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A Formal Analysis of Art

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A Formal Analysis of Art
Darlene Traci Kepner
ART/101
February 17, 2013
Karen Witt

A Formal Analysis of Art
The visual literacy of line usage by both artists is extremely different from one another. Van Gogh's "The Starry Night" Sayre, H. M, (2010) (Fig.73) and LeWitt's "Wall Drawing No. 681” Sayre, H. M, (2010) (Fig.77) portray subject matter of different compositions. However, both depictions of art, also express, different qualities, styles, and eras. Van Gogh is from the eighteenth century and LeWitt’s is from the Late nineteenth century; whereas, Van Gogh’s work is a masterpiece, and LeWitt’s is contemporary art, even though both artists possess intellectual and expressive qualities from within their era's that had a fundamental element whether historical or contemporary, they are both works of art. Van Gogh's painting is a masterpiece with a dynamic nature. The contoured lines appear to outline the moon, stars, and kinetic nature of the night air. In contrast to LeWitt's actual lines that portrays analytical and geometric qualities that are static in nature. In Contrast with Van Gogh's painting that depicts an intense energy with expressive qualities. LeWitt's work is juxtaposing (actual) lines that are precise with an isometric projection. Nevertheless, the compositions of Van Gogh and LeWitt’s are the visual aspects of line usage in a formal analysis. Each composition plays a significant role; according to Sayre, H.M, (2010) “LeWitt’s line is precise, controlled, mathematically rigorous, logical, and rationally organized, where van Gogh’s line is imprecise, emotionally charged, and almost chaotic.” (p.64). Even though both artists are ambiguous intellectuals with expressive qualities; the fact remains that Van Gogh is a masterpiece and LeWitt’s is a contemporary abstract.
Diego Velazquez, “Las Meninas” (Maids of Honor) (1646) Sayre, H. M, (2010) (Fig.197) is a magnificent aesthetic work of art. Velazquez has composed a master manipulation of space. The Princess and his subjects are placed symmetrically within the focal point of the picture plane. The visual balance of portraits in the back ground with an accented image of the King and Queen that appears to be their image in a mirror. The variety of subjects and symbols give emphasis on the asymmetrical balance of the room. Velazquez self-portrait has significance, showing the prominence and reputation with the royal family. Some of the symbols are the dwarf and court jester mischievous position; the Father and the Nun. The Queen’s Chamberlain is in the vanishing point of the portrait which shows a pattern of implied line; from the Chamberlain, to the King and Queen, with the corner of the frame pointing to the princess. The flowers in the girls’ hair are a sign of child innocence and the flowers on the wrist represents joy. The use of space, rhythm and scale, according to Sayre, H. M, (2010) “Velázquez’s painting depicts an actual work in progress. We do not know, we can never know, what work he is in the midst of making—a portrait of the king and queen, or Las Meninas, or some other work—but it is the working process he describes.” (p.155) Velazquez’s “Las Meninas” is a superb radial balance of organized interaction with “The Maids of Honor” a sublime piece of art.
According to Sayre, H. M. (2010) Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawk” (fig.702) p.510) Hopper’s use of shadow is impressive because it provides depth and captures a reality. During this time, photographing was growing in popularity and Hopper’s painting looks like a photograph. It gives a realistic view of the average American sitting in a bar drinking away his or her problems. This bar could be in any modern American city during that time. Hopper’s use of chiaroscuro and shadow cast is complementary to the cool colors and hues within the painting and lends to the realistic depiction. The temperature of the painting portrays a sense of isolation and despair. This is indicative of the Great Depression and easily reflects the mood of the patrons. According to Sayre, H. M, (2010) “the composition is powerfully supported by the visual simplicity of his design, a geometry inspired by the example of Mondrian.” (p. 510) Hopper’s painting is simple modernism with a grand penumbra giving the portrait depth and complexity because it demands that the viewer question the time of day. It could be dusk or dawn which adds to the intricacy of the mood. The simultaneous contrast is complementary to the light and dark shadows this method highlights the solitude of the patrons. Hopper’s “Nighthawk” is representational art that utilized shadowing and temperature to expresses a dark isolated mood, which is indicative of the Great Depression.

References
Sayre, H.M. / University of Phoenix. (2010 by Pearson Education). Retrieved from Sayre, H.M. / University of Phoenix, Art/101-Introduction website.

Fig. 73 Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night, 1889.
Oil on canvas, 29 x 361/4 in. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest. (472.1941)
Digital Image c the Museum of Modern Art / Licensed by Scala / Art Resource, New
York.
Retrieved from the University of Phoenix website, Art/101 Introduction/ e-book “A World of Art”, Sayre, H. M, (2010) Chapter 4, (p. 61)

Fig. 197 Diego Velázquez, Las Meninas (The Maids of Honor), 1656.
Oil on canvas, 10 ft. 3/4 in. x 9 ft. 3/4 in. Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid.
All rights reserved. © Museo Nacional Del Prado, Madrid.
Retrieved from the University of Phoenix website, Art/101 Introduction/ e-book “A World of Art”, Sayre, H. M, (2010) Chapter 20, (p.155)

Fig. 702 Edward Hopper, Nighthawks, 1942. Oil on canvas, 30 x 60 in.
Art Institute of Chicago. Friends of American Art Collection, 1942.51.
Photo © Art Institute of Chicago. All rights reserved.
Retrieved from the University of Phoenix website, Art/101 Introduction/ e-book “A World of Art”, Sayre, H. M, (2010) chapter 21, (p.510)

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