Interior Places

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Midnight
Woman Artist, deceased, mixed-media painting, large scale work, immigrant, refugee, Jewish, ghetto,Holocaust, memory, World War 11, Stalin, Hitler, escape, persecution, memory recall, fear, architectural, political, historical, imaginary, real, grief, illusion, camouflage,Nazi,concentration camp, atmosphere, horrific, , painting series, cities, Holocaust, memory, character of cities, receptacles, buildings, counter-monuments, midnight, interiors, spaces, acrylic painting, scale, metaphor,
description

Midnight was one of eight works in the Cities Series that Dukes created in 1995 and 1996. This  seriesA number of things or events standing or succeeding in order, and connected by a like relation; sequence; order; course; a succession of things; as, a continuous series of calamitous events. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  was based on the cities of Budapest (Dukes‘ early home in Hungary), Jerusalem, Israel and Munich, Germany. Gary Genosko writes, “In Cities Jerusalem is a city of light, and Munich is a city of darkness and vulgar yellows.” (Genosko, 1999)  These three cities are both historically and politically significant on the world stage, and important in Dukes’ life. In this series, Dukes depicted cities, buildings and early Holocaust experiences recalled through memory and with the help of hypnotic sessions. Writer Meeka Walsh explains, “On paper and  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)  she drew and painted buildings real and imagined, buildings located in the past but present in the form of memory.” (Walsh, 2004)

All cities have a unique character. The  designA plan, or to plan. The organization or composition of a work; the skilled arrangement of its parts. An effective design is one in which the elements of art and principles of design have been combined to achieve an overall sense of unity. Also [applied design], the production of attractive and well crafted functional objects. Subcategories of the design arts include: architecture, bonsai, fashion design, furniture design, graphic design, ikebana, industrial design, interior design, landscape architecture, stagecraft, textile design, and Web page design. (Artlex.com)  of the city and its buildings all reflect the ideas and preferences of the inhabitants and the characteristics and climate of the place. Claudine Majzels quotes Dukes as saying, “I see buildings as oversized receptacles which contain people. The  shapeAn element of art, it is an enclosed space defined and determined by other art elements such as line, colour, value, and texture. In painting and drawing, shapes may take on the appearance of a solid three-dimensional object even though they are limited to two dimensions — length and width. This two-dimensional character of shape distinguishes it from form, which has depth as well as length and width. Examples of shapes include: circle, oval, and oblong; polygons such as triangle, square, rectangle, rhombus, trapezium, trapezoid, pentagon, hexagon, heptagon, octagon, nonagon, decagon, undecagon, dodecagon, etc.; and such other kinds of shapes as amorphous, biomorphous, and concretion. (Artlex.com)  of the receptacles is subjected to many variables. Time, political and cultural movements, nature and environment all  intersectTo cut into one another; to meet and cross each other; as, the point where two lines intersect. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  to become major defining factors.” (Majzels, 1998)

start quoteI love to step into my
painting.end quote
-- Caroline Dukes (Whiteway 1985)

Buildings themselves can also hold their history and this is especially evident in another work in this series, Music School, where Dukes painted Hitler’s headquarters in Munich, which currently houses a music school. In her depiction of the building, Dukes reminds her audience that some sinister and horrific events and practices were at one time dispensed from its interior.  Meeka Walsh comments, “The works in this  seriesA number of things or events standing or succeeding in order, and connected by a like relation; sequence; order; course; a succession of things; as, a continuous series of calamitous events. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  can be read as counter-monuments. Not stone, they are active, unremitting obligations to remember.” (Walsh, 2004)

Midnight, while not identified as a particular building, is a representation of an interior of frightening memory. The grand hall with its receding columns and barrel arches is reminiscent of a historical time of great wealth and power. The columns recede in  spaceSpace can be the area around, within or between images or elements. Space can be created on a two-dimensional surface by using such techniques as overlapping, object size, placement, colour intensity and value, detail and diagonal lines.  on a large canvas, hung at floor level. The columns create the  illusionA deceptive or misleading image or idea. (Artlex.com)  of a side passageway within the gallery wall, a fearful deep  spaceSpace can be the area around, within or between images or elements. Space can be created on a two-dimensional surface by using such techniques as overlapping, object size, placement, colour intensity and value, detail and diagonal lines.  the viewer can enter at his or her own risk.

