Summative Post: Contextualisation

5 Key Points – Contextualisation

1. John Piper: An Experience of Place. John Piper’s work “The Rocky Valley, North Wales” was the starting point to my subject work. Romantic Artist’s such as John Piper and Graham Sutherland saw an importance in Nature. They wanted to create an experience of a place and a connection with it. I started working with these ideas and under the influence of these artist’s progressed to exploring the relationship art and nature could have.



2. Anselm Kiefer Exhibition: Works incorporating Natural Materials with Paint. Viewing the Anselm Kiefer Exhibition in the Royal Academy really inspired my ideas. I hadn’t realised that he incorporated natural materials into the paints he uses and onto the surface of the canvas. Experimenting with ways of incorporating nature into art, I decided to explore mixing nature into paint myself which turned out to be unsuccessful as it wasn’t creating a deep enough connection but pushed me to develop my work and encouraged me to think about ways of integrating nature without art materials like man-made paint and aided my progression.


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3.Stuart Cairns: Artist Tool Making The Drawing as experience field module introduced me to Stuart Cairns. He makes drawing tools out of found objects, sometimes natural materials other times not. I am highly influenced by his work and it encouraged me to explore making my own natural tools to paint and draw with which have turned out to be integrated into my final and most recent work. Exploring the marks that each tool makes and considering them as art objects themselves I have discovered a connection to nature by making marks with it.



4. Andy Goldsworthy: Realising the Potential in Nature. Andy Goldworthy gives me confidence in the fact that presenting art and nature together can emit a connection to a more natural environment. His work demonstrates the potential of nature and displays a connection with it. Even though he works out in the surrounding, his work is very inspiring to me and pushed me to use natural materials for Art Making.

Blog Post Link:

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5.Richard Long: Mud Paintings. Richard Long’s work relates to my work and ideas in a variety of ways. He experiences Nature, collaborated with it, brings it into the gallery space as well as producing land art, but the most influential area of his practice for me were his mud paintings. His work inspired me to explore making my own paint’s from nature and more deeply investigate the possibilities that nature has to offer to my art.


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How Does the Addition of Natural Elements affect the significance of Anselm Kiefer’s Vitrine Painting: Fitzcarraldo (2010)? – 500 word Essay


Anselm Kiefer is known for his innovative use of varied and often unconventional materials within painting “a reinvention of traditional forms” (Simon Schama, 1996, p.124). Continuing themes within the works include war, nature and history. More recently, works have incorporated thorn bushes and branches encased in vitrines in the foreground of forestry paintings, as seen here in the work entitled “Fitzcarraldo” (2010). Within constellation, I have learnt about how the use of found/pre-made objects that have connotations of their own, can add meaning to contemporary artwork.. I intend to discuss how the addition of natural materials to Kiefer’s work affects the significance of the piece in question.

The German Forest has been a recurring theme in his practice throughout his artistic career. Kiefer was born in 1945 and grew up in the devastation of war, “a child of the rubble” (Michael Prodger, 2014). Kiefer’s “parents hid with him in the forest during day-time air raids” and so for him the “tall bare, bewilderingly numerous tree trunks” (Christian Weikop, 2014) emit connotations of war and fear. The element of fear is heightened by the fact that there seems to be no way out . “There is no sense of any clearing through the forest, the viewer is entrapped by trunks” (Christian Weikop, 2014). You could claim that the addition of foliage in relief, adds significance to the feeling of entrapment, as if the natural elements almost create a second forest in themselves. However, this could also take away from it as the organic matter is separate from the trees and emits the impression of being on the forests edge looking in.

The addition of thorn bushes and branches with no greenery on them suggests a wintery feel and adds significance to the piece because of the association winter and snow has with the holocaust, “where the jews were forced to march miles across cold, snowy landscapes barefoot to their death”. The thorns add a sense of danger and negativity to the work. Furthermore, thorn bushes have christian connotations, linking the piece to the religious predjudice surrounding wartime. The fact that the natural elements have been removed from their environment and allowed to die makes the feeling of loss of life more prominent.

The title “Fitzcarraldo” evokes the determination of Carlos Fitzcarrold, a Peruvian Rubber Baron who transported a 30 tonne steamboat over mountainous terrain. This could be seen as echoing the determination of the heroic soldiers who fought in war. Organic Matter existing in the piece gives it a three dimensional impression. “By adding found materials to the painted surface of his immense tableaux, he invents a compelling third space between painting and sculpture” (White Cube, 2014) It can be argued that the viewer experiences a greater connection with the forest as they can imagine reaching out and touching the branches. However, the natural objects could be detracting from the forestry.

