Modern Iranian Art

Brief History of Modern Art in Iran

The modern art movement in Iran began in the late 1940’s to early 1950’s, after Reza Shah’s abdication which allowed for more Iran-Western contact (Ekhtiar and Sardar). Academic painting no longer was the default and ultimately resulted in a new generation of Iranian artists who were innovators in a period where they could openly question authority (Ekhtiar and Sardar). This was especially seen at the College of Fine Arts. Calligraphy, religion and Iran’s geography started to be artistically explored(Ekhtiar and Sardar). Through the 1950’s to the 1970’s, Iranian art opened into the international art scene (Ekhtiar and Sardar).  Then the 1979 Revolution happened. Iranian art became focused on the war between Iran and Iraq(1980-1988) and the horrific results (Ekhtiar and Sardar). After the end of the Iran-Iraq war, there are many Iranian artists producing art outside of Iran(Ekhtiar and Sardar). All of the artists I included in this piece do not live in Iran but their art reflects the love they have for their culture, the struggles they have had because of the War, and the resulting sense of displacement.


darroudi steadfast
Steadfastness by Iran Darroudi (1987).

Iran Darroudi

Born on September 2, 1936 in Masshad, Iran;  Iran Darroudi’s first teacher was her father (Shahroki). Her mother also contributed to Darroudi’s cultured upbringing through teaching her piano (Shahrokhi). Together, Darroudi’s parents installed in her a passion for both music and art (Shahrokhi).

Darroudi has a great love for Iran and its culture, despite living abroad most of her life, especially in France (Shahrokhi). She expresses this love in both her lectures and her works, like Steadfastness (Shahrokhi).

From her interview with Shamsi Shahrokhi, Darroudi writes:

“I have learned the culture of today’s painting in France, but I am rooted in my fatherland’s culture. Painting is an art which, I believe, reveals the painter’s national identity. I am proud of the identity that transpires of my paintings.”

Reflections on Steadfastness

Steadfastness (painted in 1987, most likely in France) is soft in its curves,lighting, palette but not in its content. In the distance there is darkness and dire sprouting from far-off buildings. But in the foreground, there is a soft resilience of sorts in the crumbled buildings and the gentle sweep of the sand. Destruction can be beautiful because in recovering from destruction there is strength, or steadfastness.

This painting reminds me of a line I heard from a documentary on Wonder Woman- that the reason for her being chained up so often was in order to see her break them off. To grow, people there must be obstacles  and there is beauty in overcoming hardships. Being older than the other artists I included, Darroudi has been through more of the rapid changes in Iran and this work reflects her own resilience, as both an artist and an individual, through all of these events.


divine love
Divine Love by Nurieh Mozaffari (2012)

Nurieh Mozaffari

Nurieh Mozaffari was born in 1960, in Iran (Nurieh Mozaffari: Biography). Mozaffari was 18 years old when she started to pursue painting seriously. She completed a Master’s degree in Painting in 1996 at the Art University (Nurieh Mozaffari: Biography). In her creations (mainly mixed media), Mozaffari is intimately inspired by her cultural heritage (Nurieh Mozaffari: Biography).

Mozaffari life is spent travelling and living between the United States, Canada and Europe (Nurieh Mozaffari: Biography ).

Reflections on Divine Love

Divine Love (created in 2012, place unknown) is interesting to me because of the depiction of religion. Mozaffari used 23K gold in the making of this piece, and I think that is very interesting given the subject of religion. I love how dark the figure is and the bright mix of colors swirling around inside the figure. The white, almost creamy background reminds me of Darroudi’s Steadfastness. I believe this background is of sands.

I wonder if the color being ‘brought’ to the darkened figure is the result of religion- I write this because of the swirls (or calligraphy as Mozaffari is known to incorporate into her works) coming from the left side of the painting. To me, they seem to be spraying onto the figure. I also think this would make the female figure a canvas of sorts where religion is the painted pattern and swirls, symbolizing the divine love for which the piece is named.


Anonymously Yours
      Anonymously yours by Sara Rahbar (2012)

Sara Rahbar

Sara Rhabar was born in 1976, in Tehran, Iran (Biography). Currently, Rahbar lives and works in New York City(Biography). Rahbar does not confine herself to one medium; she has done photography, sculpture and even installations. Also, many of these works are mixed media, including the above Anonymously yours (Biography). These works do have one aspect in common, they all stem from Rahbar’s personal experience and personal beliefs(Biography).

Reflections on Anonymously yours

Anonymously yours (created in 2012, most likely in New York City) is so visually complex to me because of the materials used in its creation. I love the earthy colors and the direct dialogue of religion, war and death (especially concerning the history of Iran). The skeleton reduces the human figure to the literal bare bones, and demonstrates the connection of religion and death. It is interesting to think what is 3D in the picture- the bullets/shells are real ones, the rosary and cross are real, the canvas is real. The only representation is the skeleton, the person. The anonymously refers to the skeleton, as without flesh and blood, there is now way to specifically identify the ‘who’ of the skeleton.

I also think Anonymously yours is interesting as a contrast to Mozaffari’s Divine Love as both deal with religion in visually different ways. Both show a figure, on their knees in a praying position, though Anonymously yours had the head tilted up more towards the heavens while Divine Love is more level, as if staring in the distance. The ‘who’ in Divine Love is slightly less ambiguous than Anonymously yours as it (most likely) depicts a female person but in both works, the human subject is metonymic, using a single figure to represent a population or a nation itself.


Works Cited

“Biography.” Sara Rahbar. Sara Rahbar, 2015. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. <http://www.sararahbar.com/index.php?page=25>.

Darroudi, Iran. Steadfastness. 1987. Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Tehran. The Painter: Iran Darroudi. Irandarroudi,com. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. <http://www.irandarroudi.com/Tablo%202.html>.

Ekhtiar, Maryam and Marika Sardar. “Modern and Contemporary Art in Iran”. In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/ciran/hd_ciran.htm (October 2004).

Mozaffari, Nurieh. Divine Love. 2012. Janet Rady Fine Art, London.Focusing on the Middle East. Janet Rady Fine Art, 2015. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. http://www.janetradyfineart.com/search/?artist_id=81&price_low=low&price_high=high&show=all&browse-submit=BROWSE&#!830. “Nurieh Mozaffari: Biography.” Focusing on the Middle East. Janet Rady Fine Art, 2015. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. <http://www.janetradyfineart.com/artist/Nurieh_Mozaffari/biography/>. Rahbar, Sara. Anonymously yours. 2012. Confessions, New York. Sara Rahbar. Sara Rahbar, 2012. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. <http://www.sararahbar.com/index.php?page=27>. Shahrokhi, Shamsi. “Iran Darroudi : A Never Ending Artist.” Persian Tribune RSS. Persian Tribune, 31 July 2013. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. <http://www.persiantribune.ca/795/art/iran-darroudi-a-never-ending-artist>

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Post-Modern Art Exhibit: Fairy Tales & the Lost Girl

Introduction to the Theme of Fairy Tales & the Lost Girl

Fairy tales have exerted a huge influence over me from when I was a child reading Grimm’s to today as an English major studying literary archetypes. I thought it would be interesting to see artistic re-interpretations of fairy tales and the archetypes present within these tales. The main archetype I shall be focusing on is: the lost girl. 

The lost girl cannot find her way home, usually as a result of wandering off the path chosen for her. Through being lost, the girl has become stronger- at the end of the story she gains something, whether it be a sense of self or otherwise. These stories are told to show that, yes one may become lost but that it is not hopeless that you can find or fight your way out. Perhaps this opinion is as a result of growing up in a time period where fairy tales have been re-interpreted in a more feminist view point.

Another perspective on the lost girl is that she is the girl in transition from childhood to adulthood. Traveling alone, she now has to deal with the consequences of her actions and how to resolve her own problems.

I included Alice in Wonderland inspired pieces because that is how Carroll’s famous piece has been categorized by modern day media. Also, I think that Alice in Wonderland fits many of the fairy tale tropes, especially of the fairy tale my exhibit primarily focuses on: Little Red Riding Hood. One could say that both tales focus on a female protagonist who went off the beaten path and have to deal with the consequences (the rabbit hole vs. the wolf’s stomach).

There is also an inclusion of Snow White in one piece but seeing as the scene within the piece focuses on Snow White as a girl lost in the woods, I thought its inclusion most appropriate.

The two artists whose works I selected for this exhibit are: Kiki Smith and Su Blackwell.


Biography: Kiki Smith

Kiki Smith was born in Germany in 1954 but was raised in the U.S.A. in New Jersey (Lack). Smith works with a variety of material- including sculpture, drawings, lithographs and even installations. Her works focus on human experiences, especially the female experience (Lack). Growing up, Smith was highly influenced by some of the female contemporary sculptors of the time (Lack).


Works by Kiki Smith


pool of tears two
            Pool of Tears 2 by Kiki Smith (2000)

Created by Kiki Smith in 2000, Pool of Tears 2, is a lithograph (most likely made in New York). A lithograph is a type of print- the original picture was done on stone with a crayon-like utensil and through a chemical process and applied ink, paper can be laid across to create a print with the mirror image of the picture on the stone. Pool of Tears 2 is based on the Carroll’s manuscript drawings for Alice’s Adventures Underground (Modern Museum of Art).

The lithograph depicts Alice swimming through a pool of her own tears, trying to escape the harassment of the birds. I chose to include this piece because Alice is a lost girl. Also because I think the essence of the picture is really interesting. I like to think that this is Alice trying to escape despair and the disapproval of other people.

