, Research Paper
There is a great difference in art between emotion and intellect. They are two completely separate elements. Art that is emotional tends to be stirring and raw- it provokes an immediate reaction in the viewer. Art that is intellectual is deeper, it requires thought and time to chew on- to comprehend. To be successful a piece of art must contain both elements. Both Alberto Giacometti’s Woman with Her Throat Cut and Alexadr Rodchenko’s Oval Hanging Construction No. 12 are successful pieces of art- but they contain the elements of emotion and intellect in vastly different proportions. Giacometti’s work is instantly stirring. It is abstract, yet the implications of the forms, especially when combined with the knowledge of the title are immediate. Its emotion speaks loudly and clearly. Rodchenko’s work is intellect all the way. The work is cleverly constructed- it is geometric analytical and very calculated. It explores and provokes the viewer in a very different way from that of Giacometti’s work.
The constructivists as a group were vastly different than the surrealists. The Constructivists analyzed, prodded, tested and assessed- while the surrealists seemed play and mess around- making art into a random act trying to hash out the unconscious. Rodchenko’s section in the constructivist “organization” was called the objective analysis group. The bases of the analysis were the structural elements and laws of composition used in the creation of a work. The effects of this return to the roots are clearly evident in Rodchenko’s spatial constructions.
The surrealists were doing their own investigation into the creative process. At surrealist meetings led chiefly by Breton, pseudo psychoanalytical questions were asked of the members- seemingly to help them to emphasize the role of the unconscious in their creative methods.
Giacometti’s work is not utilitarian- nor does it attempt to be attainable by the common people as Rodchenko’s work does. Woman With Her Throat Cut is a study in conflicting emotions.
Giacometti himself states that the piece was based upon a need to “find a solution between things that were full and calm, and clear and violent” Giacometti goes on to state that part of the solution was to depict objects moving in opposite directions.
It lies on the floor, darkly disturbing in its implications. The woman lies bare- triangular forms suggesting a spine are open to the air. She is twisted and used. The curved forms combined with sharp tooth like points create a very mixed message. Sometimes described as “insectoid” and “predatorial” because of these sharp angles- the work nevertheless is equally flowing. These sharp angles and insectoid features are connected by smooth liquid sweeps of curvilinear shapes. This is an especially interesting contrast around the woman’s belly. The smooth arch of the abdomen arches over the jagged edges of Giacometti’s triangular peaks- divided by empty space. Often interpreted by critics as a fantasy of Giacometti’s, the work suggests sexuality (namely rape) and violence . Picasso and Lipchitz influenced the original version. Giacometti’s work all seems to have a similar flavor. Most of his pieces in this time period seem to be about some fantasy or another.
Rodchenko is not necessarily trying to deceive his viewers, but by painting the surface of his plywood he is definitely trying to change how his work is viewed as a material piece. The silver paint imitates metal. But the work itself is made of plywood. This use of materials is quite characteristic of the constructivist movement started by Tatlin. The Constructivists strove to combine industry art and production. Their ideas went hand in hand with the young version of communism newly emerged in power. Most of the early constructivist pieces were produced with communist goals in mind. What the constructivists were trying to do was to essentially redefine the role of art in the world. They wanted art to be useful to everyone- not just visible in a museum. Their ideas were radical, but the actual change to the nature of the art world and the role of art in society was slow.
Oval hanging construction is part of a series of spatial structures all based on concentric geometry. This series was first exhibited at the third OMBKhU exhibition (Society of Young Artists) Rodchenko was exploring space with these works- more specifically, the bridge between two and three dimensions. All the works hung from the ceiling- and all had the dynamic ability to collapse flat. This feature was at the same time incredibly practical. It was exactly the kind of idea that constructivists strove for. Dynamism is one of the most important features in Rodchenko’s work. The potential for movement in all of these pieces creates an interesting similarity with Giacometti’s “woman.” Giacometti’s “woman” moves, the lines and angles created by the “legs” seem to twist and writhe. It can be seen as a struggle- the last twitching of a person near death. The way the geometric elements are connected suggests movement as well through the sweeping curves combined with the sharp angles of the joints.
Rodchenko and Giacometti are vastly different artists, and come from vastly different movements.
One is intensely based on dreams and feelings- Giacometti’s work is strongly based on the unconscious fantasy of rape and violence. Rodchenko’s piece is practical. It is thought out, calculated to economize art by creating a cheap and practical “art object” that is appealing to every eye. The piece even folds up to a convenient size for storage and setup, while maintaining very valid reasons for being looked at. Rodchenko is decidedly part of a group- Giacometti seems like more of a free agent. He works for himself and his subject matter is very personal, whereas Rodchenko works to create universality in his art, and in art in general. Both pieces contain movement in different ways. In Rodchenko’s work it is the potential for kinetic motion that adds to the piece. The construction hangs from the ceiling- using space completely differently from Giacometti’s floor dwelling sprawled figure. Giacometti’s piece moves by its linear sweeps and combinations of elongated shapes. Both pieces are strongly influenced by the movements of their contemporaries. Giacometti’s fantasy of violence and rape fits perfectly with other works of surrealist sculptors and painters. Rodchenko is practically a flagship for the constructivists. Everything he produces during this stage in his development is strongly influenced and influences strongly his group. Both sculptures use different materials. Rodchenko’s piece is somewhat unique in the fact that wood- especially plywood was not commonly used for sculptures.
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