Assignments

Early Modernism: Spanish Civil War

The era that our coursework defines as “Early Modernism” is a tumultuous era, which includes the horrors of World War I, rejection of past traditions, disillusionment in reality itself, the desperation of the Great Depression and the conflicts that lead up to World War II. I had a difficult time settling on a theme for this assignment since there is so much to draw from, but felt that the artwork that was created in reaction to the Spanish Civil War is an influence of World War I and the rise of facism in Europe was a poignant topic in the context of art history.

The Spanish Civil War was a horrifying, bloody conflict that took place between 1936-1939. When the Spanish monarchy was overthrown in 1931, a republic government was established that held regular elections. General Francisco Franco opposed this new government with his nationalist political faction called the Falanges, which were largely aristocratic. General Franco, with the aid of Nazi Germany and Facist Italy, led a coup which began the Spanish Civil War. This coup left the Nationalists and Republicans fighting over control of Spain. The timeline, political ideologies and warfare tactics of the Spanish Civil War can be read in further detail here at Britannica.com.

There are several pieces of artwork that are direct statements about the Spanish Civil War that I’ve selected for us to examine. My fondness for Spanish artists comes from my trip to Barcelona, Spain, which was a major site of the Republic of Spain’s resistance against the Nationalists.

I also feel strongly that these paintings give us an intense visual response to world events that hadn’t been seen before in art history, and stick with us because they shocked the world into confronting war in a visual way that wasn’t journalism. In the era following World War I, we deviate dramatically from the idealized and heroic history and Biblical paintings of the Renaissance, Neoclassical and Romantic eras. The works of Picasso, Dali and Miro bring us up close and uncomfortably personal with war being, simply, hell.


 

f05cd2c978ed5176b84661861f1dd7c351388370Guernica (1936), Picasso, Paris

Guernica is not just a painting: it is a cry of anguish and outrage of war crimes. Picasso, who was Spanish, was living in Paris at the time, was commissioned by the Republic government of Spain to contribute a painting for their pavilion in the 1937 World Fair. Although the theme of the fair was celebration of modern technology, Picasso’s painting was an overt political statement against the bombing of the Basque village of Guernica on April 27, 1937.

The village of Guernica was heavily bombed by Nazi German planes and fleeing civilians were gunned down by fighter pilots acting in concert with General Franco. Guernica held no strategic military value other than being the site of a training exercise for the horrifying weapons of modern warfare first seen in World War I.

Picasso was sympathetic to the Republican government and was distraught when the news of Guernica’s destruction reached Paris. He finished the painting (which is massive in size) in less than a month and delivered it to the Spanish Pavilion at the 1937 World Fair (Robinson). Attendees expected to see the usual celebration of technology, but instead were shocked into confronting the facist brutalities of the Spanish War by Picasso’s visual memorial of Guernica.

It is said that when Paris was occupied by Nazi Germany in the 1940’s, a Nazi officer questioned Picasso about a photograph of Guernica and asked him if he painted it. Picasso replied, “No, you did,” (Robinson). Picasso refused for Guernica to be returned to Spain until it had returned to full democratic liberty; the painting was finally returned to Picasso’s homeland in 1981.

This painting is enormous, chaotic and uncomfortable for me to look at. The incomplete forms of humans and animals in agony stand out against that dark background. Picasso forces you to deal with the subject at hand. While I don’t have a great appreciation of the aesthetics of Cubist art movement, I appreciate this painting as an extremely important part of art and human history. The overt anti-war and anti-facist messages are ones that I feel are (unfortunately) still relevant in 2017.


 

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Soft Construction With Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War) (1936), Salvador Dali, Spain

Salvador Dali is one of the most well-known paintings of the Surrealist movement. Everyone is probably familiar with the melting clocks and drawer figures, but they may not be exactly familiar with Dali’s close connection with the Spanish Civil War.

