Monday, January 18, 2016

Art History Timelines

Art History Timelines from Pre-History to the Present

Ancient Art

Visual Arts Movements - ca. 30,000 B.C.-ca. 400 A.D.

Paleolithic (Old Stone Age) Art - 30,000-10,000 B.C.
Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age) Art - 10,000-8000 B.C.
Neolithic (New Stone Age) Art - 8000-3000 B.C.
Bronze Age Art - 2500-800 B.C.
Iron Age Art - 750-50 B.C.
Ancient Civilizations

Sumerian Art - 3000-2300 B.C.
Akkadian Art - 2300-2150 B.C.
Neo-Sumerian Art - 2150-2000 B.C.
Babylonian Art - 1900-1600 B.C.
Assyrian Art - 900-612 B.C.
Neo-Babylonian Art - 625-539 B.C.

Early Dynastic Art - 3500-2686 B.C.
Old Kingdom Art - 2686-2185 B.C.
Middle Kingdom Art - 2133-1750 B.C.
Early New Kingdom Art - 1570-1353 B.C.
Amarna Art - 1353-1332 B.C.
Late New Kingdom Art - 1332-1075 B.C.
Late Period Art - 750-332 B.C.
Macedonian Dynasty Art - 332-304 B.C.
Ptolemaic Dynasty Art - 304-30 B.C.
Art under the Roman Emperors - 30 B.C.-395 A.D.

The Cycladic Islands/Crete
Early Minoan Art - 2800-2000 B.C.
Middle Minoan Art - 2000-1700 B.C.
Late Minoan Art - 1550-1400 B.C.

Phoenician Art - 1500-500 B.C.

Nomadic Tribes

Luristan Art - 700-500 B.C.
Scythian Art - 600-300 B.C.

Persian Empire Art - 539-331 B.C.
Classical Civilizations
Greek Art

Mycenaean Art - 1550-1200 B.C.
Sub-Mycenaean Art - 1100-1025 B.C.
Proto-Geometric Art - 1025-900 B.C.
Geometric Art - 900-700 B.C.
Archaic Art - 700-480 B.C.

Orientalizing Phase - 735-650 B.C.
Early Archaic - 700-600 B.C.
High Archaic - 600-520 B.C.
Late Archaic - 520-480 B.C.

Classical Art - 480-323 B.C.

Early Classical - 480-450 B.C.
High Classical - 450-400 B.C.
Late Classical - 400-323 B.C.

Hellenistic Art - 323-31 B.C.

Early Hellenistic - 323-250 B.C.
High Hellenistic - 250-100 B.C.
Late Hellenistic - 100 -31 B.C.

Etruscan Art

Early Iron Age Art - 9th century-ca. 675 B.C.
Orientalizing Phase - ca. 675-ca. 575 B.C.
Archaic Period Art - ca. 575-ca. 480 B.C.
Classical Period Art - ca. 480-ca. 300 B.C.
Hellenistic Period Art - ca. 300-ca. 50 B.C.

Roman Art

Republican Art - 510-27 B.C.
Early Roman Empire Art - 27 B.C.-235 A.D.

Augustan - 27 B.C.-14 A.D.
Julio-Claudian - 14-68
Flavian - 69-96
Trajanic - 98-117
Hadrianic - 117-138
Antonine - 138-192
Severin - 193-235

Late Roman Empire/Late Antique Art - 235-476

Judean Art - 600 B.C.-135 A.D.

Celtic Art

Early Style - ca. 450-ca. 350 B.C.
Waldalgesheim Style - ca. 350-ca. 250 B.C.
Sword and Plastic Styles - ca. 250-ca. 125 B.C.
Oppida Period Art - ca. 125-ca. 50 B.C.
Britain and Ireland before 600 A.D.

Parthian and Sassanidic Art - 238 B.C.-637 A.D.
Non-Western Ancient Art

Neolithic – ca. 6,000–ca. 1,600 B.C.
Shang Dynasty – 1,766–1,045 B.C.
Zhou Dynasty – 1,045–256 B.C.
Qin Dynasty – 221–206 B.C.
Han Dynasty – 206 B.C.–220 A.D.
Three Kingdoms Period – 220–280
Western Jin Dynasty – 265–316
Six Dynasties Period – 222–589
Northern and Southern Dynasties Period – 310–589


Jomon – 4,500–200 B.C.
Yayoi – 200 B.C.–200 A.D.
Kofun – 200–500

Indian Subcontinent

Indus Valley – 4,000–1,800 B.C.
Sarasvati-Sindhu Civilization - 3,000–1,500 B.C.
Aryan India - 1,500–500 B.C.
The Mauryan Empire - 321–233 B.C.
Gandhara and Kushan School – 1st–3rd centuries A.D.
The Gupta Dynasty - 320–510


Rock Art in Southern Africa
Sahara - Bubalus Period – ca. 6,000–ca. 3,500 B.C.
Lower Nubia – ca. 3,500–2,000 B.C.
Kush – 2,000 B.C.–325 A.D.
Pre-dynastic Kemet – to 3,050 B.C.
The Nok Culture - 400 B.C.–200 A.D.
Aksum - 350 B.C.–1,000 A.D.

North America


Olmec Art - 1,200–350 B.C.
Zapotec Art – 1,400 B.C.–400 A.D.
Huastec Art - ca. 1000 B.C.-1521 A.D.
Mayan Art - 300 B.C.–800 A.D.

South America

Valdivian Art - ca. 4,000-ca. 1,500 B.C.
Chavin Art - ca. 2,600-ca. 200 B.C.
San Agustin - ca. 800 B.C.-ca. 1630 A.D.
Moche and Nasca Art - ca. 200 B.C.-ca. 600 A.D.

