Essay: Comparative Visual Analysis Essay

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  • Subject area(s): Photography and arts essays
  • Reading time: 8 minutes
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  • Published on: August 9, 2018
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  • Number of pages: 2
  • Comparative Visual Analysis Essay Overall rating: 5 out of 5 based on 3 reviews.

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In this essay, I will be looking at two different works. ‘The Protector’ (figure 1) by Paul Klee, made with ink paper on board (Support: 300x487mm) in 1962, and ‘Drawing for Whamm!’ (figure 2) by Roy Lichtenstein made with graphite on paper (Support: 149x350mm, Framed:198x352x19mm) in 1963.

Klee created The Protector’ during his time teaching at the Bauhaus in Germany. It depicts two subjects. On the left, a man with his hands held by his head, and his mouth open wide portraying a shocked expression. On the right, a dog like creature looking fierce and aggressive towards something outside the drawing. The two subjects are connected by a leach.

‘Drawing for ‘Whamm!’ was created during pop arts peak in America during the 1960’s. It also contains two subjects. On the left a cartoon plane shooting at another plane on the right. The left plane seems to have been successful as the other goes up in flames and smoke, with the iconic ‘WHAMM!’ font emerging from the wreckage.

I have selected these two works to compare because I believe they have similar qualities in terms of their visual appearance. They are both landscape, have two main subjects and use similar materials. However, they were produced almost 40 years apart, use very different qualities of line and drawing techniques and were both influenced by very different art movements. This means that there is a vast amount to compare and contrast with, making the argument that I will conduct…

By comparing these works I will address 4 main points. Firstly, how both drawings are made by considering the quality of line and how this communicates different experiences and feelings within the audience. Secondly, how the artists attitudes compare with consideration to their passions for the art of drawing and painting. Next, how historical components at the time will have changed the purpose and meaning of the drawings. Lastly, considering wider contexts such as how both artists were effected by other artists and art movements within their time era.


Drawing techniques + symbolizations

The use of different drawing techniques is evident when looking at these two artworks. ‘The Protector’ displays the use of quick, sketchy, unplanned lines to create a simple yet busy drawing. The website ‘Paul Klee and Surrealism’ have described the quality of line used in ‘The Protector’ as childlike. “Paul Klee has used simple and almost childlike lines that create strong and dynamic form” [1] this is not the only time Klee has been referred to as childlike, when J Thwaites in the article ‘Paul Klee and the Object’ explained that “People are not wrong to compare it to the imagery of a child” [2] when describing Klee’s work. This shows there is a style to Klee’s work that is very similar to that of a child’s. However, this does not make his art work any less influential or thought provoking.

The inaccuracy of his line may symbolize the emotions within the drawing, how the man is shown looking startled by what the dog is barking at. The dog looking fierce and bearing his teeth. This creates an atmosphere of panic and fear in the drawing. These emotions compliment the quick lines, as if he was rushing to finish it, because he was panicking or scared. Oskar Schlemmer, made the statement about Klee- “With a minimum of line he can reveal all of his wisdom.” [3] Showing that to create emotion and atmosphere within and around the drawing he does not need to be extravagant and over the top with the line he produces. This is very evident in ‘The Protector’ with his ‘childlike lines we can see the underlying emotions and feelings with very little to take from. Another quote from J Thwaites article sums this concept up perfectly with the quote. “he gives the symbol which frees your imagination to supply the whole” [4]. With the simple lines acting as the symbol, they open your imagination to be able to complete the image with your own interpretation. Meaning the childlike lines may have been deliberate when creating this drawing as he wants his audience to “supply the whole” themselves.

‘Drawing for ‘Whaam!’ is a huge contrast to Klee’s work in terms of the quality of line and how it is produced. Within ‘Whaam!’, we see clearly planned and thought out lines that look like they may have been drawn using ruler and have been carefully considered in the composition of the drawing. This preciseness and planning may have been due to the fact that this drawing was a plan for a bigger painting, therefore time has been put in to ensure all planning is correct. “He also aligned the deadly rocket, and thus the entire scene, on the horizontal axis, and balanced the compositional weights of the two planes-an effect reinforced by his placement of the planes on separate, equally sized panels.” [5] This quote from the book ‘Modern Romance: Lichtenstein’s Comic Book Paintings’ shows the rigorous planning that Lichtenstein has put in to his work to make sure the composition and the weightings of the two planes on the separate canvases are perfect. This shows that Klee and Lichtenstein have very different approaches in terms of the planning and preciseness. This is also shown by Klee’s famous description of drawing as “taking a line for a walk” [6] from the Tate Modern website on the exhibition ‘Paul Klee – Making Visible’ this shows how relaxed Klee is towards drawing, he just draws and sees where the line takes him.

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