Student Resource

Relationship Coursework Guide

Exploring relationships in art, as a connection or association between people, things or ideas

Personal relationships

Tracey Moffatt
[no title] (1997)

Many artists, including Tracey Emin, Francis Bacon and Tracey Moffatt, explore personal relationships between people in their work. They feature family members, lovers, friends as well as enemies. Many artists have made portraits of their mothers. Lucien Freud spent more than 4,000 hours painting his mother!

Relationships and identity

Rasheed Araeen
Bismullah (1988)

A relationship to society or culture is a theme often explored by artists exploring their identity. Rasheed Araeen uses diagonal shapes to play on the links between Eastern and Western cultures. Other artists address the relationship between different communities or nations. Many R.B. Kitaj works explore his awareness of his own Jewishness as a refugee to London.

Relationships between objects

Bernd Becher and Hilla Becher
Blast Furnaces (1969–95)

Artists have long been interested in the formal relationships between things. How objects relate to each other? How do colour, shapes and texture affect each other?

Bernd and Hilla Becher group industrial buildings together, to show relationships between similar structures. Sculptor Barbara Hepworth looks at the relationship between different forms and the space they are in. Painters such as Piet Mondrian and Ellsworth Kelly explore the relationship between colour and composition.

Conceptual relationships

Conceptual artists address a less visible relationship in their work. They investigate a relationship of ideas. In Clock (One and Five), English/Latin Version 1965, Joseph Kosuth looks at the relationship between our impression of a clock, and what it is like in real life.

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