Medieval to Early Renaissance Art
Visual Arts Movements - 400-1400
Early Christian–Late Antique Art
Period of Persecution - 1st-century A.D.-325
Period of Recognition - 325-ca. 526
Byzantine Art
Early Byzantine Art

Justinian Era - First Flowering - ca. 526-ca. 725
Iconoclasm - 726-843

Late Byzantine Art

Second Flowering - ca. 843-ca. 1100
Third Flowering - ca. 1297-ca. 1390
Islamic Art - 622 -1492
Early Medieval Art
Art of the Migration Period in Europe

The Visigoths - 1st-8th-centuries
The Picts - mid 1st-9th-centuries
The Franks (Merovingian Art) - 5th-8th-centuries
The Anglo-Saxons - 5th-century-1066
The Burgundians - 413-532
The Ostrogoths - ca. 488-526
The Lombards - 568-774

Non-Migratory/Pre-Romanesque Art

Hiberno-Saxon (Insular) Art - ca. 500-ca. 1000
Carolingian Art - 750-900
Ottonian Art - 900-1002
Romanesque Art - ca. 1000–ca. 1150
Gothic Art
French Gothic Art

Early Gothic - 1140-1194
High Gothic - 1194-1300
Rayonnant Gothic - 13th-14th-centuries
Flamboyant Gothic - 14th-16th centuries

German Gothic - 13th-14th-centuries
English Gothic - 1179-16th-century
The Proto-Renaissance in Italy - ca. 1200–ca. 1400
Non-Western Art - 1400-1880

Six Dynasties Period - 222-589
Northern and Southern Dynasties Period - 310-589
Sui Dynasty - 581-618
T'ang Dynasty - 618-907
Five Dynasties Period - 907-960
Liao Dynasty - 907-1125
Sung (Song) Dynasty - 960-1279
Jin Dynasty - 1115-1234
Yuan Dynasty - 1279-1368


Kofun - 200-500
Asuka - 552-645
Hakuho or Early Nara - 645-710
Nara - 710-794
Heian - 794-1185
Kamakura - 1185-1333
Muromachi-Ashikaga - 1392-1573

Kose School - 9th-15th-centuries

Indian Subcontinent

Chalukyan Art in the Deccan - 500-650
Rashtrakuta Dynasty - mid 8th-late 10th-century
Cholas - 897-mid 13th-century
Hoysalas - 12th-14th-centuries

North America

Toltec Art - ca. 900-ca. 1200
Mixtec Art - ca. 1200-1521
Tarascan Art - ca. 1300-1521

South America

Huari-Tiahuanaco - ca. 600-ca. 1000
Manteño Art - ca. 800-1500

Renaissance to Early Modern Art
Visual Arts Movements - 1400-1880
Fifteenth Century Italian Art - 1400-1500
The Early Renaissance
Sixteenth Century Italian Art - 1475–1590
The High Renaissance - 1495-1527
Mannerism in the Late Renaissance -1520-1600
The Renaissance in Venice - 1450-1600
The Renaissance in Northern Europe - ca. 1325-1600
The Northern Renaissance - ca. 1325-1600
International Gothic - 1380-1430
Bohemian School - 1350
Mälardal School - ca. 1400-1460s
Tierp School - ca. 1460-1500
Ghent-Bruges School - 1475-1550
Antwerp Mannerism - 1500-1530
Danube School - ca. 1500-1550
The Little Masters - ca. 1500-1550
Fontainebleau School - 1530-ca. 1610
Frankenthal School - ca. 1586-1620s
Mannerism in the Late Renaissance - 1520-1600
Baroque Art - 1600-1750
Utrecht Caravaggisti - 1620-1630
The Schildersbent - 1620-1720
Leiden 'Fine' Painters - ca. 1630-ca. 1760
Delft School - 1650-1700
Rubénisme - ca. 1670-1680
18th Century Western Art
Rococo - 1700-1750
Neo-Classicism - 1750-1880
19th Century Western Art
Les Primitifs - 1797-1803
Romanticism - 1800-1880
The Nazarenes - ca. 1820-late 1840s
Purismo - ca. 1820-1860s
The Ancients - 1820s-1830s
Düsseldorf School - mid 1820s-1860s
Realism - 1830s-1870
The Pre-Raphaelites - 1848-1854
The Hudson River School - 1850s-ca. 1880
Impressionism - 1863-ca. 1885
Aesthetic Movement - 1870s-1880s
The Hague School - 1870-1900
Non-Western Art - 1400-1880

Ming Dynasty - 1368-1662
Southern School - ca. late 16th-early 17th centuries
Qing (Ch'ing) Dynasty - 1662-1912


Muromachi-Ashikaga - 1392-1573
Momoyama Period - 1573-1603
Edo Period - 1603-1868

Indian Subcontinent

Art under Muslim Rule - ca. 1000-1757

North America

Aztec Art - ca. 1400-1520

South America

Inca Art - ca. 1400-1534
Cuzco School - late 16th-century-early 1800s

Modern Art
Visual Arts Movements - 1880-1970

After Impressionism proved it only took a handful of artists to band together and create a lasting impact, Art got very busy proving this concept again and again. And again. (Who knew so much could happen in a mere 90 years?) 

Here are listed movements, schools, groups, colonies and other descriptive plural nouns from around the globe that got their respective starts during the years between 1880-1970, or the Early Modern and Contemporary eras as we have so classified them. Each has been sorted according to the decade in which it was formed. 

Tip: This is a seriously long list.

Every available item is listed alphabetically within any given decade, but, still. Long! Use Ctrl+F (Windows) or Cmd+F (Mac) and type in your search term to locate the movement, group or school you seek more quickly. 

