Tag: Figurative Art
For the works of Pericles… were perfectly made in so short a time and have continued so long a season. For every one of those which were finished at that time seemed to them to be very ancient touching the beauty thereof, and yet for the grace and continuance of the same it looketh at this day as if it were but newly done and finished; there is such a certain kind of flourishing freshness in it, which telleth that the injury of time cannot impair the sight thereof. As if every one of those foresaid works had some living spirit in it to make it seem fresh and young and a soul that lived for ever which kept them in their good continuing state.”
The development of the acropolis of Athens from the time when it was a pre-Hellenic sanctuary onward is so well researched and so widely known that repetition seems superfluous. One glance at the map of the acropolis even in Periclean times proves the volume-consciousness and space-blindness of its builders, which resulted practically in visual isolation of the respective structures. It explains also the complete lack of any axial references.
The tremendous differences in level within the sacred area contributed further to its irregularity, and only in the last Hellenistic centuries were attempts made–mostly unsuccessfully–to overcome them to a certain degree.
The acropolis, the nucleus of early Greek towns, developed generally from a fortified place of refuge. The possibilities of an easy defense were decisive for its establishment. So it became gradually the seat of the dominant power and eventually a sacred area, where temples, monuments, and altars were located, as were in earlier times the palaces of the kings. The acropolis was walled, but never became part of the fortification of the settlement which stretched beneath it. Once the whole town had become walled, the acropolis gradually lost its importance for defense. During the earlier archaic centuries it also served as a gathering place, a function which it lost to the agora with the increasing growth of the town proper.
On the acropolis, temples and statues were located according to topographical conditions of the hill. Often the respect for the tradition of previous sanctuaries or temples, sometimes dating back to prehistoric times, determined the site of later structures. But notwithstanding the representative character of the acropolis and the importance of its sacred area, no kind of space-creating relationship between the individual buildings can be observed. From the beginning to the very end of Greek civilization we find at the acropolis the same lack of an organized overall plan that is evident at the great sanctuaries, such as Eleusis, Olympia, and Delphi.
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Impressionism was a 19th-century art movement that originated with a group of Paris-based artists whose independent exhibitions brought them to prominence during the 1870s and 1880s. The name of the style is derived from the title of a Claude Monet work, Impression, soleil levant (Impression, Sunrise), which provoked the critic Louis Leroy to coin the term in a satiric review published in the Parisian newspaper Le Charivari.
Characteristics of Impressionist paintings include relatively small, thin, yet visible brush strokes; open composition; emphasis on accurate depiction of light in its changing qualities (often accentuating the effects of the passage of time); common, ordinary subject matter; the inclusion of movement as a crucial element of human perception and experience; and unusual visual angles. The development of Impressionism in the visual arts was soon followed by analogous styles in other media which became known as Impressionist music and Impressionist literature.
The term “Impressionism” can also be used to describe art created in this style, but not during the late 19th century.
Born on October 31, 1883 in Paris, the young Marie Laurencin was sent to Sèvres by her mother in 1901, where she got familiar with porcelain painting. Her education continued at a school in Paris, followed by the Humbert academy, where Marie Laurencin got acquainted with Georges Braque. She soon met Picasso and Guillaume Apollinaire, who supported her from this time on and integrated her in discussions about art theory, which soon lead to Cubism.
The artist’s own creative work, however, remained untouched by such theoretical demands; it shows mainly lyrical motifs like graceful, dreamy young girls in pastel coloring and soft shading. This color-sensitive inventiveness leads to a variation of repetitions of form and motifs. The influence of Persian miniature painting and Rococo art are undeniable in Laurencin’s works.
In 1907 Marie Laurencin gave her debut at the “Salon des Indépendants,” followed by a large exhibition at Barbazanges’ in 1912 and at P. Rosenberg’s in 1920. From 1924 Laurencin also worked on designing stage sets. She produced stage design for Diaghilev’s “Ballets russe” and the set for the “Comédie Francaise” in 1928. She also illustrated books, such as André Gide’s “La Tentative Amoureuse” and Lewis Caroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.”
Renoir’s meeting with Diaz goes down as one of the turning points in Renoir’s career, to which must be added the revelation of Courbet and Manet. Everything points to an influence of Delacroix at this time, too, but his chief interest seems to have gone to Courbet first, then to Manet, who had just come into the limelight with an exhibition of modern painting at Martinet’s, and again with the famous Salon des Refusés held in 1863. Manet’s pictures, which had scandalized the public, made a deep impression both on the young group at Gleyre’s studio and on several of their fellow students at the Académie Suisse, Pissarro, Cézanne and Guillaumin. Now, too, Renoir and Cézanne met and became friends.