At the end of the painted corridor, many strings of jute and feathers are attached over a black void. They are the focal point of the painting. The fibres actually exude from 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  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)  and fall to the gallery floor in front of the painting. Claudine Majzels describes of the effect of adding  foundAn image, material, or object, not originally intended as a work of art, that is obtained, selected, and exhibited by an artist, often without being altered in any way. The cubists, dadaists, and surrealists originated the use of found images / materials / objects. Although it can be either a natural or manufactured image / material / object, the term readymade refers only to those which were manufactured. Also known in the French, objet trouvé. (Artlex.com)  objects to the painting: “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.  erupts and projects itself into the viewer’s space.“ (Majzels, 1998) It represents a dreadful childhood memory of a covering or  camouflageThe means, effect, or act of concealing someone or something — making a person or thing indistinguishable from his or its surroundings. Also, deception, and disguise, usually for either aesthetic or defensive reasons. Numerous living things owe their species' evolutionary success to camouflaging aspects of their appearance. Humans have employed camouflaging colours, textures, materials, or patterns in the design of numerous artifacts in order to conceal them. This is in some ways the opposite of emphasis, a kind of simulation of transparency or erasure. Modernist architect Frank Lloyd Wright (American, 1856-1959) often built with materials found on a building's site to increase the degree to which it would blend into its environment — to make it less visually intrusive. Costumes designed to reduce the visibility of hunters and soldiers are among the most overt human applications of camouflage, each style intended for use in specific environs. It was in the late 19th century that military uniforms began to be designed to make soldiers appear drably inconspicuous. Before that time, uniforms were typically bright and bold. Since the late 20th century, camouflage fabric patterns have been chosen increasingly for reasons other than concealment. Sometimes, ironically, camouflage designs have been employed in persuit of fashion — to make their users stand out.  (Artlex.com)  for a Nazi cache and as Gary Genosko says, “…you never really imagine that the hair of Duke’s Midnight (1996) originated from the horrible cache in one of the camps, although frightening images of these exist.” (Genosko, 1999)
 
It is not surprising that Dukes titled the work Midnight, not to reference the mid- point of the night, but to exemplify a time of great darkness in the history of man.

Majzels described Cities, Dukes’ last major  seriesA number of things or events standing or succeeding in order, and connected by a like relation; sequence; order; course; a succession of things; as, a continuous series of calamitous events. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  of work and exhibition, as, "a testament to her stamina, survival, and endurance, evidenced by the  scaleThe proportion between two sets of dimensions.  of these works and their powerful gestures.” Majzels goes on to say, “She [Dukes] bears witness to the tragic annihilation and dislocation of the centuries and asks the mournful question, 'What have we built?'" (Majzels, 1998).

additional resources Things to Think About
  • Have you ever had a traumatic experience? Did you have to speak about it to get over it?
  • Learn more about the Holocaust (see the Related Links sections for some websites to get you started) and the reasons behind the loss of many lives during the Second World War. Can you think of more current events where war and destruction have led people to flee their countries. What are the circumstances of their plight and flight?
  • In an interview with Doug Whiteway, Dukes comments, “I don’t see improvement in the moral character in people,” she says. “Science and technology have made giant steps but, morally, we are back where we were.” (Whiteway, 1985)  Can you agree with her statement? Could people be even more morally inept now than they were decades ago?
  • In 1975 Dukes began to include references to spirituality in her work, when her two older sons became interested in this topic. Meeka Walsh states, “She wrote that light and atmosphere became important in her art.” (Walsh, 2004)  Talk with others about spirituality and how artists use spirituality in their art. Do light and atmosphere suggest things that are spiritual?
Online Activity
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Play the "Be an Architect" game at A Lifetime of Color:
http://www.alifetimeofcolor.com/play/arch2/a2.html

Studio Activity

History and art

Go to http://remember.org/educate/art.html or read history books to learn more about the Holocaust and how collections of art and other valuables were lost, found and destroyed during Hitler’s reign.  To give you a start, here are some more links on the Holocaust, World War II and Hitler:

Use a major event or trauma in your life as the starting point for an artwork

  • Reflect on major events in the news and think about the victims involved in these tragedies and accidents and what they have suffered.
  • Notice how these artists communicate their ideas in subtle ways and how they are not necessarily passing any kind of judgement.  Instead, they are speaking a truth as they see or experience it.
  • Explore nonverbal communication and how it applies to art-making. Use colour, textures, line, pattern, etc. to reinforce your ideas and aid in communicating your message.

Work in a large format

One of the most amazing things about a Dukes  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)  is her use of scale. The viewer can literally walk into the  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)  and feel intimidated by the huge space.  Look at other examples of large format works on the ARTSask website. These could include Jeff Nachtigall, Rachelle Viader Knowles, Martha Cole, Medrie MacPhee, Greg Hardy, Brian James and Ron Noganosh. Working in a large format can be liberating from the customary small  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. The feeling of preciousness of image and materials is removed as there are no easy answers or predetermined outcomes and because it is a totally new way of working. Here are ideas to keep in mind when creating a large-scale work of art:

  • Do a number of these large-scale drawings.

Buildings as inspiration for art making

Many artists look to buildings as inspiration in their art practice. The condition of the exterior of a building and the way it is built, decorated, placed in the environment, all tell us about the inhabitants of the building and what is important about that place.

Clouds

In another work in the MacKenzie Art Gallery  collectionTo collect is to accumulate objects. A collection is an accumulation of objects. A collector is a person who makes a collection. (Artlex.com)  by Dukes, entitled The Spirit of my Mother Flying Over the City, she displays a  landscapeA painting, photograph or other work of art which depicts scenery such as mountains, valleys, trees, rivers and forests. There is invariably some sky in the scene. (Artlex.com) Landscape is also a term that may also refer simply to a horizontally-oriented rectangle, just as a vertically-oriented one may be said to be oriented the portrait way. (Artlex.com)  with the clouds in the sky above (see images below). The clouds take on the  shapeAn element of art, it is an enclosed space defined and determined by other art elements such as line, colour, value, and texture. In painting and drawing, shapes may take on the appearance of a solid three-dimensional object even though they are limited to two dimensions — length and width. This two-dimensional character of shape distinguishes it from form, which has depth as well as length and width. Examples of shapes include: circle, oval, and oblong; polygons such as triangle, square, rectangle, rhombus, trapezium, trapezoid, pentagon, hexagon, heptagon, octagon, nonagon, decagon, undecagon, dodecagon, etc.; and such other kinds of shapes as amorphous, biomorphous, and concretion. (Artlex.com)  of a body, the body of Dukes’ departed mother hovering overhead.  You can see this image here.

Clouds 1 Clouds 2 Clouds 3

  • Observe clouds in different seasons and try to ‘see’ hidden images within their random forms.
References

Author unknown.  A Curious UniverseVirtual Exhibition.  Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec.  Retrieved from the Internet on May 7, 2008 from:  http://curieuxunivers.umontreal.ca/en/experimental/experience/index.php

Genosko, Gary.  ‘Building Blocks of Memory.’  Border Crossing, Vol 18, No 1. 1999.

Majzels, Claudine. Cities. Caroline Dukes. Winnipeg, Manitoba: University of Winnipeg, 1998.

Walsh, Meeka.  ‘Building Light.’  Border Crossing, Vol 23, No. 1, 2004.

Whiteway, Doug.  ‘Message conveyed in Duke’s Art.’  Winnipeg Free Press, March 16, 1985.

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