Monday, December 2, 2013
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
The painting Girl with a Pearl Earring (Dutch: Het Meisje met de Parel) is one of Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer's masterworks and, as the name implies, uses a pearl earring for a focal point. Today the painting is kept in theMauritshuis gallery in The Hague. It is sometimes referred to as "the Mona Lisa of the North" or "the Dutch Mona Lisa".
For the most part, very little is known about Vermeer and his works. This painting is signed "IVMeer" but not dated. It is unclear whether this work was commissioned, and, if so, by whom. In any case, it is probably not meant as a conventional portrait.
More recent Vermeer literature points to the image being a tronie, the Dutch 17th-century description of a ’head’ that was not meant to be a portrait. After the most recent restoration of the painting in 1994, the subtle colour scheme and the intimacy of the girl’s gaze toward the viewer have been greatly enhanced.During the restoration, it was discovered that the dark background, today somewhat mottled, was initially intended by the painter to be a deep enamel-like green. This effect was produced by applying a thick transparent layer of paint, called a glaze, over the present-day black background. However, the two organic pigments of the green glaze, indigo and weld, have faded.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
The Scream (Norwegian: Skrik) is the popular name given to each of four versions of a composition, created as both paintings and pastels, by the Expressionist artist Edvard Munch between 1893 and 1910. Der Schrei der Natur (The Scream of Nature) is the title Munch gave to these works, all of which show a figure with an agonized expression against a landscape with a tumultuous orange sky. Arthur Lubow has described The Scream as "an icon of modern art, a Mona Lisa for our time."
Edvard Munch created the four versions in various media. The National Gallery, Oslo, holds one of two painted versions (1893, shown at right). The Munch Museum holds the other painted version (1910, see gallery) and a pastel version from 1893. These three versions have not traveled for years.
The fourth version (pastel, 1895) was sold for $119,922,600 at Sotheby's Impressionist and Modern art auction on 2 May 2012 to financier Leon Black, the highest nominal price paid for a painting at auction. The painting was on display in the Museum of Modern Art in New York from October 2012 to April 2013.
Also in 1895, Munch created a lithograph stone of the image. Of the lithograph prints produced by Munch, several examples survive. Only approximately four dozen prints were made before the original stone was resurfaced by the printer in Munch's absence.
The Scream has been the target of several high-profile art thefts. In 1994, the version in the National Gallery was stolen. It was recovered several months later. In 2004, both The Scream and Madonna were stolen from the Munch Museum, and recovered two years later.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Starry Night (Dutch: De sterrennacht) is a painting by the Dutch post-impressionist artist Vincent van Gogh. Painted in June 1889, it depicts the view outside of his sanitarium room window at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence (located in southern France) at night, although it was painted from memory during the day. It has been in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, part of the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest, since 1941. The painting is among Van Gogh's most well known works and marks a decisive turn towards greater imaginative freedom in his art.
In a letter written to Émile Bernard in April 1888, Van Gogh expressed his desire to paint the night sky, and questioned whether he could achieve his intention by painting from nature as the Impressionists did:
"The imagination is certainly a faculty which we must develop and it alone can bring us to creation of a more exalting and consoling nature ... A star-spangled sky, for instance, that's a thing I would like to try to do ... But how can I manage unless I make up my mind to work ... from imagination?"
In September 1888, before his December breakdown that resulted in his hospitalisation inArles, he painted Starry Night Over the Rhone. Working by night under a gas lamp, Van Gogh painted this work (seen at left) directly from nature. Van Gogh wrote about this painting:
"... it does me good to do what’s difficult. That doesn’t stop me having a tremendous need for, shall I say the word – for religion – so I go outside at night to paint the stars.'"
Thursday, November 7, 2013
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte – 1884 (French: Un dimanche après-midi à l'Île de la Grande Jatte - 1884) is one of Georges Seurat's most famous works, and is an example of pointillism.
Georges Seurat spent over two years painting A Sunday Afternoon, focusing meticulously on the landscape of the park. He reworked the original as well as completed numerous preliminary drawings and oil sketches. He sat in the park, creating numerous sketches of the various figures in order to perfect their form. He concentrated on the issues of colour, light, and form. The painting is approximately 2 by 3 meters (7 by 10 feet) in size.
Motivated by study in optical and colour theory, Seurat contrasted miniature dots of colors that, through optical unification, form a single hue in the viewer's eye. He believed that this form of painting, called divisionism at the time but now known as pointillism, would make the colors more brilliant and powerful than standard brush strokes. The use of dots of almost uniform size came in the second year of his work on the painting, 1885-86. To make the experience of the painting even more vivid, he surrounded it with a frame of painted dots, which in turn he enclosed with a pure white, wooden frame, which is how the painting is exhibited today at the Art Institute of Chicago.
In creating the picture, Seurat employed the then-new pigment zinc yellow (zinc chromate), most visibly for yellow highlights on the lawn in the painting, but also in mixtures with orange and blue pigments. In the century and more since the painting's completion, the zinc yellow has darkened to brown — a colour degeneration that was already showing in the painting in Seurat's lifetime.
The island of la Grande Jatte is located at the very gates of Paris, lying in the Seine between Neuilly and Levallois-Perret, in a short distance from where currently stands La Défense business district. Although for many years it was an industrial site, it is today the site of a public garden and a housing development. When Seurat began the painting in 1884, the island was a bucolic retreat far from the urban center.
The painting was first exhibited in 1886, dominating the second Salon of the Société des Artistes Indépendants, of which Seurat had been a founder in 1884.