Fantasy. Religious Fantasy Childlike Artwork Outsider Art Dreams and Surrealism Popular Imagery. Fantasy in Religious Art.
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Hieronymus Bosch painted “The Garden Of Earthly Delights” as an altarpiece for a Catholic church at the start of the 16th Century. It’s vision of Hell is the artist’s personal fantasy of the greatest horrors he could imagine. His audience would have largely been illiterate. The images draw upon his own culture (the band) and the viewers of his time would pick up on references that are lost to us today.
William Blake was a religious and political dissenter from the latter part of the 18th Century in England. A major poet he was trained as an artist and experimented with unconventional printmaking techniques. He claimed to see visions and his artworks often display his unconventional religious views.
Edward Hicks was an American Quaker and an untrained artist. He is best known for his series of paintings on the theme of “The Peaceable Kingdom” – showing the different peoples of the earth and the different animals living together in harmony.
In a sense all religious art is “Fantasy”, but it really concerns us in this context when the artists allow their imaginations full rein in depicting religious scenes.
Here Hieronymus Bosch shows us his own personal vision of Hell
The Garden of Earthly Delights c.1500
The 18th/19th Century English artist William Blake was a religious dissenter who experienced visions and made a lot of images illustrating religious themes. Here he shows the Bible story of Satan Smiting Job with Sore Boilscirca 1826
Blake claimed that, while he was sketching the flea, it had explained to him that fleas were inhabited by the souls of bloodthirsty men. These bloodthirsty men were confined to the bodies of small insects, because if they were the size of horses, they would drink so much blood that most of the country would be depopulated. The flea's bloodthirsty nature can be seen in its tongue, darting eagerly from its mouth, and the cup (for blood-drinking) that it is carrying.
Edward Hicks (1780-1849) ThePeaceable Kingdomc 1848.Hicks was another religious dissenter who painted his vision of ThePeaceable Kingdommany times over the years.
With the advent of “Modern Art” and the inclusion of Art as an element of the school curriculum there was a growing interest in the innocent art made by children. Artists valued this quality and some brought it into their own work.
Among the most important of these artists were the Swiss painter Paul Klee and the Spanish Surrealist painter Joan Miro. Both adopted a free approach to techniques and to materials. The success of their approach is seen by the number of their works displayed in primary schools.
Pablo Picasso changed style repeatedly over the years and often worked in a childlike way.
Paul Klee “Howling Dog” 1928” oil on canvas H.17-1/2 x W.22-3/8 in.
Paul Klee “Howling Dog” 1928
In the 20th Century many artists began to explore the ways in which children make art, and the kinds if images that they make. Paul Klee was a Swiss artist and art teacher whose work is very playful and deceptively simple. This paintin uses his technique of “taking a line for a walk” – continuous line drawing.
Paul Klee “Golden Fish”
This painting could easily have been conceived by a child, but the range of techniques displayed would be beyond the capability of most children. It is a work that children – and adults – can enjoy
Joan Miró“ThePoliceman”, 1925Joan Miro was a Spanish artist who was a leading member of the Surrealist group. Like Klee his work is playful and deceptively simple.
Joan Miro Personage Throwing a Stone at a Bird
Portrait of Maya with a Doll (1938)
Mother and Son (1938)
Picasso here chooses a childlike style when he paints children.
What aspects of these paintings would you consider childlike.
Pablo Picasso “Self Portrait Facing Death”Picasso is probably the most famous artist of the 20th Century and his work relates to almost every art movement of the period. This drawing was made very late in his life and he chose to use a childlike style to show his fear of death.
The insane and marginalised often express themselves in their artwork. There is often an obsessive attention to detail, such as we see in the work of Richard Dadd and Nick Blinko, and there is sometimes an obscure agenda underlying the art such as in the case of Blinko and James Hampton.
After a trip to Egypt Richard Dadd, hearing the voices of the Egyptian gods, murdered his father in 1843. For the rest of his life he was confined to an institution for the criminally insane, where he was encouraged to paint. A trained artist his work is meticulous and refers to scenes from Shakespeare.
Richard DaddOberon and Titania 1854-58
'The human face is an empty power, a field of death ... ... after countless thousands of years that the human face has spoken and breathed one still has the impression that it hasn't even begun to say what it is and what it knows.'
Actor, dramatist Antonin Artaud completed this self-portrait drawing in 1946, after being confined in a French mental hospital during World War II.
The art of the insane and the marginalised
'In the case of British artist Nick Blinko (b.1961), who has in the past been hospitalised, the need to make pictures is stronger than the desire for the psychic 'stability' brought by therapeutic drugs which adversely affects his ability to work. His images are constructed of microscopically detailed elements, sometimes consisting of literally hundreds of interconnecting figures and faces, which he draws without the aid of magnifying lenses and which contain an iconography that places him in the company of the likes of Bosch, Bruegel and the late Goya.
Charles Bronson “No Escape”
(This is the other Charles Bronson)
Madge Gill was a Spiritualist and a mediumGill's discovery of drawing was a direct result of attempts to contact her daughter and one of her sons, who had died during the influenza epidemic of 1918, the other side. She maintained that she was guided by a spirit she called Myrninerest and often signed works in that name.
Jean Dubuffet, 1901-1985 Monsieur Plume with Creases in his Trousers (Portrait of Henri Michaux) 1947Jean Dubuffet was not a outsider artist, but he uses many similar images and techniques. In France this approach, both by outsiders and by mainstream artists is called L’Art Brut
James Hampton was a janitor in Washington DC. He constructed this strange assemblage out of junk, covered with silver and gold foil, in a garage. He never explained his work or its purpose.
From the Romantic period onwards artists became aware of the power of the unconscious mind and of dreamlike images.
Henri Fuseli makes a picture of a nightmare and another Swiss artist, Arnold Böcklin, paints a quieter dream in his work “Island of the Dead”.
In 1900 the Psychologist Sigmund Freud published “On the Interpretation of Dreams” which was a big influence upon the Surrealist movement, with artists like Giorgio de Chirico and Salvador Dali painting “illustrations of dreams”.
Henry Fuseli The Nightmare 1781Henry Fuseli was a Swiss artist who worked in England. He made dramatic images taken from his imagination. Here he combines fantasy with eroticism
Giorgio de Chirico Montparnasse Station1914De Chirico’s paintings were a big influence on the Surrealists. Here he distorts perspective, adopting a high eye level, and he presents an almost deserted landscape – apart from the train.
Fantasy and Science Fiction have always had a strong popular appeal, particularly with young people.
It appears on record covers, in films and posters. Among the most popular Fantasy artists are Frank Frazetta, Roger Dean and HR Giger.
Roger Dean Aura
Roger Dean is an illustrator and artistpopular for his record covers and illustrations
The imagery of Swiss artist H. R Giger combines elements of Gothic fantasy with Science Fiction.
25 July 2006 – March 2007
Gloucester Road Underground Station, London