In any era or age, you would find that visual art has always relied on the perspectives of its artists. This is applicable to abstract artwork for sure but even the representational art that translates an artist’s perception of reality.
As we all know, artists literally transport a three-dimensional reality on a landscape that is plain and flat. So, whenever you are studying a painting, you are not actually seeing the reality but what the artist has made of it. It could be an amalgamation of the artist’s memories, desires, notions, and expectations and in many cases; paintings also depict the neural processes and visual pathways.
Now that you know how complicated the making of any given painting could be, just imagine what happens when an old painter or even a younger for that matter suffers from eye or brain disorders! It not only disturbs the reality that an artist sees but also impacts the details of the finest art that he could potentially create.
For instance, as soon as Georgia O’Keeffe, the famous painter suffered from retinal disease, even her finest art appeared to be blurred and was bereft of rich details. However, there have been artists who’ve create one of its kind artwork despite the visual disorders. Let’s see how visual disorders of classic American artists impacted visual art:
1. Edgar Degas’ Two Dancers Contains Minimal Details Due to Macular Degeneration
Degas was a famous French painter is known for portraying dancers with the finesse of his movements and artistry. From the age of 36, Degas suffered from vision problems like retinopathy. He could not bear the direct sunlight and hence, chose to paint ballet and opera as seen in many of his paintings.
However, that was not all, at 40, Degas also developed macular degeneration and started using pastels against oils. He also forayed into photography, sculpture, printmaking to make up for his artistic loss.
A Woman with Chrysanthemums that Degas painted at 31 shows his finesse and the finer details that he portrayed through it. On the other hand, from 1890-1898, he painted Two Dancers that’s swept with broad strokes of the brush and has meager details.
2. Claude-Oscar Monet’s The Water-Lily Pond and The Japanese Bridge are affected by Cataracts
Monet was famous for trailblazing the French Impressionist movement and being a famous painter. His series of paintings based on the Water Lilies of Giverny, France made him very popular. However, it is believed by many researchers that he had acquired his distinctive style of painting only because of his cataract.
With a decline in his vision, Monet experienced a change in his color choices; he transformed his palette from pastel, floral shades to dark red and brown shades. Though his craft was unchanged, yet his two paintings, The Water-Lily Pond and The Japanese Bridge are palette wise absolutely different and they depict the effect cataract left on Monet’s craft.
3. Rembrandt’s “Self-Portrait” Reveals Stereo Blindness
Feel free to try it out – successively close and open your left and right eye and you would most definitely feel some change in the perspective of your surroundings. You know why this happens? Our retina produces a two-dimensional world for us and the third dimension is simply our illusion or a construct.
Two neuroscientists from Harvard Medical School concluded that despite this biological construct, Rembrandt had painted himself with impeccable precision. It was because of his bad stereovision that he could actually paint himself the way he looked in real life – in three dimensions. As you just read, a stereo blind artist can also end up creating a famous painting and you would never know the disorder they faced in their daily lives!
4. Self-sketches of Utermohlen Hints Mental Disintegration
William Utermohlen was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease when he was 61 and in the following five years, he relied on his art to understand his fuzzy mind. His sketches starting from 1996 delicately portray his experience with the disease.
You might feel that his self-portraits are stylized; rather they depict the decline of his visual skills. Most importantly, those paintings are devastating because they reveal how a famous American painter coped with his mind while solely relying on his art.
5. Never-ending Passion from Leonardo Da Vinci
Along with these painters, even the Masters like Leonardo Da Vinci suffered from squint, medically known as strabismus and his work like Vitruvian Man gives away some of it. It is believed that this disorder bothered him only when he relaxed while painting against intently focusing on the subject.
Going by all these, you might have never seen any famous painting thinking about its artist’s suffering, but now, we are sure that it is about to change as you would probably feel more empathy towards classic American artists or even that modest, old painter who just paints around the corner of your street while combating a visual ailment.
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- Starting With The Right Supplies
- Prepare. Prepare. Prepare
- Paint Like A Professional
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