CAVA101/102:Round 3 Artist Research 

Artist 1: Donald Keys 

Recently I wandered into the Shoalhaven City Arts Centre and came across an exhibition  by Australian contemporary painter Donald Keys titled ‘Art Heads’. This exhibition is a collection of twenty portrait paintings of Australian artists whose work Keys finds inspiring. From Bulli, Keys was inspired to create the works when he himself was sitting for a portrait. ‘Art Heads’ is currently on display at the Shoalhaven City Arts Centre in Nowra, until the 8th of July of this year.

Better known for his landscape paintings, Keys has spent over two years working on the ‘Art Heads‘ collection.  Below are some photos I took on my iPhone of Keys’ portraits. Most of the collection is painted using acrylic paint. Next to each painting is a story about the artist and their work, which features prominently in the paintings as well.

Keys’ portraits are a good example of the use of colour and how colours interact together. I love how the vibrant colour choices create depth against the lighter colours used in the background. Below are some pictures I took while at the exhibition.

Keys uses vibrant colours in the portrait of the artist, and lighter colours in the background of the work . The use of black, white and grey in the t-shirt reminded me of the recent grayscale exercise we had to do in class.

Resource List:

A video of the opening of the exhibition ‘Art Heads’ with a short talk from Donald Keys about his work :

Artist 2: Josef Albers 

Josef Albers, along with his wife Anni were among the leading pioneers of twentieth century modernism. In 1950-1958 Albers was chairman of the department of design at the Yale University School of Art. Albers was also an influential teacher, writer, painter and colour theorist.  In 1950, at the age of 62, Albers began a series of works titled ‘Homage to the Square‘. Over the next twenty six years, until his death in 1976, Albers produced hundreds of variations on the basic compositional scheme of three or four coloured squares set inside each other. The image below contains some examples of Albers work in this series.


While the series of paintings in ‘Homage to the Square’ look simple, they are actually more complex than they first appear. The superimposed squares are not merely stacked but rather painted in a manner that draws the eye of the viewer in and out of the work repeatedly; almost to a hypnotising effect. Albers believed that teaching art was not a matter of teaching techniques or imparting rules, but of leading students to a greater awareness of what they were seeing. His work ‘Homage to the Square‘ is a great example of Albers extending the viewers knowledge of how colours interact with each other.  The colours that Albers has utilised in his work has been meticulously calculated such that each square seems to be altering in size. I find Albers work relevant to what I have been learning in the studio sessions about how complementary and tertiary colours interact with each other. 

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Artist 3: Larry Bell

Larry Bell is a contemporary American artist and sculptor who lives and works in New Mexico. In 1963 Bell began exploring the passing of light through cube sculptures made of glass. Bell found that presenting these sculptures on pedestals made of transparent glass offered the viewer the essence of the captured light; challenging notions of mass, volume and gravity. 

One of my favourite sculptures of Bell’s is his glass red cubes which have featured in an exhibition titled Pacific Red II. These cubes are shown below displayed at an outdoor terrace at The Whitney Museum in Manhattan.  

Bell’s Pacific Red II, 2017, Whitney Museum, NYC

Bell installed six cubes of different saturation red laminated glass. Inside each cube is a smaller cube of a deeper shade of red. These cubes are like a 3D homage to Josef Alber’s own ‘Homage to the Square’ series. The Pacific Red cubes remind me of what we have be learning about this week about light, tone when drawing and painting geometric forms in the studio. 

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