Monday, January 18, 2010

Art and Act

Diego Velasquez's Los Meninas  is considered by some to be a modern painting.   Executed in 1656, it captures a moment in time.  The artist shows himself in front of a large canvas as he paints a portrait of the King and Queen of Spain, whose  reflections can be seen in the mirror in the background.   Visiting the salon is the Prince Margarita and her meninas or maids.  But who is the nobleman exiting the room through a staircase in the background of the painting?  Velasquez employs chiaroscuro, light and dark to lead the viewer's eye throughout the image.  Below we can see Picasso's abstracted adaptation in black and white.  The scale of his artist is gigantic!

Pablo Picasso, Las Meninas, 1957

Eve Sussman's video "89 Seconds at Alcazar" was exhibited at the 2004 Whitney Biennial.  Pairing a viewing of her work with an analysis of the painting and a recreation of the painting either as a tableau vivant, or as in Picasso's reinterpretation could make for a meaningful unit of art history for secondary students.  Please scroll down to see the video.  It is stunningly beautiful.