mbfitzmahan. 2017. Dissonance
Create a piece of art that forces the viewer to
S T O P and T H I N K.
Personally, I love art that makes me think.  Or, better yet, to laugh.
          Dissonance series 12.jpg
mbfitzmahan. 2017

We look at art with many expectations.  Sometimes those expectations are fulfilled.  But, sometimes we are surprised, even offended.

The technique of creating unexpected visual forms can lead to a piece of art that is humorous, confusing, frightening, or a frustrating mess of junk.  But all works of dissonance demand that the viewer S T O P and cogitate on the art piece.

Robert Solso, a cognitive psychologist, looked at three famous pieces of modern art to illustrate dissonance in art.  Link to a pdf copy of his book below.

René Magritte. 1937. La reproduction interdite (Not to be reproduced)
  1. What do you see?
  2. What did you expect?
  3. Did you think, “Isn’t this guy suppose to be looking back at me?”
  4. Did you have an emotional response to the painting?
René Magritte. 1936. La Clairvoyance.

Another Magritte.  Makes me laugh.  Is Magritte making fun of art?  Or just having fun?


Marcel Duchamp. 1919. L.H.O.O.Q.

  1. Are you offended that Duchamp drew a moustache on the Mona Lisa?
  2. What about the initials under the painting?
  3. What does L.H.O.O.Q. mean?
  4. Is this art?  Is it meant to be funny?
Andy Warhol. 1963. Thirty are Better than One.
  1.  Oh, no.  Another Mona Lisa parody. (Now, you may not care so much about the Mona Lisa, but imagine this was a reproduction of a piece of art that you love. For me it might be offensive to see W. Eugene Smith’s photo [see below] treated disrespectfully. )
  2. Isn’t this painting by Leonardo da Vinci one of a kind?
  3. Are you disturbed by this banal, poor reproduction of this piece of art? The trivialization?
  4. Or, are you pleased that Warhol’s piece democratizes an overrated piece of art.

Here are some more examples of dissonance in art.

W. Eugene Smith. 1971. Tomoko Uemura in her Bath


luncheon on the grass.jpg
Édouard Manet. 1863. Luncheon on the grass


M.C. Escher. 1945. Three Spheres I
Salvador Dali. 1954.  Soft Watch at the Moment of Explosion.

This following photo is my favorite.  It is a black and white photograph by Latvian photographer, Philippe Halsman, and designed by Salvador Dali.

Philippe Halsman and Salvador Dali.  1951. Voluptas Mors


Click on the image below to get a pdf version of Solso’s The Psychology of Art and the Evolution of the Conscious Brain.

Screen Shot 2017-02-09 at 2.15.32 PM.png