Pieter Bruegel the Elder (Or, that crazy Flemish guy)

Dull Gret

Dutch Proverbs

The Fall of the Rebel Angels

Massacre of the Innocents

Tower of Babel

I love it when an artist has clearly staked out a niche, and then makes it entirely their own. The works of Pieter Bruegel the Elder are fantastic in this way- he has a formula, and he has made it near perfection, but flexible enough that he can warp the typical scene- a landscape with many figures and lots of action and perspective- into whatever surreal experience he wants us to feel.

He was a “Flemish Renaissance” artist. What that means is that he lived somewhere in the Southern ¬†Netherlands or Northern Belgium and spoke a dialect of Dutch particular to the area. Flanders was a big trading city and usually occupied by the Spanish or other invaders. This meant, however, that it was possible for many artists and forms of art to trickle in because of the outside influences as well as a result of their trading status.

Regardless, Bruegel is a badass. I love his scenes- they’re like Hieronymous Bosch with their creepy vibes trickling into our blood and sort of making us wonder what was going on in his mind. I love his attention to detail, and while it can be exhausting going through his paintings it’s because everything is vibrant and pulsating with energy. Even the peasants painted far off ice-skating on a winter day make you want to be there.

All images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Rogier van der Weyden, The Descent from the Cross

Writing a paper, studying for an exam, listening to Eurotrash, consuming Red Bull.

I leave you with a detail from¬†The Descent from the Cross, by Flemish artist Rogier van der Weyden. This piece is in the Museo del Prado in Madrid- seeing it at the time I didn’t understand how gorgeous this painting is. Even though I’m an atheist, I can appreciate the emotion, and the haptic feelings here in this piece.

Also, look at that blue! Egads! For being painted in 1435, this work sure blows my mind.

Ciao, I’m off to write about Miriam Schapiro and feminist art!

The Ghent Altarpiece- Favorite Art Things

The Ghent Altarpiece, a polyptych (meaning many parts) by the van Eyck brothers in Flanders in 1432, is one of the most beautiful works of art ever created by human hands. It’s done with multiple layers of glazes and oils, and is so amazingly detailed that I’m surprised Art Google hasn’t had it photographed with their amazing cameras yet!

This is a perfect example of detailed 15th century Flemish art, full of symbolism, detail, and obvious care for the shadows and layers that the artists composed. I’m not religious at all, but this work is so incredible that even agnostics like me can’t ignore the sheer beauty and quality put into the Altarpiece! I’ve complied many detail images, please enjoy and revel in the amazing skill of the van Eyck brothers!

Polyptych closed.

Polyptych open- full glory!

Angels expressions- seriously amazing detail of the jewels and brocades.

The Virgin Mary, resplendent in jewels, piously reading a book.

Detail of an angel’s sleeve.

Detail of the crown in the Altarpiece

Eve in her nakedness- she and Adam are a severe, stark contrast to the richy robed angels, saints, and virgins in the rest of the polyptich- meant to make the viewer feel uncomfortable and see how sin strips one bare. (Of course, Eve’s “sin” was seeking intelligence, and after that women are forever stereotyped as the unintelligent ones? Come on!)

This is the last detail- I wish I could find some of the actual background of Ghent- you can literally see the church where this was kept! So beautiful!

Thinking that this was made 500+ years ago blows my mind, and makes me appreciate the skill and hard work that went into this altarpiece. I hope you are in as much awe as I!