Introduction to Paintings
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By Cathy Chang
Millet was born the son of farmers in a small town in Normandy. His father loved singing and carving, but he gave these things up to meet the needs of his family. As a child, Millet often helped his parents in the field or read at home. He was especially attracted to beautiful illustrations in the Bible and tried copying them. He would also use a piece of charcoal to draw farmers or horses in a small notebook.
His father and townspeople noticed his talent. At the age of twenty, with their support, Millet left for Paris to fulfill his dream of studying art.
Millet’s art became highly valued after his death. Though he left behind only about eighty paintings, his style inspired many other great artists, such as Monet and van Gogh. Today, the world remembers Millet as a painter who devoted himself to showing country life as noble and beautiful.
Claude Monet also known as Oscar-Claude Monet or Claude Oscar Monet was a founder of French impressionist painting, and the most consistent and prolificpractitioner of the movement's philosophy of expressing one's perceptions before nature, especially as applied to plein-air landscape painting. The term Impressionism is derived from the title of his painting Impression, Sunrise.
Characteristics of Impressionist painting include visible brush strokes, open composition, emphasis on light in its changing qualities (often accentuating the effects of the passage of time), ordinary subject matter, the inclusion of movement as an important element of human perception and experience.
Monet was born in Paris, but moved with his family to Normandy when he was just a child. His father wanted him to go into the family grocery store business, but Claude Monet wanted to become an artist. His mother was a singer.
Monet died of lung cancer when he was 86 years old. Monet had insisted that the occasion be simple; thus about fifty people attended the ceremony.
Vincent van Gogh, for whom color was the chief symbol of expression, was born in Holland. The son of a pastor, brought up in a religious and culturedatmosphere, van Gogh was highly emotional and lacked self-confidence.
The works of his early Dutch period are somber-toned, sharply lit. In Paris, van Gogh began to lighten his very dark palette and to paint in the short brushstrokes of the Impressionists. His nervous temperament made him a difficult companion and night-long discussions combined with painting all day undermined his health.
During his brief career he had sold one painting. Van Gogh's finest works were produced in less than three years during which time he cut off part of his left ear following a breakdown in his friendship with Paul Gauguin. After this he suffered recurrentbouts of mental illness, which led to his suicide.
(Van Gogh Gallery)
Guernica is a monumental painting by Pablo Picasso, depicting the Nazi German bombing of Guernica, Spain, by twenty-eight bombers, on April 26, 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. The attack killed between 250 and 1,600 people, and many more were injured.
Guernica presents a scene of death, violence, brutality, suffering, and helplessness without portraying their immediatecauses. The choice to paint in black and white conveys the chronological nearness of a newspaper photograph and the lifelessness war affords.
Pablo Picasso (1881 - 1974) was a Spanish artist whose name is almost synonymous with 20th century art. No artist was ever as famous as Picasso was in his own lifetime, or has been since. The controversies over his personality, arrogance, affairs with younger women, and unwillingness to be classified in the art world only added to his fame. Picasso was able to create incredibly complex and powerful paintings with a few strokes of the brush, or capture the essence of someone's face from many different angles all at once. Most of all Picasso was an individualist. He was a founder of art movements, such as Cubism. Picasso was incredibly proficient, especially near the end of his life, when he would often complete three paintings in one day. It was as if he believed he could delay his death through painting. At the time many of these works were dismissed. It wasn't until long after Picasso's death that critics took a new look at his later works and realized that Picasso had invented neo-expressionism and was, as usual, decades ahead of his time.
“Claude Monet.”Wikipedia. 2008. 30 June 2008. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_Monet>.
Cooper, James. “About Pablo Picasso.”artst.org. 10 July 2008. <http://www.artst.org/picasso/bio/>.
“Guernica.”Wikipedia. 2008.10 July 2008. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guernica_%28painting%29>.
Stevenson, Sean. “Jean-François Millet: A Simple Heart.” English 4U. 6 (2008): 12-16.
“Vincent van Gogh: Biography.” Vangoghgallery. 2008. 30 June 2008. <http://www.vangoghgallery.com/misc/bio.html>.