Greatest paintings of the world and their social implications
The Greatest Paintings of the World and their Social Implications By Cindy B. Bitangcor and Rose-Ann C. Silos Table of Contents PAGEI. Introduction A. Painting as man‘s channel of emotions 1 B. Thesis statement 1II. Body of the Paper A. Definition of Painting 1. Art of Painting 4 2. Types (Genres) of painting 4 B. History of Painting 5 C. The 10 Greatest Paintings of the World 6 1. Michelangelo Bounarroti‘s Sistine Chapel Ceiling 6 a. Description of the painting 6 b. Reasons andor aims 7 c. Significance to the society 8 2. Pablo Picasso: Les Demoiselles de Avignon 8 a. Description of the painting 8 b. Reasons andor aims 10 c. Significance to the society 10 3. Vincent van Gogh: The Starry Night 11 a. Description of the painting 11 b. Reasons andor aims 12 c. Significance to the society 13 4. Leonardo da Vinci: Mona Lisa 13 a. Description of the painting 13 b. Reasons andor aims 15 c. Significance to the society 15 5. Jackson Pollock: Blue Poles Number 11 15 a. Description of the painting 15 b. Reasons andor aims 16 c. Significance to the society 16 6. Edouard Manet: Luncheon on the Grass 17 a. Description of the painting 17
b. Reasons andor aims 18 c. Significance to the society 18 7. Edvard Munch: The Scream 19 a. Description of the painting 19 b. Reasons andor aims 19 c. Significance to the society 20 8. Rembrandt van Rijn: The Night Watch 20 a. Description of the painting 20 b. Reasons andor aims 21 c. Significance to the society 22 9. Caravaggio: The Calling of St. Matthew 22 a. Description of the painting 22 b. Reasons andor aims 23 c. Significance to the society 24 10. Giotto: Lamentation over the Dead Christ 24 a. Description of the painting 24 b. Reasons andor aims 25 c. Significance to the society 26III. Conclusion 27BibliographyAppendices Appendix A: Pictures of the 10 Greatest Paintings
An accident and debilitating injury ends a promising medical career, but opens anew door for self-expression… A freak accident on February 2, 2001 robbed Jamie of the use of his left hand, andsuddenly his medical career as a dermatologist was over. The accident shattered his armand incurred permanent nerve damage when he toppled off a kitchen counter. Jamie hadto quit practicing because the majority of his doctoring involved surgery, and with nervedamage, Jamie no longer had two functional hands. Now his painting hobby is the curethat is making Jamie whole. Multiple surgeries, chronic pain, the need for medication andan inability to do the job he trained for made switching gears hard. As he battleddepression, Jamie found solace in his painting. Across time, painting serves as man‘s creative way of expressing feelings ofhimself and the society where he belongs to. In a great way, it imparts a vital role inunderstanding life. It is therefore the researchers‘ task here to discuss the best paintingsof the world and their social implications The best paintings of the world can give us the real image of the people, the eraand the society in the past. . The researchers took the proposal of Lim Jane (2008), a contributor of theHumanitiesWeb Organization in choosing the best paintings of the world. He consideredthe overall quality of the work, the influence it brought, and its popular standing. The top ten chosen paintings are as follows:
1. Michelangelo Buonarroti‘s Sistine Chapel Ceiling. It is the most universally belovedand admired painting in the world, especially in the light of its restoration. It awhole art gallery of over a dozen major, masterpieces, brilliantly composed into amassive, permanent, one man show of the highest caliber, painted under the mostmiserable physical circumstances imaginable; 2. Pablo Piccaso: Les Demoiselles d’ Avignon, 1907, Museum of Modern Art,New York. It is a ground-breaking land mark for Modern Art, delivering a loud, strong,breathtaking departure in style, composition, and subject matter; 3. Vincent van Gogh: The Starry Night, 1889, Museum of Modern Art, NewYork. The painting was to influence the expressive use of color and paint for severalgenerations of international artists; 4. Leonardo da Vinci: Mona Lisa, 1503-06, The Louvre, Paris. It is certainly themost famous painting ever painted, and arguably the most influential portrait; 5. Jackson Pollock: Blue Poles Number 11, 1952, Australia National Gallery,Camberra. It marked the zenith of the Abstract Expressionist movement, striking out on agrand scale with its color and movement; 6. Edouard Manet: Luncheon on the Grass, 1863, Musee du Jeu de Paume, Paris.Manet sounded the opening shot in the war between the Modern Art and the Academicby skillfully combing elements of Classicism, Realism, Impressionism and evenphotography; 7. Edvard Munch: The Scream, 1893, Kommunes Kunstsmalinger, Oslo. Itbecame an icon for the pounding stress and strain of this century, grappling with the
horrors of war, economic and ethnic desperation, social and personal psychologicalconflict; 8. Rembrandt van Rijn: The Night Watch, 1642, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Itbroke the mould insofar as group portraits at the time; 9. Caravaggio: The Calling of St. Matthew, 1597, Contarelli Chapel, San Luigidei Francesi, Rome. Famous for its dramatic, Baroque use of light, realistic modeling offigures, and its profound narrative qualities; 10. Giotto: Lamentation over the Dead Christ, 1304-06, Arena Chapel, Padua,Italy. The most influential painting of the medieval period, responsible for the resurgenceof fresco painting. By doing this paper, the researchers could establish and provide specificinformation regarding the best paintings of the world. This paper could also serve asreference for future studies of the best paintings of the world. Moreover, this paper givesthe researchers the chance to pay tribute to the artists‘ contributions to the world throughthe art of painting.
