Re-Appropriation of Fine Arts Through Technology

by Henry Ballate

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Introduction 

This study will discuss and analyze the phenomenon of the digital age, and how technology has changed the way we create art today. It will also discuss how the reproduction of art has affected our aesthetic perception; how people today look at art and how this art appeared in the past. I will present a parallel between contemporary and classic art, from the masterpieces in museums to the digital reproduction in new devices.

The purpose of this theoretical portion is to demonstrate that the way I am showing art is consistent with the way that I am seeing it today and also to prove that technological modes can be used to integrate classical iconography with images from popular culture.

The Eroticism in Art

The term erotic is derived from Eros (Greek god of sexual love and beauty) and applied to art with human sexuality. The historic imagery of erotic art is explicit and implicit with human sexual behaviors, sometimes looked upon negatively because of codes and censorship. Sexual desire is a part of human nature, but ethical limits are imposed by society as we are regulated by sexual behavior. Human sexuality is restricted by social customs.

“The experience of beauty, the sensuous and rational are equally involved but the discussion is an extremely abstract one and, despite the hint that beauty is a symbol of morality, no account is developed as to how art and beauty may be conducive to moral life” (Cooper 123).

Erotic images are among the earliest surviving indications of human culture in the Paleolithic period, and Neolithic period; the earliest representation of human copulation is a carved stone from Ain Sakri in the Judaean Desert. Egyptian myths are represented in many papyruses depicting copulating couples with exaggerated sexual organs, such as the Papyrus of Tasmania from the 21st Dynasty (1069-945 BC).

In Classical Greece and Rome, the love stories of the gods were vitally necessary, both as powerfully erotic stimulation and as the symbolic representation of fertility in nature. Sex and religion were closely interwoven in art objects, from lamps and vases to paintings and sculptures, showing explicit sexual activities. Zeus or Jupiter is the divine hero of many Classical legends, and his amorous conquests are depicted in many Greek vases, Roman lamps, and cameos. Especially popular was the story of Leda; wife of King Tyndarus of Sparta. Marble reliefs from the 2nd century AD show the nude body of Leda helping the swan to penetrate her, encouraged by a naked cupid.

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Figure 1. Papyruses of Tasmania from the 21st Dynasty

The female nude seems to dominate erotic art in the West since men have executed most paintings. Rarely is the nude painted dispassionately, by its nature, it arouses the senses. However, the power of this attraction has led these types of works to be feared in a Judeo-Christian civilization, and the resulting censorship of explicit sexuality in art has resulted in works whose eroticism is deliberately veiled and whose erotic power is thereby increased. Whereas other world religions have regarded sexual pleasure as an important part of worship and have treated the sexual adventures of gods and goddesses as sacred texts, Christianity is a nonsexual religion. Since the Church was the main patron of the arts in the West until the 18th century, this process had a profound impact on painting and sculpture.

The new humanism of the Renaissance in Italy during the 15th century, with its revival of interest in the world of classical antiquity, led to dramatic changes in the progress of the arts. The religious subject matter is predominant in the art of the period, but erotic themes or undertones are often present. Certain Old Testament stories were ideal for erotic treatment. One of the most erotically powerful stories is the story of Judith, who seduces the enemy commander Holofernes and then cuts off his head during his recovery from the physical exertions of intercourse; this story was painted by Mantegna, Giorgione, and Titian, among others.

Leda and the Swan was also painted by Titian, Correggio, Bronzino, Lorenzo Di Credi and Perino del Vaga. Raphael executed a drawing of Leda after a famous painting by Leonardo of the nude princess standing in a flowery meadow embracing the swan. Michelangelo painted the nude Leda in 1529 with the swan between her legs after the act of intercourse, its neck between her breasts and its beak touching her lips. One wing flutters in the air while the princess sinks into her pillows in post-coital exhaustion. In the 17th-century, the painting was destroyed and is only known through copies and reproduction.

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Figure 2. Leda and the Swan, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Veronese, Tintoretto, Titian, Cezanne

The most notorious of Raphael’s erotic works are his History of Venus frescoes, executed in 1515 for Cardinal Bibbiena’s bathroom in the Vatican. They were whitewashed over in the 19th century and are now in poor condition and forbidden to visitors.

