Arts and paintings are among the oldest professions, whose history dates before 14th century. They both reflect the social, economic and political occurrences in the society, as well as a certain degree of illusion and creativity. Some of the contemporary artists who have influenced the arts profession include Claude Monet and Jackson Pollock. This paper will compare and contrast two artists using their works water lilies (Claude Monet) and Number 12 (Jackson Pollock) and establish their similarities and differences.
Background of the artists
Oscar Monet (1840-1926) was born in Paris to Claude Monet and Louise Monet. According to Tucker (45), Monet’s family moved from Paris to Normandy, where Oscar grew and studied. Since his young age, Oscar was famed for his love of arts, whereby he largely used charcoal in his caricatures. In Normandy, Oscar met some of the influential artists of his time including Eugene Boudin who influenced him from using charcoal for drawing to oil paints that were more permanent (Genocchio). In addition, he learnt outdoor techniques for painting that ultimately shaped his profession.
In his professional career as a painter, Monet is famed for founding the French impressionist painting that expresses how one perceives his nature and surrounding through painting. In the 1869’s, Monet and other artists met to seek ways of revolutionizing the arts and paintings that existed during the 19th century. According to Genocchio, the first step towards realising this was the formation of an association of sculptors, painters and engravers who exhibited their products independently. This objective was realized in 1874 when the first exhibition was held. Monet is also famed for his impressionism ideology in the painting and artistic work. The ideology of impressionism was first drafted in mid 1870’s during the independent exhibitions displayed by Monet and his allies. This approach also looked at the changing seasons of nature and how it affected the appearance of different objects in the planet. The main aim of the impressionism theory was to free the existing artists and painters from the restrictions of Paris Salon that highly dominated the 19th century arts, drawing and paintings. In the late 1890’s, Monet engaged himself with landscaping painting the water lilies within his neighbourhood in Giverny (Temkin, Lawrence & Monet 21). He largely used the Japanese bridge as the focus point within his painting, though he changed this central element in his subsequent paintings to show different view of the water lilies. In addition to the water lilies painting, some of the other masterpieces of Monet include The Luncheon (1868), the Boulevard des Capucines (1874) and The Orchard.
On the other hand, Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) is a celebrated American painter. He was born in Wyomong to Cody Stella and LeRoy Pollock. He grew up in Tingley, Iowa, where he received most of his education. He was a deep lover of the American culture and values, which is well illustrated in his numerous drawings and painting. Pollock is famed for his abstract expressionist approach. His style largely used drip painting as a technique to painting. Researchers have established that his wife was his main supporter in his professional drawing and painting career. However, he died in 1956 from alcohol related complications. According to Hunt (46), some of the masterpieces from Jackson Pollock include the male and female (1942) that is displayed in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the She-Wolf (1943), The Key (1946), The painting (1948), the mural on Indian red ground (1950) and The Deep (1953).
Despite having a successful painting career, Pollock was faced by a number of controversies. Notably, in the year 2003, about twenty four paintings were found in New York raising a debate if they were authentically Pollock’s. Different approaches have been put in place in resolving this dilemma, notably through the usage of fractals and geometric consistency of the discovered paintings (Robertson 15). However, a thorough analysis of synthetic pigments established that the patenting of the paintings was done in 1980’s raising the query if at all these paintings were done by Pollock. In 2006, a controversial documentary Who the *$&% Is Jackson Pollock? was released. In the documentary, the driver (Teri Horton) bought an artifact in California for five dollars in 1992. This artifact is alleged to be Pollock’s, but the authenticity of this claim is still debatable. That notwithstanding, Pollock remains one of the greatest artists of the 19th century.
