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How Learning to Look at Paintings Can Help One Better Appreciate Films

Jazzalo​ha

almost 2 years ago

Generally, I believe that art should speak for itself, but I also believe that one can learn tips that increase one’s appreciating of art. In this post, I want to examine whether learning tips for looking at paintings and other visual art can actually lead to greater appreciation of films. In one of the threads on Contemporary Contemplative Cinema, we talked about the way these films resembled paintings or photographs, and I wondered if knowing how to better appreciate visual arts would lead to better appreciating CCC films. I’d like to discuss that more in this thread, as well as discuss the way understanding visual arts can lead to better understanding of any and all films. With that said, here are some specific issues I’d like to explore:

1. What is the best way to look at a painting or other visual arts? And how does this help one better appreciate the art? (I’m really hoping people experienced in visual arts can weigh in here.)

2. Can transferring this approach to films yield better understanding and appreciation of films? Why or why not?

Matt Parks

almost 2 years ago

“What is the best way to look at a painting”

With your eyes open, stand in front of the canvas so that your eyeline is at a 90 degree angle from the surface of the painting

. . . just kidding. I have some thoughts on this but will have to get to them later.

Francis​co J. Torres

almost 2 years ago

1- It is good to create a habit of viewing. I try to visit museums as often as possible and read/view books/magazines about art. Quantity of input and ways to put the material into context.

2-Yes, it is very useful because many filmmakers have been influenced by painters so there are all kinds of references made in films that are better appreciated with a knowledge of painting. a good example is found in the films of Peter Greenway. Also principles of composition, color, lightning etc used in painting can be applied to film.

This is something traditional film education leaves out, a big mistake. In all my years of film classes art was not discussed or required as a pre requisite for film studies.
Just last night I was talking to a friend who attended the Prague film school FAMU in the late 70s and he told that in the first year they did not watch any films or even discussed film at all. They discussed art nd philosophy mostly.

Jazzalo​ha

almost 2 years ago

@Matt

With your eyes open, stand in front of the canvas so that your eyeline is at a 90 degree angle from the surface of the painting

I can always count on you for some avant-garde, left-field approach. :)

@Francisco

It is good to create a habit of viewing. I try to visit museums as often as possible and read/view books/magazines about art. Quantity of input and ways to put the material into context.

You’re talking about seeing visual art on a regular basis and having some contextual information about the art you’re viewing, right? All fine and good. But what I’m asking is for more general strategies and tips when one looks at a painting. For example, I suspect many people, when they look at a painting, they basically ask themselves if they like the painting or not. If they don’t, they move on. What I’m asking for is a way to look at a painting beyond this—some tips of what to pay attention to and how to “read” the painting. See what I mean?

Francis​co J. Torres

almost 2 years ago

I suspect many people, when they look at a painting, they basically ask themselves if they like the painting or not. If they don’t, they move on. What I’m asking for is a way to look at a painting beyond this—some tips of what to pay attention to and how to “read” the painting. See what I mean?

Yeah, I see what you mean, And the only way I could move beyond that stage was to see tons of art. So much that after a while it does not matter much if I like it or not and started to see beyond that whole “like” thing. It is not that I do not have favorites among artists or styles above others but that now I have a broader perspective so that I can even appreciate things that I do not like.Only way I know to do that is through exposure.

You should read Berger’s Ways of Seeing. It covers a lot of that.

http://www.amazon.com/Ways-Seeing-Penguin-Modern-Classics/dp/014103579X

Jazzalo​ha

almost 2 years ago

@Francisco

Perhaps you could articulate the difference between what you see now versus in the past. Do you basically just look at the paintings in general or are there areas that you focus on? Are there specific questions you’re trying to answer? Generally, I ask a lot of questions—mostly having to do with the specific painting. Suppose the painting involves people. I try to ask questions about the feelings and actions of the characters; why the painter decided on the body positioning; I’ll try to infer the meaning from the setting.

(I’ve have Berger’s book at home, but never got around to it.)

Francis​co J. Torres

almost 2 years ago

Do you basically just look at the paintings in general or are there areas that you focus on? -
The first time I see it I try to see the whole thing. Then I try to think about the elements/areas that interest me the most and examine them one at a time.

Are there specific questions you’re trying to answer? ====
What interests me the most is the general mood/feeling a painting gives me, how it affects me and then I try to figure why it and how it is achieving that.

Generally, I ask a lot of questions—mostly having to do with the specific painting. Suppose the painting involves people. I try to ask questions about the feelings and actions of the characters; why the painter decided on the body positioning; I’ll try to infer the meaning from the setting.—————-

That seems a good approach . Whatever works for you is fine as long as you have an approach. A system. Every person has to develop a personal approach. Problem most people have is that they do not have an approach when faced with art.
“One measures a circle, beginning anywhere.”

Jazzalo​ha

almost 2 years ago

Thanks for sharing that. What you shared is exactly the thing I was hoping for.

The first time I see it I try to see the whole thing. Then I try to think about the elements/areas that interest me the most and examine them one at a time.

This reminds me of Mortimer Adler’s How to Read a Book. With non-fiction, he recommends reading the table of contents, and the first sentence of every paragraph to give one a general understanding of the whole book. So from whole to specifics. It makes sense. Did you ever try it the other way around? What was the difference—in terms of what you gain or lose—if so?

Btw, interestingly, one can’t use this approach with most films—unless one doesn’t mind knowing the ending. I wonder if this is a crucial difference between most visual arts and films.

What interests me the most is the general mood/feeling a painting gives me, how it affects me and then I try to figure why it and how it is achieving that.

Are there specific questions or details that you look at to answer this question? (If you have any specific examples that you’re willing to share, that might be interesting, too.)

That seems a good approach . Whatever works for you is fine as long as you have an approach. A system. Every person has to develop a personal approach. Problem most people have is that they do not have an approach when faced with art.

I basically agree with this. Do you think all approaches/systems are basically equal? And should one try to learn an approach or making one up, whole cloth, perfectly fine?

And what about films? Do you think people need to develop a system or approach for watching films? I would guess this isn’t the case for most mainstream films—although a system or approach might help one have a deeper appreciation of these mainstream films. Still, I suspect a system isn’t necessary to get a lot of these mainstream films.

(I’m unfamiliar with the quote. Who said it?)

Francis​co J. Torres

almost 2 years ago

Did you ever try it the other way around? What was the difference—in terms of what you gain or lose—if so?——-

Do you mean to go from details to the general picture? Yes, but that happened later. And it is very different, kind of an altered state . Kind of weird state of mind
for me.

“Btw, interestingly, one can’t use this approach with most films—unless one doesn’t mind knowing the ending. I wonder if this is a crucial difference between most visual arts and films.” -———————

Well i use it for films also and you may get to the point where knowing the ending does not make any difference. It is the process that matters.I like Westerns a lot and in most of them the ending does not matter one bit.

Are there specific questions or details that you look at to answer this question? (If you have any specific examples that you’re willing to share, that might be interesting, too.)—-

No, the questions I have to make up according to those details that seem to attract more my attention so they are different questions for each detail in each painting. What I do mostly is to isolate the details and try to put them in context within that picture and with other paintings that have similar things going. Sounds tiresome and a little crazy, does not? Paintings Im still thinking about after years and still trying to figure out are The Night watch and The Pesistence of Memory.

I basically agree with this. Do you think all approaches/systems are basically equal? And should one try to learn an approach or making one up, whole cloth, perfectly fine?———

Not all equal but MAYBE all valid. It is up to each person. Maybe they can be borrowed but I do not know if that would be as effective. Since I did not have any kind of formal art education (other than film school) I had to make mine from the ground up using the art I saw and books I read without much of a particular pattern. If that also sounds tiresome and crazy yes it is. But maybe in the end I was better off than having to go to school again. and to tell you the truth I think i learned more that way than a lot of people I know who attended expensive art schools.

And what about films? Do you think people need to develop a system or approach for watching films? -—————-

YES. It is absolutley necessary to do so. That is the difference between becoming a filmmaker or a glorified AD. Or between a Critic and a film reviewer.

I would guess this isn’t the case for most mainstream films—although a system or approach might help one have a deeper appreciation of these mainstream films. -—————

For ALL films. A lot of tendencies and schools lie within cinema even among mainstream. Even the most homogenous normative/hegemonic garbage have to be examined to know how it ticks and to find out why most people enjoy it more than
other kinds of films.

That quote is from Charles Fort. Early 20th centuryBronx philosopher. His ideas have influenced my ways of thinking about everything.

Jazzalo​ha

almost 2 years ago

And it is very different, kind of an altered state . Kind of weird state of mind for me.

Hmm, do you know why it’s weird?

Well i use it for films also and you may get to the point where knowing the ending does not make any difference. It is the process that matters.I like Westerns a lot and in most of them the ending does not matter one bit.

If you mean, you go back and focus on the details after you watch the film, I agree with this approach. I meant, that you read a quick summary of the film—giving you a general overview (equivalent to scanning the painting and looking at it as a whole)—and then watching the film for the first time.

Sounds tiresome and a little crazy, does not?

Yeah, but in my experience that’s the nature of looking at and experiencing visual art. This is the reason going to the museum isn’t always enjoyable and why I have to be in the right mood.

Since I did not have any kind of formal art education (other than film school) I had to make mine from the ground up using the art I saw and books I read without much of a particular pattern. If that also sounds tiresome and crazy yes it is. But maybe in the end I was better off than having to go to school again. and to tell you the truth I think i learned more that way than a lot of people I know who attended expensive art schools.

Well the fact that you constructed the approach on your own has value in that it’s more likely that this approach is meaningful and authentic—versus mindlessly copying what you’ve learned. On the other hand, I wouldn’t say you made this up yourself as you drew on books and probably used knowledge and experience from film school. That’s not to diminish what you’ve did, but I want to point out that looking to help from other sources—versus making up a system strictly by one’s self—have value.

YES. It is absolutley necessary to do so. That is the difference between becoming a filmmaker or a glorified AD. Or between a Critic and a film reviewer.

See, I don’t know if it is absolutely necessary. I agree that some systematic approach will lead to a greater appreciation of the movies, but one can enjoy a film without a system. If this weren’t true, I don’t think movies would be profitable.

Jazzalo​ha

almost 2 years ago

@Francisco

Btw, I want to thank your contributions in this thread. It was a good discussions.

Parks, I’m still waiting for your comments! ;)

Ben Simingt​on

almost 2 years ago

“With your eyes open, stand in front of the canvas so that your eyeline is at a 90 degree angle from the surface of the painting”

Ahem

Yasser Azmy

almost 2 years ago

Don’t rush or judge Fast , Take your time observing , and open your senses like a child , i believe that the beauty is on us not on the painting itself .. the beauty is inside you , the painter or filmmaker is the one who give you the elements to see inside you ( thats why some people dont read art even if its just pure beauty scene without that much story behind )

if you are looking for a still image/painting of a scenery , as a child with good imagination you will hear your Internal voices which imitate the natural sound of this image as you imagine to be or even going further and imagine piano plays or violin or opera as long as you see the image ( this is example of what i mean )

and that is the real beauty of the art .. we all see things different

Nathan M...

almost 2 years ago

Paintings are visual compositions. Elements are arranged in a particular order for the eye to follow. There power dynamics in placement of objects, people, and light. To understand paintings is to understand composition.

Cinema also uses composition, though with editing we are given only a fixed amount of time to register the composition and process it. Most of the time we are able to do this intuitively and subconsciously. The study of paintings, however, (or still photographs, for that matter) will help us to become more conscious of what we are looking at.

nrh

almost 2 years ago

The only good advice I’ve seen on how to watch a film, or look at a painting:

nrh

almost 2 years ago

Also, even more than Berger’s (very good!) book, I would recommend two books by Guy Davenport, OBJECTS ON A TABLE which is about the still life tradition, and A BALTHUS NOTEBOOK:

http://www.amazon.com/Objects-Table-Harmonious-Disarray-Literature/dp/1582430357/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&qid=1335501820&sr=8-11
http://www.amazon.com/A-Balthus-Notebook-Guy-Davenport/dp/088001234X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1335501892&sr=8-1

Both books are impressive pieces of (historically minded) observation, rendered in very thoughtful, clear prose. I’ve always thought that Davenport’s work, especially his notebook work, was very representative of what many of the younger generation of film critics are working towards. You can find both very cheap, if you buy used…

Matt Parks

almost 2 years ago

1)The sort of standard Art Appreciation 101 line on “how to look” here is:

1. Look
2. Describe
3. Analyze
4. Interpret
5. Judge

2) Of course. As Nathan has already said, obviously, painting are visual compositions and visual composition is one of the important elements of film, so a good deal of looking at paintings should transfer over to watching film.

Jirin

almost 2 years ago

When I’m looking at paintings I tend to try to emotionally react to it before analyzing it. I feel analyzing art according to theory is important if you’re composing it and less important if you’re observing it, because if you need to understand what somebody has written in a book about art to appreciate it, the art has failed.

Once my emotional reaction from looking at the painting has sunken in, I observe the scene and the characters, notice the details and the things the painter is drawing my attention to, then sit back and analyze what about the painting has produced this reaction, and maybe read some about the painting to get context (Reading about it is especially helpful for neoclassical stuff).

Jazzalo​ha

almost 2 years ago

@Yasser

Don’t rush or judge Fast , Take your time observing , and open your senses like a child , i believe that the beauty is on us not on the painting itself .. the beauty is inside.

I understand and agree with the first part, but can you be more specific about opening “your senses like a child?” What does that really mean and how does one do that?

@Nathan

Paintings are visual compositions. Elements are arranged in a particular order for the eye to follow. There power dynamics in placement of objects, people, and light. To understand paintings is to understand composition.

What is composition, really? Are there different categories for the way visual artists use composition? For example, you mention power dynamics. Do painters use composition to emphasize certain objects and convey meaning to them? Are there different ways visual artists use composition?

@Matt

I think the descriptive step is good to point out. That’s a relatively easy step to understand, but it’s important, too. However, what exactly do you do when you analyze a painting? And how does this relate to interpreting it? What does interpreting the painting mean, especially for a realistic painting? (I mean, if I see a painting of a beautiful valley, if I think the painting is beautiful, what other interpretation has to occur?)

@Jirin

I feel analyzing art according to theory is important if you’re composing it and less important if you’re observing it, because if you need to understand what somebody has written in a book about art to appreciate it, the art has failed.

I agree with this generally, but what about art that is really unconventional? A part of me feels like this principle doesn’t apply so much in that case.

@NRH

Thanks for the suggestions.

Matt Parks

almost 2 years ago

analyze—look at formal properties of the work color, light and dark, lines, volumes, plane, shapes, texture etc.

interpret—based on what you’ve learned about the work during the look, describe, analyze steps, interpretation is trying to deduce a meaning of the work . . . what the artist was trying to say.

“If I see a painting of a beautiful valley, if I think the painting is beautiful, what other interpretation has to occur”

Well, “beautiful” could mean anything, and could be used to describe a work by any number of artists from any period working in any number of styles.

Ben Simingt​on

almost 2 years ago

Oxymoron

almost 2 years ago


Looking at this work helped me to better understand Last Year at Marienbad.


Looking at this work helped me better understand Inland Empire


Looking at this work helped me to better understand The Mill & the Cross.


Looking a this work helped me to better understand CCC films

Jazzalo​ha

almost 2 years ago

@Matt

analyze—look at formal properties of the work color, light and dark, lines, volumes, plane, shapes, texture etc.

I’m not sure how interested and willing you are in taking this further, but what exactly does one look when looking at these propertities? Let’s take the Cezanne painting (the one above the Van Gogh—assuming I’m right about both). I see shapes like squares and triangles (or close to them), but what do I do with that?

When I analyze paintings, I don’t look at these formal propertities—so it’s an area that I’m ignorant in—and I’m interested in hearing how you look at these propertities.

@Oxy

It would be really interesting if you explained how these paintings helped you understand those films (although I can understand if you didn’t want to give those explanations).

greg x

almost 2 years ago

Before dealing with the Cezanne, I’ll put forward this painting to look at as one where the form should, if attended to, reveal the “meaning” of the painting. This isn’t precisely how a pure formalist might approach the importance of form perhaps, but I think it may be easier to see how form works with subject matter before trying to deal with it in more abstract terms. I gotta run now, so I’m posting this for you to mull over to see what you might come up with regarding how the form structures the content and expresses something. Now don’t cheat and try to look up the painting elsewhere as having the title might interfere with looking at the form and subjects alone. I’ll check back in later tonight and talk about how I see it, and maybe the Cezanne too.

Oxymoron

almost 2 years ago

although I can understand if you didn’t want to give those explanations

Yep, Jazz. A picture IS worth a 1000 words (or one Greg X post).

Matt Parks

almost 2 years ago

“what exactly does one look when looking at these proprieties? Let’s take the Cezanne painting (the one above the Van Gogh—assuming I’m right about both). I see shapes like squares and triangles (or close to them), but what do I do with that?”

Rather than answering that directly, Jazz, and in hopes of extending this thread a bit, here’s a bit from Roger Fry ‘s formal analysis of Cezanne’s Still-life with Compotier :

“Instead of those brave swashing strokes of the brush or palette knife [that Cézanne had used earlier], we find him here proceeding by the accumulation of small touches of a full brush . . . [Cézanne] has abandoned altogether the sweep of a broad brush, and builds up his masses by a succession of hatched strokes with a small brush. These strokes are strictly parallel, almost entirely rectilinear, and slant from right to left as they descend. And this direction of the brush strokes is carried through without regard to the contours of the objects. . . Each form seems to have a surprising amplitude, to permit of our apprehending it with an ease which surprises us, and yet they admit a free circulation in the surrounding space. It is above all the main directions given by the rectilinear lines of the napkin and the knife that make us feel so vividly this horizontal extension [of space]. And this horizontal [visually] supports the spherical volumes, which enforce, far more than real apples could, the sense of their density and mass . . .

. . . One notes how few the forms are. How the sphere is repeated again and again in varied quantities. To this is added the rounded oblong shapes which are repeated in two very distinct quantities in the compotier and the glass. If we add the continually repeated right lines [of the brush strokes] and the frequently repeated but identical forms of the leaves on the wallpaper, we have exhausted this short catalogue. The variation of quantities of these forms is arranged to give points of clear predominance to the compotier itself to the left, and the larger apples to the right centre. One divines, in fact, that the forms are held together by some strict harmonic principle almost like that of the canon in Greek architecture, and that it is this that gives its extraordinary repose and equilibrium to the whole design . . . .

. . . [Contour] became an obsession. We find the traces of this throughout this still-life. He actually draws the contour with his brush, generally in a bluish grey. Naturally the curvature of this line is sharply contrasted with his parallel hatchings, and arrests the eye too much. He then returns upon it incessantly by repeated hatchings which gradually heap up round the contour to a great thickness. The contour is continually being lost and then recovered . . . [which] naturally lends a certain heaviness, almost clumsiness, to the effect; but it ends by giving to the forms that impressive solidity and weight which we have noticed. . . .

. . . At first sight the volumes and contours declare themselves boldly to the eye. They are of a surprising simplicity, and are clearly apprehended. But the more one looks the more they elude any precise definition. The apparent continuity of the contour is illusory, for it changes in quality throughout each particle of its length. There is no uniformity in the tracing of the smallest curve. . . . We thus get at once the notion of extreme simplicity in the general result and of infinite variety in every part. It is this infinitely changing quality of the very stuff of painting which communicates so vivid a sense of life. In spite of the austerity of the forms, all is vibration and movement."

@ Greg

Yeah, that’s an interesting one. Looking at the figurers, you have the girl, the sheep, the cat, the doll in the carriage, and the discarded hat all on one plane in the foreground of the painting, and then the man and the woman (the girl’s parents or guardians, I assume) on a plane in the midground, with the house behind them. Placing the figures on different planes suggests a detachment or emotional distance from the adults. The color in the girl’s dress contrast with the predominant blacks of the adults clothing.

Also, if one drew a vertical line down the middle of the canvas, it’s interesting that all the man-made stuff—the house, the chairs, the doll and carriage—are all on the right half of the canvas. The left side of the canvas is all nature.

And the implied relationship between figures is interesting. The man and woman sit together, but not intimately, and they seem not to even to be looking at one another. In contrast, the girl and the sheep are almost touching, and the cat is at least looking at them. The net effect is that the girl seems more intimate with the animals than the two adults seem with one another.

Finally, I can’t help but notice that the artist has positioned the doll in such a way that it almost exactly figures the postion and posture of the woman, which I guess makes the girl roughly positioned to the doll as the man is to the woman. So . . . girl/plaything is a suggestion of the power relationship between the man and the woman?

s kant

almost 2 years ago

.

Jazzalo​ha

almost 2 years ago

@Greg

Thoughts off the top of my head on the painting:

There seems to be a progression from the house—to the parents, the baby and the the girl—and I get this based on the positioning of all of them (the house being furthest from the back, moving from right to left—which is sort of an odd movement—maybe the painting is supposed to move from left to right, since this is how we read in the West?…But I chose reading from right-to-left because of the size of the house and the parents, who seem “bigger” in terms of authority.

Why would the baby (I just realized it’s a doll) be ahead of the girl? At first I thought this signified that the baby (or babies in general) have a more prominent position in the family—so the girl is slightly less important. But now that I realize that the baby is a doll, I’m thinking it’s a kind of demarcation between the girl and the parents.

I’m not sure about the sheep, cat and the hat on the ground. We’d probably have to say something about the girl’s gaze as well.

