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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Summer Session is over & I now have a grudging respect for...

I finished the 5-week, accelerated Art History II course.
And...I got straight "A"s.
And, I'd like confirm that spell-check is way better than sliced bread.
{Really - my sincere thanks to the person that came up with spell-check!}
And the teacher was complimentary of my writing.
{proud grin}

AND...although I got extremely frustrated, a bit whiny, and I made several, um, well, derisive "Really?!?" comments at my PC as we went through the latter part of the 19th century and into the art of the 20th century... I learned a lot and I did actually enjoy the experience.

But I'm having guilt about my general lack of delight (and slightly rude comments) for Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Symbolism, Fauvism, Expressionism, Cubism, Futurism, Dadaism, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, and Post-Modernism art. (And, yes, I am skipping some "isms" in the last few centuries, but they boggled me too.)
(The nice folks over @QuizMeArtHist on Twitter are probably un-following me with extreme prejudice even as I type this...) I'm kinda wondering what is wrong with me that I would look back over the centuries, at all this worthy, famous, expensive and acclaimed art and my response to some of it was: "Really?!?".

Ok - a lot of the art from the above art periods still do not thrill me - However - I do have a much greater appreciation for the art in those periods. Even if it is a piece of art that I don't want to see every day, hang on the walls in my home, or use as wallpaper on my PC, I can still appreciate the time, effort, thought, and personal investment the artist put into their art. So I am endeavoring to apply acceptance and appreciation to the psychological, philosophical, theoretical science, and good old-fashioned Rebellion that was the core inspiration for some of these art periods.

(Any clever or educated comments that follow can be directly attributed to my Art History II Instructor.)  {Who has space available in her upcoming Fall semester classes. ;-)  }
(Any "duh"-ish comments that follow would be all me.)

Whilst I am not fond with the sketch-like quality of Impressionism, such as Claude Monet's Sunrise, I am impressed with his interpretation of light and dedication to recording light on the same subject on different days/weather - such as the 20 views he did of the Rouen Cathedral.

Post-Impressionism refers to the period when Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Georges Seurat and Paul Cezanne were painting. The post-impressions were still about color, real-life, brushstrokes and thick paint but also about more depth - emotion, symbolism, religion, etc.

I must confess, van Gogh is growing on me - although some of it is the influence of the charming 2010? episode of Doctor Who: "Vincent and the Doctor"(truly stellar cast!).
We studied Night Cafe in class and that helped to explain/demonstrate the emotion van Gogh was trying to portray. I hadn't realized that we had records of his artistic intent in the numerous letters he wrote to his brother, Theodore. For some reason, it makes me feel better to know he was not entirely alone.
I am more partial to some of his other works:Wheat Field with Cypresses - The Starry Night - Irises.

Gauguin and Cezanne - for me - they fall under the category of general appreciation of the time, effort, and thought.

Now Seurat - I rather like Pointillism/Divisionism. I suspect it appeals to the aspect of my personality that revels in detail. I was introduced to Seurat in the drawing class I took earlier this year but we studied A Sunday on La Grande Jatte in Art History II.
{By the Way - I tripped over this Artrageous show on Seurat & Pointillism - it is angled toward kids but it's quite spiffy and does an excellent job of explaining Pointillism. Worth sharing!}

Although I'm not particularly fond of The Scream (any of them & there are actually quite a few anxiety-ridden versions {did you ever wonder if the "Home Alone" series was inspired by that painting?}), I found some parts of imagination-based Symbolism rather appealing, such as the detail in Gustave Moreau's art, classic Gustav Klimt, and Henri Rousseau's "naive" (lack of academic training) art.

The example of the Arts and Crafts period was more fussy than I expected (William Morris, Green Dining Room) but I love the premise of functional, high-quality works of craftsmanship based on a premise of natural form and pattern. The Arts and Crafts period led to Art Nouveau - of which I'm rather in love with but more on that in another blog.