The Fontainebleau school produced many scenes including “Two Court Ladies in the Bath” which is a nude portrait of Henry IV mistresses in the bath touching each other. I used this scene as a reference in my painting, “The Kiss” (2009). Using two Pop icons, Madonna and Britney Spears who famously kissed in front of a large TV audience shocking millions; the Figure 3. Gabrielle d’Estrées and One of Her Sisters common thread and the link to my painting “The Kiss” is that both Madonna and Britney Spears are recognized mistresses of pop culture in our society.

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Figure 3. Gabrielle d’Estrées and One of Her Sisters

The Baroque period includes many representations of swooning and ecstatic saints, suggesting repressed sexuality. The most famous example is perhaps Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s life-size marble sculpture of the Ecstasy of St Theresa. Bernini seems far more focused on the sensuality of the body in which the Saint appears to be in the throes of orgasm as she reclines beneath the beautiful young angel and his arrow, as a visual metaphor for the divine penis. “Eroticism is assenting to life even in death” (Magritte 636).

The 18th century was not only the Age of Reason as Thomas Paine called but also the Age of Pleasure. French paintings of the period reflect the fun-loving atmosphere of court life; the joys of lovemaking were celebrated with official approval. The open celebration of sexuality in much of the 18th-century art found a little parallel in the 19th century, which paradoxically proved to be a period more obsessed with sex than any before it.

Neoclassical art contained strong erotic images. The nudes painted by Ingres, such as the Valpinçon Bather and the Grande Odalisque, reveal an obsession with the sexual attraction of the female nude body.

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Figure 4. The Kiss, Henry Ballate

Toward the end of the 19th century, the association of sex with death became characteristic of artists associated with decadence and decline. One of their characteristic themes was that of woman as a mysterious goddess, using her sexuality to dominate men. The sexual hypocrisy that required so many artists to hide or suppress the eroticism in their work during the 19th century waned considerably during the 20th century, when a compulsive degree of self-revelation became characteristic in art.

In the early 20th century the diverse aspects of sexual experience had become the dominant theme. The Surrealists were aware of the revolutionary nature of free erotic expression, inspired by Freud’s argument that “sexuality lay at the root of all creativity, they explored on erotic feelings.” Thus Surrealist erotic art has a fascinating intensity that can have a strong effect on the viewer, communicating often on a direct level of the subconscious. Dreams and nightmares, personal fetishes and sexual games all play an important role in Surrealist erotic imagery. Rather than concentrate on genital organs, the Surrealists preferred to transform the whole body into an erotic arena for exciting experiences.

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Figure 5. Soft Construction with Boiled Beans, Salvador Dali

By the second half of the 20th century, there was a more sustained interest in erotic art. American artists have concentrated on the forbidden subject of the penis, including Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Brigid Polk and Andy Warhol. The photographer Robert Mapplethorpe set out to create images that would be artistically beautiful, but also erotically charged. “Man in a Polyester Suit” (1981) shows a black man seen only from chest to knee, with an enormous flaccid penis hanging out of the open zipper of his pants. One of the most controversial experiments in eroticism was the exhibition of work by Jeff Koons at the Venice Biennale in 1990. Koons’ series of life-size sculptures and enormous photo-screen prints were entitled “Made in Heaven” and depicted in explicit detail the artist and his wife, making love.

The nude body is beauty in its purest form and has been a subject used to express formulations about life; not only representing the body but the relations of all structures that have become part of the imaginative experience. Without it, we would lose a large perspective of art history as it relates to human sexuality and moral judgment.

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Figure 6. Fingers Between Legs, Jeff Koons

MORAL JUDGMENT: An anti-aesthetic evaluation

This chapter will discuss moral judgment as aesthetic evaluations and demonstrates that the aesthetic value of art should not be determined by its moral value.

“Moralism is the view that the aesthetic value of art should be determined by, or reduced to, its moral value. For autonomism it is inappropriate to apply moral categories to art; they should be evaluated by aesthetic standards alone. Recent work on the ethical criticism of art has proposed several new positions; more moderate versions of autonomism and moralism, which lie between the two extremes described above. The issue has now become not one of whether moral evaluations of art works are appropriate, but rather, whether they should be described as aesthetic evaluations” (Peek).

To demonstrate that Moral Judgment is an anti-aesthetic evaluation I will use some of the arguments that David Hume used in “Of the Standard of Taste” and some used by Immanuel Kant in “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment.” To illuminate these ideas I will reference my work of art as my work can be accurate representations for this purpose, not only because of the subject matter but the clear references to art history.

