Last week on Face Off, the nine remaining artists competed in my favorite challenge ever on this show. It just stepped above the season one finale where the contestants had to create a dynamic fairy tale scene through an incongruent art style. Nothing is more inspiring for an artist of one medium than to be told to go play in another medium's sandbox. The results are always wild and unexpected. You can't guarantee quality. You can guarantee that the designs will be a radical departure from the artist's previous work. Oddly enough, this was also an art challenge. The contestants visited a huge art gallery to choose a Modern art style (capital M, people, except for Pop Art which was not of that period) to inspire a living work of art. The results were amazing.
I already took my crack at Cubism with a wild and massive eight foot by eight foot Halloween mural of a bat flying over the moon (if I have more time, I'll add highlights and shadows to really go full Cubist), so let's get right to the contestants.
I can't blame the makeup artists for not know all of these movements. Not all of them have an art background and some of them are quite young. Alana assuming Constructivism was connected to construction was not as ridiculous as you might think. There was a huge Constructivist movement in architecture and graphic design, the same way Bauhaus might be best remembered for interior design but was largely a new way of approaching architecture.
The Surrealism mistakes weren't unexpected, either. Many confuse the capital "S" movement with the lowercase "s" adjective meaning unusual or dreamlike. There is a dreamlike element to Surrealism, but the imagery is always grounded in a sort of warped reality rather than a total fabrication of imagination.
"Starry Night" erroneously got lumped in with Expressionism this challenge, when it's a late Impressionist/early Post-Impressionist painting that laid the groundwork for Expressionism. Expressionism is often defined as thematically opposed to Impressionism; Impressionism is capturing reality from a relative perspective, while Expressionism is capturing emotion and the human experience through similar art. Eddie cited "Starry Night" directly and the judges went with it. Roy probably nailed the "represent the art style" instruction more than anyone else in the challenge, but the confusion over what Expressionism actually was kept him out of the running for the win.
Pop Art and Cubism came out on top this challenge. Laney's Pop Art was praised for overall accuracy when a huge part of her work--the oversized dots on the body--was off. The use of plastic, text, and contrasting colors was spot on. I wish her story about the representation of women in social media was clearer, but the bold choice to cover the model's face and breasts in distorting spirals and personality-erasing plastic was spot on. It was an arresting design that probably came very close to winning. I think Laney will be the last rookie standing and might just win the whole contest. I doubted her skills at first but she's really come into her own the past few weeks.
Laura's Cubism design was accurate. From the layering of paint to create highlights and shadows with visible brush strokes to the extreme angular structure, she knew what she was doing. Once again, her finishing was untouched by her competitors. The split down the middle contrast of blues with oranges made the look.
Miranda was on the verge of a breakdown the whole challenge but actually did a really spectacular makeup. The one flaw was the exposed arms. It took her so long to settle on a design that she only had the face/head sculpt and the fabricated guitar to show. There were some brush strokes started on the arms but not enough to balance out the really clean Cubist portrait happening in the face.
Laura won the challenge and rightly so. This might have been the best makeup ever on Face Off, which was no small feat. I would have loved to see Alana and Frank kept onstage, as well, for their very accurate Constructist designs. Alana's looked like a period propaganda poster and Frank literally combined the architecture with the graphic design to do a stunning forced perspective illusion.
The bottom three looks weren't bad. They just missed the mark on their themes.
Eddie was the one who committed to a "Starry Night" inspiration that read well but was totally off for the challenge. His sculpture was great; it just wasn't Expressionism. Further, he probably came dangerously close to being eliminated for painting a very detailed sculpture red and orange. What is the number one rule of Face Off judging, good people? Never paint fine detail work orange. It doesn't read onstage. Laura had big angles that read well; Eddie had tiny little grooves that shocked the judges when they came up close and saw how much work was wasted with orange paint.
Scott's biggest mistake was choosing Surrealism. His design was straight up Pop Art. It was all about iconography and absurd juxtapositions of mass produced products and he should have sold it that way. It was too literal to be capital "S" Surreal. The context of the theme damned him more than his own skills. The real Surreal element was the ear in the birdcage, but it was lost with all the other ideas. Playing on that alone could have given him the win.
Tate also missed the mark on Surrealism. He went full-tilt lowercase "s" surreal and it showed. His plant monster thing was wild and unreal, but it lacked any of the altered perspective on reality stuff that Surrealism goes by. The judges were right to call him out on not actually completing the challenge. I'm impressed he worked so well with a numb hand and 13 stitches after a workroom mishap, but this was a conception problem, not an execution problem.
Ultimately, Scott was sent home. I think it was for the best. He was floundering on the challenges. I think he just needed more time to create. You can tell that he's been working in Halloween effects rather than movie effects from the really exaggerated and unrealistic elements of his designs. That does well for a few seconds in a haunted house to create an impression, but doesn't hold up under intense scrutiny like Face Off judging.
Thoughts? Share them below.