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Revised Painting Paper

Marcin Roncancio

Professor Jablonka

Arts of New York

24 November 2010

From the second I was shooed out of the Old Master gallery in the Met by an impatient security guard the day of our guided tour, I knew I had to go back. I was stricken by this impulse, a need to see more, learn more, and held it for at least a week before the opportunity presented itself. Painting, aside from sculpture, has always been my preferred medium of art. Not being particularly inclined to create, I’ve always taken great joy in viewing the great works of others. The Baroque style has always been a favorite of mine, but I didn’t know much of the details about the process, or the meaning and function of the paintings until after the talk at the Metropolitan Museum. An avid museum-goer, I find myself scribbling titles, names and dates on the nearest available surface during any visit lest I be tantalized forever by the memory of one painting I just can’t seem to find again. That was how I returned home one night with a list full of beautiful paintings, but just one I knew was perfect and begging to be written about. Guido Reni’s Charity shone with meaning and skilled artistry, but how could I begin to speak about it without first discussing what brought me to it?

As I am fast learning in this class, a trip to a gallery is infinitely more rewarding with a knowledgeable and engaging guide. Never before had I noted the difference and influence of the separate movements of the Renaissance in the South and North of Europe. Both regions, in particular Italy and the Netherlands, had distinct virtues to their styles. A paragon of the Italian style of religious paintings is Raphael’s larger than life Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints. In utter contrast stands the highly detailed The Crucifixion; The Last Judgment of the Netherlander Jan van Eyck. While the former is many times larger than the other pair, the scope of the latter far exceeds that of Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints. The smaller pair was likely intended for private worship, while it is probable that the other was designed for display in a church for the parish to view. Further details, such as the use of perspective, the subtext of the paintings and the structure of the figures were well illustrated in these paintings for me, and I found the techniques I learned about in these paintings to be an invaluable lesson in evaluating others.

Reni’s Charity is seemingly more secular in subject than many paintings of the same period, depicting a mother with three of her infant children. It is a later Italian painting, in the Baroque style of the fifteenth century. The combined effects of the light, color and tone are what make this painting so incredibly fascinating. These factors together with the expressions of the painted figures create a very visible statement about the nature of a child’s relationship with his mother, the role of a mother, and her willingness to provide and fit into that role. I believe that although the subject of the painting, Charity, has religious connotations, the secular subtext of the painting put in by Reni himself, is the real focus, highlighted by the various effects and techniques employed by any master artist.

The three children are painted with very different complexions. The first, on the far left, has skin of a healthy, ruddy color. The second, sleeping prostate in the lap of his mother, is graced with a lighter pink than the first. The third and final child, who is pictured feeding from his mother’s breast, is very pale compared to his brothers, and has only hints of rosy color around his face and mouth. The mother by contrast appears utterly waxen, with only a hint of blush on her cheeks and on her breast where the third baby rests. The immediate implication is that the infants are taking life, represented by the sanguine color of their skin, from their mother. The mother nurtures her children, providing them with sustenance from her own body, and in the visual metaphor the painting provides, she appears to be giving the children not milk but blood—a multifaceted symbol for either their direct descent from her, or the energy she put into birthing and caring for them.

The exsanguinated woman appears perfectly calm and loving; her expression betrays no discomfort or resentment towards the children who seem to be literally sucking the life from her. Her arms encircle them, supporting and protecting them. She willingly provides everything she has to her children, with no concrete benefit to herself. The title of the painting adds another layer of depth to this interpretation; charity is a concept that denotes impartial love and giving. The connotation I assign it, especially in the context of this painting is one of giving without an expectation of receiving anything in return.

Charity, the idea of giving selflessly, is of course also one of the virtues of the Catholic catechism, which could imply that this painting could have been meant as a superficial depiction of a personification of that virtue. The fact that it may have roots in a religious context doesn’t have much bearing on it’s very human, opinion based subtext, however. From a casual viewing the painting has more to do with mothers and sons than it does any religious ideal, unless of course one intends to grapple with the role of women and of mothers in reference to the beliefs of Christianity. An in depth biography of Reni by Spear in fact explores Reni’s apparent misogyny, fear of women (52). These are realized more in the context of Reni’s other paintings, such as Atalanta and Hippomenes in which it is speculated that the subtle stance of rejection of Hippomenes, from Roman myth, is a representation of Reni’s own feelings towards women, as the figure from the myth is actually actively pursuing Atalanta, the female in the painting (62).

In terms of the structure and modeling of Charity it is in some respects similar to some we have already seen as a class. In particular, the painting by Peter Paul Rubens of himself, his wife and their son is similar in the use of oil as their medium, a central focus on the woman, and the use of a child as a tool, or a base element whose purpose is mainly found in highlighting the central focus. In both Charity and this other painting, the viewer’s focus is blatantly directed in the aim of the child’s pointed finger. Where the focus in Ruben’s painting is his beloved wife, the focus here is definitely on the breast-fed infant and the figurative significance of this maternal act. The first child’s extended arm, the mother’s arm, the folds of her dress, the positioning of body of the third child, and the line of exposed skin at the woman’s breast all form parallel lines extending from the top left of the painting to the bottom right, which is reminiscent of the upward diagonal direction of brushstrokes in Ruben’s painting.

In addition to the physical strokes of the brush and the underlying composition of shapes and lines in the piece, the glossy quality of the oil paint, in particular around the intensely white color of the mother’s breast, is yet another strategy to attract the viewer’s attention. The remarkable luminosity unique to oil painting is achieved by the painstaking process of layering clear or opaque glazes along with color to achieve a height of light and reflection not seen in other paintings (Trinka). This time consuming process and its eye-catching result are very deliberate on the part of the artist and there is no doubt in my mind that it was meant to bring the symbolic meaning of this painting to the forefront.

The things I’ve learned about the artist’s intent with color choice, modeling, choice of title and other technical details by going to gallery talks and examining different styles from different periods and movements have taught me to perceive another layer of meaning in any painting. Awareness of the history of movements in paintings and the social context in which they were created have also definitely helped me in trying to understand the artist’s thoughts and feelings towards their work, their motivation, and thus the significance of the painting also becomes clearer. Charity with its depth and richness in detail, meaning and structure was an excellent exercise in practicing my skill of observation and analysis with the help of tools learned at the hands of patient curators and guides.

Works Cited

Reni, Guido. Charity. 1628-29. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Rubens, Peter Paul. Rubens, His Wife Helena Fourment, and One of Their Children. 1630. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Santi, Raffaello. Madonna and Child Enthroned With Saints. 1506. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Simon, Trinka. “The Art of Composition” n.p. 2008. 233-234. Web. 21 Dec. 2010.

Spear, Richard. The “Divine” Guido: religion, sex, money and art in the world of Guido Reni. Hong Kong: Yale University Press, 1997. Print.

Van Eyck, Jan. The Crucifixion; The Last Judgment. 1430. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Abstract Expressionism has always seemed fairly incohesive and subjective. I’m familiar with it’s attempts to convey powerful emotions and its representation of rebellion against American society in the 1940s, but it often appears juvenile and strangely simple. I was curious to see how this gallery talk would affect my preset opinion of abstract expressionism, whether it would reassure my feelings about it or whether it would shed a new life on the controversial painting style.

Our gallery talk speaker was Midori Yoshimoto. She was clearly well-educated in the history and quirks of the artistic style to which the exhibit was dedicated, as well as in the layout of the exhibit itself.  She focused mainly on two painters, Barnett Newman and Jackson Pollock. Barnett Newman’s work definitely encouraged my initial opinion of Abstract Expressionism. It appeared incredibly simple and mundane.  Most of his paintings consisted of simple squares, lines, and geometric figures arranged in a plain fashion. None of these paintings were creative, in my opinion. They were, instead, very impersonal, because their meaning was hard to perceive, if they had any meaning at all. I feel that such paintings are exponentially more significant to the painter as opposed to the viewers. Although his color palette is vibrant and piercing, it is nothing without a visibly interesting context behind it.  Also, his biblical works did not resemble biblical works at all, because they were simple, darkly painted rectangles.

Jackson Pollock, on the other hand, made me think twice about the irrationality of Abstract Expressionism. Majority of his paintings were very pleasing to the eye and contained figures and people placed side by side or among other objects, but that you could still make out. One that comes to mind is “The She-Wolf” by him, in which you can make out what looks like a bull or a cow among all the lines and squiggles of color that surround it. Pollock’s drip paintings, the ones he is most known for, appear intimidating and convoluted at first. On the contrary, they are very interesting to simply observe and figure out. The use of color reveals specific emotions in each painting. For instance Pollock’s paintings titled “Number 1A” and “One” appear to be very similar. However, they contain different shades of white, gray, and beige that are placed in different amounts in the two drawings. If you squint, you can make out people and buildings, most of which come to you as a result of your imagination, but I feel that that is the beauty of his paintings. Pollock’s method of painting seems very freeing and natural, in my opinion.

-Polina Mikhelzon

MoMA respone – Matthew

It’s been a while since I actually visited the MoMA’s abstract expressionism exhibit, but I still remember the art very clearly.  But even more clearly, I remember the emotions and preconceptions I had coming into the museum and how much they changed throughout the exhibit.  I had always viewed abstract expressionists as con artists who randomly threw paint on a canvas then sold it as art.  Now, thanks to the tour by Agnes Berecz, my opinion of these abstract artists has been altered.

Agnes began with a little history of the abstract expressionist movement in the early 1900s.  This was interesting enough, but what really caught my attention was the way in which she explained the mindset and inspiration of some of the artists.  This helped me make sense of some paintings that at first seemed to have no subject matter.  She also described the techniques of some artists, like Hans Hofmann.  When she explained the optical impressions of different colors, like the depth of cool colors and the boldness of red colors, and how Hofmann used these impressions in his painting, it became clear to me that there was indeed a lot of technique in abstract expressionism.

One thing I never understood about abstract expressionism was the assortment of colors on the canvas.  Thanks to Hofmann I now understood the thought process behind the use of different colors, but I still couldn’t get how they could just throw it on a canvas with seemingly no pattern at all.  I couldn’t consider it art, probably because I didn’t know much about art at the time.  But thanks to this exhibit, and this class as a whole, I understand art in a much different way.  When I see paintings from Arshile Gorky, I no longer look for what they meant to the artist or the people around me; I look inside myself to see which emotions they bring out of my own mind.  When I let the painting inspire me instead of looking for the artist’s inspiration, I enjoy them on an entirely different level.  After gaining a bit of insight as to how much skill and effort is put into each painting, I can comfortably look at a lot more expressionist art and let them draw emotion out of me.

Now I appreciate abstract expressionism, as long as it can bring out emotions in me.  Some art, like the Red Canvas White Line that we’ve talked about so much in class still fails to appeal to me, but I have developed huge respect for many other expressionists, Pollock in particular. The way he manipulates and blurs the lines of direction and orientation make his paintings even more accessible because it allows me to interpret his work in the way I see fit.  I also find his innovation admirable.  Pollock used anything to paint anything; he would use things like knives, sticks, or his own fingers to paint, and his subject matter was too deep to be depicted as something tangible or literal.

To say that I appreciated this exhibit is an understatement.  I not only learned a lot about the abstract expressionist movement, but I also learned about myself.  I now know that it’s impossible to determine what “art” is, and all I can do is continue to explore my mind and enjoy what I can.

Chelsea Galleries

Marcin Roncancio.

I recently went to the Chelsea Galleries on my own. I was looking forward in particular to New Materials, and a couple of other galleries I had scribbled down directions for. Walking around the neighborhood however got me too interested in other galleries and I went into more than a few on a whim. The first was Stricoff Fine Art on 25th and Eleventh Ave. Looking back on the entire afternoon my favorite had to have been this one gallery. The paintings were absolutely brilliantly executed, and the other oddities the gallery housed made it a great first stop into Chelsea.

Favorite: Joshua Bronaugh “Cassatt” The painstaking attention to detail in the middle that drifts off towards the edges gives the painting an ambiguous and dreamlike quality that contrasts with the parts of the painting that almost seem like a photograph.

Favorite: David Kessler Twilight Echo II (acrylic on aluminum). The metallic elements of this painting add a quality I’ve never seen before. The effect this artist is able to create in his painting works perfectly with his subject of quiet pools lending them an incredibly vivid feel.

