Museum / Gallery Essay
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Art Criticism The Colorado Sunset 1960
The Colorado Sunset is an oil painting done in 1960 by Werner Drewes, an artist, printmaker, and teacher that lived between 1899 and 1985 (MacMillan, 2008). Although famous as a printmaker, Werner worked on oil paintings in the years leading to his retirement in 1965, including the Colorado Sunset Oil Canvas Painting, exhibited at the William Havu Gallery in Denver Colorado. At the time the artwork was created, the Bents Old Fort National Historic Site opened following the signing by the US President Dwight Eisenhower. Simultaneously, the musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown opened in the Winter Garden Theatre in New York City. The painting shows a road cutting through a hilly landscape with trees running alongside the road. At the horizon beyond the hills, the sun is setting, warranting the name of the oil painting. The sunset is the prominent object in the painting given the bold orange color and its position on the painting (MacMillan, 2012).
The artist used lost edges in the painting with soft gradation between the hills edges, the horizon, the road, and the trees. The edges portray the prominence of the sun setting allowing an observer to see the other features in relation to the sunset. The painting has lines separating the objects such as the line separating the hills and the horizon and the lines at the edges of the road. The lines in the painting are round and organic because it is a painting of objects in nature, with no straight and hard edges of the objects. The lost edges in the painting necessitated the use of organic lines as opposed to straight and geometric lines (Hagvedt, 2008). The painting has an impasto texture with the paint layers creating a sculptured effect on the relief, with the hills, roads, and trees standing out. Given the features on the canvas, the painting portrays that it is evening when the sun is about to set. The texture and lost edges in the painting give the work of art a blurry visual effect expressing the transience of the atmosphere when the sun is setting. The contrasting colors of the hills and the sky as the sun are setting create an atmosphere of transition.
The artist has used a dark color on the hills and the road to creating a somber mood for the observer. However, while proceeding, the color becomes a warm orange color lifting the mood of the painting, to represent hope after a dark moment. The painting consists of irregular shapes as opposed to geometric shapes because the objects in the painting are found in nature including the trees, hills and the sunset. The use of lines by the artist serves to separate the features in the painting, for example, the line showing the horizon. Furthermore, lines are less prominent because they play a less distinct role in illustrating the elements of the painting. The use of impasto texture creates an illusion of texture in the painting by creating sculptures of the features (Hagvedt, 2008). The utilization of light in the painting has further highlighted the illusion of texture in the painting, creating relief in the features. Lastly, the artist has added spark within the features of the painting by the use of contrasting colors to demonstrate the hilly features against the sunset.
Werner Drewes painted the Colorado Sunset piece to make an illustration of a beautiful moment after unpleasantness passes. As one drives on the dark roads alongside dark trees and the trees, they emerge at the end to witness a beautiful sunset. The contract is clearly illustrated using the dark gloomy color for the hills and trees and a warm orange color for the sunset. The painting relates to the everyday life of the observers, to illustrate the highs and lows of life. During the dark moments, people are always looking for a ray of hope that life will take a turn for the better, thus the beautiful sunset on the horizon. Looking at the painting, one gets mixed feelings of gloom and brightness given the principle of contrast with the colors used by the artist (Wolfflin, 2012). Objects such as the hills may represent the obstacles faced in the low moments of life, while the road may represent the opportunities to uplift oneself towards a better life.
The Colorado Sunset piece has the essential value given the message of hope conveyed by objects in it. The society insists on the value of hope for individuals even when the situation is discouraging. Human beings will always look for a better tomorrow, thus the importance of the hopeful message in the painting. The message reaffirms our faith in the fate that when life seems unfair, we should look for the light at the end of the tunnel. The displaying of the work in the gallery for viewing by observers may cause a turnaround in an observer who might have lost hope. Nevertheless, there is the vague use of edges and lines causing a blur of the features in the painting. The blurriness may convey the uncertainty of the intended message, leading to confusion and ambiguity in the message of hope. Perhaps with sharper edges and definite shapes of the objects, the message conveyed could be certain.
Generally, the piece of art is valuable in conveying a positive message to the observers. The lack of sharp features, however, gives the piece an uncertain air thus failing to inspire confidence in the intended message. The artist was inspired to use lost edges and less dominant lines given that the features painted are objects of nature thus cannot be illustrated using geometric edges and shapes. However, the same features can be illustrated using sharper angles and edges, to minimize the blurry appearance of the painting. While the message conveyed may not have come out clearly, the piece is an excellent illustration of low moments before one experiences the ray of hope in subsequent days.
Hagtvedt, H., Patrick, V. M., Hagtvedt, R. (2008). The perception and evaluation of visual art.Empirical studies of the arts,26(2), 197-218.
MacMillian, K. (2008). Drawn in by deftness of Drewes. Retrieved from HYPERLINK https//www.denverpost.com/2008/09/24/drawn-in-by-deftness-of-drewes/ https//www.denverpost.com/2008/09/24/drawn-in-by-deftness-of-drewes/
Wlfflin, Heinrich.Principles of art history. Courier Corporation, 2012.
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