Vincent Van Gogh
I am starting with Van Gogh because he is the first artist who I ever became passionate about. Indeed its hard to stay dispassionate when examining his life and art. Vincent believed that the artist was a sort of a christ like figure that gives himself over to the sacred act of creation solely for the edification of Humanity.He ended up sacrificing his life to his ideal. We are the beneficiaries of his great ordeal.
Here is a self portrait he did after having mutilated his own ear.
It's hard to think of Van Gogh without thinking of his fellow countryman Rembrandt. There probably will never be another artist whose love of humanity shows in his work like Rembrandt. Rembrandt is at his best in his Biblical subjects such as
The supper at Emmaus
Where his deep love of God and humanity is evident.
Although he lived a long and difficult life never does the suffering show in any kind of bitterness. His spiritual growth is evident in the more than 60 self portraits he did in his lifetime. This particular self portrait done when he was getting on in years is a technical marvel but more than that it shows the master at the height of his powers artistically as well as spiritually and emotionally.
Gustave Moreau has been very influential on my outlook as well. Although frequently mentioned in the same breath as his more famous student Henri Matisse. I feel in this instance the student has in no way surpassed the master. Moreau's work has the supernatural quality that is so evident in the best works by William Blake with the added impact of the French Academic tradition but paintings like
are more a synthesis of the romantic style and the classical, a sort of hybrid Delacroix/Ingres.
I think he is the greatest of the symbolists. Moreau ,to me, is the first and greatest surrealist.
Often the symbolism in paintings like
escapes me and I'm sure most modern viewers but not the supernatural expressiveness.
When I was a young artist I found the work of
to be rather crude. After having learned first hand the problems of painting and drawing as well as the theoretical and practical application of color after many years of practice I have come to find his works to be among the most beautifully painted objects in the history of art. Here genius is in no way hyperbole.
To some it may seem strange to see Bouguereau next to Cezanne on the same page but this particular painting I grew up with.
it hangs in the Joslyn art museum here in Omaha and I well remember seeing it as a child when I studied art there. I also remember the impact it had on my early sensibilities. There are few painters who have ever lived that can draw in the same class as Bougereau and during his lifetime he was regarded as one of the greatest living masters, the fullfillment of the high baroque if you will.
I think its a shame and a little silly that modern critics ignore the 19th century French Masters and deify the Impressionist school especially when one looks at the studies prior to full execution of works such as this. Had these artists foregone much of the painstaking work paintings like this involved their studies today would be regarded as a hidden treasure of unknown impressionist masters. Instead they are for the most part considered to be sell outs to the rich (by critics who probably have never tried to paint a single picture much less slaved for years to eat!) Funny, how they see Picasso and Warhol somehow differently?
This painting by
and this one also
As well as this
also hang in the Joslyn and I have become very familiar with them. Especially the Renoir, since my parents had a reproduction of it in our home when I was a child. I am very fond of these mens work.
This self portrait of the artist as a young man was painted at the beginning of his cubist experimentations.
We all owe an enormous debt to these artists for the revolution they brought about in our vision of the world but like all revolutions the early idealism has been more or less corrupted by money. Works like this
helped teach me how to paint by forcing me to explore and utilize every square inch of the canvas. Although the cubist revolution was responsible for far more than the solution of graphic design problems that is certainly one of its enduring legacies. Cubism is ,in a sense, more than an artistic movement. The exploration of other dimensions ,if only symbolic, is evident. Cubism could also be used to create works of fantastic beauty and imagination. Since the dictates of three dimensional illusion has been discarded and the picture plane takes on a special significance so then does the finished product. The picture becomes the object rather than a depiction of one. Certain subjects then work better in cubist paintings than others and still life takes on a special significance.
As a young artist I used to haunt the local museum regularly and a painter whom I have always thought to be vastly underrated is Ernest Lawson
I never could figure out some of the technical procedures he used but he was in no way merely a great technician. His paintings have a jewel like quality that reproductions can't do justice to.
At this point I am going to have to stop for now but I will add more pictures in the future.
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