We read newspapers, online stories, and blogs to get the latest news from around the world. What about a different medium for getting the news – like a painting? Have you ever noticed that many classical masterpieces are actually works of story telling? These paintings are colorful summaries of events that inspired the artist.
Take my painting based on the San Francisco Giants entitled, “The Giant Sleeps Tonight.” The Giants just recently won the National League Pennant and the very next day I sold another copy of the painting to a customer in Indiana. My guess is the buyer was a Giants fan who was still excited for the recent triumph and went looking for a tribute to hang on the wall. A painting can trigger emotions and give pause for self-reflection. In this case, looking at the glove, ball, and jersey might take the viewer back to the championship years of 2010 and 2012 when the Giants were on top. Perhaps the viewer attended a particular game and the painting brings him or her back to that special game.
A painting can also be viewed as a colorful newspaper of masterful propaganda. The French master Jacques-Louis David was such a wizard of propaganda. You know his work: “Oath of the Horatii”, “The Death of Marat”, “Napolean Crossing the Alps”, etc. All of these works served as propaganda for the French revolution. In the case of “The Death of Marat”, the painting served to immortalize a figure whom David idolized. A man who was responsible for the beheading of hundreds if not thousands of French citizens whose only crime was that they didn’t appear to be common enough for the new revolution, Marat became the Joseph McCarthy of his time. To say paranoia played a part in these sentences is an understatement. If you were, or just appeared to be aristocracy, you were singled out in one of many hand written accusations of Marat’s and sent to the gallows. Needless to say, many innocent people died for seemingly no other reason except, in the mind of a paranoid nationalist, they were out of touch with the common Frenchman. I won’t babble on about the details of the revolution and Marat’s place in it, but I will just say that David was a supporter of the revolution and his paintings were intended to support, if not justify, the movement. When Marat was assassinated, David sought to immortalize the man in paint – and he did just that.
This is something that I miss with contemporary art. We just don’t seem to have that great movement in art to describe the times. The majority of modern art feels shallow and self-serving. Political art tries to push us to one end of the political spectrum, shock-art attempts to get our attention about a social stigma through disturbing and often disgusting means, and then there is simply works of art with no visible direction at all. I am someone who says that just because something is old doesn’t make it good, but geez; the modern movement really doesn’t have much to say does it?
Well I have something to say. It may not spark a political movement or push you into public servitude, but there is a clear message. What is the message in my painting, “The Giant Sleeps Tonight?”
The message is simple.
October is orange. Go Giants!