Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It's about heart

My four year old granddaughter was excited to tell me last week that it would soon be heart day. And indeed it is today.  It seems that all I've see in the last week are red hearts everywhere. I thought I would do a little exploration of the use of heart motifs in art.

Very interesting with lots of variety, some thought provoking, some trite and lots in between ....

Aimee Howard


Aimee Howard's Heart Series: Clichés consists of containers in the form of human anatomical
hearts, which open to reveal visual narratives of clichés associated with the heart. The long standing symbolism surrounding the heart in western culture leads to a range of "beliefs' about the heart defining who we are. A person's essence is described by listing characteristics of his or her heart-heart of gold, broken hearted, cold heart, empty heart etc. .

Howard  has added medical connotations to the works to allow the hearts to become visual diagrams. The pieces are an x-ray - something to look at and determine  what the problem is and how it could be solved. It is up to the individual viewer to decide if the work has a positive or negative outlook.  In Broken Heart we see the gear is cracked but there are tools and other parts that could fix the problem.

The artist hopes "that these pieces illustrate positive and negative elements of the
human condition, confirming that we are not alone in our struggles or our success."

My heart led me astray yesterday and February 15 is here and I continue to explore.

Jim Dine 


I've always loved the childlike imagery but painterly quality of this piece which was created in1970 but the artist continues with this theme today as you can see from the image below.

Jim Dine, Wiesbaden, 2009. From: Hearts from Nikolaistrasse, 2009. 81.2 x 110.3 cm. Inkjet with photo etching and hand painting.  

Jim Dine is well known for his use of heart motifs in his work.  There's a good collection at  Alan Cristea Gallery.

"No other artist has provided more target practice for cupid's Valentine's Day arrow than Jim Dine. Since the mid-1960s, he has painted and drawn hearts, sculpted hearts in plaster, bronze and steel, and constructed hearts out of chicken wire and straw..... His hallmark is the playful yet painterly rendering of everyday images into emotionally charged symbols. Beth Py-Lieberman

 Twin 6’ Hearts by Jim Dine (1999) The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts from Paul Lowry’s photostream,,

Jeff Koons 
 Jeff Koons' background in marketing and commodities brokerage shows in his work.  Societies fascination with popular culture  and consumerism is explored in his use of  kitsch images. He successfully marries art and commerce in more ways than just themes!


Koons' "Hanging Heart" sold in 2007 at Sotheby's for $23.6 million setting a record for the most expensive artpiece by a living artist ever auctioned.


Is it just me or do you find the reflective quality of the hanging art an important aspect of it?

Keith Haring
Keith Haring   has repeatedly  used heart imagery in his work . 


 Pepon Osario


Pepon Osorio, My Beating Heart, 2000,mixed mediums,  speakers with sound, archival paper, acrylic, fiber glass, 72 x 65 inches in diameter

Pepón Osorio born in Puerto Rico in 1955, is best know for  large-scale installations.  His work is   influenced by his experience as a social worker in The Bronx, usually evolve from an interaction with the neighborhoods and people among which he is working. “My principal commitment as an artist is to return art to the community,” he says.

And mosaic hearts galore.... 
 Laurel True

Sweet Heart, 2003 , Necco Conversation Hearts

What about an edible heart that is anatomically  correct ?

Even the skies seem to focus on the heart of things. 


Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy Blog has a collection of astronomical images that display valentine heart shapes. Link 

I know when to stop.  Do you have  favourite heart imagery in art?

3 comments:

Mark Sheeky said...

The Jeff Koons piece is the prettiest, no wonder it's so popular. Hmm favourite hearts... the queen from Alice in Wonderland? The Tim Burton one had hearts aplenty.

Kathy said...

Margaret - this is a great post!! I'll keep coming back to it. There's so much to consider and your presentation of all these works of the heart is beautiful. Thank you for the hard work it took to write this essay!

Anonymous said...

This is great! Thanks!