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Analysis and the
Visual Arts

Mrs. DiLauro
AP English 11

The Mona Lisa .

almost as if they belonged to a different body. The mystery stems from a number of factors: first. which is directed to the right of the viewer. compared to the (lower) flatlands stretching away on the left. enriched by a definite air of mystery. with its smoky blues and no clearly defined vanishing point. as scans indicate that originally she was given both. . This imbalance adds to the slightly surreal atmosphere of the picture.  Another slightly surreal feature of the Mona Lisa is her lack of eyebrows and eyelashes. with her face and chest turned slightly towards the viewer: a posture derived from the 'pyramid' image used to depict a sitting Madonna. her enigmatic half-smile. her gaze. It is possible that the colour pigment used for these facial features has since faded or been inadvertently removed during cleaning. Deconstructive Analysis  The portrait shows the subject sitting upright and sideways in a chair. as well as the armrest. lifeless quality . This was not a deliberate act of the artist. It gives the composition significant depth. and the harmony created by the sitter's pyramid-shaped pose and understated drapery. the soothing sfumato tonality.  The background landscape behind the sitter was created using aerial perspective. The slightly protective position of her arms.  The general impression created by the Mona Lisa portrait is one of great serenity. her hands which have a slightly unreal. although its details reveal a clear imbalance between the (higher) rocky horizon to the right. Her left arm sits comfortably on the armrest of the chair and is clasped by the hand of her right arm which crosses her front. The serenity comes from the muted colour scheme. creates a sense of distance between sitter and spectator. second.

A Starry Night .

The dominance of blue in Starry Night is balanced by the orange of the night sky elements. Van Gogh paints the rich colors of the night and this corresponds with the true character of this Starry Night. " The vivid style chosen by van Gogh was unusual . It seems that van Gogh was finally being cured of his illness and had essentially found his heaven. In a letter to his brother. Vertical lines such as the cypress tree and church tower softly break up the composition without retracting from the powerful night sky depicted in Starry Night. Many feel that van Gogh´s turbulent quest to overcome his illness is reflected in the dimness of the night sky. . TONE. he could neither forget it nor totally accept it. Despite this.  COLOR Van Gogh´s choice of color in Starry Night has been much debated. peaceful village. EMOTION There are various interpretations of Starry Night and one is that this canvas depicts hope. The village is peaceful in comparison to the dramatic night sky and the silence of the night can almost be felt in Starry Night. He also knew that in death he would be at peace and further portrays this by using bold colors in the Starry Night painting. with spacing between the stars and the curving contours creating a dot-to-dot effect. " Later in the letter he makes reference to Leo Tolstoys book My Religion and its lack of belief in resurrection. DECONSTRUCTIVE ANALYSIS  COMPOSITION The night sky depicted by van Gogh in the Starry Night painting is brimming with whirling clouds. Such fleeting mentions of religion echoed van Goghs feelings towards the subject at this time.  MOOD. Theo. In the left foreground is a curvy cypress tree which is typically associated with mourning. The steeple dominates the village and symbolizes unity in the town. with shining stars filling the sky. The main light sources are the bright stars and crescent moon. Furthermore. shining stars. The artist was aware that his Starry Night composition was somewhat surreal and stylized and in a letter to his brother he even referred to "exaggerations in terms of composition.he chose lines to portray this night scene when silhouettes would have been a more obvious choice. The setting is one that viewers can relate to and van Gogh´s swirling sky directs the viewer´s eye around the painting. and greens with a dash of red to the left of the church. In terms of composition. Van Gogh's use of white and yellow creates a spiral effect and draws attention to the sky. The buildings in the centre of the painting are small blocks of yellows. It seems that van Gogh is contrasting life and death with luminous stars and a gloomy. and a bright crescent moon. Some believe van Gogh may have been suffering from lead poisoning or a type of brain disease and that this explains his strange use of color in later paintings. whereby colors are used to suggest emotion. It seems that van Gogh was showing that even with a dark night such as this it is still possible to see light in the windows of the houses. oranges. However. van Gogh comments: "I should not be surprised if you liked the Starry Night and the Ploughed Fields. Thus Starry Night´s composition was distinct from the Impressionist technique of the 19th century. the church steeple gives an impression of size and isolation. there is a greater quiet about them than in the other canvases. Vincent van Gogh´s choice of dark blues and greens were complemented with touches of mint green showing the reflection of the moon. there is always light to guide you. These internal elements ensure fluidity and such contours were important for the artist even though they were becoming less significant for other Impressionists. there is a consistency to his technique that adds even more depth as well as a rich texture to this work of art. In Starry Night contoured forms are a means of expression and they are used to convey emotion. his use of the word 'quiet' and reference to Tolstoys book indicates that the night sky made him feel calm and brought to mind eternity.  LIGHT Van Gogh´s passion for nighttime is evident in the Starry Night painting. It is painted in the same way as the sky with fluid lines which enhances the flow of the Starry Night painting well as its easiness on the eye. particularly the dominance of yellow in this and other late works. where the powerful sky sits above the quiet town. thick brush strokes are very much obvious and it´s possible that his severe attacks further dramatized his brush work.  BRUSHSTROKE In Starry Night van Gogh´s unique. The village is painted with dark colors but the brightly lit windows create a sense of comfort.

American Gothic .

Your turn…  Look at small details and choices that you wouldn’t normally see…  The house in the background—  The woman’s hair  Alternative interpretations of symbols and gender roles…not everything is as it seems upon first glance .

The Scream .

composition. sentence structure and devices… . Artist use these things like writers use word choice. Try again!  Look at…color. brushstroke. diction.

Freedom From Want .

 Look at subtle choices like body and posture and facial expressions.  Look at the non-focal points. These convey meaning too!! . small authorial/artistic choices. delve deeply into the piece. How about now…?  Remember.

Guernica .

Rely on your rhetorical knowledge and your knowledge of symbols. what have you learned?  Modern art is tough. Pick it apart. For the final show!  Last try. together.  There is NO SUCH THING AS DONE!!! .

The Persistence of Memory .

.Your final assessment…  Turn in a deconstructive analysis on The Persistence of Memory and finish for homework if not done in class.