Not only is she lost, she is harassed for being lost. This, to me, relates to victim-blaming- “You brought this upon yourself’.


red riding hood kiki smith
                        Born by Kiki Smith (2002)

Born is a lithograph created by Kiki Smith in 2002, most likely in New York. I included Born because both Grandmother and Red Riding Hood are wearing the famous red cloak. By having both of them wear red cloaks, Smith is showing not just familial bonds but bonds of womanhood as well. The Grandmother was once a lost girl and now she has helped a new generation of lost girls to overcome and be found (ripping through the belly of the wolf).


rapture kiki smith
                     Rapture by Kiki Smith (2001)

Smith also created sculptures like Rapture which was finished in 2001, in New York. I thought Rapture was an interesting inclusion because its a lone woman stepping out of the wolf. Her gaze and body language is determined, confident. The lost girl knows where she is going and knows where she has been. The female figure itself seems both young and old, perhaps to represent all the generations that will have gone through obstacles like the wolf.


Personal Thoughts on the Works of Kiki Smith

The two lithographs by Smith are nostalgic- they remind me of the drawings from the books I had when I was a child.

Pool of Tears 2 has Alice trying to swim while there is a crowd of (mostly) birds harassing her. When I look at this picture, I think of the individual trying to separate from society and the societal repercussions for ‘going against the current’. I also,given the title, think of depression and how depression is treated by those who do not understand the nature of this condition.

Born, to me, represents the triumph of women joined together against an external force ( society/ the wolf).

My favorite of these three works by Smith is the sculpture, Rapture. I do like how both Born and Rapture exclude the Huntsman and instead, it seems like it is the power of the tale’s women that kills the wolf. I feel that being consumed by the wolf could be a metaphor for being consumed by feeling, to feel like you are stuck in a place of negativity. To break through this would then be rapture, a feeling of being reborn as someone stronger. Someone who has been in the belly of the beast and now knows the way out.


Biography: Su Blackwell

Su Blackwell was born in Sheffield, U.K. in 1975 (Blackwell). She studied textiles at Bradford College and went on to study for her MA in London at the Royal College of Art (Blackwell). Blackwell first started working with paper as a sculpture medium in 2003, after being inspired by the role of paper in spiritual rituals in South East Asia (Blackwell). Kiki Smith is cited as an influence by Blackwell- interesting as both are inspired by fairy tales.

Blackwell will be having a solo-exhibition opening in Tokyo in 2015 (Blackwell).


Works By Su Blackwell

2008-down-the-rabbit-hole
Down the Rabbit Hole by Su Blackwell (2008)

Down the Rabbit Hole (made in 2008, in West London), like the other works I have selected from Su Blackwell, is a book sculpture made(and inspired) by the book that becomes the sculpture. In this case, the inspiration is from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. This piece is interesting to examine because of its plurality in meanings. The piece both shows the start of Alice’s journey- the decision to go down the rabbit hole and the start of the reader’s journey as well. In reading literature as surrealistic as Carroll’s famous work, the reader can often feel a bit lost. In being lost within the novel, the reader can more strongly identify with Alice who is lost within the story presented in the novel itself.

I think it is interesting how surrealist pieces, both literary and visual, can reduce people to ‘lost girl’ or ‘lost boy’ status as we search (sometimes in vain) for a true meaning within the work (when really the meaning of the work is inside ourselves).


2010-red-riding-hood
   Little Red Riding Hood by Su Blackwell (2010)
2010-red-riding-hood-detail
Little Red Riding Hood by Su Blackwell (close-up)

I chose Little Red Riding Hood (created in 2010 in West London) from Blackwell’s works both because of its relevance to the pieces I selected from Kiki Smith and its use of lighting. The illumination upon the wolf enlarges its shadow, making the creature seem larger than it is. In the transition from child to adult, problems can often seem much larger, and more terrifying, than they actually are in reality. The paralysis any person can feel when confronted with a seemingly insurmountable problem is demonstrated in the still figure of Little Red Riding Hood, who is crouched and clutching at her cape in, perhaps, an act of self-comfort.


2013_snow_white_wide
              Snow White in the Woods by Su Blackwell (2013)
2013_snow_white
               Snow White in the Woods by Su Blackwell (close-up)

The inclusion of this piece may seem strange but really is not. For one, this is a Snow White in transition. When she is in the forest, Snow White is between her origins (the castle) and her destiny (the seven dwarve’s cottage). In the forest, Snow White is another lost girl, like Alice and Little Red Riding Hood and not a princess.


Personal Thoughts on the Works of Su Blackwell

I love Blackwell’s book sculptures- that it literally brings the stories to life. The hole made into the Alice in Wonderland book is,well, wonderful to me in that it both illustrates the beginning of Alice’s journey and the reader’s journey into the surreal world of Wonderland (and the Wonderland that is Lewis Carroll’s unique writing style). The use of the illustrations from within the book to represent Alice and the White Rabbit is lovely and seems rather quite carefully placed within the scene.

Snow White in the Woods also has more intertextuality in that the dress she is depicted in is the same as the dress seen in the Disney film version of Snow White. I think it is interesting to see how potent Disney’s influence is on the modern conceptions and depictions of fairy tales, which are often much more grim than their Disney counterparts.

The use of light and darkness in Little Red Riding Hood and Snow White in the Woods highlight the danger and fears present within these fairy tales- being lost in the woods/not knowing the way out of a problem.


Works Cited 

Blackwell, Su. Down the Rabbit Hole.2008. Book-cut Sculpture.Long and Ryle Gallery, London. 13 Apr.2015.

