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Old 05-14-2007, 06:20 AM   #31
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beneath the surface

the quotation debate got me thinking of Shakespeare's Ophelia and her prodigious influence on art.



John Everett Millais


Arthur Hughes


Alexandre Cabanel


Jules Joseph Lefebvre


Cabanel's version is really exceptional, IMO. Lefebvre's is surprisingly androgynous.
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Old 05-14-2007, 08:09 AM   #32
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^^Ah, yes. This confirms my long-held belief that many men find crazy women more inspiring than sane ones.

I like the Millais. It's not too sweet for the theme, imho.

I like the way the thread turned to mental illness as subject instead of muse. There's a lot of subject material there; the connection is so interesting. I like this interview about it, in which illness is both subject and muse: Mr. Barmy. Particularly the postamble.
Sadly, it's performance art -- walking about with a trout on his head and such -- but here's the cover page:


I'm not entirely sure that the interviewer and the interviewee were separate in any conventional sense.
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Old 05-14-2007, 09:39 AM   #33
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Mental illness is indeed a great source of inspiration for art. I'm not familiar with Mr. Barmy, but I will check out the page you linked.

In that same theme, Arnulf Rainer is a must see. I saw a show of his recently where he was displaying his collection of art brut, which is basically art collected from insane asylums. Alot of the stuff is pretty basic in terms of technique, but the work is fascinating in terms of the intentions of the different artists. The paintings are often violent and a bit scary; you can tell that they are pouring out the content of their subconscious mind onto the painting. I don't know about the extent of therapeutic benefits linked to expressing their angst on paper but I'm guessing that they are pretty wide.

Rainer also did some work on self-portraits, onto which he apposed lines that underline the movement and shape of his grimaces:



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Old 05-16-2007, 08:55 AM   #34
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This is by Sean Elliot, who painted it as part of his psychotherapy.

I really like it.
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Old 06-19-2007, 04:36 PM   #35
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For some reason I was thinking of Matisse's paper cut-outs today. I saw some of them in a DC exhibition when I was a child, and as you can see from the top photo, they are enormous; the impression they made on me at the time was correspondingly large.

Matisse started working with paper, cut freehand, after he got cancer and was confined to a wheelchair. It's probably true that he turned to it initially out of necessity -- working with paints and brushes eventually got too difficult. However, contrary to the critics' assessments, Matisse himself didn't feel that he had jumped the shark, deteriorated artistically as he deteriorated physically. "Only what I created after the illness constitutes my real self: free, liberated."

I love that -- it's not the triumph over adversity; it's triumph because of it. I think of them often, their archetypal color and form, of being small in front of them.

Tree of Life


The Nightmare of the White Elephant


Les Velours
(This one is 12 panels long and, if my 7-yr-old memory can be trusted, ran the length of a large hallway when installed)
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Old 06-28-2007, 11:49 AM   #36
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I was thinking about Reinhardt Søbye the other day. He is a Norwegian pastel artist, but was trained as a psychologist, and he often chooses illness, mental and physical, as subject. Beyond the surface: not only does he focus on beauty beyond the visual surface, the triumph of the strength of heart, everyday heroism in the face of pain and death, but he even literally scrapes away the surface of the paper before and during the work. He uses crushed pastels and paints with a paste of them, slaps on sand, wax, you name it.

I can't seem to find some of the works I've found most beautiful, such as An Old Beggar or Young Man with a Chronic Disease-- I know that title is rather icky, but you should see the pastel. It's dark and sad, haunting, but the depth of color and the facial expression are amazing. Here are a couple from a similar phase, from his Tysvær elders and Arnold Juklerød series, repsectively:




His personal site has a "Works" section where you can see a lot more. He seems to be moving more toward computer-based work, but it's really interesting to compare his 2000 Melancholia series to the 2006 series shown there, and the Arnold Juklerød and Axel Jensen works are the ones that first caught my own attention.

My own view of art is perhaps a little more broad than Søbye's, but I find this artist's statement of his rings true:

"The prevailing attitude in modern culture is that every individual is a world in his/her own right, a world from which all others are excluded. This is a major lie. The truth is that we are each other's world and each other's destiny. Under normal circumstances, encounters between people are characterized by trust because we rely on people telling us the truth, that they take us seriously and that they wish us no harm. This is crucial to human existence. If we accept this fact, we can choose between taking care of another person's life or destroying it. This presupposes an ability to feel remorse, since ethics cannot be based on rational considerations. Without a capacity to understand another person's situation and without an ethical statement of belief and humility, we will exist as psychopaths and sociopaths and hell will manifest itself.

"Art is a messenger, not the message. Art is a bridge between our own limited biological lifespan and the archetypical universe of ethics, serenity and eternity. If art cannot touch you, transform you....it is not art, but sheer entertainment or a common lie. Art should render the ocean so that you notice the salty taste of your own blood. "
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Old 07-11-2007, 09:22 AM   #37
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I refuse to let this thread die, even if it's for my own amusement.


Shakeel Siddiqui calls himself a "super realist" painter. He uses trompe l'oeil and says it takes around 200 hours to complete one. I like this quote --

"When I exhibit my paintings, people say, 'It looks so real.' But, in real life, when they pass by an old window or door, no one seems to be concerned about whether these things exist or not."

This reminds me of my whole zombie thing.

*lurches into fiction thread*
"Brains! BRAINS!!"
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Old 07-15-2007, 05:18 AM   #38
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wow, I thought the thread was dead and buried on page three - how do I keep missing these great posts?

thanks for your vivid post about Matisse, brightpearl - he is one of my favorites, and I was standing right there with your seven-year-old self in the museum from the way you talked about it.
I too have a vague memory of seeing his later work as a high school student. The effect I remember was that everything looked so clean and optimistic and uncomplicated, and it encouraged me at a very complicated time of my life.

