Posts Tagged ‘Art History’


Vincent van Gogh’s work entitled ‘Irises’ is one of my favorite paintings. It has a lot to do with the fact that my favorite color is blue which this painting has a lot of. I also love the angles and shapes that he used.

Vincent painted this masterpiece while he was staying at the Saint Paul-de-Mausole asylum for the mentally ill in Saint Remy de Provence, France, in the last year before his death in 1890.

Vincent started painting Irises within a week of entering the asylum, in May 1889, seeing the Irises in the garden at the hospital. He produced an incredible body of work during this last year of his life including this one. By all accounts, painting and art is what he occupied most of his time with during his stay. It was his daily obsession.

He called painting “the lightning conductor for my illness” because he felt that he could keep himself from going insane by continuing to paint.

When I see ‘Irises,’ I see a man who masked his suffering by creating something beautiful. And in that beauty he felt a small glimmer of hope. And that glimmer of hope was enough to keep him going.

-Roz Abellera



     Skull With A Burning Cigarette, also known as Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette has to be one of Vincent Van Gogh’s most curious works. When I think of Van Gogh art, I usually think of his famous Starry Night or one of his many colorful landscape paintings. But as far as his artwork goes, you can say that this one was “out of character” of sorts.

Skull With A Burning Cigarette, has been described by some in the past as macabre and dark, even disturbing. But to me, I always saw it as tongue in cheek or even sarcastic. In my opinion, it looks very “Rock Culture.” I can even picture someone like Slash or some other rocker wearing it on a t-shirt. Or I can even see it used today as part of some anti-smoking campaign. But of course, I’m coming from a 21st Century perspective. One can only guess what people thought of this piece when it was created in the late 1800’s.

The painting is undated but it’s believed to be painted in the winter of 1885–86 as a humorous comment by Van Gogh on the conservative academic practices at the school he was attending, an assumption based on the fact that Van Gogh was in Antwerp at that time, attending classes at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Belgium. This was his way at laughing at these art classes that he found extremely boring.

Today, the painting is part of the permanent collection of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. And I hope to see it there one day.

–Roz Abellera



The Great Wave off Kanagawa also known as The Great Wave, is a woodblock print by the Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai. It was published sometime around 1830.  It is considered by many to be Hokusai’s greatest work, and one of the best recognized works of Japanese art in the world.

It shows a monstrous wave threatening boats off the coast of Kanagawa, Japan. It depicts the area around Mount Fuji under  unpredictable conditions, and the mountain itself appears in the background.

Copies of the print can be found all over the world and are in many Western collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the British Museum in London, the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, to name just a few.

It is one of my favorite works by Hokusai and it stands out to this day as one of the most iconic masterpieces in the history of Visual Art.

–Roz Abellera

Abstract Art is often misunderstood by those who have no knowledge of art history. For those of you who do Abstract Art, I’m sure you’ve heard the cliché “A 5 year old could have done that.” My favorite comeback to that is “No, a 4 year old could have done that,” just to be sarcastic.

I sometimes love to dabble in Abstract Art because to me it’s all about the improv. I liken it to playing Jazz, if you were playing a musical instrument. You kind of do things “on the fly” without any plans mapped out which is what makes it a lot of fun. There ‘s a certain danger to this kind of spontaneity. It can either lead to a masterpiece or disaster.

This is a great video because it explains Abstract Art  to those who don’t know what it is. It also gives a brief history of art and why the different genres of art came to be.


–Roz Abellera

(Fleming, Arts & Ideas, 7th Edition 1986)

Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat shows how the impressionistic theory was carried to a logical, methodical, almost mathematical conclusion. Light, shadow, and color are still the major concerns, and the subject is also that of an urban scene, this time of a relaxed group of middle-class Parisians on a Sunday outing. Instead of informal casual arrangements, however, everything here seems as set as an old-fashioned family portrait. Instead of misty indistinct forms, such details as a bustle, a parasol, or a stovepipe hat are as stylized and geometrical as in a Renaissance fresco.

Unlike the impressionists, who improvised their pictures outdoors, Seurat carefully composed his large canvas in his studio over a period of years. Instead of hastily painted patches of broken color, Seurat worked out a system called Pointillism. By this system thousands of dots of uniform size were applied to the canvas in such a calculated and painstaking way that the most subtle tints were brought under his control. The picture, moreover, was divided into areas, and graduating shades blended tonalities into a tonal unity.

-Roz Barron Abellera


(Fleming, Arts & Ideas, 7th Edition 1986)

Bal du moulin de la Galette (commonly known as Dance at Le moulin de la Galette) is an 1876 painting by French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

Auguste Renoir, like Manet, was interested in casual, lighthearted scenes. Even before Manet painted his Bar at the Folies-Bergere, Renoir had done a similar scene set in a popular outdoor Paris café, Bal du moulin de la Galette, which had been shown first in the 1877 impressionist exhibit. The full force of impressionistic color is felt in the rainbow of brilliant hues, especially the variations of blue and the marvelous quality of filtered gaslight that Renoir had at his commend. His obvious intention was to evoke the atmosphere of carefree gaity and the whirling movement of dance as well as to revel in a world of color and light.

-Roz Barron Abellera

(Fleming, Arts & Ideas, 7th Edition 1986)

Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ is his depiction of the innocent Basque town that was brutally attacked by soldiers. It is at once the most monumental and comprehensive statement of social realism and a dramatic manifesto against the brutality of war. Picasso used a combination of expressionist and abstract techniques as a violent protest against a cruel and inhuman act. What lighted the fuse of this pictorial explosion of death and terror was the first saturation air raid of the century.

The horrible “experiment” by the German air force was carried out against the defenseless Basque town of Guernica and was an incident in General Francisco Franco’s successful rebellion against the legally elected government of the Spanish Republic.

Picasso was in Paris with the commission to paint a mural for the Spanish pavilion of the World’s Fair of 1937. Two days after news on the bombing of Guernica reached him, he began work. The huge canvas, accomplished in a matter of weeks, took up one wall of the Spanish pavilion, where it made an unforgettable impression on the thousands who saw it. The attention it attracted and the measure of understanding given to it has made Guernica one of the 20th century’s most important paintings.

In a time where CNN and Headline News didn’t exist, Guernica played an important part in opening people’s eyes to the brutal reality of war.

-Roz Barron Abellera

Jackson Pollock is an interesting figure in art history. I find that people either love or hate his art. Myself, I find his art fun to look at. But I think he made a name for himself because he had the guts to do what he did, which was to go the far opposite extreme of representational art.

He threw away representation, form, and just went full on abstract. Usually, the ones willing to go the extreme are the ones who get noticed. Either way, I think he was a pioneer of experimental art. This is a good video about him.

-Roz Barron Abellera