THEMATIC: Icons and Inspiration


"Rosebud," 1983. Oil on canvas, 60 x 42 inches. © Mary Heilmann. Courtesy the artist, 303 Gallery, New York and Hauser & Wirth, Zürich London.

Can a contemporary work of art function as an icon? Icons, and the ideas that they represent, are often a source of inspiration. Watch Mary Heilmann's segment and discuss the relationship between an artwork and an icon.

Compare the use of icons and iconographic imagery in Heilmann's work to the approaches of other artists, including: Lari Pittman, Allan McCollum, Pierre Huyghe, Jeff Koons, John Feodorov, and Matthew Barney.


SEGMENT: Mary Heilmann in "Fantasy"

Before Viewing
What is an icon? Can a contemporary work of art function as an icon? Why or why not? Give specific examples.

While Viewing
Heilmann says, of some of her early paintings: "First they're objects, and then they're pictures of something." What do you think she means by this?

After Viewing
What are the sources of inspiration for Heilmann's work? How do different sources come together in her paintings, ceramics, and slideshows?


"Interval," 2002. Oil on canvas, triptych: 40 x 74 inches overall. © Mary Heilmann. Courtesy the artist, 303 Gallery, New York and Hauser & Wirth, Zürich London.

Create
Make two paintings, using two different approaches. First, create an abstract image, and title it after you are finished. Second, create a title, and then create an abstract image. How do the two works differ, in their processes and in the finished works?