Soft Construction With Boiled Beans is also called Premonition of Civil War because Dali painted it approximately six months before the Spanish Civil War began. Surrealist artwork often embraces the distortion and desecration of the human body, and this painting is grotesque, for lack of a better word. Gnarled hands and decaying feet look like they are held in rigor mortis, which contrasts the supple breast form or the limp phallic form (which is totally a nod to Sigmund Freud) (Philadelphia Museum of Art).

This grotesquely fascinating foray into the human mind was painted by Dali as he lived in Spain while tensions between the Nationalist and Republican governments were getting stronger and stronger. The figure in the painting represents Spain tearing itself apart as both the victim and the aggressor (Philadelphia Museum of Art). It is rigid, painful, powerful, disgusting and fascinating all at once.

In typical Salvador Dali fashion, the beans in this painting seem to be terribly out of place. It is speculated that the beans in this painting are included from an ancient Catalan custom of offering beans to the gods. Dali often titled his paintings with objects included in them that were difficult to find (Spanish-Art.org). In this case, beans.

Soft Construction With Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War) is seen as an anti-war visual work near or at the same level as Pablo Picasso’s Guernica.


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Still Life With Old Shoe (1937), Joan Miro, Paris

Joan Miro was another artist in the years between World War I and World War II that had a direct visual response to the horrors of war. Miro made frequent trips to Paris for several weeks at a time, but at the eruption of civil war in Spain, he realized that his stay in Paris would be an extended one. Nostalgic for home and exceedingly poor in a time of turmoil, he arranged an apple with a fork, a bottle of gin, a loaf of bread and an old shoe and set out to push painting to its limits while confronting his own reaction to the Spanish Civil War.

“We are living through a terrible drama, everything in Spain is terrifying in a way that you could never imagine,” Miro wrote before beginning on the painting (Daniel). Living in exile, Miro completed this painting of juxtapositions: bright neon colors that are enveloped and marred by ugly spots of black that seem heavy and even a little frightening. Through this painting, Miro said that this piece was, “Realism that is far from photographic… Profound and fascinating reality” (Daniel).

Miro actively sided with the Republicans, and contributed artwork to the 1937 World Fair. His mural, The Reaper, was shown in the same pavilion that Picasso’s Guernica and Alexander Calder’s Mercury Fountain were. Later in life, Miro considered Still Life With Old Boot to be his Guernica.


Works Cited
Robinson, L. (no date) Khan academy. Available at: https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-1010/early-abstraction/cubism/a/picasso-guernica (Accessed: 17 February 2017).
Art, Philadelphia Museum of (no date) Explore the collections. Available at: http://www.philamuseum.org/collections/permanent/51315.html (Accessed: 17 February 2017)
Spanish masterworks: Salvador Dalí: Construcción blanda con judías hervidas (1936) (2011) Available at: http://www.spanish-art.org/spanish-painting-contruccion-blanda-con-judias-hervidas.html (Accessed: 17 February 2017).
Daniel, M. (2011) Miró and the catastrophe of the Spanish civil war. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/blogs/miro-and-catastrophe-spanish-civil-war (Accessed: 17 February 2017).
Assignments