<http://www.sublackwell.co.uk/portfolio-book-cut-sculpture/>. (Sorry in advance, her website is weird and won’t let me link to the any of the selected sculptures’ pictures- you have to browse through to find/view each sculpture.)

Blackwell, Su. Little Red Riding Hood. 2010. Book-cut Sculpture.Long and Ryle Gallery, London. 13 Apr.2015.

<http://www.sublackwell.co.uk/portfolio-book-cut-sculpture/>.

Blackwell, Su. Snow White in the Woods. 2013.Book-cut Sculpture.Long and Ryle Gallery, London. 13 Apr.2015.

<http://www.sublackwell.co.uk/portfolio-book-cut-sculpture/>.

Blackwell, Su. ” Su Blackwell: Profile.” Su Blackwell RSS. Su Blackwell Studio Ltd., 2015. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. <http://www.sublackwell.co.uk/profile/>.

Lack, Sarah. “Kiki Smith.” MoMA.org. Modern Museum of Art, 2009. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. <http://www.moma.org/collection/artist.php?artist_id=5486>.

Modern Museum Of Art. 2007. Gallery Label for Pool of Tears 2. Modern Museum of Art, New York. via:<http://www.moma.org/collection/browse_results.php?criteria=O%3AAD%3AE%3A5486&page_number=62&template_id=1&sort_ord

Smith, Kiki. Born. 2002. Lithograph. Modern Museum of Art, New York. via: <http://www.moma.org/collection/browse_results.php?criteria=O%3AAD%3AE%3A5486&page_number=71&template_id=1&sort_order=1>.

Smith, Kiki.Pool of Tears 2. 2000. Lithograph. Modern Museum of Art, New York. via:<http://www.moma.org/collection/browse_results.php?criteria=O%3AAD%3AE%3A5486&page_number=62&template_id=1&sort_order=1>.

er=1>.

Smith, Kiki. Rapture. 2001. The Pace Gallery, New York. PBS.org. Public Broadcasting Service. Web. 13 Apr. 2015. <http://www.pbs.org/art21/images/kiki-smith/rapture-2001?slideshow=1>.

Influence of African Culture on Music & Art of the Early 1900’s

Influence on Visual Arts

African sculpture was a heavy influence on the development of abstraction in Western art and sculpture during the early 1900’s. Many European artists,even before the 1900’s, were collecting art from Africa in the form of sculptures (Murrell). In France, there was the Trocadéro Museum which housed a variety of African sculptures. Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso have been recorded visiting the museum.

The abstraction presented in African sculpture helped Western artists to, well, ‘sculpt’ a new way to look at their purpose as an artist and what their art could be. This is especially true for Picasso who believed that abstraction was a way to conquer artistic fears by giving form to the unknown (Murrell).

picasso
Les Demoiselles d’Avignon by Pablo Picasso (1907)

Born on October 25, 1881 in Málaga, Spain, Pablo Picasso was a major artistic force in the twentieth century (McCully). Picasso died on April 8, 1973 in Mougins, France (McCully).

Pablo Picasso painted Les Demoiselles d’Avignon in June- July 1907 in Paris, France after “hundreds of preparatory sketches” (Murrell). The ladies depicted in Les Demoiselles d’Avignon have mask-like faces based on African masks (MoMA). The sharp lines and angles within the piece itself becomes typical of Picasso’s cubism but is good to note that this was the start of Picasso’s now-recognizable style. Another interesting fact about this piece is that the street named in the title (Avignon) is in Barcelona and is famous for its brothel- which implies the occupation of the depicted women (MoMA).

This painting and Picasso’s personal experience shows what a relief African sculpture (and masks) must have been for the artists of the early 1900’s. No longer did they have to be artistically bound to reality as the African sculptures proved themselves not to just be different portrayals of human beings but interesting ones.

amedeo
Woman’s Head by Amedeo Modigiliani (1912)

The influence of abstraction from African sculpture did not just influence/inspire Western styles of abstraction like cubism but Western sculpture as well. Amedeo Modigliani was an Italian sculptor who lived from 1884 to 1920. He sculpted Woman’s Head in 1912 (location not known but most likely in Italy or France). The artistic influence for Woman’s Head came from the Baule, located now in what is called the Ivory Coast (Murrell). The Baule influence is displayed in the elongation of the face, the pointed chin and in the facial proportions (especially in regards to the low setting of the mouth) (Murrell).

Influence on Music

The influence of African music on early modern music composition led to the creation of jazz which revolutionized modern music.  These influences came in the form of: syncopation, call & response and timbre (The Influence of Africa).

It Don’t Mean a Thing (If it Ain’t Got That Swing) composed by Duke Ellington (lyrics by Irving Mills)

Edward Kennedy (Duke) Ellington was an American musician and composer born on April 29,1899 in Washington D.C.; he died in 1974 (PBS.org).

