Ophelia, 1951 – John Millais:
Millais painted Ophelia along the banks of Hogs mill river in Surrey and is known for painting his serious and significant subjects. He was part of the Pre – Raphaelite era, when they painted directly from nature with great attention to detail and discovered that, when painting the background first, painting nature in such detail is very tricky and requires a lot of patience. The painting is oil paints on canvas, the size 76cm by 1.12 m, which is quite a large sized painting and holds the eyes focus straight onto Ophelia. Shakespeare was a popular source for Victorian painters; Ophelia is a character from Shakespeare’s Hamlet who was driven mad when her father was tragically murdered by her lover, Hamlet, and drowns suffering from grief and madness. Ophelia represents femininity, and is portrayed as quite naïve and childlike. Millais, with others, founded the Pre – Raphaelite Brotherhood, aiming to include the impacts on current society, and the history of art. As this is a very realistic painting, there aren’t many lines as such, however, with his brush strokes you can see the way he’s used line to create texture in the grass, and the tonal contrast between the dark river and where the light is hitting Ophelia’s dress. The variety of greens, browns, white, grey show texture because of the marks. The mood of this painting is clearly sorrow, as you can see so clearly on Ophelia’s pale face that is lifeless and by the way she is positioned in the cold, dark river.
Anthropometries, 1960 – Yves Klein:
Yves Klein employs female models as “living paintbrushes” to create his paintings, using oil on paper wood. The dimensions of this piece are 6′ 6″ x 50 1/2″ (198 x 128.2 cm). This series of work was made in his studio space in Paris, 27 February 1960. For his performances Klein instructed his group of nude female models to cover their bodies in paint and press them against sheets of paper laid on the floor. The Anthropometries series came from the imprints he left on his judo mat as a judo fighter and he believed that the marks left by the model’s body represented the health of the body. The French Feminist Movement didn’t start in France until the 1970’s meaning there weren’t many active voices for female rights in France during this time, influencing the mostly positive response to this work. The models are positioned in this photograph in an arrow shape, drawing your eyes towards them particularly and there isn’t a vanishing point in this image, however, the composition highlights the models because of their position in the foreground. There is no use of line in Klein’s work, as human bodies are used to paint onto his canvas and bodies aren’t made up of lines. Klein’s finished pieces, don’t contain much tonal range as they’re imprints of one colour on white paper, and this painting was made using minimal colour range to contribute to the idea of the work being made not by the artist’s hands. The form is organic, as it’s an action shot of people. The models are performing in the bottom foreground of the image, enabling you to see the orchestra and audience in the background.
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