An Absolute Idiot’s Guide to Art | Silvia SipplFor a topic that promised fun this felt more like a strongly delivered lecture.

Sippl used slides to take us through various schools of art. She began with nudes, and gave two men in the audience whistles to blow if any of the slides were offensive. They were reluctant to co-operate. Too shy or very broadminded I guess. I would have thought the Courbet image of a vagina in close detail might have gained a toot, but no. It caused controversy in its day and was titled The Origin of the World.

After a quick look at Piss Christ and a quote endorsing it from a nun. Sippl moved on to Cindy Sherman who dresses as various clichés such as “the socialite” and other characters as a form of art.

Then we began an historic procession of various schools of art: Greek and Roman sculpture. Greek work before Christ and Roman copies in the style of Greek sculpture AD.

Moving through the bleak art of the medieval period. It was gloomy with the Black Plague raging through Europe. Things cheered up a bit with Renaissance but got glum again during the Counter Reformation when art in churches was not allowed to use nudity. The use of the word Rubenesque to flatter a fuller figure got a laugh.

Sippl apparently teaches art or art appreciation to “her kids” presumably in High School somewhere in Perth. She pointed out some of the painting techniques using a picture of Napoleonic soldiers about to gun down Spanish citizens after the invasion of Spain as an example. The exaggeration of fear on the faces of the victims and the horizontal lines of the rifles aimed at them.

She then moved to Modernism where the nudes actually faced the artist. Thence to Expressionism (Munch; The Scream), Cubism (fragmented objects) and Braque who apparently invented collage to the delight of craft teachers worldwide.

Surrealism (Dali and his floppy clocks). Abstract Expressionism (Jackson Pollock) and she gave us a quick interesting character sketch of Pollock who was not a particularly nice personality.

Pop Art with Andy Warhol and his Factory. Klein who created the colour Klein International Blue and then got naked women to writhe over the canvas in the said colour.

Performance art as demonstrated by Mike Parr who sat and conversed with the audience and then chopped off his arm with a meat cleaver. Not as dramatic as the grisly image we viewed when we were informed that he was actually born with only one arm.

Sippl deduced that the real purpose of art was to make us think. It just took a long time to get to this conclusion.

However I must add that the audience, many of whom I would hazard a guess, were art students and family and friends, responded warmly to her show and there were even a few cheers.

2017 Perth Fringe World Festival
An Absolute Idiot’s Guide to Art
Silvia Sippl

Venue: Perth State Library
Dates: 9 – 11 February 2017 (Season sold out)


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