After analysing the image, I have come to the conclusion that the addition of natural elements adds significance to the forest in war time and to the work as a whole. The German landscape was desolate from the effects of WWII and I feel that the addition of branches with no life on them adds significance to the tradgedies. Adding natural materials to “Fitzcarraldo” gives the viewer a more immersive and sensory experience of the work and echoes “the gritty materiality of historical truth” (Simon Schama, 1996, p.126).

ROMANTIC LANDSCAPES: A lecture by Jon Clarkson

What is my place in the world?

Do I belong there?


Caspar David Friedrich – Monk by the Sea

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Comparing it to a classical Landscape – Richard Wilson, The White Monk 1760-65

Caspar David Friedrich – Morning in the Sudeten Mountains 1810-11


How does Friedrich’s painting differ from wilsons? Colour palette, mood.

How do the painters think about religion?

Wilson seems more distant from religion than Friedrich. Friedrich is thinking of religion organising our relationship with the natural world.

In Caspar David Friedrich – Monk by the Sea – What time of day is it?

Written about as a lightless dawn. For the monk, the dawn isn’t important as it is for the pair on the mountain in the other piece.

Do you think that this place is real or imaginary?

It is a culmination of experience . Long flat horizon. Empty paintings.

Jan Van Goyen – View of Harlem 1646


Alternating pattern of light and dark, Colours lighter in the distance, more full of colour in the foreground. There is more cloud perspective than in friedrichs work. Friedrich’s is much flatter. Distance becomes flatter and more immense because there are no markers in it.


Mark Rothko 1969 – Is there still distance in this picture? Does it look like a place to you? There are similarities to Friedrich’s work. It is stark and there is a fluctuation between flatness and deep space.

There is a lot of fine detail in Friedrich’s Monk by the sea. It makes it look more like a portrait of the place. When you notice a painting has fine detail, you walk in closer to it. Having an intimate relationship with the work. The artist must be thinking about where he wants the spectator to be. The monk isn’t entirely resolved in himself.

What is the relationship between these figures and their surroundings?


Caspar David Friedrich – The wanderer above the sea of mist

The figure is taking possession of a view, dominating the landscape. He wants to be there and he is in control.

Caspar David Friedrich Chasseur in the Forest

The Chasseur in the Forest 1814

The landscape is dominating the figure here, he has no horse, he is lost and not in control. He’s french, the forest is german. Friedrich is a nationalist. German land rising up against the french invaders. Vulnerable.

Romantic Woodland circa 1824-5 by Francis Danby 1793-1861

Francis Danby – Romantic Woodland landscape 1824-5

Will nature accept us? Romantics think of nature in a more psychological way than an ecological way.


Anselm Kiefer, Varus 1976 – For Kiefer, Germany begins with Slaughter in the forest.


Marina Neudecker – Things can change in a day 2009

Models in vitrines suspended in liquid. Does the vitrine intensify the situation or distance you from it? Like a cinema screen, they encourage you to project yourself into the scene.

How does a group rather than a solitary figure alter the confrontation with nature?


Caspar David Friedrich – Chalk Cliffs at Rugen 1818 – less vulnerable, more people – However, not a strong sense of communication.

Reflection: What am I doing? Why am I doing it? Progressions?

Reflecting on what I have done so far and writing down my ideas and progressions in concrete will not only help me progress but make the work I have been doing clearer to me and to others.

Within this project, I have decided to make work inspired by a piece by John Piper called the Rocky Valley.  Initially, I was very interested in the textures and the colour palette of the work. On closer investigation, the abstract marks that were making up the rock face became a key inspiration to the beginning of my project. Firstly, I have experimented with creating my own work inspired by the visual aspects of the piece, creating continuous line drawings with abstract shapes and gestural mark making and painting those elements onto photographs etc. Other influential artists like Dryden Goodwin and David Hockney encouraged me to create Landscapes with abstract shapes and elements through methods like scratching into photographs and digital work.

After exhausting the physical and visual influences, I decided to research into the concepts and reasoning of John Piper’s work. I found that he wanted to capture a sense of the place he was producing and express the personality of the nature within it and around him. He wanted his work to have a strong connection with the visual elements of the place as well as the feelings and emotions within it. I have chosen to work with my home area of the Brecon Beacons because it is a place close to my heart and I believe I will be able to capture it appropriately because I have experienced it first hand. I attempted to make some I-Pad collages combining real pictures of the place with levels of abstraction and marks. I also incorporated the colour palette and because the place was in it, I felt there would be a connection to it, but it was not strong enough.

Capturing a sense of a place has become a key concept of my work. I have been taking things from the outdoors and using them within my artwork, instantly creating a connection. At first, I was incredibly unsure where I was going with this and so started drawing with twigs dipped in ink and making line drawings from the nature within a place. I have also been experimenting with collage, textures and abstraction. Again, the connection was quite obvious and not very exciting and after seeing Anselm Kiefer’s exhibition in the Royal Academy in London, I started thinking about other ways of incorporating nature into my work.

Currently, I am experimenting with adding nature itself into the paint that I work with. I have produced experiments where I have mixed organic materials like soil or leaves into the medium and I am incredibly happy with the results. Not only does it add texture to the paint, but it gives a sense of the place you are painting, because nature from it is in the work as well. Combining the influence of John Piper and Anselm Kiefer seems to be giving my work a lot of direction and I am excited by the Ideas that are emerging.

In terms of progression, I am hoping to produce more experiments adding things to paint and using them to create abstracted Landscapes incorporating abstract shape and encompassing gestural mark making. I think combining everything that I have learnt from investigating and researching so far could lead to a successful outcome and then I could stand back and look at it and see how to progress further. Incorporating nature and organic matter actually into the art that I produce takes the connection to a landscape further than the work of John Piper. I have started to think about other ways of documenting a place and have created a few abstract pieces from collected found objects from the outdoors but this is something I will have to investigate further also.

Anselm Kiefer: The Use of Nature in his Work

After seeing Kiefer’s work in Person in an exhibition in the Royal Academy I was highly inspired. There are so many different textures and surfaces within his work and seeing it in person has really inspired me to be more experimental with mixed media and to maybe play with mixing unconventional materials into my work. I am highly inspired by the confidence of his work and I am hopeful that one day people could view my work and think it was bold and confident. Also, I am looking at nature and a connection to place and landscape surroundings and nature is a recurring theme in Kiefer’s work. He mixes natural materials into paint and includes them on the surface of the work, something I would like to consider. I will definitely be revisiting Kiefer’s work in relation to my own.


Anselm Kiefer’s mixed media work is highly inspiring and In terms of my project work, I can see a strong connection. He incorporates both natural imagery into his pieces as well as nature itself in the form of soil or rock or tree branches etc. This is highly relevant as I have been experimenting with adding natural forms to paint myself, admittedly inspired by the exhibition of his that I went to see.

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As well as adding unconventional material into paint, he also applies it to the surface of whatever he is working on. He really inspires me to want to experiment and play around with untypical ways of working and mediums. I have been experimenting with twigs in my work, but on a much smaller scale, Anselm inspires me to work on a larger scale (not quite as large as his work though).

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Combining the work of Anselm Kiefer, his use of nature and John Pipers work I think will make for a highly successful outcome. I intend to capture a connection to nature that John Piper talks about so much through actually including nature in the work. I also intend to include abstract shapes and mark making and influences from the colour palette of his work. For me, art is about experimentation and I am looking forward to playing with these ideas.

Trip to London: Anselm Kiefer, Gerhard Richter, Tracey Emin, Tate Britain and The Turner Prize

Whilst in London, I went to quite a few art venues and saw really great art and some not so great.

Anselm Kiefer – The Royal Academy

Anselm Kiefer’s exhibition at the Royal Academy was definitely the highlight of my visit. Not only was it visually incredible but it was relevant to the work that I have been producing too. The sheer scale of the pieces that I viewed in this exhibition was highly impressive. I have always been a fan of Kiefers work and I have never managed to see an exhibition of his until now. What I find most interesting about his w0rk is the wide range of media he uses and the unconventional mixed media that he mixed into the paint or adds to the surface of the work.



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There are so many different textures and surfaces within his work and seeing it in person has really inspired me to be more experimental with mixed media and to maybe play with mixing unconventional materials into my work. I am highly inspired by the confidence of his work and I am hopeful that one day people could view my work and think it was bold and confident. Also, I am looking at nature and a connection to place and landscape surroundings and nature is a recurring theme in Kiefer’s work. I will definitely be revisiting Kiefer’s work in relation to my own.

Gerhard Richter Exhibition – The Marian Goodman Gallery

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I went to view Richter’s work because of how much I am interested in it, more than for my project work. However, upon visiting the gallery I came across some photographs that Richter had taken and had painted on top off. This strongly links to the pieces that I have made where I have added abstract shapes on top of my own photos. I had no Idea that Gerhard Richter was interested in Photo Manipulation and so this was a valuable reference to my work.

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Richter’s abstracts as always were visually interesting but I was very disappointed that there were no large works where he had dragged the paint across the canvas with a squeegee. I thought the glass effect with the paint behind definitely brought his work up to date and gave me a modernist feel.

Tracey Emin – The White Cube Gallery

I must admit that everytime I have been to see Tracey Emin’s work in the past, I haven’t been that impressed but this exhibition was completely different, I felt like she showed her true self, her experimentation and the things that she really enjoys doing and making. It was like looking into her artistic life and her drawings were incredibly gestural and influential.

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What impressed me the most were her large scale nude embroideries. Mostly because I don’t really enjoy textile work or sewing, nor do I consider myself to be very good at it. However, Tracey Emin had used the thread to make marks to make up the body like a fine art ink drawing.


The Turner Prize 2014

In my honest opinion, considering that the turner prize is one of the most prestigious art awards around at the moment, it didn’t do the art world justice at all. If I was not a creative individual or studying art at all, I would have walked in there and thought the current art climate was very pretencious and have maybe considered the fact that art is no longer a skill that not everyone could do. I thought the variety of work was incredibly disappointing and definitely not explained well enough. After walking around the exhibit, I looked at the comments board regarding the turner prize and it was very difficult to find positive feedback which makes it clear to me that I am not the only one highly disappointed by the prize.

Visiting London was definitely incredibly worthwhile, I have never felt so inspired as I did walking out of Anselm Kiefer’s exhibition in the Royal Academy and linking Richter’s work to my ideas is incredibly encouraging. Undoubtedly, This trip will have an impact on my work.

History Painting: A Lecture by Jon Clarkson

How much Prior Knowledge do you need to understand art?

The term History painting refers to artwork created between the 16th and 19th century. The artworks were usually commissions illustrating historical moments. They contained complex figurative forms and convey a recognisabke message.

Should a narrative painting communicate a story to the viewer or do the viewers need to know the story first to understand the painting.


Titian – Badus Ariadne 1522-3
What is happening in the painting?
Mythology, incorporates god like figures. Man leaping out of a chariot, women right on a cliffs edge/fearful. Ultramarine blue clothing mark out the woman as important. Bacus Is the god of wine and drunkenness. Ariadne was the kings daughter. She’s about to throw herself off the Cliff. Bacus was about to kill her off before she could, but in attempting to, he falls in love with her. He makes a star constellation for her as a love gesture/wedding ring.

Is the painting meaningless if you don’t know the story?

You can sort of decipher the painting, but not the rigid story. The look of love is significant but you are not sure what role it plays in the story as a whole.


Jacques – Louis David, The Death of Marat 1792

How does the painting explain Marat’s death?

He was a french revolutionary. The Letter he’s holding Is written to the woman who assassinated him (Charlotte Corday). A stark image with an abstract background. Darkest next to light skin produces a maximum contrast. Peaceful face, shown as a marta. Died in a just cause, painted for his funeral – propoganda. Carried with the coffin stabbed. The painting portrays the story quite clearly.

A more contemporary example of a story being portrayed within a piece is Jeremy Dellar’s Battle of Orgreave, 2001 where he restaged the battle. Some of the people were former miners that were there.

Does the work attempt to explain the Miner’s strike? As Davids painting explains Marat’s death?

Jeremy Dellar did not document any of this restaging himself. Some Miner’s wanted to put the record straight because the news covered the story inaccurately and changed the narrative. Really, the police charged forst but the news did not portray that. They know the re-enactment isn’t real but the memories are reawakened and unforgiven feelings come out again.

Anselm Kiefer  Eisen-Steig   (1986)

Anselm Kiefer – Eisensteig 1986
Barren landscape, the railway line to autschwitz. Olive oil branches used as a symbol of piece. Includes unconventional materials.


Kiefer – The Morgenthau Plan 2012
Does the painting express a view on the Morgenthau plan, or does it just reference it?
A fantasy of Germany as a westland. Wild/untamed. Suggests the plan maybe did not go to plan.


Anselm Kiefer – Let a Thousands flowers Bloom 2012
Let voices be heard, People get to voice their opinions and those of others that were against typical political views but it was a trap, and all the people doing so were got rid of.


Lottie Davies – Lou’s story 2008-2009
What is happening?
Reference to Psul Delaroche’s painting – The execution of Lady Grey. In the painting, she is portrayed as an innocent. Based on a dream, After reading Lou’s story, the image looks different. It is like the story and different from it too. No bodies on the floor etc. There is a sense of fear and impending doom within the image. She has used a process of selective reading.


Lottie Davies – Viola as Twins
Creepy element – Mother not able to deal with the idea of twins.

What happened when you start making images from stories that no one else knows?

I found this lecture really interesting. It made me consider the fact that I make up my own narratives for a lot of artwork without knowing the story. I think that I like the fact that I do not know the actual story because It allows my imagination flow, to be inspired and to create my own interpretation of an image.