Archive for November, 2010


Whats most funny about this blog post is the fact that I had to look up the word ‘contemporary’ in the dictionary. I have gone through life reading this word on numerous publishes and artwork, but never really knew what it meant. Well, passing the knowledge on, it means “of the same era”.
The non western artist that I am blogging about is Senegalese, Fode Camara from the 1980’s and early 90’s. During this time, his work had been whispered throughout Europe and Africa, however in 2001, he was first featured in a American art gallery in New York. The first painting that you see is called, “Ya Bon #IV”. It is a beautiful and bold acrylic on canvas painting. Its vivid reds, oranges, and yellow remind me of fire. The man in the picture is a rather robust man who is definitely large and powerful. He wears a seemingly fashionable hat and devilish smile. Maybe the smile seems devilish because of the hot colors Camara used as well as the shadows created in the face of the man.
The second painting of Camara shown in the blog is called, “Witnesses Passing in Turn”. This painting is also acrylic on canvas, and also continues to follow the artist’s abstract expressionistic style. This is my favorite painting of Camara because it is so mysterious. He continues to use his bold and rich colors to make a statement, but what statement? The canvas is divided into three sections. The five hands or maybe witnesses are spread over two of the three sections. These hands are also lined up against a white background. The most interesting hand is off on his own, surrounded by the color red. Has he committed some kind of crime? I also wonder what the black section of the painting represent.
Camara is a great thinker and abstract painter. I hope to see more of his work in the next century.

Sorry this took so long, I’m the worst student of all time when under stress.

Still-Life with Dead Game, Fruits, and Vegetables in a Market
Frans Snyders, 1614
Oil on canvas, 212 x 308 cm

This has always been one of my favorite paintings at the Art Institute. Every time I visit, I make a point to stop by and see it. I just feel that in terms of being influential, it carries the same style that I always try to incorporate into my photographs. I really like busy scenes, and not just as in a bustling French marketplace on a nice morning, I mean like this painting. A fairly overlooked scene in real life usually has so much going on. What strikes me about this artwork has always been three specific things. The first thing is that I love the rich tones of the paint. Look at the blue in the pheasant (or whatever bird it may actually be, I don’t know, I’m not a bird expert). It plays so nicely off of the red of the man and the chickens at the bottom. The second thing his how much the man who slaughtered all of these animals looks like Santa. It has always seemed like a really snarky anti-PETA advertisement. I have always loved Santa’s pose. It’s like he’s saying, “Howdy do, young Frans, how are you this nice morning? Oh you want to paint me? How do I pose, like this?” The third thing is how beautiful the dead swan is (or really any of the animals for that matter). They’re all so delicately posed, like they’re barely lifeless.
Also, if you notice, there’s a little boy pick-pocketing Santa. And also, there’s a cat hiding somewhere. This is all relevant to how much I enjoy the “busy” aspect of this painting.
The scale of the painting also helps. It’s so lifelike because it is so huge. It’s about 7×10 feet, and when you walk right up to it, it’s just about real size relevant to you, as in, Santa is life size.
In terms of interpretation of the work, I cannot really give one. It does happen to be a pretty straight-forward painting, just with a lot of Easter eggs. I don’t think the painting is speaking to the audience as a social commentary about meat and game and how we eat too much as a society and how cruel it is to slaughter all of these animals for our personal comfort. I really do just think it’s a painting illustrating the subtle beauty of a random marketplace tabletop on a random day in a random town. But that’s how I view it. In a cheesy way, it reminds me of my admission paper I wrote to get into this school. It was a long time ago, but I basically wrote my paper about the concept of when to “push the shutter” (I’m a photography major) and how that can make or break an image. This painting illustrates that for me, that being a true artist isn’t about knowing how to paint and knowing about perspective (although I’m sure that helps), it’s really about knowing when to capture an image in time.


Sunil Das is an expressionist painter from Calcutta, India. He is most famous for his painting series on bulls, as seen posted above. Honestly, I was just researching artists from non-western culture because I realized there wasn’t a whole lot of Japanese or African art that really interested me and I just happened to stumble upon Das. I have always really loved Indian art as a whole, but no specific artist, just the colorful complexity of Indian paintings has always drawn me in. But there’s something about the simplicity of these paintings. I have always been attracted to bold colors and strange and sketchy looking drawings. The horse painting I find very creepy, actually. It reminds me of the cover and illustrations by Stephen Gammell. of that ghost story book that we all had or at least saw when we were younger, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Here are some images below from those books.

The most interesting sculpture that I discovered at the Chicago Art Institute was that of the Italian artist, Christoforo Stati called “Samson and the Lion”. It is made of marble and  was finished around the year 1607. Stati trained in Florence in the 1500’s and some books note him as a more Mannerist styled artist because he trained with artists like Giambologna and Bartolomeo, however I think he had a specific naturalism to his work that was undeniable.

The story is said to be that in 1601 the Duke of Lerma wanted to add a twin sculpture for Giambologna’s, “Samson and the Philistine” sculpture. Giambologna was unavailable to work and the task fell to Stati. The High Renaissance era was almost over and the Baroque way of doing things were on the rise. The statue is a huge sculpture that stands at least 6 feet high. The theme of the statue does agree with the more heroic side of European art like the “David” sculptures. Samson and the Lion is a bible story in which Samson is blessed by God with inhuman strength and powers. He is attacked by a lion and effortlessly rips the Lion’s jaw out. Samson is so amazed, he keeps this incident a secret and eventually conquers an entire People.

The sculpture is beautiful. The sculpture eludes naturalism, as it can be viewed from either direction, as if in complete action. The feet and legs of Samson are very strong and positioned so well, it looks like it could be easily duplicated by passersby. The way its arms are positioned perfectly while holding the lion is amazing. Stati may have had someone pose for this statue, or maybe not sense a Lion is not easily held by anyone!! Either way, Stati did a great job of replicating how Samson’s body and the Lion’s body could have looked during the actual fight. The chest of Samson is so realistic; that the dent in the chest, along with Samson’s neck and the way his mouth is carved, is classic Baroque style of kinetic energy being imposed upon the audience.

What is also noting to me is how Stati was still able to bring a classical element to this more theatrical work. Even though it is moving and “real”, it does have a sense of beauty in regards to the body muscles on Samson and also the Lion. This sculpture is a good sculpture to recognize as one of the artworks that linked the High Renaissance and the Baroque era.