WORDPLAY | 5 Artist in 5 Minutes

5 Artists: Word Art. Hey everyone! I want to try something different and start making a weekly video where I share 5 artists whose work share a common theme. This week’s theme is text in art.

  1. Let’s start off with the work of Tracy Emin, which is a an English artist, part of a group called the Britartist or Young British Artists. In 1997 she showed her work Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995. It was a blue tent appliqued with the names of everyone she has slept with. This included sexual partners, but also relatives she slept with as a child, her twin brother and her two aborted children.
Inside on the floor of the tent was the text, "With myself, always myself, never forgetting" Despite the fact that the title invites misinterpretation, and there’s often more conversations about sexuality, the piece is rather more about intimacy. In 2004, the tent was destroyed in a fire at the East London Momart warehouse. Emin has since refused to recreate it.
  1. Barbara Kruger’s work is one that is instantly identifiable. She’s an American conceptual artist, where much of her work consists of black and white photographs overlaid with captions in white-on-red Futura Bold Oblique or Helvetica Ultra Condensed font.
She uses phases with pronouns such as “You” “your” “I” “we” and “they” to address cultural constructs of power, identity and sexuality. If her work looks familiar but you’ve never heard of her, you might be thinking of Shepard Fairey’s OBEY and Supreme logo. Kruger was a huge influence to the street artist, and was attracted to how her work commands your attention.
  1. Mel Bochner in an American conceptual artist. His paintings explore the meaning of a single word, listing synonyms with paint on canvas.
These large, colorful paintings may look more autogenerated, like a thesaurus, but also some are more humorous lists that lead to slang and curses. They’re hand painted, with intentional smears and drips, but hyphens break the word randomly. Sometimes the colors are harder to discern, forcing the view to take a closer look.
  1. Ron Terada is a Canadian-based artist whose work adapts signs: gallery signage, posters, brochures and exhibition soundtracks, in order to question the statements of cultural institutions. Often there’s allusions to past art historical figures and popular culture to reflect on familiar narratives, such as aspiration and failure
His works are very self-aware, he draws on his own position as a Japanese-Canadian artist to measure his his own self-worth, self-esteem and self-identification.
  1. Jenny Holzer is an American conceptual artist.
A contemporary of Barbara Kruger, Holzer  is mostly known for her large-scale public displays that include billboard advertisements, projections on buildings and other architectural structures, as well as illuminated electronic displays. Her first public works Truisms (1977-9) were first shown as anonymous  that she printed in black italic script on white paper, and wheat-pasted to buildings, walls and fences around Manhattan. She then printed them on posters, t-shirts and stickers and carved them into the stone of public benches. Her light projections of text became central to her practice in 1996. For a long time, she wrote the text herself, but since 1993, she’s been mainly working with texts written by others. Some include literary texts by great authors, but also other text from contexts, such as de-classified US Army documents from the war in Iraq. Themes often include human rights violations, violence, oppression, sexuality, feminism, power, war and death. Which she overlays on carefully selected locations.   I hope you enjoyed this video and found some new art work to look at. There’s a lot more artists that I didn’t include, for the sake of making a reasonably lengthy video. So let me know in the comment section below, which art pieces with worlds should I look at? I look forward to your recommendations! In addition, what do you think of this format for a video? I really want to incorporate a wider variety of artists. Of course I want to make full dedicated videos for certain artists like Andy Warhol or Picasso, but since a majority of Art History that we study in school has a Western, male-dominated narrative, it can be a bit limited. History doesn't run in a single line,  so I want a format to branch out and provide exposure to more narratives. While this one was mostly contemporary, and Western, I always want to cover more international artists and different time periods as well. I know this is not always going to be the case, and i will fail sometimes, and it’s also hard to find images or text about these artists, but I really want to learn more and share them with you! If you have any suggestions for the next “theme” Let me know!


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