Mill at Limetz
Oil on canvas (1888)
Over the course of his long career, Claude Monet gradually shifted his attention from urban subjects and focused increasingly on capturing the effects of light on water, whether rivers, the ocean, or his famous water lily pond. Mill at Limetz is a dazzling example of his later style, characterized by dense applications of paint. Here, fleeting reflections on the river’s surface are transformed into a thickly woven tapestry of luminous color.
Painted in rich, warm tones of cream and brown, André Derain’s painting evokes the resonant sound of the guitar. The carefully balanced composition and harmonious flow of line, together with the musician’s casual open collar, rolled shirtsleeves, and crossed leg, further enhance this mood of lyrical peacefulness.
Prior to his service in World War I (1914–1918), Derain painted dynamic compositions in intense colors. After the war, he used subdued colors, orderly compositions, and a warm light reminiscent of Rembrandt.
To See Beyond Its Walls
“To See Beyond Its Walls combines a large-scale painting of a female figure with a reimagined interior of Sans-Souci Palace (1813) in northern Haiti, tracing conflicted histories and current political contexts of Hispaniola (the shared island of the Dominican Republic and Haiti) and America.
The silhouette of a woman washed in vibrant teal and magenta hues appears in three-quarter profile looking directly at the viewer. Her elaborate headdress, or tignon mandated by sumptuary law in Spanish colonial Louisiana to oppress women of African descent, is filled with historical and contemporary symbols. Black panthers, emblems of the American black power movement of the 1960s, and azabache, stones carved into fists and worn in Latin American cultures to protect from evil spirits, are embedded in the painted cloth. The indigo color recalls the deep blue-violet dye originated in India and traced throughout the African slave trade. Symbols in the painted wall surface include the royal seal of the early-nineteenth-century Haitian kingdom, delicate floral patterns, hair picks, and black power fists. Báez packs the painting and wall with symbols of Latin America, the Caribbean, and America that acknowledge the complex lineage of colonial construct, resistance, and protection. They activate a space beyond the walls (of both the gallery and the palace) to imagine renewed historical and social narratives.”
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.
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.
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.
Pyramids at Gizeh (1929)
"The famous Egyptian pyramids of Menkaure, Khafre, and Khufu rise against the deep blue sky at Gizeh (Giza). At center looms the giant Sphinx, while camels, horses, and people move about the golden desert sands.
After serving in the Austrian army during World War I (1914–1918), Oskar Kokoschka taught art and traveled widely. In the Middle East, he painted broad vistas of places he had learned of from the Bible and modern archaeology. The artist’s quick, sketchy brushstrokes contrast with the timelessness of his subject."
Lime Line-with its eye-popping colors, dynamic geometry, optical rhythms and spatial complexity-is a far cry from the cool, reductive, stable structures of Minimalism. Dean Fleming was part of a New York group called Park Place. They explored pictorial space, the ideas of Buckminster Fuller (inventor of the geodesic dome), Space Age technology, science fiction, Einstein's Theory of Relativity and related concepts of fourth dimensional space-time. Fleming believed hard-edge abstraction was the language of contemporary culture.
The Garden of Les Mathurins at Pontoise, 1876
The woman in the painting is believed to be Maria Deraismes a prominent author and political figure in 1860s France who fought for women’s rights and who was a friend of Pissarro.
"This painting is an unusual subject for Pissarro, who typically preferred more rustic scenes. Here we see a comfortable, middle-class environment, whose peace and prosperity are enjoyed by the well-dressed woman in white. To her right is a glass reflecting ball, and the arrangement of the garden demonstrates the 19th-century fashion for flowers with bright, strong colors. At the time this picture was painted, Pissarro was attempting to give more structure to his loose, Impressionist style. He does so through the solid contrasts of complementary colors-red and green, blue and orange-and dense brushwork applied with small strokes." -- Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
The Record Player (1939)
"The woman in this painting is lost in her thoughts. One strap of her undergarment has slipped from her shoulder. Red light bathes the left side of her face, shoulder, and arm. The background is dark and cavernous. No music sounds.
What could account for this ominous tone? In 1937, Adolf Hitler labeled Karl Hofer and other modern artists "degenerate." Hofer’s paintings were confiscated. He was removed from his teaching post at the Berlin University of the Arts and was forbidden to paint. In 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland. World War II began. Still, Hofer painted."