Masterpieces with Single Tree Composition

Fundamentally, all landscape paintings have a focal point, which draws the viewer’s eye to the heart of the paintings composition. For instance (as shown below), the cypress trees serve as the focal point in Vincent van Gogh’s painting ‘Wheat Field and Cypress Trees’, the sun in Claude Monet’s painting ‘Impression’ and the central tree in the painting ‘Banks of the Marne’ by Paul Cezanne.

But what if the composition of the painting comprises of a single tree, the focal point diminishes and the central figure is the lone subject of the painting. Which genre would the artwork fall under – Landscape, subject study or symbolic art? The theme sounds vague, boring and bland but surprisingly this rare composition has been captured beautifully by many master artists. We explore few such masterpieces that aesthetically illustrate this atypical theme.

The Mulberry Tree by Vincent van Gogh-
The isolated tree shown against a rocky terrain has its branches spread out with a blast of fiery colors. Vincent managed to create a magical autumn experience by means of just a single tree.

 

 

Rose bushes under the Trees by Gustav Klimt-
The canvas is like a confetti explosion of various shades of greens and yellows. Klimt’s unique composition of a single tree with rich foliage, depicted with tiny specks of brush strokes is one of his most popular masterpieces.

 

 

The Tree Series by Piet Mondrian-
The solitary trees in the series are depicted in their most basic and simplistic form, true to Mordrian’s art movement ‘De Stijl’ / ’The Style’. Cleverly angled brush strokes, and limited palette void of greens are the unique characteristics of this series.

 

 

The Bonaventure Pine by Paul Signac-
Painted in pointillism style a huge Umbrella Pine tree stretches across the canvas. The subdued background highlights the majestic form and the interesting shape of the tree. Following the pointillism technique of small dots applied in patterns, pixels of lighter tone sprinkled around the tree, suggest sunlight filtering through the leaves, adding a dreamy feel to the painting.

 

 

Autumn trees by Egon Schiele-
The bare lone trees made by the expressionist artists are metamorphic, the series deal with the themes related to death and rebirth. Grey palette, twisted trunk, cloudy sky and entwined branches are a compelling portrayal of a stormy winter, allegorical of misery and loneliness.

 

 

Pine Tree near Aix by Paul Cezanne-
The composition of this artwork differs from the rest, it’s unique and abstract, much like the other artworks of the post impressionist artist. The central figure (i.e. the pine tree) gets cut from all sides and is used as a frame for the painting. The mesh of the branches connecting the sides, combine all the elements to the center of the composition.

 

 

The Oak by Edvard Munch-
The artwork has an interesting color scheme, cool sky tones gradually descend to warm earthy color, diagonally from top left to bottom right. Though the color gradient of the tree is reflected on the background, yet Munch successively managed to highlight the tree as the central figure.

 

 

The Pink Peach Tree by Vincent Van Gogh-
The painting depicts a peach tree in bloom during springtime, despite being painted with subtle and pastel shades the artwork looks vibrant and spirited. The perspective exaggerated by the tapering flow of the brush strokes helps in highlighting the tree as the main subject.

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Th.V. Doesburg, Drei Haeuser by Juan Gris-
The abstract treatment represents the tree as a three-dimensional form viewed from a single perspective. The cubist artist’s composition despite its simplified geometric forms retains the look and feel of a landscape.

Click to buy Canvas Prints of these Masterpieces from our store on AMAZON.in

 

 

Tree in flower near Vetheuil by Claude Monet-
The father of impressionism’s technique of capturing light and its effect on the color of the object is at play in this painting. The light and shade on the solitary tree are represented brilliantly with precise dabs and dashes of varied tones.

 

 

Little Oak Tree by Franz Marc-
The simplicity of the painting is reminiscent of ‘The Mulberry Tree’ by Vincent van Gogh (first painting on the top), spirals of fresh green leaves are highlighted by the brilliant blue sky and animated strokes of the ground.

 

 

The Fig Tree by Paul Klee-
The lone trees’ composition, monochromatic tones and the arrangement of the colored shapes reflect the artists experience in stain glass.

Click to buy Canvas Prints of these Masterpieces from our store on AMAZON.in

 

 

L’Arbre (The Tree) by Pablo Picasso-
Picasso’s neutral colored artwork illustrates a stylized tree, with array of bold strokes and distorted shapes, the composition is compact with interlinked forms.

 

 

A Great Tree by  J. W. Turner-
The Watercolor artwork projects a powerful and majestic tree, the composition partly cuts the tree from the sides, highlighting the sunlit part of the tree as the focal point.

 

 

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Yoga: An Art Chronicled

Yoga, as we know it today, is practiced daily by millions of people though very few understand the essence of it. Dating back to the pre-vedic period, Yoga originally was a means of spiritually uniting one with the Divine, within oneself.

