Kant’s idea of the sublime is that it overwhelms our imagination, one example is the mathematical sublime in which the magnitude is too much for us to comprehend, like unlimited stars in the Universe. It can be argued that postmodern artist Christo’s Umbrellas fit the definition.
In one of the most important aesthetic books, Kant separates the sublime from the senses and art. This is the first in Newberry’s series on Kant, which will cover far-reaching implications.
In this episode, I reflect that it has been 40 years of painting life-size figures and now it is time for a major retrospection of my work in a major museum of contemporary art.
Newberry discusses the influences of Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Michelangelo in his current work in progress.
A visit to well known NY gallery of an artist’s solo show of still lifes. I was surprised he didn’t get the connotations of his visual language. It was like talking to someone who didn’t get that they were making a double entendre.
Newberry discusses phallic shapes in painting with reference to Velazquez “The Signing of Breda” contrasted with some florals by Georgia O’Keeffe.
For decades I have listened to classical music every day while painting. Here are my favorite and most inspiring recordings:
No 1: Puccini, Turandot
Conducted by Zubin Mehta. Sutherland, Pavarotti, Caballe, Chiaurov, Krause, Pears, John Alldis Choir. London Philharmonic Orchestra.
This opera and recording represent one of the greatest art achievements of the 20th century. In 1925 Puccini died before completing the last act, it premiered in 1926 at La Scala conducted by Arturo Toscanini. This recording has great singers, great performances, beautifully and passionately conducted, and fresh clean sound. This recording inspired my painting of Puccini and Denouement. My aesthetic takeaway from this opera was that it integrated romance, epic setting, beautiful and exotic color/sound harmonies, gorgeous melodies, powerful chorus, the battle of the sopranos, and maintained the big picture driving towards powerful closings of each act. My painting Denouement was the result of translating this aesthetic from music into paint.
Painting Is a Lie That Helps Us See More
An important part of being a true artist is exploring visual knowledge. In this series of small 10×8″ paintings I tested my hypothesis that the hue (color) of shadows would have similar hues in spatial depth. The idea was gleaned from two things: looking at landscapes when the distant mountains are blue and there is blue in the shadows of everything including in the foreground. And from my study of the colors of the light and shadows of Rembrandt and Monet, what was different yet similar between them.
At first glance of my paintings above look fairly natural and you will notice the simple objects gently lit. Which is a good thing. This implies that the hypothesis is working. They each have a different color base: red, black, burnt umber, manganese blue, ultra marine blue, gray, and sienna. This means when a lit white stripe in the foreground enters into a shadow it will merge with that shadow’s color base, for instance if the base is manganese blue the white stripe now turns turquoise. The real complexity begins when the further you go back in space the colors of things take on more manganese blue hues.
This fits with a classical view of warmer colors come forward and cooler colors go back but what happens when we reverse this and give the shadows the hot red or sienna and use those hues to blend with the background colors? Yay, it still works in the sense of creating depth and light. As soon as the first artists started painting real things like horses on two-dimensional cave walls there was a paradox that it was a lie and a truth. The advantage of being able to work with radically different color schemes gives the artist more emotional range and visual options. And it gives the viewer more to look for in the world around them.
In this 14 minute video I mix some of my favorite color combinations showing how you play with warm and cool colors, and how to tweak some highlights by the color you add.