Realism and Abstract expressionism are two significant periods-styles in art. The periods have different art form in architecture, music, painting, and visual art. Themes reflected ideologies and artistic philosophies in the society. For example, realism art gained influence in the 1800’s, which represented the subject matter in the paintings. It avoids artificial, conventional, supernatural elements common in the previous era of Romanticism. For example, artists portray contemporary situations by incorporating both pleasant and unpleasant aspects of life. On the other hand, abstract art is a visual language that maximizes form, color, and lines. It developed in the 1900’s from the need to create a movement that encompasses occurrences in science and technology. As a result, even though both Realism and Abstract expressionism are two significant periods-styles with different forms of expression, artists expressed social occurrences prevalent at that time.
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The Gleaners is realism painting by Millet. Completed in 1885, it is an oil painting that depicts three peasants gleaning a field after harvest. It is famous for featuring peasant life in rural society and the harsh ways of the French upper class. The women incarnate the rural working class, where Masters allowed them to return to the fields and pick the remains of the harvest for food. Millet shows the women in the three states of motion: bending over, picking, and straightening. Additionally, the light from the setting sun shows the vastness of the ground with sculptural look. For example, the women’s austerity contrasts with the harvest in a distance. Additionally, in the distance, Millet provides a golden haze, accentuating the bucolic expression. He also isolates a man on a horse, probably, a steward. During Millet’s life, the French upper class received the painting with crisis, and it was until his death that it was popular (Boime 123).
Composition VIII by Kandinsky is an abstract style reflecting the utopian experiments of Russian avant-garde. He presents circles, triagles, and linear elements to form a surface of interactive geometrical language. Even though he adopts the geometrical aspects of Constructivism and Supremacist, the interest on abstract expressivism is from the prevailing era of Abstract painting. For example, his work synthesized Russian avant-garde art with abstraction of dynamic composition. Unlike most series of art, the significance of circles in composition VII foreshadows the role of other elements. Other elements resemble physical features, such as mountains and even the sun (Nancy 387).
Both Kandinsky and Millet use colors to create a mood. For example, Kandinsky’s art has a relaxed mood, which probably links to the instruments in the paint. He draws classical music instruments that possess a sense of relaxation to the viewer. Kandinsky enhances the feeling by using pale colors and simple forms. As a result, he avoids complex patterns and erratic schemes, which divert an individual’s focus from the details (MacCoubrey 2). The use of black and white colors imitates a musical score sheet, as well as generates the idea of opera pieces of inspiration (Nancy 387). On the other hand, Millet uses soft brown, warm red, and black and ivory hue in order to depict the emotions in the picture. For example, the light from the sun illuminates a haystack from a distance; it also provides a golden, but blurry color, giving the setting an evening feeling. It also provides a statuesque appearance to the women, while heightening their hands, shoulders, and backs (Boime 123).
It is not clear from Kandinsky’s paintings as to the prevailing social conditions. However, it is a 1923 art-work painted in Germany. Material used includes ink, oil paints, pencil, and watercolors. Additionally, Kandinsky was a teacher when painting and it is a representation of Constructivism and Supremism common in Russian society. As a result, it represents the social occurrence during that time, and also the artist’s opinion of the society (Nancy 387). Millet’s setting was the village of Barbizon in the outskirts of Paris, which attracted Imprressionist. At that time, the life of the rich dominated art, and it was unconventional for it to represent the poor. Millet emphasizes the difference in social standing through the large stacks of wheat, which earn much money to the owner, in comparison with scavenging women, who need food for survival. Secondly, he uses simple language to express intimacy between man and land. The reason was that during that time land was the source of wealth and survival to a man. From the three women, he presents an emotional connection, as they bow. Finally, it depicts Millet’s outgoing and pessimistic personality. For example, he provides an array of social happening common in most rural areas at that time (Boime 124).
Millet’s work is a simple realism painting, which gives a solemnity. He uses horizontal composition, making the figure appear monumental in the foreground. The main characters wear red, blue, and yellow hats with different clothes. As a result, Millet attracted more attention by the use of colors to the women than to the background (MacCoubrey 3). He also uses body postures to show actions. For example, the postures reveal that the women were calm and concentrated, perhaps, due to the tiresome work. Although the faces were not comprehensible, their movements were expressive to tolerance, modesty, and loyalty (Boime 125). On the contrary, Kandinsky shifted the focus from color to creation. His intention was to develop a response to the artistic influence in the society, as well as his passion in music and theosophical theory. The painting is different from the previous series with the form being dominant over the color. Kandinsky emphasizes on the use of lines within the piece, as well as other geometrical shapes. For example, he uses portraits with different features, such as vibrant and contrasting forms to improve the overall mood. The colors are sparse and fit the forms created by the lines. The combination of color and line creates a varying depth within the work (MacCoubrey 2). For example, it provides a layering background of pale blue to the lower part, white in the middle, and pale yellow above.
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