Almost all humans, at some point of their lives, experience a sense of nervousness or worry known as anxiety. Anxiety affects the way humans act because of this unease that humans feel, it creates a fear of completing tasks or a fear of failure. Some of those who experience anxiety break down and have panic attacks while others can control this feeling of uncertainty. Most artists are able to contain the sensation of apprehension through expressing what they feel in their pieces. In the works of artists, they depict how the artist feels which is sometimes seen as anxiety and artists use this nervousness to help create a masterpiece.
Throughout the 20th century, a focus of anxiety is seen in various amounts of works from a wide-range of artists. The beginning of the twentieth century, which was known as the Age of Anxiety, had included many artworks that depicted the fear of the people due to the fact that around this time World War I had started (and ended as well). World War I is one of the bloodiest wars of all time and many new forms of technology had formed meaning that there would be a lot of change. As humans, a majority are afraid of change which had increased the anxiety of the people during this time.
An example of one of these artworks that depict anxiety is “The Flame” by Jackson Pollock. This painting was drawn in 1938 (around 20 years after WWI) and is an abstract painting that depicts a flame to represent an idea of the somewhat recent war. The painting contains many streaks of red, black, and white. These colors symbolize many different feelings but when these colors are joined together in this painting, it is clear that the painter is demonstrating to the audience the anxiety that this era is encompassed in.
The idea of fire usually represents fear because not a lot of good things happen when a human touches fire so instinctively, get nervous and run away from fire. The flame demonstrates anxiety and how people are afraid of the war as well as all the advances in technology that had happened during this time. Another way that this picture is depicted is that it was drawn around the Great Depression and that this flame represents the anger of the people towards all the anxiety that had been created through the loss of wealth.
In the end all the various ways the painting is interpreted, it all leads back to the central idea anxiety and that the purpose of this idea is to paint (no pun intended) this anxiety. The Great Depression was also a time of panic due to the crash of the stock market. Many were blind to what to do and had lost a great amount of wealth, creating a feeling of anxiety. Artists also experienced this worry and portrayed this feeling through their pieces. Abraham Harriton, a Jewish painter simulates the restlessness that was experienced during this era with his painting, “6th Avenue Unemployment Agency”.
Harriton paints an explicit portrait of how people had reacted to this sudden tragedy. The painting shows a line of people at an unemployment agency and indicates how anxious the people were at the time. However, the way Harriton paints this painting he shows that there is still hope no matter what. In the middle of the painting there is a woman who is pointing straight up and trying to calm all those around her. The woman pointing to the sky demonstrates that she is trying to signify that god is there and will be provided for during this time of depression.
But, the people around her show that they don’t really care about what she is saying which shows how the questioning of the existence of god that sparked during this time. The painter however intended for this painting to show how the people react to these kind of situations and this painting shows that everybody is just worried for what will happen to them in the future. Humans will always be worried or feel a sense of nervousness that affect the actions we commit. There are ways to control this sensation, but artists handle this kind of situation by expressing how they feel through their art.