В сборник работ Нины Александровны Дмитриевой (1917–2003), выдающегося отечественного искусствоведа, лауреата Государственной премии РФ, включены статьи, мемуарные и публицистические тексты, которые наиболее ярко характеризуют исследовательский и литературный талант автора. Ключевые проблемы теории и истории художественной культуры раскрываются в них через призму творческих поисков крупнейших мастеров зарубежного и русского искусства. Свободные от методологических догм и шаблонов, ее интерпретации художественных произведений найдут живой отклик у широкого круга читателей.
Это книга о дизайнерах и для дизайнеров – откровенный разговор о наболевшем. Сначала она существовала в виде сетевого дневника, который для издания на бумаге был переписан и снабжен иллюстрациями. Яна Франк делится своими мыслями о профессии, предлагает ответы на «вечные вопросы»: должен ли дизайнер уметь рисовать, существует ли идеальный заказчик, где брать свежие идеи, чем отличается плагиат от работы с материалом. Авторские рецепты спасения проектов от провала можно использовать и в качестве пособия по тому, как загубить любое хорошее начинание. Впервые книга была издана в 2006 году.
В этой книге Яна Франк рассказывает, как стать коммерческим иллюстратором, и раскрывает всю «кухню» этой работы: объясняет, с чего начать и куда стремиться, как составить портфолио, где найти клиентов и как с ними работать, подробно разбирает маленькие картинки и большие проекты, делится техническими хитростями и пошаговыми рецептами создания изображений. А кроме того, раздумывает о неочевидных проблемах профессии иллюстратора. Книга адресована всем, кто планирует зарабатывать на жизнь иллюстрацией или уже встал на этот непростой путь.
Фотография ню – это искусство на грани. Она должна не просто вызвать желание, но зацепить красотой линий тела, построением кадра, игрой света и тени, оригинальной идеей.
Альбом молодого фотографа Вадима Нардина – это изящное сочетание эротических фантазий, красивых женщин и неординарных задумок. Именно то, что не стыдно подарить знакомому или положить на свой журнальный столик в гостиной.
Отличная книга для ценителей прекрасного.
Коллекция эссе Сьюзен Сонтаг «О фотографии» впервые увидела свет в виде серии очерков, опубликованных в [i]New York Review of Books[/i] между 1973 и 1977 годами. В книге, сделавшей ее знаменитой, Сонтаг приходит к выводу, что широкое распространение фотографии приводит к установлению между человеком и миром отношений «хронического вуайеризма», в результате чего все происходящее начинает располагаться на одном уровне и приобретает одинаковый смысл. Главный парадокс фотографии заключается, согласно Сонтаг, в том, что человек, который снимает, не может вмешаться в происходящее, и, наоборот, – если он участвует в событии, то оказывается уже не в состоянии зафиксировать его в виде фотоизображения.
Since his death 200 years ago, Cezanne has become the most famous painter of the nineteenth century. He was born in Aix-en-Provence in 1839 and the happiest period of his life was his early youth in Provence, in company with Emile Zola, another Italian. Following Zola’s example, Cezanne went to Paris in his twenty-first year.
During the Franco-Prussian war he deserted the military, dividing his time between open-air painting and the studio. He said to Vollard, an art dealer, “I’m only a painter. Parisian wit gives me a pain. Painting nudes on the banks of the Arc [a river near Aix] is all I could ask for.” Encouraged by Renoir, one of the first to appreciate him, he exhibited with the impressionists in 1874 and in 1877. He was received with derision, which deeply hurt him.
Cezanne’s ambition, in his own words, was “to make out of Impressionism something as solid and durable as the paintings of the museums.” His aim was to achieve the monumental in a modern language of glowing, vibrating tones. Cezanne wanted to retain the natural colour of an object and to harmonise it with the various influences of light and shade trying to destroy it; to work out a scale of tones expressing the mass and character of the form.
Cezanne loved to paint fruit because it afforded him obedient models and he was a slow worker. He did not intend to simply copy an apple. He kept the dominant colour and the character of the fruit, but heightened the emotional appeal of the form by a scheme of rich and concordant tones. In his paintings of still-life he is a master. His fruit and vegetable compositions are truly dramatic; they have the weight, the nobility, the style of immortal forms. No other painter ever brought to a red apple a conviction so heated, sympathy so genuinely spiritual, or an observation so protracted. No other painter of equal ability ever reserved for still-life his strongest impulses. Cezanne restored to painting the pre-eminence of knowledge, the most essential quality to all creative effort.
The death of his father in 1886 made him a rich man, but he made no change in his abstemious mode of living. Soon afterwards, Cezanne retired permanently to his estate in Provence. He was probably the loneliest of painters of his day. At times a curious melancholy attacked him, a black hopelessness. He grew more savage and exacting, destroying canvases, throwing them out of his studio into the trees, abandoning them in the fields, and giving them to his son to cut into puzzles, or to the people of Aix.
At the beginning of the century, when Vollard arrived in Provence with intentions of buying on speculation all the Cezannes he could get hold of, the peasantry, hearing that a fool from Paris was actually handing out money for old linen, produced from barns a considerable number of still-lifes and landscapes. The old master of Aix was overcome with joy, but recognition came too late. In 1906 he died from a fever contracted while painting in a downpour of rain.
Marc Chagall was born into a strict Jewish family for whom the ban on representations of the human figure had the weight of dogma. A failure in the entrance examination for the Stieglitz School did not stop Chagall from later joining that famous school founded by the Imperial Society for the Encouragement of the Arts and directed by Nicholas Roerich. Chagall moved to Paris in 1910. The city was his “second Vitebsk”. At first, isolated in the little room on the Impasse du Maine at La Ruche, Chagall soon found numerous compatriots also attracted by the prestige of Paris: Lipchitz, Zadkine, Archipenko and Soutine, all of whom were to maintain the “smell” of his native land. From his very arrival Chagall wanted to “discover everything”. And to his dazzled eyes painting did indeed reveal itself. Even the most attentive and partial observer is at times unable to distinguish the “Parisian”, Chagall from the “Vitebskian”. The artist was not full of contradictions, nor was he a split personality, but he always remained different; he looked around and within himself and at the surrounding world, and he used his present thoughts and recollections. He had an utterly poetical mode of thought that enabled him to pursue such a complex course. Chagall was endowed with a sort of stylistic immunity: he enriched himself without destroying anything of his own inner structure. Admiring the works of others he studied them ingenuously, ridding himself of his youthful awkwardness, yet never losing his authenticity for a moment.
At times Chagall seemed to look at the world through magic crystal – overloaded with artistic experimentation – of the Ecole de Paris. In such cases he would embark on a subtle and serious play with the various discoveries of the turn of the century and turned his prophetic gaze like that of a biblical youth, to look at himself ironically and thoughtfully in the mirror. Naturally, it totally and uneclectically reflected the painterly discoveries of Cezanne, the delicate inspiration of Modigliani, and the complex surface rhythms recalling the experiments of the early Cubists (See-Portrait at the Easel, 1914). Despite the analyses which nowadays illuminate the painter’s Judaeo-Russian sources, inherited or borrowed but always sublime, and his formal relationships, there is always some share of mystery in Chagall’s art. The mystery perhaps lies in the very nature of his art, in which he uses his experiences and memories. Painting truly is life, and perhaps life is painting.
Painter, designer, creator of bizarre objects, author and film maker, Dali became the most famous of the Surrealists. Bunuel, Lorca, Picasso and Breton all had a great influence on his career. Dalis film, An Andalusian Dog, produced with Bunuel, marked his official entry into the tightly-knit group of Parisian Surrealists, where he met Gala, the woman who became his lifelong companion and his source of inspiration. But his relationship soon deteriorated until his final rift with Andre Breton in 1939. Nevertheless Dalis art remained surrealist in its philosophy and expression and a prime example of his freshness, humour and exploration of the subconscious mind. Throughout his life, Dali was a genius at self-promotion, creating and maintaining his reputation as a mythical figure.
Paul Gauguin was first a sailor, then a successful stockbroker in Paris. In 1874 he began to paint at weekends as a Sunday painter. Nine years later, after a stock-market crash, he felt confident of his ability to earn a living for his family by painting and he resigned his position and took up the painter’s brush full time. Following the lead of Cezanne, Gauguin painted still-lifes from the very beginning of his artistic career. He even owned a still-life by Cezanne, which is shown in Gauguin’s painting Portrait of Marie Lagadu. The year 1891 was crucial for Gauguin. In that year he left France for Tahiti, where he stayed till 1893. This stay in Tahiti determined his future life and career, for in 1895, after a sojourn in France, he returned there for good. In Tahiti, Gauguin discovered primitive art, with its flat forms and violent colours, belonging to an untamed nature. With absolute sincerity, he transferred them onto his canvas. His paintings from then on reflected this style: a radical simplification of drawing; brilliant, pure, bright colours; an ornamental type composition; and a deliberate flatness of planes. Gauguin termed this style “synthetic symbolism”.
For Claude Monet the designation ‘impressionist’ always remained a source of pride. In spite of all the things critics have written about his work, Monet continued to be a true impressionist to the end of his very long life. He was so by deep conviction, and for his Impressionism he may have sacrificed many other opportunities that his enormous talent held out to him. Monet did not paint classical compositions with figures, and he did not become a portraitist, although his professional training included those skills. He chose a single genre for himself, landscape painting, and in that he achieved a degree of perfection none of his contemporaries managed to attain. Yet the little boy began by drawing caricatures. Boudin advised Monet to stop doing caricatures and to take up landscapes instead. The sea, the sky, animals, people, and trees are beautiful in the exact state in which nature created them – surrounded by air and light. Indeed, it was Boudin who passed on to Monet his conviction of the importance of working in the open air, which Monet would in turn transmit to his impressionist friends. Monet did not want to enrol at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He chose to attend a private school, L’Academie Suisse, established by an ex-model on the Quai d’Orfevres near the Pont Saint-Michel. One could draw and paint from a live model there for a modest fee. This was where Monet met the future impressionist Camille Pissarro. Later in Gleyre’s studio, Monet met Auguste Renoir Alfred Sisley, and Frederic Bazille. Monet considered it very important that Boudin be introduced to his new friends. He also told his friends of another painter he had found in Normandy. This was the remarkable Dutchman Jongkind. His landscapes were saturated with colour, and their sincerity, at times even their naivete, was combined with subtle observation of the Normandy shore’s variable nature. At this time Monet’s landscapes were not yet characterized by great richness of colour. Rather, they recalled the tonalities of paintings by the Barbizon artists, and Boudin’s seascapes. He composed a range of colour based on yellow-brown or blue-grey. At the Third Impressionist Exhibition in 1877 Monet presented a series of paintings for the first time: seven views of the Saint-Lazare train station. He selected them from among twelve he had painted at the station. This motif in Monet’s work is in line not only with Manet’s Chemin de fer (The Railway) and with his own landscapes featuring trains and stations at Argenteuil, but also with a trend that surfaced after the railways first began to appear. In 1883, Monet had bought a house in the village of Giverny, near the little town of Vernon. At Giverny, series painting became one of his chief working procedures. Meadows became his permanent workplace. When a journalist, who had come from Vetheuil to interview Monet, asked him where his studio was, the painter answered, “My studio! I’ve never had a studio, and I can’t see why one would lock oneself up in a room. To draw, yes – to paint, no”. Then, broadly gesturing towards the Seine, the hills, and the silhouette of the little town, he declared, “There’s my real studio.”Monet began to go to London in the last decade of the nineteenth century. He began all his London paintings working directly from nature, but completed many of them afterwards, at Giverny. The series formed an indivisible whole, and the painter had to work on all his canvases at one time. A friend of Monet’s, the writer Octave Mirbeau, wrote that he had accomplished a miracle. With the help of colours he had succeeded in recreating on the canvas something almost impossible to capture: he was reproducing sunlight, enriching it with an infinite number of reflections. Alone among the impressionists, Claude Monet took an almost scientific study of the possibilities of colour to its limits; it is unlikely that one could have gone any further in that direction.
