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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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.

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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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Everybody Loves Landscapes

Every art collector has a favorite genre but landscapes is one such kind which is liked by all art enthusiasts, whether it’s green open fields, vast coastal views, serene valleys, wild forests or a simple foliage of a garden. Here are few reasons to why it’s the most loved art theme.

In today’s time, being surrounded by the beauty of nature in any form is what generally people would call a perfect get-away from their hectic city life. Landscape paintings manage to capture the scenic beauty of these experiences, making sceneries a popular theme among city populace. Fine examples of these are the landscapes made by the impressionist artists.

Landhaus in Rueil By Edouard Manet

 

The Water Garden by Childe Hassam

 

Field with flowers near Arles by Vincent van Gogh

 

Landscape as a subject is extremely flexible and versatile, the composition can be stylized in many ways- abstract, realism, impressionism or cubism. Cezanne, Dali, Marc Franz, Rousseau are few artist’s who painted landscapes, each following a radically unique style (artworks shown below).

Landscape and a Seascape by Henri Rousseau and Dali

Ocher ArtRousseau Dali

 

At the Water’s Edge by Cezanne

 

Deer in a Monastery Garden by Marc Franz

 

The Home of the Heron by George Inness

 

Artists like Constable and Turner on the other hand followed realism. Constables masterpiece’s ‘Wivenhoe Park’ (top-most image of this post) and ‘An Old Bridge at Hendon’ (Shown below) are classic examples of landscapes made during the romanticism era. Fresh colors, rural subjects, countryside views, twilight scenes and slush greenery in harmony with a brilliant blue sky were some of the elements of romanticism.

An Old Bridge at Hendon by Constable

 

Landscape paintings are also favored by the interior designers because it’s a genre that goes well with all sorts of interiors- traditional interiors for home, contemporary corporate spaces or theme based décor. Nature showcased in any form or style, adds a soothing effect to a space, its welcoming, attractive and the color palette is mostly wide enough to harmonize with the other elements in the interior.

Ocher Art Blog-img source-

Image source- theseasidestyle.com and tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com

Ocher Art Blog-img source

Image source- howtodecorate.com and houseofturquoise.com

For a small room with poor lighting or a windowless space, a landscape painting makes a lot of difference, it creates a feeling of wider space. Adding landscapes and sceneries are one of the many tricks used by professional interior designers for adding an illusion of increased space in small apartments and flats.

Ocher Art Blog-img source- architecturaldigest_com

Image source- architecturaldigest.com

In Feng Shui, landscape paintings are a popular element used to energizing the atmosphere. Landscapes with flowing water symbolize abundance in cash inflow or career advancement. Scenic greenery and cultivated fields makes a painting best suited for well being and liveliness. Trees, budding flowers and mountains suggest growth and support. Scenic paintings are one of the easiest and most flexible elements used by Feng Shi experts to modify energies and attract positive vibrations.

Morning Sunlight Effect by Camille Pissarro

 

Finally, love for scenic landscapes is an inherent nature of mankind because we evolved in it. We have had an age-old connection and a profound relationship with nature, the impact of a scenic painting is bound to be of joy and captivity.

Undergrowth with Two Figures by Vincent van Gogh

 

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