To achieve this harmony of mind and body, Yoga has seven primary schools of physical, mental and spiritual disciplines. Today, the Yoga we take pleasure in and identify the most with is Hatha Yoga, which is one of the seven paths, its primarily about physical discipline, the other forms include Raja, Gyana, Bhakti, Karma, Mantra and Tantra Yoga.

ascetic-practicing-yoga

Ascetic practicing various techniques of Yoga (1825)

 

Leaving aside the spiritual aspects of the practice let’s focus on how the physical path ‘Hatha Yoga’ which is most loved and practiced across the world was chronicled down the centuries with beautiful paintings, sculptors and illustrations. Starting from Veda’s, in the course of history there have been numerous textual manuals for Hatha Yoga, most comprehensive being- Hatha Yoga Pradipika and Shiva Samhita. However, unquestionably, humans are visual creatures, illustrative documentation of Yoga was inevitable. Starting 16th century, the visual recording of Hatha Yoga gave result to remarkable artworks.

Bahr al-hayat or Ocean of Life (16th-century)- is the earliest known encyclopedic manuscript with brilliantly illustrated Asanas accompanied with detailed descriptions. Commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir the creative piece was composed by Sufi master Muhammad Ghawth and illustrated by renowned artist Govardhan. The Sufi masters’ motive was to teach his disciples Hath Yoga to gain meditative power. The artworks depict ash-smeared Yogi’s in various postures complemented with scenic backgrounds and detailed items used by the Yogi’s in their daily life. The miniature drawings follow a subdued palette highlighting the pensive mood and austerities of a Yogic life.

Shown below are few leafs from the manuscript

khecari-and-sthamba-mudra

Khecari and Sthamba Mudra

nad-and-sunasana-mudra

Nad and Sunasana Mudra

uttanakurmasana_akunchan-mudra

Uttanakurmasana and Akunchan Mudra

 

Miniature paintings (17th century)- A rich collection of Miniature paintings of Asana’s based on Hatha Yoga Pradipika, a classic Sanskrit manual on Hatha Yoga. This brilliantly colored manual is graphically impressive with accurate postures paired with well-defined angles.

Shown below are few paintings from the collection

miniature-painting-of_hatha-yoga

miniature-painting_of-hatha-yoga

miniature-painting-of-hatha-yoga

 

Miniature Pahari painting (17th century)- Saptarishi (sons of Brahma) shown in different Yogic postures. Legend has it that Lord Shiva shared his knowledge of Yogic science with seven distinguished rishi’s and laid different characteristics of Yoga into each one of them, these aspects became the seven basic forms of Yoga. Even today, Yoga maintains these seven distinct forms.

the-seven-rishis-saptarishi-indian-miniature-painting

 

Watercolour on paper (17th century)- Lord Shiva, the Adiyogi or the first Yogi, regarded as the founder of Yoga is shown seated in Eight Yogic Postures on a tiger skin, against a green background. Painted in opaque watercolors on paper, the artwork projects a meditative and serene feel.

shiva-in-eight-yogic-postures

 

Murals in the Dalai Lamas’ private meditation temple (17th century): The details of a brilliantly colored and animated mural in the Lukhang temple, or “Temple of the Water Spirits” located in Lhasa, portrays Yogis in 23 Yoga positions with brief description, titled “The Secret Keys of the Channels and Winds.” The temple was a secret space created by the fifth Dalai Lama in the 17th century – and reserved for the private meditation for his successors.

hatha-yoga-murals-in-dalai-lamas-temple

Images copyright- Thomas Laird (Source- hyperallergic.com)

 

Engravings by Mrs. Belnos (1832): Hand-colored engravings by Mrs. Belnos are believed to be the earliest visual record of Yogic practice’s followed during colonial India. The series of twenty-four graphic plates were prepared by author Mrs. Belnos’s French lithographer husband J.J. Belnos. The intricate drawings demonstrate different signs and postures performed during morning devotional ceremonies.

mrs-belnos_engravings_of-pranayama

mrs-belnos_engravings-on-yoga

 

Sritattvanidhi (19th century): An ancient Kannada treatise, “The Illustrious Treasure of Realities” has one of its sections that includes instructions and illustrations of 122 postures, making it by far the most elaborate visual text on Asanas in existence before the twentieth century.

sritattvanidhi

Image source: fearless.yoga

 

Sculptors, Murals and Frescos of Yogi’s and Yogini’s, richly adorn the Indian historical temples, these ancient artworks narrate mythological scenes and symbolic themes from sacred texts like Vedas and Upanishads.

Yoga-Narasiṃha, a man lion, is one of the several forms of Vishnu’s incarnation where he appears sitting cross-legged in a Yogic posture. On the request of his devotee, Prahlada, He took this Yoga form to calm the heat emanating from Him. This avatar of Lord Vishnu has been one of the favorite subjects for the artworks in ancient South Indian temples.

Yoga Narasiṁha form at a temple in Vijayanagara, Hampi (13th and 17th centuries) is the most creatively striking art-piece amongst them all.

yoga-narasi%e1%b9%81ha-form-at-a-temple-in-vijayanagara-hampi

 

Temple Nataraj (Chola Era 10th-12th centuries) is where Sage Patanjali wrote Yoga Sutras. The temple hosts carvings, sculpture and other allied arts of Yogi’s and Yogini’s in different Hath Yoga postures.

yogi-and-yogini-in-temple-nataraj

Image source: 10000yearsblog.wordpress

 

An ancient sculpture of Patanjali depicted in half-man, half-serpent form, signifying his enlightenment. In Yogic science a snake is symbolic of kundalini energy.

sage-patanjali

 

Srirangam Temple (6th to 9th centuries AD): Bas reliefs depicting Yogi’s performing various Hatha Yoga Asanas.

