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Paper #3

Julia Cangiano

April 19, 2015

Paper #3

Anthony Apesos

            Anxiety in Art History

My creative endeavors have opened a discussion about omnipresent anxiety in my life, and how said anxiety manifests in my work.  I have also been assessing painters in history and how their similar struggles correlate directly with my own. Edvard Munch has been my artistic focus recently, as he created prolific work that assumes themes that I’m currently grappling with in the studio.

According to Tracy Shawn and her article in Psychology Tomorrow, “Anxiety sufferers tend to be highly creative people with fantastic imaginations.”(1) This form of imagination can also be used by many artists (myself included) to entertain extreme, irrational “what if?” scenarios. Formal and aesthetic decisions can be influenced by the artist’s innately anxious mind, and can enhance or detract from the subsequent piece of art. Similarly, according to Shawn, “…the outward expression of creativity is an inward kind of practical self-medication.” (2)

Norwegian artist Edvard Munch produced paintings and prints from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century that were heavily laden with various psychological themes. Hailing from a middle class family with severe health problems, Munch dealt with the loss of several family members at an extremely young age. This and other personal experiences likely stoked his anxiety and later fascination with death, suffering, and anguish caused by love of another. His paintings on love and death were highly successful because they dealt with anonymous subjects and the collective human experiences of “love’s awakening, blossoming, and withering, followed by despair and death.” (Watson 2)

Similarly to Munch and many artists, my most recent painting is drawn from personal relationships and anxieties. The anonymity of subject is an aspect that I wished to have in my painting of my brother to allow a wider margin of audience interpretation. In the most recent partial portrait of my brother, the removal of identifying facial features is intended to do just that, while simultaneously removing the power of the male gaze. The scale is striking and the subject is broad-shouldered, masculine, and an unnerving presence. This piece is intended to evoke a certain level of physical discomfort that can be present in social situations. It is hard for young women to feel entirely secure when navigating a world saturated with accounts of violence and assault. I have experienced unwanted attention or confrontation with men and women alike. My experiences have been predominantly with men, and this friction contributes to anxieties about intrusive male presence and gaze. The subject, though unknown to the viewer, and I share a very close relationship. The image is meant to challenge the anxiety by portraying a man who, to the artist, is familiar and comforting. The lack of identifying features invites the audience to project their own experiences into the work. The anonymity of the sitter widens the margin for audience interpretation, and the strong resemblance we share adds another layer to the piece. The resemblance welcomes the possibility that I am using his likeness as a vehicle to re-possess the male presence as my own. However, the piece retains personal significance to me, and attempts to address a universal and personal anxiety about male presence and gaze.

Edvard Munch’s most famous work, The Scream, conjures for the viewer an unidentified, haunting figure with hands clasped to his face in a screaming gesture fraught with agony. The subject is on a bridge, surrounded by frenetic, blood-red marks swirling in the sky.  The piece was inspired by a hallucinatory vision that Munch experienced, and has come to be a symbol for existential musings about life and death that is a collective experience of mankind. Perhaps it is a personal expression of anguish and anxiety brought on by the death of his father and the responsibility he assumed for the family. However, it could be foreshadowing the nervous breakdown that he suffered in his later years. By keeping the subject anonymous, Munch has created an image that all humans can relate to. Anguish and agony radiate from the image, and the audience relates on a multitude of varying levels. The anonymity once again lends itself to a plethora of personal interpretations.

The struggles that artists with extreme anxiety face are countless, but above all, the introspective aspect is the most crucial. My paintings will continue to explore situations and themes that exacerbate my anxiety and to express them in the studio. As said by Tracy Shawn, “The challenge for anxiety sufferers is to be able to acknowledge their creativity, then actively use it in whatever ways they can so that their talents become a positive force rather than a negative drain.” (2)

Works Cited

  • Lubow, Arthur. “Homepage | Smithsonian.” Homepage | Smithsonian. N.p., Mar. 2006. Web. 19 Apr. 2015.
  • Shawn, Tracy. “The Art of Anxiety.” Web log post. Www.psychologytomorrow.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2015.
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Completed Painting of my brother, Albert

Latest completed painting

Latest completed painting

IMG_8252_edited2_edited

This is a 3×3 foot painting of my youngest brother, Albert. It began as a further study of likeness, identity and familiar relationships. The absence of most of the face creates an interesting tension between the audience and the subject. In an effort to expand the audience’s interpretation of my work, I heeded the advice of my peers and removed the portrait’s defining features.