The Church imposed standards of morality and goodness, and declares immorality as evil; art was the method of delivery for information; one image is worth a thousand words. From the Middle Ages until now, sexual temptation had been deemed to be the work of the Devil. The Last Judgment (Giotto 1267–1337) portrays an explicit warning in the bottom part of the fresco urging all of us to abandon pleasure and desire. Closest to the fire of Hell are a damned couple, surrounded by other naked bestial creatures, and another who may be seen hung up by his genitals.

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Figure 7. The Last Judgment, Giotto (Detail)

Art allowed erotic fantasy to become reality.

The act of masturbation creates a fantasy that the viewer wants to fulfill. Through art history I observe Venus masturbating or seducing. The reference for my piece, “The Masturbating Venus N.I” (2009) was “Venus of Urbino” Titian (1538) Titian portrayed a nude young woman, a clear reference to the goddess Venus; the figure, the pose and the format used by Titian is based on “The Sleeping Venus” Giorgione (1510). The Venus’ expression is totally indifferent to her nudity. On Her right hand, holding flowers and the left hand “with four lazy fingers buried deep in the flowers of her garden” (Swinburne), provocatively placed in the center of the composition. The church made the argument, “the image is suggesting self-pleasures or desire.” Moral limits are imposed and the body is regulated.

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Figure 8. The Masturbating Venus N.I, Henry Ballate

For the “The Masturbating Venus N.II” (2009) I used as a reference “La Venus del Espejo” Diego Velázquez (1651), where the nude goddess seems a very contemporary example of Spanish beauty as she presents her rear view to the gaze and looks at us via a mirror held by a naked cupid. In this case, I am the reflection in the mirror; I am the one who is masturbating. In my “Venus” she recognizes the Moralist; always stares straight at you, showing what you want to see, she is revealing the unapologetic truth. To stand in front of the nudity, you must be nude and clear of all prejudice.

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Figure 9. The Masturbating Venus N.II, Henry Ballate

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Figure 10. Danae and the Shower of Gold. Titian, Tintoretto, Correggio, Artemisa, Rubens, Klimt

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Figure 11. The Masturbating Venus N.III, Henry Ballate

When I look at Renaissance paintings and at what was produced later, it becomes obvious to me that these themes were used as a way to both express and excuse erotic content. I exploited the theme in my own way. The myth of Danae and the Shower of Gold was the subject of erotic images by Titian, Correggio, Tintoretto, and others. In my piece “The Masturbating Venus N.III” (2010) Danae reclines on a bed alone waiting for Zeus to endorse erotic fulfillment.

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Figure 12. The Origin, Henry Ballate

In “The Origin” (2010), I used as a reference “L’Origine du Monde” Gustave Courbet (1866). It is a view of the breasts, abdomen, and vagina of a naked woman, lying on a bed. L’Origine was painted in an era when moral values were questioned; the painting was hidden behind a wooden panel decorated with the painting of a castle and still, today has the power to shock. I have personally witnessed visitors walk in front of the painting in Paris’ Musée d’Orsay, and turn their faces to the other side; they do not want to be confronted by it. In 2009, during a book fair in Portugal, the police seized a novel that uses on the cover a reproduction of the Courbet painting which they considered public pornography. My painting after Courbet, is a close-up of the close-up, more that a person it is a place, and again showing just what you need to see.

“Sexual desire is no longer simply staged between the viewer and the object in the image so that the former may be elevated; his or her mind is raised above the flesh to ponder on the spirit. The viewer is no longer seduced, he/she is shocked, the eye is affronted and moral certainty disturbed” (Mahon 19).

Demonstration of passion, love, and desire are aesthetically beautiful. It’s anti-aesthetically evaluated when it is reduced to a moral value. For my painting “The Man”(2008), I used the controversial and shocking Robert Mapplethorpe photograph “Man in Polyester Suit” as a reference. Mapplethorpe’s work was censored and highly criticized; his relationship with obscenity was created by the establishment; not because of the characteristics or aesthetics of his work. This is what Janet Kardon wrote the introduction to the exhibit at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia:

“There is a drama in each photograph; edges are used as the perimeters of a proscenium, with subjects strategically sited within those boundaries and caught at a moment of absolute stasis. Most sitters are portrayed frontally, aligned with the camera lens, in direct eye contact with the photographer and, in turn, the viewer. Nudes generally assume classical poses” (Kardon).

