SEEING THE LANDSCAPES OF THE MIND
An English-style feast of painting has kicked off in Beijing.
The National Art Museum of China (Namoc)—international Exchange Exhibition Series: Landscapes of the Mind–
Masterpieces from Tate Britain (1700-1980) has been attracting painting lovers to the to part museum in Beijing. The area from the chalky grasslands in the Scottish Highlands to the southern England countryside is abundant with varied natural landscapes. The rapid industrialisation in the 18th and 19th centuries caused anxiety after deeply altering the rural, pastoral environment. There is a correlation between aristocratic identity and classical culture. The landscape of the Roman plains is an example. The great influence of nature and moral and spiritual truths behind appearances are also a theme in art that can be revealed through meticulous observation.the current appealing exhibition appeals to Beijingers for many reasons.
These eternal works bring joy and inspiration, which cannot necessarily be captured in the analysis of history. Works with long-lasting significance are not just exhibits at an exhibition.
Art often touches the heart. It can often extend beyond a piece itself and resonate in other ways. Appreciating exhibitions, watching movies and reading books is refreshing amidst the hustle and bustle of modern life.
The Scottish Highlands and the Welsh Mountains, the vast fields of East Anglia... Poetic paintings represent moments that British landscapes that have been frozen in time at their best. The delicate brushstrokes of classic works such as “Contemplation” and “Norwich Market” encompass pastoral British beauty. Turner's and Constable's masterpieces feature unique inspiration. Modern English landscape paintings are often invigorating.
From September to November this year, the National Art Museum of China and the Tate Britain are jointly hosting the “NAMOC International Exchange Exhibition Series: Landscapes of the Mind–masterpieces from Tate Britain (1700-1980)” at the NAMOC. The exhibition features nearly 70 British landscape paintings from the 18th century, including oil paintings, watercolours and others, as well as a variety of styles and eras from the traditional to the modern, including the works of famous painters such as Gainsborough, Turner, Constable, Thomas Girtin, Cozens father and son, Pre-raphaelite Millais, as well as impressionist, surrealist and modernist avant-garde painters. Beginning with traditional 18th century geographical paintings and classical paintings, the exhibition features works from the classical to the modern and from the specific to the multicultural over three hundred years.
Tate Britain was the first of the four Tate museums in the UK. It is famous for collecting and displaying British paintings and modern art from various countries since the 15th century. Landscapes have always been a major contributor to visual arts in the UK. World-renowned artists including
Thomas Gainsborough, George Stubbs and Joseph Mallord William Turner are the crème de la crème in landscape painting. Their landscape paintings underscore the projection of the inner world of human beings into nature, which is similar to the aspirations and interests of traditional Chinese landscape painters. At first, however, landscapes only appeared as backgrounds for portraits. It was not until about 1700 that people began to take interest in the landscape itself as a subject. Landscapes may be created purely from one's imagination or may depict a real area. By the 18th century, landscape paintings had shaken the dominance of portraiture in British art since the 16th century. From small watercolours to huge oil paintings on canvas, people's interest in landscapes began to increase.
Some artists left their families for a while to travel around the UK and Europe. They painted landscapes at home and abroad based on their travel experiences and brought landscape paintings to the people around them. In the 19th century, the British Empire continued to expand, and people began to cast their curious eyes to India and beyond. The scenery that was depicted on canvas was rich and varied. Local British landscapes, and especially scenery in towns, is most interesting to artists and buyers and has become an ongoing theme.
By the 20th century, British landscape art had experienced continuous changes, which empowered it with vitality and unexpected new possibilities.
Gazing and Dreaming
Depicting the scenery of a specific place and creating ideal scenery using one's mind: British landscape art is based on these two methods.
Driven by the scientific revolution in the 17th century, artists began to depict the natural world in detail. Drifting clouds, scattered stones, flowers and trees were captured by painters. Dutch artist Jan Siberechts (1627–1700) spent his artistic career in the UK and pioneered this form of expression.
The exhibition at the NAMOC features “Landscape with Rainbow, Henley-on-thames,” which was painted by Jan Siberechts around 1690. The Thames is regarded by the British as their most important river. It passes through the centre of London and empties into the North Sea. This painting depicts a busy town on the banks of the Thames. The work may have been commissioned by a local businessman to capture the town's fields, wharf, malt workshops and booming markets. The two rainbows in the painting add a dramatic touch to the work and symbolise growing interest in scientific research of the natural world at the time. In the 1660s, Siberechts brought his landscape art skills to the United Kingdom, which was eager to have its charming scenery captured and to celebrate its prosperity.
George Stubbs was also affected by this trend. He made landscape art that often featured horses. In 1766, Stubbs' book The Anatomy of the Horse was published. He personally painted the fine details of a horse with fine brushstrokes, made etchings and printed them into books. Stubbs had almost monopolised the horse painting market and did business with aristocrats obsessed with breeding horses, racing horses and betting on them.
This is evidenced by his meticulously crafted painting “Otho, with John Larkin up.” Otho is a dark brown male horse who was owned by the Earl of Upper Ossory. In 1767, Otho won several races in the town of Newmarket, Suffolk, the birthplace of thoroughbred horseracing, and gained considerable fame. The painting depicts jockey John Larkin mounted on Otho near a stable. Newmarket is in the background.
At the time that landscape became more common in the British art world, economic and political forces in the UK were expanding rapidly. The painters and art collectors had a sense of pride in the past and present of the country. This pride gives people the impulse to fully depict the country in detail.
Paintings involving landscapes paintings can also depict people in nature. Joseph Wright (17341797) created a painting in which an aristocrat stood near a forest stream. The scenery is redolent of Derbyshire in Central England. He held Dialogues:
Rousseau, Judge of Jean-jacques with his friend the Swiss philosopher JeanJacques Rousseau. The book was published in 1780. The painting depicts Rousseau's views on the harmonious coexistence of man and nature through the relaxed contemplative gesture of the amateur Busby.
As a pioneer of modern British landscape paintings in the 1760s, Wright conducted iconic scientific experiments and created new industrial landscape paintings. His works often feature a violent contrast between light and dark, creating a sense of drama.
The exhibition features such paintings as “A Winding Estuary,” “norwich Market,” “The Rev John Chafy Playing a Cello” and “Boy Driving Cows near a Pool.”
Classicism and Romanticism
Classical landscapes call to mind the works of two great French painters, Claude Lorrain and Nicolas Poussin, who created paintings in Rome in the 17th century. Their works usually adopted Latin and Biblical themes, featuring harmonious composition and profound literary and moral significance. In the 17th and 18th centuries, British tourists brought back samples of many paintings of the two from Italy. These became popular among the upper class like wind blowing through the land.
Richard Wilson skillfully continued the style of Claude Lorrain and Nicolas Poussin when depicting the British landscape and the Roman landscape. People who painted during this period were no longer confined to the use of brushes to reproduce aristocratic British manors, such as Stourhead, and began to explore subjects such as temples and lakes.
Romantic landscape paintings were born at the end of the 18th century. They challenge classic characteristics that focus on balance and aesthetics. Artists as a group generally like challenges. Painters began to rethink everything around them and look for themes that blend with nature. Hazardous natural phenomenon such as storms and earthquakes eventually became common themes in landscape paintings.
Joseph Mallord William Turner is the most outstanding of these painters. The exhibition features “The Fall of an Avalanche in the Grisons.” He utilised extreme asymmetrical composition to express the great power of an avalanche as it rushes down a slope. Turner visited the area in 1802. He may have been inspired by the Grisons avalanche in 1810 though, which claimed the lives of 25 people. Turner depicted the rich texture of the ice and snow in the painting. Standing in front of the painting, one feels the solemn feeling of the great destructive power of nature.
John Martin may have had the most extreme romantic approach. He is celebrated for his Biblically-themed paintings, which depict a world that will be destroyed by the wrath of the God. Although some critics regard his
paintings as vulgar, this does not prevent people from experiencing them.
The exhibition also features
“The Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum,” which was created by John Martin in 1822 and restored in 2011. In 79 AD, the Vesuvius volcano on the coast of Naples seemed to erupt with anger. Herculaneum on the lower slope was covered with lava, and Pompeii to the right was buried. Martin painted the disaster in great detail. Frightened people can be seen running to the ground. Fiery red magma is in the foreground, illuminating the sky, as if hearing the lightning and thunder above.
“Chain Pier, Brighton,” which was painted by John Constable, cools the eyes after having seen hot magma. Brighton is a resort on the south coast of the UK. It became popular under the influence of George IV in the early 19th century. The perspective in the painting follows the beach and extends into the distance. The left side of the painting features the seaside promenade. The Chain Pier that was built in 1823 is located directly ahead. Modern leisure and traditional fishing activities are occurring under the vast and dark sky, forming a stark contrast. Everything seems busy but orderly.
It is said that this kind of scenario can fascinate painters but may cause them to be world-weary. This painting differs in subject from most of Constable's paintings. He only went to Brighton because he accompanied his wife who was ill. He preferred painting the scenery of the British mainland, especially landscapes in his hometown Essex and Suffolk. When he depicts the scenes he loves, his brush strokes feel different.
Late Modern Landscape Paintings
Landscape paintings record people's evolving views of nature. They emerged and developed in the Middle Ages and have become part of humanity's relationship with nature. In the 1950s and 1960s, many British artists quickly changed their landscape paintings in response to dazzling changes in European and American art.
Peter Lanyon used the large scale and dynamic painting techniques of abstract expressionism to depict the natural landscapes in his home county of Cornwall. The painting has a subtle mood and depicts his love of the county. Many of his works are inspired by the experience of gliding sports. The dynamic characters inject movement and vitality into his landscape paintings.
In Mark Boyle's original works, the influence of conceptual art can be seen. He mastered a mysterious technique that accurately portrays London's sidewalks. While he was busy with this method, artists such as Richard Long and John Hilliard abandoned painting and used photography and text to present their thoughts about landscapes.
Long had a whimsical mind and made sculptures using materials such as wood and stone that he collected during his travels around the world. Unprecedented innovation has a refreshing feel. Many artists continue to use traditional methods to express traditional themes though. One example is “An English Oak Tree,” which is an oil painting that was created by Stephen Mckenna.
British artists continue to create landscape paintings. They have varied subjects, and their paintings are done in different styles. They are creating a new chapter in the history of British landscape art.
Artists can capture and depict specific moments and condense eternal feelings.
Movie directors combine a variety of artistic languages. History is captured in some of the old movies that have been made. A moment in time can be preserved. Interpretations of art may change as time passes. Some of these ideas are related to the following movies.
Girl with a Pearl Earring Soft Light in the Dark
The alluring Scarlett Johansson performed roles of grown-up women when she was less than 20 years old. In the movie Girl with a Pearl Earring, she stars as a young girl named Griet, who is a maid at the home of the painter Johannes Vermeer. Vermeer lives with his wife and mother-in-law. They are often arrogant and create a harsh and oppressive atmosphere. Griet had to bow and scrape before them.
Vermeer's paintings bring a bit of fun to Griet's life. She talked to Vermeer about ideas related to painting and the two developed a rapport. Griet knew that there would be no major outcome to this arrangement, but she was willing to serve as a model for him. She silently endured Vermeer piercing her ear, placing his wife's pearl earring into it and painting the beauty of the moment.
The story and characters are a little weak in the movie, but a lot of details about the life of the painter are portrayed. The texture and colour of oil paintings in the film are interesting also. People who watch the movie have a similar feeling as people who observe the painting of the same name by 17th century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer in 1665.
The original painting depicts a girl wearing brown clothes and a yellow and blue headscarf, with outstanding demeanor. She has a calm and unhurried expression, wishing to speak but stopping on second thought. The expression on her small face is impalpably subtle and melancholy. The picture features an all-black background, highlighting the outline of the girl. Aglance to the side is a glimmer of candlelight, quiet and gentle. The earring in the film is like the teardrop-shaped pearl earring worn on the girl's left ear in the painting. Pearls often symbolise chastity in Vermeer's paintings.
