Category: Expressionism

The Mystery of Van Gogh’s Madness

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The Mystery of Van Gogh's Madness

On a summer’s day in 1890, Vincent Van Gogh shot himself in a field outside Paris. What does the painting he worked on that morning tell us about his mental state?

On 27 July 1890, Vincent Van Gogh walked into a wheat field behind the chateau in the French village of Auvers-sur-Oise, a few miles north of Paris, and shot himself in the chest. For 18 months he had been suffering from mental illness, ever since he had sliced off his left ear with a razor one December night in 1888, while living in Arles in Provence.

In the aftermath of that notorious incident of self-harm, he continued to experience sporadic and debilitating attacks that left him confused or incoherent for days or weeks at a time. In between these breakdowns, though, he enjoyed spells of calmness and lucidity in which he was able to paint. Indeed, his time in Auvers, where he arrived in May 1890, after leaving a psychiatric institution just outside Saint-Remy-de-Provence, north-east of Arles, was the most productive period of his career: in 70 days, he finished 75 paintings and more than 100 drawings and sketches.

Despite this, though, he felt increasingly lonely and anxious, and became convinced that his life was a failure. Eventually, he got hold of a small revolver that belonged to the owner of his lodging house in Auvers. This was the weapon he took into the fields on that climactic Sunday afternoon in late July. However, the gun was only a pocket revolver, with limited firepower, and so when he pulled the trigger, the bullet ricocheted off a rib, and failed to pierce his heart. Van Gogh lost consciousness and collapsed. When evening fell, he came back round and looked for the pistol, in order to finish the job.

Unable to find it, he staggered back to the inn, where a doctor was summoned. So was Vincent’s loyal brother Theo, who arrived the next day. For a brief while, Theo believed that Vincent would rally. But in the end, though, nothing could be done – and, that night, the artist died, aged 37. “I didn’t leave his side until it was all over,” Theo wrote to his wife, Jo. “One of his last words was: ‘this is how I wanted to go’ and it took a few moments and then it was over and he found the peace he hadn’t been able to find on earth.”
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Abstract Art: An Universal Language

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Abstract Art: An Universal Language

Those who have followed the course of abstract art over the past 70 or 80 years will have been struck by its persistence. When the Cercle et Carré exhibition was held in April 1930, the Parisian press informed us that such painting was “the mere ghost of an experiment which we thought had died long ago,” and that “all this has nothing new to offer.” In 1955 the same outbursts of weariness and boredom, if not anger, can be heard at any exhibition of abstract art: “about time the joke was buried… same old bag of tricks… poor old public.”

Maybe. But things become entirely different if we are patient enough to take a closer look. Then we see that abstract art has never stopped adding to its range and means of expression, never faltered in its search for greater depth. If the ABC of this language was firmly established in the ‘heroic’ phase by Kandinsky, Mondrian, Delaunay and Malevitch, this does not mean that everything has been said in the same language.

The critics’ ignorance and the public’s sophisticated grumbling were unable to prevent it from branching out into the remotest corners of the western world, where it has won over intelligent collectors and gained a hold, even a considerable hold, in civic museums and galleries. Kandinsky and Mondrian, both of whom lived to a good age, thanks to their long working life were able to show their successors what a range of values can be drawn out of such simple elements; Kandinsky stressing inventiveness and Mondrian the importance of increasing depth.

The other movements or schools which sprang up in such great numbers all over the world in the past hundred years all enjoyed a much shorter span of life. At the moment of writing (1955), abstract painting has flourished for forty years and shows no signs of slackening vitality.

