Last Updated 06 Jul 2020

Moma Visit – Compare and Contrast Paintings

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MoMA visit - Visual analysis Art is an effective way to express beauty. Artists have different ways to express their ideas and communicate nonverbally through their work. In the Early Modern Art period, artists were free to create their pieces in diverse ways that never had been done before. For this essay, I chose the works of two artists of this period to compare and contrast so that the diversity of Modern art can be demonstrated.

Even though Vincent Van Gogh and Rene Magritte was born forty five years apart from each other and had different styles, I am interested in analyzing “The Starry Night” (Vincent van Gogh) and “The Empire of Light, ii” (Rene Magritte) after my trip to the Museum of Modern Art. At the first analysis, I would like to discuss the famous painting “The Starry Night” (1889) by Van Gogh. This painting is in oil on canvas and has the dimensions of 73. 7 cm ? 92. 1 cm. Van Gogh depicts the town in Rhone under gaslight and reflected in the blue river.

As it is displayed at MoMA, “The Starry Night” attracts a great number of visitors to its mysterious blue spirals. The focus of the painting is quite high as the first point drawn to the viewer is at the sky. The spirals meet with each other and the yellow stars are bright throughout the dark blue sky. Van Gogh uses thick brush strokes to draw the mysterious spirals, which occupy most of the center of the painting. The enormous spirals are reproduced images of moving waves in the ocean, but also induce a whirling movement. This technique plays a significant part to create the chaotically moving effect for the picture.

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Most people who see this picture for the first time feel that the whole scenery somehow shifts, even though it is a still life painting. Moving my view point from the mysterious spirals, I can see the big, extremely dark green cypress tree located in the right part of the picture. Cypress appears in Van gogh’s picture often such as in the “Cypresses” and “Wheatfield with cypresses. ” Unlike these two pictures above, he uses similar sinuous curves tortured from full cycles one after another in this one to reproduce the brush stroke he uses in the spirals.

In the bottom one third of the painting, Rhone town at midnight is peaceful in blue. The clearest part we can see at this town is the church and its bell tower. Although the church only consists of simple sketches, it seems to be the most complicated fragment in the painting. The bell tower points up to the sky and draws attention of the viewers to the spirals once again. Secondly, the next painting I would like to mention is “The Empire of Light ii” (1950) of Rene Magritte. Its dimensions are of 78. 8 x 99. 1 cm. Magritte wants to demonstrate a nocturnal scene under a daytime sky.

When I first saw the painting, the initial thought that came through my mind was to admire the peaceful scenery of an ordinary small town. Then I noticed the paradox in the painting. The upper half of the painting is the light blue sky of a peaceful day with floating white clouds. However, the bottom half is a small town at midnight. Houses and trees are all covered with dark hue as if it is late at night. The town looks as if it has already gone to sleep. The thin and precise brush strokes that Magritte adroitly use make the picture look as real as a photo. The closer and longer I look at the painting, the more confused I become.

The serenity of the deep-sleeping town, which is dimly lit by the antique street light, along with the floating clouds, makes me feel so calm and peaceful that I am persuaded into its reality. However, I am still able to notice the contrast between day and night in two halves of the painting. This confusion is the result of the eyes tricked to believe in what we see. The placement of day and night remarkably reminds us about our conscious mind that we use in everyday life, and about our lit unconscious mind that waits for us to use it to brighten our senses.

This painting conceals Magritte’s psyche that “The mind loves the unknown. It loves images whose meaning is unknown, since the meaning of the mind itself is unknown. ” On the one hand, there are similarities between two paintings that I notice. Firstly, both painters use oil on canvas for the paintings. They also have the approximate dimensions of about 70cmx95cm. Secondly, mystery is an important fact that makes the two paintings worth seeing. People cannot resist taking a look at the spirals and following the moving effect of the whole picture when seeing “The Starry Night. The spirals themselves are mysterious since they are echoed the movement of ocean waves. Similarly, ‘The Empire of Light, ii” makes spectators wonder the reality of a nocturnal scene of a small town under a sunny day. Their minds are tricked to believe in the true-to-life scene as well as to question the paradox. In addition, luminosity is created successfully in two paintings. In “The Starry Night”, the moon and the stars illuminate the sky as stars and moon are in concentric circles and contrary to the dark blue sky surrounding.

The moon is placed at the top right corner of the painting, where the sun usually appears, and produces light together with the stars. Correspondingly, in Magritte’s, light comes from the title of the painting itself. The lamppost, as well as the windows’ dim light, creates the luminosity standing alone in the dark night. Finally, even though both paintings have no sign of human and animals, motion still appears clearly. The whole “Starry Night” is a chaos, moving and moving freely, while the floating clouds in the sunny sky in the upper half of the painting prevents “The Empire of Light, ii” from lacking in movement.

On the other hand, each picture has its own quality. The first difference between the two paintings is the brush stroke. Vincent van Gogh uses the thick brush stroke in “The Starry Night,” especially when painting the spirals and the cypress, while Magritte’s extremely thin brush stroke appears everywhere in the painting. As a result, the surfaces of two paintings are different; rough in “The Starry Night” and smooth in “The Empire of light, ii. ” Also, while “The Starry Night” has an open shape, “The Empire of Light, ii” is closed-shaped. In “Starry Night,” there are no edges coming between the stars and the sky.

