The Isenheim Altarpiece, especially the painting on the front when it’s closed, is one of the most iconic paintings of the Northern Renaissance. It was made by Matthias Grunewald in 1512-16 for the Monastery of St. Anthony in Isenheim. The monks there ran a hospital that specialized in plague sufferers and victims of St. Anthony’s Fire, or ergotism, which basically causes convulsions and a dry form of gangrene that causes skin sores. [Read more...]
Earlier on, I wrote out an Art Interpretation Cheat Sheet, which was a list of questions to help you build up an interpretation of a piece. This post will start to go into more depth.
In my Art Appreciation classes, the students all want to begin their descriptions of the piece with what’s happening in the narrative. If there seems to be a mother holding a child, they want to talk about that. Getting them to describe the painting itself without any interpretation or assumption is extremely difficult. When I ask them what they see in the image below, they reply with “a man looking back at us”, “a young Sylvester Stallone”, etc. [Read more...]
Everyone knows Pixar’s movies, and I assume most people would recognize their logo. But I’m willing to bet most people have no idea where the lamp that replaces the “i” comes from. It’s based on the Anglepoise 1227 lamp by George Carwardine. [Read more...]
Paul Pfeiffer’s work caught my eye one day when I was in grad school. I saw one of his photos, thinking at first that it was staged, unedited, but then I looked a bit closer and noticed some oddities. It was a basketball game, but there was only one player. There were no logos anywhere. The court markings were all gone. There weren’t any ads on the sidelines. The player had no numbers and wasn’t obviously recognizable (although I only know a very few players by sight). There was just a crowd, a court, and a player. It made me think of Medieval religious icons. [Read more...]
There are a ton of resources out there for learning about art marketing. One of the best is Art/Work. It tells you just about everything you need to know. Joanne Mattera’s Marketing Mondays series is pretty amazing (scroll down the sidebar of her blog for a bit)—it was a 4-year long series of tips for artists. There are always a few books in the racks at Barnes and Noble about making your career as an artist. On the web, it’s easy to find stuff about doing better on twitter, facebook, tumblr, etc.
But before we get lost in the world of analytics, feeds, digital interaction, business cards, and whatnot, let’s not forget about the power of the Real World. [Read more...]
Every once in a while–and probably not often enough–people will ask me (or ask on the LearnArt subreddit) how they can be more creative, come up with better ideas of what to draw or paint, and generally figure out what to make art about. I’m not sure anyone needs to be more creative, but I do think people need a system that allows them to be repeatably creative until it flows more freely.
When you’re first starting to make art, there’s going to be a lot of basic technical stuff to get past. These are your foundations courses in art school. It won’t seem like you’re really making art yet. You’re learning the craft. At some point in art school you get the order: Stop Painting Still Life, Go Make Art. At this point, you hit a brick wall. How do I do that?
Fortunately there is a path. [Read more...]
I found out about Tomma Abts at some point in 2008. I think I saw an image on a blog somewhere, and muttered to myself, “Hum. That’s potentially interesting.” It seemed like a fresh take on geometric abstraction, which in itself is no small feat. [Read more...]
I just noticed the other day that Sherlock, in the newish BBC version of the story (which is completely awesome and worth watching in every way), has an LC-2 or LC-3 chair in his living room. It’s his thinking and lounging chair. It’s a bit beat up, with worn-down cushions, but it appears to be the real deal. [Read more...]
There are very few examples in the 20th Century of chapels and cathedrals built on previously sacred ground. In the past, temples were built on top of older temples. Historically, the site was important. Le Corbusier’s Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp, France, is such an example. There was an early Christian church at this location. It was built around 300-400 CE and destroyed during WWII. Rather than create a building out of pre-fabricated materials, Le Corbusier designed the building based on the location and its history. [Read more...]
I get the sense, through teaching Art Appreciation for the first time this semester, that the Elements of Design are almost always taught poorly and are hard to understand. The thing is that every textbook tries to separate them to discuss each one rather than teaching what’s important about them: their connections. The way the Elements link up is extremely important to understanding their use from both the standpoint of interpretation and from a maker’s perspective.
One of the most basic Elements is Line. Of course we all have a basic understanding of what a line is since we’ve had math and physics classes. It’s a point that moves through space. In physics, a vector is a line combined with time. Quite literally, when you write a line on paper, your hand has to move to make it. [Read more...]