Non Western Art: Vietnamese Silk Paintings

Silk paintings are down right incredible! I wanted to use the country of Vietnam in this blog and came across silk paintings; they caught my attention right away because the intricate beauty that these artists have created on silk amazes me. Over 80 years, Vietnamese silk paintings have gone through two developmental stages. Prior to 1945, the artists used the beauty of the quietness of a closed world and since 1945 they have changed to the new forming world and use more contemporary colors in their artwork. Silk paintings are one of the most popular forms of art in Vietnam. The Vietnamese silk paintings are usually of the countryside, landscapes, pagodas, historical events, or scenes of everyday life. The Vietnamese style of silk painting has evolved greatly over the years and now has its own unique character and transparency of colors that are different from those they came from in ancient Japan and China.

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Tran Van Can

Tran Van Can (1910-1994) was a famous Vietnamese silk painter and he also co-wrote one of the first English language books on Vietnamese contemporary painters. Tran Van Can won first prize at the National Art Exhibitions in 1960, 1967, and 1980. Can spent a lot of time within the art community of Vietnam. He was the headmaster of the Vietnam college of Fine Arts (1955-64), the secretary of the Vietnamese Fine Arts Association (1958-83), and in 1983 became the President of the Vietnamese Association of Plastic Arts. In 1996 he was posthumously awarded the Ho Chi Minh Award, the most dignified decoration for Vietnamese artists. In 1944 Tran Van Can painted an unnamed silk painting in Vietnam of two young women lounging on a bench. It is a very intricate painting that shows just how talented Can was at silk painting. The white color of the silk is used as the light in the picture while the dark colors of paint bring the picture to life. The women seem to be sitting in the middle of a town; as you can see the background of the painting shows a town in motion. It is a beautiful painting and it is quite extraordinary how Can was able to form such an elaborate picture on silk.

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unnamed silk painting, created in 1944 by Tran Van Can

 

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Nguyen Phan Chanh

Nguyen Phan Chanh (1892-1984), a Vietnamese artist who specialized in silk painting was also famous in Vietnam for his beautiful artwork. He was born in a rural Vietnamese village, in Ha Tinh province. He received a normal Vietnamese education and went on to the University of Ecole des Beaux Arts de L’indochine in Vietnam from 1925-1930. He won a painting prize in 1931 and then started his career as a teacher. After his death he also received the Ho Chi Minh Award in Vietnam. Chanh painted, Crab Catcher, ink gouache on silk in 1938. It is a painting of 2 women and 2 children crossing a bridge at dawn. I say dawn because the picture is somewhat darker and there is mist coming off the water as if the sun is warming the water as it is rising in the sky. The bridge looks very weak; if the wind were to blow hard enough it would snap in pieces. I like this picture because I am getting a glimpse at everyday life of Vietnam culture.

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Crab Catcher, created in 1938 by Nguyen Phan Chanh

La Marchande de Riz (The Rice Seller), is another silk painting by Nguyen Phan Chanh. He painted The Rice Seller in 1932, ink and gouache on silk, in Vietnam. This is a painting from the time before bright colors were used; the silk took on most of the light colors of the painting and the darker colors formed the picture in the painting. It is a simple picture, but one that opens the unique culture of Vietnam to the world. I like that it is an uncomplicated picture and just shows what is happening instead of bringing a lot of other images into the picture. It is a great painting to show the market of rice and how important it is to their country as well as how they dress with big hats and loose, light clothing to protect from long days in the sun. This is a perfect picture to capture Vietnamese culture.

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Rice Seller, created in 1932 by Nguyen Phan Chanh

I really enjoyed researching and learning about the different silk paintings that have come from Vietnam. I know Vietnam is a sensitive topic within the United States, but understanding and learning about their culture and artwork has really opened my eyes. I always like to broaden my knowledge of different countries and I feel like because of the horrible history of Vietnam many people shy away from learning about them. I think this happens in school with teachers and even when people have the choice to choose their topics. This is why I chose Vietnam, because I don’t know much about the country except for the war. Overall this has been a positive experience and I enjoyed my topic thoroughly.

 Sources

Geringer Art Ltd. Nguyen Phan Chanh. N.p, 2009. Web. 24 Apr. 2014. http://www.geringerart.com/bios/chanh.html

My Art Tracker-Beta. Nguyen Phan Chanh Artworks. N.p, 2013. Web. 24. Apr. 2014. http://www.myarttracker.com/node/379079/artworks/by-artist/Nguyen-Phan-Chanh

Nguyen Art Gallery. Famous Vietnamese Artist Tran Van Can. N.p, 2013. Web. 24 Apr. 2014. http://www.nguyenartgallery.com/art-history/famous-vietnamese-artist-tran-van-can/

Phan Cam Thuong. The evolution of Vietnamese silk painting. Vietnamese Heritage Magazine, 2012. Web. 24 Apr. 2014. http://www.vietnamheritage.com.vn/pages/en/1491211554437-The-evolution-of-Vietnamese-silk-painting.html

