Forward Retreat

Topics: Art, Painting, Mark Tansey Pages: 2 (520 words) Published: April 1, 2013
Ryan Melanson
Mrs. O’Neal
English 1302 8MW
Forward Retreat
Color, tone, composition, texture, mood and form are familiar words to art critics. Diction enables observers of paintings, photos, etc. to elicit feelings that are encouraged by another persons’ work. Mark Tansey is an American artist that employs humor in many of his works in subtle and evident ways. One example that stands out is Forward Retreat. At first glance Tansey’s Forward Retreat seems to have the essence of realism but a subtle observation changes this.

Some apparent figures and objects are noticeable at first glance of the painting. The riders seated on horseback are in military dress. With more attention to detail it is noticeable that the riders are wearing different uniforms; it is possible to infer with little knowledge about WWI and WWII that these soldiers were from the superpowers that were prominent in the twentieth century e.g. Britain, France, America, and Germany. Shattered pottery, broken frames, and other objects related to art litter the surface of the ground. The soldiers seem unconscious of the fragmented objects and ride intently focusing on a fixed position in the distance. Unbeknownst to the riders, their horses are running over the pottery, picture frames, and other items that employ art and culture.

It is likely that this scene is taking place on a battlefield at some location in Europe. Tensey lets the viewer see the band of soldiers by a reflection and indirectly to take the focus away, at least momentarily, from their backwards seating. The soldiers’ direction emphasizes their ignorance to there immediate surroundings. Possibly unconscious that their own actions are superseding the past works of artists. Water is the archetype for growth and catharsis. Forward Retreat employs water in two ways: clouds and a puddle. Interestingly the water is shaded red. The abundance of water must be recognized to understand the idea of new life brought from...
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