BODY OF THE PAPERDefinition of Painting Art of painting The art of painting is the expression of ideas and emotions, through the use ofcertain qualities in a two-dimensional visual language. Its elements are used in differentways to awaken emotions or feelings to the viewers on a flat surface. The combination oflines, colors, tones, and textures are the representation of real or supernatural phenomena,to interpret a narrative theme, or to create wholly abstract visual relationships. The artistcommunicates his visual message in terms of the sensuous qualities, expressivepossibilities and limitations of a particular medium, technique and form (The NewEncyclopedia Britannica, 1987). Drawing, or the conscious design of a pictorial image;and the use of color or hues and light tones to augment the beauty or effectiveness of theimage are the two components used in the act of painting (Grolier Encyclopedia ofKnowledge, 1992). Types of Painting Paintings are generally divided into five categories or genres. These are thehistory painting, portraits, genre-painting, landscapes, and still-life. These five types offine art painting are arranged in orders based on their importance or official ranking onthe best type of art. For example, in Italy, large-scale paintings with moral and upliftingmessages were considered as the best while landscapes and still-life typically containedno humans and thus no moral message. But because of this ranking system, controversy
and debates erupted and increased within the official art world (Encyclopedia of Irish andWorld Art, 2010). History genre is the most respected of all the genres. History paintings are notlimited to those depicting historic scenes and it refers to paintings showing the exemplarydeeds and struggles of moral figures. It might include Saints or other Biblical figures,pagan divinities, mythological heroes as well as real-life historical figures. Such pictures,traditionally large-scale public artworks, aim to elevate the morals of the community.History paintings not only depict important events, but ones of particular significance tothe painter‘s society. Portraits are pictures of people, deities or mythological figures inhuman form. It includes group-portraits as well as individual composition. A portrait ofan individual may be faced-only, heads and shoulders, or full-body. Genre paintingdenotes pictures that portray ordinary scenes on everyday life. Subjects can be domesticsettings, interiors, celebrations, tavern scenes, markets and other street situation.Characters should not be endowed with any heroic or dramatic attributes and the scenesshould be portrayed in a non-idealized ways. In landscape genre, it denotes any picturewhose main subject is the depiction of scenic view, such as fields, hillscapes, mountain-scapes, trees, riverscapes, forests, seaviews and seascapes. Some include human figuresbut their presence should be a secondary element in the composition. And in the still-lifegenre, it typically comprises an arrangement of objects, such as flowers or other mundaneobjects, laid out on a table. Vanitas paintings are still-life that contains ethical messagesconcerning human behaviors (Encyclopedia of Irish and World Art, 2010).
History of Painting Back to prehistoric times, cave paintings already exists. The craft, form, imagery,and subject matter of painting and its function were controlled by the early culturaltraditions of tribe, religions, guilds, royal courts, and states (Britannica ConciseEncyclopedia, 2010). Because of the influence on religion on the middle ages, an artistpaints in a way that emphasized religious images and symbolism rather than realism.People that are important in Christian religion and scenes of holy figures are depicted inthe paintings. Even the most talented painters in the middle ages created natural lookinglandscapes, or creating a sense of depth and space in their works rather than animals andhumans look lifelike (Museum of Science, 1997). In the early 20 th century, formalqualities such as line, color and form were explored rather than subject matter.Throughout the century, styles vary between representational and nonrepresentationalpainting. In the late 20th century, the face of new media such as video and installation artforecast the death of paintings, yet talented new artists repeatedly brought painting backto the center of artistic production (Britannica Concise Encyclopedia, 2010). The 10 Greatest Paintings of the World But how can a painting be considered to be one of the best in the world? Lim Jane, a writer in HumanitiesWeb Organization, proposes his own list andcriteria in choosing the greatest paintings of the last thousand years. His main point is the overall quality of the work. Second is the influence of theindividual painting and that of the artist, and the third is that he considered the variousworks and their popular standing amongst those who appreciate art (Lane, 1999).
The paintings he chose were: 1. Michelangelo Buonarroti‘s Sistine Chapel Ceiling (Fig. A.1).Description Nine panels that illustrate the early history of the world, the creation of theuniverse, the fall of Adam and Eve, and episodes in the life of Noah were painted in theceiling‘s center, running from the altar to the rear of the chapel. Nude youths frame eachof these biblical scenes. It shows Michelangelo‘s belief that the male form is anexpression of divine power. The creation of Adam which is a panel on the central sectoris the most famous image from the work. Stretched out on a barely sketched bit ofground, Adam seems to exist in some timeless space. Adam was depicted as a pulsing,breathing human being. The artist paints Adam as half-awakened and reaching to God,who will implant a soul with His divine touch. On either side of the center panels aredepicted Hebrew prophets and pagan sibyls, or oracles which foretell the coming ofChrist. The Neo-Platonist idea that God‘s word was revealed in the prophecies of pre-Christian seers is represented by the pagan sibyls. Four Old Testament scenes of violenceand death that had been allegorized as foreshadowing the coming of Christ are at thecorners of the ceiling. Michelangelo depicts Jesus as the divine and final judge, with rightarm raised in a commanding gesture in the center of the fresco. At the bottom, the opengraves bring forth the dead. Circle of bodies seems to swirl around the central image ofJesus which shows a chaotic surface. Michelangelo elongates the bodies and changestheir proportions by reducing the size of their heads. Faced with judgment, some gesturewildly looks away while others look beseechingly to their Savior (Matthews and Platt,2001).
