Thursday, July 17, 2014

Influences of Modern Home Decor

Very few things within art and design appear out of nowhere; they tend to be influenced by something else. Modern home decor is no exception to this. Influences from one era to the next, allow for incredible results. When one thinks of modern, they tend to think of present time. Modern furniture has actually been around for a hundred years. When modern design began to emerge, it was viewed as experimental and innovative. These characteristics still hold up today.

Modern design was influenced not only by eras, but the artists within this time-frame, as well. Before modernism took off, furniture and decor were more ornamental. The value of a chair, for example would be based off the intricate detailing and time invested. Modern design began moving away from this idea. Artists and designers began focusing more on functionality. Instead of trying to recreate past items, new ideas were presented. New materials were being produced; it was time for a whole new level of creativity. For example, the use of wood was being replaced with steel, plastic and molded plywood.

It is hard to speak about modern home decor or design for that fact and not mention Bauhaus. As can be read in an online business blog or many journals, this was a school in Germany (operating from 1919-1933), that had a large impact on design. The school closed due to Nazi Germany; the artists and designers began to influence as they immigrated around the world. Ideals from this school are still influencing modern design today.

Since furniture began to transform (new materials, forms and shapes), the layout of rooms changed, as well. Furniture began taking on a more accessible and functional role. It was then that some pieces began taking on more than one role.

Modern Interior

Modern Interior Decor

Art also began to take a shift; seen in abstract and pop art. Art generally has a lot to do with the culture and time period. Pop art is a prime example of cultural influences. Andy Warhol was a leader in this style of art. He displayed everyday items in a vibrant, fun manner. Abstract is clearly visually captivating; it can add a lot to a space, although, it was not created solely for that purpose. Abstract art was created, so that society would stop and think about what they were seeing. It was actually more of a rejection towards culture. The art would appeal to individuals in different ways.

It's hard to generalize, because individual artists have their own influences. With that being said, modernism was most certainly influenced by the industrial revolution, engineering (in order to create furniture) and the growth of consumerism. From there, it has developed into a clean, sleek, modern design. Modern home decor has grown, becoming highly popular and influential.

The Weeping Woman by Pablo Picasso

The Human Race’s Expression of Grief

If you’ve ever even been within walking distance of an art college, there is a fair chance you have heard about Picasso’s masterpiece Guernica. It’s a near black and white oil painting that was created to show the reaction of the bombing of the town during the Spanish Civil War. Guernica is famous in art classes because yes; it is a famous symbol about the suffering of war. But it also was well cataloged through its creation by a photographer Dora Maar. Because of this, it gives us a powerful example of how genius is created.

Weeping Woman is considered to be a continuation of Guernica. Dora was one of Picasso’s mistresses, and she painted many times by Picasso. Sometimes begin; sometimes tortured she was undoubtedly one of Picasso’s favorite topics. He spoke a few times about her, stating that he tried to paint the deep reality of a woman, not just a superficial one. Weeping Woman she represents the grief of humanity, something that goes beyond a singular event.

Color plays a large role in the painting’s message. The woman herself has real warm hues in her. Her hat and the background are a warm red, and it is not hard to notice that she has yellow on her skin. But the yellow is placed next to green and combined it radiates no warmth. All that is gives off is sickness that is almost painful to look at. Her entire body is distorted by the grief- face mashed with eyes front and complete to allow the view access to her tears. She has no words to offer us- her mouth is a cold whitish blue that no logic nor happy could survive in.

Likewise, the painting technique can suggest length. The brush strokes a wide and flat, giving us no depth to suggest a possible change. She stands there molded in sadness, body fused in the act in a way she will never be able to separate. Even her tear is placed solid against her- unable to escape and take even the tiniest sliver of pain off of the woman’s face. Even her breath is caught in her tissue, frozen in dark blues. By her design, she cannot blink nor cry nor breathe- just express pain and suffering. Picasso has made her stand there to be a permanent example of humanity’s weeping women that he called “suffering machines.”

