Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Towards a democratic art
As I am traveling and will be on the road home I am writing several posts at once and setting them to post automatically. They will be a little shortened and could have been one long piece. I will finish off with this sequence of "philosophical" posts in about four days and then I promise to be real nuts and bolts for a while and present more how- to information. I feel both the philosophical and the applied are of equal importance but suspect that many of you find the applied parts of this blog more entertaining. I try to alternate between the two and ask you to please read both. It may be drier and more pedantic, but knowing these things will serve you as well as knowing the working methods I am teaching.
Above is another image by Jan Van Goyen. I present these Dutch paintings in hopes of kindling your enthusiasm for this era of painting. Their has been a great surge of interest in landscape painting out there. Most of the landscape painters today are far more familiar with the late 19th century landscape painters, particularly the French and in this country, our own magnificent heritage of painters from Thomas Cole forwards. I would d like to expand your interests if you are not already enamored with the "little Dutch masters".
Beginning in about 1630 and continuing for several generations there was a great period of painting that differed from all that preceded it. This art was different because it was a:
The art before this period was made for royalty and the church. These Dutch painters made their art for a newly risen middle class. Most of their clients were merchants and successful craftsmen. That makes a big difference in their painting . Their clients wanted pictures of things they knew, the landscape, their city and streets, and scenes from their Bible, and that usually meant from a Bible they had read and not saints described to them by a powerful clergy. They wanted portraits of themselves and their wives and they wanted pictures of the shipping that built the new found wealth of their nation. They also wanted it painted in a more straight forward way than the ornate and ethereal art of the church or the rarefied, elegant world of the nobility.
Why this is important to us is that America as a great democratic nation without a hereditary aristocracy resembled this era of Dutch history. Our art has a great debt to these painters.Not because our young painters studied with the Dutch but because of the great and unique similarities between their society and ours.