Friday, December 16, 2011

2011 Artist Blog - Entry #27

Basket of Fruit, Oil on Canvas, 46 x 64 cm
Amor Vincet Omnia, oil on canvas, 154 × 110 cm
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was an Italian painter, born in Milan in the mid XVI century and died at an early age of 38 in the beginning XVII century. Although his creative career and life was short-lived, Caravaggio created a huge number of spectacular paintings now located in museums all over the world. In contrast to a lot of other painters, most of Caravaggio's works are of religious theme and less of a mythological. Most of his paintings depict life and death of Christ as well as numerous holy people such as John the Baptist, Mary Magdalene, Saint Matthew and others. His work nicely captures emotion - the state of human being. That being said, Caravaggio's paintings range from still life to portraiture to really complicated compositions involving a group of people. Themes can be quite violent, reminiscent of the times of the Dark Ages of the 15th century following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. It is very apparent in "Judith Beheading Holofernes", "Sacrifice of Isaac", and "David with the Head of Goliath" just to name a few. Most of Caravaggio's works have a black or dark brown background, done on purpose to focus our eyes on the people being portrayed. He successfully completes the task by dramatic use of lighting. Makes me think of light created by candlesticks - a sort of dark and gloomy setting to be in. Smiles are non-existent (with the exception of very few paintings, a single example would be "Amor Victorious") which is to be expected of that period of time. Caravaggio shows a lot of pain, fear, and misery in the faces of human beings, again perfectly capturing what life was like back then. (word count - 283)
Sacrifice of Isaac, Oil on canvas, 104 x 135 cm
Judith Beheading Holofernes, Oil on canvas, 145 x 195 cm
David with the Head of Goliath, Oil on wood, 90.5 x 116 cm

Thursday, December 15, 2011

2011 Artist Blog - Entry #26

The Wave, oil on canvas, 47.6 × 63.2 in
Self-Portrait, oil on canvas, 18.3 × 15.2 in
William-Adolphe Bouguereau is one of my favorite academic painters. He was born in the first quarter of the 19th century in France and has created, in my opinion, some of the most beautiful works ever. He painted 826 paintings during his career and was considered one of the best painters in the world in his time. The only group of people who disliked his style of painting were Edgar Degas, a French impressionistic artist, and all of his associates. By calling Bouguereau "old school" and his works having “slick and artificial surfaces”, Degas mocked the great painter. Despite the fact some artists of the time weren't appreciating his work, Bouguereau gained some immense fame throughout the world. What I really adore in his work is his treatment of the surface which gives his paintings an enormous amount of realism, yet the subject being depicted are mythological themes - angels, goddesses, nymphs, etc. Bouguereau's rendering technique is one of a kind giving his paintings almost photographic quality. With his main focus being female bodies, he shows a deep knowledge of human anatomy. Understanding of shadow, lighting, perspective, composition among other skills show up in this incredible painter's work. The various mythological characters depicted, in addition to having that naturalistic look, invite you in to their world. And you can actually believe it can be real which is the strength of Bouguereau's paintings. Currently, I do not think I have seen any other painter who has ever come close to Bouguereau. If I were ever to get posters of artists who inspire and remind me of why I am doing art in the first place, Bouguereau's paintings would clearly be on my top 5 list! (word count - 283)
Tête d'Etude l'Oiseau, oil on canvas
Cupid and Psyche as Children, 47 in × 27 7/8 in
The Return of Spring, 79 × 46 in

