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Open for Debate > Is art an imitation or an interpretation of nature?

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message 1: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 8393 comments My first thought was landscape art, but then I realized 'nature' could mean people, or objects in nature, etc. It could mean a lot of things.

What do you think of whether art is an imitation or an interpretation of nature? And what art would you consider 'natural'?


message 2: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 8393 comments
Rain Steam and Speed the Great Western Railway William Turner 1844

The painting depicts an early locomotive of the Great Western Railway crossing the River Thames on Brunel's recently completed Maidenhead Railway Bridge.

Ahead of the train it is hard to spot the tiny hare at full sprint, trying to stay ahead of the state-of-the-art technology of the mid-1800’s.


message 3: by Ka (last edited Feb 26, 2012 02:25PM) (new)

Ka | 11 comments Gosh! Is that in the Tate? I am in love with it.

I think that some paintings can be more real then reality, making the imitation/interpretation question moot. Or maybe that is saying that, in imitating the object or scene in nature, it goes beyond interpretation to transcend the subject.

I am thinking of a particular painting of the realist style, of an old, beloved pair of sneakers, which is in a private collection so I don't have a picture to post as an example of what I mean. But I think the same observation could be made of many paintings, including the Turner you psted.


message 4: by Heather, Moderator (last edited Feb 12, 2017 06:20AM) (new)

Heather | 8393 comments I think many or all of us have heard that two people can see the same thing differently. I think that goes for art as well. Maybe the artist sees something and paints what he or she sees, as in Monet's haystack series observing the light from different seasons and different times of day. Did he have another intention in mind when painting these? Or was he just observing reality as the haystacks change? Obviously haystacks in real life, don't seem to have an impressionist 'look'.



Wheatstacks (End of Summer)



Grainstacks, Snow Effect


message 5: by Heather, Moderator (last edited Feb 12, 2017 06:21AM) (new)

Heather | 8393 comments I think this goes for photography a bit, too. This, some would say, is reality in the moment. Because it is reality. But the observer of the photo sees something different at first perhaps than another person looking at the same photo. But what does one person observe in the photo? What is their thought? It is most likely something different than another person would observe.

If we see Lunch atop a Skyscraper



What is the first thing you notice? Is it the men sitting on the beam? Is it what the mean are wearing telling a bit of the time period in 1932 when this photo was taken? Is it an observation that they are all looking at a piece of paper? What is that they are looking at? Is it how high up they are and we see the huge drop and danger of the situation? What was the photographer thinking initially when he first decided to take the picture? What do you first notice? I'm curious as to what all you see in the photo. Not just a glance, but as you study the photo, what are little observances that you notice that maybe I didn't see?


message 6: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 8393 comments Heather wrote: "I'm curious as to what all you see in the photo. Not just a glance, but as you study the photo, what are little observances that you notice that maybe I didn't see? "

My first thought is that they are really high above the city in a type of precarious situation.
Then I notice what they are wearing, the difference in the style of hat back then to what it is now. None of them are wearing ball caps.
The height of the situation is almost dizzying!
After closer inspection, and at first not knowing where this was taken, I wonder what city is below them?
I see what looks like pollution way up above the city in the darker shades in the air.
I wonder what is written on that paper they are reading or looking at.
I admit, the man without the shirt on did catch my attention.
Then I thought of my grandpa always wearing overalls. He lived during that time period, and every single time I would visit him, he was in his overalls.
Are they on a lunch break? How long do they sit there? I think it would be uncomfortable on the hard beam after a little while.

There is probably a lot more to the photo, I want to know what other observations you have...


message 7: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 8393 comments Heather wrote: "I think many or all of us have heard that two people can see the same thing differently. I think that goes for art as well. Maybe the artist sees something and paints what he or she sees, as in Mon..."

Speaking about Monet again, I found out that he painted a series of paintings with an unintentional reddish tone. He was developing cataracts that were slowly making him blind. What if we didn't know that? How would we see that series? (I'm not sure which series it is, that was not mentioned)


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