Dante and Virgil

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Dante and Virgil (Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix, 1798 – 1863)Dante and Virgil (Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix, 1798 – 1863)

Were it not for the encouragement of an uncle Delacroix might have been a writer, not the greatest of all French Romantic painters. When he was aged twenty-three he exhibited this painting at a salon, and promptly sold it to the new revolutionary government. It depicts the point at which the characters enter through the gates of hell. I find it remarkably well conceived for such a young man, and not bad for an orphan living in tough times either.

Delacroix used his art as an excuse to travel, visiting North Africa, Spain and England in the course of a career spanning hundreds of paintings. He also accepted commissions to decorate grand buildings such as the Library at the Palais du Luxembourg and the Church of St. Denis du Saint Sacrement where his work may still be seen.

Sadly, the physical effort of creating compositions on a grand scale irreparably damaged his health. He spent his final years painting pictures in a cottage in the French countryside, guarded and cherished by loyal housekeeper who was his lifetime companion, and liberated his creative muse.

Illusions

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Geisha by Helen FrankenthalerGeisha by Helen Frankenthaler

The image in the picture is an allusion to a dancing woman; an entertainment genre purely found in Japan. The image is presented as a reflection of the artist’s perception of art in another category. Dancing is another art purely expressed in grace and poise, melody and passion. The way a body twist, turn and sway to music is in itself another expression of passion, dream and aspiration.

What conveys refinement?

The way a person act reflects his inner presence; the saying “action speaks louder than words,” aptly conveys the thoughts outwardly and will always be manifested clearly; although denied. Someone who is angry will surely radiate some telltale signs of what is being hidden inside ones heart. However have no thoughts even slightly conveyed by outward actions; and one may ideally display an excellent degree of refinement never coarse and unconscious.

Hot Still-Scape for Six Colors

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Hot Still-Scape for Six Colors (Stuart Davis, 1892 – 1964)Hot Still-Scape for Six Colors (Stuart Davis, 1892 – 1964)

Davis was in many ways the father of American pop art. He was also an early fan of jazz and this influenced his work. His dad was the Philadelphia Press art critic, while his mother was a sculptor. This exceptionally controversial painting dating from 1940 is in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

Here, Davis has enthusiastically seized upon popular art and the influences of emerging graphics. Like all his other work, this picture is full of dynamic shapes and there are traces of faces and bodies in it. It is not to my personal taste – perhaps I am becoming old-fashioned.

The fact that you may like it is proof that art is a broad church, with room for all sorts of people regardless of our values. When we face up to our differences, we begin to self-actualise and discover who we really are. All famous artists were controversial in their lifetimes. Van Gogh’s brother actually thought that Vincent was mad.

NWS

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