Saturday, October 31, 2009

Grant Wood fills you with questions.

American Gothic by Grant Wood
1930, Oil on beaverboard, 74.3 x 62.4 cm

All right, if you tell me you have never seen this picture, or at least a reference to this picture... you either are lying are live in a shoe box. If you just haven't seen it, here's your chance. I present to you..... American Gothic, enjoy as you will never be the same.

Grant Wood seems like a pretty cool guy. He was a Regionalist,  who just concentrated on Midwestern subject matter, Iowa to be exact. Regionalism was a movement in the 1930's and 1940's and was started by a small group of people who wanted to depict rural life and ignore anything influenced by Europe. Now that you know what a Regionalist is, the next stop is figuring out just what the heck is meant by "American Gothic". Though it would be entertaining,  no "American Gothic" is not referring to a bunch of Americans wearing heavy eyeliner and dark clothes, sorry. American Gothic is actually a style of painting, Grant Wood just epitomized this style hence the name of the piece. In a very small nutshell, American Gothic simply refers to a style of American scence painting that is typified by more awkward and gaunt aspects. To put it simply, just take a look at Grant Wood's American Gothic.

The house in the picture is mid-west gothic revival. Notice the little window at the top of the house, it is suppossed to make you think of a pointed arch in a old Gothic cathedral. That pretty much explains the Gothic part. Next, the people! I bet you all are thinking "Man, what is their deal?" Well, many believe that Wood was just showing the rural medwestern people as everyone thought they were. Rigid, strict, plain, and boring. Notice how the woman is looking away, it's because she is a woman. The picture is suppossed to represent a Puritan dad and his daughter, basically just showing Iowa as it is.

A few fun facts. One, the guy who modeled for the picture was Grant Wood's dentist, the lady is Grant Wood's sister. Second, notice how the plants are wilting in the background on the porch? This symbolizes the lack of sexuality, not between the woman and man of course, but in the aspect of the daughter being protected by the father, therefore it's a big no no.

The reason I love this painting so much is not because I see it everywhere, mostly in a form of a paraody, but because it just is so real. Regionalism is cool because the artists were committed to depicting life as it was. No fake smiles, no fake beautiful buildings, and no fake emotions- just life. I also love it because of the expressions on their faces. He is staring directly at you, and it kind of makes you uncomforable. She on the other hand seems to be preoccupied and a bit worried. I always wonder what is on her mind. I LOVE THAT. I love when artists can paint a simple face that fills you with questions. To me, that's good art. Art should inspire and more imporantly art should be questioned.

Grant Wood fills you with questions.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Renior simply promotes the simplicity in life.

The Luncheon of the Boating Party by Pierre-Auguste Renior
1881, Oil on canvas, 129.5 x 172.7 cm (51 x 68 in.)
The Phillips Collection, Washington

Oh Renior, everyone loves you. First and foremost, I love Renior because he always paints happy things. Children, puppies, dancing, parties- the whole lot. Secondly, I love Renior because it's fun to say his name. You can't help but feel sophisticated when you say Renior. Say his name with a glass of wine in your hand and you are on the rise to greatness!

The Luncheon of the Boating Party is so charming. There are a few great things to point out. One, everyone is looking at someone else; no two people are making eye contact. What to make of that? For me I look at as a visual metaphor for love. So many people are looking everywhere for love, looking everywhere to find the "one", but no one ever stops and thinks, "Who is looking at me?" The Luncheon of the Boating Party shows this crowd of friends together, though everyone is in their own litte world. It's like a split second of individualism at it's finest- so clever. Second, Renior always paints people he knows and it just so happens that Gustave Caillebotte, the man who painted Paris Street Rainy Day, is sitting in the lower right corner. The lady looking at the dog is Renior's wife, but wasn't when he painted this. This painting is just full of secrets!

