Sunday, September 25, 2011

In Chapter Two of Aesthetics and Painting called Art and Imitation Jason Gaiger talks about the traditional way painting has been defined and how it fails be an all encompassing definition. He uses the opinions of many art theorists, philosophers and artists. Some of which are Rodger de Piles (October 7, 1635 – April 5, 1709), George Dickie (born 1926), and Plato (424/423 BC – 348/347 BC)  He also refers to renaissance texts: Vasari’s Lives of The Artists (1550-1568), and Alberti’s On Painting (1435) to make the point that realism has been revered throughout art history, but that the definition of painting must also include a conversation on composition.
        The chapter begins with art theorist Roger de Piles's definition of painting. He said painting is, ‘an art, which by means of drawing and colour imitates on a flat surface all visible objects’.  Piles went on to say, ‘this is how all those who have spoken of painting have defined it and no one has yet found it necessary to alter this definition’ (p16).  
Vasari also put much importance on imitation. He said that the birth of the ‘renaissance’ of painting came with the introduction to painting from life. ‘Painters found success through the exact reproduction of all things in nature and ‘the best painters follow nature as closely as possible’ and they produce work that is, ‘living, realistic and natural’. Gaiger wants the reader to, instead of reject these traditional views, figure out why the concept of imitation has been a defining aspect of painting theories and practices.
In contrast to Vasari and Rodger de Piles, philosopher, George Dickie believes painting is more than just a replica, an imitation of a visible object, that it has some other powerful element this definition does not cover. George Dickie said, ‘the view that art is imitation was around in a thoughtless kind of way as a slogan definition’ (p16).
Gaiger  explores Alberti’s On Painting by making very clear his contrasting views on representation. I believe Gaiger is trying to say that both views, coexisting, make a painting great
·         Theory 1: ‘Painting that is produced in accordance with the geometrical method  of perspective construction provides an equivalent using marks and colors on a flat surface of an orthogonal slice through the pyramid of light that reaches the eye’ (p25).
·         Theory 2:  ‘A painting that…is structured by the artist to create pictorial unity and to maximize its effect on the viewer’ (p25). 

      My second painting project this semester is a self portrait. I have done many charcoal and pencil self portraits, but haven't experimented much in oil. I am excited. Our class started with a study from life and the second, final painting will be from photograph.
To get a better idea of how to proceed, I am researching how different artists have done their self portraits. I decided to write about both Frida Kahlo de Rivera (July 6, 1907 – July 13, 1954) and Lucian Michael Freud (December 1922 – 20 July 2011).  The reason I chose these artists is because of their differing styles as well as their many similarities.  They are both concerned with depicting reality, emotional and physical, for what it is rather than idealizing it.
Between sickness and a turbulent marriage, Frida Kahlo experienced great suffering.  When Frida was six she developed polio, which left her permanently disfigured. Later she experienced a tumultuous marriage to famous artist Diego Rivera. I believe that her suffering made her paintings rich with pain and truth.
Another aspect clear in her painting was her love for Mexico. She became a Mexican symbol of pride and tradition as well as a symbol of strength in the feminist community. Frida painted many self portraits where these coinciding themes reigned.

"I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best."She also stated, "I was born a bitch. I was born a painter."
Frida Kahlo gave her birth date as July 7, 1910, but her birth certificate shows July 6, 1907. It is said that she wanted the year of her birth to coincide with the year of the beginning of the Mexican revolution so that her life would begin with the birth of modern Mexico (Wikipedia).

 Lucian Michael Freud was the grandson of Sigmund Freud. His paintings are mainly figures and portraits. His paintings are amazing, dark and filled with emotion.  His portraits really capture a real entity and not some idealized version of that person.  He is not afraid to show crude faults and idiosyncrasies in flesh tone and skin. I admire that quality.

  Freud's early paintings are often associated with surrealism and depict people, plants and animals in unusual juxtapositions. From the 1950s, he began to work in portraiture, often nudes, to the almost complete exclusion of everything else, employing impasto. Freud's subjects were often the people in his life; friends, family, fellow painters, lovers, children. He said, "The subject matter is autobiographical, it's all to do with hope and memory and sensuality and involvement, really (Wikipedia).


"I paint people," Freud said, "not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be." Freud painted fellow artists, including Frank Auerbach and Francis Bacon. He produced a series of portraits of the performance artist Leigh Bowery, and also painted Henrietta Moraes, a muse to many Soho artists. Towards the end of his life he did a nude portrait of model Kate Moss. Freud was one of the best known British artists working in a representational style, and was shortlisted for theTurner Prize in 1989.

Here is a collection of self portraits I've done the last couple  years.

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