The era in which the painting was created provides back story in the film. The mid-17th century was a special period in which Dutch culture and art gradually lost its cultural characteristics. People also became more democratic and freer to a greater extent under the emerging capitalist system of the Netherlands during this period. Art rid itself of the shackles of religion and the court became open to secular life. The emerging bourgeoise bought a wealth of oil paintings in a show of conspicuous consumption and to beautify their living environments. At this time, painters no longer paid attention to major social themes but instead turned their eyes to depicting the details of life. This happened to cater to the aesthetic tastes of the bourgeoisie and the civic class. “Small Dutch paintings” came into being in such an atmosphere. Vermeer is one of the representatives of this school. “Girl with a Pearl Earring” was created during this time. It is said that the heroine in the picture is his first daughter Maria. She was only 14 years at the time and was a model.
Camille Claudel Timeless Love
In the film Camille Claudel, French actor Gérard Depardieu (1948–present) stars as the world-renowned sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840–1917), creator of the sculpture “The Thinker.“Whenever Rodin is mentioned, people would admire both his artistic talent as well as his lover Camille Claudel (1864–1943, a French sculptor), who played an essential role in his art and personal life and is played by Isabelle Adjani (1955–present) in the film.
Camille, Rodin's most capable student and assistant, had unimaginable natural gifts and passion in such a tiny figure, with some even believing that she was more testosterone-filled than Rodin himself. Yet, when Camille channelled her love of sculpture into Rodin and became his lover, she became more feminine. Their crazy yet passionate love hurt Camille, who was tortured emotionally for 30 years and faced a life of suffering and difficulties.
Camille's life and artistic talent was overshadowed by the renowned Rodin, and thus her work has been unfairly neglected. Yet it cannot be doubted that she was incredibly gifted. A bust of Rodin, created by Camille from memory, is considered the finest bust of the artist and is an unreproducible treasure created from their deep love. The years Rodin spent with Camille were the most productive period throughout his long life. During that time, his works reached a higher level, as evidenced by his most famous work: “The Thinker.“
Some argue that the film Camille Claudel reveals the other side of Rodin, namely his selfishness, irresponsibility and even vulgarity, although despite this, he tries his best to help Camille and her family. In the film, Camille's brother, Paul Claudel (1868–1955, a French poet, dramatist and diplomat) is able to join the Ministry of Foreign Affairs thanks to Rodin's help. Paul later becomes a famous poet and playwright of the Postromanticism period, works as the French Ambassador to Japan and stays in China for 14 years—all because of Rodin.
Rodin bridged both Romanticism and Modernism. In his book L'art, he cites a poem by Victor Hugo (1802– 1885), stating “women's muscle is an ideal clay, it is a miracle.” Considering the artistic skill of Rodin, it is possible to gain a deeper understanding of these words after watching the film Camille Claudel.
Caravaggio Blending Reality and Fantasy
Italian painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571–1610) was born in Caravaggio Village in Italy's Lombardia region, a place which became famous because of him. When people think of Caravaggio, a pioneer of Baroque art, they often will think of Dionysus holding a basket of ripe fruit or David holding the head of Goliath in his hands. On one hand, he loved to paint male models and on the other, he killed a man to take revenge on a prostitute; he loved filthy reality but also depicted noble, sacred scenes. He lived a full life, was looked on favourably by sponsors and the art world, but he never escaped his image of being homosexual, violent, murderous and an outlaw and died alone in his 30s.
British avant-garde director Derek Jarman (1942–1994) was also a painter. Out of reverence for and interest in the life of this great artist, he directed the biographical film Caravaggio in 1986. The film highlights the crazy side of Caravaggio and also records several irrational episodes from his life in a somewhat exaggerated manner.
Derek Jarman was very familiar with the life and works of Caravaggio. For this reason, he was able to design the structure of the film easily, use various materials freely, and play with time and space, to make audiences think deeply as they watched the movie. At the beginning of the film, the director uses interlaced narrative with caution, presenting the episodic memories of a dying Caravaggio along with his short, turbulent life through montage. The oil painting-like pictures present scenes of many of his famous works, followed by the director's unrestrained stream of consciousness, with idiosyncratic touches such as a calculator, car horn and typewriter appearing randomly.
With a unique theme, the film represents the director's deep understanding of sex, crime and art, thus bringing a fresh perspective. Using various “tricks,” the director successfully combines film and painting with the
most important elements in Caravaggio's life, thereby narrating how he lived. By telling Caravaggio's story, Derek Jarman was actually shouting about his own short yet turbulent life as a gay man. As one of the biggest grossing films of 1986 in Britain, the film also won the Silver Bear for outstanding single achievement at the Berlin International Film Festival in the same year.
