Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Not exactly painting from sketches. . .

Do you remember those short pieces the Atlantic Monthly used to run about two famous people meeting each other, say Ben Franklin and Paris Hilton? (Well, along those lines. . .) I've always been fascinated by the intersection of notable artists and writers, wondering what ideas might have come out of those meetings.

Reading about Courbet lately in Courbet and the Modern Landscape, by Mary Morton and Charlotte Eyerman and thinking about how we forge our own way after exposure to the work of others. Eyerman talks about the Courbet's
likely influences, some traditional and some less so. She says that the artist would certainly have been aware of Turner's many seascapes, as well as the work of Gericault and his famous, Raft of the Medusa (depicting a sea tragedy resulting from the bad planning of government officials).

Courbet would have met Whistler and Monet, and like them, would have begun to push his subjects toward abstraction. Courbet took all the people out of his seascapes, and in most paintings, all the boats. In the most abstract of his 30+ wave pain
tings, he starts with what he sees and just invents the rest, capturing tension, movement, and power.

Guy de Maupassant describes his approach:

In a great bare room at fat, dirty, greasy man was spreading pat
ches of white paint on to a big bare canvas with a kitchen-knife. From time to time he went and pressed his face against the window pane to look at the storm. The sea came up so close it seemed to beat right against the house, which was smothered in foam and noise. The dirty water rattled like hail against the window. . .It was called The Wave and it made a good deal of stir in its time. (page 104)

Above is The Wave (detail). I would like to go to the National Gallery in Berlin and try this: Miro said, "One feels physically drawn to it, as by an undertow. It is fatal. Even if this painting had been at our backs we would have felt it."

Are there works of art that hold this kind of power for you?

No comments:

Post a Comment