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Monthly Masters DiscussionMonthly Masters' Discussion - October 2020 - Whistler's Mother

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minniev
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Monthly Masters' Discussion - October 2020 - Whistler's Mother

Post by minniev »

Introduction
James Whistler was an an American born artist whose career spanned the second half of the 19th century, and was mostly spent in England and France. His work tended toward the realistic, and he never dabbled much in Impressionism, which became very popular in the time and place he worked most. Most of his work were portraits and lithographs.

His most famous painting, commonly known as “Whistler’s Mother”, was actually entitled “Arrangement in Gray and Black”, and was undertaken on impulse, when a model he was scheduled to paint failed to show up and he asked his mother to sit instead. The painting has a very limited color palette, and relies heavily on a balance of different shapes in the composition, and the careful blending of the limited tones and colors.

Please share your opinion of this famous artwork. Below are some links to articles about the painting and some questions to help guide your thinking. Answer any questions that interest you.

Questions to Consider

1. What is your overall opinion of the painting? The composition? The color palette? The use of shapes? Does it tell a story? Would you want it on your wall? Why or why not?
2. A totally side-facing profile pose is unusual in portraiture. Do you think it works in this portrait? Why or why not? Do you ever take pictures from a profile angle? If so, do you have one you especially like? If so, would you share it here?
3. Most portraits in Whistler’s era offered a richer, brighter color palette than this. By the title he gave the image, it is clear that he considered the color palette of importance in what he was trying to accomplish. Do you find the colors depressing and dull? Realistic? Engaging? How does the color palette influence the mood of the image? How does it influence your overall impression?
4. The portrayal of older models in fine art is often fraught with challenges whether in painting or photography, and portrayal of older women even moreso. Modern culture is youth-focused in many aspects. Older persons may find themselves more de-valued and isolated as society becomes more youth focused. What are your thoughts about art featuring senior subjects? This can be philosophical or practical.
5. As photographers, we often use monochrome as an alternative to full color portraits. Consider the advantages and disadvantages. Do you prefer to work in monochrome or color for your portraits? Have you ever worked with a reduced color palette such as this? If so, would you share an image and explain your goals for it?

Links for Study
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whistler%27s_Mother
https://www.artic.edu/exhibitions/2712/ ... to-chicago
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/08/31/moms-home
https://news.wttw.com/2017/03/29/surpri ... r-s-mother
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/ ... ari-review
https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesig ... n-pictures
https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/714 ... ers-mother
https://blogs.getty.edu/iris/the-portra ... old-woman/
https://sites.harding.edu/gclayton/2DDe ... other.html
Attachments
fair use: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whistler%27s_Mother
fair use: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whistler%27s_Mother
"God gave me photography so that I could pray with my eyes" - Dewitt Jones

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Post by PietFrancke »

love the tones with the dark dress giving a grounding base for the hands and face and veil thingy. Love the broken picture frames and how they balance the image. The curtains to the left leave me feeling claustrophobic though and who would have thought that they put similar mattes on their pictures then as we do today - making the frame large and the picture small. She has stark dignity and beauty.

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Post by minniev »

PietFrancke wrote:
Fri Oct 02, 2020 2:55 am
love the tones with the dark dress giving a grounding base for the hands and face and veil thingy. Love the broken picture frames and how they balance the image. The curtains to the left leave me feeling claustrophobic though and who would have thought that they put similar mattes on their pictures then as we do today - making the frame large and the picture small. She has stark dignity and beauty.
Thanks for sharing. Yes, a study in detail and shape and tone. I noticed that convention in the framing and was also a little surprised. It seems very modern, but we always tend to think we invented everything, when we really didn't.
"God gave me photography so that I could pray with my eyes" - Dewitt Jones

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