Reasons andor aims The Sistine chapel had been built by Julius II uncle, Pope Sixtus IV, in the late1400s, and most of the walls had already been covered with frescoes. Pope Julius II askedMichelangelo to decorate the Sistine Chapel ceiling. He tried to avoid the commission,claiming that he was a sculptor and without expertise in frescoes, but the pope waspersistent. He designed a complex layout for the ceiling frescoes that combined biblicalnarrative, theology, Neo-Platonist philosophy, and Classical allusions with a support of apapal adviser (Matthews and Platt, 2001). Significance to the Society It has become a repository not only for some of the finest artworks ever created,but also Christian images of iconic dimensions. Because of this, it is considered as one ofthe most popular tourist destinations in Vatican City, Rome. It receives some 1600 peopleevery hour during the summer. Visitors are encouraged to bring along binoculars, andpatience, to view the 10,000 square feet of ceiling painted by Michelangelo, amidst thecrowds. However, no photography is permitted in the chapel (New World Encyclopedia,2008). 2. Pablo Piccaso: Les Demoiselles d‘ Avignon, 1907 (Fig. A.2) located atMuseum of Modern Art, New York. Description of the Painting In the months leading up to the paintings creation, Picasso struggles with thesubject -- five women in a brothel. He creates more than 100 sketches and preliminary
paintings, wrestling with the problem of depicting three-dimensional space in a two-dimensional picture plane. The original composition includes two men -- a patronsurrounded by the women, and a medical student holding a skull, perhaps symbolizingthat "the wages of sin are death." In the final composition, the patron is gone and themedical student -- who has been called a stand-in for the painter himself -- has become afifth woman with a primitive mask, holding back the crimson curtain to reveal her"sisters." The painting is described as a battleground, with the remains of the battle lefton the canvas. The Iberian women in the center of the canvas clash with the hideouslymasked creatures standing and squatting on the right (Visual Arts, 2000). Les Demoiselles dAvignon depicts five naked prostitutes in a brothel. Nowpainting naked figures was not at all shocking - drawing and painting nudes was one ofthe best means for artists to demonstrate their skills and abilities. In previous paintings ofnude figures, however, there had been no suggestion or intimation of sexuality: thefigures were simply unclothed. But in Les Demoiselles dAvignon the figures were notpictured nude to prove how well Picasso could paint a womans arm: instead theyconstituted an overt sexual display. This in itself was profoundly upsetting to a societyused to viewing depictions of exalted and idealized historical, mythological and religioussubject-matter (Lil, 2010). Picasso demonstrated these aspects in his work: The two central figures seem to be staring directly and perhaps even suggestively at the viewer, thus engaging the viewer in the painting.
All of the figures are deformed. Breasts are misshapen, arms and legs look like flat planes, and three of the figures have masks for faces. The painting contains bold, brash diagonal lines and angular planes, which add a sense of violence to the composition. The colors are accurate only in a general sense. Rather than being used to reflect real-life coloring, they are used mainly to suggest and differentiate the various forms in the painting. Add together all of these characteristics, and you have a painting such as none hadseen before. In this single work Picasso both incorporated and refuted the artistic idealsof the Renaissance, and set out on a path to an entirely new means of expression inpainting (Lil, 2010).Reasons andor aims Les Demoiselles dAvignon was the first full-blown example of analyticalCubism, an attempt to depict three dimensions without the use of perspective. It ischaracterized by an emphasis on formal geometrical criteria rather than the use of color.Picasso turns his back on middle-class society and the traditional values of the time whenhe created this painting. He also rejects popular current movements in painting bychoosing line drawing rather than the color- and light-defined forms of Impressionismand the Fauves. The painters private demons take shape in the figures on the canvas.Picasso later calls Les Demoiselles dAvignon "my first exorcism painting." He likens theact of painting to that of creating fetishes, or weapons. The originality of Picassos vision
and execution in Les Demoiselles dAvignon help plant the seeds for cubism, the widelyacclaimed and revolutionary art movement that he and painter Georges Braque develop inyears to come (Visual Arts, 2000).Significance to the Society Up to the point when he painted Les Demoiselles dAvignon Picasso had beenconsidered a technical master, and the Paris art community had carefully followed theprogress of his career. Although he refrained from showing this work in a gallery or salonuntil 10 years after its completion, Les Demoiselles dAvignon sparked off many a heateddebate in the Paris art community. Artists, critics and several curiosity-seekers soughtout Picassos hidden studio to view the painting that had all of Paris chattering. With LesDemoiselles dAvignon, the Spanish painter Pablo Picasso offends the Paris art scene in1907. The painting upset many of Picassos critics and friends, who thought he wasthrowing away his talent. They couldnt understand what he was doing. At least one criticwrote that Picasso must hate women to have created such a picture. That interpretation isstill popular today. Georges Braque, who later became Picassos closest artistic ally, feltthat it was a caustic and bitter use of paint. Even Picassos good friend, the writerGertrude Stein, disagreed with what he was attempting, and cut off contact with him formore than a year. Yet with all this negative press, it opened doors for Picasso. Growingtired of conventional painting objectives and techniques, he was to find a new means ofartistic expression for the new society in which he was living. From this point forward hepursued his ideas for a new style, and incorporated into this developing style the new
