A Piece of Art That Means Something to Me:
Every art history student has that one uber famous artist that they adore, regardless of how edgy their tastes are- mine is Henri Matisse. Last year, I visited ‘Matisse in Focus’ at Tate Liverpool and, honestly, got a bit emotional. My favourite piece of his, Dance I, wasn’t there, but so many other incredible artworks were. His work will always be the definition of ‘fine art’ for me. However, my love for the artist doesn’t stem from a love of French art, Fauvism or even painting itself; it stems from a Year 10 school trip to Walker Art Gallery, Manchester. Here I saw Three Pictures of You, a portrait by Antony Donaldson. I know it’s a huge cliche, but I really was captivated by it and still to this day notice how it has massively impacted my taste in art. No other artwork has yet influenced me to such a degree, and I doubt that another ever will.
While the vivid, colourful style of the painting lead me to Matisse, Basquiat and Hockney, it’s subject matter took me elsewhere. The faceless yet empowered woman in focus influenced me to explore photography- my favourite medium. From Leibovitz to Sherman, I’ve always respected the mediums celebration of women, independence and liberation. However, for me, Nan Goldin completely changed the way that I think and respond to art. Her photographs glorify this liberation and embrace the freedom of sexuality that other artists have previously denied. The photographs she produced were unconventional, freakish and empowered, gratifying abnormalities with aesthetic. She wasn’t a victim and nor were her subjects unlike those of Arbus or Cahun, yet her work still has that exciting Freudian flare. It’s so hard to look away from them. While I could never pick just one favourite image, I could easily drone on about her incredible picture book ‘The Ballad of Sexual Dependency’ to anyone that would listen, any time, any place. Her status in the underground canon is cemented, but I hope that one day Goldin is respected like Matisse and celebrated like the weirdos that she embraces.
By Alice Reed