Weeping Woman by Pablo Picasso

Woman with a Flower - A High Praise of Woman

While Picasso is most known for his cubism, it is not as prominent that his fame devastated his life. Perhaps more so than any other artists, Picasso painted his emotions. When he was penniless in Paris, his paintings were filled with blue, starving humans. Then a few years later he found love and suddenly the woman of rosy Paris graced his canvas. The painting, Woman with a Flower was published in 1932. It’s important to understand how Picasso was feeling at the time. First, his marriage was in the shame. Divorce has just gone through, and he was quickly creating illegitimate children via mistress after mistress. In his professional life, he felt that the public was blindly praising him- something that fundamentally clashed with his childhood upbringing structured by harsh criticism by his father.

During this time, Picasso rapidly flirted with various styles of art. He took up more sculpting, and it subsequently influenced his oil painting style. Woman with a Flower is not true surrealism as it is not photo-realistic. It does, however, share the aim of surrealism - to help the viewer to what odd. Picasso throughout his career was often confused on what a representation of a woman was. He struggled from realism to cubism to find the essence of the female and here he takes a stab using elements of surrealism.

Perhaps this is why that the center focus of the piece is two spheres representing a woman’s breast. Humans often use this fundamental judgment if a person is a woman or not. The next most detailed piece of the woman is her head. We are shown two eyes, a nose, a mouth and in contrasting color- hair. Her mouth in particular is given great detail, drawn in an inhaling pose suggesting the inner natural of a woman. Hands are also represented in great detail. Beyond that though, the rest of the woman is portrayed rather loosely.
The other large section of "Woman with a Flower" that is given great detail is the flower. Ironically the flower itself is actually only a white blob. It is, in fact, defined by the stem and the leaves. This is critical to the painting. A flower (despite having both male and female parts) is traditionally considered feminine. Yet here it is defined beyond that- a beauty that grows from the nurturing steam. It is the steam that is considered more important here, more worthy of praise. Likewise, we can use the flower to see a woman through Picasso’s eyes. Are the breasts important? Yes, they are front and center. But it is a woman’s face, the place where thought is born that is given the detail and relevance.

Woman with a Flower

Abstract Art – Some of the Most Sought After Paintings in the World

Abstract art became an important medium of artistic expression in Western culture starting in the late 19th century. The abstract art movement produced many important artists including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Wassily Kandinsky just to name a few. Abstract art focuses more on the expression of the artist’s inner feelings, as opposed to attempts at replicating what the artist sees on the outside.

Because abstract art is related to feeling over imitation of the real world, people are able to interpret abstract art in their own way, making it personal to them. Perhaps this accounts for why people are so fascinated with abstract art and why it is so popular today. Attesting to its high demand is the fact that abstract art accounts for some of the most sought after and expensive pieces of artwork in the world. Some of these artworks have garnered record-breaking bids at auction and phenomenally high sales by private sellers. Below are some of these record makers:

Pablo Picasso – “La Rêve (The Dream)” Pablo Picasso is conceivably one of the most well-known painters among the average lay person. His painting “La Rêve (The Dream)” is somewhat abstract in that it is a distortion of fact, in this case a portrait of his mistress at the time. This painting sold for $155 million in 2013; this is the largest sum of money spent on a piece of artwork by a U.S. collector..

Le Reve

Francis Bacon – “Three Studies of Lucian Freud” Francis Bacon’s piece depicts Lucian Freud, who was his close friend at the time, from three different angles. It is also an abstract piece based on distortion of reality. An unnamed buyer bought the piece at auction in 2013 for $142.4 million which is the highest sale at auction to date.

Three Studies of Lucian Freud

Edvard Munch – “The Scream” This piece of art is perhaps the most well-known of these expensive modern art paintings and the most mimicked in pop culture. It is a depiction of a figure with a tormented expression standing on a bridge under a bright orange sky. In 2012, the 1895 pastel-on-board version sold at auction for $120 million. 