Those critics who began by encouraging it but who now pull a long face at some geometrical composition by Vasarely or some colour-composition by Riopelle, remind me of Zola when, throwing over his former Impressionist friends in 1896, he voiced his disillusionment in a notorious article in the Figaro which does not stand to his credit: “Not a single artist in this group,” wrote the author of L’Œuvre, “has succeeded in translating into paint, with the slightest power of finality, the new formula which is to be observed in snippets on their various canvases… They are all forerunners. The genius is yet to be born… They are all unequal to the task they have set themselves, they can’t talk, they stutter.” At the Jeu de Paume Museum (for example) we can now go and see exactly what stuttering meant. No oracle is needed to predict that fifty years hence some other Jeu de Paume will be showing an astonished public those masterpieces of abstract art that are being painted at the present time and which we are treating with contempt.

Written by: Ilyas Hizli

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Gabriella Benevolenza and Abstract Expressionism

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Gabriella Benevolenza - Horizon Bleue Art Print

Gabriella Benevolenza, a young woman of Italian-Finnish descent was born in Helsinki, Finland in July, 1968. She was raised in various countries finally settling in Alsace (France), where she lives and paints. She studied “Arts plastique” from 1992 – 1995. She is now a valued member of AIDA (Artistes Independent d’Alsace).

Always very “constructed”, her semi-abstract work is a search for transparancy and colour balance: light and the variations of adding different types of material. She uses plaster of paris, metal pigmented paints, various types of cloth, emery paper or printed collage material.

Gabriella Benevolenza

Gabriella Benevolenza always uses collages and sometimes a square stencil. She gives rythme to her paintings by using horinzontal and/or vertical lines. On a symbolised landscape, a horizontal division may suggest houses, a small harbor, bottles or a simple forms and colors harmony, that no title helps the viewer with orientation.

The artist, herself, often remarks that: “ I may not see anything”

The most important is not the title, but the harmony of the complete color palette : from warm colours to bright orange, smooth and delicate greys, astonishing beiges that illuminate a wide space. A red point may bring , in true freedom, the final touch.

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Jackson Pollock’s New York School of Painting

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Jackson Pollock's New York School of Painting

American Abstract Expressionist painter Jackson Pollock has long been recognized as a leading figure of this so-called “New York” school of painting. His fame skyrocketed after his death at age forty-four in a car crash on eastern Long Island. That gruesome death gave the Abstract Expressionist movement unprecedented public recognition, and conclusively transformed Pollock the man into Pollock the myth. But in doing so, it also obscured his specific achievements (and limitations) as a painter and thinker.

What link remains between the achievements of the early 20th century masters and the solutions proposed by those painters who have come of age (artistically speaking) and produced their maturest work since 1945? What is the relationship, for example, between Cubism and Action Painting? Or between Fauvism and French Abstract Impressionism? The words of Matisse quoted above point to the nature of this relationship, while the common denominator of all the investigations and experiments of 20th century art may be defined in the words of Mondrian.

“All modern art is distinguished by a relatively greater freedom from the oppression of the subject. Impressionism emphasized the impression of reality more than its representation. After the impressionists, all art shows a relative negation of nature’s aspects; the cubists delivered a further blow; the surrealists transformed it; the abstract artists excluded it.”

Freedom of expression, then, with respect to the subject, this is the commondenominator of art in our time, in our century. But this does not mean that the artist has ceased to express the shifting yet permanent sum of features and factors that go to make up the human situation in all its complexity. The fallacy of superficial detractors of non-figurative art is to suppose that it signifies a more or less complete abandonment of reality; on the contrary, it probes into reality more deeply than ever before.

This is as it should be. The artist cannot divorce himself from a state of society which, on the one hand, is profoundly disturbed by doubts and anxieties, but which, on the other, has achieved a great deal in the way of technical advances and social betterment. Why should painting reject new conceptions of time, space, matter and energy (and the new sensibility perforce bound up with those conceptions) when the other forms of artistic expression accept them?

Already in Proust we read of the painter Elstir, that his “effort to exhibit things, not as he knew them to be, but in accordance with those optical illusions of which our first glimpse of a thing is compounded, had led him to emphasize certain laws of perspective, thus rendered peculiarly striking, for his art was the first to disclose them.” And what is “le temps retrouvé” of the final volume of Proust’s masterwork, but a new dimension of the mind, a new sensibility, transcending the measurable, chronological lapse of years, days and hours? It is not for nothing that we find Proust writing in 1919 of “the great, the admirable Picasso.”

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Mirage by Salvador Dali

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Mirage by Salvador Dali

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Paul Klee and Abstract Expressionism

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Ad Marginem by Paul Klee

Paul Klee; 18 December 1879 – 29 June 1940) was born in Münchenbuchsee, Switzerland, and is considered both a Swiss painter and a German painter.[a] His highly individual style was influenced by movements in art that included expressionism, cubism, and surrealism. He was, as well, a student of orientalism.

Klee was a natural draftsman who experimented with and eventually mastered color theory, and wrote extensively about it; his lectures Writings on Form and Design Theory (Schriften zur Form und Gestaltungslehre), published in English as the Paul Klee Notebooks, are considered so important for modern art that they are compared to the importance that Leonardo da Vinci’s A Treatise on Painting had for Renaissance.

He and his colleague , the Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky, both taught at the German Bauhaus school of art, design and architecture. His works reflect his dry humour and his sometimes childlike perspective, his personal moods and beliefs, and his musicality.

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Fighting Forms Abstract Poster by Franz Marc

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Franz Marc - Fighting forms Poster
Franz Marc – Fighting forms Poster by Framed_Paintings
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Modern Abstract Art Poster - Rothko Style
Modern Abstract Art Poster – Rothko Style by made_in_atlantis
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Kandinsky Squares Concentric Circles Poster
Kandinsky Squares Concentric Circles Poster by made_in_atlantis
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Modern Red Abstract Painting Art Poster Print
Modern Red Abstract Painting Art Poster Print by made_in_atlantis
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Circles in Cirle Art Print by Kandinsky

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Kandinsky Circles in a Circle Painting Poster
Kandinsky Circles in a Circle Painting Poster by made_in_atlantis
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Circles in Cirle Art Print by Kandinsky
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Expressionism, Realism and Van Gogh

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The Night Cafe
Vincent Van Gogh
Giclee Print
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Expressionism, Realism and Van Gogh

For expressionism is not simply a way of seeing things: it is also a way of making them, of painting them. An expressionist does not paint “flat” and in pure tones–he breaks up his tones and applies them with a liberal brush. It is striking indeed to find in Rembrandt, Hals, and the Van Gogh of the Nuenen period, the same concern for realism, the same sense of light and feeling for expressive detail, combined with a use of impasto that is no less expressive.

In short, even the most detached and idealistic Dutch painters bear the mark of their national cultural traditions. Vermeer, however abstract, came under the infleunce of Caravaggio, that is to say, of realism; and, in our own time, Mondrian’s abstractions represent an unusual aesthetic puritanism with a social bias. And Rembrandt’s light is the spiritual expression of an observed reality–or at least of such elements of that reality as may be observed.
But such realism, however frank (as in Frans Hals), is not so much concerned to respect the real, the physical aspect of things, as to express it. And while Van Gogh, as a Dutch painter, was certainly deeply attached to reality, his almost religious deference for it was not divorced from painterly considerations.

Hence that arbitrary lighting, that no less arbitrary, dramatic and often caricatural distortion–in short, that rugged, uncouth expressionism in which there is nevertheless a glimmer of the total lyrical expression that would later be his. So it is that this essentially lyric painter began by painting the plebeian reality of his time, just as–he must have imagined–Rembrandt and Hals painted the bourgeois reality of theirs. The Head of an Old Peasant Woman, painted at Nuenen, and the hands of the Potato-Eaters thus echo in their crude, awkward way the Portrait of Margaretha Trip and the hands of the Regentessen.

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Abstract: Deep Waters Art Prints

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Deep Waters I
Jack Roth
Art Print
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Deep Waters II
Jack Roth
Art Print
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