handling of space and form that he had first created in Les Demoiselles dAvignon (Lil,2010). 3. Vincent van Gogh: The Starry Night, 1889 (Fig. A.3), located at Museum ofModern Art, New York.Description of the Painting One may begin to ask what features within the painting are responsible for its evergrowing popularity. There are actually several main aspects that intrigue those who viewthis image, and each factor affects each individual differently. The aspects are describedbelow: There is the night sky filled with swirling clouds, stars ablaze with their own luminescence, and a bright crescent moon. Although the features are exaggerated, this is a scene we can all relate to, and also one that most individuals feel comfortable and at ease with. This sky keeps the viewers eyes moving about the painting, following the curves and creating a visual dot to dot with the stars. This movement keeps the onlooker involved in the painting while the other factors take hold (The Van Gogh Gallery, 2008). Below the rolling hills of the horizon lies a small town. There is a peaceful essence flowing from the structures. Perhaps the cool dark colors and the fiery windows spark memories of our own warm childhood years filled with imagination of what exists in the night and dark starry skies. The center point of the town is the tall steeple of the church, reigning largely over the smaller
buildings. This steeple casts down a sense of stability onto the town, and also creates a sense of size and seclusion (The Van Gogh Gallery, 2008). To the left of the painting there is a massive dark structure that develops an even greater sense of size and isolation. This structure is magnificent when compared to the scale of other objects in the painting. The curving lines mirror that of the sky and create the sensation of depth in the painting. This structure also allows the viewer to interpret what it is. From a mountain to a leafy bush, the analysis of this formation is wide and full of variety (The Van Gogh Gallery, 2008).Reasons andor Aims When looking into van Goghs troubled, ecstatic life, Starry Night is perhaps hismost famous representation of agony and ecstasy, his highly symbolic attempt to renderwhat he saw as something much grander, something even religious behind the naturalworld which other artists of his era chose to depict with "mere" representational painting.That the mad Dutchman succeeded in a big way might be clear to us now, but you shouldnot forget the fact that this was definitely not the case when he lived. When consideringthe trials and tribulations of Vincent van Gogh, you must remember that this is an artistwho only sold one painting during his entire lifetime (Associated Content, 2010).Significance to the Society Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh has risen to the peak of artistic achievements.Although Van Gogh sold only one painting in his life, the aftermath of his work isenormous. Starry Night is one of the most well known images in modern culture as well
as being one of the most replicated and sought after prints. From Don McLeans songStarry, Starry Night, to the endless number of merchandise products sporting this image,it is nearly impossible to shy away from this amazing painting (The Van Gogh Gallery,2008). 4. Leonardo da Vinci: Mona Lisa, 1503-06 (Fig. A.4), located at Louvre, Paris.Description of the Painting The portrait depicts Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo. Thefigure forms a pyramidal shape in three-quarter view, space within the cubic space oflonggia. The observer‘s point of view is made to shift fro figure to landscape, and whileMona Lisa is seen from the same level as the observer, the viewpoint shifts upward in thelandscape. The light also shifts, bathing the figure in subdued, dark yellow tones and thelandscape in a blue-gray mist. At the same time, Leonardo has created formal parallelsbetween figure and landscape. For example, the form of Mona Lisa repeats the triangularmountains, and her transparent veil echoes the filtered light of the sfumato mists (Adams,1999). Da Vinci used a pyramid design to place the woman simply and calmly in thespace of the painting. Her folded hands form the front corner of the pyramid. Her breast,neck and face glow in the same light that models her hands. The light gives the variety ofliving surfaces an underlying geometry of spheres and circles. Da Vinci referred to aseemingly simple formula for seated female figure: the images of seated Madonna, whichwere widespread at the time. He effectively modified this formula in order to create thevisual impression of distance between the sitter and the observer. The armrest of the chair