The Scream Abstract Art Painting

Pablo Picasso – “Dora Maar au Chat” Another painting by Picasso, this also features one of his lovers with the face distorted. The painting went to an anonymous Russian buyer in 2006 at the New York auction for $95.2 million. In 2006, it was the second highest price that a painting brought at auction. 

Dora Maar au Chat Painting

Mark Rothko – “Orange, Red, Yellow” Rothko’s painting is perhaps most representative of what an ordinary person thinks of when it comes to abstract art. It depicts three different sized rectangles in orange and yellow on a red background, hence the name. Also, a record-setter, this painting sold in 2012 for approximately $86.9 million at auction. 

Mark Rothko – “Orange, Red, Yellow

While these paintings represent some of the most famous and expensive paintings in the world, abstract art is widely available and can be much less expensive. Art enthusiasts should be able to find a huge selection of abstract art at a wide variety of price points by using resources such as internet sales and local vendors. Options include shopping local galleries for new or obscure artists, buying prints of famous paintings on mass production art websites, going on retail wall art websites and even modern furniture stores online. Abstract paintings are a great addition to any art collector’s home or office and are easily available for anyone to proudly display.

Life Expression - Composition "X" by Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky, the revolutionary artist that is credited with creating the first true abstract painting, had an interesting group of paintings called "Compositions." Although the first three in this series were lost in war, we are able to understand the entire series by the studies left behind in various mediums for the start of the Compositions. The ten works entitled Compositions stretched over four decades of work by the artist and shown his amazing growth towards his goal of being able to express his emotional perceptions through the media of art.

Composition X is immediately different from the other nine- if not solely for the background. In his earlier work, Wassily Kandinsky admitted that he viewed black as being close to death. Later in his work, he began to think of it as a mere stillness or a void of life. Before it was used to define the minority of the canvas but in his last work it helps enhance the color and form of the shapes found swimming it. Wassily Kandinsky has been long moving towards the idea of using shapes as modified representations of simple life forms.

The painting has clear motion as the little life forms swim up and outward. A particularly large one grows like a hot air balloon moving into infinite space. We can assume that this must be space by the look of the lunar like sphere on the left, shining out in the darkness. This lunar shape also helps express Wassily Kandinsky’s new found fondness for positive-negative relationships, shinning the harshest against the black background. Ironically, while it shows his progress forward it also shows us a fondness and return to his past. The figures swimming, recall Russian folk-art paper cut-outs.

By choosing to use the black as the dominant color, Wassily Kandinsky seems to have come full circle. Black is no longer the “inner sound of nothingness” but rather a fair background to allow his thoughts to move freely. Composition X was his final major art statement, but it allowed his development to come full circle, uniting his origins with all the wonderful experience of his life. It went beyond the trends of his time as futurism, cubism and all the work of his other contemporaries, showing his passion for expressing his innermost emotions. In his last statement his becomes to the microscopic in nature, the basic shapes of life that hold no singular meaning and yet compose everything around in brilliant color and pattern.

You have to love what he had to offer, an unmatched talent. Today you will find many young artists creating some fabulous canvas art, hopefully they will go down in history as great artists as well.

Wassily Kandinsky Project X

Mistress Studied - Le Reve by Pablo Picasso

Picasso deserves some credit, especially this painting, "Le Reve." During the height of his career, he realized that no matter what he painted the world would fawn over it. Now, some fewer mortals may have begun to laugh and started to churn out as many works for the hungry masses to gobble up. Picasso though turned back to the art community and started studying what his contemporizes were doing. He then would bring elements of what he learned into this own work- something that traditionally has been known to destroy artist’s careers.

What was even more interesting is that Picasso was willing to adopt elements of paintings styles that had already died and receives little acclaim at the time- as Fauvism. It was called Fauvism as a way to disparage the artists as it meant wild beast; it was a contrast to the civilized men (and their art styles) of the Renaissance.

