ART 102 - Summer 2014

Pieces chosen by the students of Understanding the Visual Arts

At first look, Late Afternoon, New York, Winter, appears to be out of focus and faded. The horizonal oil-on-canvas painting features bright but muted colors, depicting a snowy winter day in 1900 on the streets of New York. Erratic, yet smooth strokes give the appearance of a fine veil of snow across the city scene as pedestrians walk with umbrellas past horse-driven carriages. Faded skyscrapers grace the background of the piece, shielded by the illuminated snowflakes. Hassam depicts a common-everyday scene beautifully, as if from the eyes of a child.
The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh is an oil on canvas painting from 1889. It is a landscape depecting a small town with most of the emphasis on the bright stars in the sky. There is also a large tree that takes up part of the foreground, which makes it seem like Van Gogh is looking at this from a forest environment up above such as on a mountain looking down on the quiet city. The position of the tree offsets the painting and draws your eye to the upper right portion of the painting near the moon and flowy movement of the sky. The more muted colors of the city make me believe that is quiet and that nearly everyone is asleep, except for the few houses with windows illuminated. I think Van Gogh is emphasizing the night sky more than anything else because he uses much brighter colors.
A Wheatfield with Cypresses by Vincent Van Gogh in 1889 is an oil painting on canvas, and is one of a series of three wheat field paintings. It is a landscape painting and is formatted horizontally. The painting depicts a beautiful, vivid golden wheat field, with hints of red poppy’s in the foreground, smaller lighter green trees in the middle ground and a group of cypress trees one of them being very tall in a darker green standing strong on the right side, rolling hills and mountains in the horizon, and swirling light blue sky and white clouds in the background. The color represents the heat and summer season. The color palette is lighter in colors when compared to Van Gogh’s A Starry Night which was completed before this painting. Brush strokes create the movement from wind blowing throughout the entire painting, from the sky and clouds in the background, the trees in the middle ground, and the wheat field in the foreground.
Kneeling in an Armchair is dry point piece by Mary Cassatt in 1903. Dry point is accomplished by scratching a design with a needle directly on to a metal plate. The metal is then filled with ink and filled run through a press to produce the image on paper. This particular piece is of Margot Lux a friend’s daughter. She has a melancholy look on her face. It is a horizontal format. It is solely black ink on white paper. The lack of detail on the background leads your eye directly the little girl, more specifically the emotion on her face. The work is essentially scratches that create the picture. The girls is smoother than the scenery such as at chair where you can more clearly see the lines of etching.
The Landscape of San Cristóbal Romita 1857 by Luis Coto is an oil on canvas painting. The landscape is of a small church looking building and a cottage on the right side. There are mountains and a a tree that takes up a lot of the background space. It seems to be a town because of all the people that are around the building working. The colors that stand out the most are the greens and the blues in the sky which are very vibrant. The white of the clouds help the blue and green stand out a lot. It seems like the people are picking or planting crops and some are enjoying the day.
It's a semi-realistic oil on canvas painting of a lion attacking an antelope. The painting is predominantly green to represent the jungle. The only hints of other colors are from green's complimentary color red, shown in the antelope's wounds and the sun in the light blue sky. The coloring of the lion and antelope standing from the green bushes of the jungle.The painting is made with a grain-like style.
Edward Darley Boit painted 'Poppi in Casentino' in 1910. The painting measures 41.3 x 62 cm and is painted with watercolors. He is able to draw your attention to the center of the painting looking squarely at the bell tower. The opposition of the dark shadow of the trees act as a path stopping at the tower. Though besides the tower the changing tones of the trees make them almost a second thought to the city. Reminding us of the human element.
A Capriote was painted in 1878 by John Singer Sargent. The medium used is oil on canvas and is displayed in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The painting depicts an olive grove landscape found on the Italian Island of Capri and features model Rosina Ferrara. Sargent used a mostly cool pallet void of many bright colors. The outfit the girl is wearing stands out against the background due to the color choice of the artist. The pink skirt adds a sense of warmth and her bright white shirt against the shadows of the olive trees focus your eye on her. While the girl is the focal point at the center of the painting, she is entertwind with the tree branch that starts toward the bottom right of the painting and raises to the upper left hand corner, drawing your eye across the whole painting. The artist creates a sense of depth by adding clearly depicted imagery, such as the flowers or the woman, against an otherwise blended background. John Singer Sargent was known for painting portraits, which maybe why he sought out model Rosina Ferrara to paint. It could also explain why her image is so clear and detailed, shown in a profile view, so one can see her facial features and admire her beauty.