Wikipedia. Tran Van Can. N.p, 2014. Web. 24 Apr. 2014. https://www.google.com/search?q=silk+painter+tran+van+can&oq=silk+painter+tran+van+can&aqs=chrome..69i57.5683j0j7&sourceid=chrome&es_sm=122&ie=UTF-8

Wikipedia. Vietnamese Art. N.p, 2014. Web. 24 Apr. 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnamese_art

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Aboriginal Australian Modern Art

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Aboriginal Australians in Ceremony

During the post modern era there was an increase in globalization and information sharing, this caused religious beliefs outside the Judeo-Christian view point to find their way into the art world. This includes the beliefs of Aboriginal Australian artwork that originated in Australia many years ago. This Aboriginal society developed virtually without outside interference until the arrival of English convict ships in 1788. The Aboriginal Australians were a hunter-gatherer culture of people who demonstrated their traditions and beliefs through music, song, dance, and graphic expression – all of these contained rich symbolic meaning. Before the 1970’s Aboriginal artwork was limited to the idea of painted or burned decoration on “bark paintings”. The “bark” is strips of eucalyptus bark that have been flattened, dried, and smoothed prior to decorating with brown, yellow, black, white, and occasionally red natural pigments.  Traditionally these were only made for ceremonies and then destroyed during or shortly after the ritual. However, by the 1940’s these beautiful pieces of artwork became popular with collectors and have become widely produced for sale. In 1971 something very important to the understanding of Aboriginal art happened, Geoffrey Bardon a school teacher in Central Australia formed a close bond with the local Aboriginal residents. By Bardon developing a strong bond with the Aboriginal residents he was able to participate in ritual events, which were usually prohibited to non-Aboriginals; participating in these ceremonies he was able to see the incredible body paintings and ceremonial “ground paintings”. This influenced Bardon to get his students involved in a school mural wall painting to display the Aboriginal heritage of their country. Several local leaders became involved in the mural wall painting and they were called the ‘Painting Men’. This gave the outside world a first look at Aboriginal art other than bark painting.  This virtual exhibit will reflect the theme of Aboriginal Australian artwork that was created after 1975. The artworks in this exhibit are contemporary traditional pieces, acrylic on canvas or on art board, and were painted by rural dwelling Aboriginals.

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Women’s Medicine

Willie Gudabi and Moima Willie are a married couple that work together to create vivid and beautiful pieces of Aboriginal art. Willie is known as the main artist of the work that they create, but many of the pieces are influenced by his wife and involve the many aspects of women’s ritual. Willie was born in Nutwood Downs Station in Australia circa 1917 and died in 1996. Willie was very involved in his Aboriginal community and his artwork reflects how important his culture was to him. Moima was born in at the Roper River mission in Australia circa 1935. Willie was the spiritual keeper of maintaining young men’s initiation ceremonies; some of his paintings depict these initiation rituals. Such as Women’s Medicine which portrays, to the young men, a woman’s healing power. They created Women’s Medicine acrylic on canvas, during the early 1990’s in Nutwood Downs Station, Australia. I think that Women’s Medicine is a very stunning piece of artwork. It is difficult to understand, but the white flower like parts of the painting seem to be herbs. Maybe these flowers are what women use for healing powers and they use them to help keep their tribe healthy. My favorite part is the contrast of blue, white, and red throughout the painting.

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Women’s Business

Another painting by Willie Gudabi and Moima WIllie the  that shows the women’s influence within a village is Women’s Business, which young men are informed of the women’s area of power. Women’s Business, acrylic on canvas, was painted in the early 1990’s in Nutwood Downs Station, Australia by Willie and Moima Gudabi. I really like the rich, vivid blues that are used in this painting. There seems to be a lot of symbolic meaning behind all the animals in the painting; it is hard to tell what they mean when illustrating a women’s area of power. I think it is a lovely painting that shows the strong symbolic nature of Aboriginal Australian artwork.

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Wallaby Drinking at Waterhole

Now let’s take a look at another popular Aboriginal Australian artist named Jonathan Brown Kumunjara. He was born in Australia in 1960 and died in 1997. His later paintings are strongly influenced by the Maralinga Atomic tests done in the 1950’s that his father died from and have made much of where he grew up inaccessible.  He painted Wallaby Drinking at Waterhole in 1986, acrylic on canvas in Yalata, South Australia. The painting depicts the Hair Wallabies from Ooldea in South Australia. The row of uneven ovals at the bottom of the painting is the wallabies and the strands coming out of the top of the ovals represent their long, hairy tails. The significance of the story behind this painting is very secretive, but it is part of the young men’s initiation ritual. The two wiggly lines represent the paths taken to the ceremonial ground and the circles at the top represent the waterholes, which are connected by black lines to show paths taken from one to the other.  While local flora and fauna make up the background, the small white flowers are ‘Bush Pineapple’.  This is another very interesting painting that shows how important ceremonial traditions are to the Aboriginals. I am fascinated at how intricate even their paintings are at showing their culture and traditions. I also really enjoy the oranges and reds used in this painting.