I kept walking after that one, still looking for 520 24th Street when austere black and white paintings caught my fancy as I walked past the gallery Hasted Kraeutler. The strong rigid lines reminded me of a technical drawing class I had taken in high school. It was my favorite class at the time and this exhibition managed to bring me back to that time.

I walked out and went a little farther before entering Andrea Rosen’s gallery. What interested me was the second gallery, which is apparently used an “an inspiring and liberating arena to show a large range of selected one-time exhibitions”. I could barely make heads or tails of the paintings of Jose Lerma’s “I am Sorry I am Perry” as I walked in, and then upon seeing one painting, which rested against the wall where the entrance was, I began to make sense of the exhibit. The painting I mentioned resembled a nickel to me, or perhaps another denomination of a coin. After making that connection, the rest of the paintings suddenly seemed to resemble figures from American history. Two paintings that seemed meaningless before grew into faces before my eyes. The large painting resting on two keyboards seemed to retain some measure of coherency where there was none before. Though I exited reflecting that the paintings continued to be utter tripe, I marvel at the effect of a single detail to change one’s perspective on a range of things.

Leaving that gallery, I looked across the street. There was 520! At last, I had found Kim Dorland’s exhibit, which I had been looking forward to after hearing the praise of the others for it. However, after the lovely paintings in the various other galleries I had seen that day, Dorland’s New Materials seemed terrifyingly hideous. I can only allow that I found the use of paint and other materials to be interesting; subject matter and the end result of his paintings are another matter entirely. I continue to consider art to be defined in part as a thing of beauty, and in that respect Dorland’s work misses the mark.

MoMa Gallery Talk – Lidiya K

My second trip to the MoMa was interesting, not only because of the paintings I saw, but also the people I encountered. The person that led the gallery talk was Midori Yoshimoto, whose English was a task to listen to, but she was of course knowledgeable on the subject. I didn’t find much of a connection with the first few paintings we saw but hearing about them shed a new light on the work. I most enjoyed listening about a painting by Rothko entitled At the Edge of the Sea, which can be categorized as both abstraction and figuration. The painting is not as abstract in content as some of Pollack’s work since there are clear figures, but the composition is possibly more abstract in meaning. What I first took to be two vases is actually meant to be the painter and his wife. We were told that this piece had special meaning to the painter since it hung in his living room until his death. After seeing this painting I realized it was time to open myself to the max to fully take in the pieces in this gallery.

The next piece that caught my eye was Abraham by Newman, painted in 1949. At first, I though this was one of those ridiculous paintings that asks us to go to extremes to connect with it. Ms. Yoshimoto explained that the inspiration behind this painting was biblical, hence the title Abraham. There is clear geometry in this painting, a black, thick streak divides the canvas. The prevalent color is black, displayed in different shades. Ms. Yoshimoto showed us that among all the black, there is a hint of light yellow which creates a halo along the black streak. The simplicity of this subtle addition of light created a supernatural feeling to the painting and made it appropriate for the biblical intention.

The next Newman painting did not appeal to me in the same manner. This one was mostly red, with a four streaks of yellow and white. Ms. Yoshimoto mentioned that Newman created this painting to be appreciated from up close and so we were advised to stand inches from the painting to fully appreciate it. To me, the painting had little emotional significance but if I had to choose to admire it I would do so from a distance, so as to take in the entire piece. Others around me began to comment on the painting. Their comments seemed silly and almost forced. One woman began to comment on the slight break in one of the streaks. Another said “it’s so simple, but it just speaks to me.” I wonder what she heard it say.

The next stop was a painting by Jackson Pollack’s wife, Lee Krasner. Through an opening to the next room we were able to see and compare one of Pollock’s pieces. Her work was much more controlled and organized. Pollock’s work was also much more vast in size. The next room was completely dedicated to Pollock. After the tour I spent some time on my own in this room. The painting entitled One, done on Novermber 31 of 1950, resembled the painting done on November 14, 1948, but the emotions I took away from each one varied. They had a similar color scheme but One seemed more joyful to me. There is a greater amount of white at the center and the lines seem to stretch as if in an effort to release energy. All the lines have their own pattern, their own significance, and I find it interesting that when you attempt to follow one you just get lost in another. The painting done on November 14th seems more angry. The same colors are generally used but some new, unique ones are also added. There is more open space but also more darker lines. On the sides there are very thick brush strokes that aren’t even splatters anymore. The one question that most interests me about such works is when did he know when to stop the splattering; when was the painting truly complete?

