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Monday, 25 July 2011

Views from above

Altering the viewpoint of a subject will not only completely change the composition, but also gives an artist the opportunity to make a strong statement.
Bill Jacklin often depicts the busy city streets of New York. The image above 'Fifth Avenue' takes us right into the crowd, we can see the faces of our fellow humans as they bustle by - we are one of them. Jacklin's painting 'Gridlock NYC' (below) shows an almost identical part of the city, but this time from above. We now seem to be floating above the scene, the crossings and cars have become patterns and blocks of colour. The people are just an army of ants crawling over the surface.
A similar image of a New York street from above is shown in this drawing 'Nightshadows' by Edward Hopper (below). But this time the mood is darker, the figure is small and solitary and the night time buildings and the shadows they cast are threatening.

Stanley Spencer would often alter the perspective of his paintings. His work as a war artist took him to the shipyards of Glasgow (above). He wanted the viewer to understand the skillful and physically tough work that was so important to the war effort. We look down on the men at work, not in a superior way, but so that we can see every detail of their labours.
Spencer's image 'From the Artist's Studio' (above) shows a scene that was very close to his heart - his view across the roof tops of his beloved home town of Cookham. He shows us what he saw everyday - his friends and neighbours' homes and gardens.
Yann Arthus-Bertrand has made his life's work to photograph 'The Earth from the Air'. It is an extraordinary undertaking. Looking at many of the images (above and below), it is often difficult to understand the scale, unless we spot a small building or other human presence.

Eszter Burghardt plays with this idea in her work (above and below). She reconstructs small 'landscapes' from unusual materials like wool and scraps of fabric, or cake crumbs and poppy seeds. She then photographs them so that we can be fooled for a few moments into thinking they are the real thing!

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