Still Life Analasys Of Van Beyeren, Gorky, And Wesslemann Essay, Research Paper
Still Life Paper Assignment
In A Roemer with Grapes, a Pewter Plate and a Roll, van Beyeren
depicts a pewter with some grapes on it on a table with a glass of what I see as
wine, and off to the side there is a roll with some sort of topping. My first
thought was that this was a snack/meal for someone of the upper or upper-
middle class. The caption said, however, that this was a painting of an
everyday scene. I can only derive two things: 1) van Beyeren was upper or
upper-middle class 2) people lived in the Netherlands and every body drank
wine and ate “rich” food.
The arrangement of the items is somewhat casual as if the consumer
had to answer the door or some other relatively urgent occurrance. I’m not the
best art anyalist, but it seems that van Beyeren doesn’t do much for spacing.
It looks as if all the items are about to fall off the table. The table has “big”
features (i.e.: large legs, thick wood panels, etc.), however, the table has a
rather shallow appearence. This gives the whole painting shallow space.
It seems as if van Beyeren painted A Roemer with Grapes… quickly. He
used good lighting, shading, etc., but the evident brushsrokes adds a “quick”
effect. It looks like he painted it as fast as the person eating placed his food
down to attend to something else.
Van Beyeren uses dark, earth-tone-style colors (which I believe adds
more to the upper-class feel). There are really no bright or highly contrasting
Van Beyeren uses thick paint and heavy brushtrokes to characterize this
painting. Even though this painting has heavy brushtrokes, it still has an
evident, “finished” quality. The work looks complete, and seems to have
realistic look to it.
Composition with Vegetables by Gorky is a simple painting of a variety of
vegetables on a table with possibly a cutting board. I suppose Gorky painted
these objects because the people to whom she gave this painting to liked
vegetables. Also, I don’t know what the economic implications of the artist or
those of the recievers of the gift, but it could be a picture of the hope of a better
future to come (being able to afford better food). It could also be the opposite.
Gorky could be expressing the fact that they are relatively well-off and she is
showing that she, and/or the recievers, are able to afford the good-life. I feel it
could be the first since the inpending Great Depression was about to start in a
year. In that case the picture could also be a rememberance of better times.
Or, it just could have been an easily accessable subject no matter what
econmic implications or if the recievers liked vegetables or not.
The arrangement of the vegetables is completeley random. Due to the
synthetic cubist style of the picture, any determinable space would be oblivious
to me. Maybe it’s just the style, but it seems that there are several tables,
however, tht smaller rectangular shape on what seems to be the “main” table
looks as if it is a cutting board.
Gorky, possibly due to the synthetic cubist style, makes the vegetables
very distinct. She chooses to use bright colors, the one that the vegetable is
(i.e. purple for the eggplant, red for the tomato, etc.), to make each item distinct
from the others. For instance, you can’t mistake the tomato for an apple. This,
however, is very unlike the rest of the picture (i.e. the table(s)?).
Like I stated, she uses bright colors. There is no evidence of color
variation to create the effect of shading or any other space-creating tactics. The
color is used to distinguish the different vegetables from each other.
Gorky chooses to use thick paints. The surface of the painting seems
rough like she finger-painted it. I figure this because it seems she wouldn’t be
able to get that much paint in each stroke if she tried to use a brush.
Tom Wesselmann’s Drawing 1964 for Still Life Number 42, 1964 was a
very interesting piece to view. It is an almost cartoon-like construction of two
bottles of beer, an orange (?), a radio, and a clock. This piece could be an
example of common objects found in the average American home at that time.
It could also be an example of what could be found in the artist’s house, too. He
might be trying to convey common items which seems to be a theme in all
three works. This could be related to a couple of people listening to a sporting
event while drinking beer, which relates to what I want to discuss next, which
was a popular past-time then as it is now, except with a television instead.
The objects are placed on a shelf just like they would if they were in any
other house. This is sort of odd, however, because most people put their beer
in the refidgerator. This goes for the orange as well. Even though this may be
just a space constraint, but the clock seems a little close to the objects. This
could also be the fact that the shelf just may be placed high. Another thought
about the clock: is it just me or does it look like the clock is mounted on a
window? Space for this piece comes natural. The fact that this piece was
created in three dimensions gives the work a sense of space. Also, kind of
unnecessarily, Wesselmann uses shading to aid this effect.
Wesselmann’s technique for rendering the objects differs greatly from the
other two. The work almost looks cartoon-like. It has a somewhat realistic
appearence, but the objects look sort of “parodied” (for lack of a better term) like
The colors are representavtive of a grey-scale. This sort of gives the work
a 1960’s T.V. feel. He possibly uses this to show the “home-iness” of the work,
which was a prevalent topic of all genres (sit-coms, drama, etc.) of T.V. shows
during that era.
In this piece, Wesselmann uses a combination of glass, metal, wood,
and clock parts create this work. It is a three-dimensional construction, unlike
the paintings done by the other two artists. The finish is flat due to the use of
flat paint and charcoal. The techniqe is unique to the other two works mainly
due to the fact it’s not a painting.
All of the works display some sort of food. More specifically, all the works
contain fruit (van Beyeren: grapes, Gorky: lemons, limes, and more,
Wesselamann: an orange). The Wesselmann and Gorky pieces seem to be
similar due to the fact that they seem to display the food in a more middle class
setting (that’s just how I viewed Gorky’s piece, I couldn’t tell from the picture
otherwise), while van Beyeren seemed to display his work as a more upper-
middle to upper class setting. The Wesselmann and van Beyeren pieces,
however, both display some kind of beverage, more specifically, an alcoholic
beverage, while the Gorky piece displayed only food.
All of the works are similar in their arrangement of the forms. Each of the
still-lifes present a casual layout. None of the works show any type of obvious
structure of the arrangement of the items. The Wesselmann and van Beyeren
pieces share a common thread in the effect of the space. Both works display
some sort of depth, even though the van Beyeren piece is a little shallow. I’m
not an expert on synthetic cubist art, but it appears as if Gorky doesn’t even
consider adding space in her work. It’s pretty much an over-head view.
Each work has its objects rendered in its own unique way due to the
different styles of each of the individual artists. The only two that are anywhere
close to similar are the works by van Beyeren and Gorky, because van Beyeren
and Gorky both used relatively large, evident brushstrokes; traits that wouldn’t
apply to the Wesslemann piece, obviously.
Each work displays a different array of colors. The van Beyeren piece
uses dark, earth-tones. This is quite different than Gorky’s use of vibrant, stark
(as in no color variation to distinguish shading, etc.) colors. Wesselmann’s
complete lack of all color alienates this piece from the other two. The purposes
of the artists differed because of the changes in society that have occured since
the 1600’s until the twentieth century.
The materials differed over time. The Gorky and van Beyeren pieces only
differed in the surface they painted on. The Wesselman piece, well, is pretty
much self-explanitory. The finish of the paintings is relatively shiney while
Wesslemann, possisbly by default (altough he could have used a gloss paint),
chooses a flat finish. Each of the techniques differ a lot. While van Beyeren
uses a naturalistic technique, while Gorky’s synthetic-cubist style is far from
naturalistic. Wesselemann’s technique, however, is reminiscent of a cartoonist.
In the paintings, I’m going to exclude Wesslemann in this one, the surfaces
differ. The van Beyeren piece sports a smooth surface despite the evident
brushtrokes. Gorky’s piece has a rough surface probably due to the possible
finger painting of the piece.
Still life subjects, at least in examples, have not changed much. The
different times brought different styles to the subjects, however. This is due to
the changes in people’s perceptions of fine art.