Intorduction: “One day's happiness often predicts the next day's creativity.” – Teresa Amabile
Throughout time, man’s turmoil, solitude and pain have been highlighted through magnificent works of art. This was a way of expression for the artists to show their deepest emotions to those around them. In most cases, being an artist was tough—the pay was minimal and the respect was low. So, of course, these deep seeded feelings came out in their artwork. Through all this sadness, however, was a rare occurrence to see **lifting emotions in artwork. When the delight of bright colors and joyous figures were present, it was really something to muse over. This exhibition explores happiness in art ranging from a mere smile on a subject’s face to the elusive, symbolized emotion hidden in serious works of art. To me, art can bring happiness even in the hardest of times. Whether that is looking at your favorite painting to give you a sense of hope for the future or picking ** a brush and making your own to release all of your built ** feelings. Art is the best form of expression and happiness is one of the many results. This exhibit will not only display art that has that deeper meaning of happiness, but will hopefully be an escape to the viewer. An escape to another world, or just a time to forget about the world around them. By focusing on these images before them and the deeper meaning behind them, visitors will definitely leave in high spirits.
Image One - "Madonna of the Goldfinch" by Raffaello Sanzio: In this image, strangely similar to Raphael's "Madonna in the Meadow," happiness abounds through the affection of mother and child. The tender expression **on Madonna's face shows her compassion for her child, while the two children play in merriment before her. She is draped in brightly colored fabrics, which compliment her glowing face. She is also enjoying a book while sitting in the serene environment, giving the painting a peaceful tone since all of the figures are at leisure. I believe this image goes well with the exhibit because it shows a maternal love that many can relate to as happiness.
Image Two - "Butterflies and Poppies" by Vincent van Gogh: This painting was one of my personal favorites for the exhibit because it is by my favorite artist and it reminded me of one of my favorite quotes by Nathaniel Hawthorne: "Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight **on you." Of course, the cheerful subject matter, makes this image by Vincent van Gogh a happy one. But also the symbolism behind butterflies, them representing a new creation or beginning, is also light hearted. The colorful poppies in the background and the bright green grass in the foreground also add to the cheerfulness of this artwork. This painting fits in nicely with the Happiness exhibit because it shows the happiness in nature through color.
Image Three - "Return of the Prodigal Son" by Rembrandt Harmensz van Rign: At first, this image by Rembrandt comes across as somber and dreary, but the true happiness is knowing the story behind this painting. The Prodigal Son, who ran away with a portion of his father's fortune and wasted it on the meaningless products of life, is shown returning home after his long absence. Instead of being angry, his father welcomes him back with open arms, showing true love and compassion. This happy moment is captured here while others look on with respect. Aesthetically, this image’s warm color palette is enticing and invites the viewer to look closer. Just like the image of Madonna, this image fits in with the exhibit because it shows a happiness that viewers could possibly relate to through memories of their father.
Image Four - "The Starry Night" by Vincent van Gogh: As previously stated, van Gogh is one of my favorite artists and that is probably why I am partial to his most famous work, "The Starry Night." I think it is impossible to look at this work and not feel some sense of joy. The stillness and tranquility that sweeps across the small village gives the viewer a sense of calm not surpassed in other art viewing. This could especially be credited to the color palette that van Gogh uses. The sky seems almost magical as the stars dance among each other under the moonlight. This piece would be my "Curator's Choice" for the exhibit since it brings me the most happiness of the five I have chosen.
Image Five - "Allegory of Peace and Justice" by Giaquinto, Corrado: Although fire and brimstone are on the horizon, happiness is still evident in this work of art called “Allegory of Peace and Justice.” The two main figures, representing Peace and Justice, meet in the middle and share a joyous moment together while cherubs frolic around them. Some images, like the body on the left side, are still disturbing but are juxtaposed by the many symbols of peace seen throughout the image, like the dove near the top. However, what represents true happiness in this image is that moment between the two figures. As war rages on, a plea for peace is given and it seems as though the two have come to an agreement to end the fighting occurring in the background. Overcoming hardships and differences can bring happiness, and I believe that is what this image shows and how it is a perfect fit for the Happiness exhibit.