Cloisonnism - late 1880s

Etruscan School - 1883-84

(The) Glasgow Boys - 1880-1900

(The) Heidelberg School - mid-1880s - mid-1890s

Japonism - 1880-1895
Nabis - ca. 1888-1900

Neo-Impressionism - 1886-1906

Newlyn School - early 1880s-ca. 1900

Post-Impressionism - 1886-1905

Symbolism - 1880-early 1900s

Synthetism - late 1880s-early 1890s

Tonalism - 1880-1920

Art à la Rue - 1890s-early 1900s

Bande Noire (or "the Nubians") - 1890s

Expressionism - 1890-1939

Fauvism - ca. 1898-ca. 1908

Glasgow Style - ca. 1890-ca. 1920

Nagybánya Colony - 1896-1930s

Pintura de la luz - 1890s-early 20th Century

Secession - 1890s-early 1900s

Ten American Painters (or "The Ten") - 1898-1918

Abbaye de Créteil - 1906-1908

Art Nouveau - 1905-1939

(The) Ashcan School - early 1900s-early 1920s

Beautiful Indies - early 20th Century-ca. early 1930s

Bloomsbury Group - 1904-late 1930s

Blue Rose (or "Golubaya Roza") - 1904-1908

Cubism - 1907-Present

Cubo-Expressionism - 1909-1921

Die Brücke - 1905-1913

(The) Eight - 1907-early 1920s

(The) Friday Club - 1905-1922

Futurism - 1909-1939

Hagenbund - 1900-1930

Luminism - 1904-early 1910s

Scuola Labronica - ca. 1908-ca. 1950

Septem Group - 1909-ca. 1930

Young Estonia (or "Noor Eesti") - ca. 1902-1917

Arbeitsrat für Kunst - 1918-1921

Bauhaus - 1919-1933

Biomorphism - 1915-1940s

Blaue Reiter (or "Blue Rider") - 1911-1914

Brabant Fauvism - ca. 1910-1923

Camden Town Group - 1911-1914

(Russian) Constructivism - 1914-early 1930s

Cubo-Futurism - 1912-1915

Cumberland Market Group - 1914-1919

Dada - Dadaism - 1916-1923

Donkey's Tail (or "Oslinyy Khvost") - 1911-1915

École de Paris (or "School of Paris") - 1915-1935

Escuelas de Pintura al Aire Libre - ca. 1913-1932

Formism - 1917-1922

Jack of Diamonds (or "Bubnovy Valet") - 1910-1917

Kecskemét Colony - 1911-ca. 1920

London Group - 1913-1930s

Neo-primitivism - 1910-1914

November Group - 1917-1924

Orphism - ca. 1912-13

Pittura Metafisica - 1911-ca. 1930

Purism - 1918-1926

Puteaux Group - 1910s

Rayism - 1912-15

Revolt Group - 1918-1920

Scottish Colorists - 1910-ca. 1930

Sōdosha (or "Grass and Earth Society") - ca. 1915-1922

Suprematism - 1915- mid-1920s

Synchronism - 1913-ca. 1916

Union of Youth (or "Soyuz Molodyozhi") - 1910-1914

Vorticism - 1914-1920

a. r. group - 1929-1936

American Scene Painting - ca. 1920-early 1940s

Art Deco - 1920s-1930s
Artes / Neoartes - 1929-1935

(The) Blue Four (or "Blauen Vier") - 1924-1936

Circle of Artists (or "Krug Khudozhnikov") - 1926-1932

Constructivism - 1920s-Present

(International) Constructivism - 1922-1939

de Stijl - 1920s-1932

(The) Degenerates / Entartete Kunst - 1920s- mid-1940s

Devetsil - 1920-1931

Earth Group (or "Serbo-Croat Zemlja") - 1929-1935

Eesti Kunstnikkude Rūhm - 1923-ca. 1930

(The) Fellowship of St. Luke - 1925-1939

Group of Seven - 1920-1933
Group X - 1920

Halmstad Group (or "Halmstadgruppen") - 1929-early 1980s

Harlem Renaissance - 1920-1930s
Inkhuk - 1920-26

(The) Kapists - 1924-ca. late 1950s

Magic Realism - 1920s-1940s

Makovets - 1921-1926

Neue Sachlichkeit - 1920s-ca. 1930

Néo-Réalisme - 1920s-1930s

Precisionism - 1920s-1940s

Rhythm Group - 1922-1932

Riga Artists' Group - 1920-1940

Scuola Romana - 1927-1940

Surrealism - 1922-1939

Szentendre Colony - 1928-ca. 1940

Verism - 1920s-ca. 1930

Vkhutemas - 1920-1930

Workshop 17 - 1927-1965

1930 - WWII
Abstraction-Création - 1931-1936

Alaskan Movement - 1930s-Present

Allianz - 1937-1950s

Arantist School - 1930s-Present

Art and Freedom - 1939- mid-1940s

Concrete Art - 1930-ca. 1960

(The) Euston Road School - 1937- mid-1970s

Färg och Form - 1932-ca. 1940

Forces Nouvelles - 1935-39

Group of Five - 1930s

Hlebine School - ca. 1932-ca. early 1960s

Neo-Romanticism - 1930s-1950s

Persatuan Ahli Gambar - 1937-1942

Regionalism - 1930s

Socialist Realism - ca. 1930-1950

Unit One - 1933-35

1945 - Post-War
Abstract Expressionism - mid-1940s -Present

Art brut - mid-1940s -Present

Art informel (or Informalism, or Lyrical Abstraction) - mid-1940s -1950s

Arte Concreto Invención - 1940s

Arte Madí - 1940s

(Les) Automatistes - 1946-1951

CoBrA - 1948-1951

Fronte Nuovo delle Arti - 1946-1952

Groupe Espace - 1949-1951

Homme-Témoin - 1948- mid-1950s

Jeune Peinture Belge - 1945-48

Movimiento Madí - 1940s

New Horizons (or "Ofakim Hadashim") - 1948-1960s

(The) New York School - 1940s-1950s

Perceptismo - 1940s

Prisme d'Yeux - 1948-1950

Spazialismo (or "Spatialism") - ca. 1947- mid-1960s

Tachism - late 1940s- mid-1950s

Young Indonesian Artists - 1946

Action Painting - 1950s

Antipodean Group - 1959-1960

Arte generativo - 1959-Present

Arte nucleare - 1950s

Color Field Painting - 1950s-Present

(The) Concretists - early 1950s

Funk Art - late 1950s-1970s

Gruppe 53 - 1953-1959

Gruppo degli Otto Pittori Italiani - 1952-ca. 1960

Gutai - 1954-1972

Hard-Edge Painting - late 1950s-Present

Junk Art - mid-1950s -Present

(The) Kitchen Sink School - 1950s

Matter Painting - 1950s-Present

Neo-Dada - 1950s

Painters Eleven - 1953-58

(Les) Plasticiens - 1955-59

Pop Art - mid-1950s –Present

Quadriga - 1952-54

Situationism - 1957-early 1970s

Washington Color Painters - mid-1950s -Present

Zero - 1958-1965

Arte Povera - late 1960s-1970s

Black Expressionism - 1960s-1970s

Conceptual Art - 1960s–Present

(The) Contemporary Artists Group - 1966

Continuità - 1961-ca. 1970

Fluxus - early 1960s-late 1970s

Grupo Hondo - 1961-1964

Land Art - late 1960s-early 1970s

Mechanical Art - 1962-65

Minimalism - 1960s-Present
Monoha - 1960s

Neofiguración - second half 1960s

Nouveau Réalisme - 1960-63
Op Art - 1964-Present

Performance Art - 1960s–Present

Photorealism - mid-1960s -Present

Post-Minimalism - late 1960s-1970s

Post Painterly Abstraction - 1964-Present

Praxis - 1963-1972

Process Art - mid-1960s -1970s

Psychedelic Art - early 1960s-early 1970s

Saqqakhaneh - 1960s

Solentiname Primitivist Painting - 1968-Present

Support-Surface - 1967-1974

(The) Sydney 9 - 1961
Syn - 1965-1970

Video Art - 1965-Present

Woodland School - 1962-Present

Contemporary Art
Visual Arts Movements - 1970s-Present

Post-Modernism - 1970s-mid 1980s

Ugly Realism - 1970s

Feminist Art - 1970s-Present

Yunnan School - late 1970s-Present

Neo-Conceptualism - late 1970s-Present

Neo-Expressionism - late 1970s-1980s

Bad Painting - late 1970s-early 1980s

Demoscene - late 1970s-Present

New Image Painting - late 1970s-Present

Nuovi Nuovi - late 1970s-Present

Mühlheimer Liberty - 1979-1984

Transavantgarde - 1979-Present

Free Figuration (Figuration Libre) - early 1980s-Present

