judith art print, gustav klimt artworks, austrian art, best sellers, figurative art prints, framed art prints
Marc Chagall and His Artworks
Marc Chagall (6 July 1887 – 28 March 1985), was a Belorussian-French artist associated with several major artistic styles and one of the most successful artists of the 20th century. He was an early modernist, and created works in virtually every artistic medium, including painting, book illustrations, stained glass, stage sets, ceramic, tapestries and fine art prints.
Art critic Robert Hughes referred to Chagall as “the quintessential Jewish artist of the twentieth century.” According to art historian Michael J. Lewis, Chagall was considered to be “the last survivor of the first generation of European modernists.” For decades, he “had also been respected as the world’s preeminent Jewish artist.” Using the medium of stained glass, he produced windows for the cathedrals of Reims and Metz, windows for the UN, and the Jerusalem Windows in Israel. He also did large-scale paintings, including part of the ceiling of the Paris Opéra.
Before World War I, he traveled between St. Petersburg, Paris, and Berlin. During this period he created his own mixture and style of modern art based on his idea of Eastern European Jewish folk culture. He spent the wartime years in Soviet Belarus, becoming one of the country’s most distinguished artists and a member of the modernist avante-garde, initiating the Vitebsk Arts College before leaving again for Paris during 1922.
He had two basic reputations, writes Lewis: as a pioneer of modernism and as a major Jewish artist. He experienced modernism’s “golden age” in Paris, where “he synthesized the art forms of Cubism, Symbolism, and Fauvism, and the influence of Fauvism gave rise to Surrealism.” Yet throughout these phases of his style “he remained most emphatically a Jewish artist, whose work was one long dreamy reverie of life in his native village of Vitebsk.” “When Matisse dies,” Pablo Picasso remarked during the 1950s, “Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what colour really is.”
Edvard Munch: Expressing Emotions Felt by Everyone
In the decoration of the walls of this public building Munch, who, with the exception of the series of mural paintings for special clients, heretofore had worked at making easel pictures where the content was the result of a personal evaluation of experience, now turned to the task of reaching a broad public. The formal language is simple and uncomplicated to achieve both clarity and dignity. The symbolism and the allegory are clear to the point of being familiar, for Munch ran the risk, in order to address an unsophisticated public, of using motives close to established popular visual tradition.
Moreover, the paintings have his sincere feeling for the look of his native land and the vigor and hope of its life, emotions shared by the mass of his fellow countrymen. This may be one of the reasons the murals are so highly valued by Norwegians. In any case, that Munch could have held and expressed emotions felt by everyone–and this, of course, is not restricted to the University paintings –accounts for the fact that in the parts of the world that know his work he is loved and esteemed by masses of people as is no other modern painter except Van Gogh.
In 1912 Munch received a different kind of recognition in Germany at the Cologne Sonderbund Exhibition. This was intended to be a survey of the contemporary movement in painting and also a presentation in individual retrospective exhibitions of works of painters who had special significance for the movement as a whole. This comprehensive undertaking was the inspiration for the New York Armory Show of 1913.
Munch and Picasso were given galleries to themselves as important living artists. The chief emphasis went to Van Gogh and there were also separate showings of Cézanne, Gauguin, and to represent Neo-Impressionism, H. E. Cross and Signac. Critical opinion since agrees with this contemporary estimate of Munch’s historical significance, and he is regarded as one of the important sources of the German movement of Expressionism.
Munch’s relation to Expressionism was as a forerunner who established attitudes and a direction of thought. As the Cologne exhibition demonstrated, Van Gogh had the largest significance for modern painting in the minds of the Germans themselves, and the Frenchmen of the end of the nineteenth century were of great importance. In comparison to these, Munch’s contribution to the movement, with the exception of the technique of woodcut, was confined to a conception of art. Only occasionally are the motives or the forms of the early Expressionists traceable to Munch; in both respects the others gave the Germans much more. In portraiture, where the attitude of the painter toward his subject was a determining factor in the character of the form, the Germans’ work does recall Munch.
By 1912 the differences between Munch and these younger contemporaries had become great both because of the direction of his own painting and because of that the German movement had taken. The Expressionists had taken part in the innovations of the twentieth century, often carrying to extremes elements of Post-Impressionism which had not themselves affected Munch. There was also a strong tendency among the Germans to carry the aspects of their thought that had affinity to Munch’s into radically new phases. The inner forces of the world were seen in the most elemental way possible, often as something all-pervading, relatively undifferentiated, and no longer necessarily linked to a specific human situation or emotion.