Mr. Turner Understanding Light
Famous English Romantic painter William Turner (1775–1851) was billed as a “painter of light” and the “Shakespeare of landscape painting.” Showing a talent for drawing at the young age of 10, Turner later entered the Royal Academy of Arts for professional training. He shot to fame with his first oil painting ”Fishermen at Sea” and soon emerged as a key leader in British art circles. When he was just 26, he was admitted by the Royal Academy of Arts as its youngest ever member. In his later years, especially after the 1840s, Turner devoted himself to the exploration of forms and colours. He used food materials, saliva and other unimaginable pigments in his paintings, even struggling to get up and copy a painting of a female corpse whilst lying on his deathbed.
The film Mr. Turner begins in 1826, when Turner was already 51. No one knows exactly how the artist looked and character actor Timothy Spall (1957– present) portrays Turner as a grumpy, sullen old man with a chaotic private life. Spall builds the eccentric character of the painter with well-designed mumble, snore and bravado.
After Another Year and Secrets and Lies, this is another distinctive film by the English writer and director Mike Leigh (1943–present). Trivial and ordinary life details are brought together to shape a strong sense of drama and destiny, and a quiet narrative is used to shape the characters. Mike Leigh casts his eyes on the simple and even solitary personal life of Turner. Behind the around-theclock travel and creation of the artist, we can see his two lovers and his father, who all influenced him greatly.
The greatest success of the film may be that it shows people how Turner grasped “light.” In his works, as his scenes of light become more and more blurred, erratic and indistinct, they show a great power that pierces into people's hearts. In his shots, Mike Leigh deliberately imitates the landscapes and compositions of Turner's works. He also uses moonlit shadows to make for a vague, long-sighted and expansive picture, as well as reveal an unexpected tranquility beneath the fierce winds and clouds, thus reproducing the charm of Turner's works.
In this film, audiences can appreciate the major paintings of Turner, witness his relentless artistic pursuit, and feel his sensitivity and sensibility as an artist. When Turner's father dies, the director uses a simple long shot to express the artist's sorrow and loneliness. He rows a boat on a lake surrounded by forests, with faint mist lingering over the water and lush
flowers and grass on the lakeside, giving the audience a sense of solitude. The use of close-up reflects a concept of Turner's, namely “expressing intense emotion and tragedy through pictures and shadow.”
Séraphine Celestial Paintings
Art is a necessity of life, just like bread, wine or a winter coat. People who see art as a luxury only see part of life—art satisfies spiritual needs, just as food satisfies physical needs. Compared with the protagonists of the films mentioned above, the female housekeeper in Séraphine looks humble, but she is also an artist who grasps the art of light.
The film Séraphine follows the life of a plain-looking, unsociable middle-aged woman called Séraphine Louis, who lives in the town of Senlis near Paris before the First World War. She works as a housekeeper for a Madame Duphot, spending her days cleaning the house and washing clothes. Despite her meager income, she spends everything she earns on painting materials and all her spare time on painting. Wilhelm Uhde, a German art collector and advocate of “naive art,” rents an apartment belonging to Madame Duphot. Impressed by Séraphine's works, Uhde buys all her paintings and encourages her to continue her creation. When the First World War breaks out, Séraphine stays in the town alone and continues to paint. For all the hardships she encounters, she nonetheless maintains her vitality in painting which display a bizarre innocence and reserve in exaggeration. In her works, flowers move like worms and fruit appears like wounded eyes.
Séraphine explains to Uhde why she decided to paint. In 1905, a guardian angel told her in a dream that she should pick up a paintbrush. From then on, her nights are longer than her days. Whenever she picks up a brush, she leaves the “present” and her soul starts to migrate; when painting, she is no longer a housecleaner, but rather a person as noble as Uhde.
French director Martin Provost (1957–present) wrote: “Soon after I saw Séraphine's paintings, I read about the story of her life. Since then, I often imagined her sitting on the floor of her little room and racking her brain mixing pigments, devoting herself to art as if subject to some great power.” The scene made Provost think of Belgian actress Yolande Moreau (1953–present), who played a mime artist in the film Paris, I Love You. Martin believed that he could capture the mystical power that ran through Séraphine's life with the help of the superb acting skills of Yolande Moreau.
