Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled, 1984

You get different results from different material.   This painting was made with acrylic paint, oil sticks and silk screening.

This is a woodcut:

Hokusai, The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, 1823-29

These are pastels:

Odilon Redon, Portrait
Edgar Degas, Before the Rehearsal, 1880

These are collages:

Robert Rauschenberg, Bed, 1955
Hannah Hoch, Cut with Kitchen Knife, 1919
Jasper Johns, Target with Four Faces, 1955

These were made with acrylic paint:

Helen Frankenthaler, Mountains and Sea, 1952
David Hockney, A Bigger Splash, 1967

This is a mix of acrylic and oil paint:

Jackson Pollock, The Deep, 1953

These are all oil paintings:

Antoine Vollon, Mound of Butter, 1875-85
Vincent Van Gogh, The Night Cafe, 1888
Georges Seurat, Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande-Jatte, 1884-86
Gustav Klimt, The Kiss, 1907-08
Dubuffet, The Cow with the Subtle Nose
Richard Diebenkorn, Ocean Park No. 67, 1973
MGP Andersen, Steve, 2008
MGP Andersen, Fourteen, 2010

You can pretty much do whatever you want with oil paint.  It keeps it interesting.

This is all straightforward (though the art is not).  Artists use different materials in different ways to express different ideas and emotions.

What does this say about the following works?


John Heartfield, He Swallows Gold and Utters Base Metal, 1932

What do we expect from a photograph?  Given what we know about the Nazi propaganda machine, would this have been as effective as a painting or sculpture?

Hans Bellmer, Doll, 1932-45

What makes this sculpture so disturbing?  What if he had used stone instead?  Would it have changed the meaning?  What if he had simply painted the image?

Jean Fautrier, Head of a Hostage, 1943

Fautrier could hear the Nazi’s executing prisoners from his studio.  Fautrier used sand and plaster to build up the surface of this painting, why?  Would it have been as disturbing?  What was he after?

Isamu Noguchi, Humpty Dumpty, 1946

Noguchi used ribbon slate, which is used in construction to face buildings.  What is he saying?

Gilbert and George, The Singing Sculpture, 1970

If these were sculptures, not real people, would the meaning change?

Jean Tinguely, Fragment from Homage to New York, 1960

This work is made out of junk gathered in New York City.  It gave a performance before it self-destructed.  What is he saying?  If he had made the objects, rather than found them, would the meaning be the same?   What about the fact that it blew up?

Edward Kienholz, Roxy's, 1961

This is a reconstruction of a bordello.   Does the fact that everyday objects are used contribute to the meaning?

Nam June Paik, Video Flag, 1963-81

Would this have worked as well if it were a photograph?  Painting?

What something is made out of contributes to its meaning.  The media is an important part of the message.