Furthermore, they were interested in primitive arts, those of the natives of Africa and Oceania, and in the forms of the late medieval woodcut, preoccupations of the twentieth century that did not touch Munch. The drastic and systematic distortions and the abrupt opposition of strong colors which give many Expressionist paintings their quality of intense animation were very unlike his work. He had accompanied his paintings to Cologne. There he was pleased and surprised at the emphasis given him, and he was struck by the difference between himself and the new generation. ‘Here the wildest things in Europe are collected-I am quite faded and classic,’ he wrote his friend Jappe Nilssen.
Related Link: Edvard Munch: His Life, Works and Art
Edvard Munch: An Independent and Mature Artist
During the period of the first years in Berlin Munch achieved the position of an independent and mature artist. Uncertainties of direction no longer existed as they had in the years just past. The different styles in which he had then worked had been the result of his exploration of alternative possibilities in painting.
Now many things had been dropped, Impressionism among them; and the diverse elements which remained had been subjected to a process of simplification. One expressive purpose was served throughout, even though in single paintings only a few elements of the diverse repertoire were used. Moreover, the few means of each painting were manipulated with the consistency and effectiveness of a mature painter.
This unity and consistency of Munch’s art–the style of this phase of his career–is of an exceptional and, in fact, precarious order. His major effort, the paintings of the subjects of the Frieze of Life, have nothing of a frieze-like quality when looked at together. They differ in size, scale, degree of abstraction or of representation of nature, and in technique. They have in common the fact that their themes are related and that each is conveyed with the maximum visual impact possible, regardless of overall visual harmony.
Munch once wrote ‘Art is crystallization’; these paintings seem crystallizations of his ideas of the fate of the individual man and woman in the grip of the forces of life and death. There is no parallel in the painting of his contemporaries to Munch’s subordinating consistency of form and handling to communication of his ideas. Yet the concept of art as communication is an old idea which has an important place in the thought of the Romantic period, for example in Delacroix.
Munch’s extreme position means that he disregarded the two main concepts of the nature of form in painting on which the art of the second half of the nineteenth century rested. In the more important, such form and color are determined by the painter’s relationship to the external world. Broken color in paint as the equivalent of pure visual experience in Impressionism, and the revolutionary structure of color and forms in Cézanne’s painting derived from his subtle analysis of the relation of color to twoand three-dimensional effects in nature, are both products of this view.
The other concept, often held concurrently with the first to a greater or less degree, considers that forms have inherent qualities and is concerned with revealing these by contrasts and harmonies among the forms themselves. This is the idealism which was becoming more pronounced in the French school toward the end of the century and on which we have touched in connection with Gauguin. In either case, the effort of the painter is to develop his means according to logic and method, and we are accustomed to trace the evolution of a painter’s style in terms of stepby-step changes in technique and in the way his forms are related, which correspond to the changes in his attitude toward nature or to the forms themselves.
Munch does resemble his great French contemporaries in seeking to use forms in their most simple and unambiguous character. For this reason he can be in debt to the French school, and to Gauguin in particular; and can also be one of those who create new forms. But fundamentally he differs from them all, even from painters of imagination and fantasy like Odilon Redon and the Belgian Ensor who created a manner of painting calculated to convey the subjective character of their visions.
The precariousness of Munch’s artistic position is in its dependence on a particular state of mind which was almost independent, in the last analysis, of the actual procedure of creating a picture, and, as time proved, was unable to survive as conditions in his own life changed. Although this attitude originated before the Berlin years, the powerful way it absorbed Munch there is evidence of the effect of the Berlin environment on him. Aspects of this phase continued to be important inhis later work after more solid bases for his art had been found.
Related Link: Edvard Munch: His Life, Works and Art
Children in Munch Paintings
Edvard Munch painted a number of pictures of children in the early years of the century and usually his interest was in the characteristics of the stage of life as such. An amusing emphasis on little boys as opposed to girls is the representation of going home from school in the painting Boys, Girls and Ducks. The aggressive boys are in a compact mass behind their leader in the foreground, while the girls form a quiet and withdrawn group under the tree.
A new, freer manner of painting appeared in Munch’s works of 1904. The flat tones are replaced by color applied in varied brush strokes in a number of tones, although not in the high-keyed palette of Impressionism. The Garden Wall, another view of the great trees of Aasgaardstrand, is painted in a way meant to bring out the differences of the textures and the surfaces of the earth and rocks in the foreground, the smooth surface of the wall and the foliage of the trees.