A good story, a talented actress and an insightful director, combined with hard work, made the film possible. Finally, Séraphine won the Best Film, Best Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Music Written for a Film, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design and Best Costume Design at the 2009 César Awards in France, and was also nominated for Best Director and Best Sound awards. The greater significance of the film is that it enables audiences to appreciate the power of art, which lifts a person out of the mud of life and gives light to otherwise unromantic lives.
“Fine art,” or more broadly “art,” has an enigmatic charm which most people like to be near to and talk about. Painting, sculpture and all other art forms make excellent subjects for books. The development of art can be summarised into historical episodes and expounded on via the written word. With no colours or sound, words can describe traceable yet infinitely abstract techniques, and capture recognised concepts and unrepeated artistic inspirations.
The History of Western Art
The best way to learn about an artwork is to view it with one's own eyes and compare it with others. It is said that when viewing a piece of art, it is best to stand within five metres of it. One can squint to observe it closely, study it with eyes wide open and experience it with a calm mind, and wait for it to reveal something to you.
However, the most convenient way to learn about art is from books written by experts. The History of Western Art is an excellent choice for anyone interested in the world of art. First published by the China Youth Publishing Group in 1983, the book was written by Chi Ke (1925–2012), a lifetime professor at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts and chairman of the Guangdong Aesthetics Association. Chi Ke begins with the accidental discovery of primitive art, then expounds on the European Renaissance and modern schools of art. In chapters about western masters of fine arts, the author introduces both their life stories and creative endeavour, and also analyses their works from the perspective of their artistic value.
It is impossible for books on art history to fully enhance readers' artistic tastes if they only touch upon thoughts and stories while neglecting artistic techniques. For this reason, the author of this book also discusses techniques and the development of these various techniques. While commenting on these artworks, it is necessary to refer to the opinions of both the creators themselves and western art critics. Therefore, when it comes to explaining artworks or schools, Chi Ke opts to examine the opinions of the artists themselves or contemporary critics, seeking to make the book more persuasive. The artistic accomplishment and aesthetics of an author also affect the selection of opinions.
As a popular book on the history of western fine arts, this work features vivid language and interesting content. It helps readers gain a basic understanding of the development of western fine arts and offers non-experts some basic and necessary knowledge. The book, written in a time when theoretical works on art were not as widely-available as they are today, still retains a special charm.
Auguste Rodin was an outstanding realism sculptor from France. Having started to learn painting at age 14, he took classes from animal sculptor Antoine-louis Barye (1795– 1875) at age 18 and from 1840–70, worked in the studio of famous sculptor AlbertErnest Carrier-belleuse (1824–1887). In 1875, he travelled around Italy and studied the works of Donatello (1386–1466, an Italian sculptor), Ghiberti (1378–1455, a Florentine Italian artist), Michelangelo (1475–1564, an Italian sculptor, painter, architect and poet) and other masters. In this way, he broke away from academia and established an artistic method of realism, transforming the landscape of sculpture. Based on his personal understanding and deep feelings as a sculptor, he used diverse techniques to shape artistic images with vigour and vitality, endowing them with profound psychological concepts and social meaning.
Looking back over Rodin's life, we can see how his works, such as “The Age of
Bronze,““The Gates of Hell,““The Burghers of Calais,““The Thinker,““Monument to Victor Hugo,““Monument to Balzac,““The Kiss“and “Eve“enable viewers to grasp the beauty of art. We can also feel the significant impact Rodin had on the development of sculpture around the world.
In his later years, Rodin looked back over his impressive experiences and achievements and wrote the book
L'art. Starting from “realism in art,” the book include chapters on topics such as: movement in art, sketching and colours, feminine beauty, ancient people and modern people, the ideology and mystery of art, Phidias (480–430 BC, a Greek sculptor, painter, and architect) and Michelangelo, as well as the contributions of various artists. In the book, Rodin expounded on his understanding of general questions related to artistic creation, his opinions on the laws of sculpting and his comments on artists and their creations. Simply put, the book reflects the artistic views and aesthetic thoughts of Rodin.
