Martin Wong Thesis Statement Samples
Martin Wong is an Asian-American modern artist that is known for his innovative painting through expressive paintings that explore the subject of sexuality, ethnic, and racial identities. He gained popularity in New York during the 1980s because of his complex paintings that are usually considered as visionary and social realist. Most of his Eurocentric notions focus on African-American and Latino subjects in the 1980s which later on shifted to creative and bold paintings of his American-Chinese heritage childhood memories and his versions of Hollywood Asian culture. He also incorporated various cultural references in his art styles were his interests range from children’s art to medieval Persian themes. He is one of the most important contributory factors of the American graffiti art during his participation in the New York’s street culture at the Lower East Side. He became famous in his contributions in the urban art expressionism. He confounded his art works with Peter Broda in the 1986 at the Graffiti Museum that is now incorporated to the current Museum of the New York City. He is considered as one of the pioneering artists that explore expressionism representing the urban life with controversial motifs and concepts such as gay homosexuality, queer perspectives, racial issues, ethnic ideas, and others. There is a sense of poetic depictions in his images that paved way for the widening of the development of twentieth century modern art (Glbtq).
Martin Wong is an Asian-American artist that was born in 1946 at Portland, Oregon. He grew up in the Chinatown of San Francisco. He took his ceramics studies at the Humboldt State University and finished the course in 1968. The subjects of the paintings of Martin Wong are elements on his surroundings. He said that, “Basically, everything I paint is in my immediate neighborhood, where I ended upSo people assume that I’m a local New York painter, but really I’m from San Francisco” (Davis). Wong extended his art to various avenues such as miniatures, ceramics, calligraphy, decorative, and other arts. He gained a degree in ceramics and became a known artist for decorative arts. He is also a collector of various Antiques that he eventually donated to the New York City Museum (Bessa and Ramirez, 2015).
Martin Wong is an artist that belongs to the neo-expressionism art that is considered as one of the last contemporary art movements during the late 20th century. This art revolution started in Germany right after the World War II. In the US, this art is preceded by the social realism that uses figurative styles of art. Later, in New York, the graffiti art became famous, where Martin Wong actively participated. The general styles of neo-expressionists were derived from the German expressionism. The artworks of neo-expressionists are characterized by violent and rapid brushworks; spontaneous techniques; distortion of the subject; significant surface textures; and incorporation of found objects in their works. Most of the motifs belong to various styles in the art that includes fauvism, cubism, surrealism, pop-art, and mannerism. Artists in this period develop their inspiration from romantic to historical subjects. As defined, “neo-expressionist painters typically sought to illustrate the isolation of man, and the alienation engendered by modern society. These issues were often best understood by the Old World of Europe, rather than the New World of America. This tension was further underlined by an element of competition between these two geographical blocs who each saw themselves as the centre of contemporary art” (Encyclopedia of Art History).
As one of the neo-expressionist artist, Martin Wong is more focused on the urban aspects of art. Urban art dwells on subjects about life in the city. The rawest form of Urban art is the graffiti, which means to scratch. This form of art largely became popular in New York, where street artists like Martin Wong joined with the others showing their exhibits that portray urban street culture of nightlife, squatters, and graffiti writings. At that time, New York had series of galleries and exhibitions of “mixed indigenous art of the area (notably graffiti) with contemporary impulses of young artist from downtown Manhattan where various groups solicited items with sentimental, cultural value from their neighbors and exhibited them in a local storefront” (Pasternak an Peltason, 2007). He contributed to the modern day Contemporary art with his emphasis on the subjects about urban settings. He captured realistic settings where he examined the details of buildings, advertising signs, exterior textures and discolorations of establishments, windows, and other day to day observations. He focused on realities in the urban life that explored concepts of being burnt out, drug dealings, abandoned buildings, and a population found in cheap housing settings. He also depicted the economic progress of the society through his subjects (Collischan, 2010). His artworks served as visual diary of the society as he captured details of the physical urban settings through the minor details from the hand signals found on the streets, the constellation of establishments, the landscape of bricks, and the actual textures of buildings. He told stories about life with his subjects that include the firemen, graffiti artists, families, the incarcerated, and even his poet friend Miguel Pinero. His portraits reverberated a concept of self-identification reflecting compassion that resonates until the present day (Visual Aids).
