Thursday, June 24, 2010

Homer's, The Wreck

The image is, as so often happens, provided by , an online museum.

This painting tells a story. It tells it from right to left. The main figure holds up a hand to gesture towards the wreck, we see him superimposed upon a crew struggling to get a rescue boat to the shore. All of the darks across the middle of the painting are in an arch of rhythmic shapes. On the left side Homer has driven a "door" through that. Below, I have accented in white, the lines of the carefully designed negative shape against which the procession is silhouetted.

Notice all of the inward flowing "fingers" of negative shape, that cut down into the large arabesque of the boat and toiling men. The negative shapes all point inwards , the waving mans arm is echoed by the stern of the boat, both serpentine inward thrusting shapes. The men on the right, leaning backwards in their effort to draw on their lines, create inward facing shapes that bind them.

This silhouette, or arabesque as it is sometimes called, is varied and interesting. Homer arranged that shape, he didn't copy it from nature or a photograph. He may have had both, taped to his easel. but that big"Chinese dragon" across the middle of the painting is a deliberately invented and designed device. It gives the painting enormous power and decorative arrangement.

One of you wrote in the comments how this was your art lesson with your coffee in the morning. I am glad to hear that, as that is pretty much my intention here, art lessons.
I will return tomorrow with another lesson.


billspaintingmn said...

Stape, I have one of the best apple trees Minnesota can produce.
(Honey Crisp)
I will gladly give you an apple a day for the rest of my life!
Thanksfor real.

billspaintingmn said...

OH come on! Everybody cut class at a time they should be paying attention?!
What a bunch of babies(ha)I'll see ya on the play ground,( I guess they're playing hopscotch)

Stapleton Kearns said...

There's nobody out there! Weird. I might post my grocery receipts tonight to see if anyone notices.

Mary Byrom said...

This is the most awesome addition to what you pointed out, there are the undulating wave like forms of the grasses & shrubs, the light and darks, then the high edge of the land form against the sky that could easily be the sea in another of his paintings...then the 3 clusters of figures...with one woman all alone...what the heck? His narratives are wild.
Thanks again Stape. I love these. (OK and I love you too)

Stapleton Kearns said...

That is one of my favorite paintings. It is so abstract.Does it remind you a little of Grant Wood John Stuart Curry across that foreground?

willek said...

Let's see how well you have taaught me. I think the man's wave not only repeats the stern, but is a mirror or the gesture of the men hauling the boat toward the right. Those two arcs put the main action in parentheses and direct the eye up to the action on the hilltop. I could not help but notice the vertical connections of the horizontals strata of the grasses which support the main mass. Just as you coached us at Snow Camp II.

On the hilltop there is a balance beam going on with the little breeches bouy rig on the top left being balanced by the darkly massed group on the upper right. The main light in which they are counterchanged is, itself balanced by the light spot of distant breaking water on the far right.

willek said...

... Also... Homer constructed this picture like a Bach Gavotte. He built the structure upon which the main action is bases in those grasses. They hold up the bass line of the waving gentleman and the men hauling the lifeboat. The two melodies of the masses on the hilltop are the tenor and alto parts played against the brilliant counterpoint in the sky.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I guess that pretty well covers it. Actually though it is not like a gavotte at all. More of a Knopfler solo from the eighties.

Eugenia Wadsworth Martin said...

As a novice I don't always comment and wait a few days to read the blog as I find the comments made by other posters also informative. The time you take to show the construction of these paintings has been most helpful. Bing a visual learner its been like a light bulb. Homer has been one of my favorite artist and I did a paper on him in school. Loved the story of how he would put up signs warning of snakes to keep the ladies away while he was painting.