County, Arts Council of Anne Arundel County, Mark Baganz and Laura Salladin, City of Annapolis, Deborah Bowerman Coons and Jana Bowerman Sample, Helena Foundation, Maryland State Arts Council, Estate of Elizabeth Myers Mitchell, Mitchell Gallery Board of Advisors, Members of the Mitchell Gallery, Mrs. Ruth Mitchell, John and Hilda Moore Fund, National Endowment for the Arts, Lillian Vanous Nutt Mitchell Gallery Endowment, and the Clare Eddy and Eugene V. Thaw Fine Arts Fund.
Gifts in kind: Art Things, Inc. and Up.St.Art Annapolis Magazine.