|The Two Fridas|
Frida Kahlo, 1939
Art Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Cynthia Freeland
Chapter 1: Blood and Beauty
In this chapter, the author poses a question: Why has blood been used in so much art? Good question! I remember when my husband, after a year-long European tour, said he couldn’t bear to see even one more work of art depicting a bloody crucifix scene. And, that’s just the traditional work. Today, artists use blood in a number of ways – a lot of it poured on or applied with a brush.
Freeland offers us several answers to her question:
1. Blood has similar physical characteristics to paint, and it is an eye-catching hue.
2. Blood is symbolic: life, virginity, sacrifice, contagion, and so on.
3. Shock value, especially in contemporary performance art
There is a clear division of purpose between answers 2 and 3. The former brings members of society together ritualistically where the meaning of blood unites them in a shared belief or value. The latter often generates shock and fear in individual viewers who may react in a number of ways, but not uniformly. Rather than unite, this use of blood alienates the viewers.
Perhaps you can clarify and elaborate on this synthesis.
This is only the first part of Chapter 1 and deserves some reflection before moving along to the second part which considers “Taste and beauty.”
What are your thoughts?