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Evaluation of James McNeil Whistler's Crepuscule in Flesh Colour and Green - Essay Example

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The work of James Abbot McNeill Whistler provided new maverick impulses to contemporary art in Europe and America simultaneously. Through various influences provided to art, Whistler’s largest contribution by far was that to tonalism. The genre of tonalism is not simply associated to Whistler as an artist but as a founder…
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Evaluation of James McNeil Whistlers Crepuscule in Flesh Colour and Green
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Download file to see previous pages This means that a perusal of most of Whistler’s work will reveal little else than an artist’s creative impulses gone wild. Tonalism can be seen as a result of these creative impulses of Whistler. Whistler’s 1866 Crepuscule in Flesh Color and Green: Valparaiso (910 x 1080 x 100 mm painting, oil on canvas, London: Tate, N05065) is perhaps one of the earliest works that reflects the artist’s desire for tonalist attitudes. The painting is the first piece in a large number of similar works that followed at the hands of Whistler. This indicates that the Crepuscule in Flesh Color and Green: Valparaiso (Figure 1) cannot be evaluated in isolation from these other related works because they share similar traits and characteristics that eventually came to define tonalism. Another major thing to take note of is the relative unknown nature of Crepuscule in Flesh Color and Green: Valparaiso as not many treatises on art especially art from the tonalist genres have given it much focus1. However if the period immediately before this painting in Whistler’s life is looked at, it will become very clear that it defines a personal rebellion. In turn this personal rebellion from an already Maverick persona resulted in new nuances being painted into the heart of the world of art. The combination of various rebellious attitudes coupled with a distant past in the military gave birth to the Crepuscule in Flesh Color and Green: Valparaiso and its sister works that were all created in Chile and represented similar militaristic scenarios processed through the lens of an artist’s eyes. The sister pieces of the Crepuscule in Flesh Color and Green: Valparaiso include The Morning after the Revolution: Valparaiso, Nocturne in Blue and Gold: Valparaiso Bay (Figure 3) and the sketch for Nocturne in Blue and Gold: Valparaiso Bay (Figure 4). Whistler possessed an uncanny genius for art from an early age2 and this in turn affected his personal choices on life and career. Being a rebel from the start, Whistler was quick to abandon his career with the military at West Point but this in turn left some unfinished desires with Whistler3. As the rebellion in the Spanish colony of Chile took on the shape of a war, Whistler was attracted to revisit the military based part of his persona. Speculation remains to why Whistler went to Chile – some claim he was looking to satisfy his militarism based impulses from West Point4, others think that Whistler considered the rebellion of the Chileans as heroic5 while recent research suggests that he was selling arms to the Chileans. In any case, Whistler was an artist before he went to Chile and artists generally detest war because of its barbaric conduct. However Whistler still chose to go to Chile. Before this point in time Whistler had been rebelling from an ordinary life in order to achieve his life of artistic desire6. Yet his voyage to Chile reveals that now Whistler was rebelling from his artistic life in order to come to terms with a life where you have to work to make some money. This in turn indicates that Whistler was more or less at war with himself at this point in time and his accounts from the ship he travelled on show a Whistler who is disinterested in life and what happens around him. His personal infighting must have kept him well occupied on his journey from Spain to Chile. His first painting in this series of paintings, Crepuscule in Fle ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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