Turned down at the 1864 Salon, but accepted in 1865 with his Portrait of Madame W.S. and Summer Evening, Renoir sent in to the 1866 Salon a canvas whose pigment was slapped on with the palette knife after the manner of Courbet–Young Man walking his Dogs in the Forest of Fontainebleau (National Gallery of Art, Washington)–but it was refused. Painted in much the same manner, his Diana was refused at the 1867 Salon. But Renoir soon realized that this technique was not for him, and, painting his Lise, saw it accepted at the 1868 Salon.
In the contrast of the dark belt against the white dress, we see the influence of Manet–an influence on Renoir that never went deep, however–as we see it again in the Portrait of Sisley and his Wife, with the red and yellow striped dress and the grey trousers. But though our first glance at the subject and composition brings Manet to mind, very different from him indeed are the wellrounded modeling of forms and the juxtaposed passages of light and shadow. Closer to Courbet is the Bather with a Dog, accepted at the 1870 Salon along with Woman of Algiers (National Gallery, Washington), an odalisque with reminders of Delacroix not only in the theme, but also in the color-scheme.
It is a matter of considerable interest to see how different the landscapes of the early paintings are from the figures. Their treatment–as we see it in the Park of Saint-Cloud (1866) or the Champs-Elysées (1867)–is much more akin to Corot than to Courbet. In them, in fact, we find the first signs of Renoir’s trend towards Impressionism, already discernible, moreover, in the Park of Saint-Cloud and the ice-skating scenes of 1868 and 1869, and patent in the views of La Grenouillère, which date from the same years.
Of the three versions of the latter, those of the National Museum, Stockholm–painted from the same angle as Monet La Grenouillère in the Metropolitan Museum, New York–and the Reinhart Collection, Winterthur, are a prelude to the boating scenes at Argenteuil after 1870, by virtue of the landscape reflected in the rippling water in distinctly separate brushstrokes. Suggested by the subject itself, this style it was, very probably, that led to the coining of a term–the famous “comma” brushstroke–that summed up impressionist technique.
Quite different, strangely enough, are the Pont des Arts (1868), a very neat, clean-cut piece of work, and Lighters on the Seine, a canvas in which, on close inspection, we can detect a skillful medley of Corot and Jongkind, two of the forerunners of Impressionism. But the subdued light and the cloudy sky à la Jongkind have nothing of the nimble, fluttering touch of an impressionist picture, while the very freely schematized treatment à la Corot bears no hint of the division of tones.
The work of his predecessors had much to teach Renoir, but none of them can be said to have affected him decisively. Neither Courbet nor Manet left a lasting impress on his temperament, so different from theirs at bottom. As Renoir put it later on, he and his friends had looked to Manet “as the standard-bearer of the group, but only because his work was the first to get down to that simplicity we were all out to master.” And so it seems in retrospect today. As against the sleek, insipid productions of the official painters, the work first of Courbet, then of Manet, must have seemed to these young men like an inspiring hope of salvation, with its directness, its disdain of any artifice, as fresh and clean as official art was bogged down with superannuated dogma. Even so, Manet had only been a stepping-stone; each of them was to go much farther along the path his own temperament dictated.
The Franco-Prussian War of 1870 now scattered the group momentarily. Manet, Degas and Bazille volunteered or were called up, while Monet and Pissarro took refuge in England, as did Sisley, too, who was a British subject. Disregarding his calling-up orders, Cézanne slipped away to L’Estaque on the sly. Renoir, apparently shrugging his shoulders and leaving things to fate, politely turned down General Douay’s offer of protection and found himself shipped off to Bordeaux, comfortably remote from the front. There he painted portraits of his company commander, Darras, and his wife.
After the capitulation, he spent two idyllic months of family life in a neighboring chateau, where he gave painting lessons to his friends’ pretty daughter, was attended like a king, and spent his time horseback riding. His friends were reluctant to let him go for fear he would come to harm in the fighting that had broken out again. But he finally got away, and was soon dividing his time between Paris and his mother’s house at Louveciennes, though in the hectic days of the Commune he ran considerable risk in doing so. In later years he liked to reminisce about his experiences in these eventful days.
Always the Same Draperies and the Same Virgins!
After such a profession of faith as this, how is it possible to contend that Renoir was heedless or disdainful of all elevated thought? With Cézanne and Van Gogh he knew full well what our modern world lacks, — a sense of the Divine.
To this matter he returns in the preface to Cennino Cennini’s Livre de l’Art, where he explains that the general value of ancient art resides in «that something which has disappeared — religious feeling, the most fruitful source of their inspiration (i. e., — Cennini’s contemporaries). It is that which gives all their works that character of nobility and candour, at one and the same time, and in which we find so much charm…
To sum up everything,» he continues, «there then existed between men and the environment in which they moved a harmony born of a common belief… After this one can understand the cause of the general progress in art and of its unity wherever a lofty religious conception holds sway… So much so that one may almost say that, when these fundamental principles are lacking, Art cannot exist».