Picasso was born a Spaniard and, so they say, began to draw before he could speak. As an infant he was instinctively attracted to artist’s tools. In early childhood he could spend hours in happy concentration drawing spirals with a sense and meaning known only to himself. At other times, shunning children’s games, he traced his first pictures in the sand. This early self-expression held out promise of a rare gift. Malaga must be mentioned, for it was there, on 25 October 1881, that Pablo Ruiz Picasso was born and it was there that he spent the first ten years of his life. Picasso’s father was a painter and professor at the School of Fine Arts and Crafts. Picasso learnt from him the basics of formal academic art training. Then he studied at the Academy of Arts in Madrid but never finished his degree. Picasso, who was not yet eighteen, had reached the point of his greatest rebelliousness; he repudiated academia’s anemic aesthetics along with realism’s pedestrian prose and, quite naturally, joined those who called themselves modernists, the non-conformist artists and writers, those whom Sabartes called “the elite of Catalan thought” and who were grouped around the artists’ cafe Els Quatre Gats. During 1899 and 1900 the only subjects Picasso deemed worthy of painting were those which reflected the “final truth”; the transience of human life and the inevitability of death. His early works, ranged under the name of “Blue Period” (1901-1904), consist in blue-tinted paintings influenced by a trip through Spain and the death of his friend, Casagemas. Even though Picasso himself repeatedly insisted on the inner, subjective nature of the Blue Period, its genesis and, especially, the monochromatic blue were for many years explained as merely the results of various aesthetic influences. Between 1905 and 1907, Picasso entered a new phase, called “Rose Period” characterised by a more cheerful style with orange and pink colours. In Gosol, in the summer of 1906 the nude female form assumed an extraordinary importance for Picasso; he equated a depersonalised, aboriginal, simple nakedness with the concept of “woman”. The importance that female nudes were to assume as subjects for Picasso in the next few months (in the winter and spring of 1907) came when he developed the composition of the large painting, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. Just as African art is usually considered the factor leading to the development of Picasso’s classic aesthetics in 1907, the lessons of Cezanne are perceived as the cornerstone of this new progression. This relates, first of all, to a spatial conception of the canvas as a composed entity, subjected to a certain constructive system. Georges Braque, with whom Picasso became friends in the autumn of 1908 and together with whom he led Cubism during the six years of its apogee, was amazed by the similarity of Picasso’s pictorial experiments to his own. He explained that: “Cubism’s main direction was the materialisation of space.” After his Cubist period, in the 1920s, Picasso returned to a more figurative style and got closer to the surrealist movement. He represented distorted and monstrous bodies but in a very personal style. After the bombing of Guernica during 1937, Picasso made one of his most famous works which starkly symbolises the horrors of that war and, indeed, all wars. In the 1960s, his art changed again and Picasso began looking at the art of great masters and based his paintings on ones by Velazquez, Poussin, Goya, Manet, Courbet and Delacroix. Picasso’s final works were a mixture of style, becoming more colourful, expressive and optimistic. Picasso died in 1973, in his villa in Mougins. The Russian Symbolist Georgy Chulkov wrote: “Picasso’s death is tragic. Yet how blind and naive are those who believe in imitating Picasso and learning from him. Learning what? For these forms have no corresponding emotions outside of Hell. But to be in Hell means to anticipate death. The Cubists are hardly privy to such unlimited knowledge”.
Rembrandt is completely mysterious in his spirit, his character, his life, his work and his method of painting. What we can divine of his essential nature comes through his painting and the trivial or tragic incidents of his unfortunate life; his penchant for ostentatious living forced him to declare bankruptcy. His misfortunes are not entirely explicable, and his oeuvre reflects disturbing notions and contradictory impulses emerging from the depths of his being, like the light and shade of his pictures. In spite of this, nothing perhaps in the history of art gives a more profound impression of unity than his paintings, composed though they are of such different elements, full of complex significations. One feels as if his intellect, that genial, great, free mind, bold and ignorant of all servitude and which led him to the loftiest meditations and the most sublime reveries, derived from the same source as his emotions. From this comes the tragic element he imprinted on everything he painted, irrespective of subject; there was inequality in his work as well as the sublime, which may be seen as the inevitable consequence of such a tumultuous existence.
