Art in Context I

Perhaps more than any art movement in history, nature ruled the world of the Impressionists. Light was of huge importance; they painted outside, en plein air, and strove to capture the sensations of illumination and warmth that radiate from the sun through pure, unfiltered color.
Compare this work from Kathryn’s “Journey” series with Monet’s Landscape at Vetheuil. The obvious, coincidental similarities in subject matter and composition lessen with deeper contemplation. While devoid of human figures, both works allude to the relationship between space and nature through their point of view. Monet’s work sits comfortably, from far away and slightly below; we can see the painter standing where we view the work, dabbing paint on his canvas. The medium of photography allows Kathryn’s point of view to hover slightly above her picture, god-like; there is no sense of time in the composition, except for faint and far-off telephone poles, hinting to civilization on the other side. In Kathryn’s piece the river floats eerily into the road, conflating the viewer’s sense of reality, just as Monet’s farmhouses grow out of the fields of wheat on the hill.
An untrained criticism of photographers would be that there is no great skill involved. The comparison of these two works proves this wholly false. The lighting in each is expert, with Monet’s well rendered and Kathryn’s well timed; the colors in each highlight the warmth of the afternoon sun and the humid mist. Most importantly, both compositions are derived from their choice of subject matter chosen with a trained and inspired eye.

Rachel Swartz
guest blogger/intern