Neue Wilde - early 1980s-Present

Neo-Geo - mid-1980s

Multiculturalism - 1980s-Present

Graffiti Movement - 1980s-Present

BritArt / Young British Artists ("yBa") - 1988-Present

Neo-Pop - late 1980s-Present

Net Art - early 1990s-Present

Massurrealism - early 1990s-Present

Artefactoria - 1990/91-Present

Toyism - 1992-Present

Lowbrow - ca. 1994-Present

New Leipzig School - mid-1990s-Present

Tiki Art - 1996-Present

Bitterism - 1998-Present

Stuckism - 1999-Present

Thinkism - September 12, 2001-Present

Funism - ca. 2002-Present



(noun) - A shape is one of the seven elements of art. When defining it within the study of art, shape is an enclosed space, the boundaries of which are defined by other elements of art

value and

Shapes are limited to two dimensions: length and width. Geometric shapes -- circles, rectangles, squares, triangles and so on -- have the clear edges one achieves when using tools to create them.

Organic shapes have natural, less well-defined edges (think: an amoeba, or a cloud).

The seven elements of art are those components that one combines with principles of design to construct art. The elements are as follows:

1. Geometric shapes: 

Are circles, rectangles, squares, triangles and so on - have the clear edges one achieves when using tools to create them.
Most geometric shapes are made by humans, though crystals are also considered to be geometric despite the fact that they are made in nature.
2. Organic shapes:

Are shapes with a natural look and a flowing and curving appearance.
Organic shapes and forms are typically irregular or asymmetrical.
Organic shapes are associated with things from the natural world, like plants and animals.

The Meaning Of Shapes: Developing Visual Grammar

by Steven Bradley

What do you feel when you see a circle? A square? A triangle? Are you affected the same when seeing an object with soft gentle curves as you are when seeing another object with sharp jagged edges? Much the same way that lines have meaning, shapes have meaning and are an important building block in the visual grammar and visual thinking we have at our disposal as designers.

Shapes have an endless variety of characteristics, each communicating different messages to your audience. You’d be hard pressed to design any web page without creating shapes. Even if your page is nothing more than paragraphs of text you’re laying down shapes on the page.
What kind of shapes do we have at our disposal? What do all those shapes say to our visitors? How do they enhance or detract from the concept you want to convey?

The Grammar of Shapes
I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way—things I had no words for.
—Georgia O’Keeffe
Shapes are two-dimensional areas with a recognizable boundary. They can be open or closed, angular or round, big or small. Shapes can be organic or inorganic. They can be free-form or geometric and ordered.
Shapes can be defined by their color or by the combination of lines that make up their edges. Simple shapes can be combined to form complex shapes. Complex shapes can be abstracted to make simple shapes.

The different characteristics of a shape convey different moods and meanings (.doc file). Changing the characteristics of a shape alter how we perceive that shape and make us feel differently about a design. Shapes are a powerful way to communicate.
Designers use shapes to:

Organize information through connection and separation
Symbolize different ideas
Create movement, texture, and depth
Convey mood and emotion
Emphasize and create entry points and areas of interest
Lead the eye from one design element to the next

Types of Shapes
There are 3 basic types of shapes

• Geometric shapes are what most people think of as shapes. Circles, squares, triangles, diamonds are made up of regular patterns that are easily recognizable. This regularity suggests organization and efficiency. It suggests structure. Geometric shapes tend to be symmetrical further suggesting order.

• Natural/Organic shapes are irregular. They have more curves and are uneven. They tend to be pleasing and comforting. While they can be man-made (ink blobs), they are more typically representative of shapes found in nature such as a leaves, rocks, and clouds. On a web page organic shapes are generally created through the use of illustration and photography. They are free form and asymmetrical and convey feelings of spontaneity. Organic shapes add interest and reinforce themes.

• Abstract shapes have a recognizable form, but are not real. They are stylized or simplified versions of organic shapes. A stick figure is an abstract shape depicting a person. Typographic glyphs are abstract shapes to represent letters. Icons are abstract shapes to represent ideas and concepts. Some abstract shapes have near universal recognition. Think of some of the icons you see in the software you use daily.

Shapes can be either positive or negative. They can be figure or they can be ground. Be conscious of the shapes you form with negative space as these are just as, if not more, important than the shapes you form with positive space.

Resources for Creating Geometric Shapes with Unicode
• Unicode Geometric Shapes
• Geometric Shapes

The Meaning of Shapes

There are truly an endless variety of shapes and combination of shapes, each communicating its own meaning and message. Often the meaning behind shapes is cultural (a red octagon as a stop sign), particularly as shapes are combined. We’ll confine ourselves to a discussion of some basic geometric shapes here and I’ll provide some links to more detailed sources of shape meaning beyond the basics.

Circles have no beginning or end. They represent the eternal whole and in every culture are an archetypical form representing the sun, the earth, the moon, the universe, and other celestial objects between. Circles are used to suggest familiar objects such as wheels, balls, many kinds of fruit. They suggested well-roundedness and completeness.

Circles have free movement. They can roll. Shading and lines can enhance this sense of movement in circles. Circles are graceful and their curves are seen as feminine. They are warm, comforting and give a sense of sensuality and love. Their movement suggests energy and power. Their completeness suggests the infinite, unity, and harmony.

Circles protect, they endure, they restrict. They confine what’s within and keep things out. They offer safety and connection. Circles suggests community, integrity, and perfection.
Because they are less common in design they work well to attract attention, provide emphasis, and set things apart.