Shown below are ‘Tree posture’ (Vrksa Asana) and ‘Bhujapid Asana’.

srirangam-temple_vrksa-and-bhujapid-asana

Image copyright (rt): Rob Linrothe, (Left) mahavidya.ca

 

Jambukeswaram temple (2nd century AD) Shown below are some Hatha Yoga reliefs carved on pillars and walls of the temple.

hatha-yoga-reliefs-in-jambukeswaram-temple

Image copyright: Hari Prasad Nadig

 

Ranganathaswamy Temple (6th to 9th centuries AD): Stone carvings of Yoga Asanas.

hatha-yoga-stone-carvings-in-ranganathaswamy-temple

Image copyright: Nicolas Mirguet

 

Mahabalipuram: Ancient stone carving of Vrks Asana

stone-carving-of-vrksasana

Image copyright: Linda-Sama

 

Yoga Guru Shobhna Juneja, elaborates on the powerful connection between ‘Art’ and ‘Yoga’.

sobhna_yoga-guru_The system of Yoga is so vast and generous that deriving creative expression from it is natural for the artists. Although the yoga discipline is strictly an internal experience but sometimes yogis creatively ‘digress’ from it and start enjoying the artful dimensions of yoga mudras. No wonder then we see yoga as artful and glossy.

Yoga has been preserved through Guru Parampara (from Guru Lineage) whereas artworks inspired by Yoga have ‘glorified’ this ancient inner science (yoga). More so, if one sees these masterpieces, one wonders that ‘Yoga is beautiful’ and it’s a path to ‘Pure Love and Liberation.”

 

Connect with Shobhna–    INSTAGRAM   I   MAIL

Artists of the Wild West

The ‘American Frontier’ which is popularly dubbed as ‘The Wild West’, has long been romanticized in literature, fine arts and other media’s. Adventurous cowboys, western landscapes, American Indian warriors and similar intriguing subjects have served as inspirations for many Hollywood movies, books and artworks. In the fine arts arena, romanticized paintings of three of the most popular American frontier painters- Frederic Remington, Charles M. Russell and Charles Schreyvogel catered to these tales and fantasies of the old west.

A Dash for the Timber by Frederic Remington


Frederic Remington
was the most influential artist of them, Charles Russell and Charles Schreyvogel were known as members of the “School of Remington”. Their art-style was realistic with a touch of impressionism, figures were the foremost focus of their paintings, landscape was just used as a supporting element to heighten the ‘Wild West Experience’ and the theme always had a unspoken fictional story.

Smoke of a .45 by Charles Marion Russell

 


Frederic Remington 1861-1909
Iconic paintings, detailed illustrations and life-like sculptures of Frederic Remington have been used as references for many Hollywood movies and popular books. His action-packed artworks were based on his authentic artifacts collection, personal photographs and notes taken during his visits to the west as artist-correspondent for Harper’s Weekly magazine.

Episode of the Buffalo Gun by Frederic Remington


Fight for the Waterhole by Frederic Remington

Even though the art style followed by Remigton was realism, the technique of mixing the colors was sketchy. For shading, instead of merging tones he used numerous rapid strokes of different colors.

Unlike his other contemporaries, Frederic Remington color palette was often experimental and innovative. The tone of the shades was mostly pastel based on his first-hand observation and notes.

A New Year on the Cimarron by Frederic Remington


On the Southern Plains by Frederic Remington


The Smoke Signal by Frederic Remington


The Outlier by Frederic Remington

 


Charles Russell 1864-1926
Nicknamed ‘the cowboy artist’, Charles Russell started as a watercolourist, he documented the ranch he worked for in Montana with his artworks. His career as an artist started when he mailed postcard-sized watercolors to the owner of the ranch in response to his query as to how the cattle herd had weathered the winter. Circulated amongst the social circle by the ranch owner the artists artwork received much appreciation thereafter he was flooded with orders and commissions.

The Tenderfoot by Charles Russell


Indian Braves by Charles M. Russell

Charles wife Nancy Russell is often given the credit for his international fame, she organized numerous exhibitions for him throughout the United States and in London, creating an international market for his artworks. Charles used the landscape as a tool to highlight and add depth to the mood of his paintings.

Buffalo Hunt by Charles M. Russell


The Signal Fire by Charles M. Russell


A bad hoss by Charles Russell


Watching the Iron Horse by Charles Russell


Charles Schreyvogel 1861-1912

In comparison to his contemporaries, Charles Schreyvogels’ paintings had more drama and excitement, he mostly captured the violent conflicts of cavalry troops and American Indians. Enamored by a Wild West show called ‘Cody’s Wild West extravaganza’, the self-taught artist decided to theme all his paintings on the frontier and Indian War. He toured Colorado and an Arizona to observe the military life, interview soldiers and sketched the landscapes.

