Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Scream

The Scream (1893) by Edward Munch

When looking at the famous "The Scream", I am automatically reminded by Home Alone's, Macaulay Culkin signature face. Though a wave of nostalgia hit me when I put my eyes on this painting, there is more history to this painting that I am just discovering. First, it is today’s highest sold piece of art; selling for a record $120 million dollars at auction by an unnamed telephone bidder (Harris, 2012). Second, it has been the target of various art thefts.
The Expressionist artist, Edward Munch, "is one of the handful of artist who have shaped our understanding of human experience and transformed the ways in which it might be visually expressed." His way of expressing emotion such as anxiety or loneliness, shows amazingly through this painting. The way I feel when looking at the painting is claustrophobia surrounding me, I imagine myself sweating in confusion, my head pumping with blood, as I freak out at every little thing. (Moma) He himself had the same feeling, which is the influence toward this art.
“I was walking along the road with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.”       -Edward Munch
It inspired the famous 1981 slasher film, Scream. With that creepy mask, comparable to the face in the painting, it gives me goose bumps just thinking about it.


"Edvard Munch." The Scream, 1893 by. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Feb. 2013.

Harris, Paul. "The Scream Sells for Record $120m at Auction." The Guardian. 

Guardian News and Media, 02 May 2012. Web. 09 Feb. 2013.

Moma. "EXHIBITIONS: The Scream." MoMA. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Feb. 2013.

The Flowers of Evil

The Apparition by Gustave Moreau

Gustave Moreau is a French painter, who is known to be one of the first to use symbolism in their paintings,  becoming known for his erotic paintings of mythological and religious subjects. Works such as Oedipus and the Sphinx (1864) and Dance of Salome (1876) have often been described as decadent. Inspired by Romantic painters such as Delacroix, his art showed the spirit of the mal-du-siecle, and end-of-the-century tendency toward profound melancholy or soul sickness, often expressed in art and literature through morbid subject matter. (Arnason)

So, hearing about The Apparition (1876) by Gustave Moreau, I was slightly disturbed by the back story. So apparently the story revolves around the biblical legend of Salome, the young princess who danced for her stepfather Herod, demanding in return the execution of St. John the Baptist. The fact that he asked, as well as her agreeing to it, just to get a St’s johns head in a platter, it’s just disturbing. For decades , Salome was represented by many male artists as the archetype of a castrating female who embodied all that is corrupt, using her sexuality and beauty. The bloody head of the saint is like a gross hallucination, especially with exotic detail combined with jewel-like color and rich paint texture. (Arnason)

The concept of the painting is femme fatale or “deadly women.” Propelling this theme of sexually alluring, yet dangerous women was generalized disorientation arising from changing social and gender roles in the late 19th and early 20th century. It “expresses woman’s ancient and eternal control of the sexual realm” (Paglia, 1992). As more women sought and achieved political and economic enfranchisement, long-held assumption about women’s physical and mental shortcomings were exposed as myths

The concept as an erotic and destructive force was fostered by Baudelaire’s great series of poems Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil) (1857) and the mid-century pessimistic philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer. Baudelaire believed that beauty can be fueled by sin. He describes the two subjects between two worlds, “spleen” and the “ideal.” The spleen is supposed to symbolize everything that is terrible with the world such as despair, murder, disease, and solitude. On the other hand, the “ideal” represents superiority over the harsh reality of the spleen, “where love is possible and the senses are united in ecstasy.” In the case of The Apparition, the beauty of Salome represents the ideal. When she danced for the father, in return for the saint’s head on a platter, can be represented as the “spleen.”(Sparknotes)

Arnason, H. Harvard. History of Modern Art: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture. New York: H.N. Abrams, 1968. Print.
Paglia, Camille (1992). Sex, Art and American Culture : New Essays ISBN 978-0-679-74101-5, p. 15.
SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on The Flowers of Evil.” SparkNotes LLC. n.d.. Web. 17 Jan. 2013.

The Scream by Edvard Munch (1893)

Analysis of very famous paintings are not always the easiest thing to do.  Despite all the information exchanged over and over again about this specific painting, I always tend to find something new about it.

So this time around, I will explain some of the different techniques he used and also I fell over some very interesting information about the historical context of this painting that I have never encountered before.