functions as a dividing element between Mona Lisa and the viewer. The woman sitsmarkedly upright with her arms folded, which is also a sign of her reserved posture. Onlyher gaze is fixed on the observer and seems to welcome them to this silentcommunication. Since the brightly lit face is practically framed with various much darkerelements (hair, veil, shadows), the observers attraction to Mona Lisas face is brought toeven greater extent. Mona Lisa has no visible facial hair—including eyebrows andeyelashes. Some researchers claim that it was common at this time for genteel women topluck them out, since they were considered to be unsightly. For modern viewers themissing eyebrows add to the slightly semi-abstract quality of the face (WikipediaEncyclopedia, 2010).Reasons andor Aims This painting symbolizes Leonardo‘s synthesis of nature, architecture, humanform, geometry, and character. It was commissioned for the new home of the delGiocondo and to celebrate the birth of their second son, Andrea. Scholars identify at least4 different identities of the Mona Lisa. Others states that it was Da Vinci‘s mother whilesome says it was Da Vinci himself. Today, the subject‘s identity is held to be Lisa, whichwas always the traditional view (Wikipedia Encyclopedia, 2010).Significance to the Society Such formal parallel do not explain the mystery of the figure, whose expressionhas been the subject of songs, stories, poems, and even other works of art. They do,however, illustrate Leonardo‘s own description, found in his notebooks, of the humanbody as a metaphor for the earth. He compares flesh to the soil, bones to rocks, and blood
to waterways. This metaphorical style of thinking which recurs in visual form throughouthis paintings and drawing is characteristic of Leonardo‘s genius (Adams, 1999). 5. Jackson Pollock: Blue Poles Number 11, 1952 (Fig. A.5), located at AustralianNational Gallery, Camberra.Description of the Painting This painting conveys the unique skill that Pollock had by now achieved with hisinfamous ‗drip‘ technique. Executed on outstretched canvas laid flat on the floor, both theartist‘s dripping, splashing and pouring of paint onto the work‘s surface and the scale ofthe painting itself, clearly reveals the highly physical aspect of Pollock‘s technique. Itcould equally be regarded as a performance. Pollock believed that his abandonment oftraditional painting tools (he preferred to use sticks, cooking basters or pour directly fromthe paint can) and the paintings he produced reflected the realms of unconsciousexperience but also responded to contemporary life (National Gallery of Australia, 2004).Reasons andor Aims In marked contrast to the artist‘s classic works of 1947–50, the electric colors ofBlue Poles in no way reflect the palette of nature as earlier paintings had done. BluePoles is for Pollock an ambitious transitional work where not only color, but the artist‘shandling of composition, marks a conscious move away from previous work. While inmany ways continuing his now trademark ‗all-over‘ composition, Pollock pushed hisendeavors in abstraction further by introducing the bold presence of the eight blue ‗poles‘that intersect the canvas. Pollock uses the prominent slashes of Blue Poles to reintroduce
the conventional notion of figure and ground into his work, but without making anyconcession to traditional concepts of perspective. In Blue Poles, the ‗figure‘ is, quiteradically, the abstract mark (National Gallery of Australia, 2004).Significance to the Society Blue Poles has assumed an iconic place in recent Australian history.Contemporary debates surrounding the painting at the time of its acquisition extended farbeyond discussions relating to its artistic merit and position in Pollock‘s career. Given thework‘s enormous price tag – then a world record for a work by a twentieth-century artist– Blue Poles came to embody, almost by default, a number of issues particularly relevantto Australia. These included the role of art and politics, the validity and global impact ofthe Abstract Expressionism, as well as questions surrounding the purchase of the paintingas a signifier (for Whitlam‘s Labor Government) of modern nationhood. Now a much-lauded and internationally celebrated work, first-hand experience of Pollock‘smesmerizing and complex painting serves to reinforce the enormity of the artist‘s impacton twentieth century art. While initially ridiculed by the American press in 1949 as ‗Jackthe Dripper‘, Jackson Pollock is now recognized as one of the greatest artists of thetwentieth century (National Gallery of Australia, 2010). 6. Edouard Manet: Luncheon on the Grass, 1863 (Fig. A.6), located at Musee duJeu de Paume, Paris.Description of the Painting