It seems as though this singular, strange, attractive and almost enigmatic personality was slow in developing, or at least in attaining its complete expansion. Rembrandt showed talent and an original vision of the world early, as evidenced in his youthful etchings and his first self-portraits of about 1630. In painting, however, he did not immediately find the method he needed to express the still incomprehensible things he had to say, that audacious, broad and personal method which we admire in the masterpieces of his maturity and old age. In spite of its subtlety, it was adjudged brutal in his day and certainly contributed to alienate his public.
From the time of his beginnings and of his successes, however, lighting played a major part in his conception of painting and he made it the principal instrument of his investigations into the arcana of interior life. It already revealed to him the poetry of human physiognomy when he painted The Philosopher in Meditation or the Holy Family, so deliciously absorbed in its modest intimacy, or, for example, in The Angel Raphael leaving Tobias. Soon he asked for something more. The Night Watch marks at once the apotheosis of his reputation. He had a universal curiosity and he lived, meditated, dreamed and painted thrown back on himself. He thought of the great Venetians, borrowing their subjects and making of them an art out of the inner life of profound emotion. Mythological and religious subjects were treated as he treated his portraits. For all that he took from reality and even from the works of others, he transmuted it instantly into his own substance.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born in Limoges on 25 February 1841. In 1854, the boy’s parents took him from school and found a place for him in the Levy brothers’ workshop, where he was to learn to paint porcelain. Renoir’s younger brother Edmond had this to say this about the move: “From what he drew in charcoal on the walls, they concluded that he had the ability for an artist’s profession. That was how our parents came to put him to learn the trade of porcelain painter.” One of the Levys’ workers, Emile Laporte, painted in oils in his spare time. He suggested Renoir makes use of his canvases and paints. This offer resulted in the appearance of the first painting by the future impressionist. In 1862 Renoir passed the examinations and entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and, simultaneously, one of the independent studios, where instruction was given by Charles Gleyre, a professor at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. The second, perhaps even the first, great event of this period in Renoir’s life was his meeting, in Gleyre’s studio, with those who were to become his best friends for the rest of his days and who shared his ideas about art. Much later, when he was already a mature artist, Renoir had the opportunity to see works by Rembrandt in Holland, Velazquez, Goya and El Greco in Spain, and Raphael in Italy. However, Renoir lived and breathed ideas of a new kind of art. He always found his inspirations in the Louvre. “For me, in the Gleyre era, the Louvre was Delacroix,” he confessed to Jean. For Renoir, the First Impressionist Exhibition was the moment his vision of art and the artist was affirmed. This period in Renoir’s life was marked by one further significant event. In 1873 he moved to Montmartre, to the house at 35 Rue Saint-Georges, where he lived until 1884. Renoir remained loyal to Montmartre for the rest of his life. Here he found his “plein-air” subjects, his models and even his family. It was in the 1870s that Renoir acquired the friends who would stay with him for the remainder of his days. One of them was the art-dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, who began to buy his paintings in 1872. In summer, Renoir continued to paint a great deal outdoors together with Monet. He would travel out to Argenteuil, where Monet rented a house for his family. Edouard Manet sometimes worked with them too. In 1877, at the Third Impressionist Exhibition, Renoir presented a panorama of over twenty paintings. They included landscapes created in Paris, on the Seine, outside the city and in Claude Monet’s garden; studies of women’s heads and bouquets of flowers; portraits of Sisley, the actress Jeanne Samary, the writer Alphonse Daudet and the politician Spuller; and also The Swing and The Ball at the Moulin de la Galette. Finally, in the 1880s Renoir hit a “winning streak”. He was commissioned by rich financiers, the owner of the Grands Magasins du Louvre and Senator Goujon. His paintings were exhibited in London and Brussels, as well as at the Seventh International Exhibition held at Georges Petit’s in Paris in 1886. In a letter to Durand-Ruel, then in New York, Renoir wrote: “The Petit exhibition has opened and is not doing badly, so they say. After all, it’s so hard to judge about yourself. I think I have managed to take a step forward towards public respect. A small step, but even that is something.”