Squares and rectangles are stable. They’re familiar and trusted shapes and suggest honesty. They have right angles and represent order, mathematics, rationality, and formality. They are seen as earthbound. Rectangles are the most common geometric shape encountered. The majority of text we read is set in rectangles or squares.

Squares and rectangles suggest conformity, peacefulness, solidity, security, and equality. Their familiarity and stability, along with their commonness can seem boring. They are generally not attention getters, but can be tilted to add an unexpected twist. Think of web pages that tilts framed images to help them stand out.

Every element on a web page is defined by a rectangle according to the css box model. Web pages are rectangles made up of smaller rectangles and squares.
In Buddhist symbolism a square (earthbound) inside a circle (eternal whole) represents the relationship between the human and the divine.

Triangles can be stable when sitting on their base or unstable when not. They represent dynamic tension, action, and aggression. Triangles have energy and power and their stable/unstable dynamic can suggest either conflict or steady strength. They are balanced and can be a symbol for law, science, and religion.

Triangles can direct movement based which way they point. They can be used to suggest familiar themes like pyramids, arrows and, pennants. Spiritually they represent the religious trinity. They can suggest self-discovery and revelation.

The strength of triangles suggests masculinity. Their dynamic nature make them better suited to a growing high tech company than a stable financial institution when designing a logo. Triangles can be used to convey progression, direction, and purpose.

Spirals are expressions of creativity. They are often found in the natural growth pattern of many organisms and suggest the process of growth and evolution. Spirals convey ideas of fertility, birth, death, expansion, and transformation. They are cycles of time, life, and the seasons and are a common shape in religious and mystical symbolism.

Spirals move in either direction and represent returning to the same point on life’s journey with new levels of understanding. They represent trust during change, the release of energy and maintaining flexibility through transformation.

Clockwise spirals represent projection of an intention and counterclockwise spirals the fulfillment of an intention. Double spirals can be used to symbolize opposing forces.

Crosses symbolize spirituality and healing. 
They are seen as the meeting place of divine energies. The 4 points of a cross represent self, nature, wisdom, and higher power or being. Crosses suggest transition, balance, faith, unity, temperance, hope, and life.

They represent relationships and synthesis and a need for connection to something, whether that something is group, individual, self, or project related..
As with lines vertical shapes are seen as strong and horizontal shapes are seen as peaceful. Most everything said about vertical and horizontal lines can be said about vertical and horizontal shapes.

Curved shapes offer rhythm and movement, happiness, pleasure and generosity. They are seen as more feminine than sharp shapes which offer energy, violence and, anger. Sharp shapes are lively and youthful and are seen as more masculine.

Additional Resources for the Meaning of Shapes
• The Meaning of Shape
• Simple Symbol Meaning
• Symbols and their Meaning
• About Symbols
• The Psychology of Forms

by Steven Bradley
from the book, Design Fundamentals.

10 Symbols

1 The Barber Pole

There is something inherently wholesome about the classic red-and-white barber pole, isn't there? It evokes images of small town main street, mom and pop stores and barbershops run by a friendly guy in a white coat. But that pole was never the symbol of a single franchise or anything -- allbarbers had it. Why that and not, say, a simple symbol of a pair of scissors or something? What the hell is that thing supposed to be?

The Origin:
It's a blood-soaked bandage.

The barber pole first emerged during the Middle Ages as a sign used by barber-surgeons. Yes, you read that correctly -- back then, doctors considered themselves much too classy to participate in anything so vulgar as slicing people open, so the task fell upon barbers, whose job descriptions were considerably broader than they are today. Back then, barbers did all the usual barber stuff like cutting hair and trimming beards, but if you had the cash, they were also happy to pull teeth and remove gallstones.

The most common surgical procedure of the time was bloodletting -- literally, the belief that you could just bleed a disease out of you. To do this, the patient would grasp a bandaged pole, and the barber would cut into the patient's wrists, letting the blood run down the bandage, along with all the bad spirits and gypsy curses that they figured were the reasons for disease back then. And that's what the pole represented.

It's a little harder to explain, however, why barbers would openly advertise that one part of their job that involved stealing other people's blood in the first place. It says something about the era that they didn't feel the need to dress it up, the way modern toilet paper ads won't show people pooping. No pics of smiling customers or happy slogans, just "Come on in, you're gonna bleed all over the damned place."

2 The Peace Sign

The peace sign remains one of the most powerful and inspiring symbols on the planet, despite its long association with hippies. Maybe it's the simple geometric shapes that speak to some primal part of our brains, but looking at it, you do feel this sort of grandiosity, hope and conviction from it.

Unfortunately, all of that's basically the polar opposite of what the symbol's creator had in mind.

"It was actually supposed to be a picture of a cherry pie. I just suck at drawing."

The Origin:
Originally, it was an image of a dude slumped over in despair.

Gerald Holtom, a British graphic designer, came up with the peace sign design in 1958 to be used at a protest against nuclear weapons. It's actually a kind of double entendre: People have adopted one interpretation of the symbol, two superimposed semaphore letters -- N and D -- which were meant to stand for "nuclear disarmament."

Either that or "nonstop dancing."

But what we've forgotten was the primary image that Holtom was trying to portray: In his own words, his logo was meant to be a "human being in despair." The inspirational peace sign is in actuality a representation of a man who has lost hope in a world gone mad, stretching his arms out and downward in desperation and defeat.

Holtom immediately regretted his depressing-as-hell image after it went mainstream and tried to change it by flipping it upside-down so that the arms were stretched up into the air. He could even have kept his semaphore imagery, because the V-shape in semaphore is a U, for "unilateral."

But the alternative version failed to catch on. Instead, a depressed and defeated stick man became the inspirational symbol for every progressive movement of the late 20th century, from Vietnam to civil rights. We can suppose it wouldn't have caught on so well if he had gone with his alternative design of a stick man quietly slashing his own wrists.

3 Hammer and sickle

The hammer and sickle (☭) or sickle and hammer (Russian: Серп и молот) is a Communist symbolthat was conceived during the Russian Revolution. At the time of creation, the hammer stood for industrial labourers and the sickle for the peasantry; combined they stood for the worker-peasant alliance for socialism and against reactionary movements and foreign intervention.

After the Russian Civil War, the hammer and sickle became more widely used as symbolizing peaceful labour within the Soviet Union and international proletarian unity. It was taken up by many Communist movements around the world, some with local variations. Today, even after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the hammer and sickle remains commonplace in Russia and other former union republics, but its display is prohibited in some other former socialist countries.