Thanks to a translation by Fu Lei (19081966, a famous Chinese translator and art critic), Chinese readers can also get access to the knowledge contained in the book.
Twenty Lectures on World Masterpieces of Fine Art
In his youth, Fu Lei had worked in as a teacher of art history in the Shanghai Art Academy. His lecture notes from this period were later revised into a complete book titled Twenty Lectures on World Masterpieces of Fine Art.
The book introduces nearly 20 masters since the Renaissance and their works, such as Giotto (1267–1337, an Italian painter and architect), Donatello, Botticelli (1445–1510, an Italian painter), Da Vinci (1452–1519, an Italian Renaissance polymath), Michelangelo, Raffaello (1483–1520, a sculptor and architect), Bernini (1598–1680, an Italian sculptor and architect), Rembrandt (1606–1669, a Dutch draughtsman, painter and printmaker), Rubens (1577–1640, a Flemish artist), Velázquez (1599–1660, a Spanish painter), Poussin (1594–1665, the leading painter of the French Baroque style), Greuze (1725–1805, a French painter), Diderot (1713–1784, a French philosopher, art critic and writer), Reynolds (1723–1792, an English painter), and Gainsborough (1727–1788, an English portrait and landscape painter). With an easy-tounderstand approach, the author explains different artistic styles and moral qualities combined with thoughts on literature, music, philosophy, society and the times, making the book an interesting read.
In 2007, the Jiangsu Literature and Art Publishing House revised the book and published a collector's edition, featuring high-definition illustrations, printed in full-colour on special paper. In this way, readers can truly feel the art world expressed by Fu Lei.
Lust for Life
There are many artists with unique personalities and difficult life experiences, but Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890, a Dutch Post-impressionist painter) is perhaps the most renowned of such people.
In his youth, Van Gogh got a job as an art dealer for Goupil & Cie through family connections. During that period, he loved reading and the natural landscape and started a correspondence with his brother that lasted his whole life. Later, he became obsessed with religious beliefs and even went to Britain in the hope of becoming a missionary. Yet such a dream was not to be. It was then that Van Gogh found his deep passion for painting, which burned for his entire life. As he once said: “As long as I work hard, I believe there is nothing showing that my paintings are not good. I'm not a person who works slowly and is filled with worries. Painting has become a passion in my life, and I am immersed in it. Nothing is impossible to a willing mind...” In 1882, 29-year-old Vincent van Gogh dreamt that he could achieve something through painting. Finally, he became one of the greatest artists in the world in the 19th century, creating much-loved paintings including ”Sunflowers,” ”Starry Night Over the Rhone” and ”Self-portrait.”
What kind of life did Van Gogh lead in his pursuit of success? American writer Irving Stone (1903–1989) answered this question in the book Lust for Life. Stone was a famous biographical writer who went on to write 25 biographical novels, on such historical and cultural figures as Jack London (an American novelist), Michelangelo, Freud (1856–1939, Austrian neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis), Darwin (1809– 1882, English naturalist, geologist and biologist) and others. Lust for Life was written in 1929 when the author was only 26 years old, and Vincent van Gogh was not wellknown. Stone recorded Van Gogh's love for life through his experiences. He was a man who devoted himself to art, bold innovation and extensive learning, thus forming his unique artistic style and creating works filled with passion and humanism. Irving Stone believed that the most valuable things are not the achievements of renowned figures but the process of their pursuits and explorations. That is why the book highlights Van Gogh's anguish, sorrow, sympathy and hope.
“The Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum (1822),“by John Martin
APPRECIATION FROM A DIFFERENT ANGLE
“Otho, with John Larkin up (1768),“by George Stubbs
“Norwich Market (1809),” by John Sell Cotman
“Portrait of Sir Brooke Boothby (1781),” by Joseph Wright
“The Discarded Tin Ore (1959)” by Peter Lanyon
SEE YOU IN THIS WAY
A scene from the film Girl with a Pearl Earring
A scene from the film Camille Claudel
The poster for the film Caravaggio
A scene from Mr. Turner
A scene from the film Séraphine
CLOSE TO YOU IN THIS WAY