Essay Comparing Two Works of Art

I have always felt that visual imagery is one of the best ways in which people may express themselves. Whether the image is produced by painting, drawing or photography, a picture needs no words to explain what it means and what the artist felt when he or she conceived it. Language is not a barrier when the subject is visual.

Based on the preceding I chose two pieces of art in two completely different fields to analyze. My first piece of art is by the late Edward Steichen (1879-1973) A photographer whose active career lasted half the time in which photography has existed. His black and white composition, “Wilted Sunflower”, is one of the finest pieces of photography I have ever seen. Seeing as I myself am an amateur photographer, I felt that my judgment of this piece could be most critical.

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When I first glanced at this piece of art the first thing that came to mind was “I can’t believe there can be so much beauty in the death of something.” The 8 x 10 photograph produced with a large format camera is engulfed by a wilted sunflower lying against what seems to be the bottom corner of a rusted metal barn.

He has purposely thrown much of the background out of focus in order to place attention on the beautifully wilted flower. It looks as if he may have taken this image at dusk in order to make use of amazing shadows which make the brighter features of the flower come to life. The purpose of this is to make you feel as if you were actually there viewing that moment in time.

The image also produces a feel of time, which has passed. One can almost visualize the presence this flower must have shown in life. He has placed this flower primarily in the left third of the page, causing the viewers eye to flow into the pedals at the left bottom corner flow through the flower and come back and flow through the left top corner of the page. The thought of producing an image, which has a flowing quality such as this, is ideal in photography.

I believe it is also important to point out the fine grain that Steichen was able to produce in this picture through the use of his large format camera. By doing this he has made the photo look extremely intimate and perhaps even fragile. This photograph is a very impressive piece of art.

The second piece of art that I chose to analyze is a much older piece. An oil on canvas painting produced in 1740 by Giovanni Panini (1691-1765) labeled “Interior of the Pantheon”.
In this painting Giovanni has skillfully adjusted the optical perspective, distorting the interior of the Pantheon so that the viewer may see all of the beautifully crafted ceiling while also portraying a view of people mingling on the floor of the pantheon and even being able to peer through and see the fountain that was present in the Pizza Della Rotunda outside of the Pantheon.

Giovanni has made a feeling of time and motion by placing the mingling people on the floor of the pantheon. This was a wonderful way for him to make what would have been a very boring architectural painting into a work which supplies the viewer with much interest.

Something that I noticed was that Giovanni made good use of primary colors. He dressed many of the people in reds and blues once again giving your eyes something to be attracted to. He also used faded color as the “distance” portrayed in the picture grew further.

In conclusion, after viewing these pieces of art I have a much greater appreciation of both of these artists and the works that they conceived. And although neither artist utilized every tool which could have been used in the creation of these pieces, they still portray something amazing, the ability that man has to capture feelings and time. After all as we have all been told sometimes “less is more”.

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