Embraced: Yellow and Black
This is an abstract painting. At the lower center edge is a white ovoid form, formed with thick paint and surrounded by a few brushstrokes of blue. Above is another dark ovoid and atop it is a patch of vivid yellow. Other colors, washed across the surface, are blue, white, burgundy, purple and black. All of the colors and forms are bounded by a continuous “frame” of orange paint which appears to have been poured, rather than brushed, onto the canvas.
Still Life No. 24, 1962
Pop artist Tom Wesselmann's Still Life No. 24 affirms the American dream and the prosperity of the 1960s middle class. The variety, size and quantity of the fresh, canned and packaged convenience foods give evidence of agricultural abundance, factory productivity, and a thriving consumer economy. Television, with its myriad product advertisements, became a central force of cultural change.
Still Life No. 24 is an assemblage composed of two-dimensional imagery and three-dimensional objects. Wesselmann cut images of foodstuffs and kitchen items from subway posters and other large advertisements. The plastic ear of corn is an advertising prop, acquired by the artist from a vendor on Coney Island who sold corn on the cob.
The blue curtain is of the type pictured in magazines such as Ladies' Home Journal, which promoted interior design to the middle class. Through the window, a sailboat glides along, further suggesting the good life of the American dream.
Portrait of Emily St. Clare as a Bacchante
In this portrait, Emily St. Clare invites the viewer into the world of a bacchante, or follower of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine. Intoxicated by her beauty, St. Clare was the mistress of Sir John Fleming Leicester, who commissioned this and at least 13 other portraits of her from fashionable British artists.
John Hoppner was known for his restrained, formal portraits. Here, however, in striving to fulfill Leicester’s desires, Hoppner conveyed St. Clare’s youthfulness and exuberance through dynamic brushwork, flowing draperies, and an alluring smile.
Dell at Helmingham Park
John Constable’s personal vision and immediate encounters with nature shaped his landscape paintings. This approach links him to a central tenant of Romanticism. While earlier British artists aspired to represent an idealized view of an imagined landscape, Constable strove to capture the local scenery of his native Suffolk, England.
Constable's intimate vision, as exemplified by this work, was characteristic of the newly intensified attitude toward nature adopted by the Romantic movement. He first visited this dell in 1800, when he wrote to a friend, "Here I am quite alone among the oaks and solitude of Helmingham Park… there are abundance of fine trees of all sorts." He visited once more in 1814, but this is a late work of memory. Constable enhances the rustic atmosphere by including a foreground cow and, in the distance, a stag and red deer. His technique is loose and free, making his trees appear as though they are sighing and swaying in the wind.
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.
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."