Art History:   Grade 2 Lesson 2

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Art Periods

  Art & Observation - Black & White in Color



  1. Prehistoric Art, Spanish, Grotte D'Altimira (The Altimira Cave), Bison II

    Man has always had the urge to create. Prehistoric man, faced with the hardships of mere existence painted the walls of his caves with pictures of animals he hunted. This probably gave him the feeling of magical ability to capture them and to calm his fears. His choice of color was limited to the colors of the earth - clay, charred wood, lime, blood. 

    bullet Altimira Cave with pics
    bullet Cave Paintings - Paleolithic Art


  2. A Girl and Her Duenna, Murillo (moo-ree-yoh) Bartolme Esteban, Spanish (1617-1682), National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC reproduction print.

    A duenna is an elderly woman serving as governess and companion to the younger ladies in a Spanish or a Portuguese family. We can learn about the customs, clothes and architecture of other countries by examining paintings. The women are looking out a window. Can you guess what they are looking at? Often when we think of Spain, bullfights and fiestas with parades through the streets come to mind. Notice the dark background. How would the painting make YOU feel if the red flower was not there?
    Murillo was a Spanish Baroque artist who painted mostly religious works. He also painted pictures of everyday life (genre paintings.) In 1660 he founded an academy of painting at Seville and became its first president. He had many assistants and followers and his naturalistic style
    Continued to influence Sevillian painting throughout the 18th century.

    bullet Esteban biography & links to pics


  3. Rooms by the Sea, Edward Hopper, American (1882-1967), oil, Yale Univ. Art Gallery, new Haven, CT, reproduction print.

    Edward Hopper was born in Nyack, New York, of mixed Dutch and English ancestry. He studied with Robert Henri in New York City and painted dark-toned, moody scenes, influenced partly by Henri’s palette and by his own solitary personality. Hopper went to Paris in 1906, but instead of becoming associated with any movement or group, he drew and worked by himself, Impressed by the unique light of Paris, he developed his own quietly luminous style. Upon his return to New York his slowly maturing impressions accumulated from constant observation of everyday sights resulted in numerous city scenes — the streets, houses and people enveloped in a spirit of loneliness, and the canvas itself bathed with clean, glaring light. Hopper exhibited during the twenties and although recognition came late to him, it has endured. His individual interpretation of life communicates a sympathetic, objective love of the commonplace American scene.

    Light plays an essential part of Hopper’s paintings. It is as fully realized as the objects on which it falls: it reveals the color arid surfaces. Sunlight simplifies and casts heavy somber shadows. The light and shadow defines and models forms (not breaking up the forms as Impressionists do.) He liked strong sunlight. Many of his titles have the word sun or light. movement is created by light and creates composition. He paints colors just as he sees them in nature. he uses blacks and whites.

    Beginning in 1930, Hopper also painted along the Cape Cod shore. In 1933 he bought land and built a studio house in Truro, where he spent almost every successive summer until his death in 1967.



  4. Waterlilies, 1905, Claude Monet, French (1840-1926), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2 reproduction prints.
  5.  Boats at Argenteuil, 1872, Claude Monet, French (1840-1926), Louvre, Paris, reproduction print.

    Claude Monet might be called the most important French Impressionist. From his earliest encounters with artists, such as Boudin, Pissarro and Jonkind, through the time of later contacts with such influential contemporaries as Sisley and Renoir, Monet continued to explore the optical effects of changing light and color. Monet painted directly from the object in order to record visual sensation more accurately. His late studies were a series of Haystacks and Rouen Cathedrals which examine how light at different times of the day changes the subject it illuminates. 

    Monet's famous 'Waterlilies" in their shimmering formlessness have recently been related to abstract art, more specifically, Abstract Impressionism.

    Monet sat and painted this scene many times. Each time he painted it, he did so at a different time of day. the amount of sunlight is different at noon than at 6 pm. What time of day do you think this version was painted? Is the water really pink and purple? The buildings are silhouetted and they are in shadow, but Monet saw many colors in the shadows. do you see them?

    There are 50+ versions of the "Waterlilies" (12' x 6')

    bullet Claude Monet
    bullet Waterlilies at Giverny


  6. Color Wheel Graphic Primary colors, Secondary colors, Complementary colors


  7. 2 Prisms - Remember to bring a Flashlight and have someone turn out the classroom lights



Painters use color in many ways. Some colors may draw the viewer into the painting or emphasize or show importance to particular forms. A repeated color may draw our eye around the painting or create designs, balance or rhythm. Color adds variety to a painting and it may be used in a symbolic way to express an idea or set a mood.

Color may be defined as a characteristic of light by which an area of an object can be distinguished. In talking about paintings we are usually referring to pigment color and the light
it reflects.

Color is pigment. Even prehistoric man used colors from the earth — yellow, ochre, and red—brown of clay, black of charred wood, white of lime. He rubbed these pigments on cave walls, then learned to mix them with animal fat to make them permanent. There painting began.

Figment is any powder-ed substance which is mixed with a suitable liquid in which it is relatively insoluble. The color of the pigment may come from metal oxides, animals, vegetables, earth —
and most recently synthetic chemicals.

Note the primary colors on the color wheel graphic. All other colors are created by mixing red, yellow or blue, Orange, green and purple are secondary colors. Colors opposite each other on the color wheel are complementary colors and when placed side by side, can intensify each other and vibrate. Colors next to each other make up color families. Cool colors (blue, green, purple families) are those associated with cool things, — water, ice, shade trees. Warm colors (red, orange, yellow group) are those associated with warm or hot things,— fire, sun.

Colors also have value which refers to their lightness or darkness; tints of higher value and shades of lower value. The intensity of a color is determined by the amount of pure pigment
not to be confused with value.

Color is light. Physicists experimenting with light in the late 1800’s developed the science of color. Bending light rays through a prism, they demonstrated that the visible spectrum (can
be seen by the human eye, versus infra—red, ultra—violet, etc.) is a combination of colors making white light. We observe this in nature with the rainbow.

A group of painters, called the Impressionists, like the scientists of their day, also did some speculation of their own on the nature of the visual experience. Form, and space, they reasoned. are not actually seen but implied from varying intensities of light and color. Objects are not so much things in themselves as they are agents for the absorption and refraction of light. Hard outlines, indeed lines themselves, do not exist in nature. Shadows, they maintained, are not black but tend to take the color complementary to that of the objects that cast them. The concern of the painter, they concluded, should therefore be the light and color more than with the objects and substances. A painting, according to the Impressionists, should consist of a breakdown of sunlight into its component parts, and brilliance should be achieved by the use of the primary colors that make up the spectrum. Instead of greens mixed by the painter on the palette, separate dabs of yellow and blue should be placed close together and the mixing left to the spectator's eye. What seems confusion at close range is clarified at the proper distance. By thus trying to increase the brightness of their canvasses so as to convey the illusion of sunlight sifted through a prism, they achieved a veritable carnival of color in which the eye seems to join in a dance of vibrating light intensities. As a result of this re-examination of their technical means, the Impressionists discovered a new method of visual representation.

 The Psychology of color:

Color has very strong effects and associations for man - though these may differ with cultures and between individuals. We often speak of red as hot and blue as cold. but it is when colors get together that the action begins. colors can set moods - harmony, sadness, wild excitement, mystery.


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