Romantic Era: Art Nouveau & Impressionism

I’ll admit that I’ve been working through the course material  in anticipation of getting to the Romantic and Modern era assignments, because this is the era in which my favorite Western art was made!
Art Nouveau is a movement that is considered a “total art style,” since the highly stylized shapes of nature were prevalent in everything from prints, paintings, architecture, sculpture and jewelry. It was popular from the 1880’s until World War I, and advocated nature as the primary source of inspiration. Art nouveau artists were informed by anatomical and botanical illustrations and photography, which correspond to the academic and scientific discoveries of the era. They were also influenced by Japanese woodblock prints, which began to circulate after Japan ended their isolationist policies. The unfolding curves and lines are sometimes understood as a metaphor for freedom and release from the weight of artistic tradition of the past (Gontar 2006).
I’m going to analyze one of my favorite Mucha prints, The Seasons: Summer (1896) and the building called Casa Milá, constructed by Antoni Gaudi between 1906-1912. As a teenager, I’d always loved the work of Alphonse Mucha, but art nouveau found a true place in my heart when I went to Barcelona, Spain in 2004. We had the fortune of going to a castle that was once owned Salvador Dali, which had numerous art nouveau forms. I distinctly remember a bust sculpture of a woman with flowing Mucha-like hair and goldleaf flowers in her hair. There were also displays of combs and hand mirrors with curving nouveau plants on them. Heaven!
Impressionism is a style of artwork I have had a hard time relating to or enjoying. Strictly landscape paintings have never been a keen interest of mine. The loose application of paint and abstracted yet still recognizable subjects are not a style I personally enjoy. I find the majority of Impressionist paintings to be quite bland; it’s art that I often see in waiting rooms and areas that needed something to hang on their walls, but wanted it to be mellow and match their seating arrangements.

 

Art Nouveau

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The Seasons: Summer (1896), Alphonse Mucha, Paris

For those who read my first blog post, Alphonse Mucha is one of my absolute favorite artists! His catalog of work is prolific, ranging from stylized lithographs and posters, grand paintings and even jewelry. I’ve always been drawn to Mucha’s lithographs. Many of his works I find most captivating are done in series, such as The Seasons.
Summer reminds me of lazy summer nights in Alaska, when the sun just barely skirts above the horizon all night. The sky is still blue, but has bright gold colors as well. I see this in Mucha’s delicate transition in the background of a blue sky, turning gold, and then becoming water where the reflection of the gold sky and the shadow of the woman’s feet can be seen.
A hallmark of Mucha’s style and the art nouveau movement is flowing, organic forms. Look at how none of the lines, whole bold, are never actually straight. The woman’s hair drapes in identifiable sections whose lines blend together, and it becomes entangled with the foliage of the branch she is leaning on.
Heavy line quality, curving forms and delicate color transtions create overall harmonious compositions that have heavily influenced my own artwork.

 

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espai-modernista_04_0Casa Milá (1906-1912), Antoni Gaudi, Barcelona

I never gave architecture all that much thought until I actually went to Spain. While Park Güell was an astounding experience and the Segrada Familia perhaps his most well-known work, Casa Milá holds up in my memory a bit better. I was instantly struck by the green color of the windows and the ceiling leading up the stairs that looked like patina on old copper.
The lines in Gaudi’s buildings follow the conventions of art noveau; to be informed by nature, organic and flowing. I don’t think that there is a straight line in a Gaudi building. Even the walls have a gentle curve to them. As I mentioned before, art nouveau is a total art style. Every detail is brought to an elegant and decorative level. Functional things are made beautiful, if only just to be aesthetically pleasing. Even the ventilation stacks atop the building are sculpted to look like abstracted soldiers in armor. I sat on the roof of this building for hours and drew all of the different details that I could find.
Antoni Gaudi’s work within the art nouveau movement is closely associated with the Modernista movement in Barcelona.

Impressionism

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Water Lilies (1919), Claude Monet, Paris

Monet is one of the most well-known Impressionist paintings out there, or maybe just one of the most well-known painters out there. I see prints of his prolific works just about everywhere, and they just don’t really do it for me. It’s a technical thing as well as an aesthetic thing for me.
Impressionists sought to capture fleeting moments and how light falls on subjects or scenery within those moments. Specifically, they capture the effects of light and shadows with vivid colors, rather than shades of black or gray. Conservative art critics of the age called the sketchy works “impressions,” or unfinished. Since the collective of artists making these radically different paintings were sticking it to the more traditional academic painting of the day, the “impressions” stuck to give them a name to identify their movement (Samu 2004).
My tastes, as we have seen in this and other blog posts, tend more toward the graphic. I like tight lines and defined spaces with subjects in them. Monet’s impressionist work has loose brush work applied in layers that have thicker application, but are still loose. The space in Monet’s water lillies isn’t all that well defined, save for the lillies themselves painted on a very minimal angle that suggests the surface plane of water.
I guess I just have a really hard time with paintings that are just intentionally rough, if even a bit sloppy compared to what I prefer.

