Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Hello, impasto!

Hello art world!  This is the Duluth Art Institute speaking (and/or it's Development-Operations Manager, Laura).  Well, if you haven't heard we will soon be starting screenings of Robert Hughes' "Shock of the New", which is a fantastic eight-part series on the rise and fall of the modern art movement.  Not only will you be able to rest your eyes on the handsome and talented Robert Hughes, but you will be able to do it FO FREE!  That's right, we're partnering with the Zinema 2 in downtown Duluth to share these nuggets of educational fun at no cost to you, the viewers.  If you need a convenient reminder here's the event on our Facebook page! (Insert social media marketing tactic):

This brings us onto the purpose of this blog: sharing the awesomeness that is Robert Hughes.  A few weeks back you may remember us sharing with you "Ryan Gosling, museum lover" on Facebook.  However, if you do not remember here is the link:

Now, this got our creative juices flowing.  It started as a fun Photoshop project to make our coworkers giggle but soon grew into an obsession that took over an entire afternoon.  We can't stop.  So, to turn our seemingly unproductive project into something useful we're using it to promote our "Shock of the New" series in blog form!  Every week before our showing of "Shock of the New" a new post will be made with a picture that we had a blast creating along with some fun tidbits about our sultry host and some clarification on the fancy jargon he's using.

This week our photo is brought to you from the painter Sylvia Shap and can be found in the Smithsonian Institute National Portrait Gallery.  Sylvia Shap creates portraits of interesting people, and who better than our Aussie friend, Robert Hughes?  Her technical skill as a realist-portraiture painter not only accurately depicts the physical aspects of her subjects, but reveals something about their inner-being and personality.  Doesn't this portrait just ooze Robert's insightful-suaveness?

Now, some of you might not know what impasto means; hopefully not because you fell asleep in your Art History course during your undergrad.  Anywho, here is the Merriam-Webster definition:

impasto: im·pas·tos
1 : the thick application of a pigment to a canvas or panel in painting; also : the body of pigment so applied
2 : raised decoration on ceramic ware usually of slip or enamel

In layman's terms it means the way an artist applies the paint to their canvas.  Every artist does this differently; it's an easy way to distinguish who painted what!


Wheat Field with Cypresses: Vincent Van Gogh
This is an easy-peasy example.  It's simple to distinguish a Van Gogh painting given the way the painting almost feels like its MOVING.  This movement is created because Van Gogh applied his paint with thick, continuous strokes.

A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte : Georges Pierre Seurat
Now here is what our dear friend, Robert, was referencing this week.  Can you see the difference in how Seurat applies his strokes?  It's much more delicate and soft compared to the robust application of Van Gogh; not unlike a lady that Robert might be seducing. 

Fun Fact:  This painting was used as inspiration for a promotional poster for the current season of "The Office".

Was also was used at one point for "The Simpsons":

Isn't art fun?  
Alright kiddies, that's enough for now.  
Until next week!

Oh yea, if you have comments, questions, or a nifty picture of Robert Hughes that you'd like to share leave us a comment!  Or email us at

1 comment:

  1. Laura, while I thank you for the kind mention. I would describe my painting, "Robert Hughes", as painterly not impasto. The surface is actually quite smooth.

    Again I appreciate your compliments and thank you for featuring a work I am very proud of. The work is partly an homage to Frans Hals' "The Laughing Cavalier".