Thursday, August 8, 2013

Principles of Modernism: Scale

Utility Quilt

About 1910

Scale is relative size. It's easier to show than to talk about.

Floor Cake by Claes Oldenburg

Oldenburg began making giant "soft sculptures" in the 1960s, creating a discussion of scale.

Jeff Koons
Balloon Dog

Koons continues to play with scale today.
Lily Tomlin in the Big Chair

Contrast in scale grabs the eye.

Ros Cross

 Pancakes, Butter & Syrup Quilt 1973
Bedquilt and rug

See more of his sculpture here:

Whaam by Roy Lichtenstein 1963

Collection of the Tate Modern

(And this is only half of the painting.)

When you think of scale in art Roy Lichtenstein comes to mind. He took small comic panels and changed the scale.
Roy Lichtenstein 
Modular Painting
A lesser known series from the 1960s is his modular series (here 9 canvases) based on modern textile design blown up to fill a wall.

Georgia O'Keeffe
White Shell with Red, 1938
Collection of the Art Institute of Chicago

The painting is only a little over 2 feet wide but scale is relative.
It seems enormous.

Théodore Géricault
The Raft of the Medusa

Collection of the Louvre

Traditional art also dealt with scale but in a different way. Géricault's 1819 painting of a ship wreck is over 23 feet wide. Modernism is more about creating a contrast in scale.

David Byrne in the Big Suit
Perhaps wth irony.

Scale is one important reason why these vintage quilts are so arresting.

Three utility quilt tops (about 1950) from online auctions,
perhaps by the same quiltmaker.

Remember these are full-size.
You have to consider the size to appreciate scale.

About 1910

Amish quilt from the Susie Tomkins Collection.

Amish quilt by Mrs. Albert Miller
Lakeview Museum

Tied comforter, about 1910


Mennonite quilt from Woodard & Greenstein

About 1890

This one is a crib quilt from 1930-1960.

Perhaps 1880-1910

Read an essay on scale in art:

Michael Heiser
Levitated Mass
Los Angeles County Museum of Art

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