In writing about my artistic practice for the past year, I discovered that the motive for my artwork was clearer than I imagined. Representation appeals because of the unique control that it holds for the artist. Of course, one could argue that all art holds some sort of control, but representation allows the artist to create imagery that is their sole perception of reality. My work, as are most things in my life outside the studio, is driven by (without putting myself in the ‘martyr’ category) my struggle with crippling anxiety. In a world of constant transience and all-consuming uncertainty, the relief of the studio is a welcome temporary release.

This portrait is not only a first person interpretation of my brother in my life, but is a manifestation of on of the many anxieties that I face. The scale is initially striking and the subject is broad-shouldered, masculine, and to some degree an unnerving presence. This piece is intended to evoke a certain level of discomfort that I experience in my day-to-day life. It is hard for young women to feel entirely secure when navigating a world saturated with tales of violence and assault. I have personally experienced unwanted attention or confrontation with men and women. My experiences have been predominantly with men, and this friction contributes to anxieties about intrusive male presence and gaze. This portrait is a manifestation of my anxiety around confrontational masculine energy and presence. Firstly, the subject, though unknown to the viewer, and I share a very close relationship. The image is meant to challenge the anxiety by portraying a man who, to the artist, is familiar and comforting. The lack of identifying features invites the audience to project their own experiences into the work. The anonymity of the sitter widens the margin for audience interpretation, and the strong resemblance we share adds another layer to the piece. The resemblance welcomes the possibility that I am using his likeness as a vehicle to re-possess the male presence as my own.

These are a few of the considerations I dealt with while executing the work. My next paintings will keep with the theme of art driven by anxiety, and will require a similar level of  introspection.

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Julia Cangiano
March 2015
Paper #2
Anthony Apesos
Anxiety and the Artist
After meeting with my mentor, Peter Rostovsky, I was inundated with a surplus of possibilities relating to my work and its conceptual direction.
The main topic of studio exploration thus far has been centered on the self-portrait as well as portraits of people with whom I have deep, personal relationships. Familial investigation has been central in the recent work, but as suggested by Peter- the family and self as primary topics remains very general. He posed several questions to me: What exists in your family that you want to show? What drives you to paint representationally? How much are you willing to show us (of your family/”inner” self)?
My family is very close, and in keeping with artistic tradition, my desire to paint them is arguably predictable. Similarly, self-portraiture is a richly seasoned genre, and the compulsion to explore different visual perceptions of self has become an artistic norm. In her essay in Narcissus in the Studio: Artist Portraits and Self-Portraits, Sarah McEneaney notes that her draw to representation stems from an innate interest in people. Painting is a vehicle of reflection and narrative. It has been said countless times in history, but the metaphor of the artist holding a mirror up to his/her reality rings true. Portraiture differs from other genres because of the unique exchange of gaze that occurs when the subject “looks” back at its audience.
Admittedly, like hordes of other artists, my attraction to representational painting stems from my inherent interest in humans. However, the most intense drive I feel toward representational painting hearkens back to my all-consuming anxiety.
Self-portraiture lends itself to the artist in a plethora of ways. As noted by Robert Cozzolino in Narcissus in the Studio, self-portraiture arises from the human impulse of introspection. Self-portraits grant artists the ability to craft a version of themselves that they feel accurately depicts their identity. As we exist in a transient world, the genre of self-portraiture holds for me a particularly intense attraction. My anxiety manifests itself in all aspects of my life, and the unrelenting need for control is omnipresent. The level of control I experience when executing a piece is extremely gratifying to me psychologically. In my self-portraits, I can construct the façade in any way that I choose. Vulnerabilities or self-appointed short-comings can be concealed or highlighted for aesthetic or conceptual reasons.
Similarly, the investigation of familial relationships can be traced back to my anxiety and the need to visually explore the psyches of those most closely related to me.
The nature of my anxiety is both exhausting and fascinating, and it is something that has revealed itself to me in my portraiture exploration. I intend for the studio aspect to push more into the anxieties that I struggle with daily and the emotional/physical effects that occur. The manifestation of this all-consuming anxiety exists in my mind and my work. Moving forward, I hope portray an effective visual and conceptual relationship.

