Home » Ubu Reviews » Fine Art Criticism: John Whitney’s Catalogue (1961)

Fine Art Criticism: John Whitney’s Catalogue (1961)

John Whitney was an American Animator during the mid-1900s. He created many animations and visual effects throughout his life.  His animations were created using a mechanism from a World War II M-5 Antiaircraft Gun Director.  His piece, Catalogue was a collection of all of the visual effects that he had created up to that point.

Catalogue consists of many forms that interchange into each other.  The shapes move in a way that is pleasing to the eye.  There is constant movement throughout the piece that conveys a soothing feeling for the viewer.  Each element seems to change into another element.  This pattern goes on throughout the piece and keeps the viewer wanting more.  The colors are another aesthetically pleasing part of the artwork.  They compliment the interesting shapes.  The colors he uses vary throughout the piece.  The majority of them are brighter, more neon colors, which causes the shapes to pop out of the dark backgrounds.  They also fade and transform into other colors.  This helps sell the soothing movement of the shapes.

Whitney’s work is amazing when you think of the time period that he created it in.  This stood out to me because Catalogue was finished in 1961 on analog equipment.  His work paved the way for the computer animation that is done in today’s digital age.  His work illustrates that something inventive and eye-catching could be done using low technical equipment.  It proves that the equipment isn’t what makes a good artist. It is the artist them self that makes the work beautiful and worth looking at.  This piece stood out to me because Whitney created the device that he used to create his real piece of artwork.  Not only is the finished product a piece of artwork, but the machine he created it on is one as well.


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