Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bacchus in a Junkyard?

I visited the San Antonio Museum of Art last week. I've been there a few times, but have not seen all the rooms. This time we focused on the contemporary art section. Later in the evening, we discussed our "favorites". The piece pictured above was the one that really intrigued me on this visit. It is a photograph titled Bacchus Astride a Barrel, by Brazilian artist Vik Muniz.

At first glance, I thought "Oh, just a remake of an old master's work." Muniz did recreate the composition from Rubens painting of Bacchus. When I moved in for a closer look, I saw that the background consisted of junk. Lots of rusted metal, old tires, an old refrigerator, a filing cabinet. At first I thought it was a collage of photos, assembled to create the composition. On closer inspection, I realized that it was not a collage, each piece of junk was carefully placed to create the image.

This piece intriqued me enought that I did some research on Muniz. This photo was from his series titled, Pictures of Junk. The artist raided junkyards in Rio de Janeiro, and transported his finds to a warehouse, which became his studio. With the warehouse floor as his canvas, and the junk as his paint, he recreated old paintings of Greek and Roman mythological figures. His "canvas" was about the size of a basketball court, and a group of neighborhood boys helped him arrange the junk to create his compositions. Once the junk was arranged to his satisfaction, he took a photograph from a catwalk above. The series was created in 2006, each photo approximately 9' x 6'.

I really like art that has a "bonus" for those who move in for a closer look. This piece definitely had a bonus. It made me think, not only about the message within the junk, but also about how it was created. I guess that's what good art does - brings the viewer in for a closer look and inspires thought.

So, what piece of art have you seen lately that inspired you? I would love to hear your stories.

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