 

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Woman Standing Holding a Fan (1878-70), Mary Cassatt, Paris

As the work of Cassatt, Renoir and Degas show, impressionists weren’t entirely about loosely painted landscapes. They also included loosely painted people! The Impressionist paintings that focus on people interest me a little bit more than the landscapes, but not by much.
I chose Woman Standing Holding a Fan because there are parts of this painting that I do and do not enjoy. The loose and even nondescript way that the woman’s face, hands and fan are rendered bother me. It’s like a painting is purposefully unfinished. I am, however, drawn to the defined shapes of contrasting colors in the background, which seem to denote the corner of a room (this painting has a space). Furthermore, I’m drawn to the negative space created by the woman reaching down to touch her dress, which brings my attention to the blue shape once again.
While I can appreciate that Impressionism helped lead us toward abstract and expressionist art, it’s just not quite for me.

 

 

Works Cited
Samu, M. (2004) Impressionism: Art and modernity | essay | Heilbrunn Timeline of art history | the metropolitan museum of art. Available at: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/imml/hd_imml.htm (Accessed: 10 February 2017).
Gontar, C. (2006) Art nouveau | essay | Heilbrunn Timeline of art history | the metropolitan museum of art. Available at: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/artn/hd_artn.htm (Accessed: 10 February 2017)
Foundation, M. (no date) The seasons (series) – browse works – gallery. Available at: http://www.muchafoundation.org/gallery/browse-works/object/80 (Accessed: 10 February 2017).
Pedrera, F.C.-L. (no date) A ‘Catalan Modernisme’ space. Available at: https://www.lapedrera.com/en/catalan-modernisme-space (Accessed: 10 February 2017).
Assignments

Morality and Virtue in Neoclassical Visual Arts

The somber, stoic and virtuous paintings of the Neoclassical movement are a direct counter-movement to the pastel opulence and frivolity of the Rococo period that directly preceded it. While Rococo artwork favored the Rubeniste style of flushed cheeks and fuller figures doing nothing in the most beautiful way possible, the Neoclassical, more Poussinistes style, works that followed used somber colors, linear and stable compositions and they had very specific moralistic views.

 
Exemplum virtuitus, the model of virtue, took many forms in Neoclassical works. These works are related directly to the Enlightenment era and political movements that rejected aristocratic hedonism and frivolity, represented by Rococo art. Resurgence in the study of humanism and the sciences sparked and further study of classical antiquities. Violent rejection of the aristocracy gave way moralistic and virtuous paintings that took the form of Biblical stories, Greek and Roman myths and dramatic paintings of heroes of the American and French wars of the 1700’s.

 
In this post, we will analyze the virtues of motherhood, noble self-sacrifice and triumph over adversity.


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Cornelia Presenting Her Children as Her Treasures (1785), Angelica Kaufmann

This Neoclassical work highlights the renewed interest in stories of classical antiquity, spurred by the discovery of ancient Roman ruins such as Pompeii. It is worth noting that Kaufmann traveled there personally. In this painting, the story of Cornelia is of the ancient Roman leaders Tiberius and Gaius Graccus. The brothers Gracchi were politicians that sought social reform and were seen as friends to the general Roman citizen. Sound familiar to the American and French revolutions?

 
The Brothers Gracchi were credited with receiving their foundation in ethics from their mother, Cornelia. When Cornelia is asked by another person what she considers her treasures, she gestures to her children instead of jewelry or other material possessions. . This painting’s virtuous message is that the truest and most valuable treasure of a woman is her children (Martin). For me, this seems like an intentional jab at the opulence of the ruling aristocrats of the time.

