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Detail, the painterly, and the abstract: 2 Examples from the Masters
In the first article in this pair, I proposed the hypothesis that all representational paintings appear chaotic, even abstract if you must, if you zoom into them closely enough. But as you zoom out you reach a point where their marks organise into an image which our brains see... Read more
Detail, the painterly, and the abstract: 1 A matter of scale
For millenia, painting was representational to some degree. Although modern theorists like to talk in degrees of abstraction, the artist’s intent was to represent in paint some form of visual reality, whether tangible or imagined. The twentieth century brought paintings which didn’t set out to represent anything in particular,... Read more
There is a school of thought among certain painters that you should count your brushstrokes: the fewer that you make to complete a painting, the more efficient your brushwork is, and the ‘looser’ your painting style. As with many over-simplistic approaches, it is easy to find such gross exceptions... Read more
Visible brushstrokes: 1. 1400-1700
Take a close look at many paintings, particularly those from about 1870 onwards, and you will see the marks made by the artist’s brush, palette knife, even fingers. I will shortly be reviewing a book which takes a radical and novel look at brushstrokes in paintings, but which does... Read more
Visible brushstrokes: 2. 1700-1865
I continue my quest for an unofficial history of visible brushstrokes in paintings, from the early Renaissance to Monet and the Impressionists. Last time I found small passages of painterly work in the products of Jan van Eyck’s workshop, mentioned El Greco, looked at Rubens’ wonderful oil sketches, and... Read more
Visible brushstrokes: 3. after 1865, and some puzzles
I here conclude my quest for an unofficial history of visible brushstrokes in paintings, in reaching Monet, other Impressionists, and Post-Impressionism. Last time I was surprised to find quite a painterly style in the late eighteenth century works of Francesco Guardi, saw abundant free brushstrokes in the sketches and... Read more
Visible brushstrokes: 4. the curious case of Francesco Guardi
In the second article in this series, I remarked how in the latter half of the eighteenth century, a hundred years before the birth of Impressionism, the Venetian painter Francesco Guardi used very painterly marks in his views of Venice. My example was a late view of the Piazza... Read more
Visible brushstrokes: 5. Book review: Brushstroke and Emergence, James D Herbert
“Brushstroke and Emergence: Courbet, Impressionism, Picasso” James D Herbert University of Chicago Press, November 2015 Hardback, 23.7 x 19.0 cm (9.3 x 7.5 in), 11+149 pp., £24.50/$35.00 ISBN 978 0 226 27201 6 Available for Kindle (£21.89/$33.15) and in the iTunes Store (£21.99). This is the book which has... Read more
Visible brushstrokes: 6. Titian, Bassano, Veronese, El Greco
In the first article in this series, I attempted a brief outline history of visible brushstrokes in paintings between 1400 and 1700. This read – in terms of artists – Jan van Eyck (a little in vegetation), El Greco, Peter Paul Rubens (oil studies), and the late Rembrandt. Those... Read more
Visible brushstrokes: 7. Painterly marks beyond Venice
In the last article in this series, I looked at some early Venetian paintings by Titian, Bassano, and Veronese, and some of El Greco’s, and became convinced that their painterly style, in which brushstrokes were clearly visible, was a Venetian trait, even posing the rhetorical question: Perhaps we should... Read more