PRN

Who are your favorite painters, and why?

101 posts in this topic

I just remembered something from my childhood.

It was a common practice in communist Poland to focus on human imperfections/flaws instead of the moral ideal which everyone should strive to achieve. Heroes were purposely portrayed as a mix of traits (which included being physically ugly) and not as ideal to show that ‘nobody is perfect’. The purpose of this was to deemphasize the individual and reinforce the collective.

Since, ‘nobody is perfect’ then you are no better than anybody else thus you should not be concerned with being better, having better, or achieving more than anyone else.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So then, would you say that physical descriptions of characters in novels are irrelevant?

I do not think they are irrelevant. Traits like height, somatotype, sex, and race determine how people react to one another. Physical descriptions of characters can be important to the meaning, overall effect of the story, or to the way other characters perceive them.

I just do not think that physical features reveal character.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do not think they are irrelevant. Traits like height, somatotype, sex, and race determine how people react to one another. Physical descriptions of characters can be important to the meaning, overall effect of the story, or to the way other characters perceive them.

I just do not think that physical features reveal character.

Sometimes physical features do reveal character. Fatness can be a direct result of laziness, or intemperate eating, or both. Evasive, unfocussed eyes can indicate a guilty conscience or a mind unconcerned with reality. A person's posture can indicate his character, as well--as Ayn Rand indicated in her speech at West Point to the cadets, where she praised them for their excellent posture.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sometimes physical features do reveal character.

Observe how many of Ayn Rand's physical descriptions of people, positive or negative, involve volitional factors like posture, body control or lack of it, chosen clothing and grooming, and especially facial features directly controlled by the mind like a person's eyes and mouth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sometimes physical features do reveal character.

How true!

My personal favorite book is Toilers of the Sea by Victor Hugo. Its theme is: the moral grandeur of human work. To demonstrate this theme, Hugo obviously has to invent a character who knows and loves hard work. A youthful, Greek-style god wouldn't do. He needs someone who has been exposed to nature -- and conquered it.

So Gilliatt comes across as lanky and tough like sinew while also thoughtful and studious, as if he were well-studied — the makings of an ingenious worker. He dresses in plain, practical clothes, as you would expect him to. He's weather-beaten, but not bent, more like a stone column that's been exposed to the rain (to borrow Hugo's metaphor), and his face shows signs of hard times.

There's more to Gilliatt's character than just this, but I want to make a particular point. In the hands of a master Romanticist, one never pities or feels disgust toward Gilliatt's weather-beaten form. Quite the opposite. Personally, given my values, I think I would have found Gilliatt irresistible, and so does Hugo. He paints him with such incredible honor, that you see this man as being beautiful precisely for his hard-earned features. There's no turning away from it. He's like a god walking the earth.

In fact, Hugo goes further than this. He shows the locals feeling disgust and contempt for Gilliatt's form, but with Hugo, you realize that the problem lies, not with Gilliatt, but with the locals. The more they despise him, the more I find myself loving him.

That's the power of great Romantic art, literature in particular.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So then, would you say that physical descriptions of characters in novels are irrelevant?

I do not think they are irrelevant. Traits like height, somatotype, sex, and race determine how people react to one another. Physical descriptions of characters can be important to the meaning, overall effect of the story, or to the way other characters perceive them.

I just do not think that physical features reveal character.

Genetics does not determine character, but character can certainly be revealed in what we do with the genetics we are given.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, what we do with what we have been given genetically is a matter of choice and thus can be a subject to judgment. However, I am still upholding my view that physical ideal does not indicate character ideal and lack of physical beauty (facial features not facial expressions) does not indicate character flaws.

I do not think that Miss Rand’s facial features were particularly attractive. She was not what I would call a natural beauty. She is not however, any less of a hero to me because of it. She would not have been ‘more’ to me if she was physically beautiful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
However, I am still upholding my view that physical ideal does not indicate character ideal and lack of physical beauty (facial features not facial expressions) does not indicate character flaws.

But since Objectivists are not determinists no one here is arguing that physical beauty, or its lack thereof, necessitates one's moral character. However, since both physical beauty and good moral character are values (though not of equal value), how delightful in real life to find both of these values within the same person. And, in the creation of art we get to choose the values we want to express. So if the goal is to represent the human ideal, that which embodies all that we value most, then how natural it is to portray heroes with both inner and outer beauty. Of course, if the goal instead is to portray heroes that are flawed, then such consistency and integration is no longer a value in itself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sophia, on the personal level, if you had to choose between one of two men for your life-long love and the only difference between them (their characters being virtually indistinguishable) was that one was ugly or average and the other extraordinarily handsome, which would you choose, and why?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sophia, on the personal level, if you had to choose between one of two men for your life-long love and the only difference between them (their characters being virtually indistinguishable) was that one was ugly or average and the other extraordinarily handsome, which would you choose, and why?