Monet Painting Paper – Lidiya K

It is said that it is best to write about what you know. The same rule seems to apply to many painters, as it has clearly proved effective for Claude Monet. An impressionist artist, Monet focused on nature while sometimes including other subjects, such as his wives, Camille and Alice. In his plein-air landscape paintings he captures various shades of nature and when he does choose to incorporate human beings, they blend with nature and their beauty is undeniable.

Prior to the Impressionist movement painters had different techniques and their paintings had a different emphasis. The brush strokes used were thin, and precision was key. Most paintings were meant to be portraits to commemorate someone of a high class. If landscapes had been featured, they have been painted indoors. Monet represented a revival in art, known as the Impressionist movement, prevalent during the second half of the nineteenth century. Along with Renoir and Bazille, he explored new realms of art, rather than following the predetermined rules of color and composition set by earlier European artists. The accepted art of the time drew inspiration from earlier times and the works of other renowned artists. Monet and other Impressionist painters painted what they saw in their present day.

The techniques used by Monet helped his paintings take on a different texture. Monet used a light primer to establish the soft varied tones instead of the dark grounds used in the past. He sat outside at various times of day and created art based on the various shades, shapes, and textures created by the sun throughout the day. The first paintings he created featured haystacks. The landscapes Monet painted vary according to where he was living. Some are set in Normandy, others in France, and some in England, where Monet took refuge during the Franco-Prussian War. Monet also found some inspiration in Japanese block prints, asymmetrically spacing the figures, and emphasizing the two dimensional characteristics of the subjects.

The first painting for which Monet received recognition was The Woman in the Green Dress. It was completed in 1866 and is one of the many paintings featuring his first wife, Camille. The painting featuring Camille that I find most appealing is Woman with a Parasol. It was done in 1875 and features not only Camille, but also their son, Jean. The nature and the people within the painting are intertwined. Camille and Jean are standing in a green meadow. Her dress is white with hints and blends of a subtle blue. The green of the parasol compliments the green of the grass. The face of Camille is a pale peach and, in several locations, it blends with the clouds of the sky. The flow of the clouds, the wrinkles of Camille’s dress, and the position of the grass create a wind effect and bring another element of nature into the painting. The wind component gives life to the painting. The shadow helps us understand the position of the sun; we know the sun is a part of the painting although its not there.

One of Monet’s paintings was exhibited in the first impressionist exhibition, held in 1874. He painted it in 1872, and it is named Impression, Sunrise. From this painting the term “impressionism” originates.  In this painting, again there is a blend of nature’s elements. The subjects of the painting include several ships, the sun, and two boats that are in close proximity and so they stand out against the background. The sun is of a red-orange color with a bit of white added for texture and softness. The blue of the sky becomes indistinguishable from the blue of the water. I find it interesting how the sun gives life to the boats. It also intrigues me how the human subjects are diminished in the overall scheme. The people are not the main focus of the painting. Their faces are not lucid, nor are any other parts of their identity. In this painting, priority is given to the vast sky and the water.

Another characteristic of Monet’s work includes series paintings, in which he would paint the same scene in different varieties. Of his series paintings, I most enjoy Poplars along the River Epte. Not only did Monet paint them at various times of the day, he also recreated the paintings during different seasons. The effect was a change in the color scheme and the impact of the paintings. When the trees are more barren of leaves the emphasis of the painting is on the trunks. They are almost perfectly spaced, each with some purple leaves. This is likely to have been painted early in the day since the purple color is vividly seen. In this particular painting, Monet painted from the point of view of looking directly at the profile of these four trees. There are trees in the background but they are very faint. At first glance they aren’t even noticeable; they merely appear as an indication of light in the painting. The focus is on these four trunks. Looking at this painting I feel a clash of emotions as if I should be feeling joy due to the use of the color, but I cannot escape the somber feeling of the four, lonely, nearly barren trees.

