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Vienna: 1900 - Art and the Visual Arts

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Art and the Visual Arts

Recently I went to go to go see "Vienna: 1900" at the Neue Galerie. The exhibit

displayed various paintings and architectural designs completed by multiple artists. The

main idea behind the whole exhibit was to represent the style and identity of the artists

whose work was on display. Then, our class had the privilege of seeing Shari

Mendelson and her work in Brooklyn. Mendelson has made multiple pieces out of old

and recycled water bottles and used plastic that she reuses to make vases, bowls, and

other plastic installations. I wanted to compare these two, because I felt that Mendelson

was representing a new identity in art by engaging in artistic activities as unusual as

taking an old Vitamin water bottle or Dasani water bottle and making it into something

beautiful, while the exhibit at the Neue showed the artistic past. Both exhibits focused

on reinventing something, and making it functional while still remaining visually

appealing; creating a new identity.

With that said, since I did not have the privilege of seeing Shari Mendelson in

person and having the chance to ask her about her art, I knew it was necessary for me

to think outside the box by looking in depth at her artwork, and being able to compare

it with the works in "Vienna: 1900" to determine what she would say and how she

would analyze it. Since this was my challenge, it was required of me to try and relate

her artwork to the artwork of "Vienna: 1900" to make a direct comparison between the

two. That is when I realized that I too had changed my identity the day I missed Shari


It was a rainy day around 12:30 P.M. when I received a call that informed me that

my cousin had been left at school with no babysitter to pick him up. However, this put

me into a horrible situation, due to the fact that Shari Mendelson was coming to speak

to our class that very day. At that moment, I put myself into a completely different place

in my mind, a different version of myself. I had no choice but to pick him up and take

him home. That day, the day I missed Shari Mendelson, I changed my identity; I went

from student to mother. I had created another identity just like Shari Mendelson does

with her recycled plastic, and what the works of "Vienna: 1900" did through paintings

and architecture.

"Identity is whatever makes an entity definable and recognizable." The "Vienna:

1900" exhibit displays the change of sexuality and gender in Vienna during the turn

of the 20th Century. There was an entire section of paintings devoted to portraits of

women in which some were abstract. There was also a piece that displayed images one

would associate with a female, such as a hanging corset. However, the artwork I found

most fascinating were the architectural pieces by Otto Wagner. After reading more

into Wagner's idea behind his work, I learned that he cared more about the function of

what he was making rather than the style of it. But he still was able to create a modern

style that formed its own identity. It follows that he used the outside appearance of an

object as well, to help connect with the pieces of furniture that he created. His artwork

displayed such a functionality while remaining stylish and modern. He gave himself a

challenge by focusing on functionality rather than just the appearance.

Furthermore, Shari Mendelson's work displayed, as stated before, different

pieces that were made from scraps of plastic and old recycled water bottles and other

plastic bottles. She took something old, used, and many times wasted, and made

artwork out of it. In many ways, I would consider this to be as if she was creating a new

identity for something. After reading about Mendelson in her bio, I was able to grasp the

ideas behind



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