Method of studying art

  1. study the subject matter: recognize people, places, symbols, objects, and actions in a work of art.
  2. analyze the visible elements: color, shade, light, line, texture, space, composition, and technique
  3. what is the meaning of the work: why was it created?

EX- Watson and the shark by John Singleton Copley 1738-1815

leading portrait painter of colonial America this was his first history painting

3 versions in Boston, Washington dc, and Detroit

Watson was swimming in the bay of Havana and is attacked by a shark

tension is created by contacts almost made possibly influenced by the creation of

Adam by Michaelangelo

symbols in art:

peacock: immortality

dog: faithfulness, fidelity

ivy: everlasting life

serpent: temptation, Satan

apple: temptation, fall of man

equilateral triangle: the trinity

circle: eternity

lily: Easter, immortality

nimbus (halo): sanctity, holiness

wings: divine mission

perfume bottle: Mary magdellen

hour glass: passage of time

shell: baptism

skull: death

vulture: greed

eye: all seeing god

egg: rebirth and resurrection

open bible: word of god

symbols of the evangelists:

Matt: face of a man

Mark: face of lion

Luke: face of an ox

John: face of an eagle

EX- The Arnolfini Wedding 1434 Jan Van Eyck

holding hands show solemn oath presence of Christ shown by one lit candle

dog shows fidelity, it is a symbol because it doesn’t appear in the mirror’s reflection.

Sandals removed, showing holy ground ripening fruit represents fertility

St. Margaret, saint of fertility is carved on the bedpost

EX- St. Jerome (342-420) author of the Latin bible the vulgate

symbols, bible, crucifix, red cardinals cap and cloak, rock in hand, lion

Ex- The Sun Barge 1300 BC hieroglyphics bird-phoenix- symbol of sun god

EX- The Book of Kells blue cross, Christianity

3 intertwined circles- trinity

4 intertwined circles- four evangelists

EX- The Death of St. Claire each St. around the bed holds a symbol of identifying herself

EX- The Death of a Miser Hieronymus bosch (1453-1516)

filled with death and greed symbolism figure at foot of bed shows indecision

the dying man was a mercenary

EX- The Five Senses still life each object represents a sense

EX- Fish Magic includes clock, flowers, sun and moon, 2 faced person, fishnet

EX- Painting #47 Berlin symbols of WW1 are in this painting

Rembrant uses a spotlight effect

a tondo is a round painting

subject matter in art

  1. narrative subject: artist tells a story
  2. literary subject: based on a work of literature
  3. religious subjects (any religion)
  4. landscapes: outdoor setting
  5. cityscape: view of a city setting
  6. historical subjects: shows historical events
  7. the figure (human body): places emphasis on the human body, primarily Greco-Roman and renaissance.
  8. the portrait: portrays a person, similar to taking a photograph of the person
  9. self portrait: painted of the artist, by the artist

Rembrant, Van Gogh and Albert Durer (Leonardo of the north) painted numerous

self portraits

EX- Portrait of Dr. Gachet Vincent Van Gogh

dr. Gachet treated Van Gogh while he was in a mental hospital

this was purchased by a Japanese insurance firm for 82.5 million, highest priced painting

Types of painting:

  1. genre: everyday people in everyday activities
  2. social comment: art used to make a statement about society or the world
  3. still life: a group of inanimate objects
  4. expressionistic: personal and emotional feeling are added to a work of art
  5. abstraction: the simplification of forms into basic and geometric shapes
  6. non objective painting: fully abstract, uses color, shape and line