Thursday, July 7, 2011

artist of interest: Gustave Moreau

Hesiod and the Muse, 1891

During my recent trip to Paris, I visited the Musée d'Orsay for the first time. The museum itself is beautiful and used to be the Beaux-Arts railway station Gare d'Orsay. The building really lends itself to art viewing. It was probably the most enjoyable museum experience I've ever had.

Since I've been drawing quite a bit more than I used to, I've really come to appreciate painting again. I did see a lot of the big names (Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Gaughin). But one artist that I had never noticed before is Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau

Galatea, 1898

His paintings are delightfully colorful and shiny. I was immediately drawn closer by the crystallized effect his layers of paint and oils have on the canvas. The works were literally sparkling (an effect you can only see when face to face with the painting). And the mystical scenes are wonderfully bizarre.

Prometheus, 1868

Orpheus, 1865

I love the way the distant backgrounds are addressed, the amount of fine detail in some areas, and the scratchiness and heaviness of paint in others.

Jupiter and Semele, 1894-95
(all images via Wikipedia, except Galatea via Musee d'Orsay)

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