Isolation and Landscape

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Eternal Search
figurative, figure in landscape,horizona line, texture, contrast, black and white, ink, charcoal, work on paper, isolation,trapped, room, underground, metaphorical, paradox,meaning of title in art,
description

Rosenthal used the human form as a vehicle to illustrate a wide variety of universal themes. He said of the human form:

it is the central focus of universal attention, the hieroglyph of a complicated story. Life, death, hate, power, destiny, identity and relationships are the kind of questions which, for me, become the most challenging subjects to explore in art. Tragedy and comedy in all of their permutations will never lose interest or relevance since these appear and confront each generation anew. In art, form and  contentThe subject matter of a work of art and what it suggests about that subject matter. This includes the ways in which that work of art can be plausibly interpreted.  are not separate and the medium is not the message but simply the instrument which must involve the viewer in a response that then completes and closes the bond between both. (Beckett Fine Art, 2006)

Joseph Rosenthal's Eternal Search shows a figure surrounded by black and white textures. The figure has his back to us, and his head is tilted downward. The figure is naked, also in black and white, and his shoulders are both slouched and tense.

start quoteIn art, form and content are not separate and the medium is not the message but simply the instrument which must involve the viewer in a response that then completes and closes the bond between both.end quote
-- Joseph Rosenthal (Beckett Fine Art 2006)

Near the top of the image is a line where the image switches from being mostly black to being mostly white. This could be the line of the ground, which would mean that the figure is underground, or this could be the horizon line, which would mean that the figure is alone as far as we can see, without even a city skyline in the distance. Or it could be the edge of a room; the  figure1.  The form of a human, an animal or a thing; most often referring to an entire human form.  2.  A person of note (i.e., an important figure in history...)  trapped in a cell with a black wall and a white ceiling.

Rosenthal has us guessing about what is going on in this  charcoalAn easily smudged black drawing material used to achieve deep black tones in drawings. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charcoal for further information).   drawingDepiction of shapes and forms on a surface chiefly by means of lines. Colour and shading may be included. A major fine art technique in itself, drawing is the basis of all pictorial representation, and an early step in most art activities. Though an integral part of most painting, drawing is generally differentiated from painting by the dominance of line over mass. There are many sorts of drawing techniques, varying according to the effect the artist wants, and depending on whether the drawing is an end in itself — an independent and finished work of art -- or a preliminary to some other medium or form — although distinct from the final product, such drawings also have intrinsic artistic value. Preliminary drawings include various exercises (e.g., contour drawing, gesture drawing, figure drawing, drawing from the flat), as well as sketches and studies, cartoons and underdrawings. (Artlex.com)  on paper, perhaps reflecting his observation that life, as embodied in the human form, is a complicated story. By presenting us with a work that poses many questions – and no easy answers – Rosenthal confirms his statement that the medium is not the message. Instead, his drawing (the medium) invites the viewer to respond, if only with difficult-to-answer questions that close the viewer’s bond with the work of art.

additional resources Things to Think About
Studio Activity

Drawing "uncomfortable"

Notice the  textureThe quality of surface in a finished artwork; note that this can apply to painting in describing the way that the paint is applied to the canvas or other support; to sculpture in describing the way that the material used is made smooth or rough; or to video in describing the way that the light-based image is either smooth or visibly broken up into pixels.  Joseph Rosenthal has used in Eternal Search, and think about how this texture makes the work feel. It's less clean, less stable, and less comfortable because of this.

Describe Eternal Search

In Joseph Rosenthal's Eternal Search the  figure1.  The form of a human, an animal or a thing; most often referring to an entire human form.  2.  A person of note (i.e., an important figure in history...)  has his back to us, and his head is tilted downward.

  • Write a poem or a song that might indicate why this person is turned away from us, and why the person has slumped shoulders and a lowered head.
  • You can draw from your own experience of feeling this way to indicate why Rosenthal's figure might feel this way, too.
References

Author unknown.  Retrospective:  A Life in Art.  Exhibition notice.  Beckett Fine Art, Toronto, Ontario, 2006. Retrieved from the Internet March 28, 2009 from: http://www.beckettfineart.com/dynamic/exhibit_artist.asp?ExhibitID=35&ArtistID=31#

Author unknown.  City of Windsor, Ontario, Odette Sculpture Park. Retrieved from the Internet March 28, 2009 from: http://www.citywindsor.ca/000356.asp?artist=rosenthal

Merritt, Shaun.  ‘Civic Scenery, Civic Statuary.’  Spacing Toronto, March 12, 2009.  Retrieved from the Internet March 28, 2009 from: http://spacing.ca/wire/2009/03/12/civic-scenery-civic-statuary/

 

Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning