Comparing two art works:
Henri Matisse Vs William Holman Hunt
Less detail Detailed
Bold/harsh brush strokes Captured movement
No blending Photo realistic
Canvas still visible Wealth- clothing, ornaments, wallpaper
Uneven Has depth
No narrative Reads a story with narrative to it
Does not give a lot away Feel as though we can enter the room
No expression Drawn in
Cropped with not much background Her expression is awakened by something
Showing only the head gives less information She appears interested in freedom
Masculine Appears trapped and controlled
Flat, no features or depth Mistress, kept woman
Heavy lines Cat and bird representing being captured
Cartoon like Glove representing lost morals
Japponiese hair style Trappings of wealth and privilege
No perspective Moral messages
Face colour has a green line/stripe Not a nice way to live
Colour used to show how light hits the face Title tells story-‘Moral Purpose’
Expressive use of colour Typical of Victorian art
Own version that expresses his emotion Polished
Contrasting background with different colours
Drawing attention to colour contrast
Shows how its done rather than what subject it is
Comparing two Modernist works:
Henri Matisse Vs Piet Mondrain
All of the above Straight Lines
No subject matter
No reference to the real world
Paintings by Mondrian;
Characteristics of Modern Art:
- Non narrative
- Modernist work is the subjective view of the artist
- Idea of general/universal essence to move away from specific detail
- Art works are autonomous and not dependent on a story
- Appreciate as they are; independent, separate, and complete
Response of the establishment:
John Ruskin (artist & critic) (1819-1900). Ruskin made offensive comments about Whistlers ‘By river and sea’ painting resulting in a court battle. Whistler sued Ruskin and won, below are the extracts from the hearing.
James Abbot McNeill Whistler (1834-1903)
“The imitator is a poor kind of creature. If the man who paints only the tree, or flower, or other surface he sees before him were an artist, the king of artists would be the photographer. It is for the artist to do something beyond this: in portrait painting to put on canvas something more than the face the model wears for that one day; to paint the man, in short, as well as his features; in arrangement of colours to treat a flower as his key, not as his model” – James Abbott McNeill Whistler, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, 1892, pp 126-8
Extracts from the Whistler-Ruskin trial: November 25th and 26th 1878
Whistler questioned by the Attorney General:
A: Now, Mr Whistler. Can you tell me how long it took you to knock off that Nocturne?
W: Let us say then how long did I take to ..’knock off’ that Nocturne; well, as well as I remember, about a day.
A: Only a day?
W: Well… I may have still put a few more touches to it the next day.
A: Oh, two days! The labour of two days, then, is that for which you ask 200 guineas!
W: No; I ask it for the knowledge of a lifetime.
Extracts from Ashton D. (ed.) Twentieth Century Artists on Art (Pantheon, 1985)
A: What was the subject of the Nocturne in Blue and Silver?
W: A moonlight effect on the river near Old Battersea Bridge.
A: Which part of the picture is the bridge?…Do you say this is a correct representation of Battersea Bridge?
W: I did not intend it to be a ‘correct’ portrait of the bridge. It is only a moonlight scene…as to what the picture represents, that depends upon who looks at it.
A: Are those figures on the top of the bridge intended for people?
W: They are just what you like…My whole scheme was to bring about a certain harmony of colour.
- James Abbott McNeill Whistler, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, 1892. p126-p128.
2. Henri Matisse, ‘Notes of a Painter, from Art in Theory 1900-2000: An Anthology of Changing Ideas, Eds. Harrison & Wood, (Blackwell, 2003) p73,I.25 to p74,I.19.