In Hot Pursuit by Charles Schreyvogel

 

He gained instant fame after he won the Thomas Clarke Prize at the annual exhibition of the National Academy of Design for his painting ‘My Bunkie’ (Shown Below)

 

Click to view Canvas Prints of Western Artists Charles Russell, Frederic Remington and Charles Schreyvogel

Vintage Posters as Art Form

The craze for posters started in the late 19th century, as an avant-garde mode of mass communication. Revolutionary changes in print media especially the evolution of color lithography, made bulk production of print material inexpensive and convenient for advertising. Possibility of colored posters got Master Artists like Toulouse-Lautrec, Alphonse Mucha, Ramon Casas and Théophile Steinlen interested in poster designing. Today these vintage posters created by Art Nouveau Artists are used as art forms by interior designers, treasured by art collectors and revered as prototypes in the advertising world.

Veteran poster artists like Toulouse-Lautrec and Jules Chéret mostly captured the zealous night life of cabarets, music halls, and theaters of Moulin Rouge.  Posters on similar themes are most suitable for bringing in color, distinction and individuality to the interiors. These dazzling masterpieces can be used very flexibly, following the right size and placement they can serve as contrasting element for a neutral setting or as a relief for a colorful space.

‘Divan Japonais’ poster designed by Toulouse-Lautrec, adds sophistication and class to a neutral setting

Image- thedesignchaser.com

Theatre de L’Opera poster design by Jules Chéret, adds vibrancy to a concrete space

Image- thedesignfiles.net

‘Ambassadeurs’ poster designed by Toulouse-Lautrec

 

‘The Englishman at the Moulin Rouge’ designed by Toulouse-Lautrec

 

Ramon Casas, one of the most eminent Spanish artist and a graphic designer, his poster’s had a unique character and style. His figurative themes and fragmentary coloring were progressive and in-line with the art movement known as modernism. Sketchy and rough posters have this unique ability to enhancing the theme of a vintage interior at the same time if used for a contemporary space they compliment the modern look.

‘4 Gats’ poster designed by Ramon Casas, boosts a vintage setting

Image- delightfull.eu

Poster design by Ramon Casas, adds character to a contemporary space

Image- stadshem.se

 

‘Automobile’ by Ramon Casas

 

‘Tandem’ by Ramon Casas

 

‘Female figure in red’ and ‘Celebrations in Toulon’ by Ramon Casas

 

Alphonse Mucha, defined Art Nouveau style in most creative manner, his distinct style is now dubbed as ‘le Style Mucha’. Decorative and free flowing posters of similar style make an impressive visual statement. The Eye-catching masterpieces add style, sophistication and a unique sense of individuality to an elegant setting.

‘Reverie’ by Alphonse Mucha, effortlessly adds style and class to a room

Image- elledecoration.com

Poster design for JOB Cigarettes by Alphonse Mucha, enhances the urban elements of the interior

Image- thedesignfiles.net

‘The Four Seasons’ by Alphonse Mucha

 

Art Nouveau painter and printmaker Théophile Steinlens’ poster for ‘Le Chat Noir’ has become a powerful icon for poster designing. It fulfills all five characteristics of a good poster- Easy to Read, Simple and Crisp Layout, Appropriated Visual, Attracts Attention and Contrasting Colors. Iconic posters are exceptional in the sense that they are instantly recognized as a collectible, effortlessly taking the center stage of the space.

The quintessential Poster design ‘Tour of Rodolphe Salis’ Le Chat Noir by Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen adds value to a space

 

 Image- chezviviane.com

The Iconic poster ‘Cigarrillos Paris’ designed by Aleardo Villa

 

One of the most popular Poster Ad for Absinthe by Henri Privat-Livemont

5 Misconceptions about Art for Small Apartments

Common belief is that small apartment’s face restrictions on the kind of art to be selected for the interiors. In truth, there are no hard and fast rules to be followed for the size, color, number or theme of the paintings for a residence short on space. If you want to personalize your home with artworks of your choice, just follow your heart. Compromising on art because of space issues is like killing the soul of your room. In fact, a skillful placement and a fitting selection can be smartly used to create an illusion of more space. We have pulled out few classic misconceptions people have for selecting art for their apartment-

Use Light Colored Artworks

‘Hang light colored paintings’, is a rule we are advised to follow for decorating a small room. A professional Interior designer would be willing to break this rule and yet be able to create a sense of space. Simply following subdued tones for a small space is boring, if you wish to hang a deep colored artwork, reflect the darker hues of the paintings on other accessories of the room and juxtaposition the light and dark tones of the room in a manner that adds depth to the space and enhances the neutral shades. Layering of colors adds dimension and makes the room look airy.

Colors from Degas painting ‘Dancers’ reflected on various accessories adds depths to the space.

Image- Margaret Donaldson Interiors

 

Darker tones of the painting ‘Turkish Soldiers Casting Bullets’ and other design elements enhances the lighter shades of the room.

Image- Better Homes and Gardens

 

Only use Small Artworks

Contrary to popular belief of using small artworks for an apartment that lacks space, a large artwork can be an innovate way of adding style and if selected dexterously it can create an illusion of a wider space. For a small room with poor lighting or a windowless space, a large landscape painting makes a lot of difference, it creates a feeling of wider space. Huge, bold and simple art prints which are not too busy or elaborate like abstract art, maps or vintage posters are few of the many tricks used by professional interior designers for adding an illusion of increased space in small apartments and flats.

The scenery ‘Rest along the Stream’ made by Alfred Sisley gives a fresh and airy feeling to the sitting arrangement.