The Luncheon of the Boating Party is just typical Renior. Calm, happy, and sincere. What more could you ask for? Look at Renior's work when you want to take a breather from life and rest in the moment.

Renior simply promotes the simplicity in life.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Caillebotte captured precise moments flawlessly.

Paris Street Rainy Day by Gustave Caillebotte
1877, Oil on Canvas, 212.2 x 276.2 cm

So, I am currently stranded inside a Starbucks due to a severe thunderstorm and I thought of this picture. Caillebotte is considered an Impressionist, however tends to be overshadowed by well-known impressionists such as Monet, Cassatt, Degas, and Renior. He is most well-known for his dramatic and exaggerated use of perspective. Notice the building in the back, doesn't it seem a bit exaggerated? True, this isn't realistic and he is a bit off with the essence of the building plunging into depth, however unlike art critics, I love Caillebotte because of his experimentations with perspective.

Paris Street Rainy Day is such a little gem. I mean, doesn't it just give you a good feeling? I also attribute it to Seattle and the beautiful rainy days.  I just love calm rainy days, the days that make you want to curl up next to the fire, get a cup of hot cocoa, and read your favorite book. Caillebotte's depiction is beautifully executed. I love the concept of a "snapshot" of time where everyone is still in time. I especially enjoy the people in the right hand side of the photo. They are quickly glancing to their right, however the viewer is unawre of what they are looking at. One can imagine they are briskly walking and have a destination in mind, they are not merely strolling along on a rainy day in Paris- they have a purpose. Also unqiue, is that the action of rain falling is not incorporated.  The only reason the viewer thinks of rain can be attributed to the umbrellas, wet ground, and title of the piece. Perhaps falling rain was too hard to paint, nevertheless I like the visual aspect of wet ground and umbrellas, it adds to the calmness and tranquility of the work.

It's great to think that this photo captured about one second of time, though the image will last a lifetime. A bit inspiring too. Artists can turn everyday instances into great works of art, merely by choosing them. Makes me want to yell "Pick me, Pick me!"

Caillebotte captured precise moments flawlessly.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Michelangelo's life was creation.

The Creation of Adam by Michelangeo
1511-12, Fresco, 480 cm × 230 cm (189.0 in × 90.6 in)

I realized I haven't featured anything earlier than the 1800's, so here were are, in the High Renaissance! I didn't conceptualize the depth of this picture, until I recently studied it. First and foremost, Michelangelo was one of the greatest artistic minds ever. He dominated sculpture and considered it to be his true passion. However when he was asked to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, he agreed. Not many know about the struggle it was to paint it. Not only did Michelangelo have to wrestle with the insane size of the ceiling and height, but the ceiling was curved! On top of all that, Michelangelo wasn't even all that familiar with the fresco painting style. Frankly, he wasn't a fan of any painting style, he was a sculptor! Nevertheless, Michelangelo prevailed!

Even more spectacular is the fact that it only took him about four years to complete the entire ceiling. It has over 300 figures, with as much attention to detail as the image above. Can you imagine reaching upwards for a period of 4 years? Imagine the strain on his joints, neck, and back! What a trooper.

Okay the Creation of Adam has a lot of pretty cool features, so sit back and get ready to be amazed! I will number them for your reading pleasure and convenience. My recommendation is to open a new tab and click "The Creation of Adam," I made it a link directing you to a large version, this will help!

1. Motion directs the entire composition. For example, your eye should first focus on God, the figure on the right. God's outstretched arm directs you to Adam followed by Adam's outstretched arm leading you to the child beneath God's arm. Which leads to...
2. Some believe that the woman beneath God's arm is Eve, though others believe it to be Mary. The child next to the woman is considered by some to be Christ. This leads to...
3. If Michelangelo meant to depict Christ, than the whole right-left-right motion explained in #1 has pretty insane applications- God created Adam, Adam is responsible for the fall of mankind, Christ dies and gives all redemption. Right-Left-Right. Cool right!?!? But you know what is also cool....
4. Besides the whole insanely neat right-left-right motion thing, notice the position God and Adam are in. The concave of Adam's body fits perfectly into the convex of God's body. Michelangelo articulated EVERY detail.

