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Pablo Journal
The Louvre Test

1998 Year 1 No. 7 Okt 22
    

Bronzino
Allegory

Lust and Sin

Stuck
Sensuality

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Chagall: Cattle Dealer
A Piece of Modern Art

My Way

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Dedication

After World War II, Picasso was asked to donate some works to French museums. As a compensation, he was granted a confrontation of some of his paintings to works of his colleagues in the Louvre, on a day closed to the public. Only very few persons were present. In a kind of ceremony, his works were hung side by side with other works of his choice. Rarely did someone speak. Afterwards, Picasso is to have said: "C'est la même chose!", i.e. it's the same thing: He and the other masters were doing the same, despite of different styles and attitudes. (As I recall the biographical notes of Françoise Gilot, then related with Picasso.) To me, this confrontation of works of different masters was a very interesting experience I would like to share with you. Hence this enterprise is dedicated to

Pablo Picasso.

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Preface

This series is not intended to be a university course. I am not an art scholar, I am just a painter and art lover only. As lover I will approach one of the works of art the heritage of all mankind has left us, one by one, week after week, as long as I can. I will keep my investigation personal and simple, meant to open your eyes to see for yourself. Words can be used as a means to that end, but it is rather the space between the words that does the work. A great master of the art of appreciation of art, Kurt Rossacher of Vienna, demanded to see with nose first, eyes, tongue, heart, and only at last with the brain.

Your appreciation will give me the power and strength to endure. It is for you and all the great masters that I do this work, and I hope you will enjoy it. So don't hesitate to send me your feedback in order to help me with that goal! This kind of journal is new to the net, so please tell me if the size is ok (images are great, but big!).

As I am writing in a foreign language, I am not sure to express myself correctly, but I hope you will be able to guess what I mean any time.

Also, I invite you to join in my effort. Send me your articles and comments to be published in this journal.

Yours truly,
Signature Dr. Werner Stürenburg, Germany

 

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Bronzino (1502-1563)
Allegory

Stuck (1863-1928)
Sensuality

Bronzino, Allegory
Stuck, Sensuality

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Location Size Date Scan

National Gallery, London

146*126cm 57x49"

1540-45

publisher

Bronzino was nearly 40, when he made this painting. Leonardo was already dead for 20 years. Renaissance was past, Mannerism was the fashion of the day.

You can see the stylistic peculiarities very clearly, most obviously at the central figures. Try to pose like that woman, just in your imagination, and you will feel how artificially and affected this person acts.

The same applies to the young male, caressing and kissing the woman. Observe the nipple between the fingers of his right hand. You can see all kinds of breasts these days on magazine covers, but the gesture shown here might be considered as pornographic today. 
  

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Bronzino shows not a real scene between lovers. The woman not only seems way too innocent for her age, the young man is way too young and inexperienced for the task of seduction.

Also, he is obviously not human, but an angel. As far as I know, angels don't have any sex and can't be partners in this game at all.

Lots of other stuff is crammed together in this painting. Most probably, educated people could read this easily at the time. Today, only scholars will know what all these attributes stand for. I certainly don't, and I really don't care.

If I knew, I would have some more information in my head, but I would not appreciate this painting any more. It is obviously a construction, and very hollow as most of them. No speculation could be interesting enough to give this work more value.

Nevertheless this painting will find its admirers. Bronzino is technically perfect, and people can be easily impressed with this kind of technical brilliance.

I tried my best to prove in Creative Journal 1.4, that technical abilities don't necessarily produce great art, not even art at all. Technique can be taught, hence it's relatively easy to improve technically. No real problem here.

Any interior designer is perfect at perspectives, any artist working for the industry is perfect at anything from glossy racing cars to sexy supermodels. Technique is nothing but a means. It definitely does not produce art per se.

Of course, the artist is at a loss if the technical abilities are not sufficient. This is obviously not the problem here. This painting lacks for human dimensions.
  

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Most probably this was not only a problem of Bronzino. It was a problem of the time. It is hard at times to produce great art.

Location Size Date Scan
Gal. Gunzenhauser, Munich

56*36cm 22x14"

ca. 1891

publisher

Stuck painted this piece at age 28. Compared to Bronzino, this painting is dark and crude. Impressionism was successful, and Stuck belonged to a new generation with new goals.

Painting in the countryside was already out, Symbolism in. The image has to express an idea through a symbol. This is the meaning of allegory, the title of Bronzino's work.

This woman is a symbol and not a portrait. The same applies to the snake. It does not matter if a snake like this exists. It has to be a symbol for something else rather than depict a member of a biological family, ready to be categorized by a scientist.

The room is very dark indeed. Again, it does not matter if the lighting is realistic or not. Everything has to serve the purpose of expressing an idea, and this idea cannot possibly be observed somewhere, it exists only in the head of the painter and has to be realized on the canvas.

Stuck's painting is quite typical for Symbolism. Very often the subject is magic, erotic spell, seduction by evil women. This time has been labeled decadent, and people expressed wearyness in other art forms as well.

Jugendstil came next, exploiting ornaments, and Stuck worked in this style, too. Symbolism originated in France, and the well known Paul Gauguin is a Symbolist, too.

Other Symbolists were much more affected. All these styles live to this day. If you look at Science Fiction pictures or Gothic Art, you find this kind of Symbolism and love of ornaments all over. Look around on the internet for a while, you will find mostly reminiscences of Symbolism. Art has to express an idea, right? 
  

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The idea has to tell the viewer something to contemplate upon. If the painter goes ahead and thinks for a while, he will most probably produce some kind of shallow work, at most interesting for his contemporaries.

That's why Modern Art tried to get rid of meaning and ideas, symbolic or not. Painters want to produce real value, and if it doesn't work out one way, they'll try another.

We witnessed a lot of trials during this century. Impressionism killed academic tradition and lost meaning. Symbolism tried to push meaning back into painting, with little success.

Jugendstil dropped meaning again, Cubism and some other Isms pushed meaninglessness further and further. Surrealism tried to fish for meaning in dreams to avoid the shallowness of Symbolism.

Modern Science Fiction painting is not embarrassed by blatant stereotypes. It is not art either. Hard times again.

All the best 'til next time.
Yours truly,
Signature Dr. Werner Stürenburg, Germany

  

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