Tuesday, July 17, 2012

19th Century Fantasy Art

This is a continuation and expansion of the “Victorian Fantasy Painting” album that I have been posting on Facebook.  Along with new posts here, I plan to meld over the images and insights from that gallery so that all the images can be found and appreciated in one location.

My primary goal in creating these posts is to re-introduce many forgotten fantasy paintings and artists to modern day followers of that genre, whether practicing artists themselves or fans of fantasy art.  The great defect with most art history books is that they continually reprint the same “Important” paintings over and over again while ignoring the wider world of the entire movement.  As a result, most contemporary artists have a very limited view of the thought processes practiced back then in the act of creativity.  The world of fantasy art today is bound by unnecessary habits and restrictions that leave the genre all the poorer.

"The Cloud" by Arthur Hacker
The nude form has long been a staple of almost all art.  In fantasy art it has a rich place because of the various conceptual uses it can be applied to.  My favorite is “Allegory” in which the human form is used to symbolize an abstract concept or condition, or an aspect of nature.  Arthur Hacker uses it beautifully in “The Cloud”.  The human form enhances the connection of the viewer and therefore the emotional communication.

Hermann Behrens depicts a woman whose vanity (the mirror symbol) is associated with Death.
 Another use of the nude is to serve as an anchor for a philosophical statement about such concepts as the danger of the female of the species.  Symbolist art of this period is rife with allusions to death and decadence in relation to the “Femme Fatale”

"Lilith" by John Collier
Finally the nude was popular in depicting specific characters from mythology.  In fact this genre was popular because it provided an excuse (for those who needed one) to paint a beautiful nude.

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