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The Visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art - Visual Arts Reflection Paper

Autor:   •  February 8, 2019  •  2,147 Words (9 Pages)  •  74 Views

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When I was wandering around the museum, the compelling atmosphere of the oil-on-canvas painting seizes me by the scruff. The surface of the painting looks like it is liquefied by heat. This piece is The Vision of Saint John, ca.1608-14. It has the dimensions of 87 1/2 x 76in and was painted by the Spanish Renaissance artist, El Greco. This piece is a large fragment of one of three altarpieces El Greco was commissioned to paint in 1608 for the church of the Hospital of Saint John the Baptist. The critics stated that it depicts a passage in the Bible, Revelation (6:9-11) portraying the opening of the Fifth Seal at the end of time and the distribution of white robes to souls of those who have been killed for the word of God. This painting gives a sense that offered spiritual consolation to patients, promising salvation to those who died. When the painting was found later, the top part of the painting was cut away due to the destruction, and this part has never identified.

In this painting, the elongated, ecstatic figure of Saint John is shown in the foreground. He wears a white robe and kneels in prayer on the red drapery. Both of his arms are upraised, and his head turned heavenward to God. Behind him are two groups of naked figures. The three males on the right, seen against a green drapery, are reaching upward to get the white drapery offering by a flying cherub. The group on the left side have two male and two females and is covering their back with a big yellow drapery. Although this piece is for the religious purpose, I think this piece is non-representational and approaches secular ideas. He treated light and space irrationally and separate away from the reality. The spaces are ill-defined, and the distances seemed bizarre. I feel Saint John’s hands are touching the sky. Besides, it seemed that the artist just pushed the paintbrush around to portray the sky with the color of red, white, navy and black. He ignored all the classical balance and proportions and harmonious colors. The clothes of Saint Johns and all the draperies seem to writhe and ripple. Also, the painting seems unfinished. While the face of some figures is perfectly illustrated with proper eyes, nose and mouth, others have faded mouths, hands and chins. This might be the reason why his use of expressive distortions inspired the modern artists, especially Picasso. Its striking treatment of bodies and pictorial space greatly influenced the Les Demoiselles d’Avignon by Picasso who found El Greco as an inspirational source.

My last choice is a textiles tapestry called Hunting with a Hawk (from the Hunting Parks Tapestries) from ca. 1515-35. The name of the creator is unknown, but this work was in the bequest of George Blumenthal. It has the South Netherlandish culture and its overall dimension is 134 1/2 x 95 1/2in. The medium is wool and silk thread. Just by looking at this tapestry, I can immediately know that the owner might be from the wealthy social class. It is enriched with the expensive wool and silk thread. In fact, tapestries at that time were seen often in the castles and churches and provide a form of decoration that could easily be transported. Moreover, tapestry art form was a central component of the magnificence used by powerful leaders to broadcast their wealth and power.

The art style in this tapestry differed markedly from the other art styles I have mentioned. In this piece, there is no linear or atmospheric perspective. The color used in the tapestry are only different shades of green, red, orange and brown. The middle part of the piece was occupied by the circular, enclosed hunting park. The fences are made of pointed wooden stands, each tied by two parallel woods. Metal posts with the ornamental collars are placed outside the fence at regular intervals. The center front entrance has an elaborate ogee arch decorated with leaves. The ground is hilly and covered with grass. Unlike the realistic painting, the ground goes from the bottom to all the way to top part of the tapestry. The hilly landscape also shows a single castle on the upper right. Orange and pear trees grow both inside and outside the parks. I can see that different activities are taking place within and around the park. Inside the park is a young falconer sits astride a horse and upraise his arm to cheer his falcon bringing down a bird. On the left side, another man seems to be ready to play his horn to celebrate the hunt. We can see the does and a duck are staying calmly inside the park even though the hunting is going on. In the foreground, before the entrance, a couple dressed in fashionably wealthy clothing are holding hands and seems to be in deep conversation. On their left side are two men who are drinking and playing an old-fashioned flute respectively. I feel that this tapestry had no religious connotations. It looks like a lovely place set in a garden and filled with pleasant flowers and animal. It shows some of the characteristic rural activities that people of various social stations engaged in.

I spent 2.5 hours by touring around the music. I am so glad that I took an art class this semester because I was able to see the art pieces and also make an interpretation based on the lessons. I got to see beautiful art, learn a lot of new things and spent my Friday night with friends happily.



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