Physical Environment- Art Essay
Artists are influenced by a variety of factors that show reflection in the works they create. They express their emotions and feelings in a visual way because they are appreciative of what they see; hence the environment they see every day -whether being natural or manmade- can be a major influence for many artists. Eugene von Guerard (traditionalist), Howard Arkley (modernist) and Andy Goldsworthy (post-modernist) are three examples of artists from three different time periods that are influenced by the physical environment around them. Eugene von Guerard (1811- 1901) was born in Italy and trained there as an artist, and later studied landscape painting in Germany. Von Guerard interests excluding art involved exploring, such as taking long treks in Australia and New Zealand, and it was on these trips that he created finely detailed pencil drawings of the environment around him which he later used as the basis for his paintings. Von Guerard expressed environment by the feelings it evoked from him whether that being awe or terror, and specifically focused on the colouring and lighting. His paintings are also known for being astonishingly detailed. Von Guerard predominately worked in oil painting which was a traditional aspect in the art world at that time. Von Guerard can be seen as a romantic artist- who takes major influence from the nature around him and the grandeur and beauty that comes with it. He investigates developments in colonial art, such as issues with isolation and parochialism, as well as European traditions. Von guerard was an individual who contributed to the movement that effectively drifted from only painting English landscapes, however he used that tradition to influence his own works. Artists that influenced his personal style of painting include Claude Lorraine, Nicolas Poussin, and Salvator Rosa. In 1870 von Guerard was appointed first Master of the School of Painting at the National Gallery of Victoria, and influenced the training of different artists for the next eleven years. Von Guerard is known for his unyielding devotion to a picturesque subject matter, and the complexity of the detail in his paintings. One of von Guerard’s most famous paintings is North-east view from the Northern Top of Mount. Kosciusko (1863) - oil on canvas, 66.5cmx 116.8cm, and currently resides in the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, being purchased in 1973. The painting itself is very meticulous in detail with rocks in the foreground, mountains in the middle-ground, and distant mountains and sky in the background being finely complex. The foreground of the image not only shows rocks but very small people which indicates a narrative within the painting- members of Professor Niemeyer’s scientific expedition undertaking a ‘magnetic survey’. The central figure of the painting is possibly von Guerard himself, and the painting is very topographically accurate. The composition and framing of the painting reflect the conventions of art in the time period it was produced. Von Guerard was influenced by the westernized world around him, as well as other beliefs of his involving science and God. He effectively moves away from the traditional English landscape paintings and focuses on the feeling of isolation in a subject, and the one-sided parochial view of a landscape. Being a romantic artist, von Guerard strived to depict beauty using meticulous detail to enhance this. Guerard’s paintings were often praised by contemporary critics for their grandeur and faithfulness to nature as they were criticised for their photographic nature. Viewers find the painting unique for its time and very reflective of von Guerard’s awe of nature. The tiny human figures at the base of the painting make the viewer’s sense isolation and insignificance in relation to the powerful nature around the people shown. Critics quote “the painting depicts nature as endlessly evolving, powerful and dramatic”. It was...
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