Category: Research

Painting 1, Part 2, Research Michel Eugene Chevreul

I was to find out more about the colour theories of Michel-Eugene Chevreul and make notes on how particular artists have used Chevreuls theories to expand the possibilities of painting.

Michel-Eugene Chevreul was a French Chemist one of his achievements was the development of a type of candle to which he obtained a patent. It was said to become a the most popular candle in France.

Later in his career, he became director of dyeing at a tapestry works in Gobelin. In his first year as director he heard complaints in relation to tapestry colours being poor, which he found the cause to be optical.  He spent time investigating the mixing of colours and found colours had influence over one another when placed side by side. Also, he felt our optical effect  when looking at colours will also have some bearing on them and how we observe them. For instance, if we stare at blue square for a short time, then move our eyes to a white background we see a yellow square after image which within a short space of time fades from view, the reason for this is we have red, green, blue colour receptors within our eyes, and when one of the colour receptors is fatigued by over reception the complimentary colour can be observed in a ghost view.

Chevreul wrote a book on colour theory which in the 19th Century was widely used as the colour manual by artists, designers and decorators. It was influential with the work of Impressionists and their search for colour brilliance, experimenting with the juxtapose application of colour allowing the colour mix to be done by eye.

George Seurat the pointillist met Chevruel and experimented with his colour theories, his paintings show the play of light where dots of colour are applied to his support and leaving the eye to mix the tiny applications of colour forming an image.

https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/georges-seurat-the-channel-of-gravelines-grand-fort-philippe

Josef Albers artist and art educator was inspired by Chevruel’s findings, he published a book looking at colour phenomenon, which is said to have 150 colour plates in relation to the subject. He became a very influential art educator.

Then around the 1910 there was a movement developed called Simultanism by abstract artists Robert Delaunay and Sonia his wife . The word simultanism was taken from the theories in Chevruels book of colour theory, De la loi du contraste simultanée des couleurs. The Delaunay experimented with patches of abstract colour to create movement and light.

http://library.si.edu/exhibition/color-in-a-new-light/using

 

Chevruel and Albers were two artists to influence the Op and Kinetic artist Carlos Cruz-Diez with his use of colour and style of art. Some of his pieces, with their coloured juxtapose lines create visual affects causing the viewer to see changing colours as they move around to view the piece. The shapes within shapes seem to hover and alter, I must admit they have an odd effect on your eyes, I am not sure I would like to look at them when I have a Migraine.

 

http://artradarjournal.com/2017/05/16/mastering-colour-franco-venezuelan-kinetic-and-op-artist-

I have just brushed the surface of this interesting topic, the enormous influence of Chevruel’s research not only effect those that read his studies, but those that studied the studiers. There is no doubt one colour does influence its neighbour and the subject is a very interesting one, but not all artists felt the research of Chevruel was the colour Bible. Monet for one who was said to be preoccupied with garden colours and its powerful contrasts, didn’t feel it was wise to be over reliant on Chevruel’s colour wheel. I think I will have to study the subject more to be able to come to a more educated view, but in this modern world I am sure most of us have seen in one way or another the way colours do have an effect over one another.

 

Costa, A. B. (2017, June 21). Michael-Eugene Chevreul. Retrieved from Encyclopedia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Michel-Eugene-Chevreul

Courthion, P. (2017, June 26). Georges Seurat. Retrieved from Encyclopaedia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Georges-Seurat

Unknown,  (2017, 6 27). Carlos Cruz-Diez. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlos_Cruz-Diez: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlos_Cruz-Diez

Unknown. (2017, 6 27). Mastering colour: Franco-Venezuelan kinetic and op artist Carlos Cruz-Diez at Puerta Roja, Hong Kong. Retrieved from Art Radar: http://artradarjournal.com/2017/05/16/mastering-colour-franco-venezuelan-kinetic-and-op-artist-carlos-cruz-diez-at-puerta-roja-hong-kong/

Unknown (2017, 6 27). USING COLOUR. Retrieved from SMITHSONIAN LIBRARIES: http://library.si.edu/exhibition/color-in-a-new-light/using

Physclips. (2017, June 23rd). Complementary colours, after-images, retinal fatigue, colour mixing and contrast sensitivity. Retrieved from Physclips.

Roque, G. (2017, JUNE 23). CHEVREUL’S COLOUR THEORY. Retrieved from CHEVRULS LAW F1 WEB: http://www.colour.org.uk/Chevreuls%20Law%20F1%20web%20good.pdf

Unknown. (2017, 6 27). Simultanism. Retrieved from Tate: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/s/simultanism

PAINTING 1, PART1, Research Point Chiaroscuro

 

I had to explore the work of some artists whose art is a typical example of Chiaroscuro an Italian word meaning light and dark used in art to visually describe a third dimensional scene, or object. Used in its most extreme form it can produce a powerful picture, evoking an emotional response.

The use of Chiaroscuro has a possible origin dating back to ancient Greek and Romans, but it was an artist with a dubious character called Michelangelo Merisi de Caravaggio who fine-tuned the technique by darkening the shadow areas.

Merisi de Caravaggio

Saint John The Baptist  Probably 1610

http://www.caravaggio-foundation.org/St-John-the-Baptist.html

This is a beautifully painted picture of a young John the light revealing the most prominent items in the picture to be the boy and a red cloak. Light gives these shape and form, the sheep although picked out by light is beginning to have less form, as are the plants shown by a change of tone. What is fascinating is the use of light in the top left corner and the lower central bush, a mere touch of light on leaves is enough to give life and the suggestion of a three-dimensional form.

Jusepe Ribera

Paul The Hermit 1640

https://fineartamerica.com/featured/1-saint-paul-the-hermit-jusepe-de-ribera.html

 

Jusepe Ribera depicted as a follow of Caravaggio  was known as a Tenebrist painter and printmaker, though the painting above is more in the style of Chiaroscuro, it does show Chiaroscuro effect the dark background with delicate changes of tone show shape and Saint Paul lit by an opening in the cave a skulls form just picking out by half light. As Caravaggio the touch of light gives shape to the subject. I love this painting, the craggy face, bones of the knees and the sagging muscles all shown with great skill.

Peter Paul Reubens

Venus Frigida 1614

This oil painting by Reuben’s is another good example of Chiaroscuro although there is more detail in the painting than seen in others, it’s clear the light falling on Venus is depicting her three-dimensional shape emphasizing the curves of her body and Golden Hair. The painting was said to have been enlarged at a later stage, I didn’t know this when first picking the picture to study but felt it was unbalanced at first view.

 

John Constable

 

I chose John Constable because I can see what he means when he says through application of light and sky the painter conveyed emotion capturing what he called the chiaroscuro of nature.” He made a series of engravings from his prints engraved by printmaker David Lucas the second series had the subtitle Principally Intended to Mark the Phenomena of the Chiar’Oscuro of Nature.

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/constable-lucas-old-sarum-second-plate-t04035

This print and its dramatic light and dark is a good example of how nature does indeed create its own chiaroscuro effect.

 

 

 

Adam Butler, C. V. (1994). The Art Book. New York: Phaidon Press Ltd.

America, F. A. (2017, April 23). Saint Paul The Hermit. Retrieved from Fine Art America: https://fineartamerica.com/featured/1-saint-paul-the-hermit-jusepe-de-ribera.html

Caravaggio. (2017, May 23). Retrieved from Caravaggio the Complete Works: http://www.caravaggio-foundation.org/St-John-the-Baptist.html

Chiaroscuro. (2017, May 23). Retrieved from Encyclopaedia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/art/chiaroscuro

John Constable. (2017, May 23). Retrieved from National Gallery of Art USA: https://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/Collection/highlights/highlight1147.html

John Constable, David Lucas, Old Sarum (second plate). (2017, May 23). Retrieved from Tate: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/constable-lucas-old-sarum-second-plate-t04035

John the Baptist (Caravaggio). (2017, April 26). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_the_Baptist_(Caravaggio)

Venus Frigida. (2017, 5 23). Retrieved from Baroque: http://barokinvlaanderen.vlaamsekunstcollectie.be/en/node/7963

Venus Frigida: Rubens’s portrait of love in a cold climate. (2017, May 2017). Retrieved from The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/picture/2011/dec/16/venus-frigida-rubens-jonathan-jones