POP Art - All American Style
The amount of money and time we waste in this country is always under scrutiny. Ron English takes this controversy to new heights. His art screams modern pop culture. He will boldly display what most people are thinking. His billboards are filled with controversy and that is just the way he likes it. He makes no excuses for what he represents. English says that he is only speaking the truth and dispute is something he never shies away from. He attacks our everyday bombardment of capitalism through advertisements. He takes the original and changes it into his pop art. In his essay, Ways of Seeing, John Berger maintains that “History always constitutes the relation between a present and its past. Consequently fear of the present leads to mystification of the past” (11). The dictionary defines mystification as, “the activity of obscuring people's understanding, leaving them baffled or bewildered” (dictionary.com). English is my hero for doing exactly that. He leaves no questions as to what he is trying to convey in his art. He spreads his message in his artwork that he sells all over the world, sending the same meaning of corporate greed and unhealthy politics. English also has other wonderful pieces of art that capture the innocent eyes of children. Their faces lure you in because they he draws with such detail that they appear life-like. The sweet little cherubs with their expression of love, need and want are also depicted with a camel cigarette puffing out of their mouths. This changes the whole image of the sugary little child looking at you with glossy eyes. His communication of how gluttonous our tobacco companies have become to keep up sales. They target our children. Everything that English exposes is truth. Even if someone does not agree with every topic he targets, one cannot deny how fearlessly he communicates with his audience.
The colors for the pop art that English depicts for the MacDonald’s propaganda billboard are creepy and eerie. The picture is designed for the reader to feel sick with dark crimson hues looming overhead. The use of the reds and dark grays add to the putrid feeling a consumer is supposed to get while looking at the billboard. Placing the clown off to the side instead of in the middle is aesthetic and more pleasing to the eye. It is a good way of displaying the main feature in a painting. There is a mathematical reasoning why utilizing the blank space on a canvas is wise thing to do. Phillip Russell writes, “Research into the aesthetics of the proportions of simple figures has a long history. This research is dominated by the search for empirical support for the notion that figures embodying the so-called golden section have special aesthetic significance. As it applies to simple figures, the golden section is a ratio of two parameters of a figure, such as the longer and shorter sides of a rectangle, of approximately 0.618 (or its reciprocal, 1.618)” (ProQuest). If you take a subject and place it in the very center of a square it will not have the same effect for the viewer as it does when placed off to one side. Presentation is the key when displaying art. Art and math complement one another flawlessly. McDonald’s uses a happy bright red in their advertisements. It is the red that stimulates the appetite, appealing to the parents of the kids screaming in the backseat for a happy meal. I am bemused by the way advertisements easily lead us into believing we and/or our children cannot live without their convenient product. If I was driving down the highway and saw this billboard with the sneering clown I would think it was an ad for the next Steven King novel and not the fun loving crazy clown associated with my kids favorite French-fries. Chemicals fill the bellies of the masses in our modern way of eating food. There is no nutritional value in the “value” meal. Pop art is doing what it has always done. Causing the consumer to think about what they are...
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