Video still showing a hollow in the ground shaped like a human silhouette with outstretched arms. It is filled with red liquid.

From Earth to Ink: How Performance Artists Use Their Bodies in Their Work

Performance art is an art form that makes use of time and the human body (or bodies) to express a feeling or idea. Works of performance art can be carried out almost anywhere by anyone, can be public or private, and can rely on scripted or unscripted actions.

While all forms of performance art involve bodies in one way or another, some performance artists draw particular attention to their own bodies. A loose movement of body-related performance art emerged in the 1960s and 1970s, pioneered by artists who placed their own bodies at the forefront of their art.

One of the artists who experimented with this type of art during this period was Ana Mendieta. She is best known for her ‘earth-body’ works, in which she focuses on a connection between her body and the earth. Right now, you can see a selection of Mendieta’s body performance pieces at Five Artists: Sites Encountered in the M+ Pavilion.

Oil painting on canvas depicting two ping pong paddles, one red and one blue, and a white ping pong ball lying spread out on a bright green surface. The blue paddle is only barely visible in the bottom left corner of the painting, while the red paddle and white ball lie close together near the top right corner.

How Artists Use Colour to Communicate

The new M+ Collections Beta website lets you explore over 5,000 objects and archival items from the M+ Collections online. As a ‘beta website’, it will grow and evolve over the coming years, as we explore new ways to let you discover and roam through the collections. One of the ways you can already do that on the website is through colour, using the new colour picker feature.

Apart from being a fun way to discover new works, this feature can also help illuminate some of the ways that colour theory can influence our understandings of artworks and objects. Below, we give a quick introduction to colour theory 101, and how artists and makers can use colour in their work, using some examples from the M+ Collections that you can find on the beta website.

The Colour Wheel

Chair standing in a gallery space with white walls, viewed through a hole in in a stone sculpture. The chair has a rounded seat and backrest made out of wood and bamboo woven in a basket technique. The armature and legs are made out of elegantly bent iron rods.

What’s the Difference Between Art and Design?

What exactly is the difference between art and design?

The M+ Collections are separated into three categories: visual art, design and architecture, and moving image. These categorisations can be useful; however, often, the boundaries between them are blurred. How, then, can we define whether something is an ‘artwork’ or a ‘design object’?

First of all, let’s quickly go over some of the traditional differences between art and design:

  • Design is functional, art is not.
  • Design solves a problem, art expresses a feeling or idea.
  • Design objects are mass-produced, artworks are unique.
  • Design is objective, art is subjective.

Think of some of the artworks or design objects you’re familiar with. You’ll probably find that you can slot many of them neatly into these two categories—but you might also find examples that poke holes in this art/design boundary.

A person looks at a painting hanging on a white wall. The painting is of five men standing with their arms around each others’ shoulders underneath a rainbow. They all wear mask-like, laughing faces.

How to Look at Art, Even If You’re Not an Expert

Here’s an open secret: you don’t need to be an expert to appreciate art.

Philip Yenawine is a pioneer of Visual Thinking Strategies or ‘VTS’, a way to look at art that empowers museum visitors to enjoy and make meaning from any artwork they see in front of them. He co-founded the education organisation Watershed Collaborative, and was formerly education director at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He recently spoke as part of M+’s Open Up: Museum Learning in the 21st Century talk series.

Below, Yenawine gives a short guide to VTS for our blog readers. You can use his practical tips at our upcoming show at the M+ Pavilion. Better still, bring your friends—VTS works best as a conversation!

How to Use VTS to Look at an Artwork