It’s summer everyone, and you know what that means right? Pool parties, vacations and visiting the Dayton Art Institute. That last one might not sound as exciting to some but believe it or not, there’s much you can learn about yourself and about the world around you simply by gazing upon colored oil on a canvas.
As a child, I always loved arts and crafts and being homeschooled allowed me to further explore and master these topics. As I have aged, however, I have gained a certain appreciation for the works of some of the great artists such as Picasso or Michaelangelo.
So during this summer semester, exclusively on the Clarion Website, I will be examining and comparing certain pieces of art. So grab your paintbrush and have a seat, as Claude’s Column presents to you the painting of the week.
Since the start of the summer semester, I have closely studied and admired two rather extraordinary paintings courtesy of the ace of abstract himself, Pablo Picasso.
The two pieces in question are the “Portrait of Olga in the Armchair” from 1917, and the “Seated Woman Holding a Fan” from 1908. Both were painted on an oil canvas by Picasso roughly a decade apart from each other.
At first glance, both pictures appear rather different. The first piece is a representational portrait of Olga Picasso reclining in a flowery recliner.
Like most representational works, it is depicting the woman in a very realistic form as one might have viewed her in the natural world. The flower patterns of the armchair, as well as the red roses upon her dress are all very detailed and rather lifelike.
The second painting, on the other hand, is the “Seated Woman Holding a Fan.” Similar to the previous work, this painting is of a woman in what looks like an armchair holding a fan.
Right away, this painting appears rather contrast to the first one. The colors are fewer yet bolder and the image is quite distorted. The form of the woman, chair and fan are all comprised of simple fragmented shapes.
Like most of Picasso’s art, this is an abstract piece. It depicts our reality in a simple yet complex way.
Despite the massive contrast between the two masterpieces, the two share a couple striking similarities. Both women are reclining in a chair holding a fan. The color and volume of their hair is almost identical. Even the dresses both hanging down exposing each woman’s left shoulder is rather uncanny.
One could almost theorize that these two are the same person simply portrayed through different forms of art offering two different aesthetics.
The first painting is definitely based more in our reality, with its intricate linework, expansive yet tame color pallet and realistic resting position. The second artwork is more or less a funhouse mirror of the first, with few but vibrant colors, more rugged linework and simplistic shapes that paint a complex and compelling image.
Personally, I prefer the “Seated Woman Holding a Fan.” As previously stated, its colors are few, but the few used are brighter and sharper, easily catching one’s eye. This is the kind of painting that I would pause and observe in a museum.
Samuel J. Claude