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Women’s Ceremony

Another Aboriginal artist named Ada Bird Petyarre who was born in a section of old Utopia Station in Central Australia, circa 1930 and died in June 2009. Ada created Women’s Ceremony in the late 1980’s, acrylic on canvas on board in Utopia, Central Australia. The ‘U’ shapes in the painting represent women and a totem for a tribal healer with women is shown in the center. Body paint and other designs are used with this ceremony to teach young women healing rituals. Ada Petyarre has said that the painted breasts, at the top of the painting, represent her younger sister, Gloria Petyarre. At first glance I didn’t like this painting very much, but after reading the symbolic meaning behind it I started to like it for what it represented rather than the look of it. I like that Aboriginal artist’s paint women in a good light and acknowledge the wisdom and power that they hold within a tribe. This painting holds a great story and it reminds me to not judge a book by its cover.

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Ancestral Stories-1

Let’s look at the artist’s Willie Gudabi and Moima Willie again. They created Ancestral Stories-1 in the early 1990’s, acrylic on canvas in Nutwood Downs Station, Australia.  In Ancestral Stories-1 each square of the painting contains a part of a traditional law story and the pieces may or may not be related to the same law.  Human figures in the painting show that a ritual is in preparation or in progress. I really liked this painting and it is my favorite one I have seen created by this couple. I love all the bright colors that are used and how the different segments mesh to form a beautiful piece of art. This painting has really intrigued me to learn more about the history and culture of the Aboriginal Australians; I think that is exactly what they were trying to achieve with their viewers.

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Ancestral Stories-2

As a follow up to Ancestral Storie-1 Willie and Moima created Ancestral Stories-2 in the early 1990’s, acrylic on canvas in Nutwood Downs Station, Australia. Mr. Gudabi has a passion for using paintings as a medium to express Aboriginal culture to the “outside world”. Ancestral Stories-2 depicts a mortuary ritual and the power of their ancestors. Mr. Gudabi was also responsible for mortuary ceremonies and with his closeness in understanding these rituals he was able to depict them within is artwork. The red within this piece reminds me of blood from death and that the bottom part of the painting is the earth where people are buried. One might not put death and the power of ancestors into one painting, but I see the comparison they were trying to make; that even though their ancestors have passed away they still hold power within their traditions and rituals.

Overall this was a great learning experience for me and I am very interested in the Aboriginal’s of Australia. I think it would be absolutely incredible to watch them go through the process of creating “bark paintings”. I am really happy that there are still societies alive and thriving today that still hold on to their indigenous culture and have made it many thousands of years, despite their setbacks. The Aboriginals of Australia are amazing and the stories and symbolic meaning behind their paintings are inspiring. I have always dreamed about visiting Australia and if I ever get the opportunity to visit now I have more than just the Great Barrier Reef to see.

 

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Aboriginal Australians in Ceremony

 

Sources

MBANTUA- Fine Art Gallery and Cultural Museum. Ada Bird Petyarre. N.p, n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2014. http://www.mbantua.com.au/ada-bird-petyarre/

National Gallery of Victoria. Willie Gudabi and Moima Willie. N.p, n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2014. http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/ngvschools/TraditionAndTransformation/artists/Willie-Gudabi-and-Moima-Willie/

One World Magazine. Aboriginal Australian Art. N.p, 1996. Web. 21 Apr. 2014. http://www.oneworldmagazine.org/gallery/abo/

Wikipedia. Geoffrey Bardon. N.p, 2013. Web. 21 Apr. 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoffrey_Bardon

Art and the Great Depression

The Great Depression left a huge ugly pit in the world that left thousands of people starving and homeless. The Great Depressions was the longest, most severe depression, and its impacts were felt in the entire industrialized world. When people can’t get jobs and are out on the streets starving they certainly aren’t going to be buying art; this left the majority of artists without jobs. The United States government realized that something had to be done to combat the effect the Great Depression had on the economy. The administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt implemented “The New Deal” which was a series of domestic programs (lasting roughly from 1933-1939), that focused on providing work relief to unemployed workers from all areas of U.S society. The projects in which these workers were employed ranged from public works to cultural documentation projects. The Works Projects Administration (WPA) was the coordinating agency for many of these programs created by “The New Deal”. Many people from the Great Depression were left helpless and hopeless; the art that was created from “The New Deal” was to show how the Great Depression was affecting America and her people. This exhibit describes and presents the broad range of art that was created during the Great Depression.

