Monday, September 14, 2009

Paintings I Like, pt. 36

Veronese, Perseus and Andromeda, late 1570's-early 1580's. Oil on canvas, 102" x 83."

This picture is a real crowd pleaser - a horrible monster, a flying superhero, a voluptuous pinup girl and a climactic moment in Greek mythology. And I'm not going to pretend that I'm immune to that stuff; the Spielberg content of this picture adds to the dazzle, much like Gericault's Raft of the Medusa and Delacroix's Death of Sardanapalus.

But it also has all of the things that I like about Venetian painting, particularly the triangle of high key colors (mainly reds) in Perseus' superhero costume, Andromeda's robe, and the sea-monster's mouth and eye. Conversely, muted colors in low contrast to one another make the distant city mysterious and hazy, the water murky and foreboding, and Andromeda's prison-rock slimy and tomb-like. The crowning touch is the setting sun casting the pale orange glow behind the girl's head, reducing her face almost to silhouette and creating a halo that's usually reserved for biblical subjects.