That Søbye site is powerful, isn't it? I bookmarked it for more study later. That second picture you posted is very hard to look at, hard to look away from. I want to know more...I love the quote - kind of what I was trying so ineptly to say over in the "soul" thread, as far as our obsession with our own existence and our refusal to see the other as connected to us.
I guess the question that first piques my mind is how his philosophy is specifically expressed in his paintings, so I really do want to go pore over his work. What strikes us personally about it?

In the meantime, I stumbled over this and thought you guys might enjoy -


I'm particularly struck by the similarities in the faces that are separated by decades and centuries, and it makes me wonder about the western gene pool in general, and how rigid our ideals of beauty can be. Interesting contrast to what Søbye projects as a fresh perception of what's inwardly beautiful.
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Old 07-15-2007, 08:00 AM   #39
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^ Trish posted that video a while back in another thread.

I really like the end where the a red and black front view portrait (Miro ?) folds left into a cubist "double view" portrait (Braque or Picasso ?) and subsequently morphs into a side view portrait, thereby demonstrating the existence of the two views in the cubist painting.

Morphing seems like a good tool for deconstructing cubism...I'd love to see them do the same thing with other cubist paintings.
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Old 07-15-2007, 08:28 AM   #40
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^Yay for somebody posting here besides me!!

That vid is interesting. The first time I watched it, I was struck by how amazingly similar all their lips are. There's virtually no change at all.
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Old 07-16-2007, 05:02 AM   #41
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sorry for the repeat having trouble keeping up with stuff lately, but hey, now it's here where I can find it

I like coming here though - there's a lot to catch up on and no time to do it - as it is right now, it's already time to turn in. I keep finding myself drawn to the yelling in caps thread just to let off steam, but I'll remember to come here first from now on. I especially like scrolling down the page really fast, and have to content myself with that, unfortunately.
I'll be heading to Mexico on Wednesday and won't be back until next month, so I'm running around a lot right now, but I look forward to giving that Arnulf Rainer/art brut site a good going-over as well.
Wondering if anyone saw Junebug - the visionary folk art that the story revolves around was pretty interesting and I'm wondering what similarities it might have to art brut.
Just saw the "Bodyworks" exhibit - cadavers as art.
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Old 08-03-2007, 08:36 PM   #42
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It's still here, Brynn. And before Fast Chat was back up, I made you this one.
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Old 08-12-2007, 10:30 AM   #43
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The Reflecting Pool
, 1977-79
Videotape
Bill Viola


A man emerges from a forest and stands before a pool of water. He leaps up and time abruptly stands still. From this point, all movement and change in the otherwise still scene is limited to the reflections and undulations on the surface of the pond. Time becomes extended and punctuated by a series of events seen only as reflections in the water. The emergence of the individual into the natural environment becomes a baptism into a world of virtual images and indirect perceptions.
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Old 08-12-2007, 10:43 PM   #44
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^Wow.
My favorite thing about that is how long he stands there at the beginning, despite how strongly I was willing him to jump.
And then he was hanging there forever, until I got caught up in the reflections and had to watch again to figure out where he'd gone. There's a metaphor in there...

You sort of mind melded me! I've been piecing together something about the treatment of water in painting for a while. There's tons more that could be said, but this is what I've got at the moment:

I think a lot of times painters like to put a glass of water somewhere just to show off their talent a bit. It's terribly difficult to capture its transparency and reflectivity, and doing it well is something of a triumph. This Caravaggio might be an example of that to some degree. He was a bit of a hotshot.

This one is a good example of the symbolism of water, too, though. It is a highly sexualized painting -- teenaged boy, robes askew, flower behind the ear, middle finger (had the same connotations then as now) being bitten by a lizard ("drain the lizard" ring a bell?). Water is often used as a symbol for sex, although more often it's more overtly feminine. I don't think it's a coincidence that the overall feeling of this painting is "ouch!"

There are lots of examples of water imagery symbolizing feminine wiles, frequently in a somewhat negative light...sirens tempting sailors to their deaths and such. I like this one, by Waterhouse, of course.


And sometimes it's just plain death itself -- the river Styx in Michaelangelo's Sistine Chapel fresco of Charon, the boatman to the underworld


Oddly, it can also symboize purification and transformation, as in the many paintings depicting baptism.

Water is great for expressing tension and violence, and the cruelty of nature. Hokusai's Great Wave is a favorite of mine:

The wave and the sky make a nice yin-yang shape, and the smaller wave mimics Mount Fuji in the background -- the unity of form and formless, there.
I once read an essay about it that pointed out that the men in the boats are poised to go through the wave on point, which would be the only way to survive its power. I feel the question of their survival is unresolved, however.

Monet painted the same water garden at Giverny for 20 years. Look closely at the attention he paid to reflections.



They're much more water than lily, I think.

My favorite Monet is this one, though, which caused a bit of a stir when it was first exhibited. "Impressionist" was tantamount to a curseword for quite a while.

You can't tell where the water meets the land, and the sun's dull orange gives the painting an eerie feel. It's oddly unsettling to me, and yet tranquil. I think part of the effect is due to the inherent qualities of the water itself -- it is endlessly malleable, ultimately uncontrollable, transparent, reflective, evocative of everything from love to suffering, depending on the circumstances. It's the perfect theme for impressionism.

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Old 08-12-2007, 10:45 PM   #45
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIJtKxdRQzY
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