Thursday, March 29, 2012
1. a. “This is a painting of a garden with a building in the background, a tree in the middle ground, and two humans in the foreground.
b. “It’s two dimensional.
c. “This painting is undated, but we know that Kleitsch died in 1931.
d. “I can tell by the clothing the women are wearing that it’s the 1920s.
e. “It’s a beautiful day, the sun is shining, the flowers are blooming so it’s probably spring. It’s probably cool because the women are wearing jackets.
“I have just described this painting. My students always wanted to tell me what a painting meant, and they failed.”
2. a. “Here’s another clue: Why is it here? It’s part of the California Impressionists genre. We can identify Impressionist works of art by looking at the time period. It might be helpful if we step back and define Impressionism.”
Here, Whittington’s education takes over.
b. “Impressionism was at its height between 1860 and 1870. It was coined by a French critic writing a review of Monet’s ‘Impressions Sunrise.’ He wrote, ‘This is a mere impression.’”
c. Impressionism, Whittington says, was a radical departure from the realistic, precise, historical and grand paintings that preceded it, partly due to the wider availability of commercially pre-mixed paints. Artists used broader dabs of color, seeking to capture not the detail as much as the light, the “optical qualities in nature.”
“Look at it up close. Then stand back. Your eyes blend [the colors] together.
d. “If a painting was painted in 1746, it’s not Impressionism. If it’s American or French, between 1860 and 1930, and its main subject is light, through a heavy application of paint, it’s probably Impressionist. If there’s a BMW in the foreground, it probably ain’t Impressionism.
“Academic information informs the conversation,” he concludes, “but you don’t have to know it to enjoy [a painting].”
And, indeed, he enjoys “Red and Green” on a simple level: It’s a beautiful work.