Saturday, December 13, 2008

08/09 Academic Decathlon Image #9

Valley of Oaxaca, Jose Maria Velasco, 1888, Oil on Canvas, 41 7/8 x 63 1/4 in. (Art after Independence)

Jose Maria Velasco lived and worked in the mid-19th century in Mexico. He was trained as a painter and the style of the landscapes he painted was picturesque and idealized. He was dedicated to painting landscapes that were not only Mexican, but were also clearly identifiable to his viewers.

This painting is a large scale work from the peak of his career. He has a bird's-eye view of the valley. Natural flora and fauna are portrayed in the detailed foreground. The group of people are in indigenous dress and are of the peasant class. Notice the small wooden cross on the small hill behind the figures. Not only was Velasco a devout catholic, but religious imagery like this was common in the rural landscape.

Also we see the grid of the growing city portrayed with the use of linear perspective. He also used Leonardo's famous artistic device, atmospheric perspective (the colors in the background are more blue and the sharpness of detail is softened further away), to additionally create a vast depth of space on the two dimensional picture plane. Working with oil allowed not only for the precision of his work but also for the delicate shading of color to create this panoramic view.

2 comments:

R estrada said...

This picture looks as though it has unity. Both the sky and the ground emphasize each other. The colors give off some kind of peaceful feeling which makes you want to look at it.

Anonymous said...

The detail in this 19th century oil on canvas just blows me away!
The color usage creates a unity between earth and sky, and gives a powerful, awing view of nature by using linear perspective as well as atmospheric perspective to create depth, as the colors fade and the sharpness is gradually released. The colors in the background are less saturated and more neutral than in the foreground.
I like how the foreground is very detailed with browns, yellows, and greens, and the flecks of white create the illusion of light.
The artist even went so far as to make sure that the group of 4 people in the foreground and their clothing shows that they are peasants, and the growth of the city in the background contrasts the simple peasant lifestyle. The wooden cross is in the center represents Velasco's devout Catholic beliefs.
Interestingly enough, Velasco used many small sketches as visual aids and painted this piece in his studio.
This painting focuses on naturalism and not idealism.
I like it, because it is very real, while simultaneously displaying nature in such a way that it takes your breath away, and almost appears to be a fantasy.
- W. Mills