Image source- Better Homes & Gardens

 

A huge map adds an impression of a wider space to a vintage setting.

Image source-  majestymaps.com

 

Picasso’s artwork ‘The Young Ladies of Avignon’ gives a relief to the colorful setting.

Image source-  sukio.com, Designed by Nick Olsen

 

Don’t use Busy or Multicolored Artworks

Another erroneous notion is that an intricate or busy artwork can get overpowering and swallow a lot of space. In fact an engaging painting, involuntarily becomes a focal point, causing a space diminishing effect making the surroundings seem more spacious. If we strike a right balance of size and distance with the other design elements, an intricate and detailed artwork can work wonders for a small space.

Orientalist Painting ’The Carpet Merchants’ made by Jean-Léon Gérôme gives a diminishing feeling to the space.

Image source-  veranda.com

 

Orientalist Painting ’The Dance’ made by Giulio Rosati takes the center stage, as a focal point.

Image source- oldbrandnew.com

The Tiger by Marc Franzis gives the receding effect to the space

Image source-  Better Homes and Gardens

 

Don’t Fill the Walls

Don’t let limited space be a deterrent for displaying your large art collection. Salon-style grouping is a perfect solution for displaying assembly of your exquisite artworks in the trendiest and refreshing manner. It accentuates the height of the ceiling making it seem taller and creates a cozy feeling. Composing salon-style wall is however a challenge, the theme, color palette, size, distance and framing are factors that need to be planned with utmost understanding. A flawed composition can ruin the display by making it look over whelming. Distance between each piece and aesthetic harmony are two main factors to be kept in mind for the composition.

Image source-  houzz.com

Image source-  Better Homes and Gardens

 

Fewer Artworks

For small apartments with heavy-duty and bulky furnishing, we are tempted to follow the rule ‘Lesser the better’ but as per a professional interior designer, fewer artworks is no solution for space issues, it will in no way make the room look any bigger. Instead bare walls would make the room lifeless like an empty shell. While you may not want an over whelming effect on every wall, there’s no harm done in putting up a selection of your favorites’ for personalizing your home, to suit your taste and style. However in this case, the trick is to use lighter and simpler design elements in the vicinity to retain the room’s spaciousness.

‘The Kiss’ by Gustav Klimt and other abstract Art Print’s work well with the light and restrained interior.

Image source-  Dona Rosene Interiors

 

Abstract artwork’s by Kazimir Malevich and Paul Klee despite the size retain the airy feeling of the space.

Image source-  architecturaldigest.com, designed by Christina Murphy

10 Masterpieces that have Transcended Time

Art is decidedly subjective, what might appeal to you may not have the same effect on someone else. For instance, personally, I favor artworks made during impressionism and post impressionism era. There are some who only like realistic art from renaissance period in contrast to a section of art enthusiasts who are fond of modern and contemporary art. Consequently, jotting down a set of ‘Best Artworks’, ‘Greatest Masterpieces’ or ‘Most Famous Paintings’ as such is near impossible. However we have list out 10 masterpieces which are considered most innovative and remarkably intriguing by majority of the art lovers, each made by a different master artist.

Starry night (1889- Post Impressionism), the masterpiece is believed to be a view from Vincent van Gogh’s room in an asylum at Saint-Remy. The upper half of the painting shows a vibrant sky bursting with energy, the turbulent swirls are in sharp contrast with the calm and sleepy village in the lower half of the painting. Based on Vincent’s religiously beliefs, art historians interpret that the cypress tree in the foreground symbolizes the unification of the world with the cosmos.


Impression- Sunrise
(1874- Impressionism), by Claude Monet was displayed in the first art exhibition held by then struggling artists- Manet, Renoir, Degas and Monet. Rebuffed by the art critics, they used the title of this painting to phrase the exhibition as “The Exhibition of the Impressionists” hence accidentally defining the new art movement. His technique of loose and short brushstrokes captured the essence of the Sunrise. The uniquely unfinished look of this artwork is what paved the way for the new art movement- Impressionism.


The Kiss
(1907- Symbolism) Gustav Klimt’s signature style of clubbing decorative patterns with semi- realistic figures has been best achieved in his celebrated artwork-‘The Kiss’.  The painting shows an entwined couple symbolizing love. The masculine geometric shapes on the man’s gown gradually merge in to the lady’s floral pattern symbolizing the couple’s passionate union as one. Further adding to this blissful union is the surreal dreamlike setting of shimmering gold plated background.


Les Demoiselles d’Avignon
(The Young Ladies of Avignon) (1907- Cubism) by Pablo Picasso is considered to be the prototype that shaped Cubism and Modern Art. The masterpiece projects the creative maturity achieved by Picasso over the years, a style that fermented over time through his various experiments and techniques. The painting portrays five female prostitutes from a brothel in Barcelona, with the simplistic and two-dimensional figures Picasso breaks the conventional rules of perspective and realism.


The Persistence of Memory
(1931- Surrealism) by Salvador Dalí, is widely believed to be the masterpiece that best defines the art movement ‘Surrealism’. The painting shows pocket watches melting against a barren backdrop. Composition is dreamlike and the execution is realistic, typical characteristics of a surrealistic painting, as stated by Dali himself “hand painted dream photographs”. The subject of the artwork is insignificance of time, the ants on the left suggest decaying and the distorted central form is often referred as a Self-portrait.


