In the artistic oil canvas paintings of James Whistler, Nocturne, Vincent van Gogh, Starry Night, and Barnett Newman, Midnight Blue, the three components of art namely form, subject, and content tend to create the difference in the artistic talents displayed. The artist used the elements of art such as line, color, texture, shape, and value to produce a form. However, each of the artistic pieces tends to display varying degree of application of the artistic elements. This variance tends to create the observable difference in terms of shape, color, or texture of the pieces. A bid to compare and contrast the artistic differences in these artistic pieces predisposes the viewer to compare the form, the principle of design used in each piece and the quality of each work. The artistic pieces tend to display varying emotions, which mostly depend on the choice of color and texture exhibited in each piece.
A comparison of Whistler’s Nocturne and van Gogh’s Starry seems to display differences in terms of form. At a glance, one would observe that Whistler’s piece employed the use of light to create color on landscape. As a result, it creates a great impression to the viewer. On the other, the impression created by the van Gogh painting is different from what one would observe in the work of Whistler (Juan). The van Gogh’s painting tends to present emotion through the use of vivid color. Arguably, since the colors are vivid one can distinguish the emotion of the landscape. Some critics argue that Whistler painted for the sake of painting whereas van Gogh had some intentions that he wanted to display through the form (Rothko, Ciuha and Beyeler, 123). Evidently, the piece painted by Gogh is vivid, and it has pronounced emotions. Arguably, creation of emotion in an art piece tends to create a close relationship between the art piece and reality. Observably, this artistic element seems to be missing in the Whistler’s Nocturne as opposed to the one painted by van Gogh (Butera).
Elsewhere, a comparison of Barrnett Newmen, Midnight Blue with Whistler and van Gogh’s shows that the use of color was more vivid in the work of van Gogh as opposed to the works of the Newmen and Whistler (Museum of American Folk Art, American Folk Art Museum). Newman attempted to limit color in his work by reducing the quantity of light in his work. The result of his piece is a distance relationship with reality. As one would expect, the piece ought to show the dark color evident at night. In his case, the piece tends to show some element of blue color an aspect that makes the piece a bid distance from the reality. Thus, it terms of using color to create emotional impression, Van Gogh hyperbolically used color to create emotional reality in his piece whereas Whistler and Newmen limited the use of color thereby limiting the emotional impression that one would expect to see in such environments.
In terms of texture, Whistler piece tends to illustrate a smooth texture, whereas van Gogh’s piece illustrated a thick layer of texture. This difference is also evident in Newmen’s piece that is smooth. Again, color and light influence the texture of these pieces (Rothko, Ciuha and Beyeler, 122). At a glance, one can identify the color and light creates a rough texture in both works of van Gogh and that of Whistler. Nevertheless, the magnitude of the rough texture or the smooth texture tends to depend on the amount of light used to create the differences (Juan). The variance in the amount of light used to produce the pieces is also evident in Newman’s piece. Whistler and Newman’s pieces display a thin paint that might be confused to be water paint, as opposed to oil. In contrast, van Gogh used a thick layer paint, which makes the piece uneven. Largely, the glistening of van Gogh piece over the Whistler and Newman depend on the amount of paint that the artists used. Thin layer of oil paint does not glitter in the same way as a thick layer.
The choice of color of the three art pieces is another aspect that tends to illustrate the differences in the three art pieces (Butera). In Starry Night, van Gogh used more vibrant colors than those used by Whistler in his painting. Specifically, van Gogh used the complementary color blue and yellow to create the Rhone (Butera). Further, he painted a short layer of brushstrokes, which creates a strong contrast in the painting. Thus, one can see that the water is turbulent in the piece hence the mood in the painting. Interestingly, one would note that the blue color seems to represent the grass, as opposed to the normal green. On the other hand, Whistler’s painting employs the use of the complementary colors but displayed low intensity (Juan). Additionally, the addition of the white color in the painting tends to make the piece pastel like quality. To add vibrancy on the painting, he used green and blue colors to paint the ladies thereby adding vibrancy to the painting.
In terms of organization of the design, Whistlers painting shows proportional illustration of various items depicted in the painting. The positioning of people in the Whistler and van Gogh’s paintings seems to be similar. The same applies to Newmen’s painting. Van Gogh positioned two human figures at the bottom right corner, whereas Whistler positioned the human figure at the right and left bottom of the painting. This design created a chance for the artist to paint the rest of the environment. The positioning of the people in the painting tends to create elements of distance. At a glance, one can see that items that are far off are smaller, whereas those at the foreground are much larger. Whistler placed the boat in the painting towards the top of the painting. This aspect enables the viewer to see the distance between the shore and the place where the boat is floating.
In Van Gogh’s painting, he established this effect by painting blue color at the horizons. This feature enables the viewer to see the difference in terms of distance from the items on the foreground and that on the background. Further, van Gogh used the yellow color to create the ripples in the water. Thus, as the ripples are diminishes the size of the ripples group narrow. The same is evident in the painting of the waves. Towards the show, the waves are larger than those that are distant. On the other hand, Newmen’s painting illustrates a uniform color that does create the effect of distance (Butera). What one can see at any given time is the uniformity in the shape of the sky. The limits the ability of the viewer to detect aspect of distance as observed in the painting of Whistler and van Gogh.
In terms of content of the work, Whistler work is a simple impression of what the environment looks like. The same is evident in the painting of Newman that tends to create the impression of what one should expect when he observed the night (Museum of American Folk Art, American Folk Art Museum 111). Contrastingly, van Gogh has hyperbolized his impressions in order to attract more attention of the viewer. For example, in van Gogh painting he has used the yellow color and the blue color to create an impression. Since the impression created is vivid, it tends to create a greater emotion, as opposed to Whistler and Newmen’s paintings. While Gogh tends to create much attention to his work through the color selected, Newmen and Whistler chose to use colors that do not hyperbolize the situation.
In conclusion, the paintings of Whistler, van Gogh and Newmen tend to illustrate numerous similarities, as well as differences in terms of form, visual impression, as well as design. In terms of form, Whistler, van Gogh and Newmen have used color, and light to create an impression about their paintings. However, the difference is evident in terms of the intensity of the light, choice of color, or layer of paint used to create varied moods. Van Gogh’s work is vivid in terms of color whereas the work of Newman and Whistler use less light. Elsewhere, visual impression of the three painting vary with van Gogh noticeable, whereas Newmen and Whistler creating normal background. Lastly, the content of the works vary significantly.
Butera, F. Virginia. Capturing the Night:The Nocturnes Exhibition at the Therese A. Maloney Art Gallery. Available on 6 Feb, 2014 from http://ragazine.cc/2013/06/nocturnes-butera/
Juan, S. Liau. Dreamscapes of James Abbott McNeill Whistler and Vincent Van Gogh. Available on 6 Feb, 2014 from http://mondaymuseum.wordpress.com/2012/02/26/comparison-of-dreamscapes-of-james-abbott-mcneill-whistler-and-vincent-van-gogh/
Museum of American Folk Art, American Folk Art Museum. Folk Art: Magazine of the Museum of American Folk Art, Volume 30. New York: The Museum, 2005. Print.
Rothko, Mark Ciuha, Delia & Beyeler, Fondation. Mark Rothko. New York: Hatje Cantz Verlag. 2001. Print.