Understanding paintings

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  • 1. Understanding paintings Krishnan, GTC Talk

2. Seeing vs Looking Easy access to great paintings today Greeting cards Internet Seeing involves opening your eyes Looking involves opening your mind andtaxing your intellect Look, dont just see ! 3. Six guidelines for looking at paintings Subject Sometimes historical or mythological figures Techniques Use of oil paints, frescos Symbolism Many paintings use language of symbolismand allegory that was understood by the artists andaudiences of the time Space and light Artists mastery in creating space andlight Historical Style Each historical period had a style Renaissance to Modern times Personal Interpretation What you see with yourknowledge of history, symbolism and techniques 4. Bacchus and AriadneSubject Each painting has specific subject with meaningful message Subjects could be mythological figures 5. The Arnolfini marriageBy Jan Van EyckKnown for mastery in oil paint 6. The supper at EmmausRecognizable objects stand for abstract ideas and concepts 7. Las MeninasAll artists have to create an illusion of space and light in different ways 8. What creates a masterpiece Virtuosity Skills + knowledge andimagination Innovation Rewriting the existing rules Giotto and Picasso Patronage Catholic church and Royal coursts Artistic vision Michelangelos ceiling 9. Frescoes Fresco is a technique ofmural painting Executed upon freshly laidlime plaster Water is used as vehicle forthe pigment With setting of theplaster, painting becomespart of the wall 10. The annunciation By Guido de Pietro at the Fra Angelico Altarpiece Things to look for A closed garden symbolizing Marys purity Classical architecture slender corinthian columns Archangel Gabriel Youthful, energetic Halo around Mary Handmaiden of God verses upside down (so Godcould read them) Gothic style of Marys chair Holy spirit dove as the symbol 11. Giotto: The adoration of the magi 12. The adoration of the Magi Painted at the Arena chapel c. 1304-1306 byGiotto de Bondone (1267-1337) Things to look for Peoples position and character The country ladin ill-fitting clothes Kneeling king Caspar sign of humility Mountainous scenery Shooting star Giotto had seen a comet 13. Adoration - Hieronymous Bosch 14. The Deposition By Roger van der Weyden Look for The similarities in posture of Mary (with blue robe)and Christ The plain clothes on the left and royal clothes on theright offset one less person on the right Bracketing by people on the side focuses attention onChrist and Mary The skull symbolises Adam (Christ was crucified atspot where Adam was buried, one signifying fall andthe other the rise) 15. A dance to the music of time Painting by Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665) Four allegorical figures:Pleasure, wealth, industry and poverty Look for Circular motion of dance in a triangle Permanence and transcience Statue of twofaced Janus with flowers Poverty and wealth holding hands 16. The oath of the Horatii By Jacques Louis David (1748-1825) War between Roman Horatii and Alba Coratii Theme of heroism and civic virtue, painted beforethe French revolution Look for Strong profiles of soldiers, gentle curves of the sisters Child pushing grandmothers hand to look at theswords Austere columns signifying masculinity and military 17. The experiment with the air pump By Joseph Wright Things to look for The experiment: Will the bird survive if oxygen is pumped out in a home setting typical of 18th century The lovers: not attentive to the experiment The scientist: looks of a magician The person with the clock: Timing the experiment The girls reassured by their father The boy not sure if the cage should be lowered/needed The philosopher pondering the consequences The moon: Sign of enlightenment 18. The Hay Wain By John Constable Quintessential English painting, painted inSuffolk, green countryside Things to look for Washerwoman in front of cottage Dog drawing attention Cooling the horses Clouds and the pattern of light 19. The awakening conscience By William Holman Hunt Look for Depiction of luxurious items in the girls house Nostalgic song Oft in the silly night about awoman reflecting on her childhood innocence Cat and bird Reflecting that salvation is possiblefor the woman Discarded glove The womans fate if she doesnot mend her ways 20. The vanities of life By Harmen SteenWyck Shell represents wealth Chronometer represents finite time, thesword (a symbol of power) reminds power ispowerless before death Reminded of vanities of love (shawm) andknowledge (book) Extinguished lamp depicts life may endanytime 21. Impressionist paintings No story to tell or moralto communicate Common ordinarysubject matter Had pre-mixed colors inmetal tubes, earlierartist had to mix thecolors himself Renoir Girl with a hoop 22. Autumn effect at Argentuil By Claude Monet Look for Rainbow palette Bold brushstrokes at the bottom, finer withdistance Reflected images Rippling of the wind on the right 23. The bedroom at Arles By Vincent Van Gogh, 1888 Color is everything, can suggest emotionregardless of the subject Unsophisticated and authentic Look for Thick brushstrokes Violet walls in harmony with green windows andcontrast with yellow beds/chairs Portraits of Van Gogh and his sister on the wall 24. Le Grande Jatte By Georges Seurat Technique of divisionism instead of mixingcolors, put them separately and let the eyemix it Look for Boating on the Seine and Woman fishing Mixing of the classes Perspective scheme Woman with umbrellalarger supposed to be seen at 45 degrees 25. A bar at the Folies-Bergere By Eduardo Manet Set in a Paris night club Look for Mirror Inaccurate reflections depicting difference in timebetween subject and reflection Difference in drinks (champagne and beer)depicting different classes of society 26. Guernica - Picasso 27. Guernica Painted during Spanish civil war Look out for Bull depicting brutality Woman with dead child Severed head Horse Woman with hands up raised to protect frombombs 28. WikiPaintings site 29. Smart History project 30. Thank You