Mona Lisa
(1517- Renaissance) is undoubtedly the most popular portraits in the art world, the greatest creation of renaissance period and the finest masterpiece of Leonardo da Vinci. This accomplished portrait is most known for its captivating and mysterious half-smile, it’s been an ultimate source of inspiration for visual and literary arts.  Art expert’s latest belief has been that for the hopping smile, the genius artist, applied optical illusion called sfumato, generated by clever shading around the cheek bones and mouth.


Birth of Venus
(1480- Renaissance) by Sandro Botticelli, is one of the best representation of the origin of the ‘Goddess of love’, a common mythological subject of the Renaissance Period. The painting shows Venus, who has just risen from the sea on a shell, she is gently being blown towards the shore by the God of Wind. On the right, Hora the Goddess of Spring reaches out to cover her with a cloak. Her elegant posture and melancholic gaze makes Botticelli’s Venus look like a mystifying beauty.


The Girl with a Pearl Earring
(1665- Baroque), often referred as ‘The Dutch Mona Lisa’ is one of the most notable painting made by Johannes Vermeer.  The expressions and pose of the subject makes it incredibly interactive. The startled, wide-eyed subject looks back at the viewer with an exceedingly engaging half smile much like Leonard’s Mona Lisa, it seems that the viewer has managed to catch her attention causing her to pause and gaze back over her shoulder.


Dance at le Moulin de la Galette
(1876- Impressionism) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir- The artwork shows, couples dancing in the open-air dance hall and a café on a Sunday afternoon. The joyful ambiance fashioned by Renoir reflects the typical life style of the Parisians. The figures have soft contours, mildly blending with each other, adding a dreamy feel to the painting. The entire canvas is covered with spots of light and shadow, suggesting sunlight filtering through the trees, adding a gleaming summery experience to the scenario.


The Fighting Temeraire
(1838- Romanticism), a seascape made by J. W. Turner, is known for its dramatic play of sunlight and its spectacular theme. The 998-gun ship, played an important role in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, in the seascape it is being towed away by a steamer to be broken up for scrap. The theme is a salute to the passing of the majestic ship, decolorized and faded it seems a thing of the past. For the sunset, Turner used the technique of glazing over impasto, captures the spirit of the moment in the most magnificent manner.

 

Orientalism- a unique genre of Art

The Harem Dance by Giulio Rosati

‘Orientalist Paintings’ is a genre started by the western artists in late 18th century illustrating the culture and ethnicity of Middle East, North Africa, and West Asia. After Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in 1798, significant amount of interest got stimulated in Europe regarding the Eastern culture. Many artists (mostly French) traveled extensively to study the lifestyles of the locals, the artworks created by these master’s pleased the western audiences’ growing curiosity of the oriental lifestyle. The remarkable and realistic paintings of Caravans, Carpet vendors, Veiled women, Bazaars, and Erotic Harems further added more charm to the mystical image of the East. Listed below are some of the most noteworthy Orientalist artists-

Jean-Léon Gérôme, known as one of the best historical artist, his visit to Egypt in 1856 triggered his interest in the oriental culture. More than two-thirds of his collection of paintings illustrates orientalist subjects. His best-known realistic works include:

Cafe House (Turkish soldiers, casting Bullets)

The Carpet Merchant

 

 

John Frederick Lewis– His authentic paintings were the source of inspiration for other Orientalist painters in France. Lewis spent several years in Cairo and produced exquisitely detailed artworks depicting Egyptian culture, architecture, furnishings, screens and costumes.

Encampment in the Desert

 

On the Banks of the Nile

 

 

Eugène Delacroix- In 1832, Delacroix traveled to North Africa, as a diplomat after France occupied Algeria. His contribution to Orientalism is immense, over 100 paintings were created by him based on North African ethnicity.

Arabs Traveling 

Eugène Delacroix’s Orietalist paintings continued to further influence future master artists of twentieth century like Renoir, Matisse, Paul Klee, Kandinsky and Oskar Kokoschka. Shown below is Renoirs painting ‘The Harem’ (Right) as homage to Eugène Delacroix’s ‘Women of Algiers in their Apartment’ (Left).

Renoir_Eugene Delacroix

 

Giulio Rosati was one of the most recognized Italian artist of 19th Century, his expertise were not just limited to the art domain but also the cultural studies of Orientalism. His remarkably realistic artworks made considerable amount of contribution to the Orientalist art collection.

The Rug Merchant

Giulio Rosati The Rug Merchant

The Arab Riders

Giulio Rosati_The Arab Riders
Frederick Arthur Bridgman:– Enamored by the Eastern culture, Bridgman made frequent trips to North Africa starting 1872, he gathered a huge collection of costumes, architectural pieces, traditional accessories and illustrated 300+ sketches as reference materials for his noteworthy artworks.

An Interesting Game of Chess

An Interesting Game

 

At the Waters Edge

Frederick Arthur Bridgman AT THE WATER'S EDGE 24x37

 

 

Rudolf Ernst:- In France, Ernst was known for his creative tin-glazed pottery with Orientalist theme. His fondness for tiles and pottery strongly reflects on his artworks, they are best known for the detailed interiors and traditional motifs.

