Kazimir Malevich, Red Square, 1915, o/c
ABOUT THE IMAGE:Malevich was interested in pure esthetics (singular: aesthetic), meaning that he was interested in the correlation of beauty to the mind. In this image the red square floats in the void, and is unbalanced. Malevich wanted nothing personal in art, and this geometric piece has no emotion, except what is evoked from the color. This painting is an example of Malevich’s style supermatism.
ABOUT THE ARTIST:Kazimir Malevich was born in Kiev, Ukraine on February 23, 1879 (death May 15, 1935). He said this of supermatism, “I have transformed myself in the zero of form and have fished myself out of the rubbishy slough of academic art.. I have destroyed the ring of the horizon and got out of the circle of objects, the horizon ring that has imprisoned the artist and the forms of nature” (source).
SONG: Red (Taylor Swift)
Johannes Vermeer, Girl With the Pearl Earring, 1665, o/c
ABOUT THE ARTIST: Johannes Vermeer is the most admired Dutch painter of domestic genre scenes. His work offers less narrative content and social content than that of his contemporaries. There is a withdraw and silence in his paintings that give it character. There is no passion, suffering, or sex, it’s just a pure scene of domesticity. Vermeer was a slow worker, only producing one or two paintings a year. One thing to know about him was that there are things that are always constant in his work: natural light will come through a single window, women are a frequent subject, and there will be maps/clocks/weights and measures in some scenes.
FILM: The Girl With the Pearl Earring (IMDB)
TALK BACK: Because of the consistency of Vermeer, I would call him a formula man, what would you call him? Do you think his repeated use of a young girl, windows, maps, etc makes his work boring or does it set him apart?
Bernini, Bust of Scipione Borghese, 1632
ABOUT THE IMAGE: What I love about this bust is how real it looks. The folds of the fabric cast shadows and are exactly where they need to be to look real. Even the buttons look real! You can almost see the thread going through them. These things and more make the marble look so soft, like Bernini carved butter instead of marble. Another thing to love about this bust is that his gaze is not straight forward, something to the left has caught his attention. Prof. Roger Crum said that it “looks like he’s responding to some outward stimulate” and that this “produces a speaking likeness of a man”.
ABOUT THE ARTIST: Before he began work for the church (see St. Peter’s Church), Bernini worked for private patrons like the Borghese family.
TALK BACK: If this bust came to life when the lights go out at the end of the day at the Galleria Borghese what would he have to say?
Gustav Klimt, Judith and Holopherne, 1901, o/c
ABOUT THE IMAGE: In this painting we have the reference of two characters, Judith and Holopherne (or Holofernes). Their stories is as follows; during a war Judith, a widow, gained access to Holophernes tent because he desired her. She gets him drunk and when he passes out, she cuts off his head and sneaks out of his camp with the help of her faithful maiden. For women she is a hero for her strength and valor, to men she is a temptress and a seductress. Can you guess how Klimt painted her? If you said seductress you are right! If Judith looked like this, what man wouldn’t want her in their tent? She has this whole “Come hither and I’ll make your night worthwhile” look going for her, until you look in the corner of the canvas and see that she is in fact carrying the severed head of Holopherne. You then start to see this whole image in a new way, is she seducing the viewer or is she being seduced by the rush of the act she has just committed?
SONG: Maneater (Nelly Furtado)
TALK BACK: Do you think Klimt’s depiction is of someone who is seductive or of someone who has been seduced by their actions?
Candida Hofer, Teatro San Carlo Napoli I, 2009
ABOUT THE ARTIST/SERIES: Hofer photographs industrial and cultural spaces without people present. She makes the viewer wonder how these spaces which function with (and because of) people, matter when empty. Her photographs are done in color, but they are very monochromatic (in the photo above the color red dominates), there will always be one color in her photographs that will continuously burst through.
SONG: Grace Kelly (Mika)
Josef Maria Olbrich, Vienna Secession Building, 1897-98
ABOUT THE IMAGE:Designed as a temple to art, this building was constructed during the time of the Vienna Sucession. The Vienna Sucession was a time in art where people began to take things back to when we were creating with our hands. This was the time of craftsmanship, the time of when every aspect of a work was made by the hand. The Sucession Building in particular shows a return to nature in design and motifs.
FUN FACT: This building is sometimes referred to as the Golden Cabbage.
SONG: Grandma’s Hands (Bill Withers)
Casper David Friedrich, Monk by the Sea, 1809, o/c
ABOUT THE IMAGE: This painting has a mystical light to it. Yet while it is mystical, it has the fog of early morning that is both relatable and familiar. While the theme/meaning of this painting could be that man (which is so small and so buried beneath the fog that he is barely recognizable) is subordinate to nature. There is also the theme of loneliness that is associated with his work, and can be seen as this sole figure stands in front of the immenseness of the ocean (me against the world much?). It is thought that the figure is the artist, and it is a believable theory (he often painted himself as a monk). As a child Friedrich watched his younger brother drown, so him spending time looking at the sea isn’t a far-fetched idea.
SONGS: Edge of the Ocean (Ivy), Down by the Water (PJ Harvey)
Yves Klein, Anthropometries of the Blue Period, 1960, figurative painting, performace art
ABOUT THE IMAGE: For this painting, Klein hired models who smeared themselves in blue paint. After covered the models laid their bodies on the canvas leaving behind the imprint of their body. Klein never touched the canvas himself, with this action the pigment and support become one.
ABOUT THE ARTIST: Yves Klein is important to twentieth century art as a performance artist and painter. In 1960 a patent was made for the color IKB (International Klein Blue) which Klein used because it best represented the concepts of art he was trying to convey. IKB is used in the above image.
TALK BACK: What do you think about the concept of the artist never touching the canvas? What do you think about an artist having his/her own patented color?
Paolo Veronese, Feast in the House of Levi, o/c, 1573
ABOUT THE IMAGE: The Last Supper that is depicted here is not the traditional version that people are used to seeing. For one thing there is a dog in this painting! Not only did Veronese paint a dog in this Last Supper, he painted it in the place where Mary Magdalene is supposed to be (do you think he is poking fun?). There is also a variety of forms presented. Veronese painted movement and expression in an image that is usually stiff as a board.
ABOUT THE ARTIST: Veronese is a Venetian 16th century painter
TALK BACK: While taking a Baroque art class a fellow classmate said that this image doesn’t teach us anything about the subject of the Last Supper… what do you think?