Sunday, March 8, 2015

Inspiration from Munch,Modigliani and Van Gogh

I'm not sure about other artists but I realize that when I paint I subconsciously draw on the works of previousartists.  I know in many studios, young artists were taught to copy the classical paintings, but it may be now that people think of it only as copying someone.  I believe that if a piece of art touches you, makes you feel something, it's a pivotal energy in your subconscious.  So when I go to paint and let the brush and pigments lead me, the result can be a piece that looks like a rip off of a well known artist. sometimes I deliberately use the works of famous artists inspire me, such as Burne-Jones and Waterhouse, knowing that I'll never have the technical skill to paint like them but trying to use some of the effects I observe in their work. But other paintings only end up reminding me of another artist after they're finished.  I have many books on artists that I've found at our local annual library sales over the years.  Nice heavy coffee table books with lots of full color plates that I got really
cheap because they're heavy.
Three of my favorite artists which had a powerful influence on me are Edvard
Munch, Amedeo Modigliani, and Vincent Van Gogh.. Although they're styles and subject matter are very different, they both affect me in some way.  Munch is more of a visceral feeling, whereas I admire Modigliani because of the skin tones of his nudes and I love the long necks. Two of my paintings painted years ago were highly influence on an inner level by these artists. 
For my piece The Red Madonna, I realized later that the tilt of the head, the long neck and even some of the coloring was a similar to Munch's "Madonna" and Modliglian's "Jeanne Harburton with Necklace."  My technique and skill level are very different but it's obvious I was influenced by their works to me, even though at the time I was just trying to paint a red-headed Madonna.  Being brought up as a Catholic as a child and going to Catholic schools, we were Taught, the Madonna. Jesus' mother was who we should pray to as she had great influence over her son. I'm not a Catholic anymore, but a polytheist and Mary is still a strong archetype in my personal mythology.    .
 Another painting, by Munch had a subtle effect on me. "Sunset in Paseo with Karl Johann,"  was a particularly frightening painting to me. Even though there is a crowd,
I felt a feeling of fear and isolation when I first saw it in a book.
While I painted only one figure on a deserted street, the buildings reminded me of Munch's work and the same feeling of isolation was predominant.
Perhaps my subconscious even focused on the dark silhouette of a figure in the background and that's
why in my painting, Alone," I painted the single figure with his back to the viewer.
On the other hand, my painting, "Sleeping on Your Side of the
Bed" was a direct choice to paint my bedroom with a crooked bed after the break up of an important relationship. When  I saw Van Gogh's "Vincent's Bedroom in Arles" I knew I wanted to try and mimic his style and paint my own bedroom just as it was. It was a cathartic experience, the crooked bed representing how wrong if felt to sleep on my ex-lover's side of the bed, alone. While the technique isn't wonderful in this piece it's still one of my favorites after seven or eight years.  The nude on the wall is actually a painting of my ex-lover which
hung in my bedroom at the time. The nude figure looks more like a Munch than anything Van Gogh painted, so I guess I borrowed from all of them.
I'd love to hear from other artists about how you are influenced by artists from the past in either style, subject matter or technique.
I know we're all supposed to be our own person and develop our own style, but I have to wonder, why not be influenced by these people who can touch us over the years and miles through nothing but paint on canvas or wood?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Web Analytics