The Sacred Feminine
Last week I spent two days at the best art lectures I have ever been to, with an artist teacher, the lost YBA (Young British Artist). He’s the one who threw his entire graduate show in a skip the night before the opening and went off-radar for twenty-five years.
I’d like to talk here about my experience of the teacher’s passion for art history, which really is catchy – he really knows his stuff, and he is passionate and generous about sharing it.
500 years’ worth of art history in about 3 hours!
The first slide was an amazing 500 year old watercolour painting by Albrecht Dürer, called Great Piece of Turf (1503). The teacher then proceeded to discuss significant eras and artists, and showed us his personal choice of either a significant piece or pieces of their work, until we ended up in complete abstraction. The last slide was Lita Albuquerque’s Stellar Axis (2006), which is an arrangement of large blue spheres set in the snow of the Antarctic, placed to mirror the stars at a precise moment in time. The feminine in nature was central to all the art he explored with us.
The list of artists and their art that we covered!
Aubrecht Dürer – Great Piece of Turf, 1503
Leonardo Da Vinci – Botanical study, 1505-10
Rachel Ruysch – Fruit and Insects, 1711
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres – La Source, 1856
Gustave Courbet – La Source 1868
Édouard Manet – Luncheon on the Grass, 1863
Vincent van Gogh – Orchard with Blossoming Plum Trees, 1888
Paul Cezanne – Table, Napkin and Fruit, 1895-1900
Marcel Duchamp – Nude Descending a Staircase, No.2, 1912
Suzanne Valadon – The Athenaeum – Bouquet of Flowers in front of a Window in Saint-Bernard, 1926
Georgia O’Keeffe – Light Iris, 1924
Imogen Cunningham – Magnolia Blossom, 1925
Ellsworth Kelly – Colors for a Large Wall 1951
Ana Mendieta – Earth Body, 1972-85
Agnes Denes – Wheat Field, 1982
Lita Albuquerque – Stellar Axis, 2006
Connecting to nature
The teacher reignited my interest in the history of art by giving me a new understanding of where the great artists were coming from – how profoundly connected to nature they must have been, “being sensitive to the vibration of things”. These deeply channelled feelings are transmitted over centuries through their art.
The very act of making art is actually a reflection of the artist’s freedom, “It’s the artist’s freedom that actually collectors are trying to buy.”
I came away with an acknowledgement that the artist needs to embed themselves completely in nature and to observe it so intensely, as to respond to the scene and to convey the feeling from it. The teacher explained it as phenomenology – the philosophy of experiencing the world directly, as if for the first time – an objective study, free from past beliefs, pre-existing ideas or even names.
While I went into the landscape to sketch each day, I kept these feelings alive in me. The paintings below are what I yielded from the whole experience, some of them can be found on my web shop for sale under acrylic paintings.
“Artists are mediumistic beings” Marcel Duchamp