Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Art of Giovanni Segantini

The Punishment of Lust 1858-99 by Giovanni Segantini

When I first saw this painting I was stuck by the beautiful dreamlike quality. I love how the hair of the women curls, and I love how that contrasts with the angular branches of the tree. The brushstrokes can only be appreciated by viewing the work in person. The first time I saw this painting I bought a postcard of the image. It only reminds me of the wonderful detail, it does not capture it.

When I read about the artist and what he intended, my view of the work became tainted. This image is from a series of work about 'bad mothers'. Segantini believed that women were only meant to raise children and he expressed these views in his painting. Even though I don't agree with him, it is difficult to distance his philosophy from the painting. I do believe that his views stemmed from a very difficult childhood. These paintings are an expression of personal struggles he needed to face.

Evil Mothers 1894 by Giovanni Segantini

The title 'Evil Mothers' expresses anger. I'd like the work to be about something else. We would like everyone to have had a happy childhood. These works are brilliant because they are honest and expressive of how he felt. I was wrong to believe it tainted the work. It was a struggle that he expressed through painting and that is why these images are two of his best pieces.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Seated Demon by Mikhail Vrubel

The Seated Demon 1890 by Mikhail Vrubel

This painting is amazing. The 'Demon' series began as illustrations for a poem by Mikhail Lermontov. It is the story of a Demon who falls in love with a mortal. This is the image of the Demon contemplating his love. The beautiful abstracted flowers in the garden, they appear to show his perception of the world changing.

Detail from The Seated Demon 1890 by Mikhail Vrubel

I have included this detail because I wanted to show the abstraction within the piece. This detail could hang in a gallery, as a work of art in its own right. The abstraction is excellent and it is balanced with the structure of the larger image. That balance allows the painting to convey emotion. A hyper realistic image would lose that ability. The balance is perfect.