The moral element was brought from outside and Mapplethorpe was censored.

“There are, of course, issues of rights at stake; for instance the artist’s right to the freedom of expression, and the (mature) audience’s right to ‘make up their own minds’ about the value of particular works, as opposed to the public’s ‘right’ to be protected from corrupting influences and/or obscenity” (Peek).

But once again who defines obscenity? Art should be defined by its relation to the art world. We should not take it out of context and those that come into the artwork must be prepared for that. For Kant “Beauty is a symbol of Morality.” This declaration has created the problem that Hume is clarifying for us when he said:

“Those who found morality on sentiment, more than on the reason, are inclined to comprehend ethics under the former observation, and to maintain, that, in all questions which regard conduct and manner, the difference among men is really greater than it appears at first sight it appears” (Cooper 78).

Even when we find beauty in Mapplethorpe’s work, most people reject it, proof once again that art is not for everybody, Art always has been created, enjoyed, and supported for the few people and in those hands has made its own way above the ordinary state of humanity.

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Figure 13. Man in Polyester Suit, Robert Mapplethorpe

When I chose Obama’s body to carry the Man in Polyester Suit’s enormous phallus, it created a great controversy. The phallus has long been seen as a symbol of male power, and images of such deities as Legba and Eshu, with their dominant penises, can still be found throughout West Africa. Sexual divinities were often depicted in ancient Mesoamerican art. In Peru, the Moche civilization of the 1st to the 8th century A.D. was the most prolific and varied for such ceramic production. Pots with stirrup-shaped spout-handles represent the male and female genitals. A favorite motif is a seated man holding his enormous phallus. Wall paintings at Pompeii provide valuable insights into Roman erotic art in the mid-1st century BC. In the House of the Vettii lies a representation of a deity weighing his enormous phallus with a pair of scales counterbalanced with fruit and crops. By the Renaissance era, artists began to minimize the magnitude of the phallus to not exceed or infringe upon the powers that be.

“We find images of the male nude in the nineteenth century that do not tend to show males who are well endowed, let alone sexually aroused. Instead, the ‘modest size’ of male genitals in art seems standard practice, continuing the standard size of the penis set up in the fifth century BC” (Mahon).

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Figure 14. House of the Vettii, Pompeii

We started to see images of the male nude perfectly proportioned with the exception of the genital organ. Not anymore. Time has changed, and our perception has as well. “What you saw was relative to your position in time and space “ (Berger 18). In addition to all those moral issues, we now add the political and racial ones, and all of them are irrelevant to the aesthetic value. “High art is not democratic, nor is it politic. It is not kind to everyone. It is full of conviction.” (Link).

Usually, people bring their personal positions to the art, and they usually expect to recognize and reflect on it, trying to connect with some kind of feeling and experience. That problem comes from Tolstoy, who gave one of the most credible definitions of art until now:

“Art is a human activity consisting in that one man consciously, by means of certain external signs, hands on to others the feelings he has lived through, and that others are infected by these feelings and experience them.” (Tolstoy 52).

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Figure 15. The Man, Henry Ballate

Feelings and emotions are there only to garnish the equation. We do not need the cherry on top of the ice cream. There is no way we can avoid feeling attracted toward forms that, although devoid of life, are still beautiful. Aesthetic feelings are difficult to describe. Bell reminds us “Great art remains stable and not obscure because the feeling that it awakens is independent of time and place because its kingdom is not of this world.” And this is the most valid point. It is hard to look at great art. It is strict and demands the best, aspires to be open to goodness, is true, and tries to reach the highest levels of aestheticism. Aesthetic value is the highest of all values. It should not be interested in defending any moral position. Moral evaluations of artworks are not appropriate, not aesthetic, and should be described as anti-aesthetic evaluations.

Elle a Chaud au Cul: Appropriation in Art

I was born in the midst of chaos and confusion; it was already past “White on White” and someone had already proclaimed that there was nothing more to paint. I was born after the second “urinal.”

The term appropriation in the visual arts means to adopt, borrow, recycle or sample aspects of artificial visual culture. I define appropriation as to take, especially without permission; to adopt or borrow would need permission. Art practices involve the appropriation of ideas, symbols, artifacts, image, objects, forms or styles from other cultures. In some cases, the original subject remains accessible as the original, not in others.

