Assignment One: Formal Analysis
For this assignment, I chose The Bay, done in 1963 by American painter Helen Frankenthaler. It is acrylic paint on canvas and roughly about seven feet high and seven feet wide. Although there are no real shapes within this composition, the paint creates some forms. The canvas was not primed, so the paint soaks and stains the surface, giving a sense of texture. Although there are only a few colors on the canvas, there is a great deal of different shades and mixtures of color. There is a definite horizontal plane at the base of the painting and mixed in throughout the rest of the painting are horizontal planes and verticality. While no definitive lines are present, there is a sense of line and mass throughout. This work promotes an overwhelming sense of emotion and nature; it conveys a message of almost raw, “back-to-basics” feeling about the form of nature and its almost primal senses. Each part of the above description help to prove this idea, starting with texture.
The texture of the painting looks smooth and undulating, some colors seem to swirl and mix together. The way the paint is laid on causes some colors to overlap others, clearly some portions of paint were mixed together while still wet and others poured on portions that were already dry; giving that overlapping and textured layered look. This seems to reflect the easy flow of a breeze in the wind or a gentle stream of water, and how each of these parts of nature mingles and mixes together. The colors, though few, provide a great sense of shape and depth. Covering the bottom portion of the painting is a band of dark taupe color, possibly representing sand or rock. The dominant color is blue in varying shades, ranging from light periwinkle at the top of the painting, a navy blue mixed into sky and royal blues, to a violet-blue towards the bottom. With a muted alfalfa color surrounding most of the lower half of the canvas and a small splotch of rusty orange-red...
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