It Don’t Mean a Thing(If it Ain’t Got That Swing) is a song composed by Duke Ellington first recorded on February 2, 1932 by Brunswick Records, which was based in Chicago at the time. The song shows variance in timbre which deepens the sound layers, especially in the brass instruments such as trumpet and trombone. The accents within the song don’t quite match the beat (this is called syncopation) and the result is that there is an unexpectedness to the music. This unexpectedness calls for the listener’s attention and excited them (The Influence of Africa).

Though there is not an example of call & response within this particular piece, it is important to remember its influence. The call & response aspect of African music invites the audience to not just listen but to participate in the music. It involves calling to the audience and having the audience responding back, making the audience part of the music (The Influence of Africa).

My Reflections

Between Picasso’s  Les Demoiselles d’Avignon and Woman’s Head by Amedeo Modigiliani, I have to say I prefer Modigiliani’s sculptures. I like the smooth lines and angles of Modigiliani’s sculptures more than the abstraction in Picasso’s work (overall). I have never been a big fan of cubism though I can appreciate the sentiment of its origins (the need to break away from reality to explore the unknown).

I grew up listening to the ‘Oldies’ channel in my mom’s car; when I was nine my favorite band was The Drifters and my favorite song was “Under the Boardwalk”. I grew up listening to jazz and I love ” It Don’t Mean a Thing”- it seems like the precursor to Chuck Berry’s “Rock and Roll Music”. After listening to a lot more current music (than I did as a kid), I find myself returning to previous decades more and more. I think it is because the music seems easier to listen along with(which doesn’t make the music necessarily less complicated in understanding or meaning).

Works Cited 

Amedeo Modigliani (Italian, 1884–1920)
Limestone; 27 x 9 1/4 x 9 3/4 in. (68.6 x 23.5 x 24.8 cm)
The Mr. and Mrs. Klaus G. Perls Collection, 1997 (1997.149.10)

“Amedeo Modigliani: Woman’s Head” (1997.149.10) In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History . New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/1997.149.10. (March 2008)

Ellington, Duke. By Duke Ellington & Irving Mills. It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing). Brunswick Records, 1932. Vinyl recording. via: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDQpZT3GhDg

“Duke Ellington.” Biographies. PBS, 2000. Web. 03 Apr. 2015. <http://www.pbs.org/jazz/biography/artist_id_ellington_duke.htm>.

McCully, Mariyln. “Pablo Picasso | Biography – Spanish Artist.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 21 Aug. 2014. Web. 03 Apr. 2015. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/459275/Pablo-Picasso>.

Murrell, Denise. “African Influences in Modern Art”. In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/aima/hd_aima.htm.(April 2008).

“Pablo Picasso. Les Demoiselles D’Avignon (Paris, June-July 1907).”MoMA.org. Museum of Modern Art, 2015. Web. 03 Apr. 2015. <http://www.moma.org/collection/object.php?object_id=79766>.

“The Influence of African Rhythms.” The Influence of African Rhythms. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Apr. 2015. <http://northbysouth.kenyon.edu/1998/music/rhythm/rhythm.htm>.

Thoughts on Impressionism

On Impressionism

La Débâcle  by Theodore Robinson
                                          The Debacle by Theodore Robinson

Theodore Robinson was an American Impressionist painter born in 1852 and died in 1896. Throughout his life, Robinson made trips to France. Of particular interest was his last trip to France from 1884-1892. For the last four of those years, Robinson worked with Claude Monet in Giverny, France (National Gallery of Art: USA). Monet’s style greatly influenced Robinson’s later works such as The Debacle (which was most likely painted while Robinson was still in Giverny)

The Debacle exhibits much of what I adore about Impressionism. Yes, I adore Impressionism. I love the blurred quality of the paintings and how they are trying to capture ephemeral moments in life. The strokes are more bold, maybe even more emotional to me than the carefully calculated strokes in Neoclassical and Realist paintings. To me, Impressionism is like a rippled reflection of reality. I also enjoy reading about Impressionist painters performing their craft outdoors- I feel that it was an attempt to directly reconnect to nature without windows and buildings framing their vision of nature.

On Rococo

shepherd

Francoise Boucher was a French Rococo artist born in 1703; he died in 1770. Boucher was highly respected during his lifetime before the rise of Neoclassical art.  He had many royal commissions, especially from the Marquise, Madame de Pompadour and received membership into the Royal Academy as well in 1734 (Stein 2003). By 1765, Boucher was both the first painter to the king and was the director of the Royal Academy (Stein 2003).

I found it interesting that Boucher liked to paint shepherds and shepherdesses, given his time period and his work for the Marquise de Pompadour. This unique use/transformation of the pastoral is Boucher’s most interesting contribution to Rococo (Stein 2003). One example of Boucher’s pastorals is the picture featured above Young Shepherd in a Landscape.

Young Shepherd in a Landscape, also called Pastoral Scene, was created somewhere between 1739 to 1745  and was most likely created in France(The Athenaeum). Not as popular as Boucher’s portraits or nudes, there is little concrete knowledge on the when and where of this piece’s creation. For a shepherd, the lad is wearing fine clothes- very typical of Boucher’s paintings of shepherds and shepherdesses and a part of his Rococo style as well. The ruins the shepherd is leaning against seem to be of Greek mythological origins which are a trademark of sorts of the Rococo style. So, though this piece is a pastoral landscape there are definite elements of Rococo contained within its composition.