The painting is executed as an unmediated coloring, with formal distortions and shaky lines that do not let the eye find peace. What is amazing is that if one was not formally introduced to this painting, it would be nearly impossible to figure out which one was to be the original one.

The strokes of the blush are executed in so many different patterns. If one focuses in the middle dark blue area, it is to be seen that sharp/bent correlations are connected to the move of liberal strokes in the lighter colors around it.

The focus is pretty easy to recognize (the actual "screamer"), but yet it is what I would describe as a floating-fluctuation-world.

Now for the historical context, I have always wondered why there were two spectators in the back. Of all the art classes, art seminars, and museum visits I have taken, they were solely described as spectators as far as I can remember, but fascinating enough, I am very excited that I found a cause for the effect.

The volcano, Krakatoa went in a violent eruption in August 1883, and it had sent huge masses of ash and dust in the atmosphere. It is also described as the day the world exploded in a book by Simon Winchester.

The dust and ashes had been spreading from Indonesia to most of the Earth where light reflections caused extraordinarily colorful sunsets until the beginning of 1884. Among the whole world, Norwegians in Oslo could encounter an unprecedented  blood-red sunset in the months of November 1883 all the way till February 1884.

Linked with his life of sorrow, femme-fatale, and the volcano eruption was just the right ingredients to create this masterpiece, and today a endless amount of paraphrases with probably the most famous one next to the painting itself being scream, the movie.

Liberty Leading the People Defaced!

Liberty Leading the People by Eugene Delacroix

CRAZY NEWS just happened. On February 9, 2013, Eugene Delacroix’s, Liberty Leading the People by Eugene Delacroix, has been vandalized. According to Dave Itzkoff, author at the NY Times, a woman is "accused of writing on the artwork and that any damage to it may be easily removed." (Itzkoff, 2013)

“Just before the museum’s closing time on Thursday, BBC News said, a 28-year-old woman wrote graffiti at the bottom of the painting and was stopped by a security guard. A local prosecutor told Agence France-Presse that the woman, whose name was not given, seemed “unstable” and would be given a psychiatric examination.”       -Itzkoff, 

   The painting created by Delacroix, was made in the celebration of the July Revolution of 1830, which overthrew Charles X of France. As she holds the flag of the French Revolution in one hand and a musket on the other, the woman whose lady parts are exposed, symbolizes Liberty leading the people forward, over the lifeless bodies that have fallen.  The painting has been seen as a marker to the end of the Age of Enlightenment, as many scholars see the end of the French Revolution as the start of the romantic era (Renwick, 1990).

  And guess what neoclassical sculpture was inspired by this painting? Just guess. That’s right, it was the Statue of Liberty. The statue of Liberty in New York City, which was gifted from the French, is a universal symbol of freedom and democracy. The statue which holds a torch on one hand, is a more modest take to the one compared to the painting (NPC 2013). 

 Another outcome of this inspirational painting comes from the British alternative band, Coldplay. Their fourth album, includes the painting as their own cover, and was slightly personalized by including their album name by using a white paint brush to draw “VIVA LA VIDA.” So now every time I come across upon Delacroix’s painting all I hear is “Viva la Vida” by Coldplay. (BBC News)

Itzkoff, Dave. "Delacroix's €˜Liberty Leading the People'€™ Is Defaced in France." ArtsBeat Delacroixs Liberty Leading the People Is Defaced in France Comments. NY Times, 8 Feb. 2013. Web. 09 Feb. 2013.
BBC News. "Coldplay Viva La Vida Or Death & All His Friends Review.". BBC, n.d. Web. 09 Feb. 2013.
Renwick, William Lindsay (1889). The Rise of the Romantics 1789-1815: Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Jane Austen / W. L. Renwick. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990, c1963
NPC. "Statue of Liberty." National Park Service. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Feb. 2013.