Okay, I hope I began to spark interest in the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. These kind of amazing implications can be applied to every stinkin' panel on that HUGE ceiling. Fun? YES! Go ahead, buy yourself a book. You deserve it. Addtionally, I hope I churned the butter in your "Michelangelo is out of this world" pot. Michelangelo truly was one of the great's. He was a master of many mediums, and the type of guy who was not only 100% dedicated to a work, it was his life.

Michelangelo's life was creation.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Christo and Jeanne-Claude are effortless.

Wrapped Reichstag by Christo and Jeanne-Claude
1971-75, Silver polypropylene fabric, Berlin

All right, where do I even start with Christo and Jeanne-Claude? Well, they’re mostly known for wrapping things. And not just like Christmas presents, they are more into wrapping say… islands, trees, roman walls, and oh I don’t know…. the REICHSTAG!

At first glace it is easy to think that this is merely just a case of termites and the exterminator has arrived. However, this is the awe-producing splendor of Christo! He, along with is wife Jeanne-Claude, wrap huge things and who would of thought it would create such beauty. A fun fact, he and Jeanne-Claude were born on the same day and supposedly the same hour, how precious. Anyways, Christo is considered an environmental artist as he simply wraps things in their natural environment. His main goal is to be able to take beautiful things and make then seen in another way; this is the majestic quality of Christo! So many artists try and try again to create a painting, or a piece of work that is new, fresh, and innovative, meanwhile Christo and Jeanne-Claude are walking by with their polypropylene fabric in hand thinking, “If they only knew!”

To tie in my earlier post about Annie Leibovitz, remember how I said she creates images that truly describe the person? Take a look at her photograph of Christo….

Christo by Annie Leibovitz

How can you not be a fan of Annie!? She photographed Christo covered not only because of his work, but so that the viewer has to debate whether or not this is really Chrito. Oh Annie!

To sum things up, Christo and Jeanne Claude are not only amazing because of their unique approach to creating art form, but they are simply a breath of fresh air for all those struggling artists out there. Through their work they are advocating simplicity, natural beauty, and tranquility all the while creating astoundment.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude are effortless.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Keith Haring wasn't afraid to speak the truth.

Andy Mouse by Keith Haring
1985, Acrylic on Canvas, 60 x 60 inches

Everyone knows who Keith Haring is, or at least you have seen his work. I mean shoot, it comes preloaded on a ton of cell phones these days as backgrounds.  But, Keith Haring is the guy that people should stop and think about once in a while. He was mostly a graffiti artist, though also associated with pop art. Plus, you know he was cool as he was friends with people like Madonna, Andy Warhol, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. That's like saying in present day that you hang out daily with Beyonce, Damien Hirst, and oh I don't know, Oprah- you're just THAT cool. Besides his social group, Keith was amazing. He was that guy who didn't care what the world thought of him, he didn't care what you thought about his personal choices, and he had a passion to advocate for important causes. He did in 1990, at age 31, from AIDs-related causes. He spent his last years of life raising money for AIDs reasearch and creating a visual language expressing love, hate, drugs, war, and sex.

Andy Mouse isn't a work that isn't a typical Haring work, but as soon as I saw it I fell in love. First of all it combines some of my favorite things; Andy Warhol, Micky Mouse, and Pop art. Haring did several works of Warhol, similar to this one and I think they are so clever. He took two iconic images and combined them into a style of his own- what a genius.

Crack is Wack by Keith Haring
1986, Mural, New York City

This is more typical of Ketih's widely known style. This was a mural he did in NYC and I just love it. It has all of his classic symbols (by the way, if you are interested in symbolic meanings, Haring is great fun to research) and expresses a straight forward message. Keith wasn't afraid to be in your face.

