It's a bold title, so I had better cool it down a bit. This is just about what I like and why. It will mainly be the visual arts, as apart from music of many genres and the odd ballet, The Nutcracker, Swan Lake and Giselle I'm not a huge fan of the performing arts. I see a lot of art as I am very interested in that which is defined on the art pages of blogs and newspapers as well as the TV. I have always felt that art should inspire, provoke emotion and challenge your views and imagination. I worry that so much " performing art " is just about dance without a storyline or violence that seems to be just gratuitous. Visual art is just going bonkers ! Now this is the problem - remember thirty years ago when anything was being called " art ", even a pile of bricks. Well these artists have matured into the peers and critics. OK, I know there are still some good artists producing great pieces but they are becoming rare. I heard on TV the other day, an artist and critic who told a detail painter that he was an illustrator - utter nonsense. He needs to go back to school. The other critic on the programme paints like a child and she is highly acclaimed. Naivety is key at this present time it would appear.
These judges told a quite accomplished watercolourist that it wasn't the way to paint and he must use acrylics. More nonsense. This modern idea of heaping paint onto canvas like a plasterer wouldn't have come about if the artist had to pay for the oil paints instead of acrylics. It would also make them better artists as the medium is far less forgiving and not quite so responsive to hair dryers.
I've also only included fine art photography and the expression fine art will be on my judgement. I may even include some of my own.
So, let's make a start !
I've become very interested in illustrative digital art. The Scandinavian Mads Berg and the French illustrator Malika Favre are producing some excellent works for the advertising industry. Here are a few that have caught my eye recently. I love the colours of Mads Berg and Malika Favre and the movement of Ty Wilson. Mads Berg has captured the scene at a cafe perfectly and his work so reminds me of a cafe in Chania. The female form as drawn by Bulgarian illustrator and artist Yordanka Poleganova is quite stunning.
Have not a great deal to say really. That just burned the ears of my old art teacher.
" You must love all the renaissance artists. All their work is fabulous. " He would say. I like some Da Vinci, I like some Michaelangelo, some Boticelli, some Titian and some Raphael but not all their works.
Most of the works from this period, be it frescoes, paintings or sculptures are highly detailed, especially the fabrics of the subjects. This comes from the return of these artists to ancient Rome and Greece for their inspiration. I do have issue with some of these artists though, I mean, did everyone walk about with their head lolling to one side.
My favourite Da Vinci ? The Last Supper. What ? I hear some people howling. " What about the Mona Lisa ? " Is it that good, I ask. What smile ? It took him twenty years to paint it. I would have thrown it after one. The Last Supper is intriguing in its mystery.
Michaelangelo has many pieces of beautiful art, most of it adorning ceilings. What a chore that must have been. I bet he suffered with backache. Two pieces though are quite mind boggling in the beauty and detail. The Creation of Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. I wish I could have seen it but the queues were too long. The other is the marble statue of David, once in the open air in Florence but later moved to a Florentine gallery as the statue had become to symbolic.
Another Italian master was Titian who painted a fair few nudes, too many for one man I always thought. I never really liked how he painted the female form except for one masterpiece Sacred and Profane Love or Twin Venuses as it is also known. This is truly superb in my eyes.
Sandro Botticelli ! What a man. He painted the wonderful The Birth of Venus with a couple of dozen eggs. Now, can anyone beat that. I bet nobody could forge that work of art today. Well, he did use a few pigments to make an emulsion. Fancy that, emulsion paint and not a hint of magnolia anywhere.
Excuse my humour, the medium used is as above and is called tempera. But what a fabulous work of art.
BAROQUE, ROMANTICISM & NATURAL LANDSCAPE
Forgive me if this is panning out as an art history lesson. It is not intended that way, but I have to give reasons for my choices and they need breaking up into the correct periods of time. Let's face it, art may be the oldest pastime.
We now enter a period where there are few gems for me. You can keep Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough and their portraits that all look like the same sitter. But there are a few pearls ( pardon the pun ) amongst the empty shells.
The early part of this period has one of my favourite pieces of art. The Nightwatch by Rembrandt Van Rijn painted in 1642. This period also featured three of the peoples favourite that I too would hang on my wall. Girl With The Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer, The Hay Wain by John Constable and The Fighting Temeraire by William Turner.
I dislike the way that modern artists attempt to tear down the reputations of these fabulous painters vis a vis the accusations that Vermeer used a camera obscura in all his paintings. This has never been proven. For those that are unfamiliar with the term camera obscura think of the " pinhole " camera.
Strangely that while I do profess to like his most famous work, my preferred choice would be Vermeers, The Milkmaid which I think is brilliant.
The other artist of this period that I do admire, especially his attention to detail of houses along the Grand Canal of Venice is Canaletto. The painting below is one of many landscape scenes of the canal but this is my favourite.
These are the artists that influenced the nineteenth century Baroque of Paris and possibly inspired some to breakaway and form the Impressionist movement.
Having stated that I was disappointed to see the new wave of art that included piles of bricks and artists painting with their feet on the ground and just throwing paint on a canvas, I wonder how I would have reacted to the new wave of colour and depicted light that the Paris artists, Monet, Manet, Degas, Pissarro brought to the nineteenth century exhibitions in France.
It was a totally new thing that caught on very quickly and landscapes, urban scenes of Paris and paintings of entertainers painted with vibrant colour, became the new thing in Paris, no muted blends of neutral colour that people were used to. The light was now in your face, portrayed by colour, not dark and light muted tones. The brush strokes became very loose, a technique adopted by all the impressionists.
This was a revolution in art where one critic said that the work was unfinished and just an impression of the final work.
One of the first works to air in Paris and bring about the new impressionists club was Claude Monet's loose depiction of his home port of Le Havre in the early morning. If you study the painting for a length of time, you can see everything that Monet intended. I have always liked Auguste Renoir and especially the painting below which of course set him from being quite poor to a fairly rich artist, a rare thing in those days. The British artist Afred Sisley, a friend of these two was also able to capture light and was noted for his ability to paint the light coming through trees. I've included another two of Monet's works as I love the light upon the water outside the restaurant La Grenouillere and the loose brush work. I love poppies, so this landscape painted en plein air which these guys were noted for would look great on one of my walls.
POST IMPRESSIONISM, IF YOU LIKE
Actually, I don't like this term. I'm not bothered by it but it does seem to suggest that Impressionism is dead and a new art movement is taking its place. This wasn't the case at the latter part of the nineteenth century. Young Paris painters just tweaked and adjusted the movement to include a bit more detail and naturalism. Foremost of these would be Paul Cezanne whose piece Redeau, Cruchen et Compotier, or Still Life Drapery, Pitcher and Fruit Bowl as it is known in English is my favourite painting from this period.
I don't like Paul Gauguin, the person, nor the accentuated curves he applied to the female form. The island natives are plain horrible.
Here comes the cruncher. How can anyone, in ten years, produce over 2000 pieces of art, of which 860 were oil paintings and then be called one of the greatest artists ever. Mind you, from my point of view I can see how he did it. Not one of his paintings should be considered good because they just are not any good. This was a madman frequently out of his head on drink and drugs, suffering from syphyllis throughout his life and spending large parts of his ten years as an artist in sanitoriums. He was a self harmer. He had hardly any training, more training as a pastor which he became before going back to a childhood obsession with drawing.
I don't believe any of his brushstrokes had any order. They look frantic and unskilled with the medium of oil paint. All his works are childlike and I believe the reason for his insanity is because he couldn't paint. At the time not one person saw in him any talent whatsoever. Until the Emperors Clothes came along and of course the Dutch who needed a gap filling after the Golden Age of Dutch masters.
When he wasn't raving, he did manage to use bright colour to show light, which was a bit controversial at the time. I wouldn't hang any Vincent Van Gogh on my walls. I've stared at them for ages and cannot see anything except the desperation of a poor soul who couldn't paint.
You have a look below and tell me what you see in his three best known works.
MODERNISM or NON REPRESENTATIONAL
When the twentieth century came along artists were turning to non representational art, ie the subject was not defined by natural objects. This type of art was broken down into many movements. The three most common probably being fauvism, cubism and surrealism, all of which were were represented by Pablo Picasso. I bet more people recognise painters names from the Renaissance period than they do the twentieth century. Funny that.
I won't even discuss Dadaism as I believe it to be utter nonsense brought about by left wing layabouts.
As I said before, this isn't an art history paper but I need to give a little background to explain my likes and dislikes.
I like some of Picasso but I don't necessarily know why. When I was first introduced to art by good friends Keith Milow and Peter Bavistok, cubism featured heavily in my mind and the work of Jackson Pollock.
I like Picasso's works Woman Playing Guitar or Mandolin and Girl With a Mandolin, both early works. I do not like his most famous large canvas Guernica. Where would you hang such a thing ?
With Jackson Pollock, again I wasn't sure why I liked works such as Mural and No 5. Perhaps it was because, although they did not represent objects in life, they had form and structure and actually were good to study. How he managed this when he was pissed most of the time is beyond me. A lot of modern artists drip and splash paint about but they can never reach the abstraction with form that Pollock did.
David Hockney is very difficult to pin down. He has been everything to all things in his landscape and portrait art. Not sure if I like his portraits but I do love his landscapes, especially the huge ones, when they are closer to representation than his abstract.
POSTMODERNISM & YOUNG BRITISH ARTISTS
With how I started this portfolio it should come as no surprise that there are no favoured artists nor pieces of work that I enjoy from either postmodernism, which is far too complicated a subject for my poor mind to unravel, nor the Young British Artists movement. You can keep Damien Hirst and his fish tank with the extraordinary name and Tracey Emin with her unnmade bed and discusting pieces of body parts.
I'm not saying anybody can reproduce these pieces. You need a lot of money which of course is sloshing about in the art world today. Damien Hirst is worth about £200million. What must his sponsor Saatchi get out of it ?
Also you need to have been schooled at Goldsmiths or the Royal College of Art.
During this period, which I grew up in, I became less fascinated with oil on canvas or watercolour which I most liked to paint with and became more interested in photography, design and architecture.
FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHY, ART PHOTOGRAPHY, ARTISTIC PHOTOGRAPHY.
Now, all the above phrases mean the same thing. Don't argue, they do !
Regarding my take on fine art or just art photography I believe the nearest explanation to how I feel is from the Art & Architecture Thesaurus - the photography is aesthetic, as distinguished from scientific, commercial or journalistic.
It has been called " salable " but isn't all photography salable and it has been called " camera club " photography. Maybe, but that doesn't tell us the whole story as some camera clubs may use commercial photography for their competitions.
Fine Art photography took a while to be recognised as such in the UK. Some say it took until the 1960s until photography was recognised as an art. I wouldn't argue with that, even though fine art photography was being exhibited since the turn of the twentieth century.
Nude photography featured heavily during the 60s and 70s but for me, the one man who did the most for photography as an art was the American landscape photographer Ansel Adams. Some of his photographs of the American landscape, primarily Yellowstone and Yosemite, are simply stunning. No photoshop then. All done " in camera ".
One of Ansel's contemporaries was Edward Weston. Fantastic photographer.
Another great photographer who sees art in wildlife is the well named American Art Wolfe. He has published some great books.
One of the first photographers to champion the movement toward photography as an art and not a craft was Alfred Stieglitz. His photograph The Steerage taken in 1907 has been called the greatest photograph of all time by people who know what they are talking about. I like it. I wish I had taken it.
Moving to the present, I love the work of Laura Zalenga. Not all of her work, but I find most of it inspirational.
For me the photographer who has most influenced photographers today is Michael Kenna. Some of his black and white shots are truly awesome.
Laura Zalenga. From a wonderful morning in Kauai with Anthony.