Sunday, October 25, 2009

Museum Visit: Neue Pinakothek

The Neue Pianakithek is Munich's gallery dedicated to 19th century art, containing a particularly strong collection of work by the impressionists, such as Monet, Gaugain, Van Gogh, as well as painters from the England such as Turner and Gainsborough.  This period saw rapid developments in how colour and in particular light are represented in art.  These painters also worked at the same time as the early photographers, experimenting with how light influences an image was a shared motivation.

The museum has a wide range of works, many famous and influential, but also much work that appears documentary in its presentation, offering a view into times past, mush in the same way that the literalism of photography offers.  Clearly the artist has time to consider what to include and indeed how to include temporary objects within the image, however, the impression is one of a photographic representation versus a painterly one.

The following painting is by Johann Christian Reinhardt and is  view of Rome painted in 1831.  What is striking is the positioing of the horizon almost exactly half way up the frame.  This was one of a sequence of 4 paintings on each side of a room, providing almost a panorama of 19th century Rome

The next painting by Leo von Klenze from 1858, immediately attracted our attention across the room, the positioning of what is in effect a giant bullseye drew the eye into the painting, without it we would probably have passed by without pausing, great use of shape in a composition:

Painted by Ferdinand Georg Waldmueller in 1840, the following painting has a very simple framing device and composition, very similar to one of the photographs in the course book.  The framing and especially use of light seem very reminiscent of a photograph

In the last art gallery I visited, the Alte Pinakothek, the portraiture was very flattering of subjects and seemed to be an exercise in enhancing the ego of the sitter rather than representing the person as they truly are.  The next paining, but Lovis Corinth in 1900, is quite the opposite, the sitter is still a rich man (Eduard Count von Keyserling), however, the portrayal is very much of the man rather than his title.

As mentioned earlier the Neue Pinakothek has a large collection of works by the Impressionists, artists whose work is now so ubiquitous reproduced via posters, calendars, post cards,  that it loses its impact and we forget that these representations of the world were as scandalizing/dividing in the 19th century as Damien Hirst or Banksy are today.  I have selected 4 paintings from the collection that struck me for their use of colour and light:

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec 1882

Edouard Manet 1874

Paul Gauguin 1896

Vincent van Gogh 1890

One of the aspects of late 19th century art that I find most remarkable was the development of pointillism with  the realization that colour could be repesented by spots of different huses combining in the brain of the viewer to a single colour.  This also provided texture to the images and in the following quartet by Paul Signac  (1899) yields a powerful impression of sunlight dappling the landscape

My final selection from the Neue Pinakothek is the following painting by Giovanni Segantini (1890) titled "Ploughing".  This huge canvas is tremendously evocative to me, I can really feel the strain of the horses pulling the plough under direct sunlight, with the framer encouraging them, almost pulling them along:

What was really remarkable was the brush work within the painting as the following detail illustrates.  Not quite pointillism, however, the variation of colour within the textures of the grass and stubble gives the painting much of its visual appeal.

Finally as with all other galleries the internal architecture is powerful, I have already used some images from this gallery within my lines projects:

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