The Sick Girl, Two Takes on the Same Idea

        There is a form of medical treatment out there called "homeopathy." The idea behind this form of treatment is to take normally toxic substances like mercury, dilute them in a tablet or solvent like water, and give them to sick patients in hopes of stimulating the body to heal. As questionable as this idea sounds, it was designed to replace bloodletting, which involved bleeding patients in hopes of removing the sickness.
       Nevertheless, sickness was a common theme in both versions of The Sick Girl. Both involve a sick girl in bed, patiently awaiting treatment. The earlier version, painted by Christian Krogh in 1880, took a direct approach to the idea. We view the girl head-on; she is sitting in a chair, with a somewhat tired expression on her face. The yellowed hue of her garment and sheets suggests that she has been hospitalized for quite some time. (Interestingly, it was around this time that laundry detergent was invented, allowing for easier cleaning of clothing.) More ominous, however, is the rose that the girl is holding in her hands: it has begun losing its leaves, and will likely begin losing its petals before long. Flowers rarely last more than two days, so the girl could die very soon.

       Edvard Munch, a mentee of Krogh, painted a work that was also called The Sick Girl. This one also features a sick girl (in bed this time), but she is not the main focus of this work.

        The first part that catches our eye is the grieving mother at the girl's side. She is clearly devastated by her daughter's illness, and is struggling to contemplate how she will continue to live without her daughter at her side. The pale child looks on, unable to understand her mother's pain. Her expression suggests that she has not experienced the death of anyone close to her as of yet.

       These two works as a whole represent the increase in child mortality at this time as industrialization continued over most of Europe. Along with traditional and homeopathic treatments, the increasing effects of pollution likely had an effect on the young and old, like the young girls featured in these works. Indeed, Edvard Munch lost most of his close family to illnesses like tuberculosis, and he himself was gravely ill.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Scream

Edvard Munch's The Scream is much like that of Vincent Van Gogh's paintings looked in the sense that they are very distraught, chaotic, and make a viewer feel uneasy. This being an expressionist piece of art, this painting would be depicting Munch's own personal state of mind. Munch was also like Van Gogh in that they were both stricken by panic attacks and had anxiety problems worse than the normal human being. The fact that they both made such similar kinds of paintings makes us have to wonder if they had been treated for their mental illnesses, would they have still made theses master pieces of art? If their view of the world had been like that of a person who was not affected by mental disorders, would their art have remained the same? 
A poem written by Sonya Florentino named after the painting The Scream talks about being a deaf-mute where the air is silent, and trying to scream, but nothing comes out. This is something a viewer could feel when they look at this painting. Like Munch was trying to scream and cry for help, but nobody could hear him. His cries did him no good and nobody could help him. This painting looks like a cry for someone to save him. 


What has always fascinated me both in paintings and in sculpture is creating the effect of layering while in reality only working with one layer of material. I first encountered this while looking at Greek and Roman sculptures, normally of gods. The subjects would wear togas and the folds of fabric appeared loose and "fell" naturally. In class now, we come across a similar technique, this time in a work by French Impressionist, Auguste Rodin. In their physical appearance, Rodin's subjects in The Burghers of Calais appear to be similar to the traditional Greek statues. [With the exception of Rodin's sculptures generally being made out of clay instead of marble] However, upon further inspection once will find that Rodin's figures are much less in the light of perfection. Rodin rather, emphasizes the natural imperfection and curvature of the human figure. Additionally, his sculptures appear stark and emotional rather than the stoic nature of traditional Greek and Roman statues. For example, Augustus is seen as being a work that displays the perfect male form. For Rodin though, the perfect form was boring and the rougher parts of life and the human emotion and condition were what was worthy of art.
Greek Augustus
The Burghers of Calais

The passion that is displayed in his art is explicitly shown in the movie Camille Claudel. It is a French Film which depicts the relationship between Rodin and his long term misstress and fellow sculptor. Although the movie is old and in French, I believe that it enhances the viewing of Rodin's work. By seeing the passion and turmoil that leads to his creations, and hers, the viewer not only gains an understanding of Rodin, but Impressionists in general. This understanding is undeniably an aspect which bona fies  Rodin's work as true art.

A Sunday Afternoon with Scranton

A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (1884–1886) by Georges Seurat

 Georges Seurat is the French Post-Impressionist painter and draftsman, who practiced the technique Pointillism, which involves using dots of various colors to create a picture. He was deeply fascinated by theories and principles of color organization. His unique color system was based on the Impressionists realization that “all nature was color.”

    One of Seurat’s most iconic paintings in the 19th century is A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. The painting altered the direction of modern art by initiating Neo-impressionism. The painting has a theme of leisure, “where Parisians of the working, artisan, an professional classes as well as the bourgeoisie” could enjoy themselves by walking around, listening to music, dancing their lives away, or maybe even rowing a boat.