There are several other versions of this landscape, but I will focus on one that I feel is most diverse. This painting was probably created either during the late spring or early summer of 1900. The perspective of this painting is very different from that of the painting I had previously described. Instead of focusing on four trees, this painting chooses an angle that still shows the trees in proximity in greater detail, but also puts an emphasis of the background. The trees are all overflowing with leaves and there are bushes growing along the roots of several trees. There is also a new subject in this painting: the lake. The lake reflects the trees, fooling the viewer into seeing a broader image. The lake creates a sense of openness and welcomes the viewer into the painting. The ways the trees blend also offer comfort for the viewer, as if they were a form of safety or protection. The overall feeling this painting creates is warm, and inviting.

My choice of focus is Monet because of the connection I feel with a wide selection of his works. The various meadows, fields, trees, and lakes that he focuses on all remind me of my childhood years. Back in Ukraine, each summer, my cousins and I would spend July and August in the country, where our grandfather built a house. We would cross a bridge to the lake, which also ran along our backyard. We would put on our old clothes and go visit a large tree to pick berries. On the way, we would walk through a field of grass. It was one of my favorite places. Walking through that grass I felt a sense of purity, coupled with a feeling of limitless possibility. The vastness of the grass, the mystery behind what lay where I had not been fascinated me. It still does. I feel this vastness and the feeling of nature’s grandeur are captured in Monet’s work. I find sometimes I can better connect to the trees Monet captures than any of the portraits I have seen of the earlier eras.

Monet’s work is great in that although the location may not change, slight subtleties of color and focus can fully transform the effect emitted by the painting.  Although Monet’s work was not immediately accepted, it has become a trademark of the Impressionist movement. Monet and his fellow impressionists found success in innovation. He found something new to be inspired by and different ways to view the world. I am certain that many can find joy, stimulation, and an appreciation for nature after viewing the work of Monet.

Painting Paper by Kevin

A History and Interpretation of Picasso

Picasso was born on October 25 1881, in Malaga, Spain. His father was a Spanish painter and an art professor, and as a result, he contributed greatly to Picasso’s early art education. In fact, beginning at the early age of 7, Picasso received training from his father in art. As a firm follower in a classical art education, Picasso’s father believed that to gain a proper training in art, you must first go through a disciplined studying of master artists. As a result, many of Picasso’s earliest paintings did not resemble his unique style at all, but were more realistic and rational. However, Picasso eventually learned the values of precision and refined his technical ability with painting and in the 1900’s, he moved to study art in Paris, the then capital of art in Europe. He spent the majority of his adult life in France and created an estimated 50,000 artworks in his lifetime. Picasso died on April 8, 1973 at 91 years old.

One of Picasso’s major contributions to the art world was his founding of the Cubism movement of art with Georges Braque. The Cubism movement can be split into two major components: analytical cubism and synthetic cubism. Analytical cubism was the first style that Picasso experimented with. It is characterized by a breaking down of an image into its components and then a re-arrangement of these components back together. Analytical cubism often resulted in images that did not resemble anything realistic at all, and is often difficult to understand. Synthetic cubism is characterized by incorporating things in the actual real world onto the canvas, and not just paint. Examples include pieces of newspaper articles and sheet music. This in turn challenged the perception of art. This was a major device in the shift to modern art and continues to be an important element in the creation of many modern art works.

Nowadays, what would you define as art? Traditionally, much of art has been a realistic depiction of a person or place. However, by the 1900’s, photography’s ability to accurately capture all the details of a scene or person soon eclipsed any painting or portrait. John Berger illustrates this in one of the essays, where he asked whether you would prefer a photograph of a person or a portrait of that same person as a means of identification. In most cases, the picture would be more accurate. As a result, artists were forced to found a new means of expression, one that would illustrate the uniqueness of painting as compared to photography. One of the pioneers for such an art style was Pablo Picasso. In a John Berger essay, Picasso is mentioned to have demonstrated that “within the confusion, out of the debris that characterized the time period, new ideas, new values, new ways of looking at the world can and will develop.” Many of his works were revolutionary even though they were often not a realistic portrayal. Two of his works, Three Women at a Spring, and Girl Before a Mirror, capture this attempt to take art into a different realm. These two artworks exemplify a common theme known today: that art exists in many different forms, whether it is an abstract portrait, a sculpted creation, or a piece of music. Picasso painted both art pieces during the same relative time period (the summer of 1921 for Three Women at a Spring and March 1932 for Girl Before a Mirror). Both are also scenes of women and both are oil and canvas paintings. They are both large in size with similar dimensions (the Three Women at a Spring is slightly bigger at 203.9 x 174 cm and the Girl Before a Mirror is 162.3 x 130.2 cm). However, there are many noticeable differences between the two works of art. Some of these differences include the subject matter and especially the composition of the artworks in terms of organization and color.

