Describe Existentialism

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The twentieth century movement existentialism is centred on emphasizing people's survival as free responsible agents who define personal development on their own. It considers making people accountable without the help of existing rules, laws, or traditions.
People make choices based on beliefs, experience, and attitude. They do this while searching to identify who and what they are all through their lives (Crumbaugh, James, and Leonard 203).
Existentialism, during the post war period in 1945 to 1960, was stressed on the unique characters, independent experience, and it asserted the freedom of individuals. Jean Dubuffet and Jean-Paul Sartre were the most prominent existentialism advocates and philosophers who expressed thought through art. Both philosophers addressed the issue of human Freedom of Choice and Self-consciousness, Human existence and Authenticity, and the Crowd or Society influence in their work on existentialism.

Human existence and Authenticity

“A man is nothing else but what he makes of Himself.” (Sartre 3). In his work of visual art, Sartre described his approach to philosophy as Atheistic Existentialism where he stated that at first, a man is nothing, only afterward will he be something. In his early philosophy, Sartre elucidated that humans existence is determined by choice on how individuals choose to live, regardless of the circumstances.
In his work, Dubuffet expressed his existentialism facts using paintings where he believed his style of expression evoked the style in which object appears. According to Greenberg (122), the notion of authenticity involves “existing as one own,” Greenberg in his review of Jean Dubuffet exhibitions stated that the Jeans art represented the nature of human existence as an intelligent element detached from life and the authentic being lives in accord with nature. In their artwork, both Sartre and Dubuffet showed that if the individual makes wrong choices, he/she will live to be responsible for those choices. Additionally, their art expressed the choice of life and existence as a personal decision which is delivered from what one wants in life.

Freedom of Choice and Self-consciousness

The philosopher’s fundamental views on writing and analysis on human reality and self-consciousness were right and exact. Their views entailed the individual’s subjective understanding of life and the real consequences as a social group or individuals. Besides, the discerning power of self-consciousness enables people to stand outside themselves and distinguish that the present state could be different, (Rowlands 175) urged that, individuals are obliged to have a project which is set to make desirable independent choices for their lives.
After the horrible war destruction, many innocent people were hospitalized. Through his high textured cow portrait, Dubuffet tried to represent the innocence of the war victims held in psychological facilities. Moreover, the ignorance of people to realize the harm caused by the war inspired the artworks that emphasized on purity uninfluenced by cultural. The philosopher’s works in existentialism stressed on individual consciousness to embrace their freedom of choice, and a have a self-willingness to make the right independent decisions.

Crowd or Society influence on decision making

The existentialistic ideas came along during the great depression and the World War II. During the war period, the spirit of optimism was destroyed and continues to this day as a prevalent way of thinking and reasoning (the freedom to make a collective choice on beliefs and lifestyle) in the society (Clemence 502). The artwork presented by Dubuffet and Sartre showed that the individualism was destroyed and made an individual become what others or the people in power want dehumanizing and reducing the aspect of “Being an object.”
Similarly, based on Sartre definition of existentialism, own judgment is the determining factor of what an individual becomes rather than the political or religious world values. The society collective decision making has influenced the individual way of life and the overall practices (Denton 98). Due to the power of society; the philosophers added that the individuals engaged in activities not because they decided to but because the community was doing it, or the lifestyle beliefs they chose states so.

Andy Warhol's images

Andy Warhols was an American illustrator, director, and a producer who led the visual art movement by the name pop art. During his life, he explored and the relationship that existed between artistic expressional, advertising and celebrity culture by the 1960s. During his life, Warhol drew a significant number of images which were marked an important stage in the artist’s world. (Bergin 362), Warhol’s iconic work of art and images depicted a high level of creativity; his creations were irresistibly collectible and highly valuable. This section of the paper will try to validate the states of Warhol’s images.

Referential and as fiction

The painting and images by Warhol can be termed as referential as most of his images and canvas featured and promoted a collection of personalities and nature while some other artwork entailed creation and promotion of product brands. In his work on Gold Marilyn Monroe in the year 1962 after the death of the American actress and model Marilyn Monroe. Warhol being frustrated with the pop culture popularity, he obtained an old black-and-white portrait of her and created several images of her to present the culture which was reprinted in magazines and newspapers during that period.
Warhol images can be labeled as fictional since some of his portraits such as the myths-series painting, featured imaginative ten fictional characters taken from popular culture. Also, the images fiction nature can be seen from his series of creation which portrayed the electric chair as a metaphor for death.

Connected and disconnected

Warhol’s images can be read as connected because they had a relationship with the natural context. In his flowers portraits, Warhol’s in 1960 represented image connection where he drew simple flower shape symbols that connected nature with different cultures. Similarly, the images by Warhol can be read as disconnected. As (Wieck 332) expanded, images and prints need to use the right symbols to improve their connectivity, in this regard some of Warhol’s imaged failed or inadequately failed to use the proper symbols to represent the image target purpose.

Effective and affectless

Warhol’s images as effective, as (Goodman 65) states, an image has to grab the viewers’ attention to be effective. The flowers portraits created by Warhol had brilliant and bright colors which grasped the human attention because he knew the human brain is wired to react faster to them actively. On his work Brillo Boxes in 1964, using the silkscreen techniques, Warhol presented images with replicas of the most popular product found in the supermarket and made it more related to art. Warhol's images can be declaimed as effectless because they had no particular articulated purpose. Warhols created some of his pictures just for pleasurable without a major motivation, while some of his creation was for his practice, therefore, had no specific theme.

Critical or complacent

Warhol’s images labeled as critical. During the exhibitions, he was more than willing to take up suggestions about his creation. This shows that his primary motivation was to communicate a particular idea to the world other than self-satisfying. Moreover, it can be learned by the fact that during the creation of Oxidation Painting in 1978, Warhol included his friends and made a canvas of copper. On the other had Warhol's images can be seen as complacent since he was self-regarding about the images he created. The conceited aspect can be verified by, in 1962 when he made the coca-cola print; he stated that “I just paint things I always think are beautiful,” Warhol’s declaration validate that his images can be named as self-assured. 

Work Cited

Bergin, Paul. "Andy Warhol: the artist as a machine." Art journal26.4 (1967): 359-363.
Clemence, Madeleine. "Existentialism: A philosophy of commitment." The American journal of nursing (1966): 500-505.
Crumbaugh, James C., and Leonard T. Maholick. "An experimental study in existentialism: The psychometric approach to Frankl's concept of noogenic neurosis." Journal of clinical psychology 20.2 (1964): 200-207.
Denton, David E. "Existentialism in American educational philosophy." International Review of Education 14.1 (1968): 97-102.
Goodman, Nelson. Languages of art: An approach to a theory of symbols. Hackett publishing, 1968.
Greenberg, Clement. "Review of Exhibitions of Jean Dubuffet and Jackson Pollock." Collected Essays and Criticism 2 (1947): 122.
Rowlands, Mark. "Jean-Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness." Topoi 30.2 (2011): 175.
Sartre, Jean-Paul, and Philip Mairet. Existentialism and humanism. London: Methuen, 1960.
Selz, Peter Howard. The Work of Jean Dubuffet. Museum of modern art, 1962.
Wieck, David. "Aesthetic symbols." Philosophy East and West19.3 (1969): 327-342.

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