   Seurat’s painting has influenced many aspects revolving in pop culture. Let me begin with the musical; “Sunday in the Park with George,” was inspired by the painting, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine. It revolves around the fictionalized life of Seurat, immersed in single-minded concentration while painting his masterpiece and the people in that picture, the Broadway production opened to mixed reviews in 1984 (Chicago Shakespear, 2013).
    Another place in pop culture influenced from this painting is NBC’s “The Office.” That is right, it’s “Scranton's finest, kicking it Seurat-style in the park” (Dobbins, 2011). I was especially excited for them to recreate George Seurat's famous painting, incorporating all the amazing personalities that “The Office” has to offer. Some critics say that NBC wanted to depict the office being amazing, to create excitement for their 2011 fall line-up of shows. The only thing missing is a monkey.

Arnason, H. Harvard. History of Modern Art: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture. New York: H.N. Abrams, 1968. Print.

"Chicago Shakespeare Theater - Sunday in the Park with George." Chicago Shakespeare Theater - Sunday in the Park with George. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Feb. 2013.

Dobbins, Amanda. "See The Office Cast's Re-creation of Seurat's Sunday Afternoon."Vulture. Vulture, 6 May 2011. Web. 08 Feb. 2013.

The Starry Night and Pi!

The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh (1889) was a very recognizable painting that I seen throughout my life. It is LITERALLY sold everywhere. It is so famous that “you can find it in most college dorm rooms” as Professor Caffey says. The painting shows the outside view of his window, when he was being held in a mental institution, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. The picture represents his perspective of the outside world, and captures his anxiety towards nighttime, in the form of visual art. The painting shows an extreme state of agitation, but at the same time it is very soothing to the viewer, because of the calm village painted below.

Viewing the painting, I am constantly reminded of the Fibonacci spiral, which is “created by drawing circular arcs connecting the opposite corners of squares in the Fibonacci tiling; this one uses squares of sizes 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, and 34. This succession approximates the golden spiral.” The twirling of the wind in the night sky, depicted in Van Gogh’s art, can be compared to this mathematical equation. There are some great movies out there that linked to this spiral, such as “The Di Vinci Code”, but one in particular that reminds me of this painting is “Pi”.
Max Cohen, the main character who suffers from cluster headaches, extreme paranoia, hallucinations, and social anxiety disorder, believed that everything in nature can be understood by numbers.

One: Mathematics is the language of nature. Two: Everything around us can be represented and understood through numbers. Three: If you graph the numbers of any system, patterns emerge. Therefore, there are patterns everywhere in nature.”                              -“Pi”

At some point in the movie, Max takes an interest when he realizes that some of the number concepts Lenny, some Jewish guy, discusses are similar to other mathematical concepts, such as the Fibonacci sequence. This concept just blows my face away, especially after seeing The Starry Night. The golden spiral, that is said to be found in nature, is found in Van Gogh’s depiction of night. It makes me wonder more of his perspective toward nature, and in my eyes, Van Gogh can be compared to the character Max himself. Towards the end, Max’s obsessive pursuit of ideas, lead him to take a power drill to the head, ending his madness.

My opinions on Van Gogh before taking ARTS 349, I had an idea of who Van Gogh was, but I never knew he had a few mental problems. When I found out he cut his own ear, and mailed it to a prostitute, I was like “WAHHHHH?!” Though Van Gogh’s art can be easily recognized by most people today, his career was not as successful compared to when he was alive. 

“Pi” IMBD description

Golden Spirals and Fibonacci Spirals

A reason for the Fibonacci Spiral in Nature. An Artist Theory)

Pi - The Golden Ratio

The Falling Rocket by James Abbot McNeil Whistler

The Falling Rocket by James Abbot McNeil Whistler

   The painting Nocturne in Black and Gold – The Falling Rocket (1872-77), done by James Abbott McNeill Whistler, began a debate of the definition of art. The famous British art critic John Ruskin, believed that “art possessed the power to improve society,” and when Ruskin discovered Whistler’s work, he was instantly irritated. The Falling Rocket does not represent “nature truthfully,” as Ruskin said it should be. He believed Whistler was only here for one thing; MONEY, and putting this poorly done work up on display, was insulting. 

