This piece by Kandinsky perfectly shows many of the aspects of his painting we discussed in class. He focuses on shapes and colors for total abstraction, which he believed to be superior to representational art because of the stand alone nature of abstraction. Kandinsky thought that art could show a person’s soul through its unique qualities. This work shows many geometric shapes and lines, over a background of largely cream color, with sections of red and grey at the bottom and top to anchor the composition. The shapes are reminiscent of something musical, and the painting is both pleasing to the eye and detailed enough for lots of study. Seeing it in person was interesting, and while it did not change what I thought about the piece, it did show some colors in the painting I had not previously noticed.
Schoenberg’s work relates (in my opinion) closely to many of the other movements around the same time. Schoenberg’s use of only dissonance and breaking free from the traditional styles of composing reminds me greatly of both Impressionism and Surrealism. It was his way of breaking free of the confines of the musical world, and using atonality to create something unique, powerful, and profoundly unsettling. To me it makes sense to call Schoenberg an impressionist composer, because his music borders on bizarre, but still manages to convey the story and meaning that inspired the piece. The discordant instruments and almost-singing manifest as something slightly out of place. This is the same impression I got from reading the poems by Giraud.
Along the reaches of the street
Held in a lunar synthesis,
Whispering lunar incantations
Dissolve the floors of memory
And all its clear relations,
Its divisions and precisions,
Every street lamp that I pass
Beats like a fatalistic drum,
And through the spaces of the dark
Midnight shakes the memory
As a madman shakes a dead geranium.”
My first response to this poem was to re-read the first stanza several times because I was struck by how beautiful the language is. The beautiful prose that Eliot uses in this poem is such that even for a reader with no context or previous knowledge of the poem (I didn’t) it is still easy to take something from. While the meaning and themes of the poem are complex and wholly enjoyable, so too is the pleasure received from reading the gorgeous language. The first stanza of the poem is my favorite – I have distinct times I can relate to Eliot, walking down the street watching the moon and street lamps and letting your mind flow between the past, present and future. My favorite lines in the poem, based simply on the language, are
“Held in a lunar synthesis,
Whispering lunar incantations
Dissolve the floors of memory”
This is one of my favorite of Eliot’s poems that I have read, and I was instantly captured by the sounds of the words and flow of the writing.
My response to this work of art is different than it might be for another work of Dada art. While Dada artists sought to distinguish themselves by creating art with no purpose, or art that means nothing, some pieces show this better than others. This work showcases an aspect of the supposed uselessness of art, it has no recognizable purpose but instead features two beautifully depicted gears. To me, this painting embodies an aspect of pointlessness and surrealism that was present in the world around Picabia. The turbulence of the time period, as well as the rapid modernization it embodied, are represented in Picabia’s machine oriented Dada works.
Ezra Pound’s Canto I is a beautiful piece of long-form poetry, a loose translation by the author of Homer’s The Odyssey. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this Canto is that Pound, the man at the center of Modernism, chose to begin his Cantos by recalling a well known piece of historical literature. The Cantos are a collection of Pound’s deepest thoughts and internal expression, which only adds to the strange nature of beginning with this rendition of a classic story. The text of the document is placed in straight, centered columns, which I believe is to let the meaning of the text shoulder the majority of the reader’s attention. Seeing the document, while interesting so far as the textural aspect goes, does not add greatly to the impact of the text itself. (In all candidness I also may have accidentally deleted the photo from my phone).
The first time I saw Pablo Picasso’s 1910 Portrait of Ambroise Vollard, my reaction was to wonder whether it was a portrait at all. While it is certainly a depiction of famed art dealer Ambroise Vollard, it is not recognizable as him upon first glance. The portrait, painted during Picasso’s Cubist style period, seems closest to a view of Vollard through a broken mirror. The majority of the painting being composed of short, straight, confusingly oriented lines creates a surreal view of typically average subject matter. This painting, while not stylistically similar to Van Gogh’s works, reminds me heavily of them due to the surreal takes on ordinary views.
Word Count: 315
Claude Monet: Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lilies
Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lilies is one of a series of eighteen views painted by Monet in 1899. The painting depicts a Japanese style footbridge in Monet’s garden in Giverny. This piece is a prime example of Monet’s impressionism. Stylistically, his use of dappled sunlight and a wide range of textures and colors shows an En-plein-air painting style – focusing just as heavily on the sensations of the moment as on the observations of form. Monet used many short, rapid brushstrokes, as well as taches, to create the surface of the pond and the water lilies resting on its surface. This choice creates a luminescence and give the study a warm, lifelike feel. Furthermore, Monet heavily compresses space in this painting. That is to say, there is almost no sky to be seen, and the bridge anchors the composition, bringing out the depth and complexity of both the back and foreground. The color palette consists of varying shades of green, red, and brown, yellow and blue, which are utilized throughout the painting. The bridge in the center of the painting uses almost identical shades of green and mauve as the pond and foliage to either side, and gently mirrors the two. Twelve of the eighteen paintings in the set are from the same view, and six of them shift slightly to the left. Each of the others shows the same characteristics of compressed space without feeling crowded and each shows a different dappling effect of the light. This lends the piece a strikingly organic feeling, the viewer is left with the feeling that he or she was standing at the time of the painting’s creation. Overall, this painting is one of many that showcases Monet’s masterful use of light, color, and paint application to create a thoroughly fascinating scene.