Unreal Nature

January 5, 2017

Little Touches of Color

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:34 am

… the bit of blue on the collar, the dark violet and greenish tones in the hair, the blue strokes in the left eye and between the lips, the ochers in the ear and jaw, the long curved file of modeled orange buttons that rise from the ornamental flat orange spots below, and, isolated against the cool greenish background, the dainty bizarre ends of red ribbon.

This is from Vincent Van Gogh by Meyer Schapiro (2003). After a biographical synopsis, Schapiro does close readings of single pictures. Here he’s writing about “La Mouseme”, painted in 1888. Note that the color reproduction of this picture found on the internet are all over the map. I’ve chosen the one that closest matches that found in Schapiro’s book:

vangogh_lamousme1888

This is a most sympathetic portrait in which van Gogh has tried to combine the subtlest painting of nuanced tones in atmosphere and light with his new joyous sentiment of pure color and large, strong contrasts. We see the first quality in the delicate modeling of the face, with little touches of warm and cool tones, with almost imperceptible differences, as in the painting of the upper lip against the surrounding skin, the whole suggesting by its soft transitions and pallor a corresponding feminine quality.

[line break added] The light background toned with a delicately emergent greenness belongs to the same family of color. Against these rare phantom tones sing the intense, abundant stripes and spots of orange, blue, and red, in the costume of the girl. Beautiful are the tempering, more neutral colors of the arches of the chair — the dark pole of the background color.

[line break added] The chair together with the hands breaks up the immensity of the spotted skirt into striking areas whose rhythm continues into the light green area in the lower right — a subdivision in sharpest contrast to the simplicity of the upper body, yet tied to the latter through the curved and alternating stripes of the bodice. The silhouette, as always with van Gogh, is vigorous and interestingly contrived.

[line break added] Many fine little touches of color show his alertness as a composer: the bit of blue on the collar, the dark violet and greenish tones in the hair, the blue strokes in the left eye and between the lips, the ochers in the ear and jaw, the long curved file of modeled orange buttons that rise from the ornamental flat orange spots below, and, isolated against the cool greenish background, the dainty bizarre ends of red ribbon.

My most recent previous post from Schapiro’s book is here.

-Julie

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