Assignment One


My tutor suggested that I keep additional material in a separate section of my blog. I decide to add the extra writing about the Potter work in this section and took it out of the original essay.

In my comments on Tansey’s painting I found and interesting link with work of Potter, but my tutor suggested this could have been omitted and helped to keep the focus on Tansey’s painting. The Potter part could be placed as additional material in a seperate section of the blog – seen as supporting research. I implemented this in my blog – the essay was changed after the Tutor Report I received on 29 September 2018.

I viewed the Potter painting on the website of Mauritshuis and see it is even bigger in size, 2.36 m x 3.39 m, and done in colour. The Royal Collection Trust, website describe Potter’s work as follow: “His life-sized Young Bull (Mauritshuis, The Hague), painted in 1647, when he was only 22announced two distinctive attributes of his art, which can also be seen in this smaller bull of two years later. The first was described by Fromentin: ‘Paul Potter’s extraordinarily exact eye, whose penetrating energy nothing could tire, took in every detail, scrutinized, expressed all too carefully, never became confused, but never ceased work.’ This ‘fixation’ of the eye is offset by the second effect – the creation of luminous skies and a sweep of landscape conveyed within a tiny wedge of background. These characteristics mark a decisive departure from the technique of the tonal school: with strong contrasts of colour and tone rather than subtle transitions.” I read that Fromentin was an artist himself as well as of the first “art critics” to approach the subject of The Old Masters from a personal point of view – being a painter himself. He also puts the work in a social, political and economic context, as the Dutch Golden age painting develops shortly after Holland won its independence. I found this also interesting as Ruskin favoured the Baroque period. The technical quality of Dutch artists was generally high, still mostly following the old medieval system of training by apprenticeship with a master, and I presume something Ruskin favoured in his own school of teaching.

I also looked at Tansey’s work process: To translate these studies into paint, Tansey begins by applying a heavily gessoed ground to the surface. Layer upon layer of paint are successively applied to the canvas to build up a rich surface upon which he carves and swipes away paint with a variety of tools and implements. Through his additive and reductive method he takes on the role of draughtsman, painter and sculptor throughout his creative process. Carefully manipulating the paint,Tansey’s method is similar to Fresco painting, working within the six hour time frame after which point the paint will dry and become unworkable. The subdued palette becomes an exploration of expression within the confines of the single colour of pigment. Tonal values and shading construct the image, as light and texture take on heightened importance.

Looking at Monochrome art I found a chapter in After the end of Art (Danto:154-173) to read more about as my tutor referred to my statement that Tansey’s painting is essentially about art and linking the tradition of underpainting and photographic media to his work. Danto states that his discussion of the monochrome painting should be seen as a model of how to think about criticism, “once we realize that we have to think, however profound the resemblances between works, of their individual histories. We have to explain how the work arrived in the world, and learn to read them in terms of the statements each makes and evaluate them in terms of that statement. The idea I take is that each work should be taken on its own terms, and how adequate its embodies its intended meaning. Here one look at paintings starting from 1915 ( Malevich’s Black Square)

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