Bibliography
• Cozzolino, Robert. Narcissus in the Studio: Artist Portraits and Self-portraits. Philadelphia: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 2010. Print.
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I’ve recently been working on my professional website and I’m sharing the link with you guys here. There are a few solid photos on the site, but it is still in the preliminary stages. I’ve scheduled a meeting with a professional photographer in 2 weeks to get the best images possible of my artwork. I will update again soon with those, but for now here is the “first draft” of the site: juliacangiano.com

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March Update

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Julia Cangiano
February 2015
Group 3
Anthony Apesos

​​​​Residency Summary: January 2015

My third residency at Lesley has once again given me countless perspectives pertaining to my current artistic endeavors.
Coming into the program, I brought a body of representational figurative work. The portrait has always been my source of interest and overall subject matter. In my first two residencies, the pieces displayed traditional academic renderings of the head and face. Most of the images are reminiscent of Classical art, and bear a straightforward frontal gaze accompanied by a strong directional light source. I executed pieces that stemmed from not only introspective reflection, but also from my own close personal relationships.
After returning from my residency in June, I began feeling redundant and less engaged in my portrait/self-portrait pursuits. The interest in the portrait held true, but I wished to re-imagine the avenue of portrayal/identity by moving away from the singularity of the face alone. Thus, I began to contemplate hands as a vessel for individual expression and identification. The nuanced characteristics of hands can identify an individual, while their universality and relative “same-ness” can appeal to an arguably broader audience. My primary focus was to explore the relationship I have with my father. As with my portraiture, I intended to create pieces that can more eloquently express our relationship than words can. I spent the semester photographing his hands in a breadth of gestures and then working from the photos in paint and graphite. Large, sensitive, and time-consuming drawings were produced this semester, as were numerous gestural studies.
The reception from my peers and faculty in January was rich, stimulating and generally positive. Much of the response generated this residency stemmed from a watercolor painting that provided a voyeuristic perspective of a looming gloved hand and long lab coat. The audience responded strongly to the foreboding, sterile atmosphere and to the imperceptible nature of the environment. Peers suggested that if I continue with the hand theme, I should delve further into the narrative potential of the imagery. Vincent Desadrio was mentioned to me in regards to his strong narrative themes as well as his deliberate compositional execution. Additionally, it was suggested that I draw from the cinematography and film stills of Cindy Sherman and Alfred Hitchcock to garner an understanding of scene construction.
I agree most with the suggestion that I return to my investigation of traditional portraiture/self-portraiture, as the hand concept feels exhausted and doesn’t hold as much thesis potential for the future. This semester will bring the return to oil portraits of myself and those closest me to in relation to the context of the genre. I will be working to express the intimacy between the artist and sitter with subtle formal and conceptual considerations. However, I hope to stave off the exclusivity that an artist/sitter relationship can elicit by exercising deliberate formal decisions. While I’ll be constructing portraits that provide the viewer with visual information (or the lack thereof) I need to look critically this semester at portraiture in art history, and to place my work alongside it.

Recommended Artists: Jenny Saville, Vincent Desadario, Alfred Hitchcock, Cindy Sherman, Gerhard Richter, Michael Borremans, Elizabeth Peyton, Cecily Brown, Byron Rim, Beth Campbell, Otto Dix, Lucien Freud, Peter Doig, Alfred Stieglitz, Dottie Addie, Edward Hopper, Helena Pravda

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Paper #1

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Julia Cangiano
November 15, 2014
Fall Semester
Stuart Steck