"The ill-educated conceit of the artist... approached the aspect of willful imposture... I have seen, and heard, much of Cockney impudence before now; but never expected to hear a coxcomb ask two hundred guineas for flinging a pot of paint in the public's face."
   Whistler’s response to Ruskin about the review ended with a lawsuit for “libel”.  The highly publicized trial sparked debates on classifying what art is. Whistler believed that true art served no social purpose whatsoever; it was “Art for Art’s Sake.” Those who believed in Art for Art’s Sake felt that beauty was “simply the measure of a work’s ability to stimulate a pleasing aesthetic sensation”, it should not be threatened with the work’s usefulness.
“Art, has become foolishly confounded with education”- Whistler.
   Personally, when I see this painting as well as reflect on the title, I feel an explosion of music go in my head. It’s as if I am hearing "1812 Overture" composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky; I reminded mainly due to the movie “V for Vendetta”. The last scene where the subway, that holds V’s dead body, is activated to go in the direction of Parliament and Big Ben (London), ending with the buildings explosion (with fireworks). Now that I think about it, the painting took place in London, more specifically, in Battersea Bridge in an industrial London city park.

(Last scene of “V for Vendetta”)

Arnason, H. Harvard. History of Modern Art: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture. New York: H.N. Abrams, 1968. Print.

The Ferris Wheel

The Ferris Wheel, as we know it today, was developed by George Ferris and was first introduced at the World's Columbian Exposisition in Chicago, IL 1893. The wheel was an architiectual development intended to rival the Eiffel Tower. The Ferris wheel is considered of form of modern architecture because of the time and purpose of its development, and most importantly, the materials used to construct it. Ferris used steel, a practical material used for buildings and bridges, to creat an architectual development intended for leisure. The Ferris Wheel represents a modernistic symbolic union of steel and liesure. In addition to this, the perspective from different points looking out from the ferris wheel allows individuals to view the world in a picturesque, artistic way.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Carson, Pierre, Scott Building (Sullivan Building)

The Carson, Pierre, Scott Building (formally known as the Sullivan Building) was originally designed by Louis Sullivan. The building was set to be one of the first modern retail stores to ever be built. He created the idea of adding familiar aesthetics to the ground floor of his loftily designed buildings to satiate people's fears. At this time, the general pubic was not accustomed to such towering structures; however, Sullivan's plan to decorate to people's mood worked. In 1899, a small revolution happened in Chicago. Prior to this time, people had to order products online and wait several months to get their product. The emergence of shopping for leisure became part of the American culture as soon as the building opened up! Generally, people take shopping for granted but this is natural. We grew up with it! Imagine a world where it didn't exist like it does now--pretty tough isn't it? This is why it is difficult to grasp the importance of this building. 
Louis Sullivan's Philosophy was that of "form follows function." Each floor in this building is maximized to fit as many products as possible; furthermore, he indirectly created panels do display objects to people on the street--again, very typical for us, but completely new to people back then. I doubt he was the first person to invent the concept of window shopping, but it worked. 

This building can absolutely be tied to a modern day shopping mall. Think about it, everything Louis Sullivan thought of can be seen in large retails stores today! Modern day-familar architecture, plants, pretty aesthetics, window shopping, and everything! 

I used the picture of the mall from my hometown. People think it's lame, but I like it. I'm sure the folks in the 20th century would be blown away!

The Kiss by Gustave Klimt (1907-1908)

The couple in this painting is shown embracing a complex net of flowers. The man is bent over the woman while her being on her knees, holding him close to her while awaiting a kiss. The masculine figure is made of square and rectangular shapes, whereas the female figure is made of softer lines and floral patterns. A golden aura or halo is surrounded the couple as if it was a floating comforter with only the woman's bare feet sticking out. A special detail is how her toes are bent very sharply in the flowered mattress looking meadow. The mesmerizing background mixed with the gold erotic undertone gives this image an altered meaning to the interpretation of the concept.

Simply the context of describing the artwork gives me a very soothing feeling. I wish I would have thought of this myself, but it was mentioned in class that there is a great correlation between this work and the work of Gaudi. Also it was mentioned that he was inspired by art nouveau which was criticizing capitalism.

