Dancer Making Points, 1879–1880
"Illuminated by gas footlights in the midst of a performance, a dancer “makes points,” or draws forms with her pointed foot. Edgar Degas’s daring, asymmetrical composition and the angled perspective he produced by the diagonal lines of the floorboards emphasize the sensation of plunging space.
Degas is best known as a painter of ballet dancers, whether rehearsing in a studio or dancing on stage. He was captivated by their sometimes graceful, sometimes awkward positions, which he captured in a variety of media over the course of his career."
The Entombment of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, 1636/1637
Francisco de Zurbarán
Saint Catherine was a 4th-century princess of Alexandria who vowed to devote her life to God and was martyred for refusing to marry the Emperor Maxentius. After torture by fire, she was condemned to death on a spiked wheel, shown in the painting's right foreground. When Catherine touched the wheel, it miraculously fell apart, and so she was beheaded. Zurbarán depicts the deceased saint being lifted by angels who will transport her to the top of Mount Sinai, her burial place. Typically Baroque, the action of the painting nearly spills into our own space, and its deep shadows reflect the widespread influence, in this instance extending beyond Italy into Spain, of Caravaggio.
“What any experimental art is trying to get you to do is move beyond your preconceptions and your expectations regarding what should be happening, what’s going to happen, what kinds of effects it should have, and enter a liminal state in which those things can be redefined in the way that the particular artist or piece of art is proposing.” ― Nathaniel Mackey
Weekly Photo Challenge: Experimental
Venturi and Blue Pinion, 1983
"In Venturi and Blue Pinion, a woman is flanked by two machine parts, the venturi (left) and blue pinion (right). A fan of linoleum samples that interrupts the woman's gaze activates the composition and provides a sense of depth. By removing the objects from their original context, Rosenquist suggests that they be read in purely formal or abstract terms.
The large scale and hard-edged planes of bright colors in James Rosenquist's painting reflect his early employment as a billboard painter. In the 1960s, Rosenquist established himself as a Pop artist but, while his work displays some characteristics of Pop (industrial paints and use of popular imagery from advertising), his position is ambiguous. Unlike other Pop artists, Rosenquist's imagery has included unexpected, unsettling juxtapositions and disproportionate scale."
Winding Up (1836)
William Sidney Mount
William Sidney Mount was the most highly esteemed painter of American daily life before the Civil War. Using meticulous brushwork, he composed Winding Up similar to a theater set, and the figures mimic stage characters of the day. The man represents Yankee Jonathan, a country-bumpkin type. His hat remains on his head even indoors, and his handkerchief sticks out of his pocket. The woman, however, appears in her finest clothing, which Mount drew from earlier costume sketches.
The title Winding Up has a double meaning. It refers to the ball of yarn the woman winds from the skein around her suitor's hands and to the stage of their courtship. The artist, however, leaves it to the viewer to guess the final outcome of the relationship.
Portrait #138 (David Hockney)
"For many years, Brenda Zlamany has painted portraits of other artists, including Chuck Close, Alex Katz, and David Hockney. She has also been a subject for them; as she puts it, “we are professional posers.” Recently, however, she has worked to paint portraits of those whose gaze is more internal—monks and nomads in Tibet, aboriginal people in Taiwan—creating large bodies of portraits that investigate the limits of the genre. She returned, with her daughter, to Hockney’s studio in 2014, not only to sit for him but to paint him once again. Her practice involves the long sittings and intense looking required of traditional portrait-making. The result captures Hockney’s warmth as well as his intense gaze, surrounded by the energetic foliage of his Los Angeles home."
I Love Your Hair
"Moving from western Canada to Brooklyn in the early 1990s was a transformative experience for Tim Okamura. He found himself “dropped down right in the heart, the birthplace of hip hop.” In New York City he found new subjects and refined his aesthetic mixture of realism and collage, spray paint and mixed media, to reference both narrative and the urban language of graffiti. His large portraits seek to capture an urban scene as well as aspects of social and personal identity."