Thursday, March 13, 2008

It's all in the details.

This Christmas, one of my favorite gifts was a Close Up art card game from my mom. Yeah, we like to shop at museum stores. How did you know? The game takes famous works of art and puts them in sets of two, one being the full work and the other a magnified "close up" from it. With several activities possible, ranging from Old Maid to Memory, countless hours of fun can be had with this simple, genius card game.

After playing this so much, and even just staring at the cards, it made sense that the perspective used in the game would spread to how I looked at art in my everyday life. This became particularly apparent in my art history class. Now when I study certain pieces, my attention is drawn to small details no one else notices (much like Audrey Tautou's movie watching in Amelie). Since I am such a loving, caring person, I thought I'd share with everyone this joy of details and give a small glimpse into my brain with a new series I am introducing: Close Up with Cat, Vol. I. Lets begin, shall we?

Our first piece we'll be examining is Francisco Goya's The Third of May, 1808

It's a strong piece, offering overt Christ-symbolism, the horror of war, and shock at the tyranny that sometimes occurred in Napoleonic France. We look in pity at the helpless Spaniards being slaughtered. But a whole new meaning comes into the mix when we look at this:

A little fuzzy, but you get the general idea. These two prisoners seem very far away from willing surrender. Instead, intense hatred and subtle plotting are written all over the left figures face. The right man leans in, as if confirming some uprise that will occur at any moment. Definitely not what the viewer sees on first observation.

Next is Theodore Gericault's Raft of the Medusa

Such drama. With broiling seas and figures writhing in Death's grip, it's hard to really know where to look first.

I really liked this guy. He kind of sums up the attitude I would have if I was in the same shipwrecked, starving situation he was. "Who cares, we are all going to die anyway, just give up now. You'll waste way less energy that way. You think that boat's going to see your pathetic little shirt-flag? Yeah. Right. We're doomed. Call me when the fat one dies."

This one was actually kind of cool. I present a landscape for you, and an American work (USA! All the way!), Thomas Cole's The Oxbow

Beautiful. Can't beat that Hudson River School. They do landscapes right. But wait, what is that at the bottom of the picture?

OK. You might have to grab a microscope for that one. But if you look really carefully, you can see a little top hat. and underneath that, a person. Who could it be, in the midst of that untamed wilderness? None other than the artist himself, Thomas Cole, arm outstretched, presenting in all its glory NATURE.

Finally, Jacques- Louis David's The Oath of the Horatii

Ah, Neoclassicism. Look at how honorable and patriotic they are. Giving their all for the glory that is Rome. True heroes. Hold on just a second. What are they doing!?!

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

So I hoped you enjoyed this little visual adventure, and join us next time for a foray into Revivalist Architecture!


Jonny Boy said...

Wasn't I the one who pointed out The Oath of the Horatii back in the days of Buskie. I noticed that that link was wrong a little before I checked my comments so I'm still taking credit for the correction.

Ashley said...

I want to play that game.
I love you.

Kite Potter said...

Um so how come I haven't seen or played this game with you yet? Is it only reserved for you and BYU crowd, or do you include awesome chicks like me??? :)

Anyway, I'm glad I found your blog.