Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"La Promenade"

Picture taken from

Claude Monet is best known for his painting of water lilies. Yet I think that Monet's portraits of people are underrated. This piece painted by Monet in 1875 is titled "La Promenade." Out of all the pieces in Monet's collection, this piece I like the best. 

One thing that I find interesting about this artwork is the view point. You view the woman as if you are laying in the grass and looking up at her. Her gaze pierces you. Another interesting thing about this painting is the shadows in the grass. One shadow is obviously from the woman, but there are two others that have no owner. Are there two people standing beyond us? Or is this just a shadow cast by a cloud? This gives the piece a sense of mystery, like you do not know the entire story. The young boy stands in the background almost eerily, and we don't completely understand what he is doing there. This makes the painting feel almost uncomfortable to look at. Something I feel is fantastic about this piece is the way Monet has painted the wind blowing through the woman's cloths. You can almost feel the wind as if you were there. 

Claude Monet was an impressionist, yet this painting is so clear to me. I can see, by play of light, the folds in the woman's dress and each blade of grass. The technique Claude used for each stroke seems to be effortless and light, giving the painting a smooth and airy feeling. I could stare at this painting for hours, always finding something interesting. 

From first glance this painting is but a light scene in an open field, but when you look closely, much more is uncovered. 

Monday, September 28, 2009

"The Hill Upstairs"

picture taken from

When I first entered the Midway Contemporary Art Museum I was bewildered by the idea that everything in the museum was considered art. Nothing made any sense to me. A box covered in string, a rather large steel star. What could all of this possibly mean? What could each artist have been thinking while creating such pieces? I walked through each gallery room, and could not possibly find one artwork that stood out more than the next. Each piece strayed off in my mind as utter mush and nothing else. It was not until I was about to leave that I saw the Artwork that interested me.

I looked above the front desk and saw what looked like an oddly colored water stain. I asked the woman at the desk how the water stain came to be. She explained to me that the peculiar stain was in fact carefully created by an artist. 'Who on earth would do that?' I asked myself. The artist had carefully spilled different colored pigments onto the ceiling tiles, and once he found the concept perfect, it was hung on the ceiling. I found out the artists name was Jay Heikes and the piece was called "The Hill Upstairs". When I asked the woman at the desk why the piece was named that she simply said, 'The artist had a friend who had a brain tumor, and this was his take on it.' Finally I understood.

The idea of a brain tumor is hard to relate to. But when you see this blob of intricately strewn fluids, you get an idea of a muffled, spongey object attached to a white clean space. It is collected chaos. The concept to create such a piece was well thought out and had a deep meaning. Placing it on the ceiling was edgy and made sense. When you saw the stain you got the urge to remove it from the perfect white ceiling. You wanted it to go away. In my opinion, the artist was completely successful with what he wanted us to feel, and how we should perceive the piece.

The Midway Contemporary Art Museum was certainly not my cup of tea, but I developed a great respect for the artists. I am not at all a contemporary artist, and rarely do I enjoy that sort of thing, but Midway opened my eyes to the fact that Contemporary art, is art.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Mining the MIA

Pictures taken by Sarah Lampe at the Minneapolis Institute of Art

You walk into a room and see 5 art pieces each created by a different artist. The five pieces hung or placed across a solid white wall. The room is empty and bright, one red light is shown onto the artwork.

The artwork is placed on the wall like in picture above.
(from left to right) Two women by Eugene Carriere. Lucretia by Rembrandt. Portrait of a woman as Judith by Agostino Carracci. Nude by John Graham. Portrait of Madame de Serilly by Jean-Antoine Houdon.

Looking at each piece of art alone, they all tell a different story. but when you place each woman around the Portrait of a woman as Judith, the story of each artwork changes. Each woman looks sad or woeful, one has even stabbed herself. Usually when you see each art peice you wonder why each woman is distressed. By a matter of placement the question almost disappears. Your mind seems to connect each of them with the painting in the middle. You think about the idea that these women are crying or morning over the dead man.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rembrandt's Self Portrait

Picture taken from...

This self portrait painted by Rembrandt in 1659 is one of many he painted through his life. But what about this specific painting is so special to me? Rembrandt has a unique way of painting. His strokes are very apparent and his hands are implied and yet, the painting evokes such truth. when you look into the eyes of Rembrandt in this painting, he looks like he is stareing right back at you. His gaze is intense, and it hooks you in. When you look at the way rembrandt paints his face, he leaves visible strokes that from close up seems almost sloppy, but when you step back, the strokes create perfection. The strokes also show age in the face. His technique of painting the shine on the cord on his hat seem so simple, but really captures the light. He seems to accentuate the face and use the most detail around it. With all of these interesting techniques I find that Rembrandt is one of the best artists that has ever lived.