Appropriation has always been part of my creative process. The act of making art began with appropriation; taking images, concepts and re-interpreting them as art. Appropriation can be seen as part of art evolution, and it can be traced back to The Caves of Altamira in Northern Spain. Modern artists dipped their brush to borrow from their art historical forebears. Manet borrowed a well-known composition from Raphael, and Picasso borrowed from Rubens and Velazquez. Marcel Duchamp introduced the concept of the ready-made in 1917. That year he entered “The Fountain” which consisted of a urinal on the pedestal with the signature “R. Mutt”.

“Ever since Marcel Duchamp signed and presented “The Fountain” art has been as much about ideas as it has been about the objects that artists make. For many contemporary artists, the object itself is a by-product of the artistic process, and far less prominent, if not virtually irrelevant, to the action of making the artwork, which for many artists is the principal artistic activity” (Art Matters).

“The Fountain” is a compelling appropriation because there never was an “original.” The “original” version 1917 was lost or destroyed; then in 1950 Duchamp authorized curators to purchase urinals in his name, the first is the New York reproduction today in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the second 1953 Paris reproduction is lost and the third 1963 Stockholm reproduction is in the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. Then in 1964, in association with Arturo Schwarz, the artist made the decision to issue 12 replicas modeled after Stieglitz photo of the “original”; Duchamp understood that originality is not the determinate factor for art, and the urinal has been named the most influential modern artwork of all time. In the 1950s Rauschenberg used what he named “combines”, combining ready-made objects such as tires or beds, painting, silk-screens, collage, and photography. Jasper Johns, at the same time as Rauschenberg, incorporated found objects into his work. A sea change occurred when artists such as Lichtenstein and Warhol appropriated images from commercial art and popular culture as well as the techniques of these industries. Artists appropriate other artists under the reasonable assumption that “there is nothing new under the sun.”

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Figure 16. The Fountain, Marcel Duchamp

“Sherrie Levine uses her own camera to take photos of famous works of art, and then signs and exhibits them as her own. Her best-known series, one of which I reproduce below, is after the photographs of a Depression-era photographer, Walker Evans. Levine took her photos from a book in which the Evans photos were reproduced. She printed a photo she had taken from a print of a photo in a book, which was printed from a photo of a photo” (Art matters).

Appropriation challenges our preconceptions about originality and accessibility; arguments for reproduction are rooted in democracy, education, and access. Mass reproduction allows for the democratization of all forms of information, including art, books, prints, and later film, television and the internet allows people to see images from around the world. Very few people originally saw the Mona Lisa, at the Medici Palace in Italy. Today it is one of the most recognized works of art, and the most reproduced. Millions of people can see it every year at the Louvre in Paris. The viewing experience has changed drastically. Today we can buy a fridge magnet or original size print on canvas of the Mona Lisa.

Marcel Duchamp put reproduction to humorous ends by appropriating and altering the Mona Lisa in 1919. He added a mustache to a print of Leonardo’s painting and shocked critics with his “L.H.O.O.Q.” For “appropriation” as a term, that was the starting point. Today we might think that mass reproduction of an image lends it greater authority and reverence as a promotional tool. The more we see a reproduced work of art, the more we recognize it as something valuable and significant. Reproduction is something that we take for granted today, but it did not exist before the printing press in 1440, and photographic reproduction has only been possible in the last 150 years. This act of taking possession flouts the Modernist appreciation for originality.

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Figure 17. L.H.O.O.Q. Mona Lisa, Marcel Duchamp

Artists has an outstanding ability to remix things over, identify ingredients and separate, and that is exactly what I do. My ideal art is a traditionalist with radical ambitions. This provocative act of re-taking possession is something that gives me a mysterious satisfaction; I feel like a thief in a museum, a thief with a mission; feeling like I’m vandalizing artworks, but also recovering them at the same time. I bring them out from the darkness of the museum, releasing them from their Baroque frames and bringing them into a contemporary context.

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Figure 18. The Celebrity, Henry Ballate

Re-appropriation: Influence, Methods, and Process

My interest as an artist is to provide a visual reference from which the viewer can be re-introduced to art history. My Fragments are stimulated from the passion of one artist to another showing a wide range of influences, including sources from the Renaissance to contemporary artists. The art that I have produced represents values that evoke the humanism and eroticism of the Old Masters and the conceptualism and innovation of the New Masters.