Wheatfield with Crows by van Gogh draws you in with the golden wheat field which takes up most of the canvas. The bottom of the canvas has three paths that draw you into the wheatfield. As you look up from the wheatfield you see the beautiful blue sky which turns into a dark turmoil. The black crows seem to be heading into the darkness of the sky. The strong dark colors of gold, blue, brown, green and black give a haunting, lonely feeling. The brushstrokes seem rushed and anxious like the artists was frantic to finish the painting.
The painting is focused on the young lady in the center holding a camera, painted in a modern-impressionist style. The setting is on a bluff overlooking the ocean, with two figures slightly behind her. All are dressed in time period attire of the early 1900’s. There are no horizontal or vertical lines, only those on diagonal lines. Furthermore, the viewpoint of this painting omits the natural horizon of sea and sky and instead, the artist creates a perceived horizon between the picture plane, and the background. The red color of the sitting ladies coat draws the eye and is intentional. The yellow hat and red coat stands out, they are warm colors and are quite necessary to show the depth of the painting. The same size brush was used in creating the waves, the bluff, and the young lady. This repetition adds to the overall composition of the painting creating a balanced pattern.
In Field of Oats at Grez (1885) by Karl Nordström, the very first thing you notice is the grasses, oats and wildflowers in the painting. Another prominent feature is the dark figure at the top right corner. However, if you look to the left you will note that there are some darker spots in the space that would be the sky. If you look closely, you can just notice some darker spots as the horizon touches the field that can be argued about whether they are more workers in the field and the birds are flying away in response, or if it is the birds in flight touching down. Looking down in the far left corner you will also notice the shading and darker objects calling to infer maybe the end of the field and perhaps who our lone figure is walking towards.
The painting is from Andrew Wyeth’s is a beautiful watercolor painting of Dodges ridge the date was 1946. The painting has these warm brush strokes that make feel like you're on the coast standing there looking out at sea watching the clouds roll in this realisic visual appeal this the is the most important idea, beacause this draws me in to this painting. It is a Horizontal image of a nature landscape on the coast. On the left ½ of the canvas taken up by a wooden cross, and the other ½ is hillside, and sky scene. The sky compliments the hill side the tons come together softly. The hill side browns are balanced out with the light blue/gray sky line the warms and darks colors define the shapes and line of the ridge line and sky. The name of the piece Dodges ridge fits with the painting because it is on a ridge. The piece has movement. The focal point of the piece is on the cross like symbol.
Nighthawks is painted in a cool color scheme, with only the bright yellow hue of the interior of the cafe providing much warmth The pictorial space is segmented in three planes created by the horizontal lines of the top and bottom of the cafe window along with the lines of the building in the background, which creates balance in the weight of the image. The image is made of a series of angles and straight lines, with few curved lines to be found, and instead of using these lines as guides to move the eye around the piece and towards the main figures in the cafe, instead they seem to be used in order to enclose them.
Family of Jan-Baptista Anthoine by Gonzales Coques was painted in 1664 with oil on copper, the original piece is a part of the Royal Collection Trust (UK) and is on display in Windsor Castle. Coques was a court painter whose work and style was influenced by other artists such as Van Dyck and Flanders who are known for their informal depictions of boisterous families. The characters and personalities found in this image captivates viewers from all generations. While clearly from a distant time and culture there is something inherently familiar about the family roles and structure depicted in this painting. The coat of arms on the sweeping curtain in the background identifies the subjects in this painting as the family of Jan-Baptista Anthoine, who was a knight and postmaster of Antwep. When immediately viewing this painting one notices the horizontal structure and their eye is drawn to the playful boy in the lower left corner. As one explores the painting further they notice Anthoine’s wife, Susanna who is pictured sitting amongst their four children including their oldest son on her right and their two daughters and youngest son on her left. All the children are dressed in white, which highlights their presence while Susana and Anthoine are wearing darker robes. The three youngest children are positioned in between their two parents in a way that suggests their need for protection. The lighting and square floor tiles that lead your eye directly to the subjects, emphasizing the human subjects as the focal point of this painting. The surrounding backdrop of the subjects are rather shadowed and out of focus which makes it easy to miss the playful dog in the lower right corner of the painting and hard to distinguish what exactly constitutes the backdrop behind Anthoine.
