Friday, April 29, 2011

Decadent Romans dimed out

I posted Couture's painting, The Romans in the decadence of the Empire last night. Tonight I want to draw some hopefully explanatory remarks on it and discuss it's design. You may have noticed I use the word design most of the time, rather than composition. The reason is that design implies a deliberate arrangement, the result of plotting and scheming. Design is intentional, not created from the cropping or found arrangement of nature.

Above is a great swooping line implied within that writhing mass of figures and gesturing limbs. The middle of the painting is full of stuff going on, the figures are in an enormous constellation across the center of the painting. The background is simpler and serves as a backdrop or field on which this figurative assembly is arrayed.

Along that implied swooping line in the middle of the painting are scads of rhythmic lines formed by various limbs of the post figures. They all echo or respond to each other. This is a pattern. The design of the painting is based on a pattern of shorter rhythmic lines arrayed in a manner so as to set one another off. It is sort of like a package with a fancy bow hanging in swags across it's middle.

Gee, that's hard to explain, I hope you all got that.

3 comments: said...

Has anyone out there ever had an urge to paint something like this in this day and age? I for one, am happy to learn from it but as for painting something like this today...would it look strangely out of place?

Libby Fife said...

The scene (and the lines that you highlighted) remind me of the action of a pendulum, sort of swinging back and forth, disturbing the air and making it vibrate. Kind of a neat effect.

Anonymous said...

Hi Stape,
Somewhere in me earliest study of art history in the early 60's, I remember reading an explanation of the birth of Abstract art, as coming from the demonstrations of these old masters of there design for their paintings, done for their students. Being great 'designers' their 'abstracts' (notans?) were so beautiful and interesting that some were saved not just for their information but as something beautiful to look at. That great design sense came from years of traditional training and practice of culling the design from reality; largely lost to todays abstract painters. This painting has such beautiful music to it's design, I could imagine it as an abstract being very beautiful.
Thank you again for the effort you give to producing this blog. Terry