SLIPPERY IMPLICATIONS: ASSESSING AMBIGUITY IN CONTEMPORARY PAINTING

Open Access
Author:
Holmes, Miranda Jane
Area of Honors:
Art
Degree:
Bachelor of Fine Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Brian Alfred, Thesis Supervisor
  • Simone Osthoff, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • art
  • fine arts
  • ambiguity
  • drawing
  • painting
  • neo rauch
  • katherine bradford
  • contemporary art
Abstract:
Much of contemporary art, including painting, embraces pluralism, especially when it comes to an artwork offering diverse possibilities underlying its meaning. A viewer may not be able to glean a singular message from the painting, or they may discover multiple ways of viewing the work. This quality, which I call a “slippage of meaning” due to the work evading a viewer’s tight grasp on its “message”, provides a positive asset to the work because it allows for multiple experiences. In this thesis, I will first highlight how the artist constructs their image, keeping in mind the ambiguous meaning in a painting. Then I will discuss the reasons why a viewer would prefer the experience of an ambiguous work of art. Taking a closer look at examples of ambiguous paintings, in the third chapter I provide a visual analysis of two artists’ works. My interest in the ambiguous stems from my own experience of grappling with allowing a painting to contain a quality of the unsaid. In this thesis, I will briefly discuss some of the paintings and drawings I produced during my senior year at Penn State, which will culminate in an exhibit that will take place from May 19 - September 7 2017 in the HUB-Roberson Center on the University Park campus. I will discuss the progression of my changing studio practice during this time, and how the research of this thesis influenced my work as an artist.