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But what is it?

In the latest blog article, we reviewed some significant artistic movements and their associated styles. Although it is a good starting point to help characterise an artwork, it's not as easy as one might think. Upon rereading, one can see that certain elements of one style often appear in an other. For example, the vibrant colors of expressionist can also be found in fauvism, and distorted forms are a characteristic of cubism as well as expressionism and fauvism. Additionaly artists often use elements from multiple styles to create their works. If approached too seriously, the subject can seem heavy and discouraging. Personally, I leave the serious aspect of the matter to the experts and prefer to view it from a playful perspective, engaging in a little amusing game each time I examine a new painting. By trying to identify the style, we focus our thoughts on the unique characteristics of the painting, and it helps us appreciate the artist's work. If, at the end of the exercise, we haven't managed to associate the painting with a specific style and movement, that's okay. The exercise was still worthwhile, if only for the pleasure we had in admiring the artwork.

To better understand, I suggest the painting below. Let's do the exercise of identifying the style together to see how it turns out. Also, at the end of this article, I've added five more paintings that you can have fun analyzing, and we can review them together in my next blog post. 

 To simplify, I have prepared a small diagram that I use, which makes it easier for me to identify the style of the artwork I am examining.

Question Answer Comment
 Is the subject recognizable in a real way? Yes so it's Figurative
Are there fantastic or unreal elements or unexpected associations of ideas? No so, it's not Surrealist.
Deformed elements, striking contrast? Yes

The image resembles more of a caricature than an exact representation of the subject, and one is immediately struck by the contrast between the yellow color of the face, the blue background, and the dark blue jacket of the character.

Does the image reflect anxiety, loneliness, human condition? Yes

The character's gaze reflects sadness or melancholy.

Does it exaggerate or alter reality to express an emotion? Yes

The hunched back, slouched position, and the right fist on which the head is resting distort the face and contribute to giving the painting a melancholic atmosphere.

This painting by Van Gogh is definitely in the expressionist style. It represents Dr. Paul Gachet, a homeopathic doctor and artist with whom Van Gogh stayed after a period in an asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and who cared for him during the last months of his life. Van Gogh has often been classified among expressionist artists, despite his entire body of work being impressionistic. One can find several characteristics associated with impressionism, such as visible brushstrokes on the blue background, on the doctor's shoulder, and left forearm, which serve to represent the effect of light on these different elements.


Here are 5 more paintings: have fun analyzing them following the diagram provided above. We will revisit them in the next blog post. A small clarification, however: too often, critics and specialists contradict each other and cannot agree on the evaluation of a work. So, don't be too hard on yourself if your analysis does not match the academic consensus.



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