4 Swastika

Before Hitler adopted the Swastika as a symbol of the National Socialist Party, it had experienced a renaissance in Western Europe for several decades as a symbol of luck and good fortune before Hitler borrowed those sentiments to rally support behind the Nazi party.

In truth, the swastika has been found on objects from as early as 4,000-10,000 B.C. The Indus Valley Civilization religions of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism still use the symbol to signify either divine auspiciousness or the sun’s rays. In Buddhism, some believe a swastika was stamped on Buddha’s chest when he was buried, known as the Heart’s Seal.

 5 Cross

Before Christianity adopted the cross as its emblem, it was a pagan symbol for the Sun-God and signified the perfect union of male and female energy. (The original crosses had equal length axes). The Pope still wears the original cross, which kind of makes sense when you consider Christians hold Jesus as the Son of God.

The Roman Emperor, Constantine, was a practicing sun-worshipping pagan, so perhaps the Roman Empire’s adoption of Christianity as its main religion and consequently, the cross its main symbol, was of no coincidence.

6 Star of David

While the hexagram is currently Israel’s primary symbol, representing the Shield of David, its origins are far older than 1018 A.D., when the first recorded Judaic use surfaced.

South Indian temples dating back thousands of years have hexagrams (some with swastikas beside them) adorning their exteriors. The Hindus hold the hexagram as a mandala and use it to represent the heart chakra. In the ancient Tibetan Book of the Dead, there are images of a swastika inside the hexagram representing the creative force in the universe.

If Hitler was trying to represent Jews as evil, he surely used the wrong symbol. The hexagram is used in nearly a dozen religions around the world, always signifying a positive or strong principle.

7 Muslim Crescent Moon

Although the use of “Holy Symbols” is against Muslim law, the crescent moon adorns the flag of a few Muslim nations and has been adopted to unofficially symbolize Islamic faith.

The crescent moon is one of humanity’s oldest symbols, representing the feminine aspect of life, worshipped famously in the form of ancient Greek goddess, Artemis, who always had a crescent moon circling her head. In Roman times the symbol was adopted by Diana, a goddess of hunt and moon, who was said to protect virgins.

8 The Eye of Providence

The famous symbol on the U.S. dollar bill is said to represent the eye of god watching over the land. Masons use the symbol to remind them that their actions and thoughts are always observed by the great architect of the universe.

The Egyptians gave Horus a single eye surrounded by sun beams, while in Buddhism the “Eye of God” means to open the top of the dome, the Sun Gate, which is God consciousness.

9 The Jesus Fish

Used by Christians today to represent Jesus, the sign of the fish (actually two intersecting arcs), the symbol was originally used by Christians as a secret symbol of identification to avoid persecution.

The symbol dates back as far as ancient Egypt, Greece and Mesopotamia. Fish are creatures of the water and thus were always associated with cyclical birth and rebirth. The Mesopotamian god, Oannes, also known as “the Reveler”, is said to be a precursor to Christ.

10 Arabic Hamsa

The hand-shaped amulet with an eye at the center of its palm is used mostly in Arabic cultures as a protection against the evil eye. It’s also known as the Hand of Fatima, for Mohammad’s daughter, and as the Hand of Miriam in Judaism, for the sister of Moses.

The Open Hand had been used in ancient cultures: in Buddhism the open hand signifies that all points of the teaching are visible, while in Hinduism, the downward pointed open hand signifies “giving.”

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Art Appreciation I

Art Appreciation

Chapter 1

A Human Phenomenon

Quote from text:
“Art is a primarily visual media that is used to express ideas about our human experience and the world around us.”

Visual Form
Content: Content is the mass of ideas associated with a work of art.
Aesthetics: Aesthetics is the branch of Western philosophy that deals with art, its creative sources, its various forms, and its effects on individuals and cultures.

Théodore Géricault - The Raft of Medusa, 1819  

Gericault was a leader in the “French Realistic School
he painted in a very “realistic” way (naturalistic/representational).          
The Raft of Medusa  wasn’t well received in 1819 because it was too realistic, too much like life and not enough like “art”.


  • Line
  • Light and value
  • Color
  • Texture and pattern
  • Shape and Volume
  • Space
  • Time and motion
  • Chance, improvisation, and spontaneity
  • Engaging all the senses

The Color Wheel
A color circle, based on red, yellow and blue, is traditional in the field of art. Sir Isaac Newton developed the first circular diagram of colors in 1666. Since then, scientists and artists have studied and designed numerous variations of this concept.

Harmony can be defined as a pleasing arrangement of parts, whether it be music, poetry, color, or even an ice cream sundae.

Hue, value and intensity are properties of color.

Colors that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel, such as orange, yellowish-orange, and yellow are referred to as analogous.

Analogous are colors that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel, such as orange, yellowish-orange, and yellow

Intaglio is not a type of perspective system

Etching and engraving is not considered to be a principle of composition

Red and green are example of complementary colors

Notre Dame, Paris

Some of basic designs of a gothic cathedral are: Towers, arches, buttresses, and arcades create vertical lines that continue from ground to roof.  The plan of the cathedral is symmetrical, while its shape is a cross, symbolizing Jesus’ crucifixion.

Flying buttresses at the Washington National Cathedral

Flying buttress at Lincoln Cathedral, England

Examining Time and Motion

Consider how time and motion may be incorporated in visual art, usually understood as static, by examining issues of Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase.

Marcel Duchamp - Nude Descending a Staircase (No. 2), 1912

Color Harmony
Harmony can be defined as a pleasing arrangement of parts, whether it be music, poetry, color, or even an ice cream sundae.


Media can be defined as the material substances used to create an artwork
Disciplines are the various branches of art making activity, like painting or video

Media in Two-Dimensional Art

Supports and grounds
Dry Media
Wet Media

 Leonardo Da Vinci, Study for Head of Angel in “Virgin of the Rocks,”

Hatching and cross-hatching lines to create areas of light and shadow

Single hatch: all the lines in the drawing go in the same direction.

This simple sketch was the basis for the angel’s face in “Virgin of the Rocks.” Preliminary drawings like this allowed da Vinci to work out problems of shading and modelling prior to attempting a painting. It also shows the extent of his preparation prior to translating his visions into oil paints.

