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Media Music, like any area of art, deals with subjects and makes an interesting

comparison with the visual arts. In the latter, the subject is frequently the
In art, a medium is the material that artists use to create their art. It's that
particular thing(s) viewed and reproduced by the artist. But at other times, art
simple. Whatever a piece of art is made out of is its medium. The plural of
parallels music in presenting a "nonrecognizable" subject; the subject is, of
medium is media. So, one piece of art can be made of one medium or several
course, an idea rather than a thing. Music sometimes deals with recognizable
media. If you've ever been to an art museum or gallery, you've probably seen
those little signs next to each piece that look something like this: sounds—thunderstorms and bird songs in Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony or
taxi horns in Gershwin's An American in Paris.
'Oil on Canvas' 'Tempera on Wood' 'Ink on Silk'
Although rather abstractly treated, these may be the musical equivalents of
All of these items are media. They describe each item the artist used to make
recognizable subjects in an artwork.
the art. Therefore, oil and canvas are both media used to describe that
particular work. Sometimes this can be a very important part of how the piece By way of contrast, Beethoven's Fifth Symphony or Gershwin's Concerto in F are
of art is interpreted. Different materials carry different significance. For strictly collections of musical ideas. In the dance medium, choreography often
example, if a certain wood is considered sacred, then using it indicates that this has no specific subject, but dancing in Copland's ballet Rodeo is, to a degree,
piece of art is very special, or if an artist uses an uncommon medium, say subject-oriented. All of the arts have subjects that obviously should not be
garbage, it helps that artist make a statement. judged alone, but by what is done with them.