The eclectic art of which the Carracci family dreamed was realised by Rubens with the ease of genius. However, the problem was much more complicated for a man of the north, who wished to add to it a fusion of the Flemish and Latin spirits, of which the rather pedantic attempts of Romanism had illustrated the difficulties. He achieved it without losing anything of his overflowing personality, his questing imagination, and the enchanting discoveries of the greatest colourist known to painting. Rubens, the greatest master of Baroque painting’s exuberance, took from the Italian Renaissance what could be of use to him, and then built upon it a style of his own. It is distinguished by a wonderful mastery of the human form and an amazing wealth of splendidly lighted colour. He was a man of much intellectual poise and was accustomed to court life, travelling from court to court, with pomp, as a trusted envoy. Rubens was one of those rare mortals who do real honour to humanity. He was handsome, good and generous, and he loved virtue. His laborious life was well ordered. The creator of so many delightful pagan feasts went each morning to mass before proceeding to his studio. He was the most illustrious type of happy and perfectly balanced genius, and combined in his personage passion and science, ardour and reflection. Rubens expressed drama as well as joy, since nothing human was foreign to him, and he could command at will the pathos of colour and expression which he required in his religious masterpieces. It might be said that he was as prolific in the representation of the joy and exuberance of life as Michelangelo was in the representation of passionate emotions.
Vincent van Gogh’s life and work are so intertwined that it is hardly possible to observe one without thinking of the other. Van Gogh has indeed become the incarnation of the suffering, misunderstood martyr of modern art, the emblem of the artist as an outsider. An article, published in 1890, gave details about van Gogh’s illness. The author of the article saw the painter as “a terrible and demented genius, often sublime, sometimes grotesque, always at the brink of the pathological.” Very little is known about Vincent’s childhood. At the age of eleven he had to leave “the human nest”, as he called it himself, for various boarding schools. The first portrait shows us van Gogh as an earnest nineteen year old. At that time he had already been at work for three years in The Hague and, later, in London in the gallery Goupil & Co. In 1874 his love for Ursula Loyer ended in disaster and a year later he was transferred to Paris, against his will. After a particularly heated argument during Christmas holidays in 1881, his father, a pastor, ordered Vincent to leave. With this final break, he abandoned his family name and signed his canvases simply “Vincent”. He left for Paris and never returned to Holland. In Paris he came to know Paul Gauguin, whose paintings he greatly admired. The self-portrait was the main subject of Vincent’s work from 1886c88. In February 1888 Vincent left Paris for Arles and tried to persuade Gauguin to join him. The months of waiting for Gauguin were the most productive time in van Gogh’s life. He wanted to show his friend as many pictures as possible and decorate the Yellow House. But Gauguin did not share his views on art and finally returned to Paris. On 7 January, 1889, fourteen days after his famous self-mutilation, Vincent left the hospital where he was convalescing. Although he hoped to recover from and to forget his madness, but he actually came back twice more in the same year. During his last stay in hospital, Vincent painted landscapes in which he recreated the world of his childhood. It is said that Vincent van Gogh shot himself in the side in a field but decided to return to the inn and went to bed. The landlord informed Dr Gachet and his brother Theo, who described the last moments of his life which ended on 29 July, 1890: “I wanted to die. While I was sitting next to him promising that we would try to heal him. [...], he answered, ‘La tristesse durera toujours (The sadness will last forever).’”
Hieronymus Bosch was painting frightening, yet vaguely likable monsters long before computer games were ever invented, often including a touch of humour. His works are assertive statements about the mental illness that befalls any man who abandons the teachings of Christ. With a life that spanned from 1450 to 1516, Bosch experienced the drama of the highly charged Renaissance and its wars of religion. Medieval tradition and values were crumbling, paving the way to thrust man into a new universe where faith lost some of its power and much of its magic. Bosch set out to warn doubters of the perils awaiting any and all who lost their faith in God. His favourite allegories were heaven, hell, and lust. He believed that everyone had to choose between one of two options: heaven or hell. Bosch brilliantly exploited the symbolism of a wide range of fruits and plants to lend sexual overtones to his themes, which author Virginia Pitts Rembert meticulously deciphers to provide readers with new insight into this fascinating artist and his works.