The Perfume Makers

RUDOLF ERNST the perfume makers 22x18

 

Moroccan Potter by Jean Discart

Moroccan potter

 

Rest in the Syrian Desert by Eugen Bracht

Eugen Bracht REST IN THE SYRIAN DESERT 25x49

 

A Caravan at Rest by Charles Theodore Frere

A Caravan at Rest, The Temple of Karnak, Thebes in the distance

 

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The Prints are as realistic as the originals.

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VINCENT and THEO: The Van Gogh Brothers

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VINCENT a creative genius and THEO a Charismatic art dealer, as illustrated in manga- Les deux Van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh, a classic model of an eccentric and a tortured genius, shared a fiercely strong bond with his beloved brother Theo van Gogh, who was his only confidant, closest friend and amongst the few who understood the artist. Theo was not just a loving brother, who gave financial and emotional support with unwavering love but also played the role of an art dealer, who promoted and introduced Vincent’s art to the evolving art scenario in Europe, unfortunately his efforts only fructified after his dead.

It is almost impossible to talk about Vincent’s art and achievements without referring his brother’s influence. The connection between the two intensely devoted brothers was admirable, Theo was like Vincent’s second self, an alter-ego of the artist.

Loving Vincent

Vincent and Theo- as illustrated in the animation movie ‘Loving Vincent’

There have been many cultural depictions that have highlighted their warm brotherly love. Listed are few of the most popular movies and books:-

Vincent & Theo– a 1990 biographical drama film about the painter Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890) and his brother Theo (1857–1891). The film highlights the warm relationship of the siblings, it starts from 1883 when despite his father’s protests Vincent decides to pursuit art as a career, Theo is introduced as the only family member who supported Vincent’s decision. In his lifetime, Theo never lost hope in Vincent’s artistic skills, he continued to encourage him till the end and as an art dealer persistently tried to establish him as a successful artist in the market. As a concerned brother, he even financed Paul Gauguin’s relocation to Arles with the hope that his company would help Vincent cope with depression and he trusted Gauguin’s influence might shift his dark palette to a brighter one, as was the pattern followed by the avant-garde impressionist artists of that time.

Posters

Promotional posters of the movie Vincent & Theo

 

Van Gogh: Painted With Words- A bio-documentary released in 2010, based on the real letters of Vincent and Theo, it showcases the correspondence between the two brothers and the circumstances at the moments the letters were written. Shown below is the promotional poster of the bio-documentary

Van Gogh-Painted With Words

Promotional posters of the bio-documentary ‘Van Gogh: Painted with Words’

 

In their lifetime, Vincent van Gogh and his brother exchanged over 903 letters, the brothers had a constant correspondence, living apart didn’t bring any sort of distance or gap in their relationship. In the letters, Vincent expressed his artistic ideas and emotional experiences with complete honesty. These letters reveal the artist’s inner struggles, creative growth and personal thoughts.

Below are few books based on the collection of Vincent’s letters to his brother Theo:

The Letters of Vincent van Gogh– edited by Mark Roskill

The Letters of Vincent van Gogh-

 

Dear Theo- edited by Irving Stone

dear-theo

 

Theo: The Other Van Gogh by Marie-Angelique Ozanne and Frederique De Jode
The book questions- Would Vincent have been Vincent without Theo? It analysis the key role the younger brother played in emotionally supporting and shaping his career as an artist.

TheoThe Other Van Gogh

 

Les deux Van Gogh (Sayonara Sorushie) An interesting graphic novel released in 2012 by Japanese Author/Artist Hozumi. Though the tear-jerking manga (Japanese term for graphic novels) is partly fictional but the way the Author/Artist has narrated the siblings attachment is extremely touching. This award-winning work is a must-read for all art enthusiasts.

ssorcier_cover

 

Theo was with his beloved brother till his last hours of life, on 27 July 1890 when he receiving the news that Vincent shot himself in the chest, he rushed to be at his brother’s side. Theo was distraught by the loss and died six months later, his body was buried with his brother at Auvers-sur-Oise. Theo’s widow held a memorial exhibition of Vincent van Gogh’s artworks, and he was an instant sensation in the art circuit in Europe. Today Vincent van Gogh is one of the most recognizable artists, his creative techniques laid down the foundation for the modern art.

Vincent and theo

Vincent and Theo- A Creative genius and a Charismatic Art Dealer, as illustrated in Manga Sayonara Sorcier.

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The Curious Case of- ‘The Barnes Collection’

 

Albert Barnes a chemist by profession is known as one of the most insightful and intuitive art collector. In late 19th century/early 20th century, when modern artists like Picasso, Matisse and Modigliani were considered too vague and forward, he invested in their artworks and gradually made an art collection of 2,500 art items which is currently worth at least $25-billion.

albert_barnes

With his perceptive vision, he bought priceless artworks at advantageous prices. Artworks worth millions in today’s time were bought by him within four to three-figures price range. Today ‘The Barnes collection’ is considered to be the best private art collection of post-Impressionist era. The amazing collection includes – 69 Cézannes, 60 Matisses, 44 Picassos, 178 Renoirs, 18 Henri Rousseau, 14 Modigliani, 6 Georges Seurat, Edgar Degas, 7 Vincent van Gogh and more.