(More later.)

@Matt

I’ll try to get to the commentary on Cezanne later.

greg x

almost 2 years ago

That’s an interesting way to look at it Jazz, but before looking at the direction, let’s look at the overall construction of the image to see what connections may be implied. Matt’s take runs along similar lines as my own on this, as vertically, the painting is split almost straight down the middle into two distinct regions with the tree in the center of the painting acting as the dividing line as well as connecting the two halves. This suggests something of a split between the figures on each side, while also allowing for them being connected.

The sense of connection can be felt not only through the way the branches of the tree extend into each half of the painting, holding the sides together at the central line, but in the way the horizontal construction of the painting is built along, basically, four separate planes in receding space. The first plane is made up of the cat, the girl, the sheep, the stroller and the hat; the second is made up of the tree, the two adults and the bush; the third the house, and the fourth the landscape behind everything. The first or front line extends over the two halves of the painting, and the objects forming it have more vivid colors or are lighter than most of what lies behind it. The second line is more notable for its relative darkness with the figures in black and the shade covering parts of it. The third plane has some small shocks of color to keep our eye moving around the image, but it also, stands as a sort of block or feels heavy compared to that further back landscape making up the fourth plane. (A movie image that leaps to mind regarding that last point would be this one)

As Matt rightly pointed out the man made objects are, predominantly on the right hand side of the painting, while the left is made up primarily of natural objects, however, and here is where a little of that sense of direction comes into play, the first horizontal plane or line extends into each half of the painting where as the rest of the planes are more tenuously connected, though the connection is there. We can also see how the handles of the stroller point back to the two adults, connecting the objects in the front of the painting to them, as well as the way the rolling hillscape, the sky, bushes, and the sidewalk maintain the connection between the halves as the eye follows the lines made by them connecting the hills to the girl’s head and the bushes which are approximately lined up so that there is a progression from them to the adults who also sit along that line. The girl’s head is only approximately on that line though, as the line made by the hills cuts right under her chin. This emphasizes her face as the central object on the left of the painting as it stands clear from everything else yet has our attention drawn to it by the other lines.

Her gaze also helps to connect the halves as we follow it to the right, but as Matt said, it also catches our attention that it isn’t focused on anything we can see or even really suspect as being present as she is looking slightly up and away from everything. The other eyes in the painting keep our own moving around it as each person or creature is looking in different directions; the gaze of the two adults also do not connect to anything in the painting, the woman looks slightly to the left of us, off into space, while the man is looking more directly in our direction. The relationship between the adults and the child can be seen then as both being connected by the way the first plane extends over the two halves of the painting in the strongest manner of connection in the work, but there is also something of a sense of distance as the figures are not clearly connecting with each other and they are occupying separate “worlds” as evidenced by the vertical split.

The left hand side of the painting is both closer to us and extends further back then the right, while the two planes on the right feel much closer together, constricted in comparison, especially with the way the house seems to cut off a view like we see on the left, the contrast of which makes the right feel even more claustrophobic. I think we could also say that with the vertical lines in the work, there is also a sense that the right half of the painting is more “grounded” than the left, that it pulls down where the left pushes upwards or at least away.

From here we could go on to look more closely at the specific objects to try and read more about the possible relationships implied, but even without that sort of specificity I think we should be able to suss out some rough meaning from the work, or even without that effort, by simply allowing oneself really see the painting we might be able to “feel” what its doing without having to put it into words.

As an aside, I gotta say that “competing” with Roger Fry in this sort of interpretation simply isn’t fair, but that his piece does bring out the importance of other areas of technique and form which I didn’t touch on, and which show something of the difference between seeing a painting online and in person. It also suggests something of the difference between painters as the painting I was speaking of is not pushing technique or a dynamic point of view, it is a much simpler thing, though one which I find to be strangely evocative for that simplicity. In other words, being able to “read” an image shouldn’t be the end result of one’s appreciation, just a path to help better ones method of appreciating.

Robert W Peabody III

almost 2 years ago

Her gaze also helps to connect the halves ……..attention that it isn’t focused …. The other eyes in the painting keep our own moving around ….. the gaze of the two adults also do not connect to anything in the painting,…

We could go into Arnheim’s psychological reading of the structure, but without having that knowledge, the strangeness derives from something wholly unexpected – the lack of human inter-connectedness vs an intra-connectedness.

Does the form of the thematics specifically date the painting?