Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Automedon with the Horses of Achilles

After today's class I realized I posted my blog wrong. Hopefully this works now.

Valerie Blaemire

Alexandre-Georges-Henri Regnault
"Automedon with the Horses of Achilles", 1866
Oil on canvas

I found this image fascinating for its impactive action. The painting is of a man reining in two horses with his hands, yet the horses are trying to revolt. The man is looking at the brown horse to his left, and the horses are looking fearfully out into the open space. There is no audience in the image; as the viewer, we are positioned parallel to the action. The majority of the setting is being hidden in this image. The viewer cannot clearly decipher the exact location of the action, the main hint that is given is the water in the background, leading you to see that this moment is taking place on a cliff. The artist obviously wanted to show the overall picture of the image rather than one detailed area. Between realism and abstraction, the image is definitely more realistic. Everything from the waves in the horse's hair to the man's strained muscles are defined. For this reason, I find the painting captivating.

Since the very beginning of Blogging, Blogs have given average shmos like you and I the power to post their opinions on everything and anything hence the invention of the popular “Top Five list.” Really! What better way to express my unqualified even ridiculous opinions in pseudo-journalistic prose than with a list from worst to best? From Top 5 bank Heists to Top 5 Celebrity Douche Bags they're ridiculous, useless, and we love 'em. So in the rich tradition of our Fore-Bloggers I give you A-Bomb165’s Top 5 at the MFA:

5. Butcher Shop- Painted in 1642 by David Teniers II. Though truly an artistic masterpiece what sets this picture apart is its humor. It is a satirical portrayal of what an average day in a butcher shop must be like. I personally find it a refreshing change from the obscure depressed artists we are so typically exposed to (I love you Van Gogh).

4. Forest Scene with Hunters- Painted by Roelandt Jacobz in 1615. This is an enchanting painting one can spend hours analyzing. I felt that every time I looked at I notice a new animal or architectural structure I had not scene before. I felt the painting successfully created a world and story not to shabby Roelandt (or as his friends call him Roe-Dog).

3.Portrait of Fernande Olivier- Painted by Pablo Picasso in 1905. Not much to say about this one except that it’s very aesthetically pleasing. He uses very little colors and paints a woman with a very subtle expression on her face. Very subdued but very beautiful.

2. Postman Joseph Roulin- Painted by Vincent Van Gogh in 1888. A picture of lanky bearded Postman. The features are exaggerated he looks somewhat cartoony. The use of color and lighting is magnificent. The man though funny looking seems to have a quiet confidence I sense great wisdom.

1. Slave Ship- Painted in 1840 by Joseph Mallord William Turner. This painting portrays a major thunderstorm in the ocean and exposes harsh realities of the slave trade. The painting is very chaotic there is a lot of action. The use of colors is very extreme and I found the painting to be instantly shocking. This painting was very effective and I found it touching to see an artist of that time saying something of substance even though it might not have been popular to do that.

There you have it my Top Five hope you enjoyed.

Monday, September 27, 2010

MFA Visit

Whoops, accidentally posted this as a comment first, but I think I've figured it out...

Rachel Amitay

Jacob Jordaens
"Portrait of a Young Married Couple", 1621
Oil on panel

I chose this image because at first glance, it seems to be a typical marriage portrait from the seventeenth century, but upon closer inspection I found it to be more unique. The figures seem connected to each other in their poses, but their faces are not passive as is the case in many marriage portraits. The man has a relaxed, yet serious expression, while the woman seems to have a look of determination and certainty. They are looking at the spectator, and there is an element of "eye contact". The work is highly detailed and realistic, and the pair are both wearing beautiful clothing with intricate lace patterning. The focus is meant to be on the couple, not the background, which is very simple and does not draw the viewer away from the pair. An exact location is not depicted, because the importance lies in the connection between the two people, not in the particular setting.

"Breakfast Still Life with Glass and Metalwork"

When our class visited the MFA, the picture that caught my eye the most was Jan den Uyl's "Breakfast Still Life with Glass and Metalwork." Compared to the ancient art we looked at before this painting, this really seems to be leaps and bounds better.
In terms of light, shadowing, and general aesthetics, this painting almost looks like a photo. The dominant contrast of dark and light is the white tablecloth over the black drape- like cloth on the base of the table. To me, there are three focal points. The bottom left, with it's shiny objects and white cloth, the right half, which is much darker, and the upper left, which is lighter than the right. The image depicts a table with lots of dishes and silverware, letting the observer know that somebody had eaten breakfast. The painting seems to be from the third person perspective, looking at the mess that somebody made.
The painting's title definitely depicts the painting very well. It states exactly what it shows in the painting. This could be a photo and keep the same title. The gaze in the photo is directed towards the table. It's what definitely draws the eye first. As the viewer, we are positioned a little above the table, making it seem like we're standing over the table, observing it. There is not much hidden from the viewer, at least nothing major. Uyl makes this image work because of how realistic it looks. The attention to detail on the shining silverware and the flowing white cloth is tremendous. If we were looking on Scott McClouds' "picture plane," this would be considered extreme realism and resemblance. It really does look like a photo, and it's no wonder this painting caught my eye when we were touring through the Museum of Fine Arts.