It is impossible for me to imagine two indistinguishable characters. People are magnificently unique.

I could not possibly make such decision based solely on their physical appearance. When evaluating another human being I am looking for the potential value to my own life.

When it comes to romance, non-physical factors are included in my subconscious assessment of beauty. Physical features of a man can become beloved, not because of their physical qualities per se, but because of what they stand for.

I feel that beauty radiates through a sense of self acceptance. It is more a life energy that somebody emits, than an actual physical manifestation.

I've met people of both genders who were not what one would generally consider "beautiful" yet had a strong appeal that could not be denied - and people who were physically stunning but lacked ... something ... that kept them from being "attractive" (at least to me).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I do not think that [her] facial features were particularly attractive. She was not what I would call a natural beauty. She is not however, any less of a hero to me because of it. She would not have been ‘more’ to me if she was physically beautiful.

And later:

I feel that beauty radiates through a sense of self acceptance. It is more a life energy that somebody emits, than an actual physical manifestation.

Earlier I thought you recognized objective aspects of physical beauty, but now — if I've understood — you seem to claim that such a thing doesn't exist.

I would say that if anybody has ever had "life energy", it was Miss Rand, yet that would seem to make your first claim about her physical body impossible — unless objective aspects of beauty really do exist after all. But then we're back to B. Royce's question.

(By chance could we stop using Miss Rand's looks as a subject of debate after this? Personally, it makes me slightly uncomfortable.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is impossible for me to imagine two indistinguishable characters. People are magnificently unique.

I could not possibly make such decision based solely on their physical appearance. When evaluating another human being I am looking for the potential value to my own life.

When it comes to romance, non-physical factors are included in my subconscious assessment of beauty. Physical features of a man can become beloved, not because of their physical qualities per se, but because of what they stand for.

I feel that beauty radiates through a sense of self acceptance. It is more a life energy that somebody emits, than an actual physical manifestation.

I've met people of both genders who were not what one would generally consider "beautiful" yet had a strong appeal that could not be denied - and people who were physically stunning but lacked ... something ... that kept them from being "attractive" (at least to me).

But, if you are writing a novel or painting a picture you are going to have to choose. Ayn Rand's beautiful characters are the results of her choices. If she could choose, why couldn't you?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sophia, I think you might be missing the main point.

If you were going to write a novel, paint a picture or sculpt a statue, how would you portray the art work? If you sculpted a statue and called it the exalted one would you have the subject hunched over with a pot-belly? If you were to paint a picture of a pilot and their plane, would you paint the pilot and plane crashing? If you were to write a book would you show your heoric character as tall, dark and handsome or short, dumpy and ugly? These are some of the choices a romantic-realist must make when re-creating reality to what they think it could and should be.

Lets say you were going to have a painting done of yourself to hang on your wall. You have choosen an artist to do your work and he is a realist/does everything exactly as he sees it. You wake up the day of the painting with a huge cold-sore on your lip and blimishes on your cheeks. The painter says this is great this is exactly how life should be re-created. He paints a picture of you including the cold-sore and the blemishes. Now, you get to hang this realist picture on your wall. Or would you rather have the romantic-realist that paints the beauty in you and leaves out the non-important items, such as the cold-sore and blemishes?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
And later:

Earlier I thought you recognized objective aspects of physical beauty, but now — if I've understood — you seem to claim that such a thing doesn't exist.

I would say that if anybody has ever had "life energy", it was Miss Rand, yet that would seem to make your first claim about her physical body impossible — unless objective aspects of beauty really do exist after all. But then we're back to B. Royce's question.

(By chance could we stop using Miss Rand's looks as a subject of debate after this? Personally, it makes me slightly uncomfortable.)

I do recognize objective aspects of physical beauty. I have not met Ayn Rand so I can not comment on her physical presence beyond what I see on her photographs. I of course know her ideas from her writing. It was her ideas that has made admire her as much as I do.

I was referring to relationships in my last post. It is impossible for me to value a man that I am interacting with purely as a physical object (maybe for just few initial seconds of a first meeting I can). The longer I know him, the more who he is takes precedence over how he looks like. From talking to my female friends I know that I am not unique in this regard. In no way is this equal to saying that objective aspects of physical beauty do not exist.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sophia, I think you might be missing the main point.

