Monday, January 20, 2014

Visual Food for Thought week 6 - Three Musicians (1921) by Picasso

When I was younger, one of the first "abstract" artists I ever learned about was Pablo Picasso. His work was both odd and exotic to me. Now that I am more developed as an artist myself, his work doesn't seem so alien and impenetrable. In fact, the cubist attributes of his paintings are both interesting as a subject matter and as a storytelling device to me now. Yes, learning to understand the meaning behind his abstraction methods has made Picasso a more esteemed artist in my own opinion.

Looking at the three musicians at the table, you can almost feel the music bouncing off of every angle, every pointed knee and squared off elbow. Look how they are all squeezed side by side, united as one entity, one object instead of three. How can they play when stuck together like that? It makes you think the music must be  quick, squeaky, sharp at times... a lively tune! Each man, mustached and debonair, giving his best performance, stuck in the middle of the frame.

This beautiful piece of work is currently at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Visual Food for Thought week 5 - self portrait by Rembrandt van Rijn

One of the many patterns that a viewer can observe in art is the making and re-making of self portraits by certain artists. Some of us barely make them ,while others make it a weekly habit (I know a few of those myself)! As for me, there is one master whose portraits I could stare at for hours on end, and that's...Rembrandt.
I went to the Frick about a month ago (you can read about it here ) and came across this one, entitled Self Portrait 1658. For me, Rembrandt's portraits have something really special about them. Whether it's himself or another subject, the figures pull you into their world. There's a few ways that he makes this happen. First and foremost, his eyes. You can never really tell from a photograph, but when you stand in front of this picture, the soulfulness, the age, understanding, and regrets of life come through his eyes.

Secondly, the luminosity of his figure against a warm, dark background makes him look so living, as if hes captured  little bit of his own body temperature and stuck it between the folds of his garments. While some artists have shied away from showing the signs of age in their portraits, Rembrandt gives you a (seemingly) honest look of his features. While he is quite stately, his face shows the signs of a life fully lived, with imperfections in the skin and even a light scar on his cheek. His hands are not smooth like a young mans, but angular. He is even holding what looks like a walking stick, a true sign of well earned age.

This painting alone is worth making a trip down to the Frick! If your not in New york, try finding some dutch master works in your local museum (if you have one). If not that, look online!

Please leave any comments below, or on the NYCImpressionista facebook or twitter page (links on sidebar).

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Sweeter Side of Kandinsky

Accompanied Contrast (Contraste accompagné), March 1935, Photo credit: Guggenheim Museum Website
Kandinsky in Paris, 1934–1944, an exhibition now showing at the Guggenheim, explores the art work of Vasily Kandinsky during the 11 years he lived in France, after the Nazi shut down of the Bauhaus school in Germany.

okay, enough with the formalities...

There are very few abstract artists whose work I would care to search out. As an artist myself, I have dragged my feet when it comes to analyzing this type of work, for one reason or another. But, last year I was first introduced to the work of Vasily Kandinsky by a friend of mine and realized that there was abstract art that I could enjoy!

The work above is as large as the average human wingspan, full of rich colors, textures, and...surprisingly to me, light. Light is the last thing I would expect when I look at abstract art. He made this work with oil paint and SAND on canvas, which I thought was pretty cool. The shapes dance on a glowing background, each one interacting with the other. In the words of Anne Shirley (my favorite fictitious heroine), Kandinsky work contains a lot of "scope for the imagination!"

This work in particular was made during his time in France, at the end of his life. I have to say that the work from this time in his life strikes me as the most beautiful and well formed out of all his work. Looking at an artists work is a lot like looking at a bottle of aged wine. You hope that it holds the finest product of that artists life. I think that this exhibit shows how Kandinsky succeeded in this!

Any comments about Kandinsky's work? What about the show at the Guggenheim? Leave any comments below or on my facebook or twitter!

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