A Critique of Luke Choice’s Portfolio

I chose to take an in depth look at the portfolio of visual artist, Luke Choice. His creative studio goes by the name of Velvet Spectrum, specializing in 3D illustration, typography, and animation. At first glance, you can tell that his featured work has a definite theme and style. Each piece has a strong sense of vibrant color, and almost cartoonish look. As if the pictures were not impressive enough, clicking on each image leads to a second page with a description, creative process, and video animation.

The website itself is simple and easy to navigate. His navigation menu features a work, about, contact, and shop page with his social media listed on the bottom. I think that because his work is so intricate and detailed, it makes sense that the rest of his website should take a backseat to that and remain understated to allow the viewer to focus on his pieces without being distracted by other elements.

Having taken a 3D animation course during my time here at LMU, it is a very clear to me how much time and effort went into each of Luke’s projects. I particularly enjoy his use of typography in a 3D setting. This particular typography feels so much stronger than your typical 2D typography. After viewing his work, I’ve taken a huge interest in this specific style and I would love to experiment and see if I could replicate something similar.

A Comparison of Georges Braque’s, “Still Life with Violin” (1913) and Max Beckmann’s, “Bar, Brown” (1944)

Twentieth-century art emerged out of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, which ruled French art at the end of the nineteenth-century. Experimental artistic movements, such as Cubism, Expressionism, and Surrealism, came to light during this time period. Two highly prominent and influential painters of this era were Georges Braque, head of the Cubism movement, and Max Beckmann, often regarded as an Expressionist artist, although he rejected the term as well as the movement (Falconer). Both artists currently have works on display at the Los Angeles Museum of Modern Art (LACMA), respectively titled, Still Life with Violin (1913) and Bar, Brown (1944), however, the way in which they depict their subject matter differs greatly. In his work, Still Life with Violin, Braque abandons all forms of traditional painting, focusing on key aspects of Cubism, which in turn emphasize the physical and spatial qualities of the objects portrayed. Beckmann adopts a different approach in his piece, Bar, Brown, and chooses instead to apply aspects primarily found in Expressionism, thus presenting the objects in a manner that emphasize both the physical and spatial qualities of the objects depicted, as well as the qualities of paint on canvas.

Cubism was one of the most dominant art styles of the early twentieth-century. Pioneered by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, Cubist painters rejected the long-time idea that art should copy nature, and furthermore, that they should use the traditional techniques of perspective. Instead, they strove to highlight the two dimensionality of the canvas, achieving such by reducing and breaking apart objects into geometric forms (Rewald).

Georges Braque’s, Still Life with Violin, perfectly showcases that of the Cubist movement. The composition of the painting features a fragmented violin that has been transformed into various geometric pieces, surrounded by similar geometric shapes that lack a clear back, middle, and foreground, thus creating the perception of a flattened space. Braque’s use of an oval format further pushes the idea of a two-dimensional space. This is representative of Cubism in that the sole purpose of this movement was to question the way in which we view things, even if it is not accurate. By completely altering the natural form of the violin, Braque was able to emphasize its physical and spatial qualities in ways that we don’t normally encounter, making the form more important than the subject matter.

Max Beckmann was active in the art realm 20 to 30 years after Braque; therefore, the painting style of that time had changed drastically (Falconer). The next popular artistic movement was referred to as Expressionism, in which the artist attempts to depict the subjective emotions and reactions that objects provoke within a person, rather than the usual objective reality seen virtually everywhere else. This image of reality is distorted in order to express the artist’s inner feelings or thoughts. Stylistically, Expressionist paintings usually contain intense color, messy brushstrokes, strong outlines, a sense of distortion, and a jumbled sense of space (Walter).

While Beckmann continuously denied the movement, his paintings seemed to represent many facets of Expressionism. Bar, Brown, one of Beckmann’s most notable pieces, contains multiple references to Expressionism. The composition of this particular painting is comprised of a man and a woman who appear to be in some sort of romantic relationship. Both of their bodies seem to be elongated with skinny faces, made up of agitated brushstrokes and harsh outlines, emphasizing the physical qualities of the subject matter. An unclear sense of space within the painting emphasizes the spatial qualities of these subjects.

