Thoughts on artists

Having recently come back from a whirlwind tour of Europe that included a crapload of great art museums, I thought I’d comment on a few of my darlings (and a few artists that I think completely SUCK). Feel free to add your thoughts!

  • Picasso:
    Has been my favorite artist since I discovered him in the fourth grade. He’s like an old Simpsons episode that I’ve seen twenty times and know all the words to:

“hey, didja know that the little flower at the bottom of ‘Guernica’…”
“… is supposed to symbolize hope, rebirth, and triumph over evil? yup, I heard that too…”

He’s still my honey, but nothing unfamiliar of his surprises me anymore. He’s fast being eclipsed by guys like:

  • Kandinsky and Chagall:
    Ooooh. Mmmm. Gimme some of that dreamy Bauhaus action, Vassily. Paint me nekked riding on a flying horse, Marc. rowwrrr
    I haven’t seen anything by these guys that I haven’t liked. Entering the Stephanskirche in Mainz, where Chagall designed the stained-glass windows, was, well, a religious experience, not easy for a hard-knuckled atheist like me. I have seen heaven, and it’s dreamy blue windows.
    Marc Chagall’s life overlapped mine by a few years before he croaked. I could have been his girlfriend when he was ninety and I was, like, three. :frowning:

  • Piet Mondrian:
    Appeals to my kindergarten sense of aesthetics (“I like things with shapes and colors!!!”). Saw a lot of his stuff at the Stedilijk Museum in Amsterdam, and it all made me smile.

  • Rembrandt:
    Feels like a comfy old loafer. I’ve seen “Night Watch” in books a hundred times, but , Jesus, it’s as big as my house! Make that a 40EEE loafer.
    Can someone please explain to me why that particular painting is so popular, though? It’s in a room in the Rijksmuseum with about six other paintings about the same size and of damn near the same thing. ???

  • Raphael:
    I’m being shuffled through the Vatican apartments on the way to the Sistine chapel, when all of a sudden - bam! - there’s “School of Athens” on the wall. I love this painting to death, and I’d forgotten Raphael stuck a self-portrait in there on the far right. Really cute to see it in person.
    I saw the “Sistine Madonna” in Dresden too, where I hadn’t expected it to be, and I realized how much I still loved it (I first saw it in a really old art book my grandma gave me when I was six). His colors are just so soft and loving, it absolutely astounds me.

  • Van Gogh/Monet:
    Guys, I know you were revolutionary for your time and had to suffer through eye disease and mental illness to produce your works and all that, but I’m just sick to death of seeing your stuff. Stupid people have made you into the Backstreet Boys and N’ Sync of the art world: whatever good you may have done for your genre has been eclipsed by complete morons hanging reproductions of “Waterlilies” and “Sunflowers” on their living-room walls and calling themselves ‘cultured’ for it.

Vince, if you could see the hordes of tourists I had to push through to see your stuff, you’d never switch back to ‘manic’. @#$%!

Kandinsky and Chagall are not Bauhaus. They have nothing to do with Bauhaus. They weren’t part of the same movement.

Ok, I’ll play, and I’ve qualifications, too (student in this stuff).
Chagall and Kandinsky-- yep. Vasily’s early stuff is amusing-- the folky glass-painting style, and the earlier non-onjective stuff (but he and Marc were in Blaue Reiter, and not assd w/ the Bauhaus)-- later it gets overly geometric and blah. He’s a kook, too, into the blatavsky group and such- you should read “On the Spiritual in Art.” I’d like to decorate a kid’s room with Chagall.

Both Picasso and Mondrian are a hoot as they were totally competent ‘realistic’ painters before they got bored, I guess. In art appreciation classes we like to put up one of PP’s early paintings (realistic and very very good) from when he was 13 of someone’s first communion and quiz the students on who’d they guess it was by. They seem to appreciate non-objective art more when they realize that it was a choice the artist made and not done out of lack of talent. Same thing with Mondrian-- you can stick 10 of his paintings of trees next to one another by date and see the progression towards abstraction.

After you’ve tried to shoehorn your way through the van Gogh museum you never want to go back. Monet I can appreciate for the subtle sensibility for light and color that he had-- if you look at several of the Rouen Cathedral or haystack paintings (several of the same object but portrayed under different light conditions, times of day, seasons, etc) it’s really quite striking.

I don’t know why the Nightwatch is so popular-- although it was very novel in its day (a very unusual format for group portraits and the first of its kind, like the Mona Lisa which also inovative but has been shown to you so many time that it’s hard to even see the damn thing anymore). I had the same reaction-- there were some great things in the room behind that wall each time I’ve been to R.-museum. His etchings, though, are fantastic.

Raphael I can do without, although I feel he has been injured by the extraction of those angels from the bottom of the Assumption of the Virgin (can’t remember where that one is) that are the subject of so many mousepads and coffee cups. In the same crowd, Vasari’s paintings make me quiver in rage, and I’m not sure why. . . I do like many of the Venetian painters (Antonello da Messina!), but in general the Florentine and Roman stuff leaves me cold.

Artists I think are swell:
Rogier v.d. Weyden, who for some reason I fid much more appealing than Van Eyck (who is also swell). Memling, also, is highly underrated (someone once called him “a major minor master” and his reputation has never recovered from that appealing soundbite. I’m biased, though, because I’m writing on him).

Hercules Seghers-- an extremely innovative printmaker from the 17th c who was far ahead of his time-- makes Rembrandt look like a piker, comparatively. Dyed his papers, handwiped plates in interesting ways, used a sort of proto-aquatint, etc. Swell stuff.

And to jump forward, the whole more recent German thing-- Joseph Beuys, Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke.

I have a hard time with the popular artist-du-jour thing-- poor overexposed guys and after a while you just want to gouge your eyes out when you run into another poster. You know, the Dali-Escher-Kahlo-van Gogh-Klimt-Parrish-Mucha syndrome. There’s a lot of other things out there.

I’m spouting, I think.

Oh, oh-- the Klosterneuburg altarpice by Nick of Verdun and friends-- fantastic.

I discovered Magritte while in college. His paintings suggest a sense of the absurd, while also being oddly comforting. He often used soft colors, and was fond of puffy clouds. Not quite as nightmarish as Dali, but I enjoy him as well.

Although I knew nothing about surrealism, or any kind of art, when I was in school, I now know that I always liked the surreal in art. In junior high, I remember doing a collage using magazine cutouts. It was truly bizzare, and I loved it. It was such fun to create ambiguous images, and to see the confused looks of people who looked at my work. Dali must have had such fun…

Kandinsky taught form and color theory at the Bauhaus for a while at the beginning. I guess he’s not associated with the movement per se, but some of his later stuff seems to adopt some of the Bauhaus principles: simplistic, form follows function (or was it the other way around?), etc.
Please bear in mind that the last art history class I had was when I was ten. I’ve just seen a lot of good stuff and a lot of crap, and I know I like the good stuff. :slight_smile:

Capy: the painting with the two little angels is “Sistine Madonna”. Actually, when you’re standing in front of it, you’re inclined to think, “eh, angels, whoopdy-shit, look at the ghosts around Mary’s head!” The angels are kind of a nasty little afterthought.

Regarding Picasso, just because I’m growing sick if him does not diminish his genius in any way. He could imitate any artist he damn well pleased, and that takes one hell of a talent. I love the paintings he did of Paris nightclubs before he hit his Blue period - they look JUST like Toulouse-Latrec.
Ooh, I forgot to mention Beuys and Klee. Always leave me feeling satisfied. Yummy.