Jul 13, 2010

Shaped Canvas Art - Departure From The Rectangle

Canvas art is traditionally made on a flat rectangular canvas. It has been done so for many years, but a departure of this configuration is seen in the form of shaped canvas art. It received its first important attention from the art world in the 1960s. It was then when a number of such paintings were made. Shaped canvases can be of different designs 'round, oval, or even a hexagon. Paintings made on a round canvas are traditionally known as tondo and was a popular choice for Renaissance Painters like Raphael for making Madonna paintings.

These shaped canvasses impart uniqueness and freshness to the canvas art. In addition to the above, canvasses can also be made in three dimensional structures, adding another level to the painting. Shaped Canvasses also impart a certain movement to the art work which is established both by the canvas and the internal space of the container canvas. Some critics argue that by adding another dimension to the painting, the painting is actually transformed into a sculpture, but generally such shaped canvasses are still considered as a painting art form.

Pioneers of Shaped Canvas Art

The earliest known reference to shaped canvas paintings is in the 1930s attributed to an artist Abraham Tobias. In 1948 artist Rupprecht Geiger showcased his shaped paintings in Paris, France. Another known reference is of the paintings of Edward Clark exhibited at the Brata Gallery of New York in 1957. Further work was done by Jasper Johns who experimented with compartmentalised and shaped canvases.

The 1960s saw a number of artists experimenting and showcasing their different versions of shaped canvas art paintings. Whether it was varied canvas shape, multi dimensions, or multi layers each added a new layer to the idea of shaped paintings.

Recent Works

In recent times too, a number of artists have showcased some very exciting paintings in the field of shaped canvasses. Elizabeth Murray is one such artist whose use of colour and shape made the painting explode from its constrictive rectangular frame. Anthony Poon from Singapore was well known for his abstract, cool, and minimal geometry shaped canvasses which were associated with the 1960s era. His work was characterised by undulating repetitions and analytical poise.

Pacita Abad, an artist from Philippines created her paintings as three dimensional paintings by stuffing and then stitching the canvasses. She called this method as trapunto, named after a quilting technique, and combined it with varied media effects and a splash of colours to create wonderful art pieces.

Limitations of Shaped Canvas Art

It should be known that very innovatively shaped canvasses suffer from certain inherent limitations. The first limitation of such shapes is the canvas material itself. The canvas is made by weaving and thus best suited to shapes which are rectangular and flat so that the tension on all threads of the canvas fabric is equal.

Another limitation of shaped canvas art is that a multidimensional object is bound to gather dust over time and hence keeping it clean can require extra attention and work. Nowadays however, alternate materials are being made available for making the canvas which can do away with some of these limitations of using shapedcanvas art.

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