Impressionism vs. Rococo

I decided to compare Impressionism and Rococo because of how visually alike these styles could appear to the casual viewer. Both styles use overall lighter palettes and subject matter than Realism or Neoclassical styles, for example. And both Impressionism and Rococo have a visual softness or dream-like qualities to them.

The two specific paintings were selected because I saw similarities in their subject matter. Both Robinson’s and Boucher’s paintings, the human characters are part of a large landscape and do not face the viewer fully. The girl in Robinson’s painting and the boy in Boucher’s both seem contemplative and seem to be either looking to a place(The Debacle) not in the painting or a place deeper within the painting (Young Shepherd in a Landscape).

The use of landscape also differs between the two paintings- whereas the lady in Robinson’s painting seems more at one with her landscape and the shepherd in Boucher’s is set apart with his bright fine clothes. Yes, the lady is wearing a nice white dress but it seems to fit her station meanwhile the shepherd’s garb does not. Also, the cool colors present in the lady’s dress match the mottled blues of the sky in the background and the hints of blue in the bridge’s bricks. Overall, the landscape in the Rococo style is more idealized than the Impressionist style presented in The Debacle.

I enjoy Impressionism’s focus on the now (the bridge in The Debacle) versus the Rococo style’s focus on the past (the ruins in Young Shepherd in a Landscape). I enjoy the lightness of color and the dreaminess that both styles possess but I prefer Impressionism over Rococo because it has more substance in it’s content and context. Impressionism challenges people’s perceptions of time and shape which makes me adore it all the more.

One thing I have learned so far this quarter about my taste in art is that if it’s traditional/old versus the new/groundbreaking, I tend to lean towards the latter. I like having my mind and perception challenged and while Rococo does break from reality it does so too much and thus it becomes less captivating than the slightly altered reality presented in Impressionism.

Works Cited

“American Impressionism: Theodore Robinson – NGA.” Exhibitions. National Gallery of Art: USA, 2015. Web. 23 Mar. 2015. <https://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/horo_robinson.shtm>.

Boucher, François. Young Shepherd in a Landscape. 1745. Oil on canvas. Musée Des Beaux-Arts De Caen, Caen, France. Pastoral Scene. The Athenaeum, 2 Aug. 2013. Web. 23 Mar. 2015. <http://www.the-athenaeum.org/art/detail.php?ID=108646>.

Robinson, Theodore. La Débâcle. 1892. Scripps College, Claremont,CA. Web Gallery of Art. Web. 23 Mar. 2015. <http://www.wga.hu/html_m/r/robinson/debacle.html>.

Stein, Perrin. “François Boucher (1703–1770).” Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Oct. 2003. Web. 24 Mar. 2015. <http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/bouc/hd_bouc.htm>.

The Discovery of Pompeii & Its Influence Upon Works of the Classical Era

An Overview of the Discovery of Pompeii & Overall Relation to Arts of the Classical Era

The 1700’s were marked by scientific discoveries, which did not go unnoticed by artists of the Classical Era. One such discovery was in 1748 when a group of explorers accidentally discovered the ruins of Pompeii (History.com).This discovery and its subsequent excavation inspired people to return their attentions to the creations and ideas presented by the Ancient Greeks and Romans.

The three works of art that will be used to demonstrate the influence of the discovery of the ruins of Pompeii are: The Death of Socrates painted by Jacques-Louis David, the Monticello constructed by Thomas Jefferson and Symphony No. 6 (The Transformation of Lycian Peasants into Frogs) composed by Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf.


The Death of Socrates by Jacques-Louis David

death of socrates met museum

The Death of Socrates was painted in 1787 by Jacques-Louis David, most likely in France.

The neo-Classical style, used in The Death of Socrates,developed in part due to the disdain most middle and lower class held for the decadence wantonly displayed in the Rococo style and a want for a more realistic/wholesome style. With the discovery of Pompeii’s ruins, people were inspired to return to Humanism and to more realistic portrayals of human beings (History.com).

In The Death of Socrates, David’s subject matter is,well, Socrates, an Athenian philosopher who was given a choice between going back on his beliefs or death by poison (hemlock). Socrates as shown as reaching for the cup of hemlock as he continues “calmly discoursing on the immortality of the soul with his grief-stricken disciples”(Jacques Louis David: The Death of Socrates). The emphasis of the painting is on Socrates and his strength, not the tragedy in his death. If anything, the painting shows Socrates as much more alive and active than the disciples and others surrounding him.

My Reflection: I really love the composition and lighting in The Death of Socrates, along with the subject matter itself. The lighting almost makes Socrates glow, as if to show he is the most illuminated person in the room. Socrates is also the only person with his back straight- perhaps to show he is the only one there with a strong backbone? I think it is also interesting how Socrates is not quite the center of the painting but the viewer is still drawn to Socrates, with his dynamic pose and finger pointing into the empty air.