In this oil on canvass painting, a naked woman casually lunching with two fullydressed men is depicted. Manets wife, Suzanne Leenhoff, and his favorite model,Victorine Meurent, both posed for the nude woman, which has Meurents face, butLeenhoffs plumper body. Her body is starkly lit and she stares directly at the viewer. Thetwo men are Manets brother Eugene Manet and his future brother in law, FerdinandLeenhoff. They are dressed like dandies. The men seem to be engaged in conversation,ignoring the woman. In front of them, the womans clothes, a basket of fruit, and a roundloaf of bread are displayed, as in a still life. In the background a lightly clad womanbathes in a stream. Too large in comparison with the figures in the foreground, she seemsto float above them. The roughly painted background lacks depth — giving the viewerthe impression that the scene is not taking place outdoors, but in a studio. This impressionis reinforced by the use of broad "photographic" light, which casts almost no shadows: infact, the lighting of the scene is inconsistent and unnatural. The man on the right wears aflat hat with a tassel, of a kind normally worn indoors (Wikipedia Encyclopedia, 2010).Reasons andor Aims This painting became the principal attraction, generating both laughter andscandal. Yet, Manet was paying tribute to Europes artistic heritage and taking hisinspiration for the composition of the central group from the Marcantonio Raimondiengraving after Raphaels Judgment of Paris. But the classical references werecounterbalanced by Manets boldness. The presence of a nude woman among clothedmen is justified neither by mythological nor allegorical precedents. This, and the
contemporary dress, rendered the strange and almost unreal scene obscene in the eyes ofthe public of the day (Musee d‘Orsay, 2006).Significance to the Society In those days, Manets style and treatment were considered as shocking as thesubject itself. He made no transition between the light and dark elements of the picture,abandoning the usual subtle gradations in favor of brutal contrasts, thereby drawingreproaches for his "mania for seeing in blocks". And the characters seem to fituncomfortably in the sketchy background of woods from which Manet has deliberatelyexcluded both depth and perspective. Le déjeuner sur lherbe can perhaps be consideredas the departure point for Modern Art (Musee d‘Orsay, 2006). 7. Edvard Munch: The Scream, 1893 (Fig. A.7), located at KommunesKunstsmalinger, Oslo.Description of the Painting In this painting, an agonized figure wails against a blood red Oslofjord skyline. Itis a seminal expressionist painting. The landscape in the background is Oslofjord, viewedfrom the hill of Ekeberg. The Norwegian word skrik is usually translated as "scream", butis cognate with the English shriek. Occasionally, the painting has been called The Cry.The scene of the Scream includes a road overlooking Oslo, on the slopes of a 140 m highhill called the Ekeberg. From this spot, Munchs direction of view in the drawing wastoward the southwest, which is where the Krakatoa twilights appeared in the winter of1883-1884. The sky in the background of the painting may reflect the effects of the
volcanic eruption of Krakatoa in 1883. The ash ejected from the volcano left the skytinted red in most of Europe and Asia for several months and caused spectacular twilightswith a magnificent, blood-red sky (Kinnes, 2009). The bright colors intensify the sunset,with darker blues and pinks defining the water. Both sky and water seem caught up in anendless swirl that echoes the artist‘s anguish. His fellow pedestrians at the far end of thebridge continue on ahead, while he stops to face the picture plane, simultaneouslyscreaming and holding his ears. The action of blocking out the sound pushes in the sidesof his face, so that his head resembles a skull and repeats the landscapes curves (Frank etal, 2002).Reasons andor Aims Edvard Munch traveled to Paris to study the works of his contemporaries. Whathe learned from them enabled him to carry Symbolism to a new level of expressiveintensity. His powerful paintings and prints explore depths of emotion. In The Scream, hetakes the viewer far from pleasures of Impressionism. In this powerful image of anxiety,the dominant figure is caught in isolation, fear, and loneliness. Despair reverberates incontinues linear rhythms. Munch‘s image has been called the soul-cry of our age (Franket al, 2002).Significance to the Society Munchs depictions of intense anguish greatly influenced development of Germanexpressionism in the early 1900s. But he himself entered the clinic of Dr. Daniel
Jacobson in 1908, and his treatment included so-called electrification, which wasfashionable for nervous conditions at the time (Kinnes, 2009). 8. Rembrandt van Rijn: The Night Watch, 1642 (Fig. A.8), located atRijksmuseum, Amsterdam.Description of the Painting This painting is a group portrait which depicts a militia company led by CaptainBanning Cocq, leaving Amsterdam for a shooting expedition. The city wall, pierced byan arch in the background, evokes the triumphal arches of ancient Rome. The two menstriding into the foreground form a diagonal ink between the observer and company. Thecaptain extends his left hand as if to invite us into the scene. Light falls on to his handfrom above and casts a shadow across the yellow jacket of his companion. As a result, theshadow continues the line of the captain‘s red sash - a formal interplay of lights, darksand colors that is typical of the Baroque style. The remainder of the crowd is animated byhighlights of light and color, by strong, silhouetted contrasts, and by the shiftingdiagonals of two spears, guns and flags. A barking dog at the lower right responds to thesound of the drum. The faces are dramatically characterized by light and dark definingtheir features. Each figure appears to be a portrait. Included in the crowd is a youngwoman who resembles Rembrandt‘s wife. Saskia. She is highlighted in yellow behind thesoldier in red. Hanging from her belt is a bird, whose claws were the emblem of themilitia. Peering out over the shoulder of the flag-bearer is Rembrandt‘s own face andpossibly his most unassuming self-portrait (Janson and Janson, 1997).
