Concerning The Death of Marat by Jaques Louis David, Green Stripe by Henri Matisse, and the Transverse Line by Wassily Kandinsky: What are the movements in art and time periods that these artists and works fit into? How do these painting differ (also how they are alike)? What is so important about these works that they show up in art history books? What work by what artist can you find that would be the logical next step in the progression shown in these three works?
- The Death of Marat by Jacques Louis David [Neoclassicism]
David himself was active in the French Revolution, having signed execution papers for more than 300 victims, even signing the death warrants for Louis XIV and Marie-Antoinette. His fellow Jacobin, Jean-Paul Marat, was a close friend. This painting depicts Marat in his bath where he sat for long hours in medicated water as a treatment for a skin disease from which he suffered. Indeed, this Neoclassical painting with its simplicity of style and symmetry--sometimes referred to as a Pieta in the secular sense--is virtually a canonization of the leader in its intensity of martyrdom.
Next step: Prud'hon's Justice and Divine Bengeance Pursuing Crime, 1808
Prud'hon's allegory uses Neoclassical models from Flaxman and Canova, although his figures are painted in more dramatic, emotive light in the manner of David.
- The Green Stripe by Henri Matisse [Fauve]
Fauvism involves the use of color in a particular manner of self-expression. The brillance, color, freshness placed in a bold expression is characteristic in Matisse's painting. However, Fauvism was short-lived and Matisse distilled some of his colors after he went to the south of France.
Next step: Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night, 1889
- Traverse Line by Wassily Kandinsky [Abstract art]
Created in 1923, this painting launched Kandinsky as one of the pioneers of abstract art. In his art, he expressed his belief in abstraction and the harmony of color and form, revealing an influence of mysticism. While his paintings were not eagerly accepted, he did provide a path to launching future abstract artists.
Next step: Piet Mondrian's Composition with Yellow, Blue, and Red 1937-1942 (Mondrian was around before, but this painting was composed after Traverse Line)