MoMA visit - Visual analysis
Art is an effective way to express beauty. Artists have different ways to express their ideas and communicate nonverbally through their work. In the Early Modern Art period, artists were free to create their pieces in diverse ways that never had been done before. For this essay, I chose the works of two artists of this period to compare and contrast so that the diversity of Modern art can be demonstrated. Even though Vincent Van Gogh and Rene Magritte was born forty five years apart from each other and had different styles, I am interested in analyzing “The Starry Night” (Vincent van Gogh) and “The Empire of Light, ii” (Rene Magritte) after my trip to the Museum of Modern Art. At the first analysis, I would like to discuss the famous painting “The Starry Night” (1889) by Van Gogh. This painting is in oil on canvas and has the dimensions of 73.7 cm × 92.1 cm. Van Gogh depicts the town in Rhone under gaslight and reflected in the blue river. As it is displayed at MoMA, “The Starry Night” attracts a great number of visitors to its mysterious blue spirals. The focus of the painting is quite high as the first point drawn to the viewer is at the sky. The spirals meet with each other and the yellow stars are bright throughout the dark blue sky. Van Gogh uses thick brush strokes to draw the mysterious spirals, which occupy most of the center of the painting. The enormous spirals are reproduced images of moving waves in the ocean, but also induce a whirling movement. This technique plays a significant part to create the chaotically moving effect for the picture. Most people who see this picture for the first time feel that the whole scenery somehow shifts, even though it is a still life painting. Moving my view point from the mysterious spirals, I can see the big, extremely dark green cypress tree located in the right part of the picture. Cypress appears in Van gogh’s picture often such as in the “Cypresses” and “Wheatfield with cypresses.” Unlike these two pictures above, he uses similar sinuous curves tortured from full cycles one after another in this one to reproduce the brush stroke he uses in the spirals. In the bottom one third of the painting, Rhone town at midnight is peaceful in blue. The clearest part we can see at this town is the church and its bell tower. Although the church only consists of simple sketches, it seems to be the most complicated fragment in the painting. The bell tower points up to the sky and draws attention of the viewers to the spirals once again. Secondly, the next painting I would like to mention is “The Empire of Light ii” (1950) of Rene Magritte. Its dimensions are of 78.8 x 99.1 cm. Magritte wants to demonstrate a nocturnal scene under a daytime sky. When I first saw the painting, the initial thought that came through my mind was to admire the peaceful scenery of an ordinary small town. Then I noticed the paradox in the painting. The upper half of the painting is the light blue sky of a peaceful day with floating white clouds. However, the bottom half is a small town at midnight. Houses and trees are all covered with dark hue as if it is late at night. The town looks as if it has already gone to sleep. The thin and precise brush strokes that Magritte adroitly use make the picture look as real as a photo. The closer and longer I look at the painting, the more confused I become. The serenity of the deep-sleeping town, which is dimly lit by the antique street light, along with the floating clouds, makes me feel so calm and peaceful that I am persuaded into its reality. However, I am still able to notice the contrast between day and night in two halves of the painting. This confusion is the result of the eyes tricked to believe in what we see. The placement of day and night remarkably reminds us about our conscious mind that we use in everyday life, and about our lit unconscious mind...
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