Sunday, June 26, 2011

Art Critique (Form, Content, and Subject Matter) : Hunters in the Snow By Pieter Bruegel

June 24, 2011
Form, Content, and Subject Matter
            Pieter Bruegel's painting Hunters in the Snow presents in depth vision of everyday living and the different way of life people are leading at the same time frame. It co-relates the nature with living beings. This painting is large enough for us to look very closely to visualize parts of its form and combine it to come up with more detailed content.          
            A form is what we see – materials, color, shape, line, design etc (Frank, 52). Bruegel's painting uses the primary means of visual communication in the forms of straight stick, the trees and its branches, the grasses on the snow, to create the shape of the objects as houses, ladders, rope, tables, roads, hairs and tails of the animals and much more things. It uses implied lines to connect mountain and the valley below.

            We can see a lot of geometric shapes - triangular roof, rectangular windows, sphere and square shape of the houses. In my view, there is a presence of organic shape almost everywhere in the painting - semi circle and circular trees, rectangular skiing area, triangular mountains, curvy roads, infinite sky etc. Since we are dealing with two-dimensional media, mass is implied very smartly by the combination of colors. The use of dark colors in contrast to white show everywhere to represent objects as dogs, houses, playing space, birds and even the infinite sky is very impressive. Space is implied with the combination of colors and the overlapping of objects in two dimensional plane. We can see the front tree that is implied to be before the hunters, some of the dogs and rest of the objects in the pictures by overlapping the dogs, houses, snow on the ground, trees on the mountains and of course the infinite sky. Diminishing size of the trees to imply the depth as well as the vertical placement of the four trees back to back, gives us the illusion of depth. It uses atmospheric perspective to create depth by using dark colors for the near objects and lighter colors for the distant objects. We can see the difference in color of snow in the distant mountains and the one near to our view. People are smaller in play ground and bigger near us.

            Time and motion is evident in the forms of implied motion. The hunters and the dogs are walking to go down the valley. People are playing, burning fire, moving tables, pulling rope etc. Value is used by painting the near objects with dark colors and distant objects with much lighter colors. The mountains are shaded with dark colors where sunlight would not reach. The color of the distant sky as bluish green is a smart move to represent the feeling of an afternoon winter time. The implied texture of the closest tree seems to be rough. The snow seems to be very soft because we can see some footmarks. Woods used in the houses seem to be strong.

            The painting also uses seven key principles of design. The unity aspect of the painting is the use of white color to imply the effect of the snow. The color of the houses, birds, and the sky represent the unity as well. The variety in the art is the different levels of depth it portraits and, the different subject in each depth. It has asymmetrical balance. The light colors used as white for snow and green for sky balances the dark colors used as black for trees and dark orange for house walls and peoples. The height of mountain from where the hunters are walking balances the distant mountain above the valley. Bruegel creates emphasis and subordination to draw our attention and neglect some of the others. The size of the hunters creates emphasis with the distinct visible trees that are in certain line. Small sized people who are playing down the valley has subordination impact on the painting. Therefore, the focal point of the painting is most likely the hunters going down the valley which is emphasized.

            The trees, hunters walking with the dogs and their direction certainly create a path for our eyes to follow down the valley where people any playing and working. The smaller people down the valley and the hunters above is one of the best use of contrast. It has the repetition of houses, birds, trees, people etc as well as the rhythm of dogs and three hunters going downhill. The scale of people distant and near gives us the implication of depth. The size of painting is 46.4'' times 63.75''.  The observer can view the painting with ease and feel it, if allowed. