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Compare and Contrast

written by heather davis on 11-07-2011

While trying to choose which works of art I was going to use for this paper I ran across the painting The Holy Family On The Steps, painted by Nicolas Poussin in 1648. This is an example of classical western art. It was painted on Oil Canvas. The family is grouped together in a symmetrical pyramid on the steps, with the most important figure in the center, showing the strongest position; I assume the infant in center is Jesus. His head is highlighted by the columns in the background that almost look like a halo. He highlights the center with the bright blue and red dress Mary is wearing; this will immediately grab your attention.

If you notice in the shadow to the right of Mary is Joseph, he throws off the symmetrical by adding in the dark robe and shadow as if he is hiding something. His foot is sticking out and is even with the staff, this makes that side of the painting look symmetrical again. To the left of Mary is St. Elizabeth and he dressed her in a bright yellow robe as if he is highlighting her, and the infant baby John of Baptist. The overall balance of the painting is Asymmetrical but the center gives it some symmetry.

It is a still painting no movement except for John the Baptist moving toward baby Jesus. Something I keep noticing is the architecture in the background. The columns in the background look older than the ones connected to the steps. The texture in the sky shows how blue the sky is, while at the same time shows the grayness of the white fluffy cloud. Maybe he is showing that a storm was coming or darkness was brewing. The overall colors of the painting are bright and happy.

The second work of art that I chose Untitled by Swoon in 2005. It is printed on recycled newspapers and then pasted on walls. This is graffiti but she uses the pseudonym to avoid being prosecuted. The work has a family sitting. They look as if she tried putting them in a pyramid form but not all sides are symmetrical and the left side starts higher than the right. The woman in the center is probably the mother or at least the caretaker of the children; she is shown in a bright red shirt, making you notice her immediately. All of the children are in black or white looking shirts except for the one on the far right, his shirt looks slightly green.

The family is surrounded by pigeons, showing they could possibly be sitting in the park or maybe a rooftop. The art is still no movement going on. The sharp lines defining the children’s arms look like muscles being highlighted, so maybe the family has had a hard life or has gone through hard times recently. There is little color in the picture to show how the family might have felt emotionally, but the expressions on their faces are all very sad.

The reason I chose the two works of art is that they both contain family’s sitting in the center. They do not compare in the emotional factor. However, maybe that is where the idea became to do the family sitting with the most important person in the center. I believe that with the bright colors highlighting the center it shows importance.

Holy family on the steps was one of Nicolas Poussin’s masterpieces. It has sold many more than Untitled; it has been around a lot longer and has more beauty to it. It has a spiritual theme about it that makes it easy to look at as well as easy to combine with other art works.

I personally like untitled better, it shows grief and overcoming it. Both are really great works of art, I enjoyed studying the both of them. Color and balance are two things that I seem to notice most of all in art.

Author: heather davis
Date Submited: 11-07-2011

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