The Lucca madonna was painted by Jan van Eyck in 1436. The oil on panel painting quickly draws the viewer's attention to the mother and child by the red color of the mother's dress and the bright, angelic skin of both mother and child. The overall scene gives us an intimate view by the close walls and low, textured roof of the throne. The continuous lines and soft color of the walls also help us focus on the centered figures. If the viewer has knowledge of wester religions, he may also the Lions on the throne which symbolise the King of Solomon. The king was an ancestor of Jesus, confirming that the painting is probably that of Jesus and his mother Mary.
The View of Toledo by El Greco is a 42x47 inch oil painting on canvas. The viewer’s eye is drawn to the sky and where it is dark and a storm is either coming or leaving the city. In about the top middle of the painting one of the clouds takes the shape of a man looking down on the city. The trees and plants are blurred yet the details of the buildings are defined. Looking at the bottom of the painting there is a dirt road that end at the river. In the river there is a burlap sack that is tied closed. The sack appears to be filled with something that will float in water.
Claude Monet painted Poppy Field in 1873 while living in Argenteuil. The oil painting measures 50 cm X 65 cm (approximately 20 x 26 inches). The painting depicts two sets of people taking a leisurely stroll in a field of poppies. At first glance, the viewer is drawn to the strong impact the red poppies have as they diagonally flow from over the lower left corner of the canvas. Based on the outfits, it is easy to speculate that both sets of people consist of a female adult and a child. If a line were to be drawn between the two sets, it would follow the diagonal line created by the red poppies. The sky in the top half of the canvas is separated from the bottom half by a line of dark green trees. Based on the scale of the trees the viewer can assume that the villa seen in the direct center of the canvas is rather large. The red poppies are in contrast to the blue sky. Upon further analysis of the clothing, the viewer may think that either the clouds are the result of a summer rain storm breaking up over the fields.
In the piece Dignidad Campo; We have a horizontal piece on the side of a building in Columbia. We have two hands holding grain and what looks like berries as an offering. We have a man holding a hoe off to the side walking towards an ear of corn. There are circles in the background. The hands make a triangle heading down the piece towards the letters that say Dignidad Campo. The colors are vibrant in the hands, grains and berries. The background circles are more neutral colors. Your eyes start at the top of the piece where the hands are coming down and are drawn to the letters, where you are then drawn back up towards the man with the hoe and the ear of corn. You feel as if the circle has been completed just like the circles in the background.
In the collection of street art entitled, “Beyond Banksy: Not Another Gift Shop”, it features 12 street artists (not including, famously known, Banksy himself) and their work around London’s Shoreditch neighborhood. Of the featured street artists, I chose to focus on Stik, who coincidentally paints “Stik” people. The painting featured in Beyond Banksy, called “Stik”, is a three-story high painting of a stick figure that is casually leaning against a ledge of a wall. The painting is horizontal and quite simplistic in its artistry. The artist uses black for the outline of the figure and white to color in its head and body. This particular painting was done against a brown background, so the white and black figure stands out immensely. There are no other colors used which is common of Stik’s artwork. The simplicity of the stick people and what they are doing says so much to the audience in the way they are positioned without excessive detail through the urban environment.
Abbott Handerson Thayer's painting My Children exhibits free, loose brushwork, giving an impressionistic feel--most forms are hinted at, rather than being rendered in great detail, save for the children's faces, which are slightly more detailed, with calm, neutral expressions. The three children form a triangular composition, and the piece is further balanced by the foliage in the background which, along with the middle child, evenly divides the image into two halves. The eye is immediately drawn to the middle child, who is taller and is dressed in a stark white dress that contrasts nicely with the relative darkness and muted feel of the rest of the painting. The sky provides dramatic splashes of color that further add to this contrast, and give the painting an almost otherworldly feel. The eye, immediately drawn to the middle figure, is then drawn downward to her arms, which hold some leaves out in front of her like an offering. The younger children flanking her hold their arms up and toward the middle child as though presenting her or encouraging her forward.
My selection for the research project is “Niagara 1866”. I feel it fits into the group format fairly well. When I first looked at this painting I was drawn to the sheer power of the river itself as well as the simplicity of the piece. It looks very peaceful until you look a little closer for detail. I think the artist did a wonderful job making the water appear as if it backs up right before going over the edge. I am also impressed with the way the artist has used color to accent light, depth of water, and time of day. Although this artist lived a very short life, he made significant contributions to the art world.
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