Reasons andor aims The Night Watch is colossal. In its original dimensions it measured approximately13 by 16 feet and contained not only the 18 guardsmen but 16 other figures added byRembrandt to give still more animation to an already tumultuous scene. It was by far themost revolutionary painting Rembrandt had yet made, transforming the traditional Dutchgroup portrait into a dazzling blaze of light, color and motion, and subordinating therequirements of orthodox portraiture to a far larger, more complex but still unified whole.The powerful contrast of light and shade heightens the sense of movement, but it is wellto regard Rembrandts use of light in this painting, as in many others, from an estheticrather than from a strictly logical view- point. He was, in the phrase of one critic, "hisown sun-god." The picture was of course composed and painted indoors, not while theofficers posed for him out of doors, and although his lighting in any particular detail maybe true to nature, that is not the case overall. He regulated and manipulated light-openingor closing the shutters in his studio-for his own purpose, which was to create anatmosphere both dreamlike and dramatic (Rembrandt van Rijn, Life, Painting, Etchings,Drawings and Self-Portraits, 2009).Significance to the Society When the critics and the public attach the wrong word or title to the painting, thecanvas had become so darkened by dirt and layers of varnish that it was difficult to tellwhether the illumination Rembrandt had provided in it came from the sun or moon. Notuntil after the end of World War II was the painting fully restored so that the viewercould get an idea of the brightness it had when it left Rembrandts hand more than 300
years before. This work of Rembrandt lies at the center of the most persistent andannoying of all his myths. Some critics concluded that this work was his spectacularfailure (Rembrandt van Rijn, Life, Painting, Etchings, Drawings and Self-Portraits,2009). But through this work, it reminded the viewers that the Dutch had overthrowntheir Spanish conquerors and were now a free people (Janson and Janson, 1997). 9. Caravaggio: The Calling of St. Matthew, 1597 (Fig. A.9), located at ContarelliChapel, San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome.Description of the Painting This is a painting of Levi being summoned by Christ to become Saint Matthew.Christ, His eyes veiled, with His halo the only hint of divinity, enters with Saint Peter.With a gesture of His right hand, Christ summons Levi to him, and, in surprise, Levimotions with his left arm as if to ask if Christ means for him. The two figures on the left,derived from a 1545 Hans Holbein print representing gamblers unaware of theappearance of Death, are so concerned with counting the money that they do not evennotice Christs arrival; symbolically their inattention to Christ deprives them of theopportunity He offers for eternal life, and condemns them to death. The two boys in thecenter do respond, the younger one drawing back against Levi as if seeking his protectionand the swaggering older one, who is armed, leaning forward a little menacingly. SaintPeter gestures firmly with his hand to calm his potential resistance. The picture is in twoparts--Christ and Saint Peter create a vertical rectangle, while Levi and his associatescreate a horizontal triangle. Both literally and symbolically, Christ bridges these twoareas using His hand. The lighting is common for the setting--a single window, and what
is probably a lamp not shown--with the exception of one source. This is a miraculouslight cast by Saint Peter. It is preventing the boisterous youth from being caught inshadow, and missing seeing what Christ is giving to Levi (ThinkQuest, 2001).Reasons andor Aims Caravaggio represented the event as a nearly silent, dramatic narrative. Thesequence of actions before and after this moment can be easily and convincingly re-created. The setting does not follow biblical text. However, it demonstrates Caravaggiosfamiliarity with paintings of moneylenders, that he let influence his work. The scene isrepresented quite clearly, with a definite idea of what preceded the event, and what willfollow. The people surrounding Levi are representative of the differing relationshipspeople have with Christ and religion in general. The dramatic point of the picture is thatfor this moment, no one does anything. Christs appearance is so unexpected and Hisgesture so commanding as to suspend action for a shocked instant, before reaction cantake place. In another second, Levi will rise up and follow Christ. In fact, Christs feet arealready turned as if to leave the room. The particular power of the picture is in thiscessation of action. It utilizes the fundamentally static medium of painting to conveycharacteristic human indecision after a challenge or command and before reaction (Pioch,2010).Significance to the Society Caravaggios inner revelation is affected by the painter, peering á la Narcissus athis reflection in the water. This self-contemplation makes for at least a temporary
synchronization of his fractured self into a functional unit to carry out the creativemediation between self, artistic medium and viewers. Especially effective areCaravaggios revelatory scenes depicting an enthusiasms from transcendence via theinner self into objects (Shoham, 1999). 10. Giotto: Lamentation over the Dead Christ, 1304-06 (Fig. A.10).Description of the Painting It was the most influential painting of the medieval period, responsible for theresurgence of fresco painting. This 7 7" x 7 9" fresco can be seen in the Arena Chapel inPadua, Italy. The work depicts the Lamentation or Mourning of Christ. In the foregroundof the work the viewer finds five figures surrounded the dead body of Christ. The bodyof Christ is held by three of the figures-three women that wear halos and biblicalcostumes. The body of Christ does not touch the ground but is gently held by the threewomen. There are two other figures with their backs turned toward the viewer. Thefemale figure at the far end of the Christ figure appears to have the attributes of MaryMagdalene-that is, red hair and touching the feet of Christ. The young woman whocradles the head of Christ is most likely Mary. At the center of this group is a young manwho bears the iconographic symbols of St. John. His hair is cut short, into a pageboy, hehas a halo similar to the 3 women in the foreground who hold the body of Christ, and hisface is clean shaven, giving a very youthful appearance. His arms are outstretched and hebends slightly toward the body of Christ. He has a look of deep sorrow. Behind him(right side), two men are standing looking very calmly at the scene. They are discipleswho also wear golden halos. In this middle ground area there are also a group of
mourners-a crowd (left side). Just behind the middle ground there is a sharp mountainridge that divides the composition. Just behind the mountain ridge is a tree and vast skywith 11 angels. The angels are in various states of emotion (Art Museums, n.d.)Reasons andor aims The mood of the painting is that of extreme sadness. The jagged strong diagonalline of the mountain ridge leads us down to the Christ figure that is surrounded by animplied circular shape created by the heads of the 3 female mourners and 2 anonymousfigures in the foreground. Spatially the viewer looks on and enters the painting throughthe center (we are the figure in green). In western art we read objects that are low on thecompositional plane as closer to us and objects that are high on the compositional planesuch as the angels as farther away. The artist has used foreshortening to create theangels, thereby creating a sense of deep space. The colors the artist uses are pastel and arecomplementary in nature. This creates a sense of movement within the pictorial plane.The textures of the clothing appear soft, and smooth against the contrasting rough bumpyrock surfaces surrounding them (Art Museums, n.d.).Significance to the Society Giotto has opened a door into a new style that will be known as EarlyRenaissance painting. He creates a world that is voluminous, 3-dimensional, andsymbolic. The figures in the foreground are clearly human. His understanding andappreciation of human form is expressed through free flowing clothing that revealvolumesque bodies. There is a clear distinction between the human forms and the angelic
and saintly counterparts. He is revealing his skill as an artist, an artist that wants to beremembered for his work. The angelic hosts are individuals, each conveying their senseof grief in the tragedy that they see but are not physically a part of. Heaven and earth arejoined in the mourning of the Savior but separated spiritually. A wall defines heavenlyfrom earthly. The tree of knowledge stands firmly as a symbol of original sin. Thedisciples look on calmly, with a peace that goes beyond any human understanding. Thisfrescoe served as a palette for Giotto to express the new views of painting, and as areligious symbol. The Arena Chapel would host the events of the Life of Christ-Birth,Death and Resurrection through painted frescoes (Art Museums, n.d.).
