All posts by SharpArt

I'm Janice and I run this site, I work with Kate on producing the art work. I'm based in Liverpool and Kate, London.

Bruegel – The Harvesters 1565

The Harvesters by Pieter Bruegel the elder, 1565

This panel is part of a series showing the seasons or times of the year, commissioned from Bruegel by the Antwerp merchant Niclaes Yongelinck. The series included six works, five of which survive. The other four are: “The Gloomy Day,” “Hunters in the Snow,” and “The Return of the Herd” (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna); and “Haymaking” (Lobkowicz Collections, Prague). The Harvesters (and the others in this series) is arguably the first modern landscape in western Europe and represents the months of August and September. Bruegel suppresses any obvious religious pretext in favour of a new humanism, depicting a rustic peasantry, a timeless study of man in nature through an unidealised description based on natural observations.

It shows a ripe field of wheat that has been partially cut and stacked, while in the foreground a number of peasants pause to picnic in the relative shade of a pear tree. Work continues around them as a couple gathers wheat into bundles and three men cut stalks with scythes. The vastness of the panorama across the rest of the composition reveals that Bruegel’s emphasis is not on the labours that mark the time of the year, but on the atmosphere and transformation of the landscape itself.

You become a pilgrim in these people’s lives.  The detail is amazing – the group in the lower right hand corner are having their lunch break, their food laid out before them, and we can see the pears they are eating have been collected by another character who is climbing a pear tree and shaking down the fruit in an other part of the painting. The composition draws you in – never allowing us to stop for too long in any one place as your eye leads you on to another scene. Rest for lunch for some... detail from The HarvestersThe narrow path between the corn takes us to the women in the middle distance carrying corn on their heads through the field, which in turn leads us further away to a pool where monks have stripped down and are swimming. Children are playing in a clearing. You can feel the heat of summer.

Bruegel was living in Antwerp when he painted this. It was the most important economic centre of Europe at that time. with shipping making important connections across the world.  Farming is important not only locally, but transporting goods across the seas, especially wheat.

The subject was chosen by Yondelick who was deeply interested in  classical literature and wanted something to decorate his villa. But why would a wealthy patron want a picture of peasants working in fields? A universal love of Virgil who celebrated the love of nature and those who worked the fields. A strong reminder of when man and nature where much closer together and those closest to nature experience the truest life. Bruegel turns the traditional view of peasant life on its head, previously always sidelined and corse, he makes their lives monumental and to be envied. The higher classes are diminished – the Castle hiding in the middle distance and the monks not praying but naked in a pool.

Mid and far distance - detail from The Harvesters

Bruegel is very delicate thin. When you look closely at the canvas you can see not only each stalk individually made but the under drawing – in the sleepers face and neck – and the lucidity of his brush strokes. Use this  link to Google’s Art Project to zoom in and examine his style more closely.

The sleeper's head - detail The Harvesters

 

Brush marks - detail The Harvesters

The effect is very calming, you can feel the heat of summer and want to discover more about the scene. It gives us insight, takes us to a place we have never been to and wish we could enter.

 

 

Liverpool Biennial 2014

“The Liverpool Biennial is the largest international contemporary art festival in the United Kingdom.”

Liverpool Biennial 2014…according to Wikipedia, which does make me very proud. Liverpool is famously renowned for its music, but to have become ‘the largest’ art festival in the UK demonstrates the city’s thriving interest in the arts – not just conventional, but the more challenging art at that. Continue reading Liverpool Biennial 2014

Punchdrunk – The Drowned Man

A Punchdrunk aficionado must… wander, explore, investigate, absorb, read, be subsumed, watch, follow, snoop. Construct your own narrative. There is a short, general outline of a story handed to you as you enter the sensorially deprived world of The Drowning Man, along with your mask which you are to wear at all times – and talk to no one. It tells of two couples – a man having an affair without his partner knowing, and woman doing the same to her partner and both ending with a death. And from there on you’re pretty much on your own… doing all of the above. Continue reading Punchdrunk – The Drowned Man

Game of Thrones – Beautiful Deaths

If you’ve been following Game of Thrones, then you might have noticed a number of rather gruesome deaths happen with startling regularity.

The series has certainly drawn in a vast supporting fan base that seem to revel in this celebration of blood and gore. As Mashable says,

“They’re shocking and gruesome, but they’re also beautiful.”

The Pointy End

Continue reading Game of Thrones – Beautiful Deaths

Lichtenstein @ Tate Modern

lichtenstein_web-bannerA long time personal favourite from the Pop Art world, Roy Lichtenstein, is being celebrated with the first ‘full scale retrospective’ of his work at The Tate Modern, London. It brings together 125 of his works, celebrating this striking, often monumental work created by such a quiet and unassuming man.

Whaam! 1963 by Roy Lichtenstein 1923-1997
Whaam! 1963 by Roy Lichtenstein 1923-1997

Benday dots, stripes, flat colour palate and bold linear design all contribute to his rye and witty canvases and sculptures. His break from the tortured world of the Abstract Expressionists and the intellectual weight that movement carried cannot be under estimated. Continue reading Lichtenstein @ Tate Modern

Sharp Art Photography

I’m starting to build up a new Photography section and have started with cityscapes of London.

Had the most glorious, crisp evening walking down from Trafalgar Square down to Waterloo Bridge. The Forth Plinth was playing resident to a piece called ‘Powerless Structures Fig. 101’ by Elmgreen and Dragset. Cast in bronze it mirrors the more traditional statues but as its subject is a young boy playing on his rocking horse, the gallantry depicted here is of a potential one in the future, not of past conquests. The warm colour as the sun was setting and the sky’s violet made a fabulous contrast. Continue reading Sharp Art Photography

Creative Cow’s The Rivals – 5 star reviews

The RivalsI went to see Creative Cow’s production of Sheridan’s The Rivals at the Pomegranate Theatre in Chesterfield and loved it as did the rest of the audience. My parents went to see it at Buxton Opera House, where it received a standing ovation. Every review I’ve seen of it has been extremely favourable and so I’m linking to a few of them here. I would encourage you to take a look at Creative Cow’s web site and book your self a seat for one of their remaining shows. Continue reading Creative Cow’s The Rivals – 5 star reviews