Today I visited the National Gallery of Australia and wandered around before finding a piece which not only caught my eye, but got me thinking about how artists create their work, and why. Nacres [Mother of Pearl] by Amedee Ozenfant is an Oil on Canvas painting completed in 1926.
What kinds of things do you see in this painting? What else do you see?
Simple shapes from the kitchen; all glasses I think. Though they all seem to blend together.
Also, lots of space around the central collection of shapes.
What words would you use to describe this painting? What other words might we use?
Calm, subtle, simple, clean, interesting, abstract, defined, peaceful. Or maybe even dull, grey, pointless.
How would you describe the lines in this picture? The shapes? The colours? What does this painting show?
The lines are clearly defined, and sometimes seem quite sharp, though are mostly curved. The shapes, that are mostly rounded and organic-feeling, somehow are clearly defined, though somehow do seem to blend. This could be due to the colours mostly all being from a similar, neutral palette.
What is your first impression of the work? What initial observations can you make about it?
It caught my eye as it was peaceful, but also interesting. I noticed the recognisable shapes all bunched together to make one, larger unrecognisable shape. aI also loved the smaller blocks of colours shapes making up the recognisable ones.
What does this painting remind you of?
– A cloudy sky.
– A neutral, stylish interior.
-The kitchen or lounge room.
What interests you most about this work of art?
It uses a great amount of empty space that brings the eye to the central group of shapes – which are also one of my favourite features, as well as the use of colour blocks.
What can you tell me about the colours in this painting?
They are mostly very neutral and pastel shades. It could almost be described as dull with the large amount of light browns and greys. Though there are small bursts of colour – though they are still not bright; they are just deeper. For example – a darker glass-bottle green, and wine-maroon. There are also lovely splashed of white which break it up.
What colour is used the most in this painting?
A light brownish Grey (various shades of it.)
What do you think is the most important part of this picture?
It’s hard to say. Probably how the shapes all seem to blend together, yet also allow the individual shapes to stand out. However, the empty space around the edges could be equally as important.
How do you think the artist made this work?
I would first assume that she carefully planned, or at least sketched the arrangement of shapes, as the lines and shapes are so defined. However, she may have simply begun with one or two shapes, and added to them. I say this as the shapes do blend together so well and feel organic and yet abstract. She also could have added layers of colour to make up the blocks of different colours in the shapes.
What questions would you ask the artist about this work, if s/he were here?
-Is there a deeper message behind the piece?
-Is it supposed to represent something – maybe an issue in society or a feeling?
-What inspired the piece?
What title would you give to this painting? What made you decide on that title?
Either ‘Shape’ or ‘Glass.’ I think, to me, both of these names are what the piece ultimately is.
What do you think is happening in this painting? What else could be happening?
It could a a whole collection of glasses blending together. Otherwise, I really don’t know.
What sounds (our soundtrack) would this painting make (if it could)?
A peaceful, higher pitched song, (which is not annoying in any way,) probably with guitar or a calm instrument, and an airy female singer who is singing in French.
What do you think is going on in this picture? How did you arrive at that idea?
As mentioned, I think something to do with a range of types of glasses all blending together as one. This is purely due to the fact that I see the shapes of these glasses.
What do you think this painting is about? How did you come up that idea?
It could be about boredom of a domestic life – because everything in the piece are items from in the home (or kitchen) and their shapes interlock and blend together. The colours also are very pale and quite dull, with not much excitement. While I guess at this, I still don’t think it is what it’s about somehow – I really don’t know what it is supposed to be telling me.
Pretend you are inside this painting. What does it feel like?
A quiet, peaceful cloudy day. Though I would feel very comfortable and at home. Though possibly confused, with everything I see almost blending together as one.
Why do you suppose the artist made this painting? What makes you think that?
As mentioned, I think it may have been inspired by pieces in the home – and created to create interest in them, as she may have been bored with domesticated life. I only think so because of the recognisable shapes used, and dull colours.
What do you think is good about this painting? What is not so good?
I love the use of colours and shapes – and that they are so defined, yet still seem to blend together. It is so subtle, yet very interesting.
The only downside is that I find it hard to work out the meaning or the piece.
Do you think the person who painted this do a good or bad job? What makes you think so?
A good job, as – apart from the fact it is in the National Gallery of Australia – I can’t recall seeing anything like it. I think this is because of the use of empty space, and the colours used just work so well. Also, you can also see the texture of the oil paint, and the careful directional brush strokes.
Why do you think other people should see this work of art?
It just catches your eye and has something interesting about it to me. I lvoe the use of empty space, shapes, and colour theme.
What do you think other people would say about this work? Why do you think that?
Some could say that it is a bit dull if the colours don’t appeal to them, and they may also struggle to see the point in the painting – it being, ultimately, of glasses, and very abstract.
What would you do with this work if you owned it?
It would feature in my open living area, (which included the kitchen,) and I would base my interior on the slightly brighter colours in the piece in order to enhance them.
What do you think is worth remembering about this painting?
The use of negative space, and central placement of the feature of the piece, as well as the colour combination. I also love the idea of using different blocks of colours in strange shapes to make up a recognisable shape.