They just merge with one another and create a beautiful “Starry Night. ” However, the thin brush strokes in “The Empire of Light” identify all objects distinctively. Edges are clear between houses; clouds and sky are clearly recognized. Thirdly, although both painters use blue, the hue, value and intensity are different. Blue is the spiritual color in “The starry night,” and Van Gogh uses blue that varies from the darkest in the town to the lightest in the inside of the spirals. Blue is also diverse in the sky, together with yellow to make a sky lively.

Magritte, however, uses just one value of light blue to paint his sky in a sunny day and the sky looks serene. Last but not least, even though both paintings depict the same subject of a small town at midnight, each painting represents a different style. While “the starry night” of Van Gogh follows post-impressionism – a style that combines the elements of Impressionism with those of non-Europe to create their own way - “The Empire of Light, ii” of Magritte is surrealist, whose purposes are to describe the irrational, to examine perception and to create the word and image relationship.

In conclusion, “The starry night” of Vincent van Gogh and “The Empire of Light, ii” are expressions of aesthetic values. The paintings, either post-impressionist or surrealist, represent the painters’ own way of self-expression and their own way to communicate with the spectators nonverbally. Reference 1. Van Gogh’s letters http://vangoghletters. org/vg/letters/let693/letter. html http://vangoghletters. org/vg/letters/let782/letter. html 2. Magritte’s quotes http://www. rene-magritte. org/rene-magritte-quotes. jsp 3. Other http://www. moma. org/collection/object. php? object_id=78456 http://www. all-art. rg/art_20th_century/magritte1. html The starry night - Vincent van Gogh The Empire of Light, ii – Rene Magritte Claude Monet – Contextual factors influenced his style Claude Monet (1840-1926) was a French artist, who was considered a leader of the Impressionism movement as this style was named after his painting “Impression, Sunrise” (1872). He is one of the typical artists to mention when we discuss the Early Modern art era. I would like to analyze the contextual factors that affect his style of painting. First of all, the political circumstances in France from 1870s had effects on Monet’s style.

During the Franco-Prussian War (1871-1872), Monet came to England with Pissarro for shelter. He met the dealer Durand Ruel, who then became a great advocator of the Impressionists. Also in England, Monet had chance to study the works of John Constable and Joseph Mallord William Turner, which inspired his innovations in study of colors. After spending a summer (1971) in Amsterdam, Holland, he returned to French, which was damaged by the civil war. He stayed in Argenteuil, which was an industrially growing town near the Seine river until 1878.

From 1872-1878, Argenteuil was a center for Impressionist painters to gather after Monet published his painting “Impression, Sunrise” depicted the Seine river. In addition, innovations in painting manufacture were introduced in public in 19th century. In 1841, John Rahn invented the collapsible tin paint tube, which revolutionized the color palette and technique of plein-air oil painting by offering a range of pre-mixed colors in a convenient medium. This is a major factor to emerge Impressionism. Monet used this plein-air painting as a elementary principle of his art in 1860s,.

He sought to combine his Realist investigation with the possibilities of creating a new style of painting. In the paintings produced at La Grenouillere at 1869, Monet found a way establish a challenging tension between appearances and painterly invention that proved sufficient basis for the developed Impressionist manner of the 1870s and after. In 1870s, Monet’s brush stroke became smaller and more diverse. He also tried to conduct experiments to control value contrasts. These experiments with color were played off against and within a traditional framework, essentially perspectives in nature.

Finally, 19th century marked the emergence of photography, which had a major effect on Modern Art. In the first half of the century, cameras were introduced continuously and rapidly improved. For example, in 1814, Joseph Niepce used his camera obscura to take picture, but the image required eight hours of light exposure and later faded. In 1851, Frederick Scott Archer invented the Collodion process, in which images required only two or three seconds of light exposure. Thus, painters were in need of seeking new techniques to innovate their painting. They had to prove that paintings might not be replaced by photos.

Thus, Monet sought a way to break the old rules of traditional painting. His brush strokes became thinner; the closed shape in traditional painting became more open as the boundaries between objects were more obscure, as we can see in his “Impression, Sunrise. ” According to the contemporary critics, the painting was rather a sketch than a complete work of art. However, this painting was the first impressionist to be presented. In conclusion, the political circumstances and developing technique are two crucial factors that affect the style of Monet Claude.

After his first painting in 1972, Impressionism became his style for his later life. Work cited MoMA – Monet Claud’s biography http://www. moma. org/collection/artist. php? artist_id=4058 http://www. claude-monet. com/index. jsp House, John, et al. : Monet in the 20th century, page 2, Yale University Press, 1998 http://www. visual-arts-cork. com/artist-paints/colour-palette-nineteenth-century. htm http://library. brown. edu/cds/paris/finearts. html#impressionism http://inventors. about. com/od/pstartinventions/a/Photography. htm

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