Sunday, April 18, 2010

The first time I saw a Diane Arbus photograph in person, I kept going back to it. I was at the Moderna Museet in Sweden and the image was Child with a toy hand grenade 1962. There is such a subtle shift in her characters that allow the images to appear haunting. I am sure that I probably witness people in some act of frustration each day, but it is the stillness of a photograph, or painting, that allows me to be disquieted. Robert Storr’s reading seems to base the idea of grotesque on a series of contradictions, such as the dichotomy of corruption and innocence, so that the once normal elements can emerge morphed into provoking, freakish, odd, and well grotesque works of art (or literature).

By comparison to Arbus’ photographs I was thinking once again of the works by Austrian artist Gottfried Helnwein (did I post him previously for his images of Disney characters? I cannot remember). Anyways, wounded children are a common subject in Helnwein’s works and stand in as a metaphor for the innocence of children and how it has been betrayed by “the physical and the emotional suffering, inflicted by one human being unto another” (Gregory Fuller). His work often exists in public spaces, his prints so monumental that they loom over you like a billboard, but he is not advertising a product, he is advertising a look at humanity. His work simply poses questions, and yet provides no answers.

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