Art and Philosophy
Robert Richenburg was an abstract expressionist who created most of his work following World War II. At the age of 28, he returned from serving as an explosives expert and decided to portray his impressions through dramatic paintings. The traumatic experiences during the gruesome war are evident in his art. Upon examining one of his works, one has to look for hidden images and meanings.
Richenburg painted “Proclamation” in 1952. It is a large painting that is 50x60 inches, and it consists of a mixed media and dolls. The background is mostly black with areas of dark gray. In the foreground there is a light blue cloth, which serves as the focal point of the painting. Above that is a smaller cloth painted black with white and red creases. On the left is a cloth painted red with black at the creases. There are dolls around the edges; some are representations of both female and male adults, and some are representations of children. They are all painted black, and the paint around them is textured. Above some of the dolls there are circular objects glued to the painting that are also painted black. Heavy brush strokes and dripping paint are visible all over the piece.
As I stand in front of the painting I get a cold feeling because it reminds me of brutal war. The black background seems like a cloud of smoke that would appear over a battleground, setting a very somber mood in the artwork. The light blue cloth seems to represent a symbol of hope as if to say that even in its darkest moments, good will triumph over evil. Although ordinarily the dolls would symbolize happiness and childhood, they make the painting look even more disturbing because they epitomize death. They personify the civilians that were murdered during the war: men, women, and children being exterminated and left in a wasteland during the Holocaust. The textured paint surrounding them signifies the spilled blood and souls. This painting depicts the events of the war from...