Monday, December 21, 2009

Audrey Flack encourages our inner beauty.


Marilyn (Vanitas) by Audrey Flack
1977, Oil over acyclic on canvas, 96 x 96 in.
Collection of the artist

I can't believe I haven't done an Audrey Flack, she is one of my favorite artists. Audrey Flack is extremely talented and works and many many styles, but my favorite can be seen by the work above- photorealism. In a nutshell, photorealist's create images that look as real as an actual photograph. It began in the 1970's, and Audrey Flack is part of the first wave of artists to use the style. Pretty cool because she is a woman and it's pretty dang hard to get recognized in the art world if you are a female and don't do something with outrageous feminist undertones. Another thing to note, is that photorealism stemmed out of Pop Art thus you get a lot of bright colors, reactions to the media, and iconic symbols. I just like photorealism because it's really amazing how realistic it is. Time and time again I am looking at a photorealist piece thinking it is a photograph and then casually glance at the medium and think, "WHAT?! This is paint?!"

Marilyn (Vanitas) is one of Audrey's more famous pieces. A few things to explain. Vanitas is a old form of symbolic painting. They did it a lot in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. It is associated with still-life painting, which is also rich in symbols. Each still-life piece usually centers around a few main themes: death, life, and pleasure. Basically, "Vanitas" refers to a visual expression of the "vanities" in life.

Tearing apart Audrey's Marilyn (Vanitas) you can assume quite a few things. First, there are a few symbols of death: the hourglass, the calendar, and the clock all refer to the passing of time. Marilyn Monroe was a sex symbol and thought to be the quintessential representation of beauty, but Flack includes lipstick, a compact, perfume, and jewellery all to show that beauty is fleeting. The fruit cut open usually is some type of symbol of death as well, as once you cut it open it will rot away eventually. The paint brush either symbolizes blood, as in death, or the fact that her life was short-lived, like an unfinished painting. The reflection of the image in the mirror is not precise, which is a visual commentary to the imperfections in Marilyn and more importantly, that beauty is not everything. Audrey also made the piece personal, as she included an image of her and her younger brother when they were young in the center of the composition.

There are a ton more symbols, but you get the idea. I guess you might be thinking, why do I love a picture filled with so many death related symbols? Well, I suppose I haven't made the good in this piece prevalent. Marilyn is a commentary on one of the most well-known icons of beauty- Marilyn Monroe. Though many thought she had it all, she died at a very young age from a probable suicide. Audrey's piece suggests that beauty is definitely short-lived and doesn't always lead to happiness. I think a lot of us, especially in today's world of plastic surgery, tend to forget this. So I loved Audrey Flack not only because her work is just amazing, but because she inspires deep thought on ideas that really matter.

Audrey Flack encourages our inner beauty.

7 comments:

  1. Hey, im taking a course on Art history right now and we are just getting to Audrey Flack. found your blog via google search! nice post! :)

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  2. Art history courses are the best and so is Audrey!

    Thanks for the sweet comment :)

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  3. hey nice work! we're doing Audrey Flack in art history at the moment, but specifically this work, and I really found this helpful :) do you think that Flack basically used all of the iconography to represent Marilyn and her persona?

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  4. I don't think that all the iconography was chosen to specifically reference Marilyn (for example, the picture of Audrey and her brother does not), I think it was more of a decision to incorporate Marilyn into the tradition of Vanitas.

    Thanks for the comment and I am glad you found my post helpful!

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  5. thanks soooo much

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  6. the hourglass can symbolize her figure

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  7. I'm studying Audrey flack in my art a level course i just read your bio of this painting and it has given me great help, however i do ask, do you know why Audrey uses a photograph of her and her younger brother?

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