Le Reve, translated to English as "The Dream," is a large break from his standard style. When people think of Pablo Picasso, you usually get the words ‘cubism’ and ‘blues period’ to pop up after a quick discussion. Cubism, not oddly uses muted colors and squares to depict the world. And his blues period was subjected in heavy realism that was focused on poverty and the despair of the human condition. Picasso can be most widely linked to the human emotion of suffering as well, again from his blues age and his series of paintings of weeping women and the effects of war. Perhaps this is why Le Reve is so fascinating with its bright primary colors, round shapes and erotica elements.

Le Reve interestingly uses a background to link it to the real world. The woman is present in a distinct room, in a chair- unlike the earlier works that were meant to evoke a universal response via a lack of specificity. The woman herself lacks specifics, however. She is milky white with blonde hair, enough of a nod to his mistress, but also a common template that many women can be linked to. She is a poetically nude with half a breast peeking out from her flesh toned clothes, a comment on the natural sexuality of all women. An adornment of civilization, a necklace, mimics her form. And perhaps most interestingly, is her face. At first glance the woman looks like she is reclining her neck and facing the view with both eyes closed; however, focusing on it for a moment reveals that the top half of her face is an erect penis. It is not done to be vulgar but rather a mere extension of her identity. From this painting, it is clear that Picasso did not hold contempt for this woman for being sexual. We can see that she and her sisters were beautiful to this man and the reacts they elicited were as fair as they were.

While Picasso's original Le Reve is obviously unattainable, admirers may obtain Art Wall Le Reve The Dream by Pablo Picasso Rolled Canvas Art through places like Amazon. The world of Art is spectacular, who knows what will evolve in another 100 years. In my opinion however, abstract art rules right now.

Le Reve by Pablo Picasso

Listen to the Loudest Composition - Wassily Kandinsky

Composition VII by Wassily Kandinsky is the most complex of a series of ten paintings produced by the artist in the 1930s. Kandinsky’s years of art and personal education was the fuel for these series. He felt that the artist moves the world forward, testifying to reality and few today and helping the masses move forward with recognition later. The name Composition VII was meant to mimic the musical definition of the word- a deliberate piece in contrast to his earlier improvisations. Over the last few decades, Kandinsky had abandoned lines in an attempt to communicate with the soul similar to the way music did; he was particularly inspired by the work of Richard Wagner. The painting was considered to be Wassily Kandinsky’s most complex work- taking four solid days of painting to finish after creating over thirty drawings, watercolors and oil paintings in preparation for the piece. This was particularly noteworthy as this abstract art piece was produced during World War I when the shortage of even basic necessities made paintings a pure luxury.

Kandinsky’s abstract art series was focused on the idea of creation and distraction. In the center, a circular structure is seen- a form Kandinsky often referred to as being the most like a soul. Around this piece, swirls colors range from black (closure) to gold (new beginnings). The rhythm of the painting is certainly chaotic. Without much repetition in shape or color, the mind has to swirl around the painting hoping to find something to rest on. There are minor notes of rest; dark colors placed next to each other that create small islands of harmony but they are buffeted by opposing colors lapping. Orange clashes with green and the mixes of color are not even complete. The purples for examples are more in the style of pointillism- loose mixtures whose gradient is disturbing to us. But even the chaos is not consistent- they would allow us to rest. There is just enough repetition to prevent the painting from becoming pure chaos- an odd form of consistent order in its own way.

It’s not a simple piece. We cannot easily dissect it as a picture of an apple or human. Without something easily recognizable, it leaves us to only emotions to understand the piece. To me I will always see the birthing pains of creation. The rapid rise of attempted life that dies out just as instantly as it was born. But at the center is something stable- something unique. And although new, it stands in the center of creation, and it will survive. To me, it gives hope that chaos will find an order and that something will remain living in this order rather than cold, sterile order.

wassily kandinsky composition vii