Degas was closest to Renoir in the impressionist’s circle, for both favoured the animated Parisian life of their day as a motif in their paintings. Degas did not attend Gleyre’s studio; most likely he first met the future impressionists at the Cafe Guerbois. He started his apprenticeship in 1853 at the studio of Louis-Ernest Barrias and, beginning in 1854, studied under Louis Lamothe, who revered Ingres above all others, and transmitted his adoration for this master to Edgar Degas. Starting in 1854 Degas travelled frequently to Italy: first to Naples, where he made the acquaintance of his numerous cousins, and then to Rome and Florence, where he copied tirelessly from the Old Masters. His drawings and sketches already revealed very clear preferences: Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Mantegna, but also Benozzo Gozzoli, Ghirlandaio, Titian, Fra Angelico, Uccello, and Botticelli. During the 1860s and 1870s he became a painter of racecourses, horses and jockeys. His fabulous painter’s memory retained the particularities of movement of horses wherever he saw them. After his first rather complex compositions depicting racecourses, Degas learned the art of translating the nobility and elegance of horses, their nervous movements, and the formal beauty of their musculature. Around the middle of the 1860s Degas made yet another discovery. In 1866 he painted his first composition with ballet as a subject, Mademoiselle Fiocre dans le ballet de la Source (Mademoiselle Fiocre in the Ballet ‘The Spring’) (New York, Brooklyn Museum). Degas had always been a devotee of the theatre, but from now on it would become more and more the focus of his art. Degas’ first painting devoted solely to the ballet was Le Foyer de la danse a l’Opera de la rue Le Peletier (The Dancing Anteroom at the Opera on Rue Le Peletier) (Paris, Musee d’Orsay). In a carefully constructed composition, with groups of figures balancing one another to the left and the right, each ballet dancer is involved in her own activity, each one is moving in a separate manner from the others. Extended observation and an immense number of sketches were essential to executing such a task. This is why Degas moved from the theatre on to the rehearsal halls, where the dancers practised and took their lessons. This was how Degas arrived at the second sphere of that immediate, everyday life that was to interest him. The ballet would remain his passion until the end of his days.
Goya is perhaps the most approachable of painters. His art, like his life, is an open book. He concealed nothing from his contemporaries, and offered his art to them with the same frankness. The entrance to his world is not barricaded with technical difficulties. He proved that if a man has the capacity to live and multiply his experiences, to fight and work, he can produce great art without classical decorum and traditional respectability. He was born in 1746, in Fuendetodos, a small mountain village of a hundred inhabitants. As a child he worked in the fields with his two brothers and his sister until his talent for drawing put an end to his misery. At fourteen, supported by a wealthy patron, he went to Saragossa to study with a court painter and later, when he was nineteen, on to Madrid. Up to his thirty-seventh year, if we leave out of account the tapestry cartoons of unheralded decorative quality and five small pictures, Goya painted nothing of any significance, but once in control of his refractory powers, he produced masterpieces with the speed of Rubens. His court appointment was followed by a decade of incessant activity – years of painting and scandal, with intervals of bad health. Goya’s etchings demonstrate a draughtsmanship of the first rank. In paint, like Velazquez, he is more or less dependent on the model, but not in the detached fashion of the expert in still-life. If a woman was ugly, he made her a despicable horror; if she was alluring, he dramatised her charm. He preferred to finish his portraits at one sitting and was a tyrant with his models. Like Velazquez, he concentrated on faces, but he drew his heads cunningly, and constructed them out of tones of transparent greys. Monstrous forms inhabit his black-and-white world: these are his most profoundly deliberated productions. His fantastic figures, as he called them, fill us with a sense of ignoble joy, aggravate our devilish instincts and delight us with the uncharitable ecstasies of destruction. His genius attained its highest point in his etchings on the horrors of war. When placed beside the work of Goya, other pictures of war pale into sentimental studies of cruelty. He avoided the scattered action of the battlefield, and confined himself to isolated scenes of butchery. Nowhere else did he display such mastery of form and movement, such dramatic gestures and appalling effects of light and darkness. In all directions Goya renewed and innovated.