The Post-modernist era and the Modernist era have different ways of thinking behind them. Post-modernism is dominant, irrational, unscientific and is based on subjectivity and belief, whereas modernism is about learning from the past and changing the world’s view. It is practical and theoretical. Post-modernism is a confused state of culture whilst modernism reflects understanding and appreciation with the underlying hope of a utopia.
(Andy Warhol’s ‘Campbell’s Soup Cans’ -1962)
(Philip Johnson’s 'Puerta de Eurpa’ also known as 'Gate of Europe’ - 1996)
(Vivienne Westwood’s 'Shirt’ - 1976)
A post-modernist artist with work similar to my post modernist portrait of Amy Winehouse would be Marcus Harvey, born in 1963 in Leeds and one of a group of artists known as the Young British Artists. 'Sensation’ was an exhibition for contemporary art owned by Charlies Saatchi. This exhibition showed many works by the Young British Artists. In 1995, Harvey painted a famous portrait -‘Myra’ - of the infamous Myra Hindley. Myra Hindley was notorious as the lover and accomplice of Ian Brady, a torturer and serial killer of children. She and Ian Brady were widely known as the “Moors Murderers” because they buried their victims’ bodies on Saddleworth Moor in Yorkshire. Hindley died in prison in 2002 but Brady continues to live out a life sentence.
(Above left is the original photo and above right is Marcus Harvey’s portrait, 'Myra’)
‘Myra’ was painted in white, grey and black acrylic paint on canvas and uses the famous image of Hindley from the time of her arrest but with the twist that the portrait was actually made up of the open palm prints of a child.
Marcus Harvey received a lot of serious criticism for this work, not only for using an enlarged copy of Myra Hindley’s mug shot, which had already become a memorable image and because she was such a hate-figure in society but also because of his use of a child’s handprints to make up the image.
When the painting was exhibited by the Royal Academy of Art, it was defaced on two occasions and had to be displayed behind a screen. Several members of the Royal Academy resigned in protest at it being shown and Hindley herself even wrote from prison to ask for it to be removed.
Much of the criticism of Hindley at the time stemmed from the fact that her actions as a child murderer challenged society’s stereotypical views of women as nurturers of children. People were still outraged, 30 years later, by the fact that Harvey chose to create her face in the portrait from the handprints of a child.
(Above on the left my original painting of Amy Winehouse and above on the right my final painting of Amy Winehouse)
There are similarities with my painting as I also painted it on a canvas with acrylic paint and chose as my subject a famous person – singer Amy Winehouse - who, during her short life, was also the subject of a lot of tabloid speculation and gossip. Harvey’s twist of using the handprints highlights Hindley’s history as a child killer.
In my painting, I use Amy Winehouse’s song lyrics to create the background to highlight her much-documented substance abuse that contributed to her early death.
(Above on the left - a bottle of Chopin vodka and on the right - my bottle with Amy Winehouse’s picture inside)
The original bottle of Chopin’s Vodka carries a picture of the famous Polish composer, Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) on one side, so that when you look through the bottle, you see his picture. I decided to do the same with my picture of Amy Winehouse, as alcohol abuse seems to have played a large part in her demise.