Comparison of their arts
Two of greatest masterpieces of the two artists include Water Lilies by Claude Monet and Number 12 by Jackson Pollock. Water lilies artifact was done by Claude Monet in the 1920s. It is based on Monet’s failing vision on the water lilies that he viewed from his house. It represents an individual’s vision and interpretation of the water lilies at that moment ((Temkin, Lawrence & Monet 23). On the other hand, Number 12 by Jackson Pollock represents an apex of his dramatic and unstable life and career. The artifact was completed in the year 1949. The artifact looks at the world from rather unrealistic perspective, since Pollock was undergoing some medical condition as a result of his lifestyle (Robertson 17). The two artifacts have a number of similarities and differences as far as timing was concerned. The two artists did these artifacts at the peak of their profession as painters. Pollock use the Number 12 artifacts in expression his drip art technique of painting, while Monet was at the peak of revolutionizing the traditional approach to the drawing and painting (Hunt 48). As such, the timing of the two artifacts has key influences at both social and economic levels, since they largely influenced the subsequent artists. To illustrate, Pollock’s painting was chosen by US gazebo in the 1950’s during the Venice Biennale exhibition, which had a great and radical impact and effect to the development of European arts in the 1950’s. As such, the socioeconomic impacts and influences of the painting were felt in both US and Europe, which ultimately led to the socioeconomic revolution of the arts.
Further, Pollock’s Number 12 utilizes his magical fluid painting language that employs strong sentiments through drips and meandering lines of enamel paint. This revolutionized the drip painting technology that was largely employed by the upcoming artists. Further, as Robertson (20) notes, this masterpiece is not as big in terms of size as his other artifacts but it is ranked as one of his best and influential pieces of art from political, social and economic points of view. It is also ranked among the most passionate ever made by artists to express his oeuvre during his time. The artifact is, however, largely based on creativity and the viewer is put to task of understanding and explaining what he sees in his own words. Monet, on the other hand, uses shading that vary from light to dark to send his message. Monet creates hazy looks that desist from the utilizing hard edges and colors of similar shade to create a sense of balance and reality. This variance in color (notably green and blue) and the usage of different shading created a form of reality where lilies and water are in harmony and balance with nature, and they feel like a part of each other just the way they appear naturally. The water lilies artifact portrays a realistic point of view of nature. On this basis, the two artifacts are completely different, whereby one of them (number 12) is purely abstract based on creativity and utilization of drip technique of painting, while the second one (water lilies) is based on the real and natural occurrences where different shading and variance in color is used to capture the essence of nature.
The two artist and artifacts also shows the commitment to the cause can help an individual overcome his personal challenges, which is a key social consideration in arts. In addition to representation of nature, Monet’s water lilies artifact portrays perfection in all aspects such as weight, balance and texture. Through the painting, Monet made it possible for the onlookers to create a sense of reality through arts. It is notably that when Monet was working on this artifact, he was at seventies and his vision was not as clear as it was at his younger age. However, he was able to overcome this hurdle and produce a high quality piece of art. Being on of impressionists, Monet’s work is largely inspiring and brings out both the truths and bitter realities of life. Similarly, Pollock was undergoing a number of challenges, most importantly his battle with alcohol addiction. However, this challenge did not hinder him from developing this piece of at using the drip painting technique that was later adopted by other artists and painters (Hunt 49). His story also serves to inspire other individuals undergoing similar stresses and challenges in life; thus, bringing out the social aspect of the artists and their artifacts.
Another point of both convergence and diverse between these two artists is in their methodology to produce their two artifacts. Monet is described as the father of impressionism, where light and juxtaposition of colors is used to create a given form of reality. Monet played a key role in the movement from the conventional approach to painting that was largely abstract to the contemporary one that represented reality using color and shade variances. The approach also involves establishment of a key line or key element within the area under study and realign the whole image or picture on that central or key figure. Further, the artists revolutionized how light and shading can give different perspectives of a painting (Robertson 22). To illustrate, a morning painting of the water lilies could have different shading from an evening or afternoon painting of the same. The impressionism approach helps the individual in connecting the artifact or the paint to the reality. This, unlike abstract expressionism, creates a direct link and relationship that overcomes the problem of misinterpretation of the art. On the other hand, Jackson Pollock is the master of abstract expressionist factionist. Some of the approaches used in executing abstract expressionist include drip and splash style, whereby he allowed paint to drip on the materials he was working on. He would further allow dripping of the paint using knives and sticks to allow variation of color, shade and texture in the image. The artists also used the all over method of paining. Unlike impressionism approach, abstract expressionism is largely based on abstract images and painting and highly relies on the level of creativity of the audience to understand and interpret the art of painting (Robertson 22). To illustrate, Number 12 painting is largely abstract and can be interpreted differently depending on the individual’s point of view.