Fauvism, Expressionism, & Cubism
Fauvism and Expressionism are pretty similar in my mind and introduces the art reign of Henri Matisse (Harmony in Red) and Andre Derain, Ernst Kirchner (Street, Dresden) and Emil Nolde.
Art continued to evolve to be more about the feelings or idea and less about the subject. Bold colors were used to express emotions, although the German Expressionists used darker colors and more ragged/harsher line.
Another group of German Expressionists were less primitive: Franz Marc's art is striking, but he seems to have lost hope based on "Fate of the Animals". I did find Impressions 28 (Second Version) by the literally brilliant Wassily Kandinsky appealing. It could be the color scheme or perhaps his theory is correct; that art doesn't need an object/subject and that color and form would speak to the viewer.

Cubism is famous for Pablo Picasso (Les Demoiselles d'Avignon) and Georges Braque (I'm a bit more fond of Braque's art.)
The instructor presented the concept of cubism several ways. My first interpretation was: It is an attempt to paint something that is 3-Dimensional in 2-Dimensions but representing all 3 dimensions - which doesn't work so well when explaining cubism in sculpture. So a further interpretation was: a touch of abstract and presenting parts of the object - broken up into pieces/seen from many views (i.e. take a step to the right and build that view into the art). Interesting.
But I have to confess, for me, it's kind of like looking at someone's baby ultrasound and puzzling out where the baby is in the picture.

I found the Futurism guys to be a bit scary. Although some of their art was visually appealing, the Futurists felt war was an excellent, romantic, cleanser of all things - old art, old beliefs, literature, etc. Ironically, several Futurist artists died when they actaully got to experience war first hand in World War I.

The Dada group were the anti-art group. They didn't explain their art, reveled in change, random chance, nonsense, cynicism, standards of art, and they actively pursued irrationality and being the opposite of...well, anything. I have to admire their efforts to be so very different, their sense of humor (I hope), and their self-confidence. (Here's a link to a nifty NPR article.)
Classic Dada: Fountain - part of the "Readymade" art of Marcel Duchamp who stated his Readymades were "Based in a reaction of visual indifference with a total absence of good or bad taste". He submitted this piece to the Society of Independent Artists in New York in 1917(?), testing how independent (open-minded) they really were. It was rejected (and yes, the "Fountain" is what you think it is).

Salvador Dali = Surrealism - in spades.
However, I thought Rene Magritte's The Treachery of Images niftily satirical. (Translation of French on the painting: "This is not a pipe." (You've probably seen other examples of his works too.) And although Meret Oppenheimer's surreal Object (Le Dejeuner en fourrure/"Luncheon in Fur") tickles my gag-reflex some, it is clever.

Abstract Expressionism and Post-Modernism art
This post has gone on nearly toooooo long. So I'll finish up with just a couple of the more modern artists we covered.

I didn't know that Abstract Expressionists like Jackson Pollock cut portions out of a larger work or that Helen Frankenthaler made several versions to achieve the spontaneous or tranquil effects in their work.

I also had to revise my opinion of Andy Warhol. I didn't know he was originally an award-winning illustrator and that no two bottles are exactly the same in Green Coca-Cola Bottles.

Yep, enough blogging for today. It actually took me a few days to write this and find all the links. That effort resembled (even down to a few rude comments) my Art History II Journey on the above art periods. Sometimes it takes a while to embrace acceptance of the uncomfortable - art or otherwise.

Here's a little bit of knitterly content found during my Andy Warhol search for links. Seems the Warhol Bridge was recently Yarn Bombed!

Particular thanks are offered to the many stellar museums and educational facilities that present images and educational material on the Internet so that we can learn from afar and so I can link to trustworthy, knowledgeable, and interesting experts.  
The J. Paul Getty Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Musee Marmottan, The Van Gogh Museum, Yale University Art Gallery, The Museum of Modern Art, National Galleries Scotland, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Belvedere Palace & Museum, The National Gallery London, The Athenaeum, The Whitney Museum of American Art, and The State Hermitage Museum of Russia.
(Sincere, humble apologies are offered if I missed thanking any of the amazing folks whose websites I linked to in this post.)

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