Do not these words justify us in saying that the crisis through which Renoir passed was not merely a technical one, but spiritual, philosophical, anti-rationalist, — a crisis of the soul? His desire was «to be touched by grace», so that his mind might receive the god which would animate it. But Renoir did not lose himself on those heights. Raphael’s Venus, — she «who comes to supplicate Jupiter», made the same impression upon him as «a good fat gossip on her way back to the kitchen», and he was quite of Stendhal’s opinion, that Raphael’s women are commonplace and heavy.
However, when in Florence, La Vierge à la Chaise caused him deep emotion. «I went to see this picture intending to have a good laugh,» he related to M. Vollard. «But behold! I found myself in front of the most free, most solid, most marvellously simple and living piece of painting it is possible to imagine, — a picture with arms and legs of real flesh, and how touching an expression of maternal tenderness! »
Renoir became somewhat rapidly tired with the painting of the Renaissance. « Always the same draperies and the same Virgins! » And he proceeded to Naples for a rest. The art of Pompeii and that of the Egyptians delighted him. He found there Corot’s « simplicity of work » and even his silver-grey colour. Face to face with that art he came to understand form and volume; there was no atmosphere, no subtle play of light, no expression of matter; form was wholly created by the relationship between the tones, whilst volume was suggested by modelling and passing touches.
He also took a lesson in pictorial technique which a chance discovery soon developed. For a time it was the technique of fresco-painting which above all occupied his thoughts, and he would no longer work save with red and yellow ochre, green and black terra. On returning to France he painted, after that fashion, at the house of M. Bérard, at Wargemont, two decorations inspired by hunting scenes. Then, one day, in 1883, he chanced to discover in a book-box on the quays a copy of the Traité de la Peinture de Cennino Cennini, mis en lumière pour la première fois avec des notes par le Chev. J. Tamboni. Traduit par V. M., Paris et Lille, 1858. The translator was one of Ingres’ pupils — Victor Mottez.
Thirty years later, at the request of this painter’s son, Renoir consented to write a preface to a new edition of the book. When in Rome, Renoir had become greatly interested in the technique of fresco-painting in oils. Now, Cennino Cennini’s book revealed to him the methods of the painters of the XVth century, — methods which Mottez had put into practice at Saint-Sulpice, Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois, and Saint-Séverin. So we see Renoir launched in the direction of pictorial science, and, a passionate beginner in the painting of frescoes, he disdained oils, ignoring, as he himself related later, « the elementary truth that oil-painting must be done with oil».
Like Delacroix and Cézanne, he became anxious as regards the preservation of his materials and sought to prevent their turning black. Doubtless he foresaw that future deficiency in the case of impressionism. The hatred which suddenly took possession of him against impressionism was largely due to its ephemeral character. « The palette of the painters of to-day, » he said, « has remained the same as that of the painters of Pompeii, via Poussin, Corot, and Cézanne, — I mean to say that it has not become enriched… Happy ancients! » he exclaimed on another occasion, — « since they knew the use of only ochres and browns. »
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Tanya Chalkin is a celebrity portrait photographer and image maker based in London.
Tanya’s love of photography began at a very early age when she travelled the world with her parents, snapping the exciting cultures & locations they found themselves in. With her passion fuelled, she went on to study a Foundation Course at Chelsea College Of Art and Design and gain her BA (Hons) in Photography at The London College Of Printing.
She has shot major fashion and editorial portraits for publications such as Dazed & Confused, British Esquire, The Face, Arena Hommes Plus, Attitude, FHM Collections, FHM, The Guardian Weekend Magazine, The Evening Standard and The Independent.
Tanya’s unique eye for shooting portrait photography has given her the opportunity to photograph such talent as Jamie Dornan, Professor Green, Katherine Jenkins, Diane Von Furstenberg, Isabella Blow. Mary Portas, Jamie Cullum, Suzy Menkes, Nadav Kander, Rory Mcilroy, Tomas Berdych, Tom Aikens, Darcey Bussell, Dawn French.
Her commercial Clients include PETA , Triumph Motorcycles, Universal Music, Warner Records, Universal Pictures, BBC, Telecoms giant ZTE, LOCOG (London 2012 Olympic Games).
As well as her editorial work, Tanya is also a creator of many top selling photographic merchandising images. Her image KISS is an iconic, global, top selling poster and several of her London-scape images were selected by LOCOG as official merchandising posters for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Tanya lives in London where she can be found daily in the city’s parks & hills walking her dog Romeo.