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Archive for March, 2010

Blog Assignment #4

Impressionism is truly a unique style.  It aims to capture a fleeting moment, or impression by using color and brush strokes in a special way.  I cannot say that Impressionism is my favorite artistic style, but on the same token, I cannot say that I hate it either.  So to answer the question we are supposed to answer in this blog, I am somewhere in between loving and hating Impressionism.

To begin my discussion, I will take one of Vincent Van Gogh’s most well-known works entitled The Starry Night.  This piece shows towering, dark cypress trees blocking a portion of a midnight sky.  The star-filled, moonlit heavens illuminates a small town below in a piece where  Van Gogh contrasts life and death.  More specifically he contrasts his own mortality with the immortality of the celestial bodies of the night sky (Reference 2).  Had it not been for the research I did on this painting, I would have never understood the symbolism behind it.  It is difficult for me to interpret Impressionism on my own, but once I learn of the symbolism in a piece, I can appreciate it.  Until that time, however, I have a hard time appreciating it aesthetically.

Artist: Vincent Van Gogh
Title: The Starry Night
Likely painted in Saint Rémy in June of 1889

I have a much greater appreciation for the Post-Impressionistic style than I do for the Impressionistic style.  Post-Impressionism contains more form and seems more orderly than Impressionism.  For example, the piece below entitled A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of la Grande Jatte (translated) by Georges-Pierre Seurat is one Post-Impressionistic piece that I deeply admire.  It is not so much the content of this painting but rather the way in which it was created that causes me to admire it.  The amount of foresight it would require to paint a piece consisting of only dots is astounding.  One could also argue that Pointillism was the forerunner of modern digital photography because it is made up of a bunch of points or “pixels.”

Artist: Georges-Pierre Seurat
Title:  A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of la Grande Jatte
Painted between 1884 and 1886, location could not be determined

Finally, to contrast Impressionism and Post-Impressionism to another artistic style, I will take Caravaggio’s David and Goliath as an example (shown below).  This piece was painted during the Baroque era and has nearly photographic realism.  I personally prefer works of this nature.  I admire the artists capability to portray something so realistically.  To me, this is the major difference between Impressionism/Post-Impressionism and most other artistic styles, and that is why I have a more difficult time aesthetically appreciating Impressionism.

Artist: Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio
Title: David and Goliath
Painted in Italy in 1599

References:

1. http://christineparkdesign.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/vangogh-starry_night_ballance1.jpg

2. http://blogs.princeton.edu/wri152-3/akburges/archives/002009.html

3. http://teachers.henrico.k12.va.us/godwin/hoen_l/artinsight1/art1projects/PointalistFruit/A%20Sunday%20on%20La%20Grande%20Jatte.jpg

4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Sunday_Afternoon_on_the_Island_of_La_Grande_Jatte

5. http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/caravaggio/david-goliath.jpg

6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_and_Goliath_(Caravaggio)

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Blog Assignment #3

Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven

Title: Symphony No. 5

Written intermittently between 1804 and 1808 near Vienna

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 clearly illustrates how the patronage of the arts changed from being aristocrats to the middle class.  Although there are parts in the symphony that are certainly polyphonic, he breaks away from polyphony for the most part and instead uses a homophonic style in this particular piece.  This piece is less complex than many Baroque pieces and is melody driven.  These features made it much more appealing to the middle classes (broadening its popular appeal), which demonstrates the middle class rising to the level of art patronage during the Classical era.

I like this work because it is simply a masterpiece.  Beethoven was surely a masterful composer.  The four movements of his symphony are very clear and distinct, and the music seems to move you along with it as it’s played.  I hope you can take the time to listen the piece and enjoy it for yourself.

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