by Donna O. Raphael
The first piece of art I’m going to talk about is a very famous piece called the ‘Mona Lisa.’ The alternative name is known as ‘La Gioconda.’ Leonardo Da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa portrait in Florence, Italy between the years of 1503 and 1506. The exact length of time it took to create the painting is not certain. The portrait of the Mona Lisa is made of poplar wood 0.77 m in height and 0.53 m in width. The original portrait is showcased at the Louvre Museum in France and is one of its most famous. It is believed that the Mona Lisa is a portrait of Lisa Gherardini who was the wife of a successful cloth merchant from Florence known as Francesco del Giocondo. The reason behind the portrait is unclear though there are speculations about it being linked to the couple buying a new house or their daughter’s death.
The portrait shows the woman sitting poised, wearing clothing from those times in Florence. Looking at the clothing she wore, it’s possible she was of middle class or upper middle class. There’s also a beautiful landscape of mountains, a river and trees in the back. From what I can see, her hands are resting one on top of the other, she’s wearing what looks like a thin veil and her expression seems reserved but also mysterious in nature. I think her stature gives off a sophisticated and elegant feel. Her stare is captivating and the faint smile on her lips softens her features, shows her content and gives her a warm feel and subtle charm. Da Vinci’s blend of colors are balanced and defined but also seem to melt into one another. The detailing is exquisite though it’s hard to tell what time of day is depicted in the portrait. From the research I’ve done, it said he used a ‘sfumato technique,’ which is the ‘gradual dissolving of the forms’ that helped in bringing out the smooth texture and atmosphere of the portrait from the mixing of light and dark shades together.
The second piece of art I chose was ‘The birth of Venus,’ by Botticelli Sandro Botticelli, an Italian painter. It was created between 1483 and 1485. It is showcased in the Polo Museale Fiorentino in Florence, Italy. The style of the work is Renaissance and the medium is tempura on panel. The birth of Venus as it is titled was created to depict just that: the birth of the goddess of love, Venus. In the painting, you can see the shell she was born from floating with her on the water. On the left is Zephyr the god of the west wind and his counterpart who appear to be blowing Venus towards shore where a woman who is believed to be a goddess of spring, is waiting to clothe Venus in a pink flowered robe. Botticelli was inspired by ‘classical antiquity,’ and also followed ‘the descriptions of Venus’s birth in his painting.’
Looking at the painting, you can see flowers flowing in the wind and the lines drawn in the water show it rippling, which indicates movement. The painting gives off a sense of purity and beauty. Even though Venus is nude, it doesn’t seem vulgar or disgraceful. From the way her long hair flows and shields her to the way her hand rests across her chest, I get a sense of her being shy and innocent. She’s new to the world, nature is all around her and she’s protected and guided by supernatural beings. The flowing hair, clothes and unbalanced stance indicate a lot of movement in the painting. It is believed that these perceptions expressed sensuality, desire and ecstasy. Still, there is a balance in the vibrant colors and intricate details that can be seen in this painting. The lines in the painting are firm and defined, the body of Venus is slender with wide hips and small breasts and ‘variable proportions.’ They look almost lifelike though they lack some depth making them remain 2-dimensional. Venus’s expression seems a bit forlorn but it’s still graceful.
Botticelli painted her face, which depicted the Virgin Mary. Through the research done, this painting meshed the catholic religion and pagan gods. Botticelli practiced ‘flawless draughtsmanship,’ and it can be seen in this painting. There was a time when this style and depiction was frowned upon but eventually became accepted. I think the piece is beautiful, expressive and shows the tenderness of a woman and the female body. It is said that men may look at Venus as an object of desire but from a female perspective, I think she defines beauty and virtue. Botticelli did an amazing job in depicting Venus from his perspective.
The last piece of art I’ll talk about is entitled ‘Bleeding Blue-A Man.’ This is a modern day 21st Century piece of art. Yoo, Hyun Mi born in Seoul Korea, created it in 2009. The work is with the Korean Art Museum Association. The medium is C-Print and it’s a still photography taken from the short film ‘Bleeding Blue’ by Yoo, Hyun Mi. Her idea behind this piece was creating the “absolute beauty everyone could relate to by combining painting an photography.” According to Yoo, Hyun Mi, she completed her art in three stages. First, she “placed the objects in a real space, then applied color, light and shade to them by painting and finally photographed them.”
When I looked at the short 16-minute film of Bleeding Blue, it showed these processes from start to finish. It was very entertaining and inspirational to see how they created this art. I enjoyed it a lot and learned a bit about this creative art process. Everything was initially painted white as a base color before they started putting in the various color blends and shades to give the room a new feel. Yes, even the young man was painted along with every object in that space. I like how they turned an already existing atmosphere with defined colors and shades into something new.
Watching them create this felt like they turned that real life 3-D world into a work of art. The best way I can describe what it felt like to me was creating art on top of art; the original artistic setup of the room was altered with Yoo, Hyun Mi’s vision of art in blue. The variety of color made the work vibrant but there was also a repetitive nature in the use of blue. Obviously, it was the dominant color in this artwork and gave the overall finished product a balanced feeling. I knew everything in there was initially real, but the painting of the objects and the way everything was captured gave it a sense of fantasy as well. The space and the objects were her canvas for her painting. Her art encompasses ‘architecture, photography, sculpture, and video.’ I think she did a wonderful job with both the finished work and the short film.