CONCLUSION Painting has been the epitome of every movement within the art world and hasserved to bring about many masterpieces, regardless of the time period. With the adventof new technologies in the twentieth century, we have been introduced to many newforms of visual media and the arts, including revolutionary steps in photography,videography, and many other related fields. Painting has served to be a backdrop of sortsfor every related arts field, as you can always draw or paint a sketch of what you areaiming for and then use new technology to get the finished product (Allen, 2008). Human knowledge within most introductory art history classes taught the timelineof the progression of art, starting with many pre-historical sculptures and cave drawings.Once the early civilizations discovered the use of color and painting, they were able tocommunicate more effectively and become more stationary in life rather than simplehunter or gatherers. The impact of painting in this regard was monumental toward thewhole of evolution (Allen, 2008). There have been a great number of controversies regarding the best paintings ofthe world. The Sistine Chapel‘s restoration was initially surrounded by a heatedcontroversy in the art world, some claiming it a success and a breakthrough revelation,while a few claiming it ruined the masterpiece (The New World Encyclopedia, 2008). During 21st of August, 1911, the Mona Lisa, created by an Italian painter,Leonardo da Vinci was stolen from Musée du Louvre and recovered two years later in anantique dealer‘s office in Florence. This has been labeled as ―The Greatest Art Theft‖ inhistory (Renaissance Painting Reviews, 2010).
Les Demoiselles d’Avignon is a confronting and unsettling piece, with Picassobreaking the rules of traditional representative art and ideas about the depiction of thefemale form. Picasso‘s use of African ―primitive‖ influences such as masks wassomething radically new at the time. These masks have been seen by some critics torepresent Picasso‘s fear of syphilis, which means that Les Demoiselles gives us an insightinto the mystery and personal life of the artist (Michaelz, 2009). Luncheon on the Grass has remained controversial, even to this day. Oneinterpretation of the work is that it depicts the rampant prostitution that occurred inthe Bois de Boulogne, a large park that up to this day is known as a pick-up place forprostitutes and illicit sexual activity after dark, just as it had been in the 19th century (TheArt and Popular Culture Encyclopedia, 2009). Painting has influenced the society in numerous ways. For instance, Starry Nighthas been an enduring image in the cultural progression of Western society for more thana century. As one of the most reproduced paintings on earth, it has been viewed and canbe recognized by billions of individuals all over the world (Aspect Art, 2008). The Mona Lisa has acquired an iconic status in popular culture. In 1963, popartist Andy Warhol started making colorful prints of the Mona Lisa. Warhol thusconsecrated her as a modern icon, similar to Marilyn Monroe or Elvis Presley. Todaythe Mona Lisa is frequently reproduced, finding its way on to everything from carpets tomouse pads (The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia, 2009). Indeed, it is paints organic nature that helps us to understand life. For within theact of painting there is a history, a continuum of alchemy through the ages that lives on inpaint.
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Appendix A Pictures of the 10 Greatest Paintings in the WorldFig. A.1 Michelangelo Bounarroti’s Sistine Chapel Ceiling (The History Bluff, 2010) Fig. A.2 Pablo Picasso: Les Demoiselles d’ Avignon (Gilmour Images, n.d.)
FFig. A.3 Vincent van Gogh: The Starry Night (Guitarristas, 2010)Fig. A.4 Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa (Simply Art, n.d.)
Fig. A.5 Jackson Pollock: Blue Poles Number 11 (RosiTour Art Gallery, n.d.) Fig. A.6 Edouard Manet: Luncheon on the Grass (Spence, n.d.)
Fig. A.7 Edvard Much: The Scream (GiordanouOrg, 2008)Fig. A.8 Rembrandt van Rijn: The Night Watch (MyArtPrints, n.d.)
Fig. A.9 Caravaggio: The Calling of St. Matthew (Shafe, 2009)Fig. A.10 Giotto: Lamentation over the Dead Christ (History Of Art, n.d.)