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Exploring a Work of Art - Essay Example

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Running Head: ROMANTICISM IN FRIEDRICH’S Romanticism in Friedrich’s “The Monk by the Sea” Name School Professor Romanticism in Friedrich’s “The Monk by the Sea” An artist’s work is usually affected by the culture and beliefs of his time. This is what Caspar David Friedrich illustrates in his works…
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Exploring a Work of Art

Download file to see previous pages... The subject, color, style, and theme successfully depict the main tenets common during the Romantic Age. A formalist analysis of the work may lead to a better understanding of the work and the message being conveyed by the artist. In addition, some research on what other people have to say about the work will help attain a complete analysis. Background of the Author Caspar David Friedrich was a German painter born to a poor family in 1774 in Greifswald, Germany. Despite poverty, the artist attended formal art study with artist Johann Gottfried Quistorp, who conducted art lessons mostly outdoors. This training and exposure to outdoor life helped Friedrich to master the local color and environment thus helped the artist master the art of landscape. According to Vaughan (65), Friedrich’s paintings, which generally reveal Romantic Age ideas, make him “one of the most important artists” during his time. “The Monk by the Sea,” an oil on canvass by Caspar David Friedrich in 1809. Analysis of Form A formalist analysis of the color, space, line and texture could lead to discovering the artist’s overall craftsmanship. Color can be considered the most important element in the painting because it is through color that the artist achieves meaning. Notably, contrast is applied with the use of white against the dark green background and the black suit of the monk. This contrast reflects the theme of confusion but considering that the white takes a larger space than the dark colors, taken by the white color, the theme of good versus evil may be implied as darkness may be associated with evil (Guerin 34). Minimalism, a characteristic of Romantic art, is applied with the minimal use of colors. Through minimalism, the artist achieves focus and emotionality. Adding in several colors would have made the painting look less gloomy, hence distorting the message. Importantly, Friedrich used dark green instead of blue for the sea. This may be a little questionable considering the usual color of the sea. Nevertheless, the dark emerald green color implies the depth and mystery of the sea. It could also mean unusualness in the life of the monk. Depicting the sea with great darkness, Friedrich made it a point to limit this part to at least one-eighths of the canvass. This allows the other images, such as the sky, the land, and the monk to take form, while it allows the purpose of showing the location of the monk at the same time. Specifically, the center clouds where a rich combination of colors is applied, capture the motion of light breaking into the darkness and at the same time the darkness eating up the light. Such drama found in nature suggests some Romantic thoughts that could likewise draw out sentimentality from the audience. Space is also another important element. The whole image can be divided horizontally into three different parts, namely, the sky, the sea, and the land. The great expanse of the sky, which covers at least “five-sixths of the canvass” (Web Gallery of Art, n.d.), attracts attention considering the light it sheds on the whole image. Through devoting much space to the sky, the artist achieves artistic drama, which is very typical of the Romantic Movement. On the issue of emphasis, Friedrich attains emphasis with the proper use of space as he allows a larger part of the canvass to be plain. If he made the figure of the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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