Sunday, May 15, 2011

Art and Artists

Franz Ludwig Catel, "A View of Naples Through a Window"
I had a great visit to Manhattan last week with an artist friend of mine. Carol suggested a couple of different exhibits we could see. One was a show at the Metropolitan called "Rooms With a View," featuring works from the Romantic period of European painting circa 1810-1820.
Adolph Menzel, "The Artist's Bedroom in Ritterstrasse"
Each painting (or drawing) depicts a portion of a simply outfitted room interior, composed so that a window - and the view beyond it - is featured. These are generally lovely, luminous works, combining rigid draftsmanship with elegant brushwork.
   Georg Friedrich Kersting, "In Front of the Mirror"
I love everything about this type of painting: the juxtaposition of  the hard architectural, elements of a space with the organic forms of flora and fauna beyond, and in some cases within the room; the vivid contrast of light flowing in the window and the subdued shadows and washes of a spare interior; the sharp focus of the foreground vs.the softened, faded distance.
Georg Friedrich Kersting, "Woman Embroidering"
Léon Cogniet, "The Artist in His Room at the Villa Medici, Rome"
 I realized as I walked through the exhibit that this is not a new affinity for me. I had a trio of prints by the artist Johannes Vermeer framed and mounted in the dining room of my last apartment in Old Brookville.
Johannes Vermeer of Delft, "Milk Maid"
One of my favorite painters, this 17th century Dutch master was highly acclaimed for his sophisticated use of color layering, expensive, rare pigments and - especially - the lighting effects he employed to achieve exceptionally complex and delicate modeling.
Johannes Vermeer of Delft, "Lady Writing a Letter With her Maid"
Johannes Vermeer of Delft, "The Girl With a Pearl Earring"
I remember being captivated by a similar effect evident in the work of another artist when visiting Europe some years back. I was unfamiliar with Georges de La Tour until I saw his "Education of the Girl Mary" in, I believe, The Tate Gallery in London.
Georges de La Tour, "Education of the Girl Mary"
 Like most of de La Tour's works, the drama of the scene is achieved by a strong focused light source, usually a solitary flame.
Georges de La Tour, "Magdalene With the Smoking Flame"
Mary Magdalene was a favorite subject for de La Tour but the divine quality of his illuminating technique brings all his paintings to life. 
Georges de La Tour, "Christ in the Carpenter's Shop"
When I met Pam Ingalls, exhibiting at a craft show in Bellevue, Washington, I was again enthralled by the shafts of light jumping off her canvases, creating a bold and compelling focus for each.
Pam Ingalls, On The Hook
Her scenes are more mundane than most of the old masters' - a vintage kitchen with dirty dishes in the sink, a bed with crumpled linens, even a toilet and sink - but this quality of light defining the entire structure of the piece elevates them all to the same level of beauty and wonder.
Pam Ingalls, Ethiopian Restaurant
Pam Ingalls, Second Stories
Pam Ingalls, Room With A View II
 Hmm funny I didn't recognize my attraction to this common element earlier, eh? ;0)

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