Shown below are some of the prized assets-

 

 

But his excellent taste in art is not the only thing he is known for, after Barnes’ death, ownership of his exclusive collection had become a very controversial issue. Only once, did Barnes showcase his private collection publically, the displayed artworks were brutally criticized and ridiculed by the local art circle leaving a permanent resentment towards the art critics and institutes of Philadelphian.

Before long, he got a mansion built and designed especially for his collection, access to which was limited to selected few, mainly art students. Idea was to make a school and use the art for educational programs rather than showcasing it as a typical museum. The arrangement of the paintings, ancient artifacts, furniture and other antique pieces (African sculptures, Asian prints, medieval manuscripts, Old master paintings of Peter Paul Rubens, and Titian) in the mansion was unique and aesthetically interesting unlike a museum-like clichéd display.

Artworks as displayed in Barnes Mansion

 

 

For the sake of his art collection, he founded ‘The Barnes Foundation’ which stated clearly that the artworks should be only used for educational purpose, they shouldn’t be sold and that the pieces should not be moved out of the mansion under any condition. The foundation permitted the collection to be open to the public, only for few days a week.

The building where the Barnes collection was displayed in Lower Merion

ORG-Barnes-foundation

After Barnes death, in due course, as the masterpiece artworks value increased, The Philadelphia Art Museum, the very institute Barnes detested, claimed that the collection deserved to be made public. Supporters of the original foundation and nonprofit corporations voiced against the proposal since it conflicted with Barnes wishes. The factions accused the government of overlooking and disrespecting the basic rights of private property and monetizing the collection for tourism purpose. After years of legal struggle, the city finally obtains it for $107 million, a measly amount compared to the estimated $25 billion worth collection.

Supporters of the Barnes foundation protesting against the relocation of the art collection

barnes-protest-cbcNews

 

Barnes protest

Vandalized signs of the protester’s

Photo by William Thomas

‘The Art of the Steal’ is an excellent documentary worth watching (not to be mistaken with the Hollywood movie releases in 2013), it follows this controversial struggle for control of Dr. Albert C. Barnes’ 25 billion dollar collection of modern and post-impressionist art.

art-of-the-steal

Other than Barnes’ radical art collection and controversies, what’s more intriguing and admirable is his keen sense of art and intuitive nature. Entrepreneur to the core, the fact that he formed a foundation to protect his art possession proves that he anticipated that his collection in due time would become priceless. He spent most of his fortune on the artworks which the art critics of his time, yet didn’t recognize as masterpieces. Art collectors and enthusiasts like Albert Barnes are rarities in the art world.

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Feathers in Audubon`s Cap

“A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.”
– J.  J. Audubon

James Audubon, a self taught artist, naturalist and ornithologist is best known for his exceptional bird paintings, his ambition was to illustrate every single bird species of North America in their natural habitats. His collection of artworks were published as a book ‘The Birds of America’ encompassing 435 life-sized bird prints, the book till date is regarded as one of the most significant documented studies of birds.

Here is a selection of some of the most stunning drawings of Audubon along with few of his remarkable quotes. The birds in his artworks are dexterously illustrated in a manner that they are creatively appealing for an artist, inspiring for a nature lover and informative with incredible visual clarity for an ornithologist.

Aphelocoma Jay’s illustrated by J. J. Audubon

 

“I never for a day gave up listening to the songs of our birds, or watching their peculiar habits, or delineating them in the best way I could.”
–  James Audubon

The uniqueness of his painstakingly detailed artworks is the breathtaking realism of the anatomical features of the birds and a hint of their natural habitat in the background.

Falcorusticolu’s illustrated by J. J. Audubon

 

“The worse my drawings were, the more beautiful did the originals appear.”
–  James Audubon

Audubons’s water color technique was unique and experimental, he defied the traditional method by mixing other medias like graphite, pastel, oil paint, chalk, ink, and collage to add texture and depth.

Great Horned Owl illustrated by J. J. Audubon

 

“As I grew up I was fervently desirous of becoming acquainted with Nature.”
–  James Audubon

It is believed that Audubon’s financial and family life failed miserably due to his obsession with the feathered species. Allegedly his wife once complained- “I have a rival in every bird”. He went bankrupt due to his numerous failed business attempts that’s when he set off trekking across North America with a bold ambition of drawing every bird in North America.

Ruffed Grouse illustrated by J. J. Audubon

 

“During all these years there existed within me a tendency to follow Nature in her walks.”
–  James Audubon

Audubon’s achievement was extraordinary, in his era there were no documented reference on birds, binoculars or camera available, for the sake of his work he managed to record and study the birds in their natural environment with his own innovative methods. He catalogued 25 new species and introduced bird-banding, a method used to study birds and their travels. He tied yarn to the legs of Eastern Phoebes, monitored their movements, and discovered that this species returns to nest in the same spot each year.

Carolina Parakeet illustrated by J. J. Audubon

Brasilian Caracara Eagle illustrated by J. J. Audubon

Columbia Jay illustrated by J. J. Audubon

Black Warrior illustrated by J. J. Audubon

 

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