Hoeing, Robert Gwathmey
I didn’t even notice it at first, it hardly stuck out against its counterparts. Most of the other paintings at the museum were splashed with dazzling colors that seemed to lift their two dimensional images out of the frame. “Hoeing” by Robert Gwathmey, seemed to do just the opposite, it drew me in. It must have been its distorted figures that first captured my attention. Surrounded by beautiful paintings that almost seemed life like, “Hoeing” in comparison, was an abstract oil painting of oddly shaped workers. Berger said, “The way we see thing is affected by what we know or what we believe”. (167) Having rarely been to museums except on school trips my exposure to art has been very limited. In fact, most of what I know to be art is derived from a single drawing course I took in high school. Everything in the course was directed towards making your drawing seem life like; proper shading, three-dimensional drawing. In whatever case, I came to believe “good” art was the piece that looked the prettiest. Standing in the museum hall, I wasn’t disappointed, most of the paintings there were so realistic they bordered on the difference between a painting or photo. But “Hoeing” was not attractive, or at least not in the traditional sense. Even the frame looked like it had been chipped away over half century. Looking at the painting I was surprised at how an arbitrary piece could make it into a museum. The painting itself portrayed a group of African-American famers laboring at multiple tasks. The two-dimensional figures were either prominently dark black or brown and were continually bent over from either work or exhaustion. The sky was a dull gray mixed with tints of blue while the ground was a scorched red and orange. The colors didn’t add for detail but rather for mood. The dark undertones brought a “tiresome” behavior to the painting that was complimented by the painting’s simplicity. This painting did not stick out to me for its...
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