Body in Crisis

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Untitled
humorous, frogs, frog-shaped, ink blots, black on white, shapes, mark-making, value of life, forms of life, interfering with the life of another animal form, surface, 1960s, painting, bodily action of painting as subject matter, no focal point, no subject as painting, act of painting, movement, justification for use of animals, animals and art, animals used for art, forms of art, forms of life we value, degree of interference, values, when art and values conflict,action painting
description

In this humourous work by Gordon Rayner, we are shown frog-shaped  inkLiquid or paste media containing pigment(s) and used for writing, pen and brush drawing, and printing. Writing inks, even blacks, are rarely sufficiently permanent to be used for art purposes. Black drawing ink, known as India ink in the United States, is especially made for use in permanent works. When it dries it is water resistant, enabling it to be gone over with a wash or watercolour. Also available is a water-soluble drawing ink; though otherwise permanent, it is capable of being washed away with water, and may be preferred to water-resistant ink for certain work. Chinese ink is similar to India ink, although various minor ingredients are added to enhance its brilliancy, range of tone, and working qualities. Most colored drawing inks are not permanent; those made with permanent pigments are usually labeled with names of pigment ingredients rather than the names of hues. Printing ink is actually more closely related to paints than to the pen and brush inks. (Artlex.com)  blots on a white sheet. These shapes were produced by coating frogs with ink and allowing their bodies to make the marks we see on the  surface(an element of art) The outer or topmost boundary or layer of an object. Colours on any surface are determined by how incident rays of light strike it, and how a surface reflects, scatters, and absorbs those rays. The material qualities of a surface, as well as its form and texture further determine how it is seen and felt. (artlex.com) See also texture.  of the work.

This work was produced in the 1960s, when  abstractImagery which departs from representational accuracy, to a variable range of possible degrees. Abstract artists select and then exaggerate or simplify the forms suggested by the world around them.  (Artlex.com)   expressionism(with an upper-case E — the more specific sense) An art movement dominant in Germany from 1905-1925, especially Die Brücke and Der Blaue Reiter, which are usually referred to as German Expressionism, anticipated by Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (Spanish, 1746-1828), Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890), Paul Gauguin (French, 1848-1903) and others. See an article devoted exclusivly to Expressionism, which includes examples of Expressionist works, quotations, etc.  (Artlex.com)  and action  paintingWorks of art made with paint on a surface. Often the surface, also called a support, is either a tightly stretched piece of canvas or a panel. How the ground (on which paint is applied) is prepared on the support depends greatly on the type of paint to be used. Paintings are usually intended to be placed in frames, and exhibited on walls, but there have been plenty of exceptions. Also, the act of painting, which may involve a wide range of techniques and materials, along with the artist's other concerns which effect the content of a work. (Artlex.com)  were at their peak. These new forms of painting suggested that the artist's bodily action during the time of painting was itself the  subjectA topic or idea represented in an art work.  matter. Artists like Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, and Jean Paul Riopelle wanted their paintings to not have a focal point, and to rid themselves of any subject beyond the act of painting.

Rayner's frog pieces, such as this one, respond to this action  paintingWorks of art made with paint on a surface. Often the surface, also called a support, is either a tightly stretched piece of canvas or a panel. How the ground (on which paint is applied) is prepared on the support depends greatly on the type of paint to be used. Paintings are usually intended to be placed in frames, and exhibited on walls, but there have been plenty of exceptions. Also, the act of painting, which may involve a wide range of techniques and materials, along with the artist's other concerns which effect the content of a work. (Artlex.com)  art movement and satirize it while also being a part of it. This piece suggests: if a work of art no longer needs a subject beyond its own making, then that making can be achieved through any means, just as the subject of a traditional painting can be anything. Therefore, these paintings are about the movement of an ink-covered frog across a surface.

However, because of the bizarre  techniqueAny method of working with art materials to produce an art object. Often implied is the sense that techniques are carefully studied, exacting, or traditional, but this is not necessarily the case. Examples include basketry, blotting, carving, constructing, découpage, embossing, encaustic, exquisite corpse, firing, folding, hatching, kerning, laminating, marbling, modeling, necking. (artlex.com)   used by Rayner, these works are also about how we justify the use of animals for a given end, in this case, the making of art. When these works were released in the 1960s, they were very controversial not only for what they suggested about painting but for the fact that they used animals in their creation.

