Friday, October 15, 2010

Artwork of the Week!

Week 19:

Caroline Dukes (1929-2003)
Landscape #49
Acrylic and charcoal on canvas

Born and raised in Hungary, Caroline Dukes studied sculpture privately and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest in the late-1940s and early-1950s. She moved with her young family to Canada in 1958 and put her art studies on hold until 1968 when she enrolled in the School of Art at the University of Manitoba, graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1972. Initially Dukes’ paintings revealed the stylistic influence of her School of Art teacher Ivan Eyre, but she eventually branched off to a more expressive mode of communication, as can be seen in the loose brushstrokes of Landscape #49. Although Dukes numbered many of her landscape paintings, this particular image is part of a series alternatively titled Apple Pickers or Apples of Sodom. In this series, as in many of her works, Dukes is concerned with the state of humanity and she uses her art to point to larger societal issues. Specifically, Dukes stated that ‘the apple became a symbol of moral decadence; corruption; indifference; violence; greed’ (interview with the artist, Autumn, 2001). Here, a biblical theme is revisited with a twist: a group of voluptuous nude male and female figures push and shove one another in order to grasp the choicest of the forbidden fruit. The large scale of this work is typical of Dukes’ art; in her later years, her paintings became even more monumental in scale, ‘a testament,’ as art historian Claudine Majzels has written,’ to her stamina, survival, and endurance’ (Cities, 8).

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