For my first Blog I thought it would be a good idea to discuss the periods, movements and artists that I admire the most and have used in a higher or lesser degree as an inspiration and influence for my work.
I consider the Northern Renaissance as the greatest period of Art. Centered around Germany and the low counties between the 15th and 16th centuries the use of perspective, light , shade and realism, in my opinion, far outweighs the more well known art and artists from the High Renaissance centered around Italy and Southern Europe.
Albrecht Durer (1471-1528)
The leading artist of the German Renaissance, Albrecht Durer ranks as one of the greatest Northern Renaissance artists. His paintings include religious art, mostly altarpiece art, portraiture and self-portraits, as well as scientific treatises and theological writings. Durer's main contribution to art was to create a synthesis between the aesthetics of the Italian Renaissance, and those of the Northern Renaissance. He was the last representative of German Gothic Art, and the first modern artist north of the Alps. His painting " Great Piece of Turf " typifies everything I love about his work. The subject matter and delicacy of touch has the feeling of a modern painting, I find it amazing it was made over half a millennium ago,
Hans Holbein (c.1497-1543)
Along with Albrecht Durer the painter Hans Holbein the Younger was a key figure in German Renaissance art and one of the very best of the 16th century. Active in Basel and London, he became Court Painter to Henry VIII, while his other sitters included noblemen, merchants, diplomats and scholars. As well as portrait art, he also excelled at religious history painting, altarpieces, miniature portrait painting, and illustrations, as well as printmaking. Holbein's greatest portraits include: Portrait of Erasmus of Rotterdam(1523), Portrait of Sir Thomas More (1527), Portrait of a Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling (1528), Portrait of the Merchant Georg Gisze (1532) Portrait of Thomas Cromwell (1532-4) , The Ambassadors (1533) and Portrait of Henry VIII (1536).
DUTCH BAROQUE circa 1600-80
During the period 1600-80, more than 4 million paintings were produced in Holland. The sort of Baroque painting they admired and which they commissioned from their artists were, however, different from Italian paintings. The Dutch, being Protestants, had banished Catholic-style Christian art, which was still the main form of painting in Catholic countries. Once they had gained their independence, they expressed their contentment in the enjoyment of the good things of life: fine, solid houses, convivial company, clothes of high quality. They were, in short, bourgeois, and they wanted pictures that reflected the contentment of bourgeois prosperity: portraits, interiors, genre-paintings (scenes of everyday life) and affluent looking still lifes, painted on canvases of moderate size, to hang in ordinary houses, different from Italian paintings.
In my opinion the greatest portrait artist of all time Rembrandt represented the tormented, dramatic, introverted aspect of Baroque. He was the heir to Caravaggio; and he made this inheritance the nucleus of an incomparable achievement. It was Rembrandt who gave a new spirituality to the realistic art of Holland. He kept the methods of realism, but gave them a hitherto unknown, translucent luminosity. Above all, he went below the surface of his human subjects and exposed some of their inner character and soul beneath.
Jan Vermeer (1632-1675)
The leader of the Dutch Realist artists, Jan (or Johannes) Vermeer specialised in genre painting and informal portrait art. Active in Delft, he was a moderately successful painter while alive, but after his death his work was largely forgotten about. That was until 200 years later when the art critic Thore Burger published an essay in 1866 acknowledging him as one of the greatest Old Masters of the school of 17th century Dutch painting, and a key figure in Protestant Reformation art of Northern Europe. As Vermeer worked extremely slowly, he only produced about 45 paintings in his lifetime. His best known works include Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Milkmaid, The Art of Painting: An Allegory, Girl With the Red Hat, Woman Reading a Letter at an Open Window, Woman Holding a Balance and View of Delft. He is regarded as one of the best genre painters in the history of art, and one of the best portrait artists of the Dutch Golden Age.
Rachel Ruysch (1664-1750)
The greatest of all female Dutch Realist artists, Rachel Ruysch specialised in flowers pictures and still life painting, in the tradition of other women artists of the Dutch Golden Age such as Judith Leyster (1609-60), Maria van Oosterwijk (1630-93), and Maria Sybille Merian (1647-1717). Inspired by the wonderful Dutch Realism of Jan Davidsz de Heem, some fifty years before, Ruysch's own paintings date from 1682, and despite taking time to bear 10 children, she became one of the top selling Dutch artists of her day. Along with Jan van Huysum (1682-1749), Ruysch commanded some of the highest prices for flower paintings in Holland and was represented in collections throughout Europe. Her oil painting was lively, and employed highly effective chiaroscuro effects. Dutch artists from the early 17th century tended to arrange flowers in set displays, whereas Ruysch arranged them in different seasons, arranging blooms in a haphazard manner, which showed influences of Rococo art.
THE PRE-RAPHAELITES circa 1847-55
A relatively recent inspiration for my work the Pre-Raphaelite movement began in the middle 19th century in England. A new generation of artists were growing up in the prevailing mood which had already produced the Romantic Movement in literature, a religious revival and a revived interest in the art of the middle ages. The effect of these stimuli varied greatly but the main result was to produce a fondness for romantic subjects and a quite literal realism of treatment. The method of approach was thus, the artist would select from his reading or imagination a subject which was elevating or romantic and try to realize this on canvas to near photographic exactitude. This new style was seen at its best and most sensitive form in the work of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group of idealistic young artists who, in the year 1847, banded themselves together to resist what they considered to be degenerate tendencies in the art of their time. The brotherhood consisted of William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, F. G. Stephens, W. M. Rossetti, Thomas Woolner, and J. Collinson. Of these, the three leaders, Hunt, Millais, and Rossetti, were the most well known and influential artistically.
SALVADOR DALI (1904-890
In my late teens and early twenties I became almost obsessed with the work of Dali, the most eccentric and imaginative figure in painting. He explored Cubism and Futurism before turning to Surrealism. Academy trained with a virtuoso touch and technique he quickly became one of the best known surrealist artists. Between 1929 and 1937 Dali produced his most brilliant work. His pictures portray a dreamworld in which commonplace objects are juxtaposed, deformed or metamorphosed in a bizarre and irrational fashion. Dali usually portrayed these images set against a bleak sunlit background reminiscent of his Catalonian homeland. His most famous works include The Persistence of Memory (1931), Giraffe in Flames(1935) and Soft Construction of Boiled Beans(1936). As I've grown older I've moved away from the more surrealist elements of his work but am still in awe of the clarity and precision in his art.