 

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History of Southern Illinois by Paul Kelpe

Under the WPA was the Federal Art Project (FAP), which Roosevelt created with the idea to combine the arts and patriotism to lift the fallen spirits of the many suffering Americans. From the FAP was born the Mural Division, which strived not only to employ artists, but to bring art to the public. The Mural Division during this era was very significant for its grand legacy and lasting impression it had on the arts because it displayed the many artistic styles, messages, and ideas of artists during this hard time. One popular art movement during this era was the “American Regionalism”, which depicts normal, everyday life with a special interest in community and hard work. One famous mural artist, Paul Kelpe (1902-1985), painted History of Southern Illinois, circa 1935-1939 in the state of Illinois. The painting was to depict an American scene and was painted for a Southern Illinois University library as part of the FAP. Within this piece Kelpe was striving to portray the history of industry, agriculture, and commerce in southern Illinois. The mural shows hard work and a thriving community, which was to help influence Americans that one day they will overcome these terrible times.

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Farming and Politics Wall of a Social History of Missouri by Thomas Hart Benton

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Law Wall of a Social History of Missouri by Thomas Hart Benton

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A Social History of Missouri mural by Thomas Hart Benton

Another American Regionalist named Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975) painted A Social History of the State of Missouri at the Missouri State Capitol building in 1936. This mural is a site to see, for it surrounds the entire room it is located in. At first Benton’s mural received harsh criticism, but he believed that showing the lower and middle classes in their everyday lives captured the spirit of Missouri.  Benton focused on the people of Missouri by including 235 individual portraits into the mural. Benton believed that Missouri’s uniqueness came from its people and he set out to travel all over Missouri in order to grasp the fullness of what Missourians are. Benton went on fishing and hunting trips, political barbeques, and spoke with the wide range of people that lived throughout Missouri. The mural displays a visual narrative of Missouri’s history. The narrative starts by showing pioneers arriving in Missouri and then on to men working the fields with their oxen and building a log cabin. There is a turkey shoot which is a popular Missouri tradition and a trade is shown of French frontiersmen trading whiskey and beads for furs with the Osage Indians. The Missouri River is shown winding through the murals in the background. This mural reflects the nationality and patriotism that so many Americans longed to feel through artwork of this time; life was hard and it was good to remember where they had come from and that there was a better future on the horizon.

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Farm Hand by Clyfford Still

Abstract Expressionism was a huge art movement that happened after WW2. One well-known artist of Expressionism was Clyfford Still (1904-1980) who created Farm Hands, oil on canvas in 1936 in Washington State. Farm Hands was created before WW2 and even before Expressionism was developed into a new style that many artists were using; that is why Clyfford Still is one of the early pioneers of this style. It is an awkward looking painting that shows farmers toiling away during the Great Depression. The rugged hands show how hard these men have worked and the burden the Great Depression has had on their lives. It is a great painting that brings the viewer into the moment by feeling the, almost, despair within their lives as they work.

 

References

 

Gottesman, Laura. New Deal Programs: Selected Library of Congress Resources. Library of Congress, 2010. Web. 4 April 2014. http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/newdeal/

The National Archives and Records Association. A New Deal for the Arts. N.p, 1998. Web. 4 April 2014. http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/new_deal_for_the_arts/about_this_exhibit.html

Thomas Hart Benton: Murals in the Missouri State Capitol. Subject Matter and Iconography of Thomas Hart Benton Murals. N.P, 1983. Web.4 April 2014. http://benton.truman.edu/murals_story.html

Wikipaintings. PH 77. N.p. Web. 4 April 2014. http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/clyfford-still/ph-77-1936

Wikipedia. Clyfford Still. N.p, 2013. Web. 4 April 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clyfford_Still

Wikipedia. Paul Kelpe History of Southern Illinois. N.p, 2012. Web. 4 April 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Paul_Kelpe_History_of_Southern_Illinois.jpg

The Lasting Impression of Impressionism

“I am following Nature without being able to grasp her.”

That is a quote by Claude Monet and it gives a perfect example of what the Impressionism style is all about. Impressionist’s painters work to create a fleeting moment, an impression, within their artwork. The characteristics of Impressionism include sketchy loose brush strokes and lines with an emphasis on true depictions of light in its changing abilities. Impressionism is very beautiful to me because when I look at these paintings I feel in the moment with them; almost like the picture is within a transitory moment, as if it is moving. I feel like this is exactly what Claude Monet meant in his quote about not being able to grasp Nature- she is always growing and changing to the next moment and that is exactly what Impressionist’s tried to grasp within their paintings.

As I was researching Impressionist painters and their artwork I couldn’t help but to notice that there were many paintings of sailboats and the ocean. This caught my attention right away because I grew up in Juneau, Alaska and throughout my childhood I spent a lot of time on boats and the water. The sailboats especially caught my attention because my Grandfather owns a sailboat and he used to take us on weeklong sail boating trips in the summer time; it was always something my siblings and I looked forward to.  I remember early mornings with the sun coming up over the mountains with the misty ocean breeze bringing the sting of salt water in the air. It seems only fitting to use these stunning depictions of sailboats here.

