Herb Ritt's Photography of Amy van Dyken. Puallae. Art Essay Sample.

Published: 2019-09-13
Herb Ritt's Photography of Amy van Dyken. Puallae. Art Essay Sample.
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Sculpture Art
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1125 words
10 min read

Amy van Dyken is one of Americans most competitive former swimmers that participated in the Olympic Games. This photo was taken during a photo shoot engaged by famous photographer Herb Ritt in a promotion of TAG Heuers new line of watches dubbed Kirium in 1997. TAG Heuer was releasing its new line of watches and required an athletes body for the show case of the design. Art in this instance was used and gained both a functional and non-functional meaning to it. In this case, photography (non-functional) meaning was the translation of a piece of creation made by TAG Heuer. The athletes body would best represent the intention of the makers in making a sleek and well-trimmed watch for the watch lover. Therefore, the functional expression of the piece of art that TAG Heuer made was expressed through the photography taken in this case. The photography thus represents the agility and performance of the Kirium that TAG intended to make, being likened to the high performance of a renowned athlete.

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Realism is used in the depiction of this art since this photograph seeks to present things as they are as opposed to using any supernatural additions to the photo (Baron & Engel, 2010). The photo depicts the body of the athlete void of any additions that would otherwise cause the audience to see it as an exaggeration. The photographer was careful to capture the Amys strong arms and legs and at the same time ensure that the smoothness of her skin was captured. This intended to tell the potential customer of the strength and tenderness of the product they intend to sell. Performance yet with the ability to meet the tender needs of the user. With regards to perspective, the photo is the accurate representation of the normal line of sight from the viewer when viewing further sides as opposed to closer edges. The strength of Amys back falls back towards a place that cannot be viewed, expressing the use of appropriate perspectives.

The story behind the picture is quite realistic. TAG Heuer intended to produce a watch that could capture beauty, strength and very well defined edges. As a result, the theme of the photography needed to highlight the strength, beauty and definition of edges from a favorable perspective. The producers thought that nothing could exemplify this better than the athletes body. Indeed viewing Amys photo, one can begin to understand the reasoning behind the producers. Strong arms and legs highlight the watchs strengths. Her body exemplifies the producers needs to show that the intended product would have the defined edges that are only found in an athlete of very high achievement as opposed to that of a model it was a show of tensile strength. On the other hand, the smooth skin highlights the expectation of the beauty of the product.

The 3D format of the photo allows the viewer to enjoy the depth of the picture. The positive space takes the largest part of the photo, allowing for the viewers concentration to be fixed on the content. This positive space allows for the accentuation of the figures strength and defined edges. The artist chooses to use dark colors to give a cool and mysterious environment around the figure. While AG Heuer would produce a product that would exhibit these characteristics, there would remain an element of mystery about it. The composition of the photograph also engenders the smooth features of the athlete, bringing a pleasing and sensual feeling about the photo that one can identify with.

Puallae (Girls)

Magdalena Abakanowicz is the famous sculpture maker behind the girls that stand in the Washington DC National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. They are sculptures of 30 headless girl child figures in a garden. This art reminds the viewer of a time when totalitarianism ruled (in World War 2) and the effects that war had on the civilian population of the time. This piece of art has a motivated reasoning behind it following the artist hearing a story about girls who froze as they were transported from Poland to Germany in the period of the war (Cigola, 2013). Moreover, the expression of the authors feelings concerning the effects of war is seen in this expression. The headless figures represent the lifelessness that was the order of the day during the war when nobody was sure of their safety.

Realism is considered when analyzing these figures. Of course there is an element of exaggeration where the author shows standing figures which are headless in nature, bringing out an element of the supernatural. Nonetheless, this brings to thought the death and destruction that happened during the war, more so its effect on children. However, the headless nature of her crowds shows the anonymity of the persons she is trying to communicate. Furthermore, their multiplicity during the time of the war is further exemplified. Their faceless nature shows that the people were indeed considered faceless in the wake of the war. Neither image nor status was considered. The perspective of the presentation is so that we have a three-point perspective whether we are viewing the sculptures from above or beneath.

These sculptures indeed tell the story of the death and suffering of children at a time where there was worldwide turmoil. Many faceless people were trapped in a situation they had no control over. The chances of growing up and surviving in such an environment were slim, if any existed before they died. Furthermore, we better understand the perspective of the artist on the world war and policies from that time.

The form of the sculptures enable the viewer to better grasp their reality and note that this was a real-world incident as opposed to just a piece of innovation. The three dimensions help us appreciate the gravity of the matter that the artist is getting across. A rough skin texture for the sculptures brings life to the figures to give them a more human feel. Dull colors are used for these sculptures, giving them a cool look and that of a foreboding effect. The author intends to bring out the cold that the young girls allegedly died in and the foreboding of the continued implementation of totalitarianism approaches in society. The intensity of the colors further speaks something to the viewer. Though the surrounding is bright, the somber mood must be maintained with regards to keeping the children safe. The death of the children brings to thought seriousness and the need to apply higher standards of care. This is exemplified in the sculptures colors and their intensity.


Baron, C., & Engel, M. (2010). Realism/Anti-Realism in 20th-Century Literature. New York: Rodopi.

Cigola, F. (2013). Art Parks: A Tour of Americas Sculpture Parks and Gardens. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.

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