In this drawing, da Vinci again demonstrated his mastery of chiaroscuro. Value changes from light to dark were accomplished by closely spaced hatching and cross-hatching lines to create areas of light and shadow. These value changes define the features of the face and give it a three-dimensional quality.

Leonardo Da Vinci, Study of Hands

This drawing shows two alternative positions for the hands: da Vinci places them togeth- er in a lap, and also shows the right arm and hand raised toward the breast, as if holding a sprig of blossoms.

This drawing demonstrates da Vinci’s mastery of chiaroscuro. The hands are given their three-dimensional quality by the changes of value, from light to dark, using only hatch- ing and cross-hatching pen lines. Highlights of white chalk also reflect the effects of light upon the hands.

Single hatch
Named because all the lines in the drawing go in the same direction.


Andy Warhol - Green Marilyn, 1962

“I wanted something stronger that gave more of an assembly line effect. With silkscreening you pick a photograph, blow it up, transfer it in glue onto silk, and then roll ink across it so the ink goes through the silk but not through the glue. That way you get the same image, slightly different each time.”
Andy Warhol.

David Hockney - A Bigger Splash, 1967    

Tempera, Gouache, and Watercolor
Oil, Acrylic and Sprayed paint

Leonardo DaVinci, Mona Lisa c. 1503–1519

Leonardo DaVinci The Mona Lisa - Documentary

Pablo Picasso, Demoiselles d’Avignon

Jacques Louis David, Oath of the horatii-1784

Marcel Duchamp - Fountain, 1917

Marcel Duchamp created ready made art.
Ready made are ordinary manufactured objects that the artist selected and modified
Methods and Media in Three-Dimensional Art

  • Carving
  • Modeling
  • Assembling
  • Ready-mades, Assemblage, and Fabrication
  • Installation
  • Performance
  • Technology based media
  • Crafts

Van Gogh - The Starry Night, June 1889, The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Van Gogh’s style of painting is unique from other artists of his time
Van Gogh became obsessed by the symbolic and expressive values of colors and began to use them for this purpose rather than, as did the Impressionists, for the reproduction of visual appearances, atmosphere, and light.

`Instead of trying to reproduce exactly what I have before my eyes,' he wrote, `I use color more arbitrarily so as to express myself more forcibly'.

Writings about Art

Formal Analysis
Content: is an artwork’s theme or message.
Content is conveyed through the artworks’s subject matter, iconography, and the written materials related to the cultural background.
Iconography: iconography is the symbolism or ‘hidden’ meaning behind what is seen
Personal interpretation.
Context: interrelated social and political conditions that surround a work of art. Context includes a host of factors, such as historical events, economical trends, contemporary cultural developments religious attitudes, other art works of the time, and so on.

Ways we encounter art
We encounter art in all kinds of ways. in newspaper, in museums, out on the street, at religious sites, in public park, in government or corporate buildings in school, at festivals, art fair, art gallery and so on.

Art critics describe works of art and evaluate their significance.
Current approaches to writing about art  are:  formalist criticism, ideological criticism, structuralist based criticism, psychoanalyst and feminist criticism, writings on visual culture and personal interpretation. 

Criticism:  formalist criticism, ideological criticism, structuralist-based criticism, psychoanalytic and feminist criticism.  

Formalist Criticism

Examines the formal qualities of the art
Line, shape, space, color are all formal qualities
The design principles are also formal qualities
Media, ground, materials are also considered

Ideological Criticism

Rooted in writings of Karl Marx
All art supports particular political agenda, cultural structure, or economic/class hierarchy

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. La Grande Odalisque, 1814

Guerrilla Girls.  Do Women Have to be Naked to Get into the Met. Museum? 1986.  Street Poster.  

Structuralist-Based Criticism

Structuralism & Semiotics
Social and cultural structures influence the meaning of art
As study of language, Structuralism was called Semiotics
The study of signs in verbal or written communication
Late 20th Century Semiotics came to be applied to all forms of communication, including art
Seeks to undermine or reveal myths, clichés, and stereotypes embedded in Western systems of signs.
Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Still #35

Psychoanalytic & Feminist Criticism

Psychoanalytic criticism is most appropriate when applied to works dealing with strong emotional content, dream imagery, or fantasy
Assigns meaning to imagery
Feminist Criticism
Representation of gender in art
Can support male-dominated social structures
Borrows from structuralism, deconstruction, and psychoanalytic approaches to criticism
The Guerilla Girls use artwork as feminist criticism

Robert Smithson - The Spiral Jetty, 1970

Smithson's provocative and seminal works, made in the mid-sixties to early seventies, redefined the language of sculpture. He was one of the founders of the art form known as earthworks or land art. The Spiral Jetty embodied one of his goals which was to place work in the land rather than situated on the land. Smithson's earthworks defined an entirely original notion of landscape.

Who Makes Art?

Art Production as a social activity
Artists operate within the framework of their own culture
Teachers and manufacturers supply materials
Various people provide support
Leaders in society set standards
About artists
The role of artists in various cultures
Support for art making

community art making
fabricators, assistants, and technicians
the artist as object-maker

Difference between fine artists and a medical illustrator or a graphic artists

Fine artists typically display their work in museums, commercial art galleries, corporate collections, and private homes. Some of their artwork may be commissioned (done on request from clients), but most is sold by the artist or through private art galleries or dealers.

Medical and scientific illustrators combine drawing skills with knowledge of biology or other sciences. Medical illustrators must have both a demonstrated artistic ability and a detailed knowledge of living organisms, surgical and medical procedures, and human and animal anatomy.

a recurring attribute of "style" cuold be 
  • formal elements
  • medium and manner of execution
  • content or function

The "content" of art refers to meaning or mass of ideas.

Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy.

The standards and concepts of beauty are different in all cultures

Sandro Botticelli, Birth venus. 1484


What one finds true beauty someone else might find outrageous, weird or even ugly. There is no such thing as ultimate true beauty because you cannot compare beauty. We do not live all following the same standards or principles; we do not have the same ideals. We are different, so is beauty.

In Asia for example the standards for beauty differ from country to country, from culture to culture.

In the Far East, in Japan, a century old tradition offers an original beauty recipe treatment: nightingale droppings. These are transformed into a powder, mixed with soap and used as a face wash. The facial is supposed to make the face look young.