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Impression, Sunrise

Claude Monet (1840-1926) painted Impression, Sunrise which led the way for Impressionist artists and is the painting that started this incredible style. Impression, Sunrise was painted, oil on canvas, in 1872 of the harbor of Le Havre in France. This painting shows a harbor at sunrise in a very creative way with loose brush strokes, broken lines, and pure unblended colors that leave the viewer imagining the real thing. You can see the first boat with a couple men and an oar, but as you look past them you can barely make out two more boats and a harbor, but not with as much detail. The dark lines on the bottom of the painting remind me more of fish swimming in the water instead of waves. The sun and sky are bright and warm feeling, just like a real sunrise would make you feel.  Monet captured this moment beautifully.

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Regatta at Argenteuil

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) painted Regatta at Argenteuil, oil on canvas, in 1874. This is another beautiful sailboat piece done in Impression style. Looking at the painting you can barely make out the sailboats and the sails look more apart of the sky than the boats. I love how Renoir blended the bottom of the boats into the water. The way he cast the shadows of the sails in the water with the ripples make it look like the boat is one with the water. The people on the shore seem to have more detail as you can make out their hats and heads from the rest of their bodies. Off to the mid left of the painting you can make out a couple in a little boat; you can see the man dressed in black and the woman in white, almost as if they are waving to the people on the shore- maybe I’m seeing things. I find it interesting that even in an Impression style painting you will still find flags painted at the top of the masts of the sailboats.

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Venice, Sailing Boat

Now let’s take a look at the great Impressionist, John Singer Sargent (1856-1925). He created Venice, Sailing Boat in watercolor, circa 1903. I love the raw way Singer captured this moment. This painting has a bit more detail, but it still leaves much to the imagination. The right side of the painting seems to have the most detail as the left has lots of globs of paint. It seems like the viewer is on a dock and there is a person walking from the left. I love the way the man on the bow of the boat looks like he was dripped into life in the painting. This painting is much darker than other Impressionist paintings; it reminds me of the many overcast days that I’ve spent in Juneau on a boat.

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Yacht Approaching the Coast

There are many styles to compare to Impressionism, but I am going to compare it to Romanticism. Before the Impressionist’s there were the Romantic’s and they strived to elicit emotions and feelings within their art.  Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) was a famous Romantic artist. His piece, Yacht Approaching the Coast, was painted circa 1840-1845, oil on canvas. At first glance you may mistake this as an Impressionism piece of artwork, but it is not. If you look closer it is more refined and there aren’t dabs of colors and sketchy loose brush strokes as you would see in the Impression style. It is similar to the Impressionism style because of the blended bright colors, as if it is a transitory moment. It almost feels like there is a hole in the painting and everything in the picture is being pulled to the center. I think that Turner was trying to make the viewer feel the sense of the approach of the sailboat by creating this hole. To me this painting is very comparable to Monet’s Impression, Sunrise because the bright and dark colors offset each other within the paintings.

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Seascape in the Moonlight

Another Romantic artist, named Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840), created a beautiful painting of a sailboat circa 1827/28, oil on canvas, and called it Seascape in the Moonlight. This is a very intricate piece of artwork. I love the way that Friedrich has the clouds being pulled to the left of the painting as if the wind is carrying them away to bring the moonlight out for the sailboat. There is something so beautiful about the way a boat feels out in the open water in the moonlight. I think that Friedrich captured this passing moment brilliantly. The bright white from the moonlight perfectly offsets the outline of the boat and brings the viewer into this moment so well.

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Sailing

Now let’s jump ahead to the here and now. Leonid Afremov (born 1955 – ) is an up and coming artist from Belarus. He uses a very creative style when creating art, he doesn’t use paint brushes – he uses a palette-knife. His work is very distinctive with the incredible colors that he uses and gentle style. Afremov created Sailing, which is oil on canvas, circa 2011. I chose this painting because it reminds me of Impressionism; from the bold blended colors to the strong fascination to capture a fleeting moment this piece of art is one to behold. Also because there looks like there are people in the boat, but they don’t have much detail to them. I love the way Afremov colored the sails to show the sunlight shining through them. It looks like a storm is coming on from the left of the painting with the darker colors and blues that he uses in the sky and water.

From Romanticism, Impressionism, to the here and now there is always something to contrast, but I think that comparing artwork is a great way to understand how it has evolved through the years. There will always be artist’s changing to create new styles, but they will be growing from something in the past. That is why it is good to understand the many styles of artwork. To wrap things up I just had to add a picture of my Grandfather’s sailboat, the Seabird. Here is a picture of the Seabird in front of my Grandparent’s house in Auke Bay, Alaska. Enjoy.