Both abstract expressionism and impressionism have a number of common factors. Notably, they have a given extent of creativity and imagination that helps in bringing out the exact message that the audience needs to see and understand. For example, the water lilies by Monet use color and shade creatively to bring out the sense of reality. On the other hand, different colors and lines are used by Pollock in his abstract image number 21. Despite the methodology used, creativity is a fundamental component of every artwork in communicating messages to its audience.
The others striking difference between the two pieces of arts is the establishment of focal points in the images. Monet uses the middle part of his image as the focal point to the whole image. It is notable that most of the image seems to originate from the center. Lighter colors are used at this point to create a sense of space within the image, whereby the viewer can establish a distance and interrelationship between the water lilies and the water body within the given painting. This variable also creates a form of texture, where by water have a relatively smother texture while water lilies have a relatively rougher texture. The blurry or fuzzy quality of the painting portrayed the blurriness of vision that Monet experienced when working on this piece of art. However, borrowing from the impressionist school of thought, Monet expressed his feelings and sentiments through the painting. Viewers are able to connect and understand Monet’s mind and feeling through this painting. In contrary, Pollock’s artifact that borrows from drip painting and abstract expressionist school of thought, does not have any point of focus, rather it employs lines of different colors and sizes (Pollock). The painting also utilizes concentration of lines as a way of creating more interest at some points within the painting, drawing more attention at these points. The impressionism school of thought looks at a focal point through which the other elements can fit within the painting, while the abstract or expressionist school of thought uses high concentration of lines or dots to draw attention to specific elements within the drawing or painting (Robertson 24). In some abstract paintings, the sizes of lines or dots may vary to create a sense of concentration at given points within the drawing or painting
It is indubitable that Pollock and Monet were among the most successful and influential artists during their time. Some of their master pieces include Number 21 by Jack Pollock and Water lilies by Claude Monet. These pieces have a number of similarities and differences. Notably, they both present a high level of creativity to yield such paintings. Further, the two artists produced these pieces at the peak of their careers and they influenced the social, economic and political occurrences of their time. Further, they influenced the subsequent artists who borrowed heavily from their methodology and approaches. They are however different in some aspects. First, Pollock’s Number 21 is largely abstract while Monet’s Water lilies is largely real. Further, Monet utilizes a focal point to place different elements within the photograph while Pollock uses different areas of concentration to draw the viewers’ attention. Nonetheless, the two remain amongst the most influential artists of the 19th century.
Genocchio, Benjamin. Inside His Sketchbooks, Clues to Monet. 10 August 2007. 16 March 2014. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/10/arts/design/10mone.html?ref=claudemonet&_r=0. Online
Hunt, Jeremy. Serenade in Blue. Journal of Arts and Architecture, 61 (2), February 2005: 45-50. Print.
Pollock, Jackson. Jackson Pollock: Biography, paintings and quotes. 2011. 16 March 2014. http://www.jackson-pollock.org/index.jsp. Online.
Robertson, Bennict. Jackson Pollock. NY: Mc-Graw Hill Publishers, 1960: 12-25. Print.
Temkin, Ann, Lawrence, Nora and Monet, Claude. Claude Monet: Water Lilies. NY : The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2009 : 21-23. Print.
Tucker, Paul. Monet in the '90s: The Series Paintings. Yale: Yale University Press, 1989 : 45-47. Print.
Image 1: Water lilies by Claude Monet
Image 2: Number 12 by Jack Pollock