The subject matter of Girl Before a Mirror is different then that of Three Women at a Spring. The former portrays the universal topic of how people perceive their own image; in this case, a girl. I found myself drawn to this painting because I too have had times when I just stared in the mirror trying to make sense of myself. I find that many times when I looked in the mirror, I would question whether I was really seeing myself.  This disconnection between the physical body and the mind is clearly expressed in Picasso’s painting. In the portrait, the girl is looking at herself in the mirror, but the image in the mirror looks nothing like her true self. In fact, the girl staring in the mirror and her reflection looks like two completely different people. The girl in the reflection looks like very sad and disfigured while the actual girl seems to be very happy and fun loving. This illustrates the idea that the persona expressed on the outside is often different than the persona hidden on the inside.  People tend to judge themselves a lot more harshly when they see themselves in the mirror.

On the other hand, the painting of Three Women at the Spring’s portrays three women conversing with each other at the spring. I was attracted to this portrait because it seemed to be filled with sadness. They are at a spring, but it seemed clear to me that they were not there to just be happy and relax; they came to the spring to talk about their individual troubles. The girl in the middle reflects this dark mood. The expression on her face suggests that she is overcome by a deep sadness. This sadness reminds me of the many times I have been depressed over numerous events in my life. Consequently, I think it is great that she is releasing her sadness out and talking about it with her friends and thus getting better.  So while a Girl before a Mirror is about the theme of self-perception, Three Women before a Spring is the idea of women socializing.

In addition, the organizations of both paintings are different. The organization of Girl before a Mirror is a very complex. There are numerous geometric shapes scattered throughout the painting. The girl’s neck in the painting is represented by triangles. Perfect circles represent her breast and stomach. A part of one of the girl’s hand is made up of 2 small trapezoids. The background is made up of many small individual units of rhombuses, and inside each rhombus is a circle. These regular shapes combine to form an intricate diamond patterned background that reminded me of a carpet. All of these elements give the painting a sense of geometric order even though the painting is very asymmetrical. The vast number of shapes in the painting also gives the painting a sense of crowdedness.

The organization of Three Women at the Spring is looser when compared with Girl before a Mirror. While there are geometric shapes such as the shape of the vase in the painting, most of the shapes aren’t geometric at all. The three girls in the painting are not represented by geometric shapes, but instead look more lifelike and human. However, there is still the element of surrealism in the painting, as the three girls in the painting don’t look realistic despite their lifelike shapes. Also, the background in the painting is difficult to recognize at all. Unlike the highly ordered diamond patterned background in Girl before a Mirror, the background of Three Women at the Spring is wrought with uncertainty; in fact, you cannot even deduce that the girls are at the spring at all. The looseness of the background also gives the painting a feeling of freeness and spaciousness in contrast to Girl before a Mirror, which seems crowded. However, while the background of the painting is loose, the painting is still ordered because the solid shapes of the three girls, the vague shapes of rocks and a chair, and the two vases ground the painting from becoming too abstract. As a result, both paintings radiate a sense of order and solid structure in their organization.

The colors are also different in both paintings. The colors of Girl before a Mirror are very vivid. They are varied and many of them are bright and noticeable. This in turn makes the painting immediately stand out from its surrounding white wall. There is also a marked difference in coloration between the girl and her reflection. While the girl is mainly colored with colors that radiate warmness like pink, red, and yellow, her reflection on the other hand is colored with more cooler and darker colors such as blue and purple. This allows for the interesting contrast between the girl and her image, which gives the painting its mystery and excitement.

