The High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia is replete with a number of highly prized artistic works that vary from classical art as well as modern works which also have the capacity to thrill. The permanent collection is full of wonderful art works from a wide variety of established artists which really merit inspection.
A typical exhibit is ‘The Nativity’ by Francesco Giorgio who hailed from Siena. This work is beautiful and colourful as well as being rather striking in its matter of fact description.
Albert Bierstadt – ‘Pioneers of the Woods’
There is also an exhibition on Albert Bierstadt, a typical plein air artist from California at present with the vast oil painting ‘Pioneers of the Woods’ particularly enthusing. Albert Bierstatdt received her training at the Art institute of Chicago as well as the Cooper Union Art School in New York. His works were usually observed as lacking the use of strong colours but this style changed when he arrived at Laguna Beach as the palette he used brightened up considerably. He painted both in oils and watercolours. As a style, Bierstadt resembles Gaugin and also Renoir in her bold brushwork as well as use of impressionist techniques. Her landscape paintings often turn out to be highly appealing and faithful to the scenery from which they are typically inspired. Although he may be classed as modern, her style is very much in the traditionalist idiom especially in her still life, plein-air technqiues. Description of painting
The painting is full of original touches which demonstrate the originality of the artist’s brushwork. The trees are particularly effective in the sense that they create a sense of haunting beauty with the drooping characteristics and the colourings of the leaves. The vast expanse of the sea is contrasted with the smaller space given to the shore.
Bierstadt’s work is a typically romantic work with a vast canvas featuring a lonely expanse of the sea. The rocks are also very vivid in their characteristically wild depictions. It depicts the voyage of man from childhood to adulthood in a rather powerful way especially with the bold strokes of the sea. An instructive comparison is with Rosa Bonheur’s ‘The Plowing of the Camelia’s’ is quite different in the sense that it portrays a farmer guiding his beasts of burden through heavily ploughed soil. However there is a solitary figure also in the painting which indicates that the person is going through a sort of catharsis in work.
When one compares the brushwork in Cole’s work, it seems that there is an element of rage and anger in the elements which is rather powerful and striking on all counts. The romantic element does seem to be present in both works although there is an earthly sense of realism in Bonheur’s painting as opposed to the almost mythological fantasy in Cole’s. ‘The Voyage of Manhood’ is also rather striking in the sense that the figure of the man is almost tiny when compared with the vast cavern around him which seems to portray the universe as man travails through the stages of life.
Bonheur’s brushwork is also characteristically significant in that he manages to portray that sense of earthliness which is missing from Cole’s work which is quite on the mythological side (Sayre 2006). Both works are different yet they are also strikingly similar in certain aspects.
The artistic movement in this painting is very similar to Impressionism although it is slightly late in the day for that. The brushwork of Bierstadt creates a sense of the French Impressionists such as Renoir and even in some parts Matisse, especially in the expanse of the trees and the sea. The painting creates a heady sense of romanticism although the way the trees are leaning also indicates a beauty which is quite far from the directness of impressionism. Still that is probably the artistic movement which is closest to the artist’s desires.
The painting seems to embody loneliness and an innermost look at oneself especially with regards to the sea. Trees are lonely and drooping and it is almost as if the artist is looking at her own doom as he goes down to the shore to go into the sea forever. It is indeed a powerfully haunting painting demonstrating several aspects of life which has vanihed accordingly into the vast expanse of the blue ocean. The work of Albert Bierstatdt shows a lot of similarities with other artists such as Frank Myers and Paul Grimm which describe similar situations in art. The bold and at times light brushwork are strikingly similar in several cases and demonstrate that the artists are thinking along the same lines. However a typical example of great beauty would be the painting depicting the Lewis and Clark expedition, which most certainly shows the incredible prowess that these two artists had. The almost pastel like qualities of the painting shows an intrinsic understanding of the conditions in question which were undoubtedly mysterious and full of fantasy. The way cowboy life is portrayed is also very much romanticised and demonstrates that this style of living was not only crucially important for the new settler in the West but also had its own trials and tribulations in this respect.
High Museum of Art Atlanta: website. Retrieved from: http://www.high.org/Art/Permanent-Collection/CollectionDetails.aspx?deptName=American%20Art&objNum=71.27&pageNumber=0&search=true#.UpHHWMSkrVI
American paradise: the world of the Hudson River school. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1987. ISBN 9780870994968.
Anderson, Nancy K. et al. Albert Bierstadt, Art & Enterprise, Hudson Hills Press, Inc.: New York, New York, 1990.
Hendricks, Gordon. Albert Bierstadt, Painter of the American West, Harrison House/Harry N. Abrams, Inc.: New York, New York 1988.