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Jen’s Art Institute Post (Death of Orpheus by Henri Levy)

1 Nov

At the Chicago Art Institute, Henri Levy Death of Orpheus is a jarring painting without the same direct gore in works of art like other paintings or some horror films. Levy’s limited use of some of color make the painting disturbing and frightening showing the result of a violent murder.

The colors make the painting somber.  The bluish grays make up most of the palette of the painting.  The oil paint makes the picture feel heavy.  The expressive brush strokes give add texture to the painting and reflect the energy of Orpheus’s violent death.   Waves of a river in the painting make it seem as they rush and together and push Orpheus’s head from his body.  Most disturbing about the painting is not a head detached from its body, but the bright red paint that mixes with the river’s waves.  It’s not a very bloody scene.  Levy uses little other colors on his palette.  The small amount of red against the blue and gray tones is abrupt much like the end of Orpheus’s life.  Any more red from Orpheus’s floating head would make the painting have less of an impact.  The gray wall that the painting was on amplified the redness of the thin brushstrokes.  Without using much paint, Levy is able to show the violence of Orpheus’s death.

Orpheus’s head floats flatly on the water, but the purple and blues in the distance adds depth to the painting.  In the distance, the viewers can see Orpheus’s killers running wildly from the scene of the crime. The fuzzy red  and orange colors of the killers signify the violent act the band of killers committed.  The reds and oranges blend into the atmosphere adding soft contrast to the over all grayness painting.  Warmer colors are not as a jarring as the red blood in the water, but they illuminate the antagonists of the story and bring more focus to the foreground and the victim of the murder.

Low flying gulls seem to be the only ones to mourn Orpheus’s death.  They congregated over his floating, still bleeding head. The gray tone of Orpheus’s body shows that all life had left him. The darkness of the painting frames the headless corpse like a coffin.   Exposed Orpheus has no other resting place but the shores of the river.  Even in death, Orpheus has not lost his other worldly light that shines as a halo.  There is a little amount of yellow paint much like the blood, but its effect is just enough to realize that Orpheus was not an ordinary being.  The yellow frames Orpheus’s head as if to preserve his superhuman persona. It shines brightly illuminating the murky water.  In death Orpheus clutches his harp tightly, protecting it from the killers. The gold harp shines like the halo around the floating head.  Orpheus has lost his life, but not his art.

Levy used small amounts of paint to make his painting disturbing.  His use of color heightened the dreadful crime.  The way Levy used his color acted as frames to the story of Orpheus’s death.  Like the small amount red for blood, the amount of yellow and gold paint were meager, but made a large impact on Orpheus’s identity as a superhuman being.  Till his death Orpheus tried to protect his harp; his art.  Orpheus lost his life, but to allow the art to carry on like the waves of the beach shore in the painting.  How far is one willing to go for the arts?  Orpheus lost his life, but the serene look on the floating head may suggest that he would rather the art live on than he.  How could one go on without such an important aspect of his life and character, like his art?  Being super human Orpheus could have saved his self.  Despite the motives of the killers, Orpheus saw a direct threat to his art, and believed it better to preserve it.


Note: The painting in person has more blue overtones than yellow tones from this reproduction from the internet.


Moon Prism Powah Make-up! (Jen’s October Post)

29 Oct

I when I was younger, I would wake up early in the morning to watch Sailor Moon.  It’s magical girl changes and emotional story about fighting for the love and justice was really compelling to a seven year old.  I noticed the cartoon wasn’t from Disney or Warner Bros like Mickey Mouse or Bugs Bunny.   When I was older I found out Sailor Moon was from Japan.

I had been intrigued by the bizarre story lines and stylized comics and cartoons from Japan.   It wasn’t the average super hero in tights stories.  Many of the stories were from Japanese folk lore or everyday life in Japan.  Sailor Moon is a mixture of the story of Japanese moon princess Kaguya Hime and the Greek myth of Daphne and Endymion.  The large eyes, wacky hair styles, and dazzling change sequences add magic and other-worldliness that seem to be missing in some American comics.  As a girl, it was great to see girls doing the  saving the world and not the ones being saved from trouble.   Although she is a fighter, Sailor Moon still had every day girl problems.   To see Sailor Moon have issues with school and boys made her easy to relate too.

Sailor Moon  and anime (cartoons)  like it offered a fantasy far removed from the Marvel Universe or Disney.

Below is the opening to the American version of Sailor Moon from the 90s. All rights belong to Naoko Takeuchi and Toei Animation.

Jen’s September Post (Late Bloomer to Art)

10 Oct

I have always enjoyed making art and art history; however, I never thought of myself as an artist to until I was in high school.  I made doodles and would draw for school like most people.  When I started taking summer classes at the Art Institute in Chicago, and I realized how much I enjoyed drawing and the over all creative process.  Being around the works of from the past only nurtured my new interests.

My class would make a lot of trips to the Art Institute’s collections to see examples of portraits and landscapes.  I had the privilege to frequent the museum for free with the help of my student ID.  I would go to see the impressionist collection and study how the artists would use color.  Looking at the surrealists I could see how they used art to transcend to worlds beyond the present one.

I felt like I was directly learning from the masters.  I was motivated to keep learning.  Today I’m still motivated to look at the works of the past and learn what I can use to better my work.