Monticello, constructed by Thomas Jefferson

monticello worl heritage

The Monticello was built outside of Charlottesville, Virginia by Thomas Jefferson (as his primary plantation) over a period of forty years (United States-National Park Service). The construction was finished in 1809.

As seen from the front of the building, there is a use of columns in the Monticello for both support and show. Columns were a common feature in Ancient Greek and Roman architecture, which due to the discovery of Pompeii’s ruins, had become a large part in the architectural trends for the Classical Era (History.com). Jefferson was known for his interest in architecture and implemented designs from French, Roman and Palladian architecture into the Monticello (National Park Service).

My Reflection: The Monticello has a much more interesting history than I thought it would, to be honest. I never knew Jefferson was such an architecture-enthusiast and that he kept adding on and taking away parts for the Monticello for forty years was neat- I guess a piece of art/work is not ‘done’ until the creator gives up or cannot find anything more to add.

Symphony No.6 (The Transformation of the Lycian Peasants into Frogs) by Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf

Inspired by the discovery of the ruins of Pompeii, Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf composed symphonies, starting in the early 1780’s, based upon the Roman poet Ovid and his collection of fifteen books called Metamorphoses. Dittersdorf planned to compose fifteen symphonies but only managed to compose twelve. only six of these symphonies have survived (Six Symphonies- Columbia College). These symphonies (included the presented No.6) were written in 1783 and first performed in 1786.

My Reflection: I loved the ‘hoppiness’ presented in the first three minutes of the piece- I could definitely imagine frogs and people skipping along to the rhythm of Symphony No. 6. At about 3:20, the music shifts in tone and speeds up to a frantic pace. The tone of the music shifts from every three minutes or so but these pieces do sound complete with each other. One of my favorite parts though is approximately the last two minutes because the music is trying to (and fairly well) replicate the sound of frog’s croaking (which is very inventive and interesting).

I also have not read a word of Ovid but I am currently feeling more inclined to do so if his work can inspire a musical work I’ve enjoyed so heartily.

References

“Jacques Louis David: The Death of Socrates (31.45)”. In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/31.45 (December 2013). Web. 5 Mar. 2015.

Monticello. Digital image. Monticello and the University of Virginia. World Heritage Routes.Travel, 2013. Web. 5 Mar. 2015. <http://worldheritage.routes.travel/world-heritage-site/monticello-and-the-university-of-virginia-in-charlottesville/>.

“Six Symphonies (after Ovid’s Metamorphoses), by Carl Ditters Von Dittersdorf, 1783.” The Core Curriculum. Columbia College, 2013. Web. 05 Mar. 2015. <http://www.college.columbia.edu/core/content/six-symphonies-after-ovid%E2%80%99s-metamorphoses-carl-ditters-von-dittersdorf-1783>.

Staff of History.com. “Pompeii.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2010. Web. 11 Feb. 2015. <http://www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/pompeii>.

United States. National Park Service. “Monticello.” National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior, n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2015. <http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/journey/mcl.htm&gt;.

George Frederic Handel’s “Water Music” and the Influence of Royalty

Portrait of George Frideric Handel by Balthasar Denner, 1727.
Part of a Portrait of George Frideric Handel by Balthasar Denner, 1727.

George Frederic Handel

George Frederic Handel was born February 23, 1685 in Halle,Germany; he died on April 14,1759 in London, England. Handel was interested in music from a young age. In his early twenties, Handel traveled across Italy, where he became influenced by Italians, Scarletti and Corelli. After spending four years in Italy, Handel returned to his native Germany. Handel produced an opera in London in 1710 to great success; he would return to London in 1712.

Handel’s career was then spent mostly in the royal court of England where Queen Anne gave him an annual stipend of  £200 to be her court composer. There was some tension when King George I took over, given that King George I hailed from Germany, the same country Handel left in 1712 and never returned.

Though it does seem that King George I did appreciate Handel enough to double his royal stipend (Sherrane, 2008).

“Water Music” and How it Was Influenced by Royalty

Handel’s “Water Music” was composed for King George I for a barge trip on the River Thames in 1717 (Sherrane, 2008). This was when King George I first came into power; Handel was eager to please his new King. The reason for the barge trip was because King George I’s political advisors thought that it would prove King George’s reputation within the country(Libbey, 2009).

If Handel had his way, he would have just produced and composed operas (Sherrane, 2008).

But as his job as the court composer, King George commissioned Handel to create a piece to played while he cruised down the Thames. The piece, “Water Music” (consisting of three suites), was played by an ensemble of 50 musicians on numerous boats (Libbey, 2009). Fortunately, for both King George and Handel, “Water Music” was well received.

Personal Reflection on “Water Music”

“Water Music” is wonderful in how the music reflects the nature of water, and the setting of the river. The texture of the piece is homophonic and very smooth to my ear.The rolling sound of “Water Music” is celebratory- especially in buoyant “Air”  the fifth part of the first suite.

