Year One - Contextual and Professional Studies

Analysing Artworks

Anna Medieta, Self Portrait, 1973

Anna Medieta Self Portrait 1973

Formal Analysis

The colour of this piece is natural to the human body, yet included contrast of blood. The tones of this piece are very dark and show imperfect organic forms. The face is centrally composed in an unnatural position with the focal point being the nose. The medium appears to be photography, placed into a frame.

Analysis from Research

The medium of this piece is ‘photograph on coloured paper’, with a scale of ‘398 × 310 × 32 mm’. This piece was from a set of 9 experimental photographs.

‘Mendieta’s use of blood carries a strongly political message in the form of a call to awareness of violence against women.’

Ana Mendieta’s meaning on the piece

John Millais, Ophelia, 1851-52

John Millais, Ophelia, 1852

The colour of this piece is very natural to the scene depicted, colour matched perfectly as if it was a picture. The tones of this piece are light and inviting, showing organic forms. The body is centrally depicted to draw the viewer to that element of the piece. The medium appears to be oil paints. The piece seems very emotional, I would suggest the female is deceased in the lake. Yet it is a very peaceful scene with the foliage. The artwork could have been inspired by the pre-raphaelites as their is elements similar to this art society.

Analysis from Research

After further research I realise the reason it reminded me of the pre-raphaelites as it was part of this art society. The medium is ‘Oil paint on canvas’, with a scale of ‘Support: 762 × 1118 mm, Frame: 1105 × 1458 × 145 mm’.

‘The plants, most of which have symbolic significance, were depicted with painstaking botanical detail. The roses near Ophelia’s cheek and dress, and the field rose on the bank, may allude to her brother Laertes calling her ‘rose of May’. The willow, nettle and daisy are associated with forsaken love, pain, and innocence. Pansies refer to love in vain. Violets, which Ophelia wears in a chain around her neck, stand for faithfulness, chastity or death of the young, any of which meanings could apply here. The poppy signifies death. Forget-me-nots float in the water.’

Symbolism within the Painting

Year One - Contextual and Professional Studies

Sin, Incest, Satanism in the National Gallery?

The History of National Gallery

‘In 1831 Parliament agreed to construct a building for the National Gallery at Trafalgar Square. There had been lengthy discussion about the best site for the Gallery, and Trafalgar Square was eventually chosen as it was considered to be at the very centre of London. The new building finally opened in 1838.’

History – About the Building

‘With a commitment to free admission, a central and accessible site, and extended opening hours the Gallery has ensured that its collection can be enjoyed by the widest public possible, and not become the exclusive preserve of the privileged.’

History – About the Building

And so the National Gallery was formed by the Government to provide a space for free education, no matter of social class or economic boundaries.

Online Presence

The National Gallery obviously has the famous London location yet in modern times, the galleries artworks are available to a much wider audience via its online presence. Their website enables viewers from all over the world to access and educate themselves or artworks, with a few clicks on the internet. Due to this modern fenominon the ideology of providing free education, no matter of social class/ economic boundaries lives on today.

With the amazing access to the gallery and its online resources, staying up to date on exhibitions and artistic events has never been easier and its all down to the Parliament of 1831 wanting to provide the gift of education.

Providing the Gallery Service

Yet with this amazing access and facilities brings great pressure to the people who provide this service. Resulting in the role of Director, ‘with the responsibility to shape the collection and manage the Gallery.’

“The Director has responsibility, under the Board, for the overall organisation, management, and staffing of the Gallery and for its procedures in financial and other matters, including conduct and discipline.”

Current responsibilities of the Director from the Trustees Handbook

There has been a long list of 15 directors since the role began to present day. The current Direction of the National Gallery is Dr Gabriele Finaldi.

Dr Gabriele Finaldi

Dr Gabriele Finaldi has had lots of experience in exhibitions and art, curating exhibitions all over the world. As well as writing historical academic resources on artwork in general. Meaning that the organisation of exhibitions and the art placements are academically constructed. Forming the best outcome to reflect the artists work as well as being visually appealing to the viewing audience.

As well as the role of Director for the museum, curators have a huge impact on the exhibitions within the gallery. The role of curators is to use informed thinking to position the artworks of a particular exhibition, enhancing the artists work and the overall outcome of the display.

‘Sin’ Exhibition

7th October 2020 – 3rd January 2021

The National Gallery isn’t afraid to exhibit controversial ideas ‘The first exhibition in the UK exploring sin in art will be staged at the National Gallery this autumn.’

‘Sin will bring together paintings from the National Gallery’s collection dating from the 16th to the 18th century with loans from important private and public collections including modern and contemporary works by Andy Warhol, Tracey Emin, and Ron Mueck. There will be 14 works on display.’

This particular exhibition is available to view from the 7th October 2020 to the 3rd January 2021, in Trafalgar Square, London. Yet it is also available to view online and well as press-releases that are available online. Which is great for me currently as I am not able to travel to the gallery but I can still learn about the exhibition and get an online experience.

‘Sin’ invites visitors to reflect on a fundamental concept that pervades our lives and history, but also to marvel at the ingenious ways artists have addressed the subject across time.’

Dr Joost Joustra, Howard and Roberta Ahmanson Research Curator

This particular exhibition explores a wide range of debateable concepts, you only have to look at ‘An Allegory with Venus and Cupid by Bronzino, which is featured in the collection. This painting is very controversial and has a range of disturbing themes to the modern day critic, such as ‘Sin’, ‘Incest’ and ‘Satanism’.

An Allegory with Venus and Cupid by Bronzino

Yet when curated in a particular way by historically, religiously informed individuals. It allows the combination of art to bring forth debates and learning, whether viewed online or in person. Reflecting the original 1831 purpose of the gallery to provide a space for free education, no matter of social class or economic boundaries.


Year One - Contextual and Professional Studies

The Studio

Cecily Brown

“My process is really quite organic and starting a painting is one of the best parts for me. I always start in quite a loose and free way. I often put down one ground colour to begin with and then play off that. For the first day or two, everything moves very quickly – sometimes almost too quickly – then there’s often this very protracted middle period of moving things around, changing things, editing.”

Cecily Brown Website

From Cecily Brown’s description of how she creates her works I assume she needs a large working space to loosely apply the paint. Meaning that her studio space will be adapted to her way of working which most possibly is a large room.

Having researched further into Cecily Brown’s studio space I can assess that my assumptions where correct. Reflecting in a larger scale, that all artist’s working studios (whatever location/space) is directly linked to the work they create.

Cecily Brown’s Studio, New York, October 23, 2012

Cecily Brown’s Studio

As previously stated Cecily Brown has a large sized studio, which can be viewed below. The scale of her paintings in relation to the artist, reflects the mass size of her studio which ultimately enables Brown to complete large scale artworks at ease.

Cecily Brown in Her Studio

Rachel Wetzler (Apollo Magazine) on Brown’s Studio:

“Cecily Brown’s studio – an airy, light-filled loft overlooking the bustle of New York’s Union Square – is, at any given moment, home to as many as 50 works in various stages of completion. When I visit one afternoon in July, paintings and drawings of loosely defined figures emerging from energetic arrays of sweeping, abstract strokes seem to line almost every available surface, propped up in stacks against the walls or lying on the floor to dry. In spite of the summer heat, the studio is busy with activity.”

– Apollo Magazine, 3rd November, 2018


Celily Brown appears to use her studio as visual inspiration showing her own artworks and well as a practical way to create her humongous paintings. From observation of her studio she appears to use brushes, paints, palette, tissues, inks, easels, stationary and a trolley. As a result of both of these factors, Brown adapts her studio space to enable the creation of her works to be completed at ease.

My Studio

For my studio I set up the desk in the corner facing the wall so that I wasn’t distracted by the beautiful view yet still able to take inspiration from it. I then attached imagery to my working area from artists work which I am inspired by. These vary from Tracey Emin to Dante Gabriel Rossetti.