Subject

DEFINITION

That which is represented in an artwork. For example, a nineteenth century rural American classroom is the subject in the painting by Winslow Homer (American, 1836-1910) of see thumbnail to rightThe Country School, 1871, oil on canvas, Saint Louis Art Museum. The subject of a work is one of its literal qualities.Quote: "Nothing is so poor and melancholy as an art that is interested in itself and not in its subject." George Santayana (1863-1952), Spanish and American philosopher, poet, and novelist. Quoted in John Glassner and Sidney Thomas, editors, The Nature of Art, 1964. "Energy is eternal delight; and from the earliest times human beings have tried to imprison it in some durable hieroglyphic. It is perhaps the first of all the subjects of art." Kenneth Clark (1903-1983), English art writer. The Nude: A Study of Ideal Art. Related link: The Russian emigrant conceptual artist team Vitaly Komar and Alex Melamid are responsible for the projects they titled "The Most Wanted paintings" and "The Least Wanted paintings", reflect the artists' interpretation of a professional market research survey about aesthetic preferences and taste in painting. Intending to discover what a true "people's art" would look like, the artists, with the support of the Nation Institute, hired Marttila & Kiley, Inc. to conduct the first poll. In 1994, they began the process which resulted in America's Most Wanted and America's Least Wanted paintings, which were first exhibited under the title "People's Choice." Their research resulted in data on the subjects peoples of numerous countries prefer to see in paintings. See conceptual art. Also see allegory, content, genre, iconography, iconology, interpretation, taxis, and theme.

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