A major influence on my work comes from technological advancement; digital image reproduction. Many artists have contributed to developing my style for creating art, through their technique and use of imagination rather than their subject matter; artists such as Caravaggio, Gustave Courbet, Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe and Lucian Freud.

My art form today would not be possible without the computer. My objective is to create a bridge between technology and traditional art. The working methods I employ emerge from the main influences that have helped shape my art. My career as a graphic designer has had a positive effect on my work, a medium used for communication, it has given me the ability to stimulate and create responses. The way that Duchamp challenged conventional thinking about creative processes and art marketing; the paradoxical aspect of Andy Warhol of being sexy and icily mechanical; Robert Mapplethorpe’s art that is both precise and erotic; the sensuality and realistic involvement in the Lucian Freud style and many others. By studying their artistic methods I have been able to develop one of my own.

My process starts with a collage made with the use of a computer. I move into the digital world, exploring the new medium and technological advancement; what we know as media art, in which only the technology and the tools are considered to be new. Some of the concepts explored in my art date back through history and have been addressed in traditional arts. Digital technology has now reached such a level of development that it has opened up entirely new possibilities for the creation and visual experience in art.

Observing works of art on the computer gives me the possibility of walking into a piece and focusing on where it provokes and excites me. Many of these works were the pornography of my childhood, and today I still look at them with the same curiosity. Lucian Freud said: “The paintings that really excite me have an erotic element or side to them irrespective of subject matter.” The ideal model has already been created and has eternal form. For me, the perfect audience is the specific one that knows, supports and enjoys art.

Today’s technological advances have shortened our attention spans and my art reflects and even celebrates that reality. Technology has also given me the opportunity to contemplate the classical iconography of art in private; to possess, to penetrate and to make them mine. It has been through this creative process that I have produced a series of works that reflect my interest in this form of art. Digital art has strong connections to previous art movements like Dada, Fluxus, and Conceptual art. Throughout the 1970s and 80s, artists increasingly began to experiment with new computer imaging techniques. Digital art made its official entry into the art world in the 1990s when museums and galleries began increasingly incorporating the art form into their shows and dedicated entire exhibitions to it.

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Figure 19. Il Nudo, Henry Ballate

With the recent developments in wireless technologies and mobile devices, the internet has become increasingly accessible from any location; we have the opportunity to contemplate the works of art in many different ways. Today we have a new way of seeing; technology has changed the way that we look at art and how we create it. Building on the traditions of art history and using advanced technologies we push the boundaries of artistic expression. Digital technology has revolutionized the way we produce and experience art today and my intent is not to replace the tools but to combine them.

I use appropriation as an act of re-contextualizing or altering pre-existing information. What I use has been already appropriated, and this pre-appropriated information can be historical or contemporary art or popular culture. Re-appropriation is my technique. It is my method of working, the vehicle that I use for a variety of viewpoints that have been used throughout the history of art, both celebratory and critical. It is my practice of creating a new work by taking a pre-existing appropriated image from another context-art history or media and combined it.

The new re-appropriated images are studied and analyzed on the computer, manipulated, selected and then drawn digitally, finally print on canvas, and then the pre-selected area is painted on canvas in a traditional way. The digital process delivered to the canvas maintains the traditional forms. The perfect square canvases could be pixels that come from the image observed through the screen or could be Duchamp’s chessboard conceptualized. Seen on the wall, my artwork shows clear plastic authenticity and pride.

Conclusion

With this body of work, I demonstrate that the way we are showing art today is consistent with the way that we are seeing it. It also demonstrates that appropriation has been used throughout the history of art. For that reason more than appropriation I re-appropriate, not only because I can, but also because it is a response to the way that we have been affected by reproduction.

My art is a reflection of my own journey and a self-communication of vision and experience that reaches beyond a single moment in time, I hope that someone will enjoy viewing it as much as I enjoyed creating it. Joseph Campbell offers an excellent description of what my conclusion is trying to achieve:

“Creative artists are mankind’s awakeners to recollection: summoners of our outward mind to conscious contact with ourselves, not as participants in this or that morsel of history, but as spirit, in the consciousness of being. Their task, therefore, is to communicate directly from one inward world to another, in such a way that an actual shock of experience will have been rendered: not a mere statement for the information or persuasion of a brain, but an effective communication across the void of space and time from one center of consciousness to another” (Campbell 92).