2011 Artist Blog - Entry #25

Mona Lisa, oil on poplar, 30.2 × 20.9 in
Self-Portrait, Red chalk on paper, 13.1 in × 8.5 in
Leonardo da Vinci... everybody knows this master and his works, with Mona Lisa being the most famous and easily recognizable. And if you don't know who Leonardo was, shame on you! On a more serious note, he is one of the most influential people of all time. Although Leonardo is considered one of the best painters of all time, he did more than just paint - he was a prominent sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, and anatomist to name just a few. Leonardo's talent is unprecedented to anybody who has ever lived with the only person who has ever come close to this genius being Michelangelo. Even though Leonardo worked in many mediums, I will solely be talking or at least trying to talk (briefly) about his paintings in this entry. There are thick books on him and his work, worth thousands and thousands of pages after all. Looking at Mona Lisa, one of Leonardo's most famous works, one can see the style he was going by. It was obviously done during Italian Renaissance which was all about "rebirth" of the Classical age (Greece and Rome).  The Classical style is clearly identifiable in the painting with the person portrayed having very soft forms, the Greek nose, curvy lips, full cheeks, and very prominent eyes with no indication of eyebrows above. The model for this piece was probably on a plump side a bit as there is almost no indication of bones beneath the skin. Her subtle smile is probably what is so unique about the painting, it is almost hard to notice the smile. The aged, dull, old look of the piece itself played a major role in making the painting so easy to remember. I believe it is the time that weathered it down, not the initial intention of Leonardo. The original was most likely in full color which is debatable to this day. The background, which is not being paid any special attention to by the majority, is quite a strange setting to be an actual place in contrast to the lady portrayed. A deeper analysis of the work can be Google'd, I am sure. Before this entry gets out of hand, I would like to conclude it by saying Leonardo has achieved such an artistic talent by years and years of practicing which is evident in the thousands of his works we have today. This great master's life and all the work he has created over decades will be forever imprinted in humanity's grandeur achievements of all time. One of my goals in life is to study Leonardo's masterpieces. (word count - 429)
La Scapigliata, Earth, amber and white lead on panel, 24.7 ×21 cm
Vitruvian Man, Pen, ink, watercolour and metalpoint on paper, 13.5 x 9.65 in

2011 Artist Blog - Entry #24

Lamentation for Christ, Oil on panel, 147 × 118 cm
Self-Portrait, oil on linden, 26.4 x 19.2 in
Albrecht Dürer was a German painter from Nuremberg living in late XV and early XVI centuries. He started drawing at a very young age and has created a self-portrait at 13 years of age which is very impressive. Although painting was his "weapon of choice", he was also proficient in engraving and printmaking. Making use of his knowledge of perspective and ideal proportions, he has created numerous portraits of people of different statuses - from noble aristocrats to ordinary peasants as well as multiple religious imagery for churches depicting life of Christ and other holy ones from the Bible. Durer's religious work is highly stylized as well as idealistic but that is to be expected as he was born in what still was Holy Roman Empire. The same cannot be said about portraiture. Though being not very naturalistic, the likeness of individuals is apparent and well executed. The character is captured with high precision which makes work one of a kind that cannot be mistaken to be someone else except for the person portrayed. Looking at Durer's own self-portrait paintings, one can see how carefully he was observing his own facial features capturing the essence of his own self. He was considered one of the most influential painters of his time and still is. Careful use of tone, light, and composition are what play the major role in his paintings.(word count - 230)
Adam and Eve, Oil on panel
Portrait of Oswolt Krel, Oil on panel

2011 Artist Blog - Entry #23

Portrait of Maria Lopukhina, Oil on Canvas, 72 × 53.5 cm
Portrait of Paul I, Oil on Canvas
Vladimir Borovikovsky was a popular Russian portrait painter born in mid XVIII century who later acquired status of an academician. During his career, Borovikovsky has painted over 500 portraits, 400 of which survive to this day. He was born right in the time of rise of both Neoclassicism and Romanticism periods, characteristics and traits of which show up in all of Borovikovsky's work. I am starting to acquire a great interest in painting now that I've seen some of the work created by the most talented people in history. I have looked at over 50 portrait paintings by Borovikovsky and I am still in awe; the quality and the amount of detail in each portrait is astounding. He took great care in not only focusing on the faces but also paying special attention to the garments of the influential people portrayed. Each cloth and jewelry work is a true labor of love. A great example of that would be "Portrait of Prince Kuropotkin". Instead of secondary forms on the garments being plane and simple, Borovikovsky pays as much attention to those forms as he does to the more important areas such as the face. Doing so underlines the status of the person portrayed and the position they are in. The paintings are of almost photographic quality which I always found to be impressive. As a final note, I do not think I will look at black and white pencil drawings the same way ever again due to me being spoiled by such fantastic work of art done in paint. But I, of course, realize that foundational skills had to be learned with pencils on paper. (word count - 275)
Portrait of Prince Kuropotkin (detail), Oil on Canvas, 102 × 68.9 in
Lizonka and Dasha, Oil on Canvas, 31.8 х 26.1 cm
Portrait of A. G. and A. A. Lobanov-Rostovsky, Oil on Canvas

