Artistic Inspiration in Art History

First and foremost, I am an art historian as well as an artist, and this completely guides my artistic choices that I make and what influences me. I do try to let my work speak for itself but that would not be quite right to completely ignore the influences and the history of pigment and painter that have existed before my work and me. We have already talked at length about artist that influence my current series of work that specifically deal with invisible illnesses, as it is something near and dear to my way of life and upbringing. These artists, such as Vincent van Gogh, Edvard Munch, and even Frieda Kahlo, all struggled with a form of invisible illness throughout their creative periods, and they still made work despite this hindrance.

There were many artists throughout history that had to create work by commission and not because they felt compelled to keep making work as a form of expressions of the self. I think this is why I admire the Impressionists so much and the exploration of art for the self and the divergence from traditional color pallets to non local color. It’s when the artist makes work for himself that it truly sings of the vitality of their soul despite a disability. When you look at works by these famous artists, you can see their temperance in the way they use a color, texture, or medium. Edvard Munch used chalk, charcoal, and pastels for rough and visceral with a lack of a preservative quality. Vincent Van Gogh used small short brush strokes to form volume, in the way that his personality was rough towards the public but soft towards nature. Frieda Kahlo worked in surrealism with limited color pallets, and the style of surrealism helped emphasize her dreams as a reality and how not all of what you dream is pleasant.

One artist that I have grown close to in a sense over the past few years is Eugene Delacroix. From working on writing an article around a little discussed portion of Delacroix’s life, his 1832 trip to Morocco and Algiers. This is where there was the largest room for expansion and improvement and fluidity in his work. This also correlated closely with my recent trip to Greece, where I was experiencing a new culture for the first time, and I had a sketchbook and some travel watercolors in hand ready to document as much as I possibly could in the time I was given. The reasoning behind why I have become so fond of Delacroix goes much deeper than a simple trip. There are his oil paintings such as “ Liberty Leading the People” , “Women of Algiers”, and “Death of Sardanapalus”, which were all equally beautiful in their rendering as many scholars and artists can agree.

The thing many people do not see is the life he brings into his work when he is traveling abroad on this diplomatic mission as the accompanying artist meant to document the journey. The line quality of his ink work is energetic, almost fervent in a way that only someone with a few moments to spare to jot something down can comprehend. Delacroix’s choice of jewel like watercolors and brightly colored vistas exist because he was desperately trying to convey the strength of the sun in an arid environment making the colors extremely vivid. Even the portraits he did of the main French delegate Comte Mornay had a much more real and earnest feel than his fully planned out, large scale oil paintings. These sketchbooks were intimate, honest, and genuine brooking no room for extra thought or doubt. After studying Delacroix for so long, I can’t see why more artists aren’t emulating that kind of thought process, but then again I am not a very typical artist or art historian. I am both.

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