Art Discussion 8.1

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  1. Vincent Van Gogh
    Camille Roulin (a postmans son) 1888

    20" x 13"

    • The likeness of the boy himself is representational, but the color is not. Van
    • Gogh has altered the actual color for expressive purposes, making it abstract.
    • The painting could be seen as either representational or abstract, depending on
    • which aspect of the painting one emphasizes
  2. Rembrandt
    Detail of Self Portrait

    • All contemporary artists understand the fact of a
    • continuum between representational, abstract and nonobjective art. Painters
    • working in a representational style know that if one was to look closely at even
    • a tightly rendered representational image, one would see areas that, if greatly
    • enlarged, would resemble nonobjective paintings. Rembrandt would certainly have
    • understood the essentially abstract, or even nonobjective nature of creating
    • realistic illusions on canvas -- even if he could not conceive of a purely
    • nonobjective painting at that time in history.
  3. Piet Mondrian
    Self Portrait 1912
    x 18" Charcoal

    • Now, this unfriendly looking fellow
    • is Piet Mondrian (Dutch 1872-1944). In the photo from 1932, Mondrain, at the age
    • of sixty, glares out at the world with an expression of strict disapproval that
    • I call the look of the stern schoolmaster. He has some correct principles to
    • teach us, and he is not up for a debate. Even twenty years earlier, he looks
    • over his shoulder rather disdainfully at the fools he has to suffer (you and me)
    • as he reorders the world in his art. But before you run away from the man, let
    • us take a look at his ideas and his art.
    • Mondrian was essentially an artist
    • of both intellect and spirituality. Those may seem to be qualities that work at
    • cross-purposes, but, for Mondrian, the two worked together to create his art. He
    • was, I think, a very idealistic artist, one who was interested in a very pure,
    • and truthful, vision.
  4. Piet Mondrian
    c. 1908

    Piet Mondrian
    House on the Grein 1900
    17" x 13"10" x 6" Charcoal

    • Piet Mondrian, like all artists of
    • his day, was traditionally trained to create representational art. When he began
    • his career as an artist, Mondrian produced some beautiful drawings, in
    • particular of Chrysanthemum flowers, and paintings of landscapes along the
    • rivers of Holland. In
    • House on the Grein, the technique, in this small painting, is a bit loose
    • (painted rather quickly by Mondrian along the riverbank), but it is still quite
    • representational. You can see the shape of the house reflected in the water,
    • creating a kind of diamond shape of the house and reflection together. Keep this
    • shape in mind; it will come back to Mondrian at the end of his life.
  5. Piet Mondrian
    Windmill in Sunlight 1908

    45" x 35"

    • After a few years, Mondrian began
    • to branch out from his traditional training to experiment with more abstract
    • styles, which were new at the time. Here, he takes the color experiments of his
    • fellow countryman, Vincent Van Gogh, a step farther to create a vivid and wildly
    • colorful painting of the popular symbol of Holland.
  6. Piet Mondrian
    The Red Tree 1908

    Vincent Van Gogh
    Peach Tree in Blossom
    30" x 24"

    x 39"

    • Van Gogh was clearly an influence
    • on Mondrian, and you can see it, again, in his painting, The Red Tree,
    • also from 1908. Mondrian has changed Van Gogh’s peach tree into a crabapple
    • tree, with its gnarled trunk and twisting branches. The outline of the tree
    • seems true to life, but, of course, the red color of the tree, and the intense
    • blue color of the background, is abstract.
  7. Piet Mondrian
    The Red Tree 1908
    Piet Mondrian
    Tree 1909/10
    x 39"

    • I’m going to show you a series of
    • paintings that Mondrian created around the subject of the tree. In this series,
    • you will see Mondrian move from representational to abstract art, and then, as
    • the image of the tree dissolves, into nonobjective art. As you will see from the
    • dates of the paintings, the transition takes years, but I am going to show only
    • a few of the many paintings Mondrian painted throughout the entire span of time.
    • Mondrian looked at Nature and saw
    • an idea. His spiritual feelings led him to want to find the key to the
    • organization of the natural world. His intellect led him to locate that
    • organization in the human creation of mathematics and geometry. What Mondrian
    • wanted to do was give visual expression to his belief in a pure, simple,
    • essential geometry of form. But this was a vision that had to evolve over time;
    • it did not come to him in just one moment of insight. Mondrian used the image of
    • the tree as a catalyst to help him get to the visual ideas he wanted to create
  8. Piet Mondrian
    Tree 1910/11
    Piet Mondrian
    The Horizontal Tree

    • In 1911, Mondrian made this
    • painting, known as The Horizontal Tree. In it, you can see the beginning
    • of his move toward abstraction. When Mondrian looked at the tree, he saw not
    • only the branches, but also the spaces in between. To him, it seemed like the
    • branches and spaces formed a kind of natural, irregular grid. To this natural
    • grid, he began to overlay a geometric grid. If you look carefully, you can see
    • indications of the vertical and horizontal parallel lines of the grid intermixed
    • with the branches of the tree.
    • Now, Mondrian wasn’t crazy; he
    • wasn’t having some kind of hallucination. He was expressing his emerging ideas
    • about art and order and nature in a visual way. I believe that if Mondrian had
    • taken another path, he might have been a theoretical physicist. That was how his
    • mind operated. There was both the abstract idea and the real world observation.
    • Like a scientist, he used his intuition, combined with a rigorous and logical
    • procedure, to arrive at his solution to the problem. As a physicist, he might
    • have expressed his thoughts in a series of mathematical equations, but as an
    • artist, he expressed his ideas visually.
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Art Discussion 8.1
2011-10-23 19:47:56

Art Exam 2
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