2011 Artist Blog - Entry #22

Children With A Bird's Nest And Flowers, Oil Painting on Canvas, 61 x 74 cm
Self-portrait, Oil on Canvas, 73.7 × 61 cm
Angelica Kauffman was a painter, born in Switzerland, who lived in the mid XVIII century during Neo-classicism. I accidentally stumbled upon this artist and was completely blown away by her beautiful work that words, especially coming from me, do not do any justice to what she has accomplished in her paintings. From Kauffman's painting of "Children With A Bird's Nest And Flowers", we see a huge influence by Ancient Greek and Ancient Roman artistry, relevant to the time period of what Neoclassic art was all about. In the "Portrait of William Heberden the Younger", we also see that influence - Greek nose, full curvy lips, overall rounded face with puffy cheeks and big eyes (notice the size of the iris and the pupil that almost cover up the entire eyeball). The self-portrait of herself also shows some of these features - idealized big eyes and Greco-Roman nose with the bridge of the nose connecting straight to the forehead. Also idealized, her paintings capture the character of a person being portrayed. I don't think you can mistaken an individual should you see him walking down the street after viewing the portrait. Having no formal training in art, she achieved a lot in becoming a well-known portraitist. Her knowledge of color theory, composition, lighting, shadows, and anatomy is clearly seen in her work, both portraiture and paintings with full-scale figures. Gorgeous treatment of hair and cloth is evident in the works of Kauffman. If I were to become a painter and could have achieved mastery in painting close to hers, I could die a happy man. (word count - 264)
Portrait of William Heberden the Younger, Oil on Canvas, 24.5 x 20.5 in
Portrait of a Lady, Oil on Canvas, 24.5 x 20.5 in

2011 Artist Blog - Entry #21

Madonna with Beardless St. Joseph, Tempera on canvas, 28.5 in × 22.2 in
Self-portrait with a friend, Oil on canvas, 39 in × 33 in
I am not an art critic by any means, especially when it comes to the Great Masters and 2D art, but I'll do my best in trying to analyze what I see in the paintings of Raphael. He was a painter in the Italian High Renaissance era. Michelangelo along with Leonardo da Vinci lived in the same period as Raphael. Starting at an early age, his drawings (Raphael's self-portrait in particular which is best known) already had a potential of a master draftsman which is very impressive. Although he died at an early age of 37, he has produced a large number of oil paintings now scattered in museums all over the world. I had a really difficult time on which paintings of his to talk about because they are all done in the most professional manner. My analysis is going to sound pretty amateur, but I'll do my best in discussing what I am seeing. A painting under the title of "Madonna with Beardless St. Joseph" was created when Raphael was in his early twenties. The characters depicted are in the description. The painting was done with, what seems to me, a huge focus on light and rendering. The forms of Madonna and the baby are very soft, most likely reminiscent of the Renaissance time period. The style of his work is quite stylized with people portrayed being very idealistic, something an individual would not look like in real life. But I believe this was done on purpose as the work is of religious theme. Raphael's other paintings, especially portraits of different prominent Renaissance individuals, are much more naturalistic as can be clearly seen in "Self-portrait with a friend" painting also known as Double Portrait. Most of Raphael's paintings with religious theme are done with many high contrast colors (ex. Transfiguration) compared to the Double Portrait which is rendered with very few colors highlighting what the artist wanted us to focus on - the faces and their characteristics. The unprecedented talent of Raphael is appreciated by millions of people, for a good reason. Starting at a young age, he achieved much popularity and wealthy status through paintings that put us in awe. A true legendary artist whose works will live on for as long as the humanity lasts etched forever in the most prestigious and largest museums from all over the world. (word count - 393)
Transfiguration, oil on wood, 159 in × 109 in