Keith Haring wasn't afraid to speak the truth.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Turner's possibilities were endless.

Rain, Steam, and Speed- The Great Western Railway by J.M.W. Turner 
1844, Oil on canvas, 91 x 121.8 cm

I understand that Turner doesn't appeal to many at first. Even I will admit that when I first saw this, I was not impressed with Turner. It seemed to me like a poorly done painting with little attention to detail. A lot of Turner's work has this same blurred look. Some of his paintings are hard to even tell what they are- the name is usually your only clue. But today I was studying early industrialization in my World History book and stumbled upon this image and realized I had been missing the essence to Tuner's work all along.

Industrialization was huge. Of course some hated the idea of industry and favored manual labor, but the majority viewed machinery as magic. When you could master a machine, or invent a new way to do something, you were heroic. My textbook said something like machinery displayed "the triumph of imagination over nature." J.M.W. Turner was an artist who admired this triumph as you can see by his work Rain, Steam, and Speed- The Great American Railway. Those who favored mechanization viewed it as romantic. Let me explain, if you look at the painting it seems as if the locomotive has no end and is zooming at you with no clear lines or definition. Turner was inspired by industrialization and he made the locomotive and railway seem as if it was a part of nature. The clouds and steam become one as the landscape and railway combine elements. This is so beautiful to me. I would love to go back in time and be there during a time when people were discovering new ways to do things left and right. At this time, industry portrayed endless possibilities and I feel that Turner adequately portrays this excitement. One can merely imagine where the locomotive was going or what it carried, it was simply endless. 

Turner's possibilities were endless.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Claes is simply genius.

Spoonbridge and Cherry by Claes Oldenburg
Stainless steel and aluminum painted with polyurethane enamel
29 ft. 6 in. x 51 ft. 6 in. x 13 ft. 6 in. (9 x 15.7 x 4.1 m)
Commissioned in February 1985, installed in May 1988 
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

First of all, where have I been? Oh around, but I just started a new job that leaves me tired and without words to explain art.

Claes Oldenburg is really friggin' cool. He creates these insane giant sculptures of things that normally wouldn't be huge giant sculptures. Take Spoonbridge and Cherry for example. To some, this might just be plain stupid, who would put such a strange thing in a scultpure garden and call it art!? But to the rest of us, when we see this image we are filled with joyous emotions. First of all, it reminds us of ice cream, which brings about careless and simplier times. Second of all, it's just plain cool. Claes does things that we think would be a good idea, but would have no idea how to do it or where to put it. You can't say much about Oldenburg's work, other than there are just no reasons NOT to love it. He is a man with a child's heart who just wants to make things BIG and there is no harm in that. I challenge you to think of something ridiculous as a sculpture, then google Claes Oldenburg and tell me he didn't top your idea.

Claes is simply genius. 

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Dove of Peace passionatly urges you to break through.

Dove of Peace by Pablo Picasso

Just for the record, you can expect to see a lot more work by the artist's I put up during this first week, because they are all my favorites. Not many can deny Pablo Picasso's extreme contributions to the art world. I mean if you don't like his style of work from one decade, you are bound to fall in love with a style from another. His artwork went through cohesive progressions and when you study him extensively you start weave his life together through his work. This is one of the reasons I love him so much, Picasso provides a story not only through his work, but he created art for so long that it is so interesting going through his styles of progression and visualize his life.

The Dove of Peace is iconic and Picasso did numerous sketches, however it is this version that is my favorite. I love this piece so much that I have it tattooed on my body, but that is besides the point. I love all Picasso sketches, heck I love all artist's sketches. There is something so intriguing about an artists having hundreds and hundreds of different sketches of the same piece. Picasso began painting the dove as a call for restoration, a call for hope, and most importantly a call for peace. The dove has always been a symbol of peace, dating back to biblical times, however it was Picasso that presented this symbol at a time the world needed it most. Picasso's only form of expression was through his art and this dove enabled Picasso to make a statement.

