For my final analysis I have had to think hard about how I wish to reflect the changes of the world since 1945 which I am now a part. The course material states that I can choose any media except for sculpture and painting and a maximum of 4 subjects – photography immediately came to mind but who to choose or what image to write about? and what about a second, third or fourth image? I am aware I have an interest in the work of photographers who capture the homeless of our societies and this has been fueled by the work of Dorothea Lange during the Great Depression in the USA in the 1930’s – my own brother has spent time capturing the images of the homeless in his adopted home of Frederick in Maryland and it would have been easy to choose one of those works. However I decided to look to see if there was a photographer who has photographed the homeless in England and subsequently came across the work of Shine Gonzalvez.
Shine Gonzalvez is a photographer who came later than many to the art but she then purposefully chose to depict the lives of those that we see around us every day on our streets but who also remain hidden from our eyes. How does this tie in though with the analysis though? simple fact is that the man in the photograph I have selected from her portfolio is an ex-military man – a man who has served for his country and through economic or social circumstance has fallen on hard times. Politically there have been many cuts to our armed forces since 1945 and in particular since the end of the Cold War in 1991 – that single homeless man is one man in many both male and female and also represents the economic crises that have afflicted so many either through job losses, mental illness, divorce, military cuts or even illnesses such as cancer. One face amongst many in a consumer lead society.
So what about the second image? and I am doing up to four? I decided to concentrate only on one other image and having looked at many others I came back to Richard Hamilton’s collage ‘Just what is that makes today’s homes so appealing, so different?’ which was originally done in 1956 and upgraded in 2004 to a digital print titled ‘Just what was it that made yesterday’s homes so different, so appealing?’. The original collage was based on the different ways of communication available at the time but also in a modern world depicts the consumerism that had really taken hold and that continues to this modern day. The collage is almost a microcosm of a period in our economic, social and political history – a microcosm that could simply be upgraded to the year 2016.
In 1992 Richard Hamilton was invited to take part in a series of programmes entitled QED and during this time he demonstrated the use of a computer to generate art – technology was advancing but the programmes we now accept as commonplace were just being released to the general public e.g. Adobe Photoshop 2.5 was released for Windows for the first time in November 1992. The image Mr Hamilton chose to recreate was the 1956 collage and by using Quantel Paintbox he was able to bring it up to date in 1992 using contemporary images. This image could potentially be re-created again to show the consumerables of 2016 with the methods of communication and also the furnishings or fashions of our modern time.
I feel because I have such contrasting images that I am happy to stick with just two rather than look towards the maximum of four. If I had been able to use paintings as well there is no doubt I would have chosen the work of Jon McNaughton which his works based on the current American political situation or his works based on patriotism – some of these definitely provoke strong emotions. There is one painting in particular – ‘The Forgotten Man’ – this man sits on a bench surrounded by all the presidents of the USA clearly forgotten by those in power as he himself contemplates his future. That man is the common man – the presidents the people representing the people with no political bias towards either of the main parties but the title speaks volumes.
Another painting I would have without doubt included is this one by Lisa Belding entitled ‘Fear’ – this one was uploaded to a Facebook group just last night after the election of a new president of the United States … a powerful image projecting the emotions of many who supported the opposing party. I do have Lisa’s full and kind permission to reproduce this acrylic painting here – the words are clear but the image without the words would still have told their story such is the strength of the painting in the colours used for the woman set against the American flag. There is a feeling of fear and uncertainty that Lisa has captured in the pose of the woman with her head in her arms and the ragged edge of the flag depicting the feeling that America may not have done the right thing for its future. Only time will tell now which way the future will go and whether Lisa’s image is born out or whether the future is brighter.
There is no doubt over the coming months there will be more art work such as Lisa’s as we move in frightening times with so much uncertainty and reminding us of the artists who painted the images of the 1930’s in similar circumstances.
Computer Hope. 2016. Computer History 1992 [online]. [Date Accessed: 10 November 2016]. Available from: http://www.computerhope.com/history/1992.htm
McNaughton Fine Art. 2016. The Forgotten Man [online]. [Date Accessed: 10 November 2016]. Available from: http://jonmcnaughton.com/litho-canvas-the-forgotten-man-10-x-15-oe/