Sunday, September 30, 2012

Frans Wildenhain

Whether intended or not by the designers of Frans Wildenhain's exhibit at RIT, absence plays a significant role. One thing that is noticeably absent from the exhibit are descriptions of the art. Background information on art pieces is typically provides viewers with some insight as to what a piece might represent. It is important when an artist has a specific message, or response they want to evoke. There are a few possible reasons why little to no information was provided at the exhibit on each individual piece.

Frans Wildenhain may not have had specific intents for each piece  because of the sheer quantity he produced. It could have been too difficult to provide a detailed description of the hundred and fifty or so pieces in the gallery, therefore it was left out.

Another possible reason is the exhibition coordinator may have wanted to leave information absent so people would be more inclined to purchase the catalog that does provide more information. The exhibition obviously needs capital to operate.

Regardless of the reason, the effect of leaving information out is significant. It leaves interpretation of Wildenhain's art almost entirely up to the viewer, which for some, may make the exhibit more interesting.

Growing up in an age strongly influenced by computing, I have a personal preference for digital and interactive art. I still respect art that is hand crafted, but it looses my attention much quicker. This is an inherent bias that I have to be aware of when evaluating almost any type of art, especially the ceramics of Frans Wildenhain because his art is pretty simple and straight forward visually (although creating the ceramics is complex). He generally used only a few colors and maybe a basic pattern on most of the pieces displayed in the exhibit. This is not a bad thing, my eyes are just used to more busy art. Wildenhain's art would have a stronger appeal to an audience who grew up with primarily hand crafted art.

On the on a different side of the spectrum, the history nerd part of me tends to enjoy art that is or represents relics of an ancient civilization. The piece to the right appealed to me most because of this. I personally see history in this piece, maybe an old piece of furniture left from the ancient Egyptians. This was created in the mid 20th century, nowhere near the time of the ancient Egyptians. I need to be conscious of things like this when interpreting such art.

The simplicity of Wildenhain's art is matched by simplicity in the way the exhibit is organized. The space and separation of the art makes it easy for one to focus and interpret a single piece without any distraction. Some of the larger and more complex pieces were given their own display case with lighting. This left me to believe that these pieces may be more valuable in some sense. The lighting in the exhibit overall provided a welcoming, sort of homey feeling while not being too harsh and glaring off the art. As mentioned previously, the lack of information provided on each piece made it difficult for me to interpret. I was personally unsatisfied with this (lack of) feature in the gallery, but to someone more familiar with this type of art, it would not be as big of a problem.

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