Paintings of the following years carry this direction further, but for one kind of work Munch continued the old, more abstract style. This was in paintings intended for the decoration of a specific place. Munch received two such commissions, the first in 1904 from Linde of Lübeck, who rejected the pictures when they had been completed, and the other in 1906 from Max Reinhardt for his theatre in Berlin. It is probable that the People on the Beach, since it is approximately of the dimensions of the paintings of the Linde Frieze (as they are called) and is similar to them in subject, was painted as a study for this project. The juxtaposition of the men and women on the shore without differentiation of their feelings or any expression of interaction between the sexes is another evidence of the change in Munch from the previous decade.
In the years 1905 to 1908 Munch emphasized more and more the rendering of actual visual experience in his painting. At the same time symbolic content was stressed more strongly. Adam and Eve, which represents a young woman and a young man in an orchard, is painted in vibrant broken colors with a verve and a freedom that is a return to Impressionism, and yet the concentration of the man on the woman, as she stands apparently unaware of him and about to bite an apple, establishes the note of sexual tension. In Munch’s version of the story, the man is the one who feels temptation. Preoccupation with themes of the relations of the sexes increased in 1906 and 1907. There can be no doubt that this was a reflection of his own increasing inner tension.
Munch attributed his troubles to a series of unhappy experiences in the years 1902 and 1904. In his own view the deepest wound was the climax in the former year of a troubled love affair which had begun three or four years earlier. Discretion is still maintained concerning this relationship. The woman has never been named in print, but it is stated that she was the daughter of a wealthy Norwegian family. The first reference in Munch’s published correspondence in 1899 shows that at that time he was trying to free himself, although she insisted on marriage, which struck him as ridiculous.
After that, information is scanty, but the story of the bizarre conclusion of the affair has been told many times. A hoax was planned–Munch in later references usually blamed the woman and her Bohemian friends–by which she laid herself out as if on her death bed in order to bring him to her once more. Subsequently, in another attempt to hold him, she threatened to shoot herself and Munch was shot in a finger of is left hand when he tried to restrain her. In the final separation a financial settlement on Munch’s part was required. The reason for this is not known, but the obligation lasted for a number of years. The payment of what he called ‘blood money’ to a person who did not need it was particularly odious.
Munch’s disturbance over these events seems to have been slight at the time. He wrote from Berlin in March 1902 that he was getting over the economic blow and he added, ‘as to the physical shock she has given me, I have completely recovered from that.’ Later in the year he mentioned the wounded finger several times in ways that indicate deeper physical as well as psychic distress. From 1903 on references to his nervous state appeared in his letters. This condition may account for and certainly was increased by the other public scandals in which he became involved.
A contributing factor in all of these episodes was very probably immoderate drinking, but to account for Munch’s actions it must also be assumed that he was in an overwrought and over-sensitive state where his response to real or imagined injury was violent. In 1902 at Aasgaardstrand, as the result of a quarrel that had elements of a brawl, Munch beat a man named Ditten. A more public scandal was a fight which ended in the arrest of both parties in a café in Copenhagen in 1904. The papers of that city played up the affair as disgraceful behavior of Bohemians and there was discussion in the Norwegian press as to who was to blame.
In 1905 at Aasgaardstrand Munch quarreled with the gifted young Norwegian painter Ludvig Karsten, whose portrait, now in the Thiel Gallery at Stockholm, he must have just finished painting. Again the powerful Munch was the victor, but now the aftermath must have been too much for him, for he left Norway during summer of that year, not to return until 1909. Because he could not face people whom he considered hostile–and judging from his letters he linked critics of his work with his other ‘enemies’-Munch had avoided Oslo since 1904.
Now he exiled himself entirely. Fortunately his paintings were having more and more success in Germany. His first major patron had been Max Linde of Lübeck. Then for several years Weimar became the center of his life abroad. Munch had first visited that city in the winter of 1904 through Count Harry Kessler, whom he had known in the early days in Berlin and who is best known outside Germany as the patron of the sculptor Maillol. Now that he was in real difficulties his Weimar friends, Kessler and especially Frau Förster-Nietzsche, the sister of the philosopher, were important supports for him.
Related Link: Edvard Munch: His Life, Works and Art
The Tree of Life Concept
The concept of a tree of life as a branched tree illustrating the idea that all life on earth is bound was used in science, religion, philosophy, mythology, and other areas. A tree of life is variously;
1. A motif in various world theologies, mythologies and philosophies;
2. A metaphor for the life of the mind.
3. A mystical concept referring to the interdependence of all life on our planet, and
4. A metaphor for common descent in the direction of evolution.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the tree of knowledge, connecting heaven and the underworld, and the tree of life, the link between all forms of creation, are both forms of the world tree or the ‘cosmic tree. According to some researchers, the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil, represented in different religions and philosophies are the same tree.