I have explored and examined the reproduction of art and how it has affected my aesthetic perception, as well as having analyzed the impact of computer technology and demonstrating how contemporary technological modes can be used to explore and integrate classical iconography with popular culture images in order to produce new works that are rooted in art history. I have produced and presented a body of work that creates an exceptional parallel between classic and contemporary art.

My work emphasizes freedom of creativity, the right to use and abuse imagery; including masterpieces, for personal aesthetic reasons and as a response to my space and time.

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Figure 20. The Naughty Boy, Henry Ballate


Works Cited

Art Matters <http://wilsonanastasios.com/2010/04/&gt;.. N.p., n.d. Web. Oct. 29, 2010.
Atkins, Robert. Art Speak. Abbeville Press Publishers 1990.
Berger, John. Ways of Seeing. Publishers 1972.
Campbell, Joseph. The Masks of God. New York: Viking Press, 1968.
Cooper, David E. Aesthetics, The Classic Readings. Blackwell Publishing 2007.
Kardon, Janet. Introduction to the exhibit The Perfect Moment. CA Philadelphia. 1989.
Link, John. Ruins of Taste. Arts Magazine Published May 1985.
Magritte, Rene. Ecrits complets.  Ed. Andre Blavier, Paris: Flamarion. 2001.
Mahon, Alyce. Eroticism & Art. Oxford New York 2007.
Peek, Ella. Ethical Criticism of Art. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. N.p., July 25, 2005. Posner, Richard. Against Ethical Criticism. 1997.
Swinburne, Algernon. Letter. 1864.
Tolstoy, Leo. What Is Art? Penguin Classics. 1898.
The Economist online. http://moreintelligentlife.com/content/art/&gt;. Web. March 27, 2010.
Webb, Peter. Erotic art. New York Graphic Society.1975.


List of Images Figure

Figure 1. Egyptian Papyrus
Figure 2. Leda. Michelangelo, Leonardo, Veronese, Tintoretto, Titian, Cezanne
Figure 3. Two Court Ladies in the Bath
Figure 4. The Kiss, Henry Ballate
Figure 5. Soft Construction with Boiled Beans, Salvador Dali
Figure 6. Fingers Between Legs, Jeff Koons
Figure 7. The Last Judgment, Giotto
Figure 8. The Masturbating Venus I, Henry Ballate
Figure 9. The Masturbating Venus II, Henry Ballate
Figure 10. Danae. Titian, Tintoretto, Correggio, Artemisa, Rubens, Klimt
Figure 11. The Masturbating Venus III, Henry Ballate .
Figure 12. The Origin, Henry Ballate
Figure 13. Man in Polyester Suit, Robert Mapplethorpe
Figure 14. House of the Vettii, Pompeii
Figure 15. The Man, Henry Ballate .
Figure 16. The Fountain, Marcel Duchamp, Photographed by Alfred Stieglitz
Figure 17. L.H.O.O.Q. Mona Lisa, Marcel Duchamp
Figure 18. The Celebrity, Henry Ballate
Figure 19. Il Nudo, Henry Ballate
Figure 20. The Naughty Boy, Henry Ballate


Henry Ballate is University Professor of Art & Design. Specializes in Modern art, with particular interests in classical iconography, from the Renaissance to popular culture images. Henry have over 20 years of combined experience as a Visual artist and graphic designer. His involvement with arts started at a very young age. Throughout his lifetime career, his work has been included in solo and group exhibitions in Europe, America, and Asia. Education M.F.A. Visual Art Miami International University of Art & Design. Miami. USA 2010. B.F.A. Graphic Design Miami International University of Art & Design. Miami. USA 2007. Drawing and Painting Accademia Italiana. Firenze, Italia 2002. Instructor de Arte Plasticas Escuela para Instructores de Arte. Matanzas, Cuba 1990. Henry’s artwork is instantly recognizable through his use of well-known visual arts iconography. His pieces use historical works of art that deal with provocative and suggestive themes as a foundation augmenting them with today’s popular images. Works are in private collections in USA, Canada, Germany, France and Italy.


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Categories: Visual Art

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