Untitled therefore seems like a joke, but raises questions about the forms of life and the forms of art that we value, and the ways in which these may conflict with each other.

additional resources Things to Think About
Studio Activity

Animal prints

Imagine that you have a number of animals covered in  inkLiquid or paste media containing pigment(s) and used for writing, pen and brush drawing, and printing. Writing inks, even blacks, are rarely sufficiently permanent to be used for art purposes. Black drawing ink, known as India ink in the United States, is especially made for use in permanent works. When it dries it is water resistant, enabling it to be gone over with a wash or watercolour. Also available is a water-soluble drawing ink; though otherwise permanent, it is capable of being washed away with water, and may be preferred to water-resistant ink for certain work. Chinese ink is similar to India ink, although various minor ingredients are added to enhance its brilliancy, range of tone, and working qualities. Most colored drawing inks are not permanent; those made with permanent pigments are usually labeled with names of pigment ingredients rather than the names of hues. Printing ink is actually more closely related to paints than to the pen and brush inks. (Artlex.com)  running about your studio.

  • Think about the marks they would make on a surface.
  • Would they make these marks with their feet, bellies, heads?

Body painting

You could also create a work in which you use your own body to apply the paint to the  canvasCommonly used as a support for oil or acrylic painting, canvas is a heavy woven fabric made of flax or cotton. Its surface is typically prepared for painting by priming with a ground. Linen — made of flax — is the standard canvas, very strong, sold by the roll and by smaller pieces. A less expensive alternative to linen is heavy cotton duck, though it is less acceptable (some find it unacceptable), cotton being less durable, because it's more prone to absorb dampness, and it's less receptive to grounds and size. For use in painting, a piece of canvas is stretched tightly by stapling or tacking it to a stretcher frame. A painting done on canvas and then cemented to a wall or panel is called marouflage. Canvas board is an inexpensive, commercially prepared cotton canvas which has been primed and glued to cardboard, suitable for students and amateurs who enjoy its portability. Also, a stretched canvas ready for painting, or a painting made on such fabric. Canvas is abbreviated c., and "oil on canvas" is abbreviated o/c.  (Artlex.com)  or paper.

  • What kinds of marks can you get by using your elbow as a paintbrush, for example, or by using your feet?
  • There was once a Chinese monk who painted by using his hair as the paintbrush while it was still on his head. What sort of paintings can you produce this way?
  • NOTE:  If you wish to try this you WILL want to make sure that you use washable paint when working this way, and you will need to work outside or, with permission, in an indoor location where making a mess doesn't really matter.
References

Author unknown.  Gordon Rayner.  Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art.  Retrieved from the Internet on February 6, 2009 from:  http://www.ccca.ca/artists/artist_info.html?link_id=243

Author unknown.  Gordon Rayner.  Moore Gallery Ltd.  Retrieved from the Internet on February 6, 2009 from:  http://www.mooregallery.com/artists/Gordon_Rayner/index.php

Author unknown.  ‘Gordon Rayner Retrospective.’ News release. Norman Mackenzie Art Gallery, 1979-1980.

Author unknown.  ‘Gordon Rayner exhibition.’ News release. New Brunswick Museum, Saint John, New Brunswick.

Mays, John Bentley. ‘Curious glimpses of wilderness and woodcraft.’ Globe and Mail, March 2, 1990.

Murray, Joan. 1987. ‘Gordon Rayner’ in The Best Contemporary Canadian Art, Hurtig Publishers, Edmonton, Alberta.

Murray, Joan.  'Gordon Rayner.'  The Canadian Encyclopedia.   Retrieved from the Internet on February 6, 2009 from:  http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0006697

Murray, Joan. ‘Gordon Rayner Retrospective.’ artmagazine, February-March 1979.

Rayner, Gordon. Artist Statement, 1978. Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art. Retrieved from the Internet March 14, 2009 from: http://ccca.finearts.yorku.ca/statements/rayner_statement.html

 

Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning