Option 1: Choose a work to discuss from one genre that interprets a work from another genre.
• Include the title, artist, and description of both works.
• Examine how the artist of the second work captured the subject or story of the first.
• Support your point(s) with a statement from the second artist that discusses the influence, reasoning, or interpretation of the original work on the second work.
Title: “The Waste Land” by T.S. Eliot interpreted by Robert Motherwell’s “Elegies to the Spanish Republic” series
The abstract expressionist “Elegies to the Spanish Republic” paintings by Robert Motherwell were produced in the 1950s as a reaction to the Spanish Civil War. The shapes and lines of Motherwell’s paintings evoke a sense of sorrow and despair, and the artist employed black and white to convey a sense of grieving and loss.
The poem “The Waste Land” by T.S. Eliot serves as the direct inspiration for one of the works in the series, “Elegy to the Spanish Republic No. 100.” The picture has an abstract black-and-white design that is reminiscent of the disjointed visuals and depressing mood of Eliot’s poem.
Motherwell noted that he was intrigued to Eliot’s poetry because of its complexity and ambiguity, which allowed him to develop his own interpretations and responses to it, in an interview with the Art Institute of Chicago. He said, “With its subtle allusions and parallels to many cultures and different literatures, I felt that I had a comparable in Eliot’s poem.”
The way Motherwell depicts the sense of desolation and disintegration that is prevalent in “Elegy to the Spanish Republic No. 100” shows the influence of “The Waste Land” on the poem. Similar to how Eliot’s poem laments the loss of culture and civilization, the abstract composition and black and white colors of the artwork evoke a sense of sadness and loss.
In addition to Motherwell’s own words, the academic work “Robert Motherwell: The Elegies to the Spanish Republic” by Mary Ann Caws offers additional information about the connection between Motherwell’s series and Eliot’s
poem. Eliot’s poetry and Motherwell’s paintings, according to Caws, both deal with the fallout from violence and the issue of how to produce art and meaning in the wake of catastrophe.
Overall, “Elegy to the Spanish Republic No. 100” is a potent illustration of how poetry may influence and enlighten abstract expressionist painting. Eliot’s poem’s mood and ideas are visually and artistically expressed in the artwork through its use of color, form, and arrangement.
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