The most obvious aspect of an artwork. It is what the work of art depicts or Content is not the subject or things in the work of art but it is the
represents, it may be a person, an object, a scene, or an event. The subject communication of ideas, feelings and reactions connected with the subject.
pr8o8vides the answer8 8to the question: What is the work of ar8t all about? When we look art an artwork its content is what is sensed rather than what can
be analyzed. It is the ultimate r8eason for creating art.
The subject matter of art should not be the basis for judging works of art. It
doesn’t mean that representational arts are superior to non-representational The emotional or intellectual message of an artwork is its content, a
arts. some arts have subject, others do not. Fur8thermore, works that depict statement, expression, or mood read into the work by its observer, ideally
pleasant subjects are not necessar8ily greater than works that depict synchronized with the artist's intentions. For example, the artist W. Eugene
unpleasant subjects. What matters most in art is not the subject matter, but Smith delivers meaning through the subject and associated symbols of death
how well the artist handles or presents that subject matter in his or her work. (fig. 1.13). In this work, form provides additional subconscious meaning through
the use of blacks and somber grays, a reduced awareness of texture, and the
emphasis of low diagonals. For many people, content is confined to familiar
A subject is a person, a thing, or anidea. The person or thing will be pretty clear associations, usually by feelings aroused by known objects or ideas. This is
to the average observer, but the idea may not be. In abstract or semiabstract obviously self-limiting—limited to those observers who have had similar
works, the subject may be somewhat perceivable, but in nonobjective works, experiences. A much broader and, ultimately, more meaningful content is not
the subject is the idea behind the form of the work, and it communicates with utterly reliant on the image but reinforced by the form created by the artist.
those who can read the language of form. Whether recognized or not, the This content is found in abstract as well as more realistic works.
subject is
Although all visual artworks require some degree of abstraction, a greater
important only to the degree that the artist is motivated by it. Thus, subject is degree is often more difficult to understand and appreciate; sometimes this
just a starting point; the way it is presented or formed to give it expression is "appreciation" is, instead, revulsion and confusion! "Abstraction" is a term
the important consideration. frequently misunderstood and sometimes incorrectly applied. It is often a
process that imposes itself on the artist in reaching the desired effect in a work, sometimes treated as identical. This break with tradition requires a shift of gears
although this effect is not always foreseen while the work is in progress. in our thinking.
Abstraction usually involves reordering and emphasis—in short, the route taken
to arrive at a certain result. It is a stripping-down to expressive and
communicative essentials. The end result is not always appreciated by observers We often identify a work by its subject: a landscape painting, a sculpture of a
conditioned to expect a literal copying of a subject (fig. 1.14). young woman, a lithograph of a cat. Form (or design), is the visual organization
of the art work -how the artist has used line, shape, value, color, etc. Content is
Although simplification frequently results, changes in direction toward
the impact or meaning of this work.
abstraction do not mean a less profound outcome; instead, they are intended to
make the deeper meaning more accessible. When an observer's expectation is The term form is used in various ways when referring to art objects. When
literal, the intended content of the artwork is often misinterpreted. In the case applied to sculpture, form refers to the total organization or composition. A
of nonobjective or nonliteral abstraction, the "objective" is the content, as in all sculpture's appearance is a result of the use of the elements of line, texture,
art (see fig. 6.6).The content in such work is generally subjective and sometimes color, shape, and value and their relationship to the principles of harmony and
totally invented, and a subject, if one exists (although normally it does not) is variety. Form does not refer exclusively to the sculpture's shape, although a
unseen. We often see the term "abstract" used comprehensively for all art that successful shape is the result of good composition (fig. 1.12). Sculptors may
is both derivative and nonderivative.We think a distinction should be made. In refer to "forms," on the other hand, as the shapes suggested by cavities or
truth, abstract is more often a verb than a noun. protuberances.
The progress toward content in the development of an artwork generally Formal organization, even when applied to two-dimensional work, involves all
follows a certain course. The artist is motivated by feelings about a subject the visual devices available to the artist in the material of his or her choice.
(which we shall call the "what").That subject may or may not be a Using these devices, artists must make their arrangement and manipulation
representational likeness. The artist then manipulates the artistic elements most effective for what is being expressed. Some artists arrange more intuitively
(line, shape, etc.) to create the kind of form (the "how") that will result in the than others, some more logically. With experience, however, all of them
desired content (the "why").The content expresses the artist's feelings (fig. develop an instinctive feeling for organization.
1.15). In this process, the artist attempts to make all parts of the work mutually
interactive and interrelated— as they are in a living organism. If this is achieved, Form (including the principles of order) is so important to the creation and
we can call it organic unity, containing nothing that is unnecessary or understanding of art that we devote an entire chapter to it in this book. The
distracting, with relationships that seem inevitable. principles of formal order are flexible, with no dogmatic rules; every work is
different and has its own unique problems. Nevertheless, despite their
A television set might be used as an illustration of organic unity because it has a flexibility, the principles are employed to give the work a meaningful
complex of parts intended to function together, like the organs in the human construction.
body. A TV contains the minimum number of parts necessary to function, and
these parts work only when properly assembled with respect to each other.
When all the parts are activated, they become organically unified. As in the case
of sophisticated engineering, this sense of reciprocal "wholeness" is also sought
in art. There are three basic types of Visual Art. Subcategories exist in each of these
types. Often, these types are misrepresented or more often, misunderstood.
Wholeness is difficult to detect in the works of some contemporary artists who Whether the work is three dimensional sculpture or two dimensional, it will still
challenge tradition. In their works, the distinctions between subject, form, and fall under one these three main types. These types are representational,
content are blurred, lost, or "muddied" because these components are abstract, or non-objective. The intent of the artist often times informs us on the
type of art at which we are viewing. Beyond this, the application of the medium Many people have difficultly in understanding the differences between abstract
can also have an effect on the type of artwork. art and non-objective art. The clear difference lies in the subject matter
chosen. If the artist begins with a subject from reality, the artwork is
considered to be abstract. If the artist is creating with no reference to reality,
Representational artwork aims to represent actual objects or subjects from then the work is considered to be non-objective.
reality. Subcategories under representational art include Realism,
Impressionism, Idealism, and Stylization. All of these forms of
representationalism represent actual subjects from reality. Although some of
these forms are taking steps toward abstraction, they still fall under the
The third type of art is often mistaken for Abstract art although it is entirely
category of representation. Representational art is perhaps the oldest of the
different from it. Non-Objective art takes nothing from reality. It is created
three types of art. It can be traced back to the Paleolithic figurine, The Venus of
purely for aesthetic reasons. The intent of Non-objective art is to use the
Willendorf. It is also the easiest to digest from a viewer's perspective.
elements and principles of art in a way that results in a visually stimulating
work. It is purely that simple.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Two Sisters (on the Terrace), 1881

We can easily identify with recognizable subjects in a painting, drawing, or

sculpture. This makes representational art widely accepted among the
masses. Representational art also represents the largest collection of artwork
created. Considering that the other two types, abstract and non-objective, are
relatively new types of art, this makes perfect sense. Representational art has
gone through many phases and movements, yet the principle of presenting the
viewer with recognizable subject matter has stayed the same. It is worth noting
that some representational art flirts with abstraction. It could be said that
some representational artwork happens to be more realistic while other forms
focus on the artist's perception of the subject.

The often misunderstood type of art known as abstraction aims to take subjects
from reality but present them in way that is different from the way they are
viewed in our reality. This may take the form of emphasizing lines, shapes,
or colors that transform the subject. Abstract art includes the subcategories of
Minimalism, Cubism, and Precisionism.

Abstraction can also happen when the artist decides to view the subjects in a
non- traditional manner. Abstraction is relatively new to the art world, having
it's earliest roots in the deviations from reality taken by the Impressionists. It
began to gain popularity in various forms around the world at the end of the
19th century. Artists began to take a more intellectual approach to painting.