Beyond these trees a flat and mostly open field stretches into the distance. On either said of this field steep mountains and rock faces sprout form the ground and rise up to the edges of the picture plane. At the top left corner a dark cloud looks as though it’s moving across the sky. As it moves from left to right on the canvas it gets lighter and starts to move downward, and the white clouds engulf the top of the mountain on the right side of the picture plane. The lower portion of the mountain face on the right is drenched in a stream of yellow sunlight that is also traveling from left to right.
Storm in the Mountains is a work of the fine arts as it is purely nonfunctional. I would certainly consider it to be a naturalistic work but there is also a feeling that it might be idealized or in other words shown slightly more beautiful than it actually appeared to the artist at the time of viewing.
When and Where:
Storm in the Mountains was painted in about 1870 in a New York art studio. Albert Bierstadt was born in Germany and at two years old his family immigrated to America and settles in New Bedford Massachusetts. Beginning in 1859 Albert made three trips to the west and made oil sketches along the way, once he returned to his New York studio he used these sketches to make panoramic views of the western world that he saw.
Description of Historical Content:
Albert’s paintings emphasized the spectacular landscapes of the west, sometimes exaggerating what he had seen. This came at a time when the west was capturing American’s interest. When these painting were completed back in the east people saw them and they quickly found there way into public and private collections. They captured people’s imaginations and interest in the expanding American west.
Storm in the Mountains is oil paint on stretched canvas. This painting is defiantly not painterly or imposto, all the brush strokes are short and thin and are hard to see on the canvas. The frame is wood and painted gold. It really helps the painting to jump off the canvas as the area right near the frame on the picture plane is very dark and the frame is a vibrant gold.
Attraction to the work:
What first attracted me to Storm in the Mountains is the explosive color that the sunlight brings to the painting. Most of the picture plane is dark and dull except the incredible yellows and greens that glow on the canvas as a stream on sunlight breaks through the clouds and onto the mountain side. These yellows and greens that truly seem to glow from the canvas are what first got my attention. Once I stood and observed the work for a while it almost seemed as though the clouds were moving and the tress’s really blowing I could feel what the air must have felt like and could imagine how the sun felt breaking through the clouds. The painting gave me a mentally image of the scene in action.
There is a strong feeling that goes along with any work that has a light from above breaking through the darkness and clouds. To me it represents overcoming sadness and depression, or the old saying that every cloud has a silver lining. It says no matter what’s wrong things will get better.
I would think the universal meaning in this work would be close to my personal meaning. A flowing stream of sunlight breaks through the dark clouds and bathes the once dull mountain side with beautiful sunshine. This image could represent god looking down from the heavens. It might say to people that god is looking down upon them. It may give hope to those that feel dull and drowned in darkness.
Design Elements and Compositional Elements:
The most relevant design element used in Albert Bierstadt’s Storm in the Mountains is the use of color. Around the outer edge of the paintings picture plane Bierstadt’s uses dark greens, grays and blacks. But in direct contrast to those areas the painting mid section is bright and vibrant with yellows, greens, and white. There is also a lot of shading in the painting. In this is where different colors blend together to make other colors to form shadows or an illusion of a fog.
Storm in the Mountain is a formally composed work. The work has two main focal points. The first focal point is a pair of trees in the foreground of the work. The trees are dark in shadow blowing in the wind. In the background the bright sun is shining on the grass creating a glowing yellow you can see through the trees. This creates a positive/negative effect. From the pair of trees your eyes follow the sun drenched hill side up the mountain along a visual pathway to the low white clouds hugging the mountain side. This is the second focal point of the painting. Your eyes than begin to move again from the white clouds further up the picture plane until you get to the dark storm clouds and back down the opposite side of the painting and back to the trees in the foreground.
The painting has a feeling of depth to it as well, first the contrasting colors and positive/negative effects establish an overlapping effect, like the trees in front of the mountain. Secondly position puts what is supposed to be perceived as closer to the viewer lower on the picture plane of the painting. The last method of creating depth used is called linear perspective. Bierstadt uses a technique where lines that appear to be parallel converge at a vanishing point. In the case of Storm in the Mountains the lines are formed by where the field in the center starts to climb the mountain side. As you follow these lines you notice the field in the center gets smaller as they go and eventually disappears into a vanishing point. Through all of the methods discussed Albert Bierstadt was able to create many masterpieces including the Storm in the Mountains.
