Thursday, July 31, 2014

Powerful & Powerless

      On this beautiful Thursday afternoon, we made our way to the National Gallery. Right by the opening of the Gallery entrance there were street performers setting up the mood for the spectacular art we were about to see. The talent that was outside of the Gallery building and the talent that was inside was intriguing. I'm still confused on how these street performers look like they're levitating.  The galleries were filled with so many famous artists! It's amazing how it's free to see these pieces of art. My favorite artist, Claude Monet, had some of his work in one of the gallery rooms. I was able to sneak a selfie. :) 
In front of my favorite piece by Claude Monet

       When we went on the second part of our tour; when we were supposed to look for two pieces that had conflict I ended up noticing more of the people around me than the paintings. It made me happy seeing all the different kinds of people at the gallery. It was like this one place united all different cultures and nationalities. There were also a handful of people drawing the pieces of art. It was insane seeing this one woman replicate a painting. Hers almost looked better than the original piece of work. After all these years, people are still wanting to recreate something that I would think is out of date and old. Watching her painting come to life was a beautiful process.
A woman replicating a lovely piece of work! 
Judith in Tent of Holofernes
Susannah and the Elders
      The two pieces of art that spoke to me were, Susannah and the Elders 1620 by Guido Reni and Judith in Tent of Holofernes 1622 by Johann Liss. Both of these were from the same room (Room 32) but both represented something different to me. One painting showed the man with the power and the second painting showed the woman with the power. Both paintings conflict with each other and have their own conflict within the piece of work. The first painting I chose was, Susannah and the Elders. It automatically caught my eye because the woman looks so distressed. It made me want to reach out and help her. These two men are trying to take her innocence but she is already naked and barely covered while they're completely covered. No matter what the painter wanted to show, there doesn't seem like there could be any good scenario to go with this work. The gesture that one of the men is making, made me angry. Why would he put his finger over his mouth? Is he trying to be sneaky? Convince her to do something she doesn't want to do?  Tell her to be quiet? Either way that gesture has no positive connotation. This one picture makes me ask all these questions. The woman obviously looks confused just from her body language. She seems hesitant and doesn't look like she has much control of the situation. Comparing it with the second painting I chose, Judith in the Tent of Holofernes, the control completely shifts. The woman has all the power. She just cut off a mans head! I know this may sound sick, but this picture made me laugh because the womans face is turned towards us with a smirk basically saying, Yeah, I just cut off a mans head...don't mess with me. By her turning towards us, I feel like it's easier to connect with her. Most of the paintings in the galleries the men had all the power and the woman were just sexual objects but this one shows the woman with that power. The didactic said that she used this mans sword to cut of his own head. How badass is that?! Being able to get revenge by using the own victims weapon against them. 
      Both of these pieces of work had so much conflict within the painting. In one, the men are trying to take advantage of the innocent woman and the other, a woman just cut off a mans head. If those paintings weren't dramatic enough on their own trying to connect them would make it even more dramatic. The power of each sex in these paintings is so strong, it's clear to see who is more dominant. In both of the paintings, the artists made the victims painted with a lighter color which has the observer focus more on them. The artists clearly wanted us to focus on certain things in the pictures. It was weird seeing the different roles switched so drastically. I'm still in awe from these two paintings. Both so powerful!

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