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Running head: WHEN I HAVE A TERRIBLE NEED OF - SHALL I SAY THE 1

When I have a terrible need of - shall I say the word - religion, then I go out and paint the stars.
Amber Mendoza
Art/101
August 18, 2013
Kristy Yau
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SHALL I SAY THE
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Fig. 1 Vincent Van Gogh, The Starry Night, 1889.
Oil on Canvas, 29 _ 361/4 in. The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Fig. 2 Sol LeWitt, Wall Drawing No. 681 C, 1993.
Colored ink washes, The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
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Van Gogh’s painting The Starry Night and Le Witt’s installation at the National Gallery
of Art both show lines and how they can vary drastically from one artist to another. Van Gogh’s
Starry Night consist of a variety of different lengths, widths along with a combination of various
curved and straight lines (Sayre, 2012). His work much like his real life persona were rather at
odds with themselves but always came together to form a complete identifiable picture. The
lines found in Starry Night are chaotic and the almost haphazard compared to almost any other
artist in history. The painting is at war within its self which is evident with the brightness of the
night sky with its shorter thicker strokes and the dark cumbersome cypress tress pressed firmly
into the viewer’s attention with longer darker thicker lines. As the cypress tree is a token of
death and grieving the dominating nature of the true is truly represented and at odds with the
majesty of the night sky above it (Sayre, 2012).
While Van Gogh was chaotic and tortured other artist use lines to convey a sense of order
and reliability within their work which can be seen in Le Witt’s installation in Figure 2. His use
of lines is all consistent and almost mathematical in their precision (Sayre, 2012). The lines that
he showed allowed the audience to see order and rationality where Van Gogh’s work usually
lacked a sense of rationality but captured a sense of passion and vigor. The perfection of Le
Witt’s lines harken to an ordered reliable personality outside of his work or a need to instill order
in an unordered and chaotic world.
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Fig. 3 Diego Velázquez, Las Meninas (The Maids of Honor), 1656. Oil on canvas, Museo
Nacional del Prado, Madrid.
In Diego Velazquez’s Las Meninas or the Maids of Honor there are a variety of
interesting techniques being used to draw the eye of the viewer into the painting. The way that
Velazquez used the placement of various people and props along with his use of light and dark
leads the viewer’s eyes to a variety of different place within the boundaries of the painting
(Sayre, 2012). The princess or infanta is placed right in the center of the painting. The princess
is also bathed in a bright light that focuses more or less on only her and is set against a dark back
drop which draws the viewer’s eyes (Sayre, 2012). The infanta is also brought forward as a focal
point by the fact that several of the painted figures in the picture are focused on her but not all of
them are. The dwarf and the painter along with the couple in the mirror all seem to stare at the
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viewer or off into the distance rather than at the princess. Another focal point within the painting
is the mirror or painting in the back of the room. The two people represented are the King and
Queen and they are not present in the picture but are reflected within its boundaries. The servant
in the back doorway also queues the audience to the couple by staring at that spot on the wall.
Velazquez’s use of light and dark along with his use of the space within the painting draws the
viewer’s eyes in various directions creating dimension and drama. The fact that there are a
variety of different social stations are represented along with the fact that they are all looking and
concentrating on different aspects of the work makes the viewer question and think why they are
there and questions why they are focused in the direction that they are.



Edward Hopper, Nighthawks, 1942. Oil on canvas, Art Institute of Chicago. Friends of American
Art Collection
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In Edward Hooper’s Nighthawks painting there are several key elements that come together to
create an isolated and lonely feeling to the painting. The first element that brings forth a sense of
isolation is the use of color and light within the painting. Outside the building the light quality is
almost warm and welcoming while in harsh contrast the light inside the building is overly bright
and artificial (Sayre, 2012). The quality of the two lights juxtaposes against each other give the
viewer a sense that the building and its occupants are apart from one another. The use of color
within the Nighthawk painting is another element that creates the signature feeling of this
painting.
The colors are almost blocked against each other with crisp lines that define them.
Much the way the people within the building are separate from and isolated from on another so is
the colors used within this painting. There is also a sense of loneliness represented with the
figures inside the building. The two customers are almost identical in their clothes leading to a
uniform like quality. This drudgery like quality of keeping on is only reinforced by the harsh
white uniform worn by the man behind the counter and in contrast the only woman in the picture
is attached to someone and is also found in a bright vibrant red dress. This might insinuate that
the men of the time had more on their shoulders then their female counterparts. The painting in
general leads the viewer to believe that there is a problem without a solution that the occupants
of this particular establishment are facing.





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Works Cited

Sayre, H. M. (2012). World of Art. New Jersey: Pearson.