Monday, November 22nd, 2010
Thanksgiving Gratitude List: Formal Elements
It is the Thanksgiving holiday this week in the US, which means that Americans tend to focus on things for which they are thankful. I thought it would be fun to compile a list of the formal elements in art for which I am grateful. In other words, these are all of the physical (formal) aspects of art which I find aesthetically pleasing. To me, these things make art beautiful:
Van Gogh, detail of Wheat Field with Cypresses, 1889 (Metropolitan Museum)
an illusion of the human figure.
(Look at how Pluto’s fingers press into Proserpina’s body!)
Bernini, detail of Pluto and Proserpina, 1621-22 (Borghese Gallery)
I am grateful for flat planes of solid color.
Gauguin, Self Portrait with Halo, 1889
I am grateful for monochromatic backgrounds.
Whistler, Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Artist’s Mother, 1871
I am grateful for the luminescent colors afforded by oil paint.
Robert Campin, detail of the Merode Altarpiece, 1425-28
Very interesting M!
I would concure with most of that, though not as much of a fan of monochrome.
I would add dynamism – a lot if influenced by sculpture in some instances, with contrapposto being the prime example. Then there is someone like Tintoretto's whose bold movement was a precursor to the Baroque. His work looked like a freeze frame in time.
I would like to add some of the less tangible stuff as well – for me this is the single most fascinating aspect of art!
*allegory and symbolism as historical and personal identifiers.
*Ability to inspire through the visual medium, (is there a word that means "insiprationalness"?!)
*Deliberate ambiguity – to keep art lovers on their toes and a perpetual shroud of mystery around an artist or work(Giorgione comes to mind expecially here)
Hi there, I used to read your blog everyday but I haven't been here for awhile. But I'm glad to see the new format of your blog and I shall have to join your excellent blog soon. Thanks for keeping the art history tradition going on the blogsphere. Now, you are on my bloglist, I will keep my eyes open for your future posts.
A very nice post. Happy Thanksgiving to you.
Yes, I forgot to add – Happy Thanksgiving M and all your North American readers 🙂
Apologies for the typos above, part of the pitfalls of writing lengthy comments on a phone when hiking!
I love these! Thanks and happy thanksgiving.
1947-J, Clyfford Still
Passion Flower, Gene Davis
Ground 95.6, Uta Barth
[couldn't find name], Mark Rothko
Scale (particularly large-scale):
Marsyas, Anish Kapoor
Greenbergian flatness (paint is paint, canvas is canvas):
Mahoning, Franz Kline
Autumn Rhythm, Jackson Pollock
Color as subject:
Homage to the Square (Series), Josef Albers
So, you can kinda tell what my preferred century is, too…
To be honest, I never thought about it before. Strong diagonals do rock. I would also have to give a shout out to Japonisme, patterning, and that thing Raphael did where the figure's eyes follow you around the room.
I'm thankful for beautiful sculpture. I love looking at paintings, but I find myself so moved and intrigued by sculpture. I love Rodin especially and I love that one piece you talked about once — the one with the veil that seemed so perfectly real.
I think that Pluto and Proserpina is incredibly beautiful. Thanks for sharing that.
Thanks for the comments, everyone! Happy Thanksgiving to you all.
It's quite fun to read what other styles/formal elements people prefer in art. I like the Japonisme style, too, heidenkind. 🙂
And GermyB, thanks for your list. I'm not surprised by your 20th century preference at all. 🙂
Great idea indeed! Just discovered your blog! Congratulations!
I enjoyed that. Great post. Now I'm grateful to live in a time when I'm able to enjoy each of those elements.
Thanks for the comments, pontecommedia and Nelina Kapetsoni! I'm glad you enjoyed the post. (And welcome to my blog, Nelina!)