The Aesthetic Code essay
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Blanche Lazzell did this painting in 1938 using charcoal on paper. The painting is titled as the Nude Study in a Summer Class of Hans Hofman. The painting was purchased in 1982 by the Museum of Art of Arizona University using funds that had been provided by the Memorial Fund that had been set up in honor of Edward Gallagher. The geographical location of this painting was in Germany and this was the period between World War I and II. During this time, artists were trying to reestablish themselves after a destructive World War I that had affected the economies of the Allies, and Germany was among them. This essay is a formal analysis of Lazzell's Nude Study. The analysis entails the different shapes that have been used in the painting, elements of art like balance, line, space, color, texture, focal point, and rhythm. The essay also looks into the significance and the symbolism of the painting.
In this painting, different lines have been used to bring out different shapes and the outcome is a nude female. The most dominant shapes are biomorphs and ovoids. The shapes have been used in the middle ground. This is a form of biomorphic art, the artist has used shapeless lines, ovoid shapes, and other organic shapes to show living things and in this painting a nude woman can be seen. This art evolved in the 20th century and shows a psychological picture of periods of war in most of the European nations. These paintings helped to show the power of nature and the feelings that it can evoke
The painting has been set to show deep space. The woman looks like she is seated in the middle ground. The paint has been applied as lines in some areas and lightly in others. This is what has helped to bring out different shapes. At some places, there is a lot of color intensity that implies that the painting has a rough texture. The composition is unstable since the continuity of line is not uniform and the intensity of color. The other factor that makes the painting unstable is the asymmetrical balance. The colors, lines, and shapes that have been used to create a varying rhythm (Munsterberg). The sharpness of the edges has been used to show deep space.
For instance, the sharpness of the lines make the observer see that the woman is seated on something and her face is turned towards the left side. The ovoid shapes on the chest depict breasts and this shows that this is a nude woman. Some objects have been shown with shadows while others have been highlighted. The triangular shape at the foreground has been used to bring out a seat and a resting place for the left arm. Various highlights, for example between the legs, under the breasts, behind the shoulders, under the arms and in the background have contributed to showing the element of deep space of the painting. The other places where there are no highlights and shadows; there is shallow space, which is contradictory to the dominance of deep space.
The colors that have been dominantly used here are black on white. These are cool colors that tend to tell the mood of the artist when he was painting (Schroeder). They represent the periods of a post World War I when there was almost nothing to fall back on except the tenderness of a woman. Most of the pre-war developments in Europe had been destroyed, families broken and money did not have much value. The materials that have been used are cheap; charcoal and paper. This shows the poor financial state that most of the people were experiencing thus they used what was readily available to the best.
The focal points of this painting are very many. To start with, when a person looks at the painting, they try to look at all grounds; the fore, back and middle ground. A keen person tries to construct a figure by connecting all the focal points. At the middle ground, one can see a head, a chest with breasts, and as one moves down, they see a navel and try to connect to the pelvis. Failure to see the pelvis makes an observer to look for another point that will help him or her to know if the woman is seated or not. At the foreground, an observer can see legs, feet, and toes. Between the legs, there is deep space, this is also a new focal point, and one will try to see what is lurking in the space beyond the legs.
In conclusion, Lazzell has used biomorphism to reflect the period after World War I when life was difficult for most of the European citizens. This painting shows the theme of continuity in life. Women have always been seen as the life givers because they give birth and to some level hope to destroyed generations especially during World War I. The lines, shapes, and color have been used to reflect the intense feelings of the artist and his intention; communication. The artist is keen on communicating what he feels can bring hope to a country like Germany, which had been greatly affected by the war. Another theme that is very clear in this painting is distraction. This painting has many focal points that distract the observer. This helped to get an observer's mind from the common problems that affect people after war.