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The paintings I have chosen for my essay are Tree of Hope by Frida Kahlo and Campbell’s Soup Can by Andy Warhol. These are the paintings that really drew my interest as both artists seemed to be speaking to me with their works. These paintings have helped me understand the power of art in speaking to your community and the media.
In the painting Tree of Hope by Frida Kahlo the first thing I noticed was the stark contrast between the left and right side of the painting. There are two Fridas in the painting and the one on the left is lying on a hospital bed. This was used by her to represent the trauma she had to go through after she met with a traffic accident. Two deep bloody scars can be seen on her back and they grabbed my attention. I noticed the scars right away because they seemed to be inflicting a lot of physical and mental pain on her. Prior to her accident she was a bright student aspiring to go to medical school. This accident changed the entire course of her life. A vertical line splits the two dimensional painting into two spaces. On the right side of the painting we see a Frida who looks incredibly beautiful, confident and clad in traditional clothing. She holds up a sign that says ‘Tree of Hope, Remain Strong’ and this tells us that she intends to hold her head up in spite of all the agony she has been through. She can also be seen holding a corset which reminds us that the accident has affected her body and she requires a corset for the rest of her life. The left side of the painting is bright as the sun shines on the hospitalized Frida. She seems to be feeding the sun with her sacrificial blood as per an Aztec ritual. The right side is dark and the moon shines on her. The moon is a metaphor for her womanhood and strength. This painting stimulated my imagination because although at first it seemed to be a negative or sad piece of work, on closer examination I found out that this work represents Frida’s courage in the face of tragedy. It seems to be a message to the audience telling them to remain strong and see the positive aspects in every situation. I believe that Frida painted with a lot of emotion and this painting shows us how mixed human emotions can be. I believe this painting was done to express her feelings and to urge the audience to seek a silver lining even at darkest moment. Some might find the bright side of the painting disturbing but the dark side is beacon of hope everyone suffering mental or physical pain.
The painting Campbell’s Soup Can by Andy Warhol seemed appealing to me as it seemed to give me an almost soothing and homely feeling. This might be because canned soup is a comfort food and something we consume quite frequently. Familiarity is something that helped me relate to this painting. The first thing in this painting that caught my attention was how much effort the artist has put into detailing and making the can look realistic. The color red being used lavishly also hinted that the can contains tomato soup. Warhol painted thirty two different flavors of soup which represented the thirty two products sold by Campbell at the time. This tells us that Warhol worked like a machine to produce all these paintings, similar to the machines at factories that actually package the soup. He used vertical and curved lines to depict the can. White spaces are seen liberally which mimicked corporate art of the 1960s. At first look the painting might look monotonous but Warhol seemed to be representing the capitalist and consumerist ways of the common man. He had consumed Campbell’s soup every day for twenty years and this combined with his fascination of advertisements sparked the motivation for this painting. It is not evident from the painting whether Warhol liked mass production or was criticizing it. His painting was one of the pieces of art that sparked the pop movement. Warhol showed us that every day ordinary things can be made into art and still have an impact on society.
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