After all, what a painter paints is a deed. In being a deed, there is much that this shows that the artist may not have been fully aware of. My intention is not to denigrate the art (although much in modern art deserves just that) but to show you how to see beyond the brushstrokes to the awareness of the artist.
I didn’t go to the Gemeentemuseum in the Hague on Saturday to see the Mondriaan exhibition; I went to see the paintings by Isaac Israel and his friend George Breitner. But to get to this exhibition I had to go through the Mondriaan exhibition and it stopped me in my tracks. The exhibition is entitled, “De Ontdekking Van Mondriaan” or ‘Discover Mondrian‘.
It is true that, like Rodin, one can see the beauty of the whole that lies in but a part of the sculpture – that is to employ our imagination in the way a true artist intends. Like Tom Thomson’s paintings that on first view appear only half finished; but that is their art, they are there for you to finish in your mind. And in finishing it, you add something more than the imagery, you add the birdsong and the scent of wild flowers or the lapping of the waves on the lakeside.
Rodin took this a little further in that he would find himself inspired to sculpt an arm or a leg with a particular gesture – and whilst this is clearly the stuff of genius, it is still in the realms of being a practice piece. Art is an expression of one’s own relationship to nature – be it through colour, sound or form. We do not have relationships with arms or legs, we have relationships with the humans they are part of.
The myth of Pygmalion which is spoken of in Ovid’s Metamorphosis has Pygmalion searching for beauty incarnate. This search takes the form of his making his image of beauty as a sculpture, the beauty that lies in the female form. The Greeks weren’t partial about beauty, they saw it in everything – but they did see it at its highest in mankind. So Pygmalion set about his sculpture which he found enrapturing.
This is, without question, Rodin’s best known work. Originally conceived in the early 1880s as part of his portal ‘The Gates Of Hell’ which depict the horrors that the poet Dante Alighieri described in his ‘Inferno’. Indeed, the original name for the work was ‘The Poet’ but was later changed to the thinker. This sculpture, made in 1903 is made of plaster and is around five feet high. It was an immense undertaking, a challenge that Rodin was equal to. Continue reading “Auguste Rodin: Le Penseur; The Thinker, 1903.”→
The tale of the six citizens of Calais dates back to the time when the English king, Edward the Third had besieged the port of Calais during the Hundred Years War between England and France. A war that essentially saw the French wrest control of most of Northern France from the English Crown. At the time, in 1347, the city of Calais was still under the English crown. An English Crown that was of French, that is to say, Norman blood. European politics in the fourteenth century was complicated, and it hasn’t got any better since.
The Breughels, father and son, were painters in the modern style. It is said of the younger Breughel that he copied a lot of his father’s works; this isn’t the point. The younger Breughel depicted them in the way he could as an individual.
Whilst this is a religious painting that has a traditional theme, the manner of its depiction is very new. Instead of the formed ranks of poe faced onlookers and an unhappy but very staid Christ Jesus, we have here a gathering of real people and a still unhappy but far more mobile image of Jesus as he trudged his way up that hill. Now, Breughel’s father had painted this scene in 1564 but the two paintings are quite different. Perhaps I’ll have to take a few piccies when I’m next in Vienna, where it is held. This is its picture from Wikipedia.
It could almost be said that history began with Egypt: what is important is the continuity of the Egyptian lifestyle for a period approaching three thousand years. There was the occasional hiccup, like the arrival of the Hittites and the outrageous Akhenaten. They were just hiccups, drops in the swimmingpool of Egypt’s continuity. Egypt’s way of life would continue as though it would never stop.