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Critical Art Essay

The piece I am using for this paper is called “Dancers Over The Sea” by Rufino Tamayo. It was made in 1945 and was found in the Cincinnati Art Museum, more specifically in the contemporary arts section. It was mounted onto a white wall, which, in my opinion, doesn’t really affect the piece too much. However, the painting can be taken many different ways, so if the wall was black I wouldn’t be surprised if people viewed the piece as being a more sad and darker piece than it already portrays. I think if you move the piece outside it could have an effect on how people interrupt the painting. If you take it outside where the sun is shining and its light outside, it could make the darkness that is shown in the painting seem not as dark. Also, if it was storming or what not it could exemplify the dark background in the painting and make it seem like the painting was taking place in real life. I believe the piece belongs in the museum because not only is it a great piece of artwork, but it fits with the section that it was in. If the painting was in a museum in another part of the country or part of the world then I do believe it could make a difference. I say this because the water shown in the painting could relate more to those places on the coasts of the United States or some other venues that are close to water. Obviously, Cincinnati is not close to any major body source of water, besides the Ohio River.

This piece is a beautiful painting and exceedingly fits my definition of what art is. To me, art is anything that has the ability to make someone think deeply and feel different emotions. This piece fits that description because of the various angles one could attack the piece in terms of how to portray it. I believe this piece could make one viewer feel sad, while another could feel happy, depending on their personal experiences in life. When you first look at the piece, your eyes are immediately first drawn to the blue hammock looking object in the middle of the painting. The brighter blue, compared to the rest of the painting, immediately catches your attention. From there, your eyes slowly look right above the blue object, where there are these unknown looking creatures holding each corner of the blue object. You then can start to point out two faces on the creatures, and then can put together that there are two humans in the painting. Once you comprehend the middle of the painting your eyes move to the background, which consists of a sea of dark reddish color, while the bottom of the painting resembles something that of water. It looks as though there may be a storm behind them, and there is an item that resembles a boat that is located in the bottom left of the portrait. In terms of size, the piece is about the size of a larger laptop. In my opinion, everything in art symbolizes something, and I will explain that more in the following paragraphs.

After looking at the piece and after getting a general understanding, a story automatically pops into my head. There are two people who are in a relationship that has gone downhill the past couple of months. They have been arguing more often than not and are getting ready to call it quits. They both know that they need each other but cant seem to get over the hump. They are seemingly holding on by a thread, with both knowing that one false move by either of them will send this relationship into the past. They both still love each other and hold on to those minimal good moments, hoping that they can one day return to their old ways together. This is exactly what I see in the artwork. The message, which I will go over in detail next paragraph, is one of trust and can be viewed as two people that need each other and if one lets go, they both will pay the consequences. 

When I look at the piece as a whole, I’m very intrigued by the possibilities of the underlying message. With there being two humans seemingly holding themselves above water in this blue hammock, it immediately pops into my head that the humans need each other in order to not fall. They each rely on one another to hold each end of the hammock up, and if one lets go, they both fall into the deep pits of the water. I believe that this reliance and trust message is what the artist was trying to portray in the painting. The background of the painting also contributed to my interpretation of the piece. The sky is a darkish red color, which leads me to believe that if they fall they may die or that something bad is looming over them and they have to rely on each other to get through it. I think the background definitely affects the way that viewers could interpret the piece. If the background was nice and bright then one could have a completely different opinion. The small boat may resemble the little bit of hope that they each still have, as chances are they will fall and fail, but there still is a long shot that they can find themselves sailing home together in clear skies on the boat. The overall painting along with the message definitely makes me drawn and interested to the piece. I very much so like the piece, because of the message, which is seen in everyday life. You can’t ever take on the world by yourself, and most of the time you need someone else that you can lean on and trust to be there for you even when the clouds are looming.

I think that my past experiences may allow me to view the artwork in a different manner than other people. I am in a long-term relationship, which led me to think of this piece as one that relates to relationships. Other people, especially those who may not have ever been in a relationship may think of something completely different. That’s the beauty of this piece, since any two people can have two different opinions on the meaning of each part of the painting. 

After doing a little bit of research, it shows that Tamayo devoted himself to having a completely unique identity in terms of his paintings after the Mexican Revolution. He believed change was needed in Mexico but at the same time that “the revolution would harm Mexico” (Wikipedia). He was also seen as a traitor among many people for taking his talents to New York from Mexico (Denis Bloch) I think this background of his could have played a part in this painting. Again, he may have had this darker message in his work because of the different events that were and had gone on in his life. 

Overall, I think that the piece that Tamayo produced was very beautiful. When I think of art, pieces related to that of Tamayo comes to mind. Whether a viewer just wants to witness some of the greatest works of art there is to offer or think deeply about what the various pieces mean to the artist, Tamayo’s work gets the job done. Each individual paint stroke has an individual message and meaning that can be interpreted many different ways. My background and personal experiences allow me to view the painting in a different way than others may see. Also, our views on the piece are affected by Tamayo’s background, considering if his experiences had been different, the piece may look nothing like it does today. The painting may even move in different ways for different people, as everyone is drawn towards different things. That is another reason as to what makes this piece so special. The experience of going to the art museum and witnessing the various artistic elements, combined with connected interpretations creates an amazing experience that really opened my eyes to the various possibilities that art opens up. 

Works Cited

Rufino Tamayo." Denis Bloch Fine Art. Denis Bloch, 12 Aug. 2008. Web. 20 July 2014.

Rufino Tamayo." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 18 July 2005. Web. 20 July 2014.


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