Posted by: photochika42 | September 11, 2010

Modern Art – Hirshhorn Museum

Critique of “Still Life: King of Diamonds”

This piece of art is by Fernard Léger. The artwork is oil paint on canvas. It is titled “Still Life: King of Diamonds” and was completed in 1927. In 1927, carving began on Mount Rushmore; the New York Yankees won the World Series against the Pittsburgh pirates, and Ford unveiled a new car called the Ford Model-A.

The shapes that I see in this painting are a diamond, a square, part of a light bulb (a half circle with a rectangle attached); a variety of shapes, and some dots. A few things that are easily seen at first glance are parts of a king’s face, and the yellow in the middle grabs the viewer’s attention. The middle section is busier in comparison to the rest of the painting because there are more colors, which attract the eye’s attention. The majority of this painting has some dull colors compared to some more vivid, bright, eye-catching colors.

There are lots of different organic shapes in this painting. There are plenty of sharp edges attached to some of the shapes. Some of the edges are wavy and softer instead of a harsh, jagged edge or a straight edge. There are some straight lines in this painting. There are a few vertical and horizontal lines in this painting, and three of them are attached to each other to make the outline of a playing card. There is a diagonal line in the upper right hand corner, which demonstrates movement of the playing card, or some sort of direction.

The textures that are seen in this still life can be classified as smooth textures, and some of the textures are cold, while others are warm. The outer parts of this painting have the appearance of nighttime because of the lack of colors, while the middle portion appears as daytime with more colors. More solid portions of black, white, and grey are seen on the outsides than the middle – which are associated more with nighttime. The overall effect of this painting is busy, but organized. The outer parts of this painting are calmer than the middle – which shows the busy organized portion of this painting.

The colors that are used in this painting are used to portray different parts of the king of diamond’s life; Léger used color to show the difference between the playing card and the activity involved by the playing card. The colors make this piece seem polished but not very exciting. The artist used shapes to help break up the different portions of the painting. Some of the shapes in the middle are more exciting than the outsides. The lines are used to define the card that the king of diamonds is on; lines are also used to break up the portions of the still life. The lines are a subtle defining part of the work.

Léger was trying to convey that there is more than meets the eye, or that you should not judge a book by its cover. I think it means that a king has more to worry about than playing cards. I feel that Léger was trying to show that there are times in life when a person can be overwhelmed, yet keep his or her composure in front of others. To me, this meaning of showing one emotion while feeling another is confusing. I found this painting stuck out compared to some of the other pieces in the museum.

This work has intrinsic value because it is a different type of still life than the norm. This artwork is beautiful, and has a different view of a playing card. I think that this work can benefit others who appreciate art. This piece is modern, which many people are not used to seeing. This art may have a curious effect on people, because this piece incorporates solid colors with curves, lines, and does not explain itself. I feel that the work is just okay. I feel like it includes some of the basic principles of design, but this piece could use more pizzazz and show more meaning.

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