Personally, I feel like this image reflects as feeling of Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock print like a floating world image. It makes the image and the action really seem very real and unreal. I needed to see a direct perspective of the image, and I saw this picture online.

This paraphrase clarifies the aura built around the couple to be very symbolical. It is such a intimate moment that objectifies natural objects as one with nature.

Christian Krohg, The Sick Girl

Christian Krohg, The Sick Girl

This work is very interesting to me. It is both fantastic and sinister at the same time. In traditional art, the subjects would be stoic and content. They were made to look like they carried themselves with an air of sophistication. Additionally, these subjects were generally well off people who had the paintings commissioned in order to show their importance and make them appear superior. Krohg does not do this. Like a true expressionist, he conveys an overwhelming amount of emotion within this picture. In opposition to the historic stoics, The Sick Girl is anything but. Personally, I believe that this shift makes the expressionist movement one of the most significant in modern art. Within portraits, it changed their function from commonplace, photograph like displays on household walls, to reflections and conversations on the human race and the human condition. Sick Girl is an exceptional conveyance of this for a few reasons. First off, the subject is a young girl. This may have happened from time to time in older portraits, but the ones that were given significance were those primarily of the men in the household. Secondly, the girl is sick. Because she is in a vulnerable position, she is not placed in a position where she looks superior or even worthy of a painting. Krohg is portraying suffering through her and making her dilema an issue which is brought to life how it hadn't been in the past. From this pivotal point in modern art emerged a long line of portraits as an art for, not the work an artist does just for the commission. As an artist today, portraits are one of my favorite subjects to paint. The transcendental nature of emotion and expression are essential parts of the human condition and as a result, humans are a part of art that is now the subject of a majority of works.

Commercialism in Art

An emerging conversation in Modern Art is the commercialization of “classic” modern art pieces. Fantastic art eventually becomes commonplace in this era of over commercialism. Because of this, the true significance of the art is often lost in translation.One example of this is Van Gogh’s Starry Night.  In class most students could recognize the painting displayed on the screen, but were unable to identify the artist, the era, or the history of the art. As art students, it is important to figure out how to feel about these images-which were originally acclaimed because of their originality- being mass produced and at times “softening” the impact of the work. Should we praise culture today from spreading this art? My argument is essentially that this commercialization can only lead to the increasing education and interest in art. Although the image itself may never again stand on its own without being identified with its modern “interpretation” (ie the print on a pair of socks) However, when one does stop to analyze or simply take in the image, the result could likely be a furthering interest in art or even more, creation of art. One thing that is an essential component of modern art, is in fact, this re- interpretation or creation of older art and styles and reevaluation of what we consider as art. For example, Andy Warhol’s art was centered on commercialization. His art acted almost a satire of traditional art forms and the glorification of such styles. If Warhol saw the images of starry night “on dorm walls” so to speak, he likely would have laughed at, but supported the work. Despite the art being mass produced for profit, commercialism has grown to make modern art what it is. Jeff Koons, another more recent modern artist admits that he aims for profit with his creations. This commercialism is definitely something to watch in the art world. It will be interesting to see how it progresses and effects other art we study through the course.
Starry Night Socks
Warhol's Commercialism

The Kiss

This Picture makes me feel uneasy because of the pattern of the wall and the pattern of the clothing on the two people in this picture. The reason for the patterns clashing so much is to celebrate capitalism through the industrial manufacturing of patterns. They are meant to subordinate the human presence in the picture and make them much less important. Klimt was a prominent member in the group of artists that separated from the Academy when they found that it was no longer needed.  Another reason this image would make a viewer like myself feel uneasy is the look on the woman's face in this picture. While the male looks to be enjoying himself and somewhat initiating the kiss, the woman doesn't seem to be sharing his same feelings. Is this kiss being forced upon her? Or is she just making this face for this picture only?  I'm sure many of the critics at the time this was made had their own opinions, but in my opinion, the woman is being subordinate to this man and dealing with what he is doing to her as many women had to do silently long ago when women were seen as equal to animals. 

