Tom Burtonwood and Holly Holmes Essay

Published: 2020-02-19 23:32:06
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The painting Vertical Envelopment by Tom Burtonwood and Holly Holmes is obviously a modern painting that deals with the issues of technology, power, and war. These two Chicago based artist have displayed the power of the military through this painting. The painting symbolizes the stark reality that war is not a game, but a reality. The subject of the painting is that of a large black military helicopter that is centered in the painting. The birds eye view of the ground and the looming chopper, symbolizes the all knowing omnipresence of the military and through modern technology.

The colors used to portray the ground are washed out yellow and gray. These colors represent the desert warfare or the Iraq War that the artists oppose. There is a black river that cuts through the painting like a half moon that is representative of lack of life. The medium used in Vertical Envelopment is aluminum and acrylic. Burtonwood and Holmes used the aluminum to give the feel of cold harsh metal of the weaponry. They chose acrylic paint because of its adherence to any type of surface. Any other paint would not have endured on the aluminum. The vividness of color would have been another reason that acrylics would have been chosen.

The crisp black of the helicopter is essential to the painting. The style of Vertical Envelopment is more like that of social realism. It seems that this style would fit the painting because it is political in tone. One can tell by the dominance of the helicopter to the point that it is menacing and frightening, shows that the artists are against the war. They are also making the statement that machines are fighting the war and that is contrary to the idea that it is not the machines that are destroyed by war, but the people and the earth that are destraoyed. The lines used in Vertical Envelopment are mostly straight except for the river.

The straight lines of the objects on the ground from a view much higher, gives a lifelessness of those objects. It looks as if there is order to what is going on at ground level, when nothing could be farther from the truth during war. The curved yet somewhat vertical lines of the river, give feeling of straying to those things that are straight. Burtonwood and Holmes also added vertical lines of gray and black to represent either gun fire or rain. This offsets that horizontal shape of the helicopter. The value of the painting is not one of luminosity. It is dull and drab, but that is for a reason.

The artists do not want to add a glossed overview of war. The predominant color used in the painting is black. One reason it was chosen was that the main symbolic meaning of black is death which is a reality of war. The drab yellow and gray represents the lifeless earth after the ravages of war. The texture of Vertical Envelopment is smooth which is oppositional to the message that it presents on the negative aspects of war. Vertical Envelopment by Tom Burtonwood and Holly Holmes is one that speaks volumes to me. I feel that war is devastating to everyone involved and this particular is shows the harshness.

There is a huge emphasis on the subject, the helicopter, and that says to me that war is like the metal and machinery of the helicopter. It is cold and unfeeling, yet it is powerful and destructive. It is difficult to run from it because of the vantage point that it has. The way that Burtonwood and Holmes emphasize the metal through their painting and the aluminum, strikes me because it makes their message so obvious yet innovative. This work of art speaks volumes to the viewer about the political situation of the world. ?

Works Cited

Burtonwood, Tom and Holmes, Holly. Vertical Envelopment. 2004.

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