“Air” reminds me of childhood summers spent on the river. At about 1:43 in the provided video, the music slows down and becomes contemplative/questioning in tone around 2:02. At 2:52, the tone speeds up and begins to return to its initial joyous sound. I think it’s interesting how “Water Music” used a lot of dance forms (Libbey,2009) and I would like to know more on which forms played a part in the creation of “Air”.

Works Cited

Denner, Balthasar. George Frideric Handel. 1727. Oil on canvas. National Portrait Gallery, London. Retrieved from: <http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/musicshow/george-frideric-handel-by-balthasar-denner/6076206>.

Handel, George F. “Handel – Water Music – Air.” YouTube. YouTube, 1 Sept. 2009. Web. 19 Feb. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7U8YVsW9I8U>.

Libbey, Ted. “Handel’s Flood Of Melodies: ‘Water Music'” NPR Books. National Public Radio, 13 Apr. 2009. Web. 23 Feb. 2015. <http://www.npr.org/2011/07/17/103025861/handels-flood-of-melodies-water-music>.

Sherrane, Robert. “George Frideric Handel.” Music History 102. Drexel College of Information Science and Technology, 2008. Web. 17 Feb. 2015. <http://www.ipl.org/div/mushist/bar/handel.html>.

Humanism and Pieter Bruegel’s “The Landscape with the Fall of Icarus”

“The Landscape with the Fall of Icarus” by Pieter Bruegel, retrieved from the Paris WebMuseum via ibiblio.org.

Pieter Bruegel

Pieter Bruegel was born in 1525 in the Netherlands; Bruegel died in Brussels in 1569. As an artist, Bruegel wasn’t supported by a monarchy or by the Church. Instead, Bruegel was supported by wealthy businessmen, connoisseurs and  humanist scholars. Their patronage allowed Bruegel to focus on the peasant class and on their daily toils and pleasures. Bruegel focused on the failures and triumphs of mankind- a common theme of humanism. A prime example of humanism in Bruegel’s work is his painting, The Landscape with the Fall of Icarus.

The Landscape with the Fall of Icarus & Humanism

The Landscape with the Fall of Icarus is believed to have been painted around 1560. It is unknown where exactly the painting of The Landscape with the Fall of Icarus took place; the painting is now kept in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels, Belgium. Even within the title, Icarus is second to the landscape- as if he was added in at the very last moment. For though this painting has the word Icarus in its title, its focus is not just on Greek mythology. This is seen in the composition where the landscape and peasants dominate the painting in the foreground.

The people in the painting do not notice the flailing arms of Icarus in the water, carrying on in their daily work. This could be seen as commentary- common people don’t have time or care to waste on things that were highly valued in the past- like Greek myths. Their focus is on the work at hand, the drowning of Icarus is of little import.

The composition can also be seen as an elevation of the common folk- the main people presented in the painting are all at higher points of altitude than the drowning Icarus. Through a humanist perspective, this in turn can be seen as the importance of giving more attention and respect to modern people.

It is also interesting to note that Icarus is not in the center of the painting, despite being a famous mythological figure. This is done to further distract the viewer from his presence in the corner. Instead, the viewer’s sight is on the illuminated patch of water, then the ships and then the hillside.

The part of the painting where Icarus resides is the darkest- perhaps to show that the common people are the ones in ‘the spotlight’ of this painting. Icarus gets to be a stagehand.

Personal Reflection on The Landscape with the Fall of Icarus

I really adore Bruegel’s works and his focus on the common people. The Landscape with the Fall of Icarus is my favorite of Bruegel’s works. Just looking at the painting, I love the bright colors, the way they are concentrated and spread throughout the work. The lines look more curved and soft to me than other Renaissance works. This effect makes all of Bruegel;s works, to me, look more fantastic and dream like.

I had to study The Landscape with the Fall of Icarus before for a lesson in ekphrastic poetry (when you use one medium of art/writing to describe a work from another medium). The poem we looked at was William Carlos William’s “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus”. My initial love of the painting grew from how well the composition and title linked together- how they both put Icarus subtly aside. And though I have studied this painting before I have found more and more reasons to love it. Every time I look at this painting I find something new.

For example, I honestly had not noticed before writing this blog that there is a man on the coast nearby to Icarus. I really want to know his expression, as he is looking away from the viewer of the  painting.

I have so many questions on that man.

Is he trying to reach Icarus?

Is he Icarus’ father or a fisherman?

Is he ignoring Icarus though he is so close?

Does he represent a higher class person who cares more about tales like Icarus that the common people don’t care about?

My questions go on and on about this complex and mysterious(to me) figure. But it’s yet another reason to add to why I love Bruegel’s The Landscape with the Fall of Icarus so no loss there.

Citations

Bruegel, Pieter. The Landscape with the Fall of Icarus. 1560. Oil on canvas, mounted on wood. Musees Royaux Des Beaux-Arts, Belgium, Brussels. Retrieved from: http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/bruegel/

Pioch, Nicholas. “Bruegel, Pieter the Elder.” Paris WebMuseum. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 16 Aug. 2002. Web. http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/bruegel/

Wisse, Jacob. “Pieter Bruegel the Elder (ca. 1525–1569)”. In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/brue/hd_brue.htm

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