Observations on The Haussmann Renovation

The Haussmann Renovation Link

The Ferris Wheel, designed by George Ferris

        Following the introduction of iron and steel as construction materials, a new age in architecture was established. New buildings were constructed that could now serve previously-unimaginable purposes. 1890-1910 were two bustling decades for architecture. Railroads and subways. (Porte Dauphine Metro in Paris) Department stores. (Carson, Pririe, Scott Building, Chicago)

       With new buildings such as these came expected resistance: one common belief held at the time was that the human body would implode if it went faster than 35 miles per hour, which was the fastest speed that one could go on a horse at the time. Trains debunked that myth, and department stores revolutionized commerce by allowing goods of every type, from household to footwear to clothing, to be sold in one convenient location.
       One particularly noteworthy experiment that occurred in this time period was the Ferris Wheel, invented by George Ferris and featured at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. The Wheel consisted of two 140-foot steel towers, a 45-foot axle, a wheel 250 feet in diameter and 825 feet in circumference, and was powered by two 1000-horsepower engines that allowed the wheel to complete one revolution every 20 minutes.

Ferris wheel at the Chicago World's Fair      The original Ferris Wheel, which cost fifty cents to ride. Each car could handle approximately sixty people.

       Although the original Ferris Wheel shown was destroyed in 1906, Ferris's legacy can be seen in most amusement parks today. Most theme parks and carnivals that I have seen have some sort of Ferris Wheel. Currently, the world's largest Ferris Wheel is the Singapore Flyer in Southeast Asia. At 165 meters high, it stands next to Marina Bay, allowing for breathtaking views of the surrounding city at night.

The Singapore Flyer.


Monday, February 4, 2013

Pierre Bonnard

Pierre Bonnard is one of the artists that are known as a Les Nabis, “the prophets”. In his paintings Nu á contre-jour and la Toilette the viewer is invited into the most private parts of a person’s life for the first time. Both of these paintings have multiple similarities such as:

Nu á contre-jour

la Toilette
      1.       The use similar colors and using as little detail as possible. In each painting the detail of the window or furniture was not important.
      2.       Both paintings have a mirror to call into question what it means to look. However, in la Toilette we do not see a reflection of the women in the mirror.
3.       Both paintings show the sunlight, and how it almost hits the body as if it is a spot light on the two women. The light is the revealing factor of these two women in my opinion. Where the light touches their body they arch their body as if trying to get away from it, trying to get away from what is revealing them.  In Nu á contre-jour the woman has her back arched, a clear sign of unease, as she is trying to back away, or slide out of the light. The woman in la Toilette is similar except she is hunching her shoulders forward in order to avoid the light.
4.       The 4th element, time, could be in play in both paintings. In la Toilette time could be at play in the painting because in the reflection from the viewer’s point of view we see the desk in a different color. We also do not see everything that was on the desk inside of the reflection as we do outside of the reflection. Outside of the reflection the desk is purple with a mirror and oranges; inside the reflection the desk is yellow with oranges. This difference in color could be due to a change in lighting throughout the day. In Nu á contre-jour time or perception could be at play do to the differing elements in how it appears that the desk may not exactly line up with the wall, or the chair that is shown in the reflection of the mirror but not in the picture itself. There is no recording of the 4th element being put into these two paintings; however, with this evidence I think that there might have been some passing of time and change of perception in these paintings.

Toulouse Lautrec, "Ath the Moulin Rouge"

Toulouse- Lautrec's painting "At the Moulin Rouge" is one of the painter's most well known pieces. this painting uses Japanese influence in positioning the perspective of the painting as well as the law of simultaneous contrast. In addition, Toulouse uses color to represent the feeling of a person or object rather than its literal identity. Finally, the subject of this painting is typical of Toulouse Lautrec's paintings; the artist often painted scenes from the demimonde (Parisian underworld) in order to show the more sinister side of life.

For more information concerning Toulouse- Lautrec's portrayal of the Moulin Rouge, I have posted a link to a discussion about the artist and his works.

The Eiffel Tower

Gustave Eiffel's The Eiffel Tower

Gustave Eiffel built the Eiffel Tower in 1887. After the building of the Crystal Palace by Joseph Paxton in 1850, using the exposed metal and glass that people came to love, Gustave built this magnificent structure in Paris. Now, when anybody sees the Eiffel Tower, whether it be a picture or mini statue, they can most likely tell you where it's located. The Eiffel Tower has become such a symbol of Paris over time, it is one of the most well-known buildings in the world. Though, the tower wasn't always sought after because of its beauty. When it was first built, it was hated because it was nothing like anything that had ever been constructed at that time with the height it possesses in the exposed metal and glass used to build it. In my opinion, the Eiffel Tower is a beautiful structure in the way it looks, and how it has become such a big part of the history of what I think is a beautiful place, Paris. 

