The agonized face of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” has become one of the most famous pieces of art from the last two hundred years. It reflects the modern condition of the human race entering the 19th century. There is a lot to say about this arresting painting, but apparently, one comment was written directly onto the canvas!
In the upper left corner, if one looks very closely, is writing saying, “Kan Kun være Malet Af en gal Mand!” This translates to “Could only have been painted by a madman.” Presumably, this is a comment by a critic of the painting.
Where Are They Bathing?
This painting, by pointillism master and creator Georges Seurat, is called “Bathers at Asnières,” and it depicts a group of people enjoying a still river on a warm day. At the time it was created, in 1884, it confused many of Seurat’s contemporaries for the timeless feeling it gives the viewer.
But did you know they’ve figured out exactly where the spot being portrayed is? It’s four miles from the center of Paris – not in Asnières, but in Courbevoie, which borders it to the west. Seurat was hardly the only person to set up an easel and paint this idyllic riverside. In fact, many of Seurat’s other better-known paintings also originate from this region.
The Magi Just Love to Adore
The Magi visiting the newborn Jesus has been represented numerous times in artwork by the classic masters, but Sandro Botticelli’s attempt, painted in 1475, has a few interesting details to go over. The first and most obvious is that the scene takes place not in a stable but in the ruins of a classical temple.
This comes from the belief that Christianity rose from the ruins and defeated paganism and could even suggest continuity. This version of the scene also stresses the religious aspect of the event, with hands and bodies posed to reveal devotion, reverence, and contemplation. A true work of art.
Give Us a Smooch
Take a look at Gustav Klimt’s body of work, and you’ll see a recurring number of themes having to do with love and intimacy. His 1907-08 work “The Kiss” is a classic example of this. Who modeled for this touching scene? Well, the main suspects are Klimt himself and his companion Emilie Flöge, a woman who featured in a number of his other paintings.
Some other art scholars believe that the woman depicted was the same model Klimt used for “Woman with Feather Boa,” “Goldfish,” and “Danaë,” known only as “Red Hilda.” Whoever it was, “The Kiss” got Klimt back into the public’s good graces.
Colors and Right Angles
Abstract work might not portray a single event or character, but it still has plenty of artistic merits and can get people thinking. This painting, “Broadway Boogie Woogie” by Piet Mondrian, was done after the artist moved to New York in 1940. But what does it all mean?
Well, Mondrian has gone on record saying that he loved the neat, square buildings of the city, as well as the jazz. He wanted to make something that had a destruction of natural rhythm and soul and continuous opposition to a standard while still bound within constraints – just like jazz or architecture.