ling260 - History of Art 262 Prof Martin Powers Cultured...

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History of Art 262 Prof. Martin Powers Cultured Works of Art “The Old Plum” Description Painted on four panels originally mounted as doors, a tangling tree winds around the majority of the image. The viewer’s eye follows the tree from the far right of the painting to the left, creating a flow that feels strange to the western culture. In the bottom right before the tree begins there is what appears to be a partially deteriorated stump. The stump is the same dark brown color as the tree but gets lighter near the top, as though it is being hit by the rising or setting sun. It is an ambiguous figure in that taken out of context, it looks more like sharp mountain peaks. In this way, the stump is also a good example of projection. The concept of projection as an artistic principal is that much of what we think we see or hear is supplied from our memories. We “read” images much like we do words, taken out of context we might not know what they were. The stump exemplifies this in that without the other objects around it, it is less legible. Although it looks more like a mountain, the branch that appears from behind it would be unrealistically large if that were true. On the left of that panel is part of the tree that is the main focal point of the painting. On the panel next to it the tree juts out to the left until it is approximately in the center, when it makes a ninety-degree turn to shoot upwards. Getting thinner, it curves into a backwards “S” shape, with two smaller but decently sized branches growing off of it. At the top left corner it moves into the next panel, and the tree’s height peaks before it grows down again. One small branch also stems into the third panel. The tree grows
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down quickly and is about half as thick as it was at it’s base. Three fourths of the way down the painting it drastically curves to grow almost straight up again and splits apart into smaller branches. It winds upward toward the far left panel, where it is reduced to a fine line. The whole tree and all of its branches have very small, five pedaled flowers growing from them. They are a pinkish brown color but too small to see any further details. Because they are just a basic shape they are a bit ambiguous as well, but due to the fact that there are so many of them and how they are clustered around the tree it is clear what they are.
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