The visual arts are created based on one’s influences and inspirations that surround them. It’s a form of expression for most artists as this is how they communicate feelings without directly speaking them. Some artists practice is so powerful, it shapes and effects significant events in society. This is achieved by inspiring the audience who may change their mind about a certain issue or encourage the audience to embrace and support a significant issue/event/cause. 2 well renowned artists, Barbara Kruger and Jean-Michel Basquiat, are prime examples of artists who’s practices in the visual arts have either shaped or been shaped by certain events throughout their life, whether it be in their private lives or events occurring publicly that has an impact on a majority of people. The Barbara Kruger is an American conceptual/pop artist whose works focus mainly on feminism and the social and political stance of things. She takes images from the mass media and pastes big, bold extracts over them such as aphorisms, questions and slogans, both meaningful and eye catching.
Her images sometimes make you look twice to try and fully interpret what the text may mean as opposed to the picture and what she is trying to convey to the audience. Kruger’s artworks have definitely been shaped by events that have taken place and by the ways of life back in the day, when females had a lot of restriction. Kruger being a feminist has always been against that and this is what inspires her to produce such truthful and powerful images. She has produced several artworks that are inspired by natural life experiences that every human shares and in life such as love (everybody can relate and this has been a prime factor influence that shape how many artists work, it’s inspiring, confusing, good and bad) as well as the problems of co-existence. These are uncontrollable in nature, they just occur. Other “controlled” experiences and ways of life are that of consumerism, conformity and the female condition back in those days. These are all present in “Think like us, look like us”, “Your body is a battleground”, and “love for sale by Barbara Kruger. Barbara Kruger’s artworks are created to either agree or oppose the way people think life should be and the rules that must be abided by.
On the other hand Jean-Michel Basquiat’s work deals with a completely different art scene but has had a great impact on society and events as does Barbara Kruger’s. He was a gritty, street-smart graffiti artist before his drug overdose, who focused on “suggestive dichotomies” such as wealth versus poverty, integration versus segregation and inner versus outer experience. His art practice was shaped by the traumatic events he went through as a child growing up, including having abusive parents and a suicidal mother, which then lead him to a troubled adulthood as well. He expresses this fondly in his works, however. Although his art career was brief, Jean-Michel Basquiat has been credited with bringing the African-American and Latino experience in the elite art world. He didn’t want the black people and white people to be separated because of their colour.
He expresses his views on how the blacks were seen by painting El Gran Espectaculo (History of Black People). It was executed at the height of his artistic maturity before the urban energy on the streets of new York had been distorted by the artworld success and stardom. It’s inspired by the obvious events that took place in the 1900’s towards the black people. The racism and criticism. These events shaped his way of thinking and therefore have also shaped his take on art and the artworks he makes. The events that a person experiences in their life can be enough to change them and for the artists, this may have an impact on their practices in the visual arts but it is not always a bad thing. From creating inspirational yet truthful art, sometimes that art may shape the events instead, it may shape the outside world, and how people view certain aspects of life. There is a lot that can change how an artist expresses themselves but then again there is a lot their art can change.