Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off one whole year of Unlimited learning. Subscribe for just £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only T&Cs apply

Find out more

Many Forms of Art

In this video we are introduced to artists creating work to express ideas and emotions in a wide variety of media.
<v ->Let’s go back to the artist, Ai Weiwei.</v> Whose work often doesn’t easily fall into just one category. In his early years, the artists studied various creative disciplines, including film, painting, and sculpture. Then going on to work in the architecture field. At some point in his creative practice, he started bringing in elements from all these different disciplines, really stretching the boundaries of each, toward a multidisciplinary outcome. With Sunflower Seeds, you can see Weiwei as a sculptor. Creating a three-dimensional artwork. But you can also see him putting on his architect hat. In how he is using the physical space of the room. And by inviting viewers to touch and engage with the sculpture.
Additionally, Weiwei encourages the audience to consider creative disciplines like traditional crafts, which are less common in high art settings, such as the Tate Modern, where this image is taken. Another example of this is artist Willy Cole. Whose piece simply titled, Chair, you see here. The image of a chair made of shoes is interesting to look at. But a huge part of what makes this piece so interesting, is that it uses a recognizable item, a high heeled shoe, in a non-traditional way. And when you’re looking at them, forming a chair, maybe you are thinking about their shape.
Maybe you’re thinking about the symbolism of a high heeled shoe, or maybe you’re just thinking about whether a bunch of shoes would be comfortable to sit in. But no matter what, you are considering high-heeled shoes differently, than you would in a shoe box or on someone’s feet. When an artist stretches the boundaries of an artistic medium, they can draw attention to the medium and help you see it in a new way. Another artist who defies easy categorization is Yayoi Kusama. Kusama is well-known for fantastical installations, featuring polka dots, such as her infinity rooms, like this one. That use light and mirrors, to put the viewer inside an immersive world.
Or this piece that wraps in existing tree, to give it an almost cartoonish appearance. Kusama started out as a painter. And though she mostly makes installations now, her early paintings use the motif of dots and repetition. For Kusama, she is used new forms to bring her work to the viewer, as in this outdoor installation and the viewer into her work. Even as her overarching themes and visual elements have remained the same. Finally, we can look at something that maybe doesn’t as drastically depart from the traditional medium, but still stretches its boundaries. Hannah Hoch was a German artist, associated with the Dada movement. An artistic movement that heavily valued humor and absurdity.
Though she was influenced by abstract painters, Hoch’s preferred medium, was photo collage. Which enabled her to use media from pop culture to directly comment on it. Formally, there are a lot of similarities between photo collage and painting. Both are two dimensional and both deal largely with color, composition and form in a flat context. But the materials Hoch uses here, heavily changes the context.

In this video we are introduced to artists creating work to express ideas and emotions in a wide variety of media.

View more works from Willie Cole and Yayoi Kusama. You can learn more about Hannah Hoch in a profile by Nancy Egol Nikkal or this overview by The Art Story.

This article is from the free online

Visualizing Women's Work: Using Art Media for Social Justice

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now