 

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The Death of General Wolfe (1770), Benjamin West

Benjamin West’s painting The Death of General Wolfe thrust history painting into a new form. Rather than painting Biblical scenes, Greek or Roman stories, he painted an event that had happened a mere seven years prior. Major-General James Wolfe was mortally wounded on the Plains of Abraham outside Quebec in the Seven Years’ War (also known as the French and Indian War). West’s patron, Archbishop Drummond, urged him to paint the figures in togas to emphasize the timeless heroism of the Major-General (Zygmont).

 
Despite West’s insistence upon using accurate military uniforms instead of togas in the name of “truth,” this painting is highly idealized in terms of the virtue of heroic self-sacrifice. Wolfe is arranged in the composition in a way that echoes the poses that we see Christ in Renaissance and Baroque artworks. This deliberate visual association of Christ, who died innocent, pure and for a worthwhile cause brings Wolfe to be viewed as a British martyr rather than a simple war hero (Zygmont).

 
The Death of General Wolfe should be noted as a painting that gave way to a reimagining of traditional history paintings to “contemporary” history paintings of relatively recent events.

 

watsonandtheshark

Watson and the Shark (1778), John Singleton Copley

Watson and the Shark deviates from the stories of antiquities and war heroism to the narrative of the merchant class and what would be deemed interesting to them. When Copely was working in London, a merchant named Brook Watson commissioned him to paint a scene from his youth.

 

Watson, while swimming in the Havana harbor, was attacked by a shark and lost part of his leg. He sought to impart the symbolism of his triumph over adversity, as he became a notable politician and later on a baronet after leaving his career as a mere merchant. He also  hoped his commissioned painting would provide a “most usefull Leson to Youth” (Smithsonian). This lesson hung over Christ’s Hospital after Watson bequeathed it to the boys school upon his death (National Gallery of Art).

 
I feel like this work takes on many different meanings beyond that of what Watson said of his intended lesson. Heroism and good deeds were enshrined as utmost virtues in the Neoclassical era, and the shipmates staging to valiantly rescue Watson certainly show that.


 

All in all, I am not a huge fan of Neoclassical works. Although I can appreciate their contribution to history, I don’t find much enjoyment in the somber color palettes or the layers of both overt and obscure symbolism. It just feels way too contrived and arranged and analyzed to the point where it becomes boring to me. I much rather prefer the lighter aesthetic styles of Rococo visual art and architecture.

 

Works Cited
Martin, D. (no date) Khan academy. Available at: https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/monarchy-enlightenment/neo-classicism/a/kauffmann-cornelia-presenting-her-children-as-her-treasures (Accessed: 3 February 2017).
Zygmont, B. (no date) Khan academy. Available at: https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-americas/british-colonies/colonial-period/a/benjamin-wests-the-death-of-general-wolfe (Accessed: 3 February 2017).
Smithsonian Education Spotlight biography: Artists (no date) Available at: http://www.smithsonianeducation.org/spotlight/artists1.html (Accessed: 4 February 2017).
Art, N.G. of and Washington (2008) Copley’s Watson & the shark: STORY1. Available at: http://www.nga.gov/feature/watson/story1.shtm (Accessed: 4 February 2017).
Assignments

Baroque: Artemisia Gentileschi

Artemisia Gentileschi is one of my favorite artists, and I have been waiting for the Baroque section in this class so that I could examine her work. Gentileschi is widely known as one of the most progressive painters of her generation, although during her life she was viewed merely as a curiosity. Her work is heavily influenced by the work of Caravaggio, as her father Orazio Gentileschi was celebrated follower of Caravaggio himself (Gunnell, 1993). Much of her early work was attributed to her father, because it was assumed that a seventeen-year-old girl could not create such realistic images as seen in her work Susannah and the Elders.