Modern Rome, Panini

Picture Gallery with Views of Modern Rome, by Panini, is an incredibly overwhelming piece. It is very realistic and extremely complex. Although there is some contrast between dark and light, it is very scattered and I would not say that it defines the work. The viewer's eye is drawn to the people standing and sitting in the room because they are more vivid, prominent figures, but it is very hard to remain focused on one portion of the image because there are so many small domains of focus throughout the painting. The piece is so cluttered with architecture, sculptures, and real people, that it is difficult to tell what is 'real' and what is just a painting within the painting. In the background of the painting, where the hall opens, the color of the sky matches the sky in many of the small paintings, creating the feeling of a room that is very open, even though it is cluttered. In the bottom left corner of the piece, there are tiny people that look as though they could be 'real', but are extremely out of proportion with the 'real' people because they are part of a smaller painting. This along with the deceptive skies creates a very surreal perspective and place for the viewer, as if the viewer is looking into a room in a dream-world.
This painting really provokes a feeling of magnificent luxury and wealth, but in excess. It is very reminiscent of current-day hoarding, and although beautiful, the painting is too busy and confusing to be a comfortable image to take in.

Savery, "Forest Scene with Hunters"

The major contrast between dark and light in this image is between the earthy, warm, dark colors used in the foreground and the ethereal, cool blue light of the town. It was this contrast that first grabbed me -- the juxtaposition of an almost heavenly depiction of civilization and the brown, vibrant nature scene surrounding it. This contrast seems to be the focus of the painting -- the large tree in the center is the largest and most central figure, but my eyes were drawn to the town beyond rather than to the tree itself. The next thing I noticed was that the hunters on the left seem to be no different than the various animals throughout the scene. Every living being in this painting seems to be going about its daily life, indifferent to the other species around it, the humans included. When you follow their eyes, none of these creatures seem to be looking at or to have noticed one another. It seems that they are on the same plane of consciousness, enveloped by and part of nature, while civilization glows in a ghostly and beautiful light off in the distance. Even the buildings in the upper right, while bathed in more earthy colors, tower high above the nature scene, the goats on the rocks, and even the waterfall, one of nature's most majestic creations. And furthermore, it seems that the viewer is placed on the ground with these creatures, a distance away from the group of humans but also part of this scene, and that the town beyond is something to which the viewer should aspire.

Self Portrait as a warrior By: Oskar Kokoschka

Self Portrait as a warrior
By: Oskar Kokoschka

I saw this sculpture on the way out of the museum. Aside from the frightening image of this mans face, I was fascinated with the fact that it was made in 1909, which meant innovation in my mind. As I read on, I found that this image was in fact extremely innovative for 1909. However, as most innovative artists experience, this piece experienced ridicule from many.
Reading the title "Self Portrait as a Warrior", made me think about how this artist could link his personal qualities to this horrific sculpture. When analyzing it, I couldn't help but to consider what the artist looked like, how he felt, and his creative intentions. For me, it gave more depth to the meaning behind the piece.
As far as I understood, most art back then used a lot of graceful linear forms. This sculpture did the exact opposite, focusing on deformity as the concentration of the face. (i.e. the bumpy nose, protruding eyes, and lips) These features made the face into a brutally expressive sculpture.
This piece focused my eye on the physical pain that this man was going through. Although, it was slightly unclear as to what he was going through, whether it was him being burned alive or something else.But after reading the description I understood that it is a man with his skin peeled back to reveal raw nerves and flesh.
The description, in my opinion, adds even more to the sculpture by confirming the details of what this man is going through. In this sculpture the use of the brownish-red color for the flesh mixed with the contrasting bright blue color of the eyes brings the observer in for a more intimate relationship with the piece, especially since the sculpture is something any observer can relate to, which is being human. The normal human qualities such as the general face shape, eyes, nose, mouth, etc. mixed with the abnormal color's and exaggerated wrinkles draws the observer into the piece which is a big part of what creates that feeling of connection.

MFA first Visit Assignment

After our class visit to the MFA I really dug the first thing that we looked at which was the sculpture of King Menkaure and his queen. There was no abstraction to this piece, it looked realistic, the each had 2 arms and 2 legs and everything seemed in portion but yet there was still something unnatural about it and I think it was just mainly the position they were standing in, very straight and forward, very not how people pose these days. Although we are physically placed in the presence of the figure and we can stand in front of it the statue doesn't really look at you it kind of looks above you. I guess if you were a King you would want you statue to be someone authoritative and un-relatable by having a very well built body, very straight and in your face without looking at you. Remind me to do the same when I get my statue made haha.

Max Beckman "Still Life with Three Skulls"

Max Beckman
"Still Life with Three Skulls"
Oil On Canvas

I saw this painting towards the end of our tour and thought it was very striking. For an oil canvas done in the late 40's it seemed a little out of place. I looked up Max Beckman. He was an artist of the post-expressionism era, also known as New Objectivity. This sort of art is characterized by plain, static, sustained and engrossing objects. In the era of the Nazi's, Adolf Hitler considered Beckman's art to be "degenerate", which is why I think this painting is really great. To begin with, it's themes are fairly dark. Pictured on a dresser are three skulls, some playing cards and what appears to be a bottle of booze and a gun. It uses third person perspective to show you these objects just how they should be in the style of New Objectivity: plain, static, parallel and unwaivering. The color is very thin and vague as well. It makes the tone of the painting very dark and edgy, which is certainly appropriate for the objects depicted in the painting. The style of the painting overall reinforces the objects shown. When you think of poker, skulls, guns, an alcohol, you generally think automatically of illegality, death, violence and drugs. Beckman's use of sharp strokes, fixed edges and cold imagery fit perfectly with what is being displayed in this work of art. It is also very appropriate for what we have been reading about comics, as this era of New Objectivity is influenced directly by interest in cartoon-like objects and the painting reflects this.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Welcome to VisCult Fall 2010!

This is the blog for Approaches to Visual Culture at Berklee College of Music, Fall 2010. This is also the required foundations course for the brand new minor in Visual Culture and Interactive Media Studies, an exciting area of the Berklee curriculum that encompasses art history, multimedia, media, film, and gaming studies.