Liberal Arts Blog — The Color of Morning: Red Sun (Monet), Yellow-Gold Sun (Van Gogh), White Fabric (Munch)
Liberal Arts Blog — Friday is the Joy of Art, Architecture, Design, Film, and All Things Visual Day
Today’s Topic — The Color of Morning: Red Sun (Monet), Yellow-Gold Sun (Van Gogh), White Fabric (Munch)
Have you ever parted heavy, embroidered drapes only to be blinded by the morning light? Or creaky, rusty, metal shutters? Or rotted wooden ones with the paint peeling? In my memory the light is blinding white. Today, three paintings that capture the magic of morning — one by Munch, another by Monet, another by Van Gogh (I’m cheating here, this is a painting of the setting sun but honestly, what’s the difference?). Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
PS: What does all this have to do with Benjamin Franklin? Read on to find out.
EDVARD MUNCH: MORNING, 1884 — made a new friend yesterday and this is the painting that has most haunted her for the last many decades, I had never heard of it, so I decided to check it out
1. “Morning (1884), which Munch originally named A Servant Girl, is generally accepted as being his first important work. Inevitably influenced by Krohg, it shows an innovative use of light which may have been inspired by Impressionism, which was a hot topic in artistic circles at the time.”
2. “Although Munch’s painting was recognized early, and one of his paintings included in the World Exhibition in 1885, when that work was exhibited in Oslo it was damned by the Norwegian critics, and Munch became branded ‘the painter of ugly things’ by the press. Despite that, Morning (1884) was included in the Norwegian pavilion at the Exposition Universelle in Paris five years later.”
3. “The bed is whitish, and there are white sheets, a white nightgown, a bedside table draped in white, white curtains, and a blue wall. It’s the effects of the color. I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to do this because it’s very difficult, but I’m hoping for the best.” (Munch letter to “friend and artist Olav Paulsen).
NB: The model was a 16 year old girl, the daughter of “a skilled worker.” Her mother chaperoned her. “I don’t know if I can use it for an exhibition. Perhaps.” (a letter to his aunt)
IMPRESSION, SUNRISE (1872) — in the Musee Marmottan in Paris, painting of seaport of Le Havre (his hometown)
1. One of the most famous paintings in all of art history.
2. Shown at the first exhibition of Impressionists in 1874 in the studio of photographer Nadar (pseudonym for Gaspard-Felix Tournachon). Thirty artists were in the exhibit including Renoir, DeGas, Pissarro, and Morisot. Notably absent were Manet and Jongkind.
3. “Monet visited his hometown of Le Havre in 1872 and proceeded to create a series of works depicting the port of Le Havre. The six painted canvases depict the port during different times during the day and different vantage points.”
RISING OR SETTING — WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? Van Gogh’s “Sower with the Setting Sun” (detail, 1888)
1. “Whilst the last members were signing it [i.e., the Constitution] Doct FRANKLIN looking towards the Presidents Chair, at the back of which a rising sun happened to be painted, observed to a few members near him, that Painters had found it difficult to distinguish in their art a rising from a setting sun.” (James Madison notes from Constitutional Convention)
2. “I have said he, often and often in the course of the Session, and the vicissitudes of my hopes and fears as to its issue, looked at that behind the President without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting:”
3. “But now at length I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not a setting Sun.”
NB: The rising sun in the Japanese flag is red. As it is in Monet’s famous painting. But in my experience the rising or setting sun is more often not red than red. It is most often white with yellowish rays shooting out from it. But I have never seen green flashes in the yellow as Van Gogh apparently did. Have you ever seen a green flash? when? where? did you capture it on camera?
So what painting to you best captures the miracle of a new day?
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Please share the coolest thing you learned recently or ever related to art, sculpture, design, architecture, film, or anything visual.
This is your chance to make some one else’s day. And to cement in your own memory something cool or important you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than you otherwise would about something that is close to your heart.