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fig.V4.art.tem.jpg  

The Narratives of Ruth

Weisberg

Matthew Baigell

Professor Emeritus

Art History Department, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey

baigell@aol.com

   

Abstract

Within the last thirty years, an amazing amount of art has been produced by Jewish  artists in the United  States. Within a broad range of subjects, themes, and styles, the development of modern narrative cycles based on biblical and contemporary historical sources are among the most interesting and important. This essay considers five narratives by Ruth Weisberg based on Judaic sources. She is perhaps the most significant artist now exploring subject matter based on the ancient texts and recent historical events. Her work can be considered post-secular in contrast to the insistent secularism of twentieth-century art, and post, post modern in her rejection of post-modernist  irony for a desire to reveal her authentic feelings and to communicate  directly with her audience.

     Keywords: narrative cycles, murals, feminismo, Biblical stories

Resumen

En los últimos treinta años, artistas judíos en Estados Unidos han producido una asombrosa cantidad de obras de arte. Dentro  de un amplio espectro de temas y estilos, el desarrollo de ciclos narrativos modernos, basados en fuentes bíblicas y de la historia contemporánea,  se encuentra entre los más interesantes e importantes. En este ensayo se consideran cinco narrativas de Ruth Weisberg basadas en fuentes judaicas. Esta artista es, posiblemente, la más significativa de las que se dedican, en la actualidad, a explorar temáticas basadas en textos antiguos y hechos históricos recientes. Su trabajo puede considerarse postsecular, en contraste con el recurrente secularismo del arte del siglo xx, así como post-posmoderno, en su rechazo de la ironía posmoderna  en aras de revelar sus sentimientos auténticos y de comunicarlos de forma directa a su audiencia.

     Palabras clave: ciclos narrativos, murales, feminismo, historias bíblicas


fig.V4.cap5.jpgurals are usually defined as large paintings on walls in public spaces (O’Connor Chapter 1, Part B). But how big or how many panels must a mural have in order to be called a mural? Must it tell a story? Can a mural consist of a single episode in a single painting or must the painting contain more than one episode as if it were a series of film frames placed next to each other? Must it be in a public space? Are small, fold-out artist books miniature murals? I have known artists who have called a single, large painting a mural. Abstract and non-representational paintings have also been called murals. Clearly, there is no precise definition for the word, “mural.” So I will use the word ‘narratives’ instead in this essay.

     Having stated my position,  I believe  that Ruth Weisberg  is one of the major narrative artists working  in the Unites States today. Since the 1970s, she has created narratives that range in size from a large book of etchings on a single theme to a traditional mural cycle consisting of fourteen panels erected in a tent-like arrangement, to a single, large publicly displayed painting that contains many episodes. A major feminist artist, her subject matter is equally wide-ranging—from  biblical themes  to Dante to contemporary history. She is, then, important to the history of both contemporary  mainstream American art as well as

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