Georges Braque chose to use oil paint on canvas as his medium for Still Life with Violin. Although, at first glance, the painting appears as though it was crafted with only colored pencils. This illusion can be attributed to the sketch-like qualities found within the entirety of the painting, as well as the grey outlining of the shapes that make it appear as though regular writing pencils were used to define the edges. This uncommon technique used by Braque invites the viewer to more closely inspect the different qualities of the object.

Similar to Braque, Beckmann focused much of his time using oil paints, such as in Bar, Brown, for example. He layers the paint on to create chunky brushstrokes and texture, which highlight the physical traits of the paint on canvas. This is a hugely different technique than the one that Braque used, in which he attempted to conceal the fact that he used oil paint, while Beckmann is doing everything he can to showcase that he did.

When examining Braque’s, Still Life with Violin, it is clear to see that a very distinct color scheme exists. The painting is covered in assorted shades of muted colors such as brown, grey, blue, and green. Braque’s use of a restricted color palette throughout the painting is a key aspect of Cubism. As for Beckmann, he utilizes deep, intense tones that are fairly unrealistic, whereas Braque uses soft, neutral colors. This technique draws more attention to the physical elements of the subjects depicted.

Both Braque and Beckmann showcase a unique style in which to provide information about the world and objects they depict through painting. While similar in some aspects, the two artists each approach the challenge of portraying subject matter in diverse ways that emphasize certain components of their respective pieces.

 

Falconer, Amy. “Max Beckmann Biography, Art, and Analysis of Works.” The Art Story. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2016.

Rewald, Sabine. “Cubism.” The Met’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2016.

Walter, Josh. “Expressionism Movement, Artists and Major Works.” The Art Story. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2016.

A Manhattan Beach Memoir: 1945 – 2015

For this museum trip, I decided to attend “A Manhattan Beach Memoir: 1945 -2015” hosted by Gary Sweeney in his childhood home located in Manhattan Beach. His home has plans to be torn down in March and instead replaced with condos. Because of this, Sweeney has converted his beach house into a temporary art installation by covering the outside panels with blown up photos of his family taken by his late father. Wanting to do some further research before attending the event, I was able to uncover that Gary Sweeney’s father, Mike Sweeney, was in the Navy in 1945 and stationed in Guam during World War II. Before he returned home, his wife Anita decided to buy a beach cottage on 35th Street in Manhattan Beach for $5,400.

It was in this home that the Sweeney’s raised their son and daughter until both parents passed away in the 1990s. During his time in Manhattan Beach, Mike Sweeney became an integral part of the city he loved. He became president of the PTA, was voted Citizen of the Year twice by the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce, and served on the Coordinating Council as a City Council member for 20 years. His son, Gary, said one goal of the exhibit is to “remind people what Manhattan Beach used to look like.” He hopes that this exhibit does not just highlight his family, but triggers memories in other people’s families as well.

On Wednesday afternoon, I made the trek to Manhattan Beach on my own. It wasn’t hard to find the house, as I was very familiar with the area. In fact, it was located only a few blocks down from where I worked as a nanny all last summer. I arrived there around 4:30 pm, the perfect time to tour the house while the sun began to set over the water. There was a guided tour available, but I chose to view the house on my own so I could examine the photos at my own speed. I would estimate that there were about nine other people viewing the house at the time of my visit. In the front was a picture of the house taken in 1945, for reference.

The first thing I noticed when walking up to the home was the sheer size of the photos. They were enormous, which made sense considering the fact that he had to cover the whole exterior with them. Some photos were in black and white while others were in color. The pictures ranged from self-portraits to funny candids and everything in between. It felt almost as if I were walking into a life-size scrapbook of their lives. I started on the ground floor and worked my way up. My favorite photos were the ones that were faded and looked vintage, which comes as no surprise as I love going through my mom’s old photos of her grandparents who lived in South Korea. It seemed like every photo I looked at sparked a memory I had with my family. For example, there was a photo of Gary playing baseball and it reminded me of the times I had playing tennis with my dad when I was a child.
This art exhibit was extremely meaningful to me for a couple reasons. For one, family has and will always be the most important aspect of my life. Friends come and go, but family is forever. I count my blessings every day for having been given the most amazing, loving, supportive parents. I feel eternally lucky to be surrounded by my family members, and it is something I will never take for granted. My parents informed me just last week that they are planning on selling our home this year so they can move into a smaller apartment. I have lived in the same house for the last 15 years of my life. I never thought they would sell it, so this came as a complete surprise to me. With this new information, I felt deeply connected to the photos I saw at the house. It made me reflect on my time in my childhood home and the wonderful memories I made. While it makes me incredibly sad to know that I will no longer be living in the house I grew up in, but I know that the memories I have there will last forever.

Bergamot Station

Bergamot Station, an old train station since converted into a museum, is home to numerous art galleries. Located in Santa Monica, this gallery is a popular spot among Los Angeles locals. Our class recently decided to pay a visit to Bergamot Station, observing a handful of the many galleries available to view. Two photographs that really stood out to me during the visit were housed in the Peter Fetterman gallery. The pictures, both taken by photographer Steve Mccurry, were titled, Blue City (2010) and Dust Storm (1983). Being that the photos were both captured by the same artist, there are obvious similarities. However, upon closer inspection, the differences between the two become clear.

Blue City, by Steve Mccurry, is a particularly striking photo for a few reasons. The bright blue and orange, almost neon tones of the buildings make the photograph impossible to ignore by those who pass it. Not only that, but blue and orange are opposite each other on the color wheel, making them complementary colors. This consequently creates further visual interest. Compositionally, the buildings fill up close to the whole entirety of the frame, with the sky and foreground taking up a very minimal amount of space. The content is interesting in that the photographer is capturing a unique scene in another country, one that we would never see here in America.

Also taken by photographer Steve Mccurry, Dust Storm demands to be looked at. The beautiful image features a group of Indian women who appear to be dancing in a circle, surrounded by large plumes of dust. The colors in this photo are deep and intense, darker than those found in Blue City. The composition is stunning, with the women being the central subject, the barren trees in the background, and the two antique looking pots in the foreground. The way in which Mccurry took this photo, standing a few feet away from the group of women, it seems as though they have no idea that there is another person and that we are perhaps intruding on a very special moment.

I think these photographs are phenomenal because they are both able to tell their own unique story, although they are taken within the same theme of Mccurry’s, India series. I feel as though Mccurry is able to capture images from a unique perspective, one that most are not able to. The images work well in the gallery space, but I think that they could work even better in a space that leaves more room for the images to stand alone, rather than feeling so clumped together.

Museum of Jurassic Technology

My recent trip to the Museum of Jurassic Technology was unlike any other museum experience I have ever had. I didn’t quite know what to expect going into this, but I was very pleasantly surprised. Initially, the museum feels a bit like a hole in the wall. It doesn’t give anything away from its exterior and one would never be able guess what the contents inside were based on the outside entryway.

I feel as though the museum was incredibly eccentric but in the best way possible. Each exhibit/piece felt completely immersive and took me to a different place. It seems like there was a great deal of thought put into curating a unique experience throughout the entirety of the museum. Some of my favorite pieces belonged to the “Trailer Park Archaeology” diorama series. They were minimal and straightforward, but I loved the feeling that the pieces evoked. The spotlight above each diorama gave it the sense of being a still pulled straight from a movie. Observing these pieces, I imagined myself living in one of these little deserted trailers.

Being an art major, I’ve had my fair share of museum visits. I can confidently say that this was one of the most interesting visits I have had. I never would have gone to this museum had it not been assigned by this class and moving forward, I am going to make an effort to see what other museums are in the area that I wouldn’t normally visit seeing as I enjoyed this one so much.