Category Archives: Art History

Let’s Keep the Minimalism to a Minimum

Call me ignorant, but most of the minimalist work I’ve seen is silly, or not even interesting enough to be silly… more just boring.  Minimalism has all of its reasons, sure, but to me it seems as if people without the technical skills required to be real artists just created a new art form for themselves.  What would Raphael and Michelangelo say about Tony Smith’s Die?

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Die is a six-foot by six-foot black square.  It is meant to evoke a reaction in the viewer who is forced to confront it, as it takes up space and must be walked around.  Oh!.. and it is not a sculpture… it is an ‘object’.  Don’t get it twisted.

It is a regression.

I am all for “anything can be art” and “if you think its art than it is”, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it or find it remotely interesting or necessary at all!  Where is the skill?

To me, it has nothing on something like this….

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(Van Gogh, Self portrait I)

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A Stroke of Genius, See the Pun?

Oh the world of Introduction to Art History classes, a world of super-famous artists that everyone has heard of already but doesn’t know exactly why.  Well, I suppose we all know this impressionist… Claude Monet anyone? I thought so.

Allow me to direct you to a specific series of his work on the Rouen Cathedral.  Monet did several different paintings of this cathedral from the exact same viewpoint, with the only variations in the time of day and weather conditions.  This type of work was entirely impressionistic in which the subject matter was not the main focus, but the brush strokes and capturing the qualities of nature were the focus.  This was the conceptual revolution people!

(All of these are obviously separate paintings, put together by MOI on Photoshop for easy side-by-side viewing.)

While in  my Intro to Art History class I am usually scribbling down the notes that are on the slides and getting cut off mid-jotted-down-sentence by a professor that goes too quickly, today I just sat back and observed.  You would have, too.

There are a lot of great things about these paintings.  For starters, they were painted outside, en plein-air, on the spot.  There were no real preliminary sketches that prepared Monet for the works, rather just paintbrush, oil paints, and canvas.  Another great thing is the quickness with which they were created.  When one is trying to portray a certain time of day, time is the most important thing, it is a race against the changing colors of the daytime.  Nature waits for no one.  Not even Claude Monet!  Other great things include the believable shadows, depth of architecture, and apparent intricate details.

Monet created many works in this way, as one of the most famous French Impressionist painters of all time.  His similar series of haystacks (http://www.monetpaintings.org/107/haystacks/) in a field are equally as fascinating and skillful, if not more.  Which is saying something.  Agreed?  Agreed.


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