Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Art and Society

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Art and Society


Each one of the artists I will discus have very different and individual styles. No artist will draw the human figure the same and there is no correct way of drawing the human figure either. An artist develops his/her style through imagination, feelings, or past experiences e.g. WWI and WWII. Over time styles change and a new way of drawing is discovered. Matisse, Picasso and Moore are my favourite three artists and all differ in their drawings of the human figure.

Henri Moore

Henri Moore was born in Castleford Yorkshire, on July 30, 1898. He was the unlucky son of a coal miner, and many of his works were based on this setting, with portraits of miners and so on. He was discharged from the army in 1917 and began to realize his childhood ambition of being a sculptor was finally going to possibly come true.

Moore was a sculptor that did not follow the rules very well. He created large-scale works in an abstract and biomorphic form. Moore loved the close examination of natural forms, such as direct carving of in wood and stone, and the doctrine of truth to materials. He is highly considered as one of the greatest sculptors of the 20th century.

Moores early figure drawings were influenced by the contemporary abstract figurative art of the school of Paris and by archaic Greek, Etruscan, African, and Pre-Columbian. Many of his works are somewhat the same basic figure as an ancient Toltec-Maya reclining figure.

Moores work was influenced in the 1930s by Picassos surrealistic Bone Period. Moore demonstrates this in Reclining Figure. It shows how Moore can be easily recognized by his tendency to cut bodily forms in two, three, or four sections, so that they remain separate but united. His early works gained him the ardent support of the critic Herbert Read.

Moores first carvings were all reclining figures mostly made in elm wood. Moore was known to be true to his materials. This meant that he used all natural materials that looked like natural materials when the work was finished. None of his works looked falsified this way.

His later career took off during WWII. His famous Family Group was made during this period. London inhabitants hiding from German air raids inspired it. And the general colour and dark tone of the piece resembles war in a way.

He went on to try to re-establish his finances after his studio was bombed during WWII. He worked again with the elm wood to produce the now famous Double Standing Figure. This put him back on his feet. He then made the infamous Internal and External Forms- this elm wood production represented the artists continuing attempts to deal with interlocking figures and the intricate combination of masses and shapes.

Henri Matisse

Matisse, 1869-1954, and the first hydrogen bomb exploded at Bikini Atoll. Not only did Matisse live on but he lived through some of the most traumatic political events in recorded history, the worst wars, the greatest slaughters, the most demented rivalries of ideology, without, it seems, turning a hair. Matisse never made a didactic painting or signed a manifesto, and there is scarcely one reference to a political event, let alone an expression of political opinion to be found anywhere in his writings.

In 1905 Matisse went south again, to work with Andre Derain in the little coastal town of Collioure. At this point, his colour broke free. Just how free it became can be seen in The Open Window, Collioure, 1905. It is the first of the views through a window that would recur as a favorite Matisse theme.

The new Matisses, seen in the autumn of 1905, were very shocking indeed. Critics thought them to be barbaric and were very sinicle of the style. Particularly offensive was his use of this discordant colour in the familiar form of the salon portrait - even though the victim was his wife, posing in her best Edwardian hat. There was some truth, if a very limited truth, to the cries of barbarism. Time and again, Matisse set down an image of a pre-civilized world.

These paintings look almost prehistoric and caveman like. The figures certainly look as if they are based on the caveman. The circular motion of the dancers gives a good description to the viewer of the type of dance and free movement of the men.

Matisse is said to have got the idea for it in Collioure in 1905, watching some fishermen and peasants on the beach in a circular dance called a sardana. But the sardana is a stately measure, and The Dance is more intense. That circle of stamping, twisting maenads takes you back down the line, to the red-figure vases of Mediterranean antiquity and, beyond them, to the caves. It tries to represent motions as ancient as dance itself.

Pablo Picasso

Picasso’s Blue Period dates from 1901 to 1904 and is characterized by a predominantly blue palette and subjects focusing on outcasts, beggars, and prostitutes. This was when Picasso also produced his first sculptures. The most poignant work of the style is in Clevelands Museum of Art, La Vie, which was created in memory of a great childhood friend, the Spanish poet Casagemas, who had committed suicide. The painting started as a self-portrait, but Picassos features became those of his lost friend.

The composition is stilted, the space compressed, the gestures stiff, and the tones predominantly blue. Another outstanding Blue Period work of 1903 is The Blind Man's Meal. Yet another example, perhaps the most lyrical and mysterious ever, is in the Toledo Museum of Art, the haunting Woman with a Crow. One of the ones I like is a self-portrait of him holding a pallet. It goes to show that the human figure does not have to be one hundred percent accurate like a landscape but can be drawn in the artist’s own style. This is what Picasso has done here, particularly in The Blue Period.

Self-Portrait with Palette Paris, autumn 1906. Oil on canvas. Picasso was poised to begin a new phase in his career. It would start with the invention of Cubism, a style whose radical abstraction, fracturing of form, and restructuring of pictorial space revolutionized Western painting.

La Toilette Gósol, summer 1906. Oil on canvas. Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, Fellows for Life Fund, 1906. A movement toward classicism among artists in both France and Spain, supplemented by visits to the Greek and Roman galleries of the Louvre, inspired a shift in Picassos figurative style. The figures are rigid and heavy recalling figures from Egyptian and Archaic Greek art. Together they represent ancient ideals of beauty, dual styles Picasso sought to synthesize during the summer of 1906. This painting uses a lot of soft colours. The figures are done in the same style as those from the Blue Period but the atmosphere around the figures is not so gloomy. More reds and pinks are used and this is common to Picasso’s Rose Period.

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