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Posts Tagged ‘Flowers’

 

The Floral Still Life: Its Stems and Roots

Posted on: June 26th, 2018 by admin

In this month’s exhibition we’re celebrating flowers and their appearance in various artwork styles from traditional to contemporary. The roots of this subject matter, so to speak, lie within the still life.

The still life grew in popularity, especially in northern Europe, during the 17th century. The intention of the still life at this time was to teach a moral lesson, especially to remind the viewer of the transience of life. Each bloom was imbued with a personal, cultural, or even religious significance –wilting flowers reminded the viewer of the temporality of life, lilies indicated the Virgin Mary, pink roses signified a clandestine love, etc. Despite their beauty and significance, “floral still life” as a subject matter remained at the bottom of the painting hierarchy, trailing far behind grandiose history paintings.

“ . . . Even if the painter of flowers need not make the same studies to make or conquer the same difficulties as the history painter, does that mean flower painting is a lower or more limited genre?”—a review of the 1817 Salon

In the 19th century, French realists and impressionists alike began to move away from painting still lives as Memento Mori/Vanitas artworks and began to paint scenes of everyday life –their objects and subjects –for their own sake. This shift was very unpopular; the painting was no longer edifying –just beautiful. Can you imagine a time when the impressionist “still life” was considered “modern” and ruffled the feathers of traditionalists? To best appreciate this genre, it’s important to understand that even the simplest subject matter faced criticism.

“(The) poor fabricators of still lifes, who have been so violently disbarred just when they least expected it . . . [T]hey are multiplying at an alarming rate. The rats in the Paris sewers are less numerous and less menacing. If the academic order ever crumbles, it will be because the still-life painters, down below, have gnawed away, one by one, at its foundations.”—Critic Jules Castagnary, writing about the Salon des refusés in 1863

Here are some quotations from the floral artists from the 1800s to help give some context to this genre (and perhaps redeem the critics’ harsh reviews with some romanticism). Enjoy this behind-the-scenes glimpse of still lifes and their hidden roots!

  • “I am following nature without being able to grasp her, I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.” – Claude Monet
  • “I must have flowers, always, and always.” – Claude Monet 
  • “A painter can say all he wants to with fruit or flowers or even clouds.” – Edouard Manet
  • “How right it is to love flowers and the greenery of pines and ivy and hawthorn hedges; they have been with us from the very beginning.” – Vincent Van Gough
  • “I am working at it every morning from sunrise on, for the flowers fade so soon, and the thing is to do the whole in one rush.” – Vincent Van Gough
  • “What seems to me to be one of the most important things about our movement is that we have freed painting from the tyranny of subject-matter. I am free to paint flowers and call them flowers, without having to weave a story round them.” – Pierre Auguste Renoir 
  • ” . . . I think that nothing is more difficult for a true painter than to paint a rose, since before he can do so, he has first to forget all the roses that were ever painted.” – Henri Matisse

How to Smell the Roses at our “In Bloom” exhibition

Posted on: June 26th, 2018 by admin

This week marked the start of our “In Bloom” exhibition here at Art Leaders. We look forward to celebrating floral art in all its forms –each painting as unique as the flowers they represent. But before we get too far into this exhibition, I wanted to offer some tips for appreciating the details during your visit in the gallery this month –a quick lesson in “slow looking”.

Despite the fact that the 70-plus paintings are of the same subject matter –the bouquet –they each offer so much beauty and interest when explored more carefully. Here are some ideas for how to prolong that quick glance into a slow look. You might be surprised at what beauty unfolds before you when you spend time with a single painting.

 

1. Scan the painting. I know, I know –I told you to slow down and now I’m telling you to “scan the painting”, but we can’t help of course but to take it in quickly at first, so do it. Scan the painting from left to right and top to bottom. Where does your eye fall within the painting? What grabs you as you eye wanders?

2. Get Close –so close that the painting becomes out of focus. From this perspective, try to figure how the artist created this piece of art one paint stroke at a time.

3. Step Back. How does the composition change when you step back a few feet? How do those details interact with each other to make the whole?

4. Consider Color. Spend some time with our flowers painted in the impressionist style. Chances are you’ll find multiple colors –perhaps the entire rainbow –within a single petal.

5. Seek out Details. Bugs like flowers too –can you find any hiding within these paintings? How about dew drops, perfectly poised to roll off smooth petals? Whether it be a tiny ant or an ironic swath of color –the beauty of each painting lies greatly in their details.

 

We hope to see you this weekend or throughout this month to enjoy our flower exhibition. Come in to practice your “slow looking” –after all, we can only appreciate life’s beauty when we take the time to stop and smell the roses.

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33086 Northwestern Highway
West Bloomfield, Michigan 48322
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From fine art and custom framing to design consulting and art appraisals, Art Leaders Gallery is dedicated to offering the best selection and service in the Metro Detroit area.


Art Leaders Gallery has been providing Oakland County and the Metro Detroit Area with unique fine art and custom picture framing since 1992.