Gentileschi’s life was beset by trauma at a young age and difficulty in the years that followed, and it is recognized that being raped in her young adulthood by a painter in her father’s studio shaped the subject matter of her most famous works. They are uncomfortable, brutal, violent, and often show powerful Biblical heroines. Gentileschi’s talents earned her the patronage of the Medici family in Florence, and admission into the Florentine Academy of Fine Arts (Brooklyn Museum). The retelling of Biblical scenes from a woman’s perspective gives a unique twist on the Counter-Reformation efforts from the Council of Trent, which decreed that religious stories must have clarity, be realistic and convey intense emotion to inspire believers.

While the obvious choice for an Artemisia Gentileschi analysis would be Judith Beheading Holofernes (which is an amazing work), I have chosen The Annunciation for the purpose of contrasting Baroque technique and composition to that of the Renaissance masters.

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The Annunciation (1630), Artemisia Gentileschi

The Annunciation is an iconic scene from Biblical stories, in which the angel Gabriel appears to Mary, telling her that she will be the mother of Christ. This story was painted over and over again in antiquity, but the way that Baroque painters captured the story always captivates my interest in turn.

The hallmarks of Baroque-era paintings are tenebrism, which is the extreme contrast of light and dark values. This technique and composition choice forces the subjects foreground of the image for a direct focus, where the hyper-realistic rendering of the painting feels almost as if you can touch it. Note the extreme realism in the folds on Gabriel’s sleeve; I can almost feel the soft texture of the fabric. The intense dark values in the background of the image only serve to make the foreground scene even more dramatic. This treatment of light gives Baroque art the theatrical quality that we attribute to the era.

Another composition trait of Baroque art is diagonal lines. There are a few in Gentileschi’s The Annunciation, some actual and some inferred. Gabriel’s outstretched arms create a line from top to bottom of the space, leading the viewer’s eye from the heavenly part in the clouds down to the bottom part of the space, where his hand overlaps Mary’s space. Lines of sight are inferred: Gabriel and Mary are looking at each other, and the disembodied cherubs in the air are looking at Mary.

cestelloannunciation-botticelli

Cestello Anunciation (1489), Sandro Botticelli. The contrast of Renaissance master works, which we have so closely analyzed, is strong when put next to a Baroque painting! Botticelli sought realism with the humanist and classical ideas of the Renaissance, but note the overall harmony of this painting versus Gentileschi’s. The color palette is more muted, with little contrast in the values compared to Gentileschi. The expressions are calm, if even serene. While the foreground figures are rendered with particular care to make them look three-dimensional, but the transition of values is more subtle than a Baroque painting. The background is also fully rendered, giving us as much information as possible about the setting of the painting, not just the particular illuminated moment in time.

For those who are more interested in Gentileschi’s life and work and also interested in gender studies, Gentileschi was given a place setting at the installation The Dinner Party (1979) by Judy Chicago. Chicago arranged and decorated Gentileschi’s place setting drawing similarities between the artist’s subject matter.

Works Cited
Gunnell, B. (1993) WebCite query result. Available at: http://www.webcitation.org/6V9q1a7fJ (Accessed: 23 January 2017).
Chicago, J. (no date) Brooklyn museum: Artemisia Gentileschi. Available at: https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/eascfa/dinner_party/place_settings/artemisia_gentileschi (Accessed: 23 January 2017).
Assignments

The Renaissance: Raphael and Galatea

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The Nymph Galatea (c. 1512-14), Raphael

Although my preferences in art tend toward flat and highly stylized, I cannot deny how exciting and important the Renaissance was to the arts, humanities and sciences. One piece of Renaissance work that I always come back to is The Nymph Galatea by Raphael. The complexity of the composition without being cluttered, the lines of inferred movement and the contrasting colors are design elements I am drawn to, but I am also drawn to the importance of the subject matter and where the painting is physically located.

