OPTICC # 5

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I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold” is an art piece painted by Charles Demuth, an American Artist born in Lancaster,Pennsylvania from 1883-1935. This specific piece was painted in 1928 and is made of oil,  graphite, ink, and uses gold leaf paint on paperboard. This art piece is encompassed of varying hues of red, yellow, orange and gray paint.

The most important aspect of this piece is the number 5. The point of  this is to pay homage to a poem by William Carlos Williams entitled ” The Great Figure”. In Williams poem, he writes about seeing a red fire engine with the number 5 painted on it racing through the city. The art piece paid respect to Williams and was meant to exactly the poem. Throughout the piece, you can see how the reds, yellows, and oranges used in the middle are meant to represent the fire truck and the number five. While the grays, lamppost, and written words to the right are meant to indicate the street and the buildings that the fire engine is passing through.

The title of the piece is “I saw the figure 5 in gold”  is an indication of the number five on the fire engine that the poet describes in his poem.   Also, the indication of the five being in gold brings attention to it. The color gold is something people notice right away and it draws attention too, which is why Charles made that indication purposely.

The objective of this piece is to pay homage to William Carlos’s poem, “The Great Figure”. Charles full exhibition of art also includes seven other pieces. All of the pieces he’s created are visual representations of famous American Artists,Writers, and Performers of that time. He is showing how visually stimulating each piece of work that his friends make are and in turn makes the art pieces out of them similar to “I saw the figure 5 in gold”. Which is an exact line from Williams poem.

During this time in history, America has more than rose to being the powerhouse of the world along with a few European and Asian Nations that were all the same fast on America’s heel. America is going through an aggressive industrialization and is creating new types of technology from raw materials in Latin America and African Nations. During the early 1900s, a few key factors that would eventually lead to World Wars and tension also begin to take place. The start and end of World War I(1914-1918). The treaty of Versailles and the 19th Amendment .(1919) Finally the rise of Hitler’s Nazi party in 1930. Many more events amongst countries would also take place during the time of this art piece.

The visual establishes a painting of the rich figurative language used in a poem and provides the viewer with a way to also interpret a poem. This visual is important because now we are beginning to see that along with the modernization of American technology. The artwork has begun to take a different direction. Where once all art was landscapes or painting of people or things. Art has now become made of ones complete imagination. Where once people only painted things they saw, art has now become something to create using things as simple as words. Artists have created artwork that is purely for their chance to showcase the work that they truly loved painting.

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11 thoughts on “OPTICC # 5

  1. I do understand what this piece of art is trying to say about the artist, which is the artist intention was to promote a poem about a firetruck with a number 5. This in my opinion not only is an impressive piece of art from Pennsylvania(my family’s origin) it’s a great idea and way to promote someone elses works while promoting your own.

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  2. I was wondering how did you come across this piece? What do you think of this piece? Why did you choose this piece? Who do think this try ing to what we have learned in class? And what does it represent about the time pride?

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  3. Element two: I choose this piece because of how simples it was to analyze while being totally creative and out there. I wouldn’t say that the piece was a look into seeing the world where now art isn’t only people but random things to. I really wouldn’t know that answer but I would say that it helps my peers know that art is no longer this bland way of people watching but instead a way to integrate cool and fresh ideas.

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  4. Writing: Your writing has such perfect clarity to it, I don’t know how you do it! Through reading your OPTICC, I was given a better understanding of both the artist and the time period. I learned about Seurat and his desire to blend Greek and Italian culture into his own works, and I like how you connect the largest figure in the piece, the idle woman, to the social role she must play in life; tending to her children and husband. And how you connected the social life of this woman to how she must interact with those surrounding her in this particular park. As for the time period, you make it clear Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande-Jatte played a role in spurring new artistic culture. Very thoughtful and very thorough!

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  5. Sorry Julie, wrong post. Here is yours;

    Writing: Despite the grammatical errors, your explanation on the importance of the gold number five and use of colors in Charles Demuth’s piece is informative. However, these elements of the piece seem to be the only topics you really touch base on, and while I understand that these elements are of great significance to the painting, it is not clear exactly why. Perhaps you could talk more about the United Stated gaining more industrial power during this time. What “new technologies” were being developed from the Latin American materials you mention, and what were their effects?

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  6. Art: The painting does not signify anything to me without an explanation of the historical context, I think it would have been a better idea to choose a piece that shows interaction between people or an artifact. I am confused on what the fire engine you describe represents. I understand that I Saw The Figure 5 in Gold is an example of art becoming more modernized during the early 1900’s, but I am not sure what you are trying to say about the significance about the fire engine or the number five, though you mention both often. I think I Saw The Figure 5 in Gold could have contributed to your understanding of history if it had been more thoroughly researched and reflected upon.

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  7. Element 1: I do understand what the Great Figure was saying about the time period during 1883-1935 in Pennsylvania and about the artists during this time. America was “…going through an aggressive industrialization and is creating new types of technology from raw materials in Latin America and African Nations…” according to your opticc which makes sense why the artist drew an abstract piece about a fire truck he saw with the number 5. Overall the time period and region were clear, as well as why the artists chose to do that styles of art which I would not have been able to figure out without reading your opticc!

    Element 2: With the explanation you wrote for the conclusion allowed me to comprehend more why you chose this specific piece of artwork. “This visual is important because now we are beginning to see that along with the modernization of American technology….once people only painted things they saw, art has now become something to create using things as simple as words.” At first I was a little confused as to why you chose a painting with the number 5 but the use of historical background helped me see the message being presented. The author, “…writes about seeing a red fire engine with the number 5 painted on it racing through the city…” showing the development in technology in Pennsylvania from 1883-1935. Overall I think this was a good choice of artwork, because I saw the difference in artwork from the previous unit to the 19th century. It represented art development and history very well!

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  8. Element 1: I do understand what the Great Figure was saying about the time period during 1883-1935 in Pennsylvania and about the artists during this time. America was “…going through an aggressive industrialization and is creating new types of technology from raw materials in Latin America and African Nations…” according to your opticc which makes sense why the artist drew an abstract piece about a fire truck he saw with the number 5. Overall the time period and region were clear, as well as why the artists chose to do that styles of art which I would not have been able to figure out without reading your opticc!

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  9. Element 2: With the explanation you wrote for the conclusion allowed me to comprehend more why you chose this specific piece of artwork. “This visual is important because now we are beginning to see that along with the modernization of American technology….once people only painted things they saw, art has now become something to create using things as simple as words.” At first I was a little confused as to why you chose a painting with the number 5 but the use of historical background helped me see the message being presented. The author, “…writes about seeing a red fire engine with the number 5 painted on it racing through the city…” showing the development in technology in Pennsylvania from 1883-1935. Overall I think this was a good choice of artwork, because I saw the difference in artwork from the previous unit to the 19th century. It represented art development and history very well!

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    1. Thanks for the reply Raquel! You true fam. Anyway I believe that you captured what I was trying to say better than I did and that it really allowed people to gain a takeaway from this art piece. I am also glad that you saw how I was trying to show my development of art over the time periods.

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