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Black Iris' Painting

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‘Black Iris’, oil on canvas, 36 x 29 7/8 inches, 1926, The picture ‘Black Iris’ which can be called Black Iris III, is an oil painting in 1962 by artist Georgia O’Keeffe (American, Sun Prairie, Wisconsin 1887–1986 Santa Fe, New Mexico). The size dimensions of this picture is 36 x 29 7/8 in. (91.4 x 75.9 cm). The medium used to create the artwork is oil on canvas. This beautiful flower painting is one of a masterpieces of O’Keeffe. She enlarges the petals to go far beyond lifesize proportions, and to forces the viewer to observe the small details that might otherwise be overlooked. O’Keeffe uses a variety of colors in order to create ‘Black Iris’, although she almost focuses in the darker shades. She uses black, purple, and maroon to detail the center and lower petals of the iris, while using pink, gray, and white when detailing the upper petals of the flower.

O’Keeffe also uses the white and other bright colors to bring light into a picture, despite the lack of a light source. O’Keeffe was trying to focus on light and its importance in presenting the organic beauty of her subjects. Her art demonstrates her belief in the inner vitalism of nature and her association of this force with light. The iris is a familiar image in Western art, frequently used in Christian iconography; its swordlike leaves were especially employed as a symbol for Mary’s suffering, a pictorial metaphor which might also have been familiar to O’Keeffe from her Catholic upbringing and her parochial schooling. O’Keeffe’ famous irises were an important preoccupation for many years; she favored the black iris, which she could only find at certain New York florists for about two weeks each spring. The enlargements and abstractions derived from the flower have often been explained in gynecological terms, almost clinical in their precision. O’Keeffe rejected the notion of her flowers as sexual metaphors – this is something she feels is created by the viewer who applies his own associations to the works, not hers. O’Keefe maintains: “Nobody sees a flower, really, it is so small. We haven’t time – and to see takes time like to have a friend takes time. If I could paint the flower exactly as I see it no one would see what I see because I would paint it small like the flower is small.

So I said to myself – I’ll paint what I see – what the flower is to me but I’ll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking time to look at it – I will make even busy New Yorkers take time to see what I see of flowers. I made you take time to look at what I saw and when you took time to really notice my flower you hung all your own associations with flowers on my flower and you write about my flower as if I think and see what you think and see of the flower – and I don’t.”


Bill Henson The picture with title ‘Untitled 1976-’ is taken in 1976 indeed by Bill Henson – one of Australia’s foremost contemporary artists. The size dimensions of this photo is 45.0 x 35.0 cm image; 72.5 x 63.0 x 4.0 cm frame. And the materials used to create the artwork is type C photograph. With ‘Untitled 1976-‘, Henson wants to explore the work of the composer Gustav Mahler and the song cycle ‘Kindertotenlieder’ (songs on the death of children).

The five songs in ‘Kindertotenlieder’ are based on the poetry of Frederick Ruckert and although each deals with the grief associated with losing a child, they speak of light and hope as well. Henson’s landscape image was taken in Maiernigg on the Wother See in Austria, where Mahler lived and composed many works. The portrait of a girl in ‘Untitled 1976-‘ emphasises the sorrow and desolation through dark color and sad expression which the texture is focused on the darkness to describe the deep, hard feeling inside the photo. The light tone of ‘Untitled 1976’ is increased on a half face of the girl to detail every single piece of feature that will make the viewer can concentrate on the sadness which the picture gives. Henson uses the picture to enhance both the meaning and effect which the loss is a great pain inside everyone’s heart, especially the death of children.


Ricky Swallow “Killing time” is the name of the sulpture artwork was made by Ricky Swallow in 2003-2004. The size dimensions of “Killing time” is 108.0 x 184.0 x 118.0 cm (irreg.). The materials used to create the artwork is laminated Jelutong and maple. While ‘Killing time’ visually recalls 17th-century Dutch still-life painting and even the work of such a virtuoso illusionist woodcarver as Grinling Gibbons, the subject matter is derived from Swallow’s personal experience. The son of a fisherman, he has faithfully depicted every sea creature that he recalls capturing, killing and eating during his life. The various fish, lobsters, oysters, crabs and others are displayed on a table which duplicates the table around which Swallow’s family ate dinner. ‘Killing time’ is carved mainly from laminated jelutong, a pale coloured hardwood used commercially for prototypes and pattern-making but also by woodworking hobbyists for whittling.

The illusionism of the sculpture is emphasised by the attention to detail in the lobster, the lemon peel that hangs over the edge of the table and the rippling folds of the tablecloth pushed to one end. However the monochromatic timber and the dramatic side-lighting, devised by Swallow to create strong shadows and highlights, point to the inherent unreality of transcribing animate form into inanimate materials. There is a loop of commemoration and death that permeates this work, both in the references to the still-life genre and in the fact that the sculptor killed these creatures in the first place, long before carving this de facto memorial. While ‘Killing time’ uses the visual language of a particular genre of painting and wood-carving, it is also an intensely personal act of remembering; it is another ‘evaporated self-portrait’ as Swallow has described his sculptures, which call on specific personal memories while also having a commonly recognisable subject matter.

In the 17th century, vanitas still-life paintings portrayed the abundance of natural life and worldly goods to celebrate this abundance while pointing to the fact that it was only transient, just as life itself is. The title ‘Killing time’ refers to this sense of life stilled in art, to the act of remembering and recording something from the artist’s past, and to the time spent on carving this labour-intensive sculpture.

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Black Iris’ Painting. (2018, September 04). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 23, 2022, from
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