Also worth looking at is background art from Makoto Shinkai:
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Also worth looking at is background art from Makoto Shinkai:
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Circle Limit III, 1959. Woodcut, second state, in yellow, green, blue, brown, and black, printed from five blocks.
Relativity. 1953. Lithograph.
Drawing Hands, 1948. Lithograph.
M. C. Escher, whose full name was Maurits Cornelis Escher, was born on June 17, 1898 in Leeuwarden, Netherlands, and died March 27, 1972 in Laren. He was a graphic artist best known for his realistic prints that played with weird optical and surreal effects. He used lithographs, woodcuttings, and engravings to portray "impossible" spaces. In 1919, he attended the Haarlem School of Architecture and Decorative Arts. He began studying architecture, but then switched to decorative arts, where he studied under Samuel Jessurum de Mesquita. One of the reasons he turned to art was that he felt images were the best way for communicating his ideas to other people; they were graphic, not literary, concepts. He left the school in 1922 and traveled through Italy and Spain. He met Jetta Umiker in Italy and married her later in 1924. They lived in Rome until 1935, when the political tension caused by Mussolini drove them to leave for Switzerland. They had a son in Rome, named Giorgio Arnaldo Escher. They moved again in 1937 to a town near Brussels, but then, in 1941, World War II forced them to move to the Netherlands, where Escher remained until 1970. Most of Escher's more famous works come from this period. In 1970 he moved to a retirement home for artists in Laren, and he died there in 1972.
His art is also known for its unique mathematical qualities, and his work in fact has influenced the field of mathematics. He portrayed mathematical relationships between figures, places, and space. One of his greatest mathematical interests was in regular division of planes and symmetry. Escher was influenced by George Polya's academic writings on plane symmetry groups, which his brother, Berend, sent to him. This inspired Escher to more heavily incorporate mathematics into his art, starting in 1937. In 1941, Escher wrote his own paper, Regular Division of the Plane with Asymmetric Congruent Polygons, detailing his mathematical approach to art. In this paper, he studied color-based division, and developed a system of categorizing different combinations of color, shape, and symmetrical properties. This area was later labeled crystallography by mathematicians. Escher also experimented with other mathematical concepts in the 50s, such as representing infinity on a two-dimensional plane.
I was interested in Escher's art because it portrays an "alternate" reality in which the laws of the world we live in don't seem to apply. I always felt that one of the most beautiful qualities of art was that it could be used to distort, skew, and create new worlds. I think Escher's application of math to art is intriguing because, so often, they are viewed as being opposites, with math as a rational force and art as an irrational, emotional one. Thus, his combination of the two brings a fresh perspective to art.
Maurits Cornelis Escher. M. C. Escher: The Graphic Work. Taschen, Germany. 2001.
"M.C. Escher." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 28 Oct. 2010 <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/192344/M-C-Escher>.
"M. C. Escher." Wikipedia.org. 28 Oct 2010. < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MC_Escher>
Monday, October 18, 2010
I have an affinity for paintings with music or musicians as subject matter, so I started out looking for an artist who shared my fascination with this art-within-art theme of music in painting.
Vasily Kandinsky was born December 4, 1866 in Moscow. He completed a full education in law before deciding to become a painter and was thirty years old when he went to Munich to begin his art studies. In his autobiography, Kandinsky recalled seeing Monet’s Haystacks, in which he felt color was more important than the objective subject matter, which may have been part of the impetus for the abrupt change.
While Kandinsky was beginning to develop technical artistic skills, he was more advanced in his understanding of aesthetics and artistic philosophy. He taught art and published essays and reviews before becoming known as an artist. His early independent work, dating to about 1900, depicted landscapes and shows the development of his ability to capture the real, visible world around him. During this phase, he painted The Blue Rider (below). He travelled much and dabbled with various artistic styles and methods, including Impressionism, Art Nouveau, and Neo-Impressionism.
In 1908, Kandinsky’s paintings began to take on a different quality, reflecting a clarification of his analytical thought, and perhaps a reconciliation of his artistic philosophy with his artistic ability. Paintings have a cleaner application of color, and there is less concern with verisimilitudes- over time, objects became more abstracted and increasingly expressive, and colors and shapes became autonomous from actual objects. In these pre-WWI years, Kandinsky completed the first seven of the ten oil paintings he titled Compositions – Composition VII is shown below.
With his foundation in artistic theory and his newfound power of abstract expression, Kandinsky became the leader of an influential avant-garde movement. He helped form create two art associations, the Munich New Artists’ Association in1909 and the Blue Rider in 1911. He also published his principal theoretical treatise, titled On the Spiritual in Art. This document envisioned an ultimate form of art, in which music, color, and movement were fused on stage. It also argues for abstraction, which Kandinsky saw as a means for the human spirit to triumph over material.
Kandinsky’s painting took a new turn in the post-WWI years. Outlines and shapes became more cleanly defined, and the perfect circle, later a reoccurring theme, was introduced. In 1922, Kandinsky became a teacher in the Bauhaus school, which reunited the fine arts with the crafts. His Bauhaus style became distinct from both his earlier and later work – it featured floating geometric shapes – circles, wedges, lines, grids, half-letters, crescents, and other fragments. An example highlighting Kandinsky’s frequent use of circles is Several Circles, below.
With increasing attacks from rightist political attacks in Germany, the Bauhaus school closed, and Kandinsky escaped to Paris. Here, his art made its final transformation, with the “amoeba” shape becoming central to his works. Kandinsky began to favor biomorphic shapes, irregular lines, and paler colors. An example from this time period is Reciprocal Accord, shown below.
Messer, Thomas M. Kandinsky. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1997.
Weiss, Peg. Kandinsky and Old Russia: The Artist as Ethnographer and Shaman. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1995.