Friday, March 03, 2006

Pieter Vanderlyn

We visited Huntington Gardens in Pasadena. The succulent and cactus garden was amazing, it was like being on Mars. Surprisingly, their art gallery was really wonderful too. I was particularly struck by a portrait by Dutch painter Pieter Vanderlyn. His work is said to "overshadow the work of his contemporaries" because of characteristic "neatness, simplicity and economy of expression."

The flat, graphic qualities in his paintings are a definite contrast to the styles other painters of his time. I really like them because of this, and I'm drawn to the curiously similar positions of the subjects' arms in many of his paintings.

The faces do look blank, but don't feel blank. Almost as if it's a trick. The paintings themselves feel filled with character, so there's a certain irony there that I'm drawn to. I also find it interesting that all of his subjects heads are turned in the same direction.


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