The female members of the Kayan tribe (situated on the border between Burma and Thailand) have another ideal of beauty. Also known as “long necks”, they measure a woman’s beauty according to the brass rings wore around the neck. As they grow older they increase the number of rings, which gives them an elongated neck appearance. They start this ritual as early as the age of 5 and their neck is absolutely transformed by the heavy rings. The elongated neck is a result of the pressure the rings put on their shoulders, clavicles and chest. The shoulders are being pushed down, that’s how the elongated neck appearance is achieved.

In India the long hair, the jewellery worn excessively especially at weddings, the colored saris and the home made remedies take beauty to another level.

In Africa the idea of beauty varies from one side of the continent to the other. In Ethiopia, the women of the Karo tribe wear scars on their stomachs meant to attract a husband. The scarring process starts in childhood and once finished it means that the woman can get married and have children.

In Mauritania being skinny is definitely not a sign of beauty. Here a beautiful woman is a woman with curves…big curves. Nowadays forbidden, the gavage is in many cases the way of achieving a true, Mauritanian beauty. Through gavage young girls are being force fed in order to fatten them up. A “heavy” lady is more likely to be desirable and get a husband.

In the Middle East beauty is sometimes not connected with what ones sees, but with one does not see, or with what one smells or catches a glimpse of. From the head to toe black covers women wear (called abaya) that sometimes reveal only the eyes, to the dark eye kohl pencil, henna tattoos and colored fabrics, scarves and jewellery.

The Polynesian women are considered to be beautiful if they wear traditional tattoos on their lips and on their chins.

Orlan, The Draped-the Baroque. 1983

In the Western World the standards are different; the means of achieving beauty are sometimes extreme as well. From plastic surgery, implants, hair extensions, hair color to fitness, diet and cosmetics, the beauty has a different meaning. Whatever nature has not given, the knife can solve. The Western ideal of beauty is a skinny, tall, good-looking lady (90-60-90 if possible) with perfect teeth, perfect hair and perfect fashion. A 24 hour working lady if possible, who never complaints, who is up to date with the latest fashion trends, is a fighter, considers herself a “Superwoman” because she can achieve whatever she desires, all by herself.

Orlan, Triptych Opera Operation. 1993

kitsch is a term used to classify some visual culture that is often described as shallow, pretentious and lacking in originality

When tax dollars are used to support art, whose “taste” in art should be funded?

Robert Mapplethorpe - Ken, Lydia and Tyler, 1985

Van Gogh and Gauguin

The individual artist styles of van Gogh and Gauguin.

Paul Gauguin. Woman in a coffeehouse. Madame Ginoux in the Café de la Gare in Arles. 1888. 

Vincent van Gogh. Portrait of Mme. Ginoux (L’Arlesienne). 1889.

Van Gogh and Gauguin left Paris in early 1888, both in search of destinations that would inspire creative impulses, crystallize their emerging artistic identities, and help them to realize their aims for a "new art." Gauguin moved to Brittany, where the rugged landscape and peasant life appealed to his desire for a simpler, more "primitive" existence far removed from urban Paris. Van Gogh left Paris’s cold, gray weather and followed the sun to the south of France, where the light and warmth offered an opportunity to explore his interest in color.

Once settled in the town of Arles, van Gogh embarked upon a project to establish a community of artists: he rented a home he called the "Yellow House," which would serve as a "Studio of the South" and invited Gauguin to join him there. In the months preceding Gauguin’s arrival, the two artists both exchanged letters outlining their creative strategies and painted prolifically, producing works such as van Gogh’s The Poet’s Garden and Gauguin’s The Vision of the Sermon. Both artists began to experiment with compositional techniques derived from Japanese art as well as the symbolic language of color, emphasizing subjective feelings and ideas over naturalistic representation. In the unfolding dialogue between them, each artist allowed his identity to emerge, their relationship developed, and a budding creative competition was born. Van Gogh viewed himself as a monk or disciple, spreading the word about a "new art," and looking to the older artist for leadership, while Gauguin perceived himself as a rebellious bohemian, a victim of society.

Vincent van Gogh, Self-Portrait Dedicated to Paul Gauguin (Bonze), 1888
Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, Mass.

In October 1888, van Gogh and Gauguin exchanged self-portraits that revealed a great deal about how they perceived themselves and wished to be seen by others. In van Gogh’s austere portrait, his gaunt face, short hair, and beard allude to his belief in a monastic lifestyle and refer to his role as a monk (bonze) or humble disciple to Gauguin. The contrast of blue and yellow in the portrait echoes the colors in van Gogh’s painting of the yellow house and "the symphony in blue and yellow" in his sunflowers series.

Paul Gauguin, Self-Portrait Dedicated to Vincent van Gogh (Les Misérables), 1888
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

Gauguin presented himself as an "outlaw" in his self-portrait, which specifically alludes to the noble character of Jean Valjean in Victor Hugo's novel Les Misérables. The bold lines of the figure and the vivid colors of the flowered wallpaper manifest Gauguin’s interest in "an abstract, symbolic style." Van Gogh, however, was disappointed when he received Gauguin’s Self-Portrait, believing that it expressed torment while failing to offer any hope or consolation. He even suggested to his brother Theo that the troubled Gauguin would benefit from a stay in the reinvigorating environment of Arles.


Paul Gauguin, The Vision of the Sermon (Jacob Wrestling with the Angel), 1888
National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh

Gauguin moved away from Impressionism in this breakthrough painting from his Brittany period, a work that marks a high point in the development of his mature style. In the foreground, a group of pious local women and a priest experience an imaginary vision—the Old Testament story of Jacob wrestling with an angel, depicted in the upper right. The bold color, dramatic compositional devices (such as the diagonal tree trunk and tilted ground), and the exaggerated shapes of the women’s bonnets reveal Gauguin’s interest in abstraction, inspired by sources as varied as medieval stained glass and the art of Japan.

Vincent van Gogh, The Poet’s Garden, 1888
The Art Institute of Chicago: Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Larned Coburn Memorial Collection

One of several paintings intended for Gauguin’s bedroom in Arles, The Poet’s Garden displays van Gogh’s brilliant use of color and texture to express the character of Provence—the southern province in which Arles is located. The thick, repetitive brush strokes that comprise the lemon-yellow sky and the lush, green foliage infuse this view of the garden across from the yellow house with great vitality. Van Gogh also hoped to imbue this picture with allusions to the 14th century, the golden age of Provence, and specifically to the famed Renaissance poet Petrarch (1304-1374), and the new "poet" of Provence, Gauguin.

Van Gogh and Gauguin
Exhibition organized by The Art Institute of Chicago, 2001.