Visual Culture and the Comparison of Works of Art

Valeria Meli - 26 Apr 2017

Art magazine - art news - Visual Culture and the Comparison of Works of Art

In consideration of the fact that we now find ourselves in what has been defined as a «visual culture», trying to critically analyse the immense amount of images that we’re exposed to everyday is undoubtedly a useful exercise.

The process of observing paintings, drawings, prints or sculptures is a matter of contemplation. There is no need of an immediate reaction. On the contrary, the more we exercise our ability to stare at a work of art, the more we participate to the understanding of its slightest details and its historical references.

In fact, once we acquire critical and analytical competences of the visual sphere, we can learn how to judge and discern. We can then reach a deeper dimension of appreciating, grasping and enjoying the works of art, without losing that sense of wonder and pleasure.

Comparing two paintings is an excellent method to acquire those competences. Looking at two works of art one beside the other allows us to better capture the peculiar aspects of each of them. However, this technique has to be used appropriately and critically, as to not indiscriminately match a work with another and render null and void the process of comparing. 

Another required consideration is that nowadays comparing works of art is something that involves digital or photographical reproductions of a painting (et similia), since it is very rare that this activity can take place in the same museum or exhibition. The drawback of this is the inability of perceiving details such as the depth of a brush stroke or the exact shade of a colour, but nonetheless it is and has been an essential tool for the development and progress of art critic. 

In this article, as to emphasize even more immediately how art is a continuous flow of references and influences through the centuries, the works of art will be compared in order to underline the influence of an artist on another and the continuity between past and present.

 

 

The Scream (1893) – Edvard Munch / At Eternity’s Gate (1890) – Vincent Van Gogh

 

 

Lightning Composer (1926) – Fortunato Depero / Mosaic II (1957) – M. C. Escher

 

La Mémoire (1944) - René Magritte / Oedipus (1990) - Hermann Nitsch

Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1935) - René Magritte / Zex Mirror (1987) - Alva Bernardine

 

Le Coq Sur Paris (1958) – Marc Chagall / Galatea (1976) – Joan Mirò

 

Flask (1915) – Carlo Carrà / Still Life (1957) – Giorgio Morandi

 

Love in the Golden Age (1589) – Agostino Carracci / The Joy of Life (1906) – Henri Matisse

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