Impressed


Bottles of Bass alongside the champagne in Edo...

Edouard Manet’s 1882 Bar at the Folies-Bergère (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today I caught a post on ‘lines and colors’, Charley Parker’s excellent blog on art, about an exhibition currently on in San Francisco, ‘Impressionists on the Water’, programmed to coincide with the America’s Cup in that city.

The six images in Charley’s post reminded me of both the variety of the Impressionists and how much I admire and enjoy them. It is perhaps my favourite artistic movement, particularly if you include their forebear Manet and the Post-Impressionists Gaugin, Cézanne and the incomparable van Gogh.

There is something about the sensibility of their painting and the amazing awareness of light and colour. On top of that I always get a sense of immediacy with their paintings as if they are almost rushed. Certainly my favourite modern artist, Vincent van Gogh, didn’t hang around when he was painting. In a short artistic career of a little more than a decade he produced over 2,000 artworks (over 800 of them paintings in oil).

Personally (and I am no expert or really know what I’m talking about – this is my personal experience) I contrast their painting with the classical masters of the Renaissance who seem to have this incredible ability to produce amazing detail and richness. Seeing Raphael’s work in the Vatican apartments was an experience.

Then when I look at the work of the impressionists and post-impressionists I see artists who, close to the turn of the twentieth century, were presaging what we have since learnt about how the brain sees. Their painting seems to have detail only in the places we might focus if we were observing the scene and even within the focal points there will be levels of detail. Figures are more detailed than trees while a figures face will be finer grained than their clothes and hair. I look at it and think that’s how our brain sees.

Look at Manet’s “A Bar at the Folies-Bergere” and you can see a perfect example. You’ve almost certainly seen this image but look at the way Manet gives so much detail to the woman’s face but almost none to the bottles in front or the crowd seen in the mirror behind her. I love it.

Go check out some images at WikiPaintings but remember that they are a pale shadow of seeing the real thing. Any chance you get to visit a good art gallery should be taken, I’m by no means an art aficionado or expert but great galleries and exhibitions still manage to blow me away.

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Drawn To Art


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Pieta (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s Daily Prompt: “Is there a painting or sculpture you’re drawn to? What does it say to you? Describe the experience. (Or, if art doesn’t speak to you, tell us why.)”

I feel that everyone is drawn to art of some type. If you don’t think you are then you just haven’t found your sort of art. Of course I have a broad definition of what art is. I include theatre, opera, ballet, modern dance, musical theatre, film and television, street art and photography. If we narrow the definition down to painting or sculpture then it might be possible that there exists someone who isn’t attracted to any of it. I doubt it, but it might be possible.

I’m drawn to a piece of art for many reasons. I just wrote a post about my depression and Zematas suggested a number of images. I was immediately drawn to a Van Gogh painting “At Eternity’s Gate”. Not only was it so obviously a Van Gogh but the tone of the painting matched the tone of the post and the image seemed to me to echo my depression. The painting spoke to me. That’s why you see it at the top of the post.

I’ve also been drawn to a piece of art for other reasons. At the Vatican I was drawn to Michelangelo’s Pieta for it’s beauty and the magnificence of the execution. At Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art I was drawn to the works of Anish Kapoor because of the way his sculptures played with my sense of sight and made me question reality.

Then there is the art that seems to speak to my soul. The Van Gogh was like that, the moment I saw it I thought that it had been painted to reflect back to me what is inside me and to tell me the painter knew what it was like.

If you haven’t found art that speaks to you then I beseech you to get yourself to a great art gallery, open your mind and your soul and explore. Don’t buy a book, don’t take a tour and don’t get one of those audio guides. Just walk and look at the art with your own taste, your own prejudices and your own desire and I’m sure something will suddenly ring inside you and you’ll have found art that speaks to you.