First published: Fall 1999
Eddie Arning's work has been compared to trends and styles in avant-garde twentieth-century art. His own thinking about his work did not, however, include questions of artistic borrowings or influences, concepts and concerns entirely unknown to him. But it is necessary to look at those borrowings to understand his work. The sources for most of his images were illustrations and advertisements from some of the most popular magazines in the United States, such as Life, Readers' Digest, and Better Homes and Gardens. Arning's artistic vision and aesthetic choice should be seen within the wider framework of his borrowings and interpretations of American visual culture. The advertisement or illustration is his starting point: an image whose composition is part of the dynamic process of communicating the associations and emotions embedded within it.
In the band of black along the bottom of a drawing Arning writes: 'We know what they want to wear Because they told us.' That line is there because it was included in the magazine fashion layout the artist used as the model for his work. And indeed the seven children are fashionably dressed, with the two boys approaching from the right wearing shirts sporting the vivid geometric designs popular in 1971. The figures' interaction was of greater importance to Arning and was what no doubt prompted him to base an image upon this particular photograph. The bursts of tree branches, the beat of black squares on blue from which one child emerges, and the close dance of the girl whose yellow dress follows the lead of the water fountain are reiterated in the rhythm of their turned heads and bent arms.
This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #28