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.

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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.

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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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When Art inspired Art

It has been a common practice for artists to replicate the composition of the paintings made by their favorite master artists.  These replicas have been a result of sincere admiration and genuine inspiration. We have listed few such reproduced artworks that have been created with similar theme as the original masterpiece but yet each the copied painting retains its own uniqueness made with fresh creativity.

Vincent van Gogh made over 30 copies of artworks made by his favorite artists- Delacroix, Jean-Francois Millet and Rembrandt. These replicas are not ‘plagiarized ideas’, he reproduced the paintings infusing his own originality with new art techniques and symbolism.

Noon Rest from Work by Jean-Francois Millet (Original)

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Noon – Rest from Work by Vincent van Gogh

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‘Portrait of Young Woman with Unicorn’, a painting made by Raphael was inspired by the ‘Mona Lisa’, painted by Leonardo da Vinci. The landscape in the background, three-quarter cut of the portrait and the subjects pose, clearly takes on the composition of the masterpiece made by Leonardo da Vinci. However Raphael’s model has naivety and innocence in contrast to the mysterious Mona Lisa.

Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci (Original)

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Portrait of Young Woman with Unicorn by Raphael

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Silk-screen prints of Kate Moss by the British artist Banksy are reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s portraits of Marilyn Monroe. The graffiti artist has given a contemporary makeover to the classic masterpiece with superimposed hairstyle and vibrant backgrounds.

Andy Warhol’s portraits of Marilyn Monroe (Original)

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Banksy’s portraits of Kate Moss

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‘The Balcony’ a painting by Edouard Manet was inspired by ‘The Majas at the balcony’ made by Francisco Goya. Manet applied an interesting color contrast, the three models are Manet’s friends shown in a casual setting. Goya’s theme on the other hand is rather tense, two elegant women are watched over by hostile male figures in the background.

‘The Majas at the balcony’ made by Francisco Goya (Original)

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‘The Balcony’ a painting by Edouard Manet

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‘Women of Algiers in their Apartment’ is a depiction of a Muslim harem, the painting was created after Eugene Delacroix’s visit to Morocco. The artist was captivated by the Oriental culture, brightly colored flowing costumes, Caravans, Veiled women, and Erotic Harems. In homage to this artwork, Pierre-Auguste Renoir created ‘Parisian Women in Algerian Costume (The Harem). Later Picasso in his cubist style made a series of 15 paintings inspired by Delacroix’s masterpiece.

‘Women of Algiers in their Apartment’ by Eugene Delacroix’s (Original)

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‘Parisian Women in Algerian Costume’ by Renoir

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Women of Algiers by Picasso

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Taking inspired from the composition of ‘The Pastoral Concert’ made by Titan, Edouard Manet painted ‘The Luncheon on the Grass’. Unlike Titan’s mythological theme, Manet’s painting had a contemporary setting. In that era, the art critics considered Manet’s painting obscene, lacking any mythological theme or allegorical precedent a nude and a scantily dressed female along with two fully cloth men in an urban setting couldn’t be passed off as a respectable subject. Claude Monet further inspired by Manet’s painting made his own version of ‘The Luncheon on the Grass’.  James Tissot’s version ‘The Foursome’ was more animated but it was much tamer and sober.

‘The Pastoral Concert’ made by Titan (Original)

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‘The Luncheon on the Grass’ by Edouard Manet

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‘The Luncheon on the Grass’ by Claude Monet

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The Foursome by James Tissot

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The composition of ‘Bedroom at Arles’ painted by Roy Lichtenstein is an exact replica of Vincent van Gogh’s painting of the same title. The technique is what gives the Pop artists painting its originality.

‘Bedroom at Arles’ by Vincent van Gogh (Original)

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‘Bedroom at Arles’ by Roy Lichtenstein

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‘The Third of May 1808’ is a painting made by Spanish artist Francisco Goya to honor Spanish resistance to Napoleon’s armies. The artwork inspired Edouard Manet’s painting ‘Execution of Emperor Maximilian’ and Pablo Picassos masterpiece ‘Guernica’. Manet’s painting portrays the execution of the Emperor of Mexico and ‘Guernica’ is and anti-war painting made by Picasso depicting the aftermath of the Nazi German bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War.

‘The Third of May 1808’ by Francisco Goya (Original)

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‘Execution of Emperor Maximilian’ by Edouard Manet

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‘Guernica’ by Picasso

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The Card Players is a series of oil paintings made by Post-Impressionist artist Paul Cezanne, depicting peasants engrossed in their pipes and playing cards. Cezanne gained inspiration from the painting ‘The Card Players’ made by one of the Le Nain brothers. While the original is highly animated and has a lot of drama, farmers in Cezanne’s artwork are calm and intensely focused on their game.

‘The Card Players’ by the Le Nain brothers (Original)

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‘The Card Players’ by Paul Cezanne

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Johannes Vermeer’s painting ‘The Art of Painting’ is in fact a self portrait, the artist has his back towards the viewer. Perfectly balanced composition, flawless lighting and remarkably realistic technique makes this masterpiece artwork one of the finest creation made by the artist. Salvador Dali revered Vermeer, ‘The Ghost of Vermeer of Delft Which Can Be Used As a Table’ is a surrealistic painting made by him in reference to Vermeer’s appearance in his popular painting ‘The Art of Painting’.

‘The Art of Painting’ by Johannes Vermeer (Original)

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‘The Ghost of Vermeer of Delft Which Can Be Used As a Table’ by Dali

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‘Woman with a Parasol’ (Mrs. Monet and their son) was painted by Claude Monet in a single session probably within few hours, the impulsiveness is clearly visible with the bold and dynamic strokes of multiple shades. Upwards perspective, windy atmosphere and the juxtaposition of Mrs Monet with her partly visible son, adds a sense of amazing depth. Inspired by this remarkable artwork, American artist John Singer Sargent, painted ‘Two Girls with Parasols’, the theme and feel of the painting is similar, it depicts a relaxed and casual outing on a sunny, fair weather day.

‘Woman with a Parasol’ by Claude Monet (Original)

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‘Two Girls with Parasols’ by John Singer Sargent

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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

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‘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

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

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‘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

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

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‘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

 

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The Iconic poster ‘Cigarrillos Paris’ designed by Aleardo Villa

 

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

Gardeners of Junk Parks

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”, this phrase has been given a new meaning by art geniuses who have created sculpture parks/gardens with old objects, recycling junk, and discarded materials. These creative masterminds from around the world have dedicated years of their life in creating assembly of awesome sculptures, their masterpieces are displayed out in the open for public viewing and are now famous tourists spots.

Porter Sculpture Park (South Dakota)–  Wayne Porter a self-taught artist and a former sheep farmer, since his childhood years practiced metallic sculpting at his father’s Blacksmith Shop. Gradually as his interest in art grew his artworks became larger. His sculptures are in the style of industrial art, made with scrap metal, old farm equipment and railroad tie plates. In 2000 he opened his sculpture park, at present it is one of the most popular roadside attraction for tourists.  Out of all his quirky creations, the largest sculpture in the park is a 60-foot-tall bull head (Shown Below). This sculpture took three years to build, weighs 25 tons, and is equal in size to the heads of Mt. Rushmore.

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Rock Garden (Chandigarh)– Nek Chand, another self-taught artist, started his sculpture garden in his spare time in 1957, today it is spread over an area of 40 acres. It is completely built of industrial and home waste and thrown-away items. In his spare time, Nek Chand started collecting materials from demolition sites around the city and created concrete sculptures made of scrap and other kinds of wastes (bottles, glasses, bangles, tiles, ceramic pots, sinks, electrical waste, etc.). The park was inaugurated as a public space in 1976, today it is one of the most visited tourist sites.

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Carhenge (Nebraska)– was built by Jim Reinder in 1987 as a memorial to his father. It is a replica of England’s Stonehenge, instead of large standing stones, as is the case with the original Stonehenge, Carhenge is formed of welded discarded vintage American automobiles, all covered with gray spray paint. In addition to the Stonehenge replica, the Carhenge site includes several other sculptures created from autos parts of discarded cars covered with various colors of spray paint, it is also referred as the Car Art Reserve. There was a interesting documentary made in 2005 featuring the site-  ‘Carhenge: Genius or Junk?’

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The original ‘Stonehenge’ (Bottom) and the replica ‘Carhenge’ (Top)

 

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Cadillac Ranch (Texas) was created in 1974 by Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez and Doug Michels, who were a part of the art group ‘Ant Farm’. The public art installation/sculpture consists of used or junk Cadillac automobiles, the vehicles are installed half-buried nose-first in the ground, at an angle corresponding to that of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. Visitors are encouraged to write graffiti and spray-paint the vehicles however the cars are periodically repainted for various purposes, television commercial, once they were painted black to mark the passing of Doug Michels, another time they were painted rainbow colors to honor gay pride day and at times repainted to their original colors to simply have a fresh canvas for visitors.

 

Image source- portersculpturepark.com, indiaescapes.com, carhenge.com, antfarm.com

There are Passionate Art Collectors and then there are Fanatical Ones

There are passionate art collectors and then there are fanatical ones. We have listed few such obsessive art collectors who even served as art patrons for budding and up-coming young artists, not for personal financial gain or for investment sake but purely for their love for art. Their insightfulness and intuition has originated many success stories for accomplished and skilled artists.

Herbert and Dorothy (1922-2012) (b. 1935), a working-class couple (Herbert was a postal clerk and Dorothy worked as a librarian), are known as the champions of art collectors. With their common interest in art, the made-for-each other couple amassed a priceless collection of over 4,782 artworks, considered to be one of the most important private art collections of the 20th century, which they surprisingly stored in their one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan. Running out of space in their apartment, they decided to donate part of their collection to the National Gallery of Art (Washington) instead of selling.

Herbert and Dorothy

Herbert & Dorothy (Shown above) with their treasured artworks in their one-bedroom apartment.


Sergei Shchukin
(1854-1936) was a Russian businessman, the art he bought in his time was rebuffed by the Louvre and other museums. He had a strong association particularly with Henri Rousseau. The artist (Rousseau) decorated his mansion and created one of his iconic paintings-La Danse. Shchukin’s collection was brutally criticized and ridiculed by the art circle, he jokingly remarked, “A madman painted it and a madman bought it.”  After the 1917 Revolution, the government acquired his collection, his mansion in Moscow became the State Museum of New Western Art.

Sergei Shchukin the dance

Sergei Shchukin (Left),- The iconic paining made by Henri Rousseau for his mansion- The Dance (Right)

Sergei Shchukin residence, with paintings by Claude Monet and other Impressionists

A portion of Sergei Shchukin’s mansion with his collection (Shown above)


Don and Mera Rubell,
Miami based art enthusiasts started collecting shortly after they got married, Don was still a medical student and Mera was working as a teacher. The couple was organized and practical in their purchases, 25 percent of their monthly finances were fixed for acquiring artworks for their collection. They mostly bought art pieces from young and rising artists. As their financial conditions improved, the Rubells’s gradually extended their range to international aspiring new artists. As selfless art collectors, the Rubell’s showcase their collection annually for public viewing from mid-December to early August.

Don and Mera Rubell

Don and Mera Rubell (Shown above) image source colormecashmere.com


Albert Barnes
(1872-1951) 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 bought their artworks and gradually made an art collection of 2,500 art items which is currently worth at least $25-billion. Before long, he got a mansion built and designed especially for his collection, access to which was limited to selected few, mostly art students. After Barnes death, his collection is now part of Philadelphia Museum of Art.

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Albert Barnes with his art collection


Charles Lang Freer
(1854-1919), an American industrialist and founder of Freer Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), he is best known for his vast collection of Asian art mostly sculptures, paintings and ceramics from Egypt, Iran, Japan, China, and Korea. Though his collection also includes number of American masters but he was particularly fascinated by the works of James Whistler. One of his most famous acquisitions was James McNeill Whistler’s Peacock Room, a masterpiece of mural art. Freer filled the shelves in the peacock room with pots he had acquired from Asia. This asserted his belief that “all works of art go together, whatever their period.”

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Interior of the Peacock Room, the panels are painted with brilliant blue-greens and metallic gold leaf

 

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Charles Lang Freer (Right), The Princess from the Land of Porcelain (one of the artworks in The Peacock Room)

 

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One of the panels in The Peacock Room (Right), Asian Pots placed along the panels (left)

Art for Love

Artists have drawn inspiration from a variety of sources most common being the experience of love. Listed below are some of the most beautiful and expressive paintings made by Indian master artists in different styles and genre dedicated to love and relationships.

Sohni Mahiwal by Sobha Singh:
When we talk about star crossed lovers, Sohni Mehiwa’s romance is the first love legend that comes to our mind. One of the greatest Indian artists of twentieth century Sobha Singhs’ painting depicts the clandestine rendezvous of the tragic lovers. Mahiwal’s tenderly embraces Sohni drenched with water, seemingly tired after cross the river.

Sohni mahiwal

 

Ardhanarishvara in Tibetan Thangka Style:
Lord Shiva’s love for his consort Parvati is symbolized as Ardhanarishvara, the composition depicts his half-body being shared by his spouse. In Shiva Purana, Shiva preaches to Parvati that she resides with him, embracing her ‘limb-to-limb’, that’s how Ardhanarishvara is formed. Below is the popular Ardhanarishvara artwork painted in Tibetan Thangka style, it conveys the unity in the most beautiful manner. The posture bent in three parts (head, torso and right leg) adds grace and elegance. Intricacy of the artwork and the bright colors make the composition of the union of Siva and Shakti truly striking.

Ardhanarishvara

 

Radha Krishna series by Abdur Rahman Chughtai:
Abdur Chughtai is revered for his portrayal of legends, folklore and history of the Indo-Islamic world. His most recognizable artworks are the Radha Krishna series made in watercolours, the paintings showcases the couples tender and passionate love in the most animated and captivating manner. The artworks reflects the characteristics of his unique technique called Chughtai style- dreamy eyes, graceful figures with seductive nuances and saturated with passionate mood.

Radha Krishna

 

Mother Teresa Series by M. F. Hussain:
The cubist artist M. F. Hussain known as the “Picasso of India” made a memorable and touching series illustrating the love and compassion Mother Teresas had for the impoverished and the dying. The creativity and originality of the art works is remarkable, faceless figures with just the blue border of her attire were suggestive enough of her appearance. The composition successfully personifies motherhood, selfless love and limitless affection, creatively projected in an abstract form.

Mother Teresa

 

Shakuntala Dushyanta by Kalipada Ghoshal:
The artwork by Bengali master artist Kalipada Ghoshal depicts the tale of ‘love at first sight’ of Dushyanta and Shakuntala. In the artwork Dushyanta lovingly courts Shakuntala against a gentle backdrop, the intimate moment heightens the paintings theme of love and beauty. The dramatic love story of separation and union of this mythical couple from Mahabharat had a ‘happily ever after ending.

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Miniature paintings from Geeta Govinda:
Gita Govinda, a devotional song composed by Jayadeva (12th century poet), describes the divine love of Radha and Krishna. The poet elaborates on how both of them are vulnerable victims of an irrepressible passion. These fascinating miniature paintings made to represent this mini-epic beautifully illustrate the celestial couples’ spiritual love and blissful union.

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Shah Jahan and Jahanara by Mohanlal Soni:
This emotion stirring painting of ailing Shah Jahan with his daughter Jahanara epitomizes the love between a father and his daughter. Jahanara willingly chose to join her father in imprisonment at the Agra Fort, where she devoted herself to his care until his death. The painting shows Shah Jahan gazing longingly at Taj Mahal in the background while a concerned Jahanara lovingly comforts him with warmth and compassion.

Jahan & Jahanara

 

Mother and Child series by Jamini Roy:
Jamini Roy, the most famous pupils of Abanindranath Tagore, is remembered today for the simplicity of his artworks, mainly capturing the life of the folk people. His most popular paintings have been the ‘Mother and Child’ series which followed his distinctive technique of bold outlines, flat colors and wide-eyed stylized figures. He effortlessly captured the essence of mothers love with a straightforward and simple approach.

Jamini Roy (1887-1972), Mother and Child, Tempera on Canvas, 35.7x73 cm, National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi

 

Meera Bai Pines for Her Krishna by Vasudeo Kamath:
This exquisite painting depicts Meera Bai the mystic poet, longing for Krishnas’ image. To accomplish that, she tries to replica his appearance by painting her face dark and complements it with a peacock feather to match his manifestation at best. Vasudeo Kamath manages to capture the spiritual bliss and ecstasy Meera Bai experiences on seeing her reflection.

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Urvashi Pururavas and Savitri Satyavan by Raja Ravi Varma:
These lesser known paintings of the celebrated Indian artist Raja Ravi Varma depict the epic love stories of two mythical couples- Urvashi Pururavas and Savitri Satyavan. The love story of the beautiful apsara Urvashi and Pururavas ends tragically after she bears him a child, the reason was a curse given by sage Bharat- “ the day your son and lover meet, you will have to return to heaven.” The painting shows Urvashi leaving a mournful Pururavas.

Savitri and Satyavan however had a ‘happily ever after’ ending, the artwork shows the scene when Lord Yama the god of Death, comes to claim the soul of Satyavan. Eventually, impressed by Savitri’s dedication and purity, Lord Yama grants life to Satyavan’s.

Raja Ravi Varma

Is Abstract Art Really Art?

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Guernica by Pablo Picasso

Abstract art is a genre that stirs up extreme emotions, for some it is the most creative and novel way of expressing an artistic vision on the other hand there are a set of art enthusiasts who find it unimaginative, meaningless and even go so far as to say-  “it is an excuse for being a bad artist”. The statement is unquestionably false and invalid, master artists like Pablo Picasso and Kazimir Malevic started as brilliant realist artists, gradually after decades of experience headed towards abstraction as their style and techniques progressively matured. As Picasso quoted- “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.”

Shown below (Left) is a portrait of Picasso’s mother made by him in his early teens. On the right is the painting- ‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon’ (The Young Ladies of Avignon) , it is considered to be the prototype that shaped Cubism and Modern art. The evident style difference shows the creative maturity achieved by Picasso over the years.

 

Shown below (Left) is a realistic still life made by Henri Matisse, in his early years. On the right is his masterpiece painting- ‘Dance’ made after he founded Fauvism. The drastic transformation in his style proves the various techniques he adopted as his style matured over time.

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Shown below is a portrait of Kazimir Malevic’s wife made by him in the early years of his career. On the right is the painting- ‘Suprematism’ made after he pioneered geometric abstraction.

 

“Of all the arts, abstract painting is the most difficult. It demands that you know how to draw well, that you have a heightened sensitivity for composition and for colors, and that you be a true poet. This last is essential.” – Wassily Kandinksky

To evoke emotions from a visual composition of shapes, lines and color that are completely detached from reality is what an abstract artist wishes to accomplish. It’s a tricky and tough target to achieve, the artwork needs to be intriguing and absorbing enough to give a viewer pause for thought.

Each one of us would have a different emotional reaction, interpretation and understanding of an abstraction, that is the unique creative character of non-representational art. Seeing Paul Klee’s painting (shown below) one might spot, drama and positive energy in the shape shifting color distribution but for some the patterned pastel shades may generate feeling of melancholy or chaos.

 

Feeling intimidated or stressing over deciphering the art would only ruin your visual experience, creative imagination and curiosity is all that’s needed to appreciate and enjoy the an abstract artwork.  What was the artist thinking while making the painting?  What is the message of the artwork? These are pointless questions best kept at bay. Abstract art is open to multiple connotations, it is like a prism that separates a single idea into a spectrum of interpretations.

In summary, abstract art is not an easy route taken by amateur artists, it is an idea that has fermented over years through various movements, experiments and techniques. Before the advent of camera, traditional arts theory was to capture live scenarios as close to reality as possible. Impressionist artists (late 19th century) were the first to defy the traditional methods by introducing abstraction in the art domain with a radical technique of coloring. Following various movements like Expressionism & Fauvism, by early 21st century Cubist artists like Picasso, Georges Braque and Juan Gris gave a sweeping turn by rejecting the most fundamental elements of art- Perspective and Pictorial Depth. Abstract art further evolved with successive movements like Surrealist and Op-art and it continues to progress and transform from post modernism to contemporary art scenario.

Shown below are artworks- La bouteille d’anis (The Bottle of Anis) and Les raisins made by cubism artist Juan Gris.

 

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The Outlaws – Van Gogh, Gauguin and Cezanne

Van Gogh, Gauguin and Cezanne were considered the outlaws in many respects, in the art world because of their revolutionary art styles and in the social order because of their reputation as hostile and antisocial characters. The founders of the new avant-garde art movement- post impressionism, they were the rebellions of their time. They rejected the conventional rules of painting and created their own unique style, much to the annoyance of the traditionalist. However their bad boys status is not limited to the art scenario, all three were well known for their eccentric and unapproachable nature.

 Interior of a forest by Paul Cézanne

Paul Cezanne’s art was much ahead of his time, even his contemporaries ‘The Impressionists’, known to be the  revolutionaries of their time couldn’t cope with his radical style. His ultramodern technique was by far too advanced for the impressionist to categories him as one of their own. Eventually Cézanne broke away from the group and cut all ties with his other fellow artists. He shifted to a secluded base in a suburb of Aix-en-Provence and started leading a very reclusive life in complete isolation.  As per his biographer Lawrence Hanson-“ He became violently anti-social that poisoned every relationship in his life. With every year his detestation of his fellow men seemed to grow and his efforts to appear even passably civil dwindled to next to nothing.”

 The card players by Paul Cézanne

 The Pool at the Jas de Bouffan by Paul Cézanne

 Still Life with Jar, Cup, and Apples by Paul Cézanne

 Still Life with a Ginger Jar and Eggplants by Paul Cézanne

Vincent van Gogh like his artworks was volatile and unpredictable. His erratic brush strokes and intensely dazzling palette altered the face of art forever. His offbeat masterpieces have been an inspiration for future art movements like Cubism and Fauvism. Van Gogh became the poster child for the classic eccentric and unfriendly artist. His mood swings, alcoholism and mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder made him an outcast in the society. The artist himself confessed to his brother Theo that he felt like a misfit even amongst his own artist friends. After the infamous incident, when he cut his ear lobe with a razor, the locals in Arles signed a petition stating that van Gogh was dangerous and unreliable. Thereafter he confined himself within the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum and painted within the hospitals property.

 Garden at Arles by Vincent van Gogh

Wheatfield with crows by Vincent van Gogh

Roses by Vincent van Gogh

Poplars near Nuenen by Vincent van Gogh

 Poppy field by Vincent van Gogh

Paul Gauguin became an outsider by choice, he abandoned his wife and five children and escaped to a small primitive island- Tahiti. Though it was an idealistic life for a lone artist but shifting away from civilization and selfishly running away from family responsibilities would qualify him as an oddball even in current times. Financial difficulties and his need to look for compositions and subjects unadulterated by the artificial western culture led him to visit Tahiti. Enamored by the exotic location and simplicity of the natives, he eventually decided to make the island his permanent home. His bright colored Tahiti paintings captured the innocence and ethnicity of the locals superbly. The usage of experimental colors and abstract shapes of the indigenous subjects in his tropical paradise-like masterpieces was fresh and original. Unfortunately, these new and untried techniques could not be comprehended and accepted by the art community of his time.

Three Tahitians by Paul Gauguin

Two Tahitians by Paul Gauguin

The Siesta by Paul Gauguin

Self Portrait by Paul Gauguin

Being ‘the outlaws’ wasn’t the only thing they had in common, the trio made groundbreaking progress in the art world which laid down the foundation for the modern art. Unlike other contemporary artists of their time, who composed what they saw in real life and copied it on their canvases, Gauguin along with Vincent and Cezanne were first of their kind who made from their imagination. Great artists like Picasso and Matisse were greatly influenced by these outlaws.

 

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Street Art- an open gallery

Street art unlike traditional Art is displayed in public urban locations with an attempt to capture larger audience. Mostly the artist’s motive is to either convey a strong socio-political message or to beautify a public space with their own trademark style. The law considers it an illicit activity which makes it even more thrilling and intriguing for the public. It’s a personal expression of an anonymous artist who has taken risk in making his rebellion artwork on a prohibited public space. It’s an open gallery with an invitation for everyone to speculate, discuss and admire.

Street artist Banksy depicts- Child Labour in UK.

Street artist Banksy depicts- Child Labour in UK.

There is a difference between street art and vandalism. Street art has a character, it is an artist’s statement with no intention of disfiguring or ruining the area. The art is created with sincerity and conviction which sets it apart from irrational scribbling and meaningless drawings done by vandals.

Fairey

Street artist Shepard Fairey illustrates women as mere observers of Israeli-Palestine conflict.

 

Some of the street artists have gained immense international popularity with major fan following. Banksy (real name and identity is unknown) being one of the most popular amongst them, his artworks have been sold in many auction house’s and some are even part of museum collection. Banksy’s art is clever, thought provoking, satirical and often controversial in nature. His identity still remains unknown for ongoing legal issues, since graffiti is illegal.

Below are some of the best and most popular artworks made by Banksy:-

Banksy-Soldiers

Above artwork highlights repression of free speech as well as anti-war protest.

‘Sweep it under the carpet’

‘Sweep it under the carpet’ depicts reluctance of the western world to deal with global issues such as the AIDS epidemic.

‘A woman washing zebra stripes’

‘A woman washing zebra stripes’ was painted in Mali by Banksy. The Irony being, it has been painted in a drought-ridden country highlighting the careless usage of water by the western world.

Sad-looking working class

A depressed worker has his dreams stamped Cancelled.

two dimensional graffiti art-

Banksy’s two dimensional graffiti art- telephone booth murdered with an axe, lying in a pool of blood represents the death of phone due to social media.

Anti Immigration.

A powerful artwork that depicts Anti Immigration.

 

Shepard Fairey best known for the iconic ‘Hope’ poster of Barak Obama has a exceptional style which is quite similar to pop art and commercial illustrations. The ‘Hope’ poster was extensively used for U.S. presidential election campaign in 2008, Obama himself had sent a personal thank you note to Fairey for his contribution to the campaign. Shepard’s being a graphic designer extensively uses flat colors mainly black, white, and red. His work is now seen in some of the most prominent contemporary art galleries, as well as in signature apparel.

Below are some of the artworks done by Shepard Fairey:-

tlonworld.weebly.com

creative-mag.ctrlshift.co.uk

background-kid.com

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tlonworld.weebly.com2

pmcadmissions.files

Invader is another well-known street artist who uses a ghost name to hide his identity. His mosaic art is made in pixilated form, replicating the video games made in 1970’s. Invaders tiled mosaic’s so far have been installed in more than 60 cities in 30 countries and the ’invasion’ continues. He has been showcased in many renowned galleries around the world. Other than tiles he has also used Rubik’s Cubes for his artwork which has earned him much appreciation in the art world.

Below are images of some of Invader’s invasions in various countries around the globe:-

PARIS, FRANCE

PARIS, FRANCE

HONG KONG

HONG KONG

LOMDON

LONDON

TOKYO, JAPAN

TOKYO, JAPAN

VARANASI, INDIA

VARANASI, INDIA

NY

NEW YORK, USA

 

Illegality was once an obstacle that hindered street artists from entering the arena of formal art. Strangely enough, contemporary art collectors and art galleries have started to appreciate them. Many more street artists are fast collaborating with art auctioneers and monetizing their artworks.

Image’s of Exhibition’s held by Banksy:-

dailymail.co

 

Image’s of Exhibition’s held by Invader:-

ambiance_TfGf5f9

 

Image’s of Exhibition’s held by Shepard Fairey:-

rollingstone

 

white2

Image source- banksy.co.uk, tlonworld.weebly.com, rollingstone.com hypebeast.com, creative-mag.ctrlshift.co.uk, pmcadmissions.files.wordpress.com, designyoutrust.com, dailymail.co.uk, space-invaders.com

 

How to select art for your interiors

In practice, there are two ways of going about it, if you believe in “art for art’s sake” then decorate the interiors and select the art piece. On the other hand if you feel strongly about art, then select the artwork and plan the decor around it. However, irrespective of the path you follow out of the two, ultimately the decor and art should support each other for a visual appeal.

Style and subject of the artwork:-
The first step is to get a sense of the art that appeals the most to you, figure out what expresses your persona. However, in that process don’t get attached to one particular style. Be open to exploring different genre’s since each room has a character that needs similar kind of artwork on the other hand mixing styles in the same space is not against the rule though it is a little tricky.

Roy Lichtenstein

‘Damselle’ by Pop Art artist Roy Lichtenstein adds glamour to a multi-hued modern interior – CLICK TO BUY OUR CANVAS PRINT’s ON AMAZON.in

van gogh peach tree

Vincent van Gogh’s Painting ‘The pink peach tree’ infuses creativity to the space – CLICK TO BUY OUR CANVAS PRINT’s ON AMAZON.in

 

still life

Vincent van Gogh’s & Camille Pissarro’s Still life Painting’s act as color blocks complementing the prints & patterns of the interior – CLICK TO BUY OUR CANVAS PRINT’s ON AMAZON.in

 

Size and shape of the artwork:-
Shape of the wall should reflect on your artwork, on a horizontally long wall have a landscape size artwork or bunch of small artworks displayed in an interesting horizontal arrangement on the wall. On a slender vertically long space, hang a panel or a portrait size piece. This would highlight the height or width of the wall.

marilyn

Marilyn Monroe Portrait’s by artist Andy Warhol’s grouped in an atypical manner gives an interesting result- CLICK TO BUY OUR CANVAS PRINT’s ON AMAZON.in

 

van gogh wheat fields

Vincent van Gogh’s Painting ‘Wheatfield with crows’. The landscape makes the width of the wall look more imposing – CLICK TO BUY OUR CANVAS PRINT’s ON AMAZON.in

 

vertically long

‘Woman in bath’ and ‘Girl with Ball’ by Roy Lichtenstein makes the wall look tall and grand – CLICK TO BUY OUR CANVAS PRINT’s ON AMAZON.in

 

The art work should be of the right size if the piece is too large for the wall it can get overwhelming, a large canvas shouldn’t cross three fourth width of the couch below it. On the other hand, if an artwork is too small it will lose its charisma, it should be at least half the width of the sofa below it.
For the painting to be at an average eye level, the center of the piece should be approximately 57 inches away from the floor.

van gogh boats

Vincent van Gogh’s painting ‘Fishing boats at Sainte Marie’ is three fourth of the sofa below it- CLICK TO BUY OUR CANVAS PRINT’s ON AMAZON.in

 

Contrast or harmony of the colors:-
You can either create a stark contrast or synchronize the colors of the artwork with your interiors. If you decide to follow a particular color scheme then at least one or two of the most outstanding colors in the room should be prevalent in your artwork. Don’t go overboard with the matching, the colors need not be of the exact shade or tone, it’s good enough if they are from the same family.

white

The tones in Edgar Degas’s painting – ‘Ballet Rehearsal on Stage’ establish a visual link with the interiors- CLICK TO BUY OUR CANVAS PRINT’s ON AMAZON.in

 

pissaro

Alfred Sisley’s painting ‘Rest along the Stream’ synchronizes well with the tone of the space – CLICK TO BUY OUR CANVAS PRINT’s ON AMAZON.in

 

Frame- Three things to consider before selecting a frame for an artwork- the frame shouldn’t dominate the painting, it should form a link between the piece and the interior decor, it should complement the style of the art?

The artwork is the star of the show and a good frame never over shadows the artwork or steals its spotlight.  It serves as an enclosure that enhances the painting and drives the viewers focus to it.

Egon S

Egon Schiele’s modern artwork ‘Crescent of Houses’ looks impactful with a basic and sleek natural wood frame – CLICK TO BUY OUR CANVAS PRINT’s ON AMAZON.in

 

degas dancers

The ornamental frame on Edgar Degas’s painting- ‘Dancers’. mirrors the paintings’ classical style – CLICK TO BUY OUR CANVAS PRINT’s ON AMAZON.in

 

Lighting:-
Correct lighting intensifies the visual impact of the artwork, brings out the subtle details and the fine gradation in colors. Use track or directional spot lighting for recessed ceiling fixtures to highlight your artwork. However, best would be individual picture lights, to illuminate your piece.

spot lights

John F Weir’s still life ‘Roses’ and Vincent van Gogh’s painting ‘The harvest’, light up with individual picture lights on them.- CLICK TO BUY OUR CANVAS PRINT’s ON AMAZON.in

 

Image’s source- rooang.com, decoist.com, canevillecrafts.in, gaiff.com, revitcity.com, custommodernlighting.com, interiorpik.com, cr3at.com (some of the images have been edited)

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