Too many times we get caught up in life and forget about what's important. We get caught up in politics and find ourseleves debating the President's decisions more than debating why there are so much suffering in the world. Picasso didn't just paint this dove as something beautiful to look at, he painted it as a call to action. A call to stop and look at the world around you and not only notice unrest, but begin to visualize change. Peace is just around the corner, though at times we all stop a few steps before it- hesitant to break through.

The Dove of Peace passionatly urges you to break through.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Annie reflects the soul.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono by Annie Leibovitz
30.50 x 31.00 cm

This picture sincerely takes my breath away as it is a breath of fresh air- if that makes any sense. First and foremost, Annie Leibovitz is my all time favorite photographer. Looking at her work is as addicting as watching videos on YouTube; once I start I have to force myself to stop.What I love most about her, is her dedication to producing a honest photo. She doesn't simply talk on the phone with the person she is going to be shooting (no, not with a gun, though ironic for this post- I will tell you why in a second) and then go to their house and begin taking pictures, she gets to know the individual on a more personal level. I once read that before a shoot, Annie will research the person for weeks and reallly get to know who they truly are before she agrees to the photo shoot.

Her dedication pays off time and time again, take for example John Lennon and Yoko Ono. I know this picture is shocking and to some even offensive, but it's important to understand the beauty of it. John and Yoko's love was unmistakably passionate and Annie wanted to capture this. By putting John in a type of position reminiscent of being in a womb, she portrayed John's passion and deep connection with Yoko. I believe all can on some level relate with the passion and intimacy of this photo, though I admit it wasn't until after I fell in love with my husband that I began to truly grasp the affection and emotion portrayed in this image.

I belive this picture would be famous regardless of the simple fact that it was last picture taken of John Lennon. Just four hours after Annie captured this shot of intimacy and honesty, John Lennon was shot and killed. This image served as the cover of The Rolling Stones tribute issue to the awe-inspiring John Lennon.

Annie captures moments that we see in our dreams. Annie captures emotions that we cannot express verbally. Annie reflects the soul.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Find hope in Christina's World.

Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth
1948- Tempera on gessoed panel
81.9 cm × 121.3 cm (32¼ in × 47¾ in)

I am a big Wyeth family fan.  I admire all the work that family has produced, however it is Andrew Wyeth that holds a special place in my heart.

Christina's World leaves me speechless. Think for a moment. What do you see when you look at this picture? What emotions does it make you feel? When I first started my passion for art, it took a while for me to break my habit of seeing a painting, reading the name, reading a small description, and moving on. But, I want this blog to enable people to see art in another way. To change their perspectives and truly dig beneath the surface.

To me, this painting can be summed up into one word: inspiration. Christina Olson, the woman depicted in the painting, was Wyeth's close friend and neighbor. She had polio and by age 26, she could barely walk. Her disability however never hindered her, she was a strong willed woman, perhaps you can tell by this picture. As Christina lies in a field with her house in view, one can only imagine her emotions. With her mangled limbs and fragile stature, Wyeth depicts Christina as determined not weak. Everytime I see this picture I remember Christina Olson. When life gets hard, I look at Christina's World  and reflect on a woman of courage, strength, and determination. That's what Wyeth wanted, that's who Christina was, and that's who I will strive to be.

Find hope in Christina's World.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Alas, Inadvertently Art is here.

I am just a girl who has a passion for art history. I put a piece of art up every day, sometimes it is well known, sometimes it isn't, but most of the time it's inadvertently art.

I will choose pieces of art that  inspire me, pieces that motivate me, pieces that require attention. 

I hope that through this daily blog, others can find the time each day to see a piece of art and be inspired.

I want this to be a breath of fresh air in your busy day, as I know it will be in mine.

Posting will begin tomorrow.