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Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

One of my favorite artists is Claude Monet. According to Wikipedia, Monet created almost 1100 paintings over a period of near on 70 years. Yesterday I looked at Van Gogh and showed a timeline of his work. This prompted me to look at Monet whose work I admire in order to show the productivity of a prolific yet more “normal” artist.

BTW, I came across an amazing site of Monet work with images of almost 500 of his paintings, listing alphabetically and by series. Well worth a visit.

monettimeline1The result is the graph you see on the right (click to enlarge). While Van Gogh was a “painting a day” man, completing very large works in a day or two, Monet certainly took his time. In his most productive years (the 1880s and 90s) he was averaging a painting every week or so. In his later years he would take several years to complete a painting, although I can’t imagine that this was all he was doing. For example 1900-01 he was working on a lot of work in parallel which I have included all under 1901 and if we were to assume that between 1914 and his death in 1926 he was working in parallel and average it out we get to 13 works a year, which seems more reasonable for an aging man with failing sight.

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Reading about the renewed interest over Vincent Van Gogh’s ear and how part of it got severed from his body, I was reminded of a piece I wrote last year about Vincent Van Gogh. I was writing about the incredible number of paintings he did in the short time that he was creating until his early death at the age of 37. All of his work was done over a period of ten years. All in all he painted over 800 paintings anywhere between that many or 50% more drawings, depending who you believe.

vangoghTaking the chronology of his works that I linked above, a small amount of data-cleansing (whenever the date was spread over two years, took the latter e.g. 1885-86 becomes 1886), and some basic annotation I got to this timeline graph (click to enlarge). 

Exactly what it was that was driving him is unclear to this day. One of the leading theories is bi-polar disorder which would explain the periods of manic activity followed by deep dispare. I was discussing this recently with a friend who is a lecturer in psychology who said that the manic phases were exceptionally long and intense.

What is amazing is the result. In Arles (February 1888 – May 1889) he created over 200 pieces in 15 months of which he sold none. He was commited / committed himself to a mental institution at St Rémy in May 1889. While in the hospital he did another 150 paintings over the course of a year.  After leaving the hospital in May 1890 he went on to create another 70 paintings in as many days before killing himself in July 1890. What I was surprised to see was that back in 1885 he painted over 140 paintings, before moving to Paris. This is when he did some of his famous “dark” paintings of peasant life like the The Potato Eaters.

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Sheep art

Amazing! I’m speechless… or maybe sheepless.

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Photoshop art

Ancient artist wrote a piece about technologically created art and mused on the subject of whether this is art. I have touched on this subject in the past, where my discussion was more on the subject of whether an artist can sub-contract others to do his artwork. This is a similar discussion because it would appear that the computer is a sub-contractor to the artist who isn’t creating the art himself.

However I would hold that the computer is a tool not a surrogate creator.

I think that technologically generated art is art as long as it is made clear to the viewer what it is and what it isn’t. Passing off a computer generated image as a hand crafted one is fraud, but if photography is an art form then Photoshop must definitely be a valid tool as well.

I think that we need to separate between artistic merit and craftsmanship. A high level of craftsmanship can make a building, a machine or a painting a work of art. However can an item of little or no craftsmanship be art? On this hinges the question. Duchamp and his successors would say that art is an intention not a physical attribute of the object. I would hold that there must be a physical manifestation of the intent, because without that what can I see of the art? If you want to craft intentions and ideas, make philosophy not art.

So I think that the issue here is that the tools used by the artist need to be made clear in order that the level of craftsmanship in the piece not be mis-interpreted by someone who imagines that it was hand crafted.  Photography and computer manipulation of images can be done skillfully and those works are art. However like a family snapshot album is not generally art, similarly thoughtless, routine and mundane computer edited images are just that and not art.

You might want to giclee print it on canvas and hang it on your wall because it is decorative, but you might do that with many other things that are not art either.

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More progress last night. Again a crappy picture because my camera is in for repair. The picture is shapping up well and I am quite happy with the progress.

A few technical details. I started on an underpaint of cadmium yellow light (I bought cadmium yellow instead of azo yellow by mistake but they match pretty well). I then started blocking in with dilute phthalo blue and titanium white. Against all the rules I use “opaque” titanium white for glazing… Last night I added some ochre into the distance, some burnt umber and started using olive green for the mid-ground trees.

Now I need to concentrate a bit more on the right hand side and then continue working forward. As we get closer the colors are going to getting darker and stronger with probably some black mixed into the green of the trees for emphasis.

The big challenge here is keeping the gradation of the distance, the light and the mistiness. All an interesting challenge.

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Forget the £41M. It’s just beautiful.

“Le bassin aux nymphéas”, 1919, Claude Monet.

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Taken from the opening passage of “First Diasporist Manifesto” by R. B. Kitaj:

“Diasporist painting is unfolding commentary on its life-source, the contemplation of a transience, a Midrash (exposition, exegesis of non-literal meaning) in paint and somehow, collected, these paintings, these circumstantial allusions, form themselves into secular Responsa or reactions to one’s transient restlessness, un-at-homeness, groundlessness.”

I haven’t read the book, so I am not familiar with his term “diasporist painting”. What I liked was the allusion between painting and midrash. Something to think about.

Another quote also from the Diasporist Manifesto, that I saw in another article that made me go look up stuff about Kitaj:

“Painting is a great idea I carry from place to place. It is an idea full of ideas, like a refugee’s suitcase, a portable Ark of the Covenant.”

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