Iron Bridge

Built over the River Severn in Shropshire, England, the Iron Bridge was the first arch bridge in the world to be buit from cast iron. In the past cast iron was thought too expensive to be used on large scale projects but thanks to a new blast furnace nearby the cost was lowered and local engineers and architects were inspired to fix the long standing problem of crossing the river. Conceptualized by Thomas Pritchard in 1773 the bridge's construction began in 1777, the very year that Pritchard died. In 1779 Abraham Darby III, local foundry owner, finished the construction and the bridge was opened on New Year's Day 1781.

The Iron Bridge attracted attention worldwide and became a symbol for the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. Today many museums are opened in its honor and it is a World Heritage Site. It's influence is undeniable and continues to inspire large scale cast iron works.

One such large scale cast iron work, probably the most notable, is the Eiffel Tower. Built in 1889 by Gustave Eiffel for the World's Fair it has become synonymous with France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. It is built entirely out of cast iron and and at the time was the largest structure in the world. Today it is still the largest structure in paris and the most visited paid monument in the world.

Nocturne in Black and Gold

James Abbot McNeil Whistler was an artist who was very much influenced by the Japanese. He used ukiyo-e technique repeatedly while also focusing on colors and patterns. He is one of the first American artists that began to utilize the technique of the floating world. One of Whistlers works that utilizes this technique is Nocturne in Black and Gold (The Falling Rocket). This painting shows fireworks falling over London.  In this painting the viewer is presented in a fleeting moment of time and the viewer is also looking down on the scene which makes this painting a ukiyo-e. Since Whistler was at the forefront of artist using this technique and it was not very widely used a renowned critic, John Ruskin, openly rejected this painting of Whistlers. He claimed that it was an insult to art and that Whistler had just slapped paint onto a canvas. Whistler sued Ruskin and won. Whistler winning this lawsuit was a milestone in the age of art giving artist the upper hand on critics and others. This allowed artist to decide how they want to paint instead of allowing critics determine how the artist would paint.

Whistler was a very influential artist and had a big impact on art itself. Here are some of his other paintings that he contributed to the art society.

The Marshall Field Store by Henry Hobson Richardson


      The Romanesque Revival is a term used to refer to the use of Romanesque architecture in the nineteenth century. Romanesque architecture was used around the eleventh through thirteenth centuries, and featured round arches as opposed to the pointed tips frequently seen in Gothic architecture. Shown below is Chartres Cathedral in Chartres, France. It is one of the most easily recognizable forms of Gothic architecture.

 Chartres Cathedral                                                                                           

       This building, on the other hand, is one of the buildings of the Smithsonian Institute, built in the 1850s. The absence of pointed spires is one important characteristic that distinguishes Romanesque architecture from Gothic architecture. Other features of Romanesque architecture include belt courses (seams in the building), corbel tables (the square, toothlike edges below the belt courses), and rounded arches.


       Henry Hobson Richardson was influenced by the Romanesque Revival after studying architecture in Paris while the Civil War was going on in America. Richardson moved back to the United States after the war ended and helped rebuild the Trinity Church in New York after a fire destroyed it in 1872. The new church's design shows the influence that the Romanesque Revival had on Richardson.

        Richardson later used the Romanesque style to design the Marshall Field Store for the city of Chicago in 1885. With no decorative arches, large windows, and a uniform reddish color, the building characterizes functionalism, which was an idea developed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright that buildings should serve the purpose that they are built for. In the case of the Marshall Field Store, it was a seven-story department store featuring goods of just about every kind available, with about 500,000 square feet of space.
        Richardson was not the only Romanesque architect who worked in America. Other architects included Louis Sullivan and William Le Baron Jenney, who made similar styles of buildings in Chicago and New York as well. The common unifying theme amongst all three architects was that the improvements of building material, mainly the introduction of iron and steel, allowed for taller and stronger buildings to be built.

Home Insurance Building, William Le Baron Jenney.
 Guaranty Trust Building, Louis Sullivan.