Old Brooklyn Bridge
Old Brooklyn Bridge is an abstract 2 dimensional painting. The subject matter is as the title implies the Brooklyn Bridge as it was seen in 1941. The work was done in a fairly large scale (76 1/4 x 68 1/4 in.) It was painted from the perspective of a person standing in the middle of the street looking down the length of the bridge. The painting is of the bridge at night. There are cables stretching across the painting from the bottom to the top. In the Background the bridges arches that hold up the structure rise to the top of the painting. Traffic lights glow on either side of the street, and head lights shine through the darkness. The whole bridge is simplified, consisting of many rectangles and straight lines. There are many bright colors blues, reds as well as blacks, and whites. Old Brooklyn Bridge is a work of the fine arts and is nonfunctional.
When and Where:
Old Brooklyn Bridge was painted in 1941, 58 years after the bridge was completed. It was painted in New York City. Joseph Stella was born in June of 1877 and died 5 years after painting Old Brooklyn Bridge in November of 1946. He was an Italian born painter who moved to New York City in 1916 and became an American futurist painter most well known for his depictions of industrial America.
Description of Historical Content:
The Brooklyn Bridge was completed in 1883 and was regarded as an engineering marvel; the bridge was a symbol of the new modern day New York City. Many artist and writers used the bridge in there works, including Walt Whitman, and Georgia O’Keeffe. The bridge linked the new technology of the day to the old gothic like arches of the old county. The painting Old Brooklyn Bridge was one of Joseph Stella last depictions of the bridge, it brought new and old together and represents industrialized America.
Old Brooklyn Bridge was painted in oil based paint on stretched canvas. The frame that surrounds the painting matches it perfectly and almost seems as though it is part of the painting itself. It is silver in color and it appears to be metallic. The frame matches the cables the run along the painting from bottom to top and the side of the frame runs almost parallel to them.
Attraction to the work:
When I walked into the gallery that the Old Brooklyn Bridge was hanging in I first noticed its scale. It’s a large scale piece at (76 1/4 x 68 1/4 in.) The second thing that really attracted me was the deep and bright colors. The deep blues of the night sky and the vibrant red of the street lights really give the painting a pop. There is also a lot of contrasting going on between blacks and whites in the painting.
I’m not sure this painting expresses a deeper meaning to me. I choose it not because of its meaning but because I enjoyed looking at it. It’s a painting I’d like to have in my house and see everyday. I like that it has a modern feel even though it is more than 60 years old.
I believe the painting Old Brooklyn Bridge represented a change in American thinking, just as the bridge itself forged old and new technology together, so did the painting. The futuristic abstraction of the old bridge represented in the painting is a symbol of the old changing into the new. I believed people saw this work as uplifting.
Design Elements, and Compositional Elements:
This work is full of various types of lines. Just about ever object in the painting has contour lines surrounding them. There are also many cross contour lines, where the cables in the painting cross in many spots. Most of the lines in the painting are straight and meet at sharp points and right angles. There is a lot of shape repetition going on also; there are many rectangles and triangles through out the work.
Color is a very important part of the painting. The flowing blue that is seen throughout gives off a soothing feeling. The red of the stop light at the lower middle of the painting draws your eyes in to the first focal point of many in the work. From there an implied line starting at the point of the red triangle of the stop light creates a visual pathway up to the second focal point, which is the gothic arches at the top center of the work. From there your eyes follow the cables back down to the bottom of the work.
Joseph Stella’s Old Brooklyn Bridge is a formally composed painting, it appears to be well though out and was probably sketched many times prior to being painted. The painting has a strong feeling of depth, this is due to cross hatching lines that the cables create as they run roughly parallel to each other and meet at a vanishing point at the top center on the picture plane. The painting also appears to have 3 dimensional qualities because the artist used linear perspective, everything that is supposed to be perceived as farther away from the viewer is smaller than the objects that are perceived to be close to the viewer.
Joseph also uses a method called position; with this method Joseph positioned objects he wanted to be seen as close to the viewer, low on the picture plane and object that should appear further away from the viewer higher up on the picture plane. Joseph also uses approximate symmetry as both sides of the painting are very similar. Joseph used many of these techniques he used to paint Old Brooklyn Bridge throughout his carrier and had mastered them by this late point in his life.