The Nymph Galatea is a fresco painting in the villa (now called Farnesina) of a wealthy banker in Rome named Agostino Chigi. As the Renaissance came into bloom, the merchant class came into power (such as the Medici family in Florence). Grand frescoes that had typically been more reserved for the church were commissioned by wealthy merchants and bankers, making art accessible to more than just the church.

The subject matter of Raphael’s fresco falls within the humanist ideas of the age: classical stories and characters and interest in the human form. Galatea is a nymph in Greek mythology who is the subject of many stories, typically centering around being the consort of the one-eyed giant Polyphemus, son of Poseidon. Polyphemus sang love songs to Galatea as she fled across the sea from him on her chariot pulled by two dolphins. Raphael’s prior interest in classical themes can also be seen in the fresco The School of Athens, completed in 1511.

What I found most interesting about the subjects in The Nymph Galatea is that while great care was taken representation of the human form, they were highly and deliberately idealized. Raphael was questioned by a courtier about who Galatea was modeled after, and he replied that he didn’t follow a singular model, but rather a certain idea that he had formed in his mind (Gombrich and Gombrich 1995).

Technically speaking, this particular fresco employs mastery of many innovations and practices of the Italian Renaissance. The fresco technique of painting pigment into wet plaster had been used since classical antiquity, but the artist of the Renaissance pushed it to greater heights with their enormous works. The soft treatment of the blue background lends itself to a gentle atmospheric perspective, which gives the painting just enough depth to make the chairoscuro rendering of the foreground figures even more dramatic. Galatea’s red drapery being caught in the wind and the only use of deep red used in the composition brings contrast against the different hues of blue, as well as brings the focus to Galatea herself in the center.

Despite the dramatic lighting of the foreground figures, color contrast of Galatea and the commotion of the scene (tritons abducting nymphs around Galatea and cherubs pointing their love arrows at her), everything is serene in an almost unsettling way. Between the balance of the figure-eight composition, they seem entranced and ignorant of the fact that they are being kidnapped by servants of a giant.

I think that’s what draws me to this image in particular out of many other Italian Renaissance paintings. The Renaissance masters painted stories of antiquity that were downright horrifying; abduction, entrancement and murder (just to name a few), but they did it with harmonious compositions and serene subjects that were absolutely beautiful.

Works Cited
Raphael: The nymph Galatea (no date) Available at: http://www.artchive.com/artchive/R/raphael/galatea.jpg.html (Accessed: 21 January 2017).
WebCite query result (no date) Available at: http://www.webcitation.org/6GMQVZgf6 (Accessed: 21 January 2017).
Gombrich, E.H. and Gombrich, L. (1995) The story of art. 16th edn. London: Phaidon Press.
Assignments

Art Analysis: Colin See-Paynton

Surprise, surprise! We’re going to talk about more printmakers on my blog for the Art Analysis assignment.

 

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Brown Trout Rising, Colin See-Paynton (See-Paynton, 2013)


Colin See-Paynton is at the top of my list of all-time favorite printmakers ever. His mastered technique is wood engraving and he works in a small studio in the U.K. countryside. Wood engraving is a process originating in 1768 that uses the end grain of wood as the matrix, but is printed in the intaglio method rather than relief. It’s the best of the black and white contrast of wood block relief printing with the detail offered by etching burins and intaglio printing processes (Green, 2010).

Brown Trout Rising is one of the prints in his collection called Fish and Fowl that attracts me most. The tone or value of the image tends toward the darker side of the spectrum, save for the very light ripples. I particularly enjoy the gradation in tone from the top right down to the bottom center from light to dark, yet the bird at the top is the darkest value in the entire print. The gradation of value creates a subtle base to place higher contrast shapes and subjects on.

Texture is an important design element for printmakers, and See-Paynton gives a variety of texture in the image with the fish scales and more delicate halftone in the water ripple forms. Having a textured print also is a point of technique. Textured images help to make a consistent edition of prints, as large areas that pick up ink on a plate are more prone to printing inconsistently.

Shape and space are two elements I feel play together in See-Paynton’s print Brown Trout Rising, as he creates depth in his image by how shapes are angled in the space and how they are layered over each other. The curved, lightest value ripple shapes are placed in a layer over the trout, but underneath the the bird. This gives us a point of reference for the depth of the image: the bird is flying over the water, which the trout are underneath. If the shapes of the trout were positioned over the shape of the ripple, the trout would no longer appear to be under the water. The trouts’ heads being at the center of the ripple, which radiates through the piece, creates a gentle movement within the space.

Aside from the technical elements of design, Colin See-Paynton’s work speaks to me as a person who appreciates nature. I grew up on Kodiak Island, so subject matter relating to marine or any aquatic habitat piques my interest on a very personal level. His keen observation of the natural world, specifically anatomy of animals and their relationships to their habitat is important to me as an artist now living in a state park and critical habitat area.

Works Cited

Green, Nancy E. (2010) End grain: A history of wood engraving. Available at: http://museum.cornell.edu/exhibitions/end-grain-history-wood-engraving (Accessed: 20 January 2017).

See-Paynton, C. (2013) Artist’s shop. Available at: http://see-paynton.co.uk/shop/proddetail.asp?prod=175 (Accessed: 20 January 2017).

 

Assignments

Introduction

Hi there! My name is Kristen, and I’ll be joining the online section of ART200x for the Spring 2017 semester. I currently live in Homer, Alaska with my husband after having lived in Fairbanks for eight long winters. Although I completed the Bachelor of Fine Arts curriculum on campus, I am returning through the eLearning department to tie up some loose ends and pursue new certifications for the health care field. It feels weird being a student again, but it’s coming back quickly.

My preferences in art definitely tend toward the two-dimensional side of things, as my focus in the UAF Art Department was printmaking and painting. I also had the fortune of working at the University of Alaska Museum of the North when I physically attended UAF, and I’d rank it as one of the best jobs I’ve had. Who wouldn’t love being surrounded by art all day and getting paid for it?

Artists that have continually held their greatest influence over me and my work include Hokusai, Hiroshige, Alphonse Mucha, Audrey Kawasaki and Camilla d’Errico. I definitely see a lot of overlap in design elements between Japanese printmaking, art nouveau and pop surrealism.

mfl_seasons_1896_series_21

Alphonse Mucha, The Seasons (Series) (1896) (Foundation)

JP1847

Katsushika Hokusai, The Great Wave off Kanagawa (Kanagawa oki nami ura), from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku sanjurokkei), (c. 1830–32), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, polychrome woodblock print, (25.7 x 37.9 cm).

Here is a video series about the history and techniques of various printmaking processes. I have done relief and intaglio printing, though was not fortunate enough to do lithography at UAF. Both of the above images are prints; The Seasons is a lithograph series, and The Great Wave off Kanagawa is a woodblock print.

Over the years since I have been away from UAF, I have been teaching myself digital illustration and photography. Homer has a flourishing arts community that ranges from fine arts galleries, community public artworks, a folk school and of course, First Fridays. I have the great fortune of living right across the street from a popular beach in town, and I see lots of temporary art made by other beachgoers before the tide reclaims them. Very serious Andy Goldsworthy inspiration down here!

I look forward to immersing myself in the academic side of art again this spring. Cheers!

 

Works Cited

Foundation, M. (no date) The seasons (series) – browse works – gallery. Available at: http://www.muchafoundation.org/gallery/browse-works/object/80 (Accessed: 18 January 2017).
Nigro, P. (1996) Off Kanagawa: Isolation, identity, and immortality in Hokusai’s great wave. Available at: http://arthistory.us/display.php?eid=31 (Accessed: 18 January 2017).
KhanAcademy (no date) Introduction to printmaking. Available at: https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-history-basics/artists-materials-techniques/printmaking/v/moma-printmaking-01 (Accessed: 18 January 2017).