Pierre-Auguste Renoir said, “Art is about emotion; if art needs to be explained, it is no longer art.” And when Edvard Munch said, “When seen as a whole, art derives from a person’s desire to communicate himself to another, I do not believe in an art that is not forced into existence by a human being’s desire to open his heart. All art, literature, and music must be born in your blood. “Art is your heart’s blood.”
There is no definite meaning behind art; that is why it is art! So we’ll be exploring the messages and the feelings of the artists expressed in their works.
- Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night
“This morning I saw the countryside from my window a long time before sunrise, with nothing but the morning star, which looked very big.” (Letter to Theo, June 2, 1889)
The starry night depicts the view from Vincent’s asylum window. which, as he couldn’t paint in the dark, meant it was painted from memory during the day. In The Starry Night, Vincent brings the Cypress tree much closer to the picture plane; the tree is seen as a symbol of death in Mediterranean culture. In the painting, it shoots up into the sky, linking heaven and earth. He has used paint to show a sky that is electric; that is how we imagine the night sky to be. The sky is painted with Vincent’s signature short brush strokes of thick impasto. It is these paint-heavy, stabbing brush strokes that distinguish Vincent from the other post-impressionists. We can say that Vincent Van Gogh’s work is paving the way for modern art, when artists are shifting from the narrative to expressing themselves with new ways of seeing.
2. Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa
Shutting off the world and looking at the Mona Lisa will make you realise that it is the greatest psychological portrait ever painted. a portrait so ahead of its time that we are still trying to interpret it after centuries. Leonardo Da Vinci used a thin-grained piece of poplar and applied an undercoat of lead white. He painted with glazes that had a very small amount of pigment mixed with the oil. The lead white undercoat reflects the light back through his glazes, giving the picture more depth and, in essence, “lighting” the Mona Lisa from within. He applied tiny, almost invisible brush strokes very slowly over years.On her skin, brush strokes were applied irregularly, making the grain of the skin look more lifelike. All of these techniques, pioneered by Leonardo, bring the painting to life. The clothes worn by Mona Lisa, the complete lack of jewelry, and the simple hair serve one purpose; Leonardo made sure we would not be distracted from the face of Mona Lisa. She is also portrayed as content and confident, which at that time was how aristocratic men were portrayed, not women. She is also directly and boldly looking at the viewer. The entire painting deviates from the traditional way women were painted in Italy.
3. Claude Monet’s Water Lilies
Monet’s Water Lilies have come to be viewed as simply an aesthetic interpretation of the garden that obsessed him. But they are so much more. These works were created as a direct response to the most savage and apocalyptic period of modern history. They were designed as war memorials for the millions of lives lost in the First World War. Monet was deeply affected by the horrors of war. His stepson was fighting at the front, and his own son was called up in 1915. He could hear the sound of gunfire 50 kilometres away from his house in Giverny as he painted. For Monet, these works would be his very personal response to the mass tragedy of the First World War. There is a sense of mourning in the work, particularly with the truncated weeping willow trees gathering us up in their embrace. These paintings are as Monet intended them to be—not only symbolic of the loss of the glorious dead of the great war, but perhaps of all those people Monet had lost too. In the later years of Monet’s life, he was constantly reworking the paintings and seemed incapable of finishing them. The “Setting Sun” canvas, for example, took him two years. It has been repainted over and over, but still, Monet left the lower right-hand corner unfinished. Painting was keeping him alive.