Martin Wong is referred as the “Human Instamatic” artist due to his paintings that are characterized by rapid styles. Many of his paintings explored various concepts of life from kitsch notions to the gritty and controversial realism. His vision is one of the most lasting legacies in the 1980s and considered as precursors of identity-driven concepts. He was able to carve out his territory in art as he joined the graffiti art in New York where he became one of the revolutionaries of the late Conceptualism and neo-Expressionism. His complex art distinguished itself from the others just the way he physically made a difference in his outward appearance with styles that involve his Fu Manchu mustache and cowboy hat (Bessa and Ramirez, 2015). One of the major works of Martin Wong, depicted in one of his exhibitions was his painting of the Lower East Side, where he painted a monumental landscape and the inhabitants of the street. Wong also collaborated with projects related to AIDS awareness, self-identity, student’s struggles for Democracy, and other subtle activist exhibitions. His participation in the Graffiti art is one way of showing his being an activist.
Wong is famous with his landscape portrayal of the Lower East Side New York. The subject of Martin Wong which is the Lower East Side is an urban setting marked with city crackdowns, drugs, efforts for urban renewals, and forms of protests against coerced relocations. He created his landscape capturing the scenic activity that reflected the street’s condition. He carefully laid down his painting with the use of colors culled from ceramics with tones of gold and iron oxides, where the decaying bricks are accentuated magnificently capturing the actual walls seen on the Lower East Side. In his other paintings, his subjects and themes include the prison life, C76 tenement life, and other harsh realities of life. This subject matter that he focused on was influenced greatly when he met Miguel “Mikey” Pinero. Mikey was a poet whose life is mostly patched up with crimes and prison life. The many paintings of Wong reflected stories about Mikey, such as prisons, romance in dour circumstances, poetry, constellations, and skies.
In the year 1989, the urban art of graffiti was a contested form of art, where it failed the Government’s consideration for ‘quality’ of artwork. In the month of May, a policy was passed by the city officials to have all the graffitis erased in the entire New York subways. Wong was an avid believer of the graffiti art. He strongly believed that it is a significant form of art that caused movements in the twentieth century. He collaborated with Peter Broda and opened up a Museum of American Graffiti. This exhibition showcased the various works of the artists of graffiti arts like Lee Quinones, ‘Crash’, LA2, ‘Daze’, A-One, Sharp, and many more. Wong was one of the artists that acquired AIDS during the 80’s during the AIDS epidemic. Artists like him that include David Wojnarowicz and Keith Harring collaborated with each other to work on art with emphasis about AIDS (Asian Pacific American Institute).
Wong died at an early age of 53 in the year 1999. The artwork of Wong was appreciated and truly recognized after his death. His major work of the landscape of the Lower East Side of New York was one of the most significant works that he made. He also created a series of arts about the Chinatown showcased in the PPOW. Most of his artworks have been reimagined and printed on postcards. The collections of Wong were also significant in the history of neo-expressionism art. Most of his works are found in various art museums that include The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, de Young Museum, The Bronx Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and The Art of Institute of Chicago (Visual Aids). The collection of Martin Wong is found in the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis that accounted to around 4,000 items. It includes items such as Disney figurines, calligraphy, Chinese teaware, and some paintings. The meticulous realism and visionary concepts of Martin Wong is a great contribution in the neo-expressionist art period. His works are considered as great legacies of the1980s especially in the New York East Village. Though he died at a young age, his works and contribution has made a mark in the art history where it would transcend from generations to generations.
Works Cited Page:
Asian Pacific American Institute. “In this Exhibition”.NYU. (2009). Web.
Bessa, AS., and Ramirez, Y. “Martin Wong: Human Instamatic”. Black Dog Publishing Ltd.
Collischan, J. “Made in the USA: Modern/Contemporary America”. iUniverse.Bloomington:IN.
Davis, Ben. “Martin Wong Show Reveals the Artists San Francisco Roots”. ArtnetWorldwide
Corporation. (2015). Web.
Encyclopedia of art History. “Neo-Expressionism”. (nd).
Gblta. “Wong, Martin(1946-1999)”. Glbtq, Inc. Chicago: IL.(2007). Web.
Pasternak, A. and Peltason, R. “Creative Time: The Book:33 Years of Public Art in New York”.
Princeton Architectural Press.(2007).
Visual Aids. “PPOW Presents Martin Wong at the Armory”. Visual Aids. (2013). Web