Saturday, October 18, 2008

Do you Remember? (the 21st Night of September)

[Undirected Blog Five!]

Time travel time! Lets go way back to the early 1800s. In this time period, the Romantic painters loved nature. A lot. Many of the landscape paintings of this time, part of a movement called--brace yourself--Romantic Landscape Painting (shock!), tried to emphasize the beautiful power that nature holds. One painter from this movement was a Joseph Mallord William Turner--a man accepted into the Royal Academy of Art at the age of 14. He placed humans into his landscapes, showing the awesome power of nature, and how no matter how hard we try, humans will always be at the mercy of the weather. Take Turner's Hannibal Crossing the Alps.


Here he places an army in the midst of a snowstorm, with the figures so small that you probably can't even see them in this picture. They're at the bottom, if that helps any.

Turner's painting seems to emphasize a need for humans to respect nature, and to be aware that the forces of nature can be much more destructive than expected. Remember hurricane Katrina? No matter how hard you try to build a town that will survive storms and flooding, you'll fail because your town is below sea level and the hurricane just so happens to have survived the sandbars. This disaster couldn't have been stopped, as I hear its pretty much impossible to destroy a hurricane, though it could have become less of a mess if the city of New Orleans wasn't built in that place at all. What this modern world needs now is people who respect fearsome nature, and understand that we cannot outsmart nature. Perhaps this current 'green' movement is the beginnings of a new Romantic Landscape Painting mentality in our populace. Minus the paintings of storms killing soldiers, of course. That's just Unpatriotic.

I almost went on a rant tonight about how stupid it is to build a city below sea level in hurricane territory! Good thing I avoided that. I think this week's Connection to Today segment was pretty strong! So I'm just going to go celebrate that achievement. See you next week!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Angie's Lips, Please

[Undirected Blog Four!]

You'll notice I skipped a week. That's because we didn't have any lectures or reading last week. Moving on with my life...

Walking into the lecture this Wednesday, I expected to see the same paintings as the past few weeks--with perfectly painted figures. Imagine my shock when I saw this!


I was horrified. It just looks so...wrong. This painting, Odalesque by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1814), was well-painted, sure, but only in the craftsmanship. The figure of the woman shown is just so stretched and distorted that I can't focus on the quality of the piece at all. Think I'm being melodramatic? Perhaps I am. But look at that back leg! It doesn't even look like it belongs to the woman at all. That topic was brought up in class, and then I learned how Ingres painted. He'd paint multiple legs and arms, then pick the best to paint into the final work. Which perfectly explains why his work looks so strange. No one person is perfect, and taking different parts from different people that seem perfect separately (the perfect nose, the best chin, etc.) creates some very strange results.

I was going to compare Ingres' painting style to the creation of Frankenstein's monster, but Mary Shelley published that story (Read it!) in 1818, so its a bit too old for my 'Connection to Today' segment. Instead, I've decided to compare his style to a fad in our decade--plastic surgery! Today's plastic surgeons are like modern day Frankensteins. A customer walks in and points to a picture of Angelina Jolie and says, "I want those lips!", and the doctor does some cutting and pasting (not literally--that would suck.) and tada! The customer now has Angelina Jolie's ridiculously huge lips! Of course, the lips probably won't match that person's face at all, and everyone that sees her will sense something odd about how her face looks. Its the same with Michael Jackson and his nose. And skin color. He looked fine when he had his own parts, but when they were changed, he turned into a monster.


Okay, so comparing Ingres' painting Odalesque to Michael Jackson is a bit extreme. Ingres only mixed arms and legs, and was amazing at rendering faces. In fact, his greatest works were small pencil sketches he did of tourists while living in Rome--he seemed to have trouble when it came to painting figures. But hopefully you understand the point I'm trying to make here. Mixing parts of people together to try and create the 'perfect' figure doesn't always work out, and always looks strange. Some cases more than others.


I am so, so sorry for posting a picture of him. Feel free to bleach your eyes now.