2. Choose one work of art that from your textbook (please don’t choose a work from chapter 2 – any other chapter is fine). The work needs to be a representational piece – not abstract and not architecture.
3. Describe in details its:
a. Form (The way a work looks. It includes all visual aspects of the work such as size, shape, materials, color, style and composition.)
b. Content (What the work of art is about. It includes subject matter, message and iconography.)
c. Context (Includes knowledge of artist, time & culture.)
4. Explain how the form of the work supports its content (this is the hardest part to answer – but this is what you should ask yourself every time you see a work of art.)
Gnaw by Janine Antoni 1992
a. Form: The installation has three parts – 600 pound cube of chocolate, 600 pound cube of lard and showcase that contains lipsticks and empty heart-shaped chocolate boxes. The artist created them by gnawing the chocolate and lard cubes during a performance. The cubes stand on marble bases… etc.
b. Content: The chocolate boxes have association to love, the lipsticks are related to vanity and body image and both chocolate and the lard can refer to body image and eating disorders. For most people, the thought of the artist eating from them and then spitting it out is repulsive. Since they are so large it also brings up the issue of consumerism.
c. Context – The work was created by a female contemporary artist in 1992. It contains criticism about romantic ideals of “perfect” love and “perfect” human body in Western art and culture. It is still relevant for us in the 21st century. Here is a quote from the artist – “Lard is a stand-in for the female body, a feminine material, since females typically have a higher fat content than males, making the work somewhat cannibalistic”.
How the Form of the Work Supports its Content
The artist chooses to use chocolate and lard – nontraditional materials which are perishable and edible; she puts them on top of marble, which is a traditional material in Western art. In that way she contrasts the beauty of the “classical” marble bodies (such as the ones created by Rodin in The Kiss) with the abstract cubic shapes that are scarred by her teeth. She also contrasts the light lard and dark chocolate and the beautiful finished product – the lipsticks – with the more “raw” teeth bites she leaves on the cubes and “cannibalistic” process of eating them. Her work remind us that behind the glossy images we see in magazines and on social media there are human obsessions which are not always pretty.