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Formalist and Expressionist Concepts of Art - Essay Example

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Formalist and Expressionist Concepts of Art

Clive Bell argues this point by stating that “to appreciate a work of art we need bring with us nothing from life, no knowledge of its ideas and affairs, no familiarity with its emotions” (cited in Warburton 10) This contention accurately depicts the “art for art’s sake” attitude taken by many artists and art critics subscribing to more formalist frameworks, which eschew the importance of representation and context in art production and art appreciation but judge the value of an art on its coherence, composition, and masterful use of forms. The influence of formalism on artists and their work is particularly evident in the paintings of the old masters. Caravaggio’s fourteenth-century masterpiece “Bacchus,” for instance, which shows the ancient diety as a drunken young man in a reclining pose, is interesting in the formalist sense not because of the artists’ impressive ability for representation but for the manner by which the painting itself draws attention to the contours and shapes of the human body, as well as the contribution of the colors used by Caravaggio to lend warmth, depth, and meaning to his work. In the painting, Caravaggio uses the traditional techniques of portraiture to present to present a well-composed, balanced picture of Bacchus trying to cover his naked torso with drapery while offering a goblet of wine either to the painter or to the painting’s viewers. This is achieved through the use of a color pallete dominated by muted red and green hues that direct the viewer’s attention to Bacchus’ face ....
The influence of formalism on artists and their work is particularly evident in the paintings of the old masters. Caravaggio's fourteenth-century masterpiece "Bacchus," for instance, which shows the ancient diety as a drunken young man in a reclining pose, is interesting in the formalist sense not because of the artists' impressive ability for representation but for the manner by which the painting itself draws attention to the contours and shapes of the human body, as well as the contribution of the colors used by Caravaggio to lend warmth, depth, and meaning to his work. In the painting, Caravaggio uses the traditional techniques of portraiture to present to present a well-composed, balanced picture of Bacchus trying to cover his naked torso with drapery while offering a goblet of wine either to the painter or to the painting's viewers. This is achieved through the use of a color pallete dominated by muted red and green hues that direct the viewer's attention to Bacchus' face and then leads it to the hand offering the goblet. Likewise, Caravaggio uses mostly rounded shapes and contours that heighten the sense of organic, flowing quality of Bacchus' body, the wine, and the drapery. Caravaggio also creates depth by utilizing color techniques to create a sense of space within the painting using contrasts between light and dark colors. It is through the use of these elements that Caravaggio's picture of Bacchus becomes a thing of value in the formalist sense, since it is through the interaction between the forms in the painting that the artists' rendering of the deity evokes aesthetic feelings in the viewer.
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Summary

In the paper “Formalist and Expressionist Concepts of Art” the author examines the influence of two of the most dominant perspectives in art, formalism and expressionism, on both artists and viewers alike as represented in the works of Caravaggio, Eduoard Manet, Barnet Newman, and Norman Rockwell…
Formalist and Expressionist Concepts of Art
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