Goya: Order and Disorder

Francisco de Goya is currently on display at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Aptly titled, Order and Disorder presents countless samples of Goya’s paintings, etchings, and drawings that lay the framework for the artist’s extraordinary body of work.
The technical prowess of the artist is evident as soon as one sets foot in the room. In the first section of the gallery, there are several portraits lining the walls. During his career, the artist was a sought after portrait artist, as King Charles III appointed him as his royal painter. Nobility and high status figures frequently commissioned him, and this was a large source of his income. The portraits are generally brighter in color and mood than others shown, and present the sitters in a sophisticated manner. From an academic standpoint, the portraits are exemplary in their execution. His brushwork combines his larger energetic strokes with soft, careful attention to facial features and likeness of his sitter. As a further testament to both the status of the subject and his skill as a painter, he took great care to depict the attire worn by his sitters. Fine robes of velvet, lace, and fur can be seen in astounding detail in Order and Disorder, and are reminiscent of Rembrandt and numerous master painters. Visual and technical mastery aside, however, the portraits don’t hold as much interest to the audience as the later work in the exhibit does.
When one progresses to the subsequent room, the walls display several portraits of children. The work appears to be mostly children from upper class families, and displayed with props indicative of their individual traits and circumstances. One thing is certain, the children are depicted in what are arguably adult poses and style of dress. The representation of children in portraiture can be a particularly difficult task. There is a tendency for the artist to attempt to preserve the innocence and cherubic qualities in young children. Success in this endeavor varies, and Goya gives an interesting example in Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuñiga’s childhood portrait. A young boy stands in a vibrant red outfit, adorned with a lace collar, an elegant sash, and appears with several small animals by his feet. The rich color of his formal clothing and the large lace collar indicate an upper class family. His expression is placid, and his pose is stiff but somewhat neutral. He holds a string tied to the foot of a black bird. The bird holds a small slip of paper in his beak, while several others sit in a nearby cage. Just behind the bird in the foreground, there are three sets of wide- eyed cats that are hungrily staring and ready to pounce. The resulting image is on the brighter end of Goya’s overall color palette, and projects upon the viewer a solemn, eerie atmosphere. The image seems to reference the inevitable loss of innocence that children (particularly in his lifetime) experience. The cats wait to pounce on their prey, just as the weight and turmoil of life dwindles away from every child.
Continuing through the exhibit, one is able to view countless etchings and ink wash drawings that Goya created. Many of the pieces are sketchbook sized, and some became the preliminary versions of later paintings and prints. Los Capricios were frequently referenced, as they are a series of prints done by Goya that highlight and largely satirize/condemn mankind’s successes and downfalls. Goya had attained mastery of his craft at the time he made Los Capricios, and used the prints as a visual journal. His aim was to produce a ‘Universal Language’ with the examples of human condition; rage, violence, lust, dreams, and animalistic desires are included in the series of 60 prints. The work documents his opinions, experiences, and anxieties relevant to his life, mankind, and shifting social context. Goya exemplifies his keen observations regarding humankind and the outside world in a way that transcends time. This universal understanding partially explains why Goya’s work is still heavily analyzed and regarded in the contemporary art world.
It becomes evident that Goya had a fascination with the prospect of death among mankind. This fascination created interest in the paintings that were somewhat lacking in his portrait commissions from the earlier parts of the exhibit. The Los Capricios prints, and a large portion of the artist’s work, is acknowledges it’s entanglement with mortality. Hasta la muerte is a print from Los Capricios that is openly mocking narcissism and vanity. These allusions to death are prominent in most of Goya’s work, and are further explored in the exhibition in the painting Time and the Old Woman. Initially, one is struck by the large scale of the work. The composition features a central figure, an elderly woman, in a very formal, white gown. Her face lacks a mouth, and is- much like the rest of her body, frail and skeletal. She is accompanied by a woman to her left that holds a scroll with the sharp question, “Que Tal?” or, “How goes it/ How do I look?” The darkly dressed woman has cavernous sockets that diminish her eyes almost entirely, and nostrils equally as large and dark as her eye sockets. Her teeth are surrounded by receding gums that enhance the protrusion of her mouth. She immediately appears to the viewer as a skull, despite being a living woman. Behind the two central figures appears a man with large, white wings and a broom that is poised to strike both of the women down.
Goya intended this painting to be a grim reality surrounding time and mortality. The aged central figure is dressed in fine clothes in a futile attempt to grasp youth that has long slipped away. Her body has almost entirely been reduced to a bony frame, and an arrow hidden in her hair is a solemn reminder of time’s relentless forward progression. The arrow points the viewer to the figure to the left of her who holds the question for her to view. The woman in black mockingly questions, “How goes it/How do I look?” to highlight the futility of the other’s pursuit. The man looming in the background is a personification of time and death. He wields instead of a scythe a broom, lending to us a suggestion that both figures will soon crumble away. The broom also could be implying a reference to the biblical notion, “…ashes to ashes, dust to dust…”
Order and Disorder proved itself to be a refreshing, comprehensive look into not only the artist’s work, but into the mind of an artist fascinated with man. He does not shy away from the darkest corners of the human existence and desires, but instead provides his prolific observations and thoughts to create a poignant look at the innumerable facets of mankind.

Works Cited
• Ferrari, Enrique Lafuente. Goya, His Complete Etchings, Aquatints, and Lithographs. New York: Abrams, 1962. Print.
• “Francisco de Goya y Lucientes: Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuniga (1784-1792)” (49.7.41) In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/49.7.41. (October 2006)
• Voorhies, James. “Francisco de Goya (1746–1828) and the Spanish Enlightenment”. In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/goya/hd_goya.htm (October 2003)

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Julia Cangiano
Spring 2015
Stuart Steck
Bibliography

• Apesos, Anthony, and Karl Stevens. Anatomy for Artists: A New Approach to Discovering, Learning and Remembering the Body. Cincinnati, OH: North Light, 2007. Print.

• Dexter, Emma, Johanna Burton, and Martina Bauer. Vitamin D New Perspectives in Drawing. Berlin: Phaidon, 2007. Print.

• O’Reilly, Sally. The Body in Contemporary Art. 1-60. New York: Thames & Hudson, 2009. Print.

• Picasso, Pablo, William Rubin, and Anne Baldassari. Picasso and Portraiture: Representation and Transformation. 1-150. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1996. Print.

• West, Shearer. Portraiture. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2004. Print.

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