Wells

How to Look at Great Art-Tools for 28-30

How to Look at and Understand Great Art - Tools from Lectures 28-30

Lecture 28: Revolutions - Neoclassicism and Romanticism (10.06.2019)

How to recognise Neoclassical art:
⦁ It has similarities with classical and Renaissance art.
⦁ The subjects are simple yet noble, stressing stoicism and morality.
⦁ It rejects Rococo sensuousness and frivolity.
⦁ The lines are organized around horizontals and verticals.
⦁ The compositions are closed and highly ordered.
⦁ The space is restricted, with a shallow foreground, action in the middle ground, and limited or no background.
⦁ Shapes are outlined with thin, sharp, clear lines.
⦁ The palette contains highly saturated primary colors or monochromatic brown.

Ask yourself:
⦁ How do subject choice, directions of line, composition, and use of color distinguish this work from Rococo art? From Romantic art?

How to recognize Romantic art:
⦁ It has many similarities with Baroque art.
⦁ Subjects express extremes and high drama or an escape into nature, exotic worlds, or an idealized past.
⦁ Its emphasis is on emotion and spirituality, rejecting Neoclassical forms as overly mechanical and unfeeling.
⦁ The lines are organized in diagonal and swirling directions.
⦁ Compositions are open, complicated by multiple figures, objects, and spaces.
⦁ Light and color show strong contrasts.
⦁ Landscapes are favored as a vehicle for the expression of emotion.

Ask yourself:
⦁ How do subject choice, directions of line, composition, and use of color distinguish this work from Rococo art? From Neoclassical art?

Lecture 29: From Realism to Impressionism (10.06.2019)

How to recognize Realism:
⦁ Scenes are from contemporary life, although religious subjects and landscapes sometimes appear.
⦁ The theme is often didactic, intended to teach a lesson about the ills of contemporary society.
⦁ They are easy to understand; honesty and sincerity toward the subject are highly valued.
⦁ The head-on point of view further reflects honesty.
⦁ The color palette is often drab and earth toned, the application of paint flat.
⦁ Baroque-style drama is absent.

Ask yourself:
⦁ How do subject choice, use of color, point of view, and lack of drama distinguish this work from Neoclassical art? From Romantic art?

How to recognize Impressionism:
⦁ Contemporary social life of a middle class in the cities and suburbs, usually at leisure, is the main subject.
⦁ The composition implies a glimpse or fleeting impression of a scene.
⦁ Painters experimented with varying elements such as light and viewpoint.
⦁ Painters had a fascination with the effects of light and color.
⦁ Painters observed nature in natural light; ther are no blacks and no chiaroscuro shading.
⦁ Figures and objects have no outlines; contrast of color and value create shapes instead.
⦁ Compositions are cropped: partial figures, unusual points of view above or below the scene, awkward poses suggesting imminent movement.
⦁ Paint is applied in short dabs of color.

Ask yourself:
⦁ How do subject choice, use of light and color, point of view, and application of paint distinguish this work from earlier Realist art?

Lecture 30: Postimpressionism - Form and Content Re-Viewed (10.06.2019)

How to recognize Postimpressionism:
⦁ We can no longer identify a work's period by its style. Welcome to modern art!
⦁ It is a reaction to the two losses of Impressionism: 1) the illusion of form in space, and 2) significant content.
⦁ It uses complementary and analogous colors to produce psychological effects, rather than descriptive color.
⦁ As in the work of Seurat, brushwork may be pointillist, attempting firmer contours through an almost scientific approach to application of color. Pointillism is the only easy-to-identify style of Postimpressionism.
⦁ As in the work of Cezanne, paint may be applied in solid blocks or patches of color; we may see black shadows and even outlines. The effect is two-dimensional up close, but three-dimensional when viewed from afar. The artist may manipulate linear and atmospheric perspectives or offer multiple points of view in the same image.
⦁ The work may be Symbolist, using symbols to address universal truths or philosophical or spiritual ideas, often using some abstract elements to lead a viewer away from a traditional, illusionistic reading of the work.

Ask yourself:
⦁ How do subject choice, use of line and color, and application of paint distinguish this work from Impressionism?