Modern Art Essay

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Modern Art

A primary concern of fauvism is the presence of strong colors. Fauvist works have relatively wild brushstrokes. The subject matter of fauvist painters is simple and often abstract. Fauvism is heavily influence by postimpressionism and pointillism. In "Woman with a Green Stripe," the viewer can distinguish between each color because of the brushstrokes. The portrait is simply of a woman, making a neutral face. The colors are stark and the painting is not realistic though we can still make out the subject. The water beneath the bridge is several colors in "London Bridge." There is not much distinction between the buildings of the background. This is not an exact replica of the London Bridge, yet again, we recognize it clearly. The painting is almost just a semblance of simple shapes and not an urban landscape.

Rouault and Nolde both paint works of Jesus. In Rouault's work, Jesus is often alone. There are several busts of Jesus and only a few of half, most, or all of his body. This makes the focus more about Jesus the man. In Nolde's works of Jesus, he is also alone. Most of his body is obstructed or not in view. There is one specific piece that is the head of Jesus in black and white. The expression on Jesus' face is one of deep sadness or despair. Though Jesus is both a tragic and redemptive figure, in Rouault's work, there is more emotional diversity.

Kirchner and Nolde share some "primitive" aspects to their works. Neither artist is overly concerned with expressing visual realism. They are more concerned with the emotional or spiritual reality of their subjects. Nolde paints figures with faces that resemble tribal masks. Both artists use color in bold, direct manners. The women in Kirchner's works are multi-colored, with skin tones that do and do not exist in reality. Though he paints women of color who do not exist, adding color to their skin gives the paintings a sense of ethnicity, and ethnicity, in the west, is often associated with natives/primitives/savages.

Marc's "Fate of the Beasts" does invoke spirituality in some way. It is clear that the animals/beasts exist in their world, in the material world while they are alive. The change in colors could indicate the animal spirit "crossing over" in the same ways some humans claim human souls cross over into the afterlife. The pose of the deer looks as if the deer is welcoming or embracing the afterlife. The horses look to be engaged in some kind of tense interaction with each other. It is unclear if the horses are aware of the threshold between life and death that the deer is upon. The brushstrokes and the use of colors are primitive, which aligns with the animals being "beasts." There is a spiritual present that is somewhat unfamiliar to the human perspective. It is a spirituality that we are not so much a part of, but its existence brings us closer to the animal world.

Color and spatial relationships are at the forefront of Klee's "False Color." The use of color creates a distinctive texture to the painting. The painting looks grainy or sandy; the surface is rough. The colors also control and direct the movement of the painting for the most part. There are hints of shapes -- there are lightly articulated groups of squares and blurry circles of various sizes all over the pieces. The painting almost resembles a nebula in space with stars at various stages of birth and incubation in stasis and dispersed throughout the nebula. Kandinsky's "Traverse Lines" is demonstrates exceptional relationships between form, shape, color, and spatial relation. There are both definite shapes and objects as well as imaginary or nonsensical shapes in the work. This makes for an unsettling and intriguing engagement with the viewer. It is simultaneously familiar and unknown or makes us reevaluate the familiar so that it becomes unknown to us. All of Kandinsky's works are intentionally colorful. There is an even distribution of the colors used here. This gives the piece a sense of balance and harmony, though the objects in the painting do not move harmoniously. He uses lines and shapes to direct movement. There is a concentration of objects as well as plenty of dead space. It is a balanced and complex piece.

German Expressionism was an extremely emotional movement. That is, German Expressionist artists were primarily concerned with perspective as distortion and concerned with evoking moods. The intent of German Expressionist painting is to exclusively communicate the emotional reality and not the physical reality. This was a movement that evoked ideas in their audiences by distorting reality radically. "The Widow" by Kollwitz is a very moody piece. Attention is given to the widow's hands. They are large and the tendons are pronounced. Her hands look rough, like that of a worker and not of a pampered housewife. Her hands look older than she does. The painting only consists of black and white. Paired together, these traits communicate sadness, what is bleak, and what is lacking, i.e. her husband. Her eyes are closed, her face is partially obstructed, and she leans her head on her shoulder. It is as if the weight of the loss of her husband is so much for her to bear that she cannot even hold her upright. She has just too little strength. This is not a physically realistic portrait, but it is certainly emotionally accurate. The figure in Schiele's "Seated Male Nude" retains both realistic and non-realistic qualities. The figure has no feet when there is clearly room for the feet to have been painted. It is unclear as to whether the male nude is missing a hand or two as well. The male nude is painted sitting, but sitting on nothing. He sits in the air. The representation of his body is realistic in that he is shown with body hair and pubic hair, which is typically not included in many nude paintings. His body has some realistic curvature in the pelvis and lower extremities, while his upper body and face look more like a series of geometric shapes. His pectoral muscles are ambiguous as they could also be small breasts. It is also unclear whether his penis is small or tucked beneath him. These physical ambiguities could communicate the sexual androgyny of the model, sharing an aspect of the reality that Schiele experienced first hand.

Both Picasso and Braque use broad brushstrokes in "Les Desmoiselles d'Avignon" and "Houses at L'Estaque," respectively. Both artists use a limited number of colors. Picasso uses a few shades of orange and blue, with a mostly whitish yellow background. He uses black and green sparingly, for emphasis or shape articulation. Braque, too, uses limited colors. There are only the most crucial colors available. The trees and rocks have rough, geometric edges in "Houses at L'Estaque." The Picasso is clear evidence of the artist's move into cubism and communicating via abstraction. These nude women, whom in reality surely are soft and curvy, are represented semi-geometrically. Picasso provides them with curvature sparingly.

Objectives of Purist art include exclusive use of geometric shapes and large portions of only color. For the Purists, the ideal shape was the "golden ratio." Since the Renaissance period, artists and mathematicians and striven to replicate the golden ratio in their works. In Leger's "Three Women," one can immediately since the use of proportion and ratio to distinguish between the fore-, middle, and backgrounds. The viewer also senses the use of proportion and ratio with respect to the ladies' bodies -- their sizes, their poses, and the relative distances among them. This work is full of objects; the women are having tea at the moment of the painting. Everything in the painting, down to the smallest details, such as the…[continue]

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