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The Seabird

 

References

deviantART. Sailing- Leonid Afremov. N.p, 2014. Web. 25 Mar. 2014. http://leonidafremov.deviantart.com/art/SAILING-LEONID-AFREMOV-253355218

RoGallary. Leonid Afremov, Belerusian (1955 – ). N.p, 2013. Web. 25 Mar. 2014. http://rogallery.com/Afremov_Leonid/afremov-biography.htm

Tate. Yacht Approaching the Coast. N.p, 2012. Web. 25 Mar. 2014. http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-yacht-approaching-the-coast-n04662

The Metropolitan Museum of Art.Auguste Renoir (1841–1919).N.p, 2013.Web. 24 Mar. 2014. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/augu/hd_augu.htm

The Metropolitan Museum of Art.Claude Monet (1840–1926). N.p, 2013.Web. 24 Mar. 2014. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/cmon/hd_cmon.htm

Wikigallery. Seascape in the Moonlight. N.p, 2014. Web. 25 Mar. 2014. http://www.wikigallery.org/wiki/painting_337213/Caspar-David-Friedrich/Seascape-in-the-Moonlight-(ca.-1835)

Wikipedia. Impressionism.N.p, 2014.Web. 24 Mar. 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impressionism

Wikipedia. Impression, Sunrise.N.p, 2014.Web. 24 Mar. 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impression,_Sunrise

Wikipedia Commons. File: Pierre-Auguste Renoir 121.jpg. N.p, 2014. Web. 24 Mar. 2014. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pierre-Auguste_Renoir_121.jpg

Morality and the Art of the Classical Era

 

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Photo courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

At the beginning of the Classical era within the visual arts was the Rococo style. This style was started in France and spread through Europe. The aristocrats were huge patrons of this new style or it could even be said that they were the Rococo styles only patrons. The aristocrats of the Classical era had enormous political power and wealth; many of them chose to live a leisurely, frivolous life and the Rococo style was a reflection of their taste. The Rococo style uses lots of pastel colors, curving forms, and light subject matter in a very romanticized way. The subjects of the artwork have a glow that is almost doll like and dressed in luxurious cloth and lace with fabulous hairstyles. The artwork was seen as frivolous and carefree with an emphasis on pleasure. The paintings did not reflect real life whatsoever and were very self-indulgent.  Fetes galantes paintings became a genre within the Rococo style depicting lavish and exquisite outdoor parties. The figures within the artwork would be in ball dress or masquerade costumes posing in park like settings.

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Photo courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

Francois Boucher (1703-1770), born in Paris was an artist of many talents. He worked in virtually every genre of his time and was well known for his ability to work with many styles and types of artwork. He is well known for helping form the Rococo style and spreading it throughout Europe. One of his Rococo style paintings is The Toilette of Venus which was painted in 1751 in Paris France; it is an oil on canvas painting. The painting is of Madame de Pompadour who was a patron of Boucher’s until her death in 1764. As you can see in the painting it is the essence of Rococo style with the grand sofa she is seated on as she glows in a goddess like way with beautiful tapestry surrounding her and the cupids adoring her. As you can see she is relaxing in a carefree state of mind as her cupid plays with her hair and holding a bird in a godly type of way as it is a normal thing to do. As her riches lay at her feet and one cupid is playing with her expensive jewels you get the sense that her riches are just another thing to her as she lives a glamorized life.

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Photo courtesy of artsnpaintings.blogspot.com

Another great Rococo style painting by Boucher is, Diana Leaving Her Bath which was painted in 1742, oil on canvas, in France. She is shown as a huntress in this painting as you can see her bow and kill in the corner of the painting with her hunting dogs sniffing around as she rests after her bath. You can just imagine the scene that played out before her bath; after a leisurely hunt in the forest they stopped for a bath in a nearby pond before heading home. Even in the forest after a hunt the characters of Rococo style are shown in lavish riches; as Diana is holding pearls with a fabulous hairstyle. It seems as though the other girl in the painting is her maiden as she is kneeling next to her inspecting her foot and even she has a lovely hairstyle.

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Photo courtesy of cenblog.org

During the Classical era the visual arts changed dramatically. There was a huge movement towards the Neoclassical style and a swing away from the Rococo style that had dominated the beginning of this era. This happened because the middle class was appalled with the Rococo style as it became a symbol of the moral decline of the French leadership. Artists who were supporters of linear art that showed orderliness started a trend that was anti-Rococo in nature.  With changes in human intellect from the enlightenment and the scientific discovery of the ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii came an inspiration that was much more virtuous and public minded. It created a culture, within the people, that was of moral virtues, patriotic self-sacrifice, and goodly deeds.  

Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825), born Paris was an instrumental Neoclassical artist. He was inspired by the findings of Pompeii and looked to arts of antiquity to find an ancient moral energy for his artwork. Even in his earliest of painting he was light years away from the frivolous nature of the Rococo style. He was an avid supporter of the Revolution and could be called the “official” painter of that time. One of the famous Neoclassical paintings of David’s is called the Portrait of Monsieur Lavoisier and His Wife which was painted in 1788, oil on canvas, in France.  It depicts the perfect idea of what the Neoclassical style was about with simplicity and as if the painting was capturing a moment in time. It also shows how the enlightenment affected people as they wanted to be seen as more studious and intelligent rather than carefree.

