Freedom in the Eyes of an Artist
Nixon at Andau
Painted by Ferenc Daday in 1972, Nixon at Andau is a reminder of of President Richard Nixon’s visit a refugee camp in Austria, which was home to displaced Hungarians (Mydans n.pag). Though he was famous for his strident anti-Communist rhetoric, President Nixon was the only U.S. official who visited the Hungarian refugees in Austria and his presidential library is decorated with Daday’s 10-feet-by-6-feet painting celebrating this historic event. President Nixon had relaxed immigration rules meant to allow Hungarians to relocate to the United States when the Soviet Red Army invaded their country during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution . For the first time, the immigration policy allowed some people, by virtue of their actions, to enter the U.S. The painting shows Presdient Nixon with a grim gaze; his coat tagged due to a slight breeze. President Nixon rests his hands on a child’s head while he attempts to get to the other people. This painting, rich in texture and deep colors, depicts a vice president keen to the plight and needs of the refugees identified as immigrants. This painting is symbolic and apptly captures the then vice president’s efforts to address the plight of immigrants.
As a heroic symbol, Presdient Nixon stands with and along the refugees. From the painting, it is evident that the refugees are seeking President Nixon’s shelter as they point accusingly to the rising clouds of Communism (Fedinec 414). It depicts Presdient Nixon as a peacemaker, a hero, and a human leader out to show the world the welcoming hands of the country. In a characteristic style, the painting reminisces of the meeting held between the Soviet Union leader Leonid I. Brezhnev and President Nixon—where Nixon recognized that only confronting with military might would only further strain the relationship between the two countries and lessen any chance for lasting peace (Fedinec 414). The refugees huddle behind the safety of Nixon, firmly in the center, a woman and man prod him urgently on some of the challenges and hardships they have endured, pointing back at the raging flames of their mother country. The El Greco sky is dominating, threatening, and ugly. To produce such as an excellent depiction of art, Daday used solid colors completely to give the impression of a dark past in the lives of the refugees.
The clouds in it tend to move from the Communist country to the opposite side where President Nixon and the refugees are standing. The painting depicts a lighter complexion of the clouds changing to white and losing the dark dominating color towards where President Nixon is standing with the refugees. The painting is light in color where President Nixon is standing that shows a peaceful and calm environment. The refugees on his side have a brighter and more relaxed attitude. However, the painting has a dark complexion on the opposite side with thick dark shadows. The refugees look depressed and subdued as the dense clouds of communism above weigh down on them. They move towards Nixon with high expectations of protection and accusation of the masters of communism as is shown by the Communist holding the Russian flag. The Russian flag is adding weight to the Communism effect, as the dark clouds and a fierce fire move and originate from it (Fedinec 414). The painting suggests a strong ideological movement that is causing the refugees to go from the Communist region to Nixon, who is representing the democratic ideals of the United States. The rough, hard surface depicts the hardship memories of the refugees. And from where Nixon stands, it is bright, smooth, and describes tremendous opportunities for the refugees in the new land.
Andy Warhol’s Statue of Liberty Painting
Artists look at the world in their own ways. The Statue of Liberty is significant and is a representation of the country’s liberty, freedom, and democratic principles. Upon arrival in the United States, immigrants often look forward and behold on the symbol that gives them hope, assurance, and confidence in the land of opportunity. As an eternal symbol of hope, the Statue of Liberty was born out of the despair of the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War—two most devastating conflicts of the mid-nineteenth century. For many immigrants arriving in the country, the Statute of Liberty prepares them for the great opportunities they are yet to enjoy. Many immigrants are entering the U.S. through New York Harbor marvel at the appearance of the Lady Liberty from the horizon.
Warhol painted the Statue of Liberty in 1962. By the use of spray paint and silkscreen ink, Warhol produced one of the most remarkable and conspicuous paintings. The painting is presently displayed at the Arkansas Center. At 80 by 6 feet, the statue is bigger than an average man. At close range, one has to look up at the painting to have a better view. Warhol’s art repeats four times on its side, although on the right side, it is cut off. The painting is colored cool blue with a mix of green. However, it has a shade of red in the top region aligned to the right. On its left side, it has an unused space left out intentionally. The various shades of repletion give this painting some form of unity with the differences offering a variety in its outlook. Warhol’s painting is lighter, appearing as if it has no painting (Dittmar et al., 1). Coupled with the linen color of the sky, the red/blue paint fills in the waters forming a rectangular reflection or image, depending on which angle one takes. The dark blue color overshadows the face, obscuring a full view of the face. A closer look of the painting gives an impression of more weight on the right than on the left. It is due to the use of red paint on the right emphasizing it more to give an impression as if the painting is being pulled up towards the right side.
Although the torch is just an implied line, it is created from an impression of several drawn lines, indicating some sort of movement in the waters at the rear of the statute. Its top row has inscribed in painting, giving a perfect impression of a rectangle. On the third row, it has an organic shape resembling a rugged mountain.
The painting’s face gives a funny impression every time one looks at it. From easily visible, unclear, and slightly visible, the painting changes with every close look. The fixed position symbolizes unity whether seen or unseen clearly, it remains the Statute of Liberty, and the movements of the cloud pattern often give a false impression of its actual color, position, and symmetry (Dittmar et al., 1). On its left hand, it holds the tablet of regulations inscribed the date of the adoption of the day of independence and, on the contrary, it raises the torch high up in the sky. To an ordinary immigrant, the painting may give different meanings and impressions. However, its astute stable position, towering high above the others, provides a towering image with a bold look into the future. Its gaze, although not clearly visible is a remarkable characteristic of every immigrant, focuses while entering the country. It is a symbol of liberty, independence, opportunity, and success. It gives an impression of enlightening the world, offering hope and confidence to the less fortunate, and assuring citizens that America shall remain great for many years to come.
According to Dittmar et al. (1), Warhol’s painting welcomes immigrants to get opportunities to grow, progress, and make a change in their lives. The art sets the tone of abundance, plenty, and success. Despite the many colors appearing in the art, creating an illusion of mix up, it presents and represents the wishes of many migrants entering the country. Warhol used soft and fresh colors to avoid the impression of confusion or aggression. Although not entirely made for immigrants, but over the years, it is a symbol that has been associated with the opportunity of entering the land of opportunity. Its rough surface complements the look of aggression and friendliness in the painting. While it may not be right to associate the painting entirely with immigrants, but over the years, it is the symbol and portrait of Warhol’s own immigrant status. The use and application of different rectangles is an impression of the various groups of people to enter the U.S. as immigrants. Warhol designed the painting with its shrunken, smooth, and hard surface, giving it a blob covering in all the areas.
Dittmar, Linda, and Joseph Entin. “Jamming the Works: Art, Politics, and Activism: Introduction.” Radical Teacher, vol. 100, 2014, pp. 1-6.
Fedinec, Csilla. “Case Studies (1948-1989): The Soviet Union.” Minority Hungarian Communities in the Twentieth Century. East European Monographs, edited by Nandor Bardi, Csilla Fedinec and Laszlo Szarka, Atlantic Research and Publications, 2011pp. 413-419.
Mydans, Seth. “Yorba Linda Journal; Painting of Heroic Size Shows Nixon to Match.” The New York Times, August 13, 1992. http://www.nytimes.com/1992/08/13/us/yorba-linda-journal-painting-of-heroic-size-shows-nixon-to-match.html. Accessed March 13, 2017.