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Whose reality?: Art

Resource material for VCE English context study

John Glover

The River Nile,Van Diemen's Land from Mr Glover's farm 1837

Oil painting - fram.com (2012) The River Nile,Van Diemen's Land from Mr Glover's farm 1837. [image online] Available at: http://www.oilpainting-frame.com/picture/image-32732.html [Accessed: 6 Jun 2012].

For discussion: Dorothea Lange

Dorothea Lange was one of the most influential social documentary photographers of her day. This photograph was taken during the Great Depression and the portrait became an iconic image of the time. The woman and her family were part of a pea pickers’ camp. The failure of the pea crop meant that these people were destitute and on the brink of starvation. The wider impact included influencing John Steinbeck when he wrote The Grapes of Wrath.

a. Is photography a depiction or construction of reality? Discuss in relation to the photograph.

b. To what extent can a ‘creative treatment of actuality’ become a distortion of ‘reality’?

c. What version of reality is constructed by Lange?

d. How do we know that this photograph is ‘real’? Would your reaction to it be the same if you discovered it was a staged studio photograph? Would it matter if it was?

e. How does this photograph and its reception, including the response of the subject Florence Thompson who felt she was portrayed ‘as a passive symbol of despair when, in fact, she considered herself a strong person who worked as an organiser among the farm labourers’, explore the complexities of reality?

f.      Why has the photograph become an icon? What universal reality might it convey?


National Gallery of Victoria (2012) VCE English contexts. [online] Available at: http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0012/105231/VCE-ENGLISH-RESOURCE_HR.pdf [Accessed: 6 June 2012].

Pablo Picasso

nic-nak castle (2012) Weeping woman by Pablo Picasso. [image online] Available at: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-fZcxrsZ0KdQ/Tlq28xNK_yI/AAAAAAAABlY/K_PkWH2JC70/s1600/mgv18.jpg [Accessed: 6 Jun 2012].

John Brack

Herald-Sun (2011) John Brack's Collins Street 5PM. [image online] Available at: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts-books/john-bracks-collins-st-5pm-the-most-popular-painting-at-ngv/story-fn7euh6j-1226041192180 [Accessed: 6 June 2012].

Art and Graphics

For discussion: John Glover

John Glover was aware of the devastating impact of European colonisation on the Indigenous population of Van Diemen’s Land, since its establishment as a penal colony of Britain in 1803.

In this painting Glover imagines a kind of Arcadia, the domain of Tasmanian Aboriginal people before the intervention of Europeans fractured their existence.


a. How does Glover perceive his surroundings? Suggest reasons for this perception.

b. How might the painting be different if it had been painted by an Indigenous Australian artist?

c. How is Glover’s cultural background evident in this painting?

d. What version of reality is constructed by Glover?

e. What beliefs about the Indigenous people does he convey?


National Gallery of Victoria (2012) VCE English contexts. [online] Available at: http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0012/105231/VCE-ENGLISH-RESOURCE_HR.pdf [Accessed: 6 June 2012].

 

Dorothea Lange

Turning Point (2012) Migrant mother by Dorothea Lange. [image online] Available at: http://www.mchenrycountyturningpoint.org/blog/?p=2970 [Accessed: 6 Jun 2012].

For discussion: Weeping woman by Picasso






Pablo Picasso was born in Spain in 1881 and is acknowledged as the greatest and most influential figure in twentieth-century Western art.


a. Can this brutally distorted face be considered real? Explain.

b. How would you react if someone said, ‘I love this painting. It is so full of happiness and joy. It just makes me smile’? Why would you react the way you do? Is a response that differs to yours wrong? Explain why/why not. Consider why two people can see things differently.

c. Why do you think Picasso used a woman in this painting? Could this painting be seen as a self- portrait? Discuss. Whose reality is being explored in this painting?

d. To what extent is the  painting an expression of the universal reality of suffering?

e. What did Picasso mean when he said: ‘We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realise truth.’ Dore Ashton, Picasso on Art, 1972. Discuss this idea in relation to Weeping Woman.






National Gallery of Victoria (2012) VCE English contexts. [online] Available at: http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0012/105231/VCE-ENGLISH-RESOURCE_HR.pdf [Accessed: 6 June 2012].

For discussion: John Brack

John Brack was born in Melbourne in 1920 and lived most of his life in or near the city. In the 1950s Melbourne was one of the most urbanised countries in the world contrary to the pastoral and pioneering image so often projected.


a. Why might art be described as depicting multiple realities?

b. How do you think Brack perceives his surroundings?

c. How might one of the persons depicted in the painting differ from Brack’s representation?

d. How do you respond to Brack’s painting? Explain your response. Do others feel the same? Suggest reasons for similar or different responses.

e. How far removed is the world represented here from the world that you live in? Are there any similarities?





National Gallery of Victoria (2012) VCE English contexts. [online] Available at: http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0012/105231/VCE-ENGLISH-RESOURCE_HR.pdf [Accessed: 6 June 2012].

M.C.Escher - graphic artist

Artworks and Graphics