 

In the beginning of the era Classical music was dominated by composers creating and preforming for the aristocrat classes for their private entertainment. By the end of the era the composers became independent freelance artists. They were still working for the wealthy, but they also created compositions for public concert halls and opera houses. This is surely linked to the dramatic change from Rococo to Neoclassical style that happened during this era. The aristocrats were looked down upon for their romanticized lifestyles and this brought more and more people to break away from these ideals, even composers of this time. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) being one of the predominant composers of the Classical era was a child prodigy. At the age of 5 he was already composing and preforming for royalty. He first started his career preforming for royalty and then gradually started preforming in concert settings as he became an established and well liked composer. The Magic Flute is one of Mozart’s last compositions that he created before he died. It is an opera in two acts and premiered at Schikaneder’s theatre in Vienna in 1791.

 

Overall the Classical era was a time of great achievement. The Rococo and Neoclassical styles have huge differences, but they show how our world is changing all the time. Within one era there were great scientific discoveries and a change of mind in the way people thought about life and how the average person could impact life. These changes were for the better, with moral virtues held in a higher regard than frivolous, self-indulgent ways. Even though is era is long gone I am glad to know that even then people were making changes for the better. It helps me remember how good humankind can be.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

 

Pomarède, Vincent. Diana Leaving Her Bath. N.p, 2007. Web. 7 Mar. 2014. http://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/diana-leaving-her-bath

Khan Academy. Fragonard’s The Swing. N.p, 2014. Web. 7 Mar. 2014. http://smarthistory.khanacademy.org/rococo.html

Neoclassicism and French Revolution. Jacques-Louis David. N.p. Web. 7 Mar. 2014. http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/his/CoreArt/art/neocl_dav.html

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. François Boucher (1703–1770). N.p, 2013. Web. 7 Mar. 2014. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/bouc/hd_bouc.htm

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Toilette of Venus, François Boucher. N.p, 2013. Web. 7 Mar. 2014. http://www.metmuseum.org/collections/search-the-collections/435739

Wikipedia. François Boucher. N.p, 2014. Web. 7 Mar. 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fran%C3%A7ois_Boucher

Wikipedia. Portrait of Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier and his wife. N.p, 2014. Web. 7 Mar. 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portrait_of_Antoine-Laurent_Lavoisier_and_his_wife

Wikipedia. The Magic Flute. N.p, 2014. Web. 7 Mar. 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Magic_Flute

Wikipedia. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. N.p, 2014. Web. 7 Mar. 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mozart

Joseph the Carpenter

 

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              Joseph the Carpenter was created by a French Baroque painter named Georges de La Tour. It is an oil painting that came to life in 1645 in Louvre, Paris. La Tour is famous for painting religious chiaroscuro scenes lit by candlelight. Joseph the Carpenter was done in tenebrism style that was very popular during the Baroque era; the painting portrays a scene of young Jesus with Saint Joseph, his earthly father. In the painting Joseph is drilling into a piece of wood with an auger which is supposed to reflect the shape of the cross; the setting of the picture is a foreshadowing of Jesus’s crucifixion. The young Jesus is depicted almost as if he is in benediction with his hand raised and the candlelight shining through his face which is seen as a symbolic reference to Jesus as the “Light of the World.”

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           During the Baroque era the art world was changing dramatically. Artists were starting to use vivid realistic depictions of everyday life and common people in their artwork; still life and tenebrism became very popular during this time which created a dramatic focus within the art. One of the biggest influences of the Baroque era was The Council of Trent; they impacted the arts as they represented the Counter-Reformation and were organized to think up ideas to bring people back to the church. Realizing that the arts had such a huge influence on people, they decided to use art to communicate to followers the message of the church and ignite spiritual fervor.  Joseph the Carpenter is a perfect example of how The Council of Trent was trying to reach followers of the church through art. The young Jesus is sitting with Joseph in common clothes and working, with his auger, as many people understand what hard work means. The idea of showing father and son working together is a great way to help people understand the church and stories from the Bible; that even Jesus lived a simple life on earth. There is not a complex meaning behind the painting and it is not highly decorative, yet it has a simple beauty to it that is easily understood. The painting has a religious emotional appeal to it with the lighting in the picture as if it is shining through the innocence of the child and not the candle.

                Joseph the Carpenter is a beautiful piece of artwork and it illustrates the use of tenebrism perfectly. The creative meaning behind the picture brings to life stories and ideals from the Bible. La Tour did a great job of showing the companionship that one can imagine that Joseph and Jesus had as shown in this picture of them working together. There are many things that can bring a Father and son together; a son learning the crafts of his father is a great way. That is exactly what I believe La Tour was trying to do, aside from the other meanings, to show the bond of father and son.

Comparing Renaissance and Baroque Art

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          During the Renaissance a Flemish painter, named Pieter Bruegel, produced a very complex painting in 1562 called, The Fall of Rebel Angels. The painting is to depict the book of Revelations from the Bible; he did so in a very unusual style with the angels being half-human and half-animal monsters. The picture is very chaotic and difficult to understand; at first glance many people may not relate it to the Bible. The Fall of the Rebel Angels was done in mannerism style, with many allegories which were only understood by the educated elite of the time. As the Reformation was unfolding during the Renaissance many artists were turning away from the church and rebelling by creating more secular artwork, as you can see very clearly in Bruegel’s, The Fall of the Rebel Angels.

          Joseph the Carpenter shows the essence of the Baroque era as artists moved away from mannerism styles and created artwork that everyone could understand and relate to. The artwork in the Baroque era was much more theatrical with vivid realistic depictions of everyday life. They used tenebrism to show sharp contrasts within the pictures of people in their common lives. The Counter-Reformation during the Baroque era had a huge role in this because they wanted to use art to bring people back to the church so the art needed to be understood by everybody. They used art to tell stories from the Bible that people could relate to and would show the men and women of the Bible as heroes or as people to look up to. The church was trying to ignite spiritual fervor in the hearts of its followers and so was born the new styles of artwork.

References

Lubbock, Tom. Bruegel, Pieter: The Fall Of The Rebel Angels (1562). The Independent, 2008. Web. 25 Feb. 2014. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/great-works/bruegel-pieter-the-fall-of-the-rebel-angels-1562-897006.html

Trueman, Chris. The Council of Trent. N.p, 2013. Web. 25 Feb. 2014. http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/council-of-trent.htm

Wikipedia. Georges de La Tour. N.p, 2014. Web. 25 Feb. 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_de_La_Tour

Wikipedia. Joseph the Carpenter. N.p., 2014. Web. 25 Feb. 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_the_Carpenter

Wikipedia. The Fall of the Rebel Angels. N.p, 2014. Web. 25 Feb. 2014 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fall_of_the_Rebel_Angels_(Bruegel)

Wisse, Jacob. Pieter Bruegel the Elder (ca. 1525–1569). The Metropolitan of Museum of Art, 2013. Web. 25 Feb. 2014. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/brue/hd_brue.htm

Chateau de Chambord: Humanism in Architecture

 

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Located in France, the Chateau de Chambord is the largest castle in the Loire Valley. This building is one of the most recognized estates in the world because of its French Renaissance architecture. With over 400 rooms, 282 fireplaces, and more than 70 staircases this massive estate is remarkable. King Francois I commissioned the construction to Francois Dombriant to begin building on 6 September 1519. It was to be built as a hunting lodge for King Francois I. The construction of the building lasted many years; it was altered several times and never finished. It is said that Domenico da Cortona was the architect of Chateau de Chambord, but there are many controversies surrounding who the architect really was. Some believe that Leonardo da Vinci may have been the designer because of the double helix staircase that is the centerpiece of the building and the extraordinary architecture found throughout. Chambord was once abandoned for a great deal of time, but it has been renovated and is now open to the public.

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          The construction of the Chateau de Chambord was greatly influenced by the rise of humanism. The estate was built with Renaissance elegance; the center layout was as an early example of the French and Italian style of grouping rooms into self-contained suites. As humanism extended into the Northern Renaissance many of the construction methods of estates changed, taking on styles with symmetry, geometry, and orderly arrangements. The castles became lighter, more delicate, and were built with more windows. Chambord had many open windows, a loggia, and a vast outdoor area at the top which before had only been seen in Italy; these things were not very practical for cold and damp Northern France. The layout of the estate was very geometric, with a central body that had square lines in the shape of a Greek cross. With shelf motifs and inlaid marble panels that were mostly seen in Italy, Chambord was classic humanism at its best.  Castle enthusiast Jean-Baptiste Lully understands the beauty of the estate, he wrote that the Chateau de Chambord “appears suddenly at the edge of a path and the sight of its white massive structure that widens and takes shape little by little, produces a dramatic impression, which is even more striking at sunset”, in The Castel of Chambord.

The longing for something new and fresh like humanism during the Renaissance is something that I greatly admire from the artists and designers of that time. It is amazing to me that many of these estates were only used as hunting lodges or to entertain a few weeks out of the year; the royalty truly lived a different lifestyle enveloped with luxury. I have always been into architecture and seeing these beautiful castles has really made me want to go see them. I think they are an incredible part of the Renaissance history and it makes me happy to know that, still today, anyone is able to enjoy seeing these incredible works.

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References

Château de Chambord. Spotting History, 2014. Web. 14 Feb. 2014. http://thefabweb.com/86381/24-best-architecture-pictures-of-the-month-march-16th-to-april-14th-2013/

Chateau de Chambord. Wikipedia, 15 Jan. 2014. Web. 14 Feb. 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%C3%A2teau_de_Chambord

Lully, Jean-Baptiste. The Castel of Chambord. 37-Online, 2014. Web. 14 Feb. 2014. http://www.37-online.net/gb/castles/chambord_gb.php

Renaissance architecture. Wikipedia, 7 Feb. 2014. Web. 14 Feb. 2014 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renaissance_architecture

Sullivan, Mary Ann. Château de Chambord. N.p., 2009. Web. 14 Feb. 2014. http://www.bluffton.edu/~sullivanm/france/loire/chambord/chambord1.html