Category: Great Painters
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Modern Art – art created from the 19th cent. to the mid-20th cent. by artists who veered away from the traditional concepts and techniques of painting, sculpture, and other fine arts that had been practiced since the Renaissance (see Renaissance art and architecture). Nearly every phase of modern art was initially greeted by the public with ridicule, but as the shock wore off, the various movements settled into history, influencing and inspiring new generations of artists.
Origins of Modern Art
In the second half of the 19th cent. painters began to revolt against the classic codes of composition, careful execution, harmonious coloring, and heroic subject matter. Patronage by the church and state sharply declined at the same time that artists’ views became more independent and subjective. Such artists as Courbet, Corot and others of the Barbizon School, Manet, Degas, and Toulouse-Lautrec chose to paint scenes of ordinary daily and nocturnal life that often offended the sense of decorum of their contemporaries.
Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564), Italian sculptor, painter, architect, and poet, b. Caprese, Tuscany.
Early Life and Work
Michelangelo drew extensively as a child, and his father placed him under the tutelage of Ghirlandaio, a respected artist of the day. After one unproductive year, Michelangelo became the student of Bertoldo di Giovanni, a sculptor employed by the Medici family. From 1490 to 1492, Michelangelo lived with the Medicis; during this time he learned from such philosophers as Ficino, Landino, Poliziano, and Savonarola.
Although Michelangelo claimed that he was self-taught, one might perceive in his work the influence of such artists as Leonardo, Giotto, and Poliziano. He learned to paint and sculpt more by observation than by tutelage. Michelangelo was known to be extremely sensitive, and he combined an excess of energy with an excess of talent.
Michelangelo’s earliest sculpture was made in the Medici garden near the church of San Lorenzo; his Bacchus and Sleeping Cupid both show the results of careful observation of the classical sculptures located in the garden. His later Battle of the Lapiths and Centaurs and Madonna of the Stairs reflect his growing interest in his contemporaries. Throughout Michelangelo’s sculpted work one finds both a sensitivity to mass and a command of unmanageable chunks of marble. His Pietà places the body of Jesus in the lap of the Virgin Mother; the artist’s force and majestic style are balanced by the sadness and humility in Mary’s gaze.
art prints, collections, Edgar Degas, figurative, french realism, giclee print, Impressionism, portrait of a young woman, portraits, realism
Francisco Goya (1746–1828) is a Spanish painter and graphic artist. Goya is generally conceded to be the greatest painter of his era.
After studying in Zaragoza and Madrid and then in Rome, Goya returned c.1775 to Madrid and married Josefa Bayeu, sister of Francisco Bayeu, a prominent painter. Soon after his return he was employed to paint several series of tapestry designs for the royal manufactory of Santa Barbara, which focused attention on his talent. Depicting scenes of everyday life, they are painted with rococo freedom, gaiety, and charm, enhanced by a certain earthy reality unusual in such cartoons. In these early works he revealed the candor of observation that was later to make him the most graphic and savage of satirists.
Goya possessed a driving ambition throughout his life (the only masters he acknowledged were “Nature,” Velázquez, and Rembrandt). His first important portrait commission, to paint Floridablanca, the prime minister, resulted in a painting intended to flatter and please an important sitter, heavy with technical display but less penetrating than the portraits he made of the rich and powerful thereafter. He became painter to the king, Charles III, in 1786, and court painter in 1789, after the accession of Charles IV and Maria Luisa. His royal portraits are painted with an extraordinary realism. Nevertheless, his portraits were acceptable and he was commissioned to repeat them.
Later Life and Mature Work
In 1793 Goya suffered a terrible illness, now thought to have been either labyrinthitis or lead poisoning, that was nearly fatal and left him deaf. This created for him an even greater isolation than was his by nature. After 1793 he began to create uncommissioned works, particularly small cabinet paintings. His portraits of the duchess of Alba, who enjoyed the painter’s close friendship and love, are elegant and direct and not flattering. Almost all the notables of Madrid posed for him during those years. Two of his most celebrated paintings, Maja nude and Maja clothed (both: Prado), were painted c.1797–1805. Goya did his chief religious work in 1798, creating a monumental set of dramatic frescoes in the Church of San Antonio de la Florida, Madrid.
It is in the etching and aquatint media that his profound disillusionment with humanity is most brutally revealed. In 1799 his Caprichos appeared, a series of etchings in the nature of grotesque social satire. They were followed (1810–13) by the terrible Desastres de la guerra [disasters of war], magnificent etchings suggested by the Napoleonic invasions of Spain. They constitute an indictment of human evil and an outrage at a world given over to war and corruption. Two frenzied paintings known as May 2 and May 3, 1808 (both: Prado) also record atrocities of war.
Goya executed two other series of etchings, the Tauromaquia [the bullfight] and the Disparates, the flowers of a tortured, nightmare vision. Throughout the Napoleonic period Goya retained favor under changing regimes. At the age of 70 he retired to his villa, where he is thought to have decorated his walls with a series of “Black Paintings” of macabre subjects, such as Saturn Devouring His Children, Witches’ Sabbath, The Dog and The Three Fates (all: Prado). While these mysterious paintings have long been among his most celebrated works, some controversial recent scholarship has indicated that the paintings may be by Goya’s son or grandson. Goya’s last years, harried by further illness, were spent in voluntary exile in Bordeaux, where he began work in lithography that foreshadowed the style of the great 19th-century painters.
All phases of Goya’s enormous and varied production can be appreciated fully only in Madrid. However, the artist’s work is also represented in many European and American collections, notably in the Hispanic Society of America, the Metropolitan Museum, and the Frick Collection, all in New York City, and in the museums of Boston and Chicago.
Expressionism is a term used to describe works of art and literature in which the representation of reality is distorted to communicate an inner vision. The expressionist transforms nature rather than imitates it.
In painting and the graphic arts, certain movements such as the Brücke (1905), Blaue Reiter (1911), and new objectivity (1920s) are described as expressionist. In a broader sense the term also applies to certain artists who worked independent of recognized schools or movements, e.g., Rouault, Soutine, and Vlaminck in France and Kokoschka and Schiele in Austria—all of whom made aggressively executed, personal, and often visionary paintings. Gauguin, Ensor, Van Gogh, and Munch were the spiritual fathers of the 20th-century expressionist movements, and certain earlier artists, notably El Greco, Grünewald, and Goya exhibit striking parallels to modern expressionistic sensibility. See articles on individuals, e.g., Ensor.