The coloring of Three Women at the Spring is extremely far removed from the coloring of Girl before a Mirror. The colors in Three Women at the Spring are very subdued and low key. The colors in this painting seem to imbue the painting with a sense of sorrow due to its varying shades of brown and grey. There isn’t much contrast in colors of the painting, and instead there are a lot more similarities in coloring throughout the painting. This actually turned out to strengthen the painting. For example, giving the girls the same color dresses turned out to be a particular effective element in the painting because it gives a sort of unity to the three girls and unites the three girls in a common purpose. One can see that the coloring of Three Women at the Spring and Girl before a Mirror are both very different and the coloring sets very different tones for both the paintings.

These differences between paintings, while very noticeable, highlight a common theme that art comes in many different forms and styles. In art, there are no limits to expression. As a result of the many different forms of art made by Picasso, the art world was forever changed and his artwork became the basis for many artists in the transition to modern art. Nowadays, art can be seen anywhere and in multiple different forms. In fact, new challenges as to what exactly is art abound and occur as more and more artists develop new ideas that radicalize the art industry. Traditional perceptions of art have been transformed since the time of Picasso and his innovative new ideas. These ideas served to push art into a modern direction that continues on to this day.

Trip to Chelsea Galleries- Kevin Wang

I didn’t really know what to expect in our visit to the Chelsea galleries. I wasn’t much of a fan of art, but in retrospect, I really enjoyed our visit there. I learned a lot about the various styles of art and marveled at some of their drastic contrasts from one another. While I didn’t like much of the abstract expressionism, I was really intrigued by Kim Dorland’s works of art. I liked how his art would use the technique of synthetic cubism but take it to a whole new level and incorporate many real things into the painting itself. I especially liked his painting of the wooden hut with the keep out sign. To me, it represented all the things that were forbidden and told not to do by my parents or not seen as desirable in my childhood. His use of actual wood in this painting in constructing the wooden hut added to the glamour of the painting because it made the painting seem so real and vivid. Overall, the trip to the Chelsea galleries was quite interesting and enjoyable.

Agnieszka’s Painting Paper

Silent Song – Painting Paper

Agnieszka and Chelsea

Going to high school in Lower Manhattan allowed me to visit the many galleries in Tribeca and Soho with friends after school. But I’d only ever visited photo galleries. So when I found out I would be viewing paintings on display in Chelsea with my MHC class, I was thrilled.

We began with two highly interactive exhibits at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. The first artist housed here is a stream-of-consciousness painter, Jorge Queiroz. I first dismissed them as elaborate doodles on canvas, but on second look found myself pulled into his work. His paintings are quite fun to enjoy. You let your eyes rest on a part of the canvas, and let Queiroz’s lines lead your eyes across the work, playing with associations and images. The second artist, Ryan Johnson, also plays with his observers. He brings together the real and everyday (in this case, sneakers) with the fantastic. These associations made me laugh sometimes, and I saw the same reaction from others around me.

Other exhibits we saw played with elements and techniques we had discussed in class, such as using space to draw in the viewer (Brice Marden) and pulling art away from the boundaries of the canvas (Kim Dorland). But the exhibit I found most interesting and unique was Kent Dorn’s work. He is one of a line of artists who push the boundaries between painting and sculpture. The landscape backgrounds of his pieces were beautifully executed. There is no doubt that Dorland is a very talented artist. But he experiments with depth. In addition to utilizing perspective and color to create depth, he uses physical material. In one painting, Dorn painted a figure with his back turned to us, and piled paint onto the figure’s back (in the same texture as the rest of the figure’s shirt, interestingly enough). So the figure originates within the canvas, and is pulled out of it by Dorn’s brush. He uses this same technique to make a statement, making his work so much more meaningful. Dorn has an assortment of beautiful landscapes onto which he has globbed his signature paint-forms. This brings the reaction of disgust and horror – how can such a beautiful scene be destroyed by what he has thrown onto it – garbage? This is where he makes his environmentalist statement. I also think it is meaningful that in the trashed-environment paintings, nature is what is kept in the distance, locked in the canvas, while the parts of the painting pulled into our world are the nasty ones. Perhaps in this way Dorland hoped to convey the despair of the world we have been left with.

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