Theory 7 – Post-Modernism

Anything goes..

Doris Lessing ‘The Cleft’ – ‘The Cleft’ could be classed as a post-modern piece simply due to the fact that Lessing ‘appropriated’ events/notions from history such as the pre-60s socially accepted notion that women belonged in the kitchen and were nothing but baby and homemakers. She then transformed this fact into a piece of fiction that focuses primarily on this notion and applied it to a story that sees women in these exact roles.

Hans Giger ‘Necromonicon’ – Post-Modernism has a preference for abstract or non-realist forms, and the desire to effect a complete break with the past. This is very much the case with ‘Necromonicon’. With anthropomorphic features on nightmarish bio-mechanical aliens, Necromonicon couldnt get any further from the realists.


Theory 6 – Marxism

The requirement to judge all activities of a society, its artistic activities included, in political perspective.

Doris Lessing ‘The cleft’ –  Lessing confronts the themes that inspired much of her early writing: how men and women manage to live side by side in the world and how the troublesome particulars of gender affect every aspect of our existence. Although over a century since the establishment of the suffragettes, Lessing continues to confront issues of  perception of the roles of both genders.

In the book she writes of the very earliest form of human, with women being maternal, unadventurous homemakers and of men being adventure seekers, rebels who show no interest in homemaking. There are many political connotations associated with this.

Since the suffrogettes in the late 19th century to the present day, women have been fighting for years to be acknowledged as equals to men. In contrast, men’s rights movement (MRM) fight for rights generally associated with divorce and children.

‘The Cleft’ from a political standpoint discusses issues that were proliferate pre-19th century but are a complete contrast to today’s mens and womens rights.

Hans Giger ‘Necromonicon’ – Marxism attempts to show how art is tied to specific classes, how images contain information about the economy. ‘Necromonicon’ is a series of paintings that depict fantasy, horror and sex as the main themes.There are no apparent political motivations (intentional or accidental) in the production of this work. Therefore I don’t see the relevance in applying the Marxist theory here.

Theory 5 – Institutional Theory of Art

‘x is an artwork in the classificatory sense if and only if (1) x is an artefact (2) upon which someone acting on behalf of a certain institution (the artworld) confers the status of being a candidate for appreciation.

Doris Lessing ‘The cleft’ – This is an ‘artwork’ as defined by The Institutional Theory of Art due to the simple fact that it was read, accepted and published by a publisher. The book has also been widely critiqued as mentioned earlier, the literary critic Harold Bloom wrote an honest but scathing well as many others. The critics and publishers are people in a position of authority within the ‘artworld’ and as such thier recognition of ‘The Cleft’ make it a piece of art.

Hans Giger ‘Necromonicon’ – Necromonicon is a published compendium of images and as such has been recognized by publishers and critics.This work was recognized by the film director Ridley Scott who then asked Giger to create the aliens in the film ‘Alien’ heavily based on this work. Subsequent film directors have also taken the design of the aliens and used them in the sequels. Giger also received recognition for this work in 1980 by receiving an Oscar for Best Achievement for Visual Effects.

His work in Necromonicon has been very popular on the tattoo scene with many tattooists receiving requests for his designs (see image below).

Film Directors, Publishers, Critics and Tattoo artists alike are all prominent within the ‘artworld’ and recognize Necronomicon, therefore it would classed as art as defined by The Institutional Theory of Art.


Theory 4 – Aesthetics

‘x is an art work if and only if x is produced with the intention that it possess  a certain capacity, namely the capacity of affording aesthetic experience’.

Doris Lessing ‘The Cleft’ –  The aesthetics in this book are derived from its content and as such would be classed as a ‘content orientated account‘, ie ‘The Cleft is an artwork because it is intended to present unities, diversities and/or intensities for apprehension’. Apprehension states from the plot/narrative, this is essential in creating a successful book and Doris Lessing very much succeeds in this.

Hans Giger ‘Necromonicon’ – Theres no doubt that ‘Necromonicon’ provides an intense aesthetic experience for viewers. For me, it is the appreciation of the immense detail and imagination obvious in his paintings that is awe inspiring. For others it could be horror. The artists aesthetic intention here is to portray the beauty of the human figure and the skeleton. By introducing bio-mechanical elements the appreciation of the human of elements increases.

Theory 3 – Form

‘x is an artwork if and only if: (1) x has content (2) x has form (3) the form and content of x are related to each other in a satisfyingly appropriate

Form follows function.

Doris Lessing ‘The Cleft’ – This novel has form in {form of} the narrative/story/plot. With this being a literary piece of work the form and content inevitably co-exist.
Hans Giger ‘Necromonicon’ – If Necromonicon was viewed in the traditional interpretation of formalism then it would not be considered to posses significant form due to the fact that the primary function is to scare people and certainly not to ‘invite the appreciation of significant form’.

Neo-formalism fixes that though. The image below was used as the front cover of Necromonicon. The content consists of a satyr sitting on a throne of skuls surrounded by naked women/aliens, snakes and pentagrams. The form is the relationship between all of these elements. The women are cradled among the snakes, the snakes are intertwined within the pentagrams. The satyr is connected to these elements by its throne. The color scheme is cold with greys and sepia tones, this is further emphasized by the snakes as they breathe frost/smoke.  There is a sense of balance and symmetry to this painting which overall makes the content and form of this painting visually stimulating.

Theory 2 – Expressionism

Expressionism = Something is art only if it expresses emotion.

Doris Lessing ‘The Cleft’ – This piece of literary work was written with the intention of portraying a ‘prologue’ to modern humans. Lessing admits being fascinated by an early scientific paper which concluded that all humans at one time in our evolution were all female. And so Lessing wrote ‘The Cleft’, a fictitious work that is based on this theory.

This belief is fully expressed in her writing and does well in conveying the emotions associated with such a belief, for example her frustration directed  at the male gender. This emotion is understood by the reader, however, is not (by the majority) reciprocated. The literary critic Harold Bloom once accused Lessing of ‘a crusade against male human beings’.

‘The Cleft’ expresses the emotions felt by the author quite clearly . The book brings forth emotions individual of the reader generally due to the controversial theory behind the work. Therefore ‘The Cleft’ is a work that fits into the category of expressionism.

Hans Giger ‘Necromonicon’ – This series of paintings, (in my opinion) is the very definition of expressionism. His paintings portray images of bio-mechanical humanoids, aliens and nightmarish landscapes.
Giger is documented as saying he fascinated with such things, as well as “bones and vertebrae” (see interview link below).

For anyone viewing Necromonicon for the first time may be appalled, disgusted or scared at the sight of these nightmarish figures. The interview elaborates when Gigers wife Carmen Maria Giger  explains that many women in particular find his work disturbing. For those who know his work already agree with Gigers own opinion that it is beautiful, distinctive and original to the point that his work has inspired many feature films to adopt his style and characters in their movies.

Theory 1 – Representation

Imitation = x is an artwork only if it is an imitation.

Representational = x represents y. For example an artist intends x (a picture) to stand for y (a haystack) and the audience realizes that x is intended to stand for y’

Neo-representationalism = x is an artwork only if it is about something.
Doris Lessing ‘The Cleft’ – This piece of literary work would not fall into the category of Imitation art as it is a work of fiction and so is not an imitation of anything factual.

‘The cleft’ could be classed as a representational work. The book is written with characters, theories and content that are familiar yet still fictitious as a whole.

‘The cleft’ would be considered a piece of neo-representational art due to the fact that it contains content (the story) and is therefore ‘about’ something.

Hans Giger ‘Necromonicon’ – The Necromonicon series of artworks would not be categorized as a work of imitation. This is due to the fact that the artwork (as a whole) contains no content that could be said to be an imitation of any real world elements.

Necromonicon contains images of bio-mechanical humans. This of course in itself is not an imitation of any thing found in the real world. However, certain elements within the whole work could be classed as representational. For example, the picture below contains easily distinguishable facial features and is therefore defined as representational.

As with ‘The cleft’, Necromonicon contains content that is intended to be ‘about’ something. Therefore the work would be classed as neo-representational.