If you were going to write a novel, paint a picture or sculpt a statue, how would you portray the art work? If you sculpted a statue and called it the exalted one would you have the subject hunched over with a pot-belly? If you were to paint a picture of a pilot and their plane, would you paint the pilot and plane crashing? If you were to write a book would you show your heoric character as tall, dark and handsome or short, dumpy and ugly? These are some of the choices a romantic-realist must make when re-creating reality to what they think it could and should be.

Lets say you were going to have a painting done of yourself to hang on your wall. You have choosen an artist to do your work and he is a realist/does everything exactly as he sees it. You wake up the day of the painting with a huge cold-sore on your lip and blimishes on your cheeks. The painter says this is great this is exactly how life should be re-created. He paints a picture of you including the cold-sore and the blemishes. Now, you get to hang this realist picture on your wall. Or would you rather have the romantic-realist that paints the beauty in you and leaves out the non-important items, such as the cold-sore and blemishes?

Point well taken.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
(By chance could we stop using Miss Rand's looks as a subject of debate after this? Personally, it makes me slightly uncomfortable.)

Yes, thank you for noting that. Speaking as moderator, let's refrain from using Miss Rand as an example in this discussion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It is impossible for me to value a man that I am interacting with purely as a physical object (maybe for just few initial seconds of a first meeting I can). The longer I know him, the more who he is takes precedence over how he looks like. From talking to my female friends I know that I am not unique in this regard.

That is a very feminine reaction. Men, on the other hand, are very much affected and attracted by a woman's appearance, shape, or anything else that they associate with "female." That's why I a woman who wants to be loved, admired, and respected for her mind and character should never neglect her appearance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

More on the theme of SF / fantasy art.

Wojtek Siudmak is a French artist of Polish decent. He is the lead illustrator for one of France's top SF paperback collection, and I have read many a book with his work on the cover. His site is: http://www.siudmak.fr

Here is his vision of New York, titled "Always Higher New York":

toujours_plus_haut_ny.jpg

And this is "Energy playing with an Electron":

l_energie_jouant_avec_un_electron.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Courbet is one of my favorite painters, mainly because he decided to say "F you!" to the Paris salon. First, he created a HUGE canvas about his grandfather's funeral, which, in that time, was a big no-no. Then he had the stones to open his "Pavilion of Realism" across the street from the salon to make his point. Love him for that.

I am very much into German Expressionism, and I love a lot of the stuff that Hitler and the Nazis tried to suppress and labeled "Degenerate Art." Very moving stuff.

I love a lot of modern art, actually, though I never did like the Pre-Raphaelites. I could also do without Dada, but some of their contributions are worthwhile.

One of my favorite contemporary artists is Marilyn Minter. She works in a "hyper-realism" style -- her paintings look almost like photos -- but her subjects are interesting and provocative. I also like some of the contemporary artists who work with video -- some of it is just amazing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What a great discussion. -_-

I can't believe there are so many works here by artists I haven't heard of. Sometimes I think I live in a cave.

I agree w/most of the posts here. I've always loved Maxfield Parrish. Wonderful pieces. Thank you.

I would like to add the Wyeth family and Jessie Wilcox Smith to the list. However, they were illustrators so purists would not include them under "fine art." As an illustrator myself, that is a huge sticking point. Art is art, regardless whether you design it to sell or keep for yourself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i study painting and printmaking and i have to say that in terms of printmaking Goya's disasters of war are among the most beautiful things in existence whilst also revolutionising the art world... http://goya.unizar.es/InfoGoya/Work/DesastresIcn.html

if you like those but fancy something a little less gruesome you should check out 'une semaine de bonte' by Max Ernst

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

More on the theme of SF / fantasy art.

Wojtek Siudmak is a French artist of Polish decent. He is the lead illustrator for one of France's top SF paperback collection, and I have read many a book with his work on the cover. His site is: http://www.siudmak.fr

Here is his vision of New York, titled "Always Higher New York":

toujours_plus_haut_ny.jpg

And this is "Energy playing with an Electron":

l_energie_jouant_avec_un_electron.jpg

Thanks, Joss for this artist. Looks like some fine time I'll be spending at his site.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i study painting and printmaking and i have to say that in terms of printmaking Goya's disasters of war are among the most beautiful things in existence whilst also revolutionising the art world... http://goya.unizar.e...sastresIcn.html

if you like those but fancy something a little less gruesome you should check out 'une semaine de bonte' by Max Ernst

I do like Goya's prints. I offer another of my favorites, John Sloan. http://www.johnsloansnewyork.org/index.html And many of his paintings too. One of my favorite Sloan paintings is his "The Wake of the Ferry"

Sloan-Wake_of_FerryII+.jpg

Oil on canvas

26 x 32 in.

1907

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites