Pop

Some of the features on this page require that JavaScript be enabled.
view previous artwork view next artwork
Carnival Fragment
work on paper, drawing, enamel, pastel, carnival, schematic, playful, pop art, picture plane, text, bold colour,fragmented, childlike,flat images, shooting gallery, popular culture, recreation, primary colours,layered images , carnival, pop art, fragments, text, texture, line, chaos, farm life, pop art, posters,
description

In Carnival Fragment, we see a scene familiar to anyone who has been to a carnival, even if the scene doesn’t at first make logical sense or isn’t entirely recognizable. Indeed, the artist has deliberately provided us with as little information as possible while still being able to maintain our understanding that this must be a carnival scene. This playful work by Robert Christie incorporates several techniques of pop art: the flattening of the picture plane, bold colours, and fragments of text. This is an example of posterization, the reduction of an image to only a few colours and the flattening of the picture plane.  But Christie pulls back slightly from posterization, allows  textureThe quality of surface in a finished artwork; note that this can apply to painting in describing the way that the paint is applied to the canvas or other support; to sculpture in describing the way that the material used is made smooth or rough; or to video in describing the way that the light-based image is either smooth or visibly broken up into pixels.  to exist in the work, and emphasizes through his childlike  styleA way of doing something. Use of materials, methods of working, design qualities and choice of subject matter reflect the style of the individual, culture, movement, or time period.  that we are entering a childlike realm.

We see his differing thicknesses of paint as texture. Notice the green section to the left, and how it is not a solid green but actually a shifting  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 green tones. This is also true of the yellows, reds, whites and, to a lesser extent, the blues Christie uses. This shifting of  textureThe quality of surface in a finished artwork; note that this can apply to painting in describing the way that the paint is applied to the canvas or other support; to sculpture in describing the way that the material used is made smooth or rough; or to video in describing the way that the light-based image is either smooth or visibly broken up into pixels.  is also true of his  lineA mark with length and direction(-s). An element of art which refers to the continuous mark made on some surface by a moving point. Types of line include: vertical, horizontal, diagonal, straight or ruled, curved, bent, angular, thin, thick or wide, interrupted (dotted, dashed, broken, etc.), blurred or fuzzy, controlled, freehand, parallel, hatching, meandering, and spiraling. Often it defines a space, and may create an outline or contour, define a silhouette; create patterns, or movement, and the illusion of mass or volume. It may be two-dimensional (as with pencil on paper) three-dimensional (as with wire) or implied (the edge of a shape or form). (Artlex.com)  quality; look, for instance, at the lines used to draw the chickens at the bottom of the image, and their varying thicknesses.

This Carnival Fragment is drawn using lines and textures that complement its subject. A carnival is a chaotic, happily-confusing place and time, where the focus is manic fun and consumption. Christie’s image could be read as a whole image, meaning that all of these things are to be, or were, seen together.  If we read this image as a shooting gallery, for example, there is a row of contestants lined up, shooting at red star targets, with their results posted above them and their prizes - stuffed chickens - below. On the other hand, because Christie has divided the  picture planeThe surface of a drawing or painting.  into four rows, it seems more likely that this is a sampling of carnival times: the imperative “WIN WIN” as advertising and command; the people in a row, not yet having fun but still waiting to get in; the bright lights and flashes as red stars; and the inclusion of animals and a feeding- or petting-zoo, letting us know that this carnival is connected to farm life (whether this is because it is a small town carnival or because it is an attempt to bring farm life to a city audience).

additional resources Things to Think About
  • If this is a carnival fragment, what other possible fragments would make good artworks? What other aspects of the carnival experience could Christie have shown? Who experiences these other aspects?
Studio Activity

Carnival scene

Draw or paint your own carnival scene.

  • What are the things you remember from carnivals you have been to, or how do you imagine carnivals you have not been to?
  • What colours, people, lights, animals, or signs will appear in your picture?
  • Will your image be a whole image, or will it be made up of several fragments of carnival experience?

 

Robert Christie’s style

By mimicking Robert Christie’s  styleA way of doing something. Use of materials, methods of working, design qualities and choice of subject matter reflect the style of the individual, culture, movement, or time period.  in Carnival Fragment, using deliberately inconsistent  lineA mark with length and direction(-s). An element of art which refers to the continuous mark made on some surface by a moving point. Types of line include: vertical, horizontal, diagonal, straight or ruled, curved, bent, angular, thin, thick or wide, interrupted (dotted, dashed, broken, etc.), blurred or fuzzy, controlled, freehand, parallel, hatching, meandering, and spiraling. Often it defines a space, and may create an outline or contour, define a silhouette; create patterns, or movement, and the illusion of mass or volume. It may be two-dimensional (as with pencil on paper) three-dimensional (as with wire) or implied (the edge of a shape or form). (Artlex.com)  and texture, and a few bold colours, what other scene could you draw or paint that would work well in this style?

  • Think about the characteristics of Christie’s style, and the way these characteristics make you feel as a viewer of Carnival Fragment.
References

Author unknown.  The Emma Lake Artists' Workshop in Historical Perspective.  Emma Lake Artist Workshop website.  Retrieved from the Internet on February 20, 2009 from:  http://www.emmalake.usask.ca/aw-hist.html

Grenville, Bruce. 1991. Robert Christie/Douglas Bentham. Exhibition catalogue. Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Houghtaling, Kim. 1999. Robert Christie: The Flats Series. Exhibition catalogue. Art Gallery of Swift Current, Swift Current, Saskatchewan.

Parke-Taylor, Michael. 1981. Robert Christie: New Paintings. Exhibition catalogue, Norman MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan.

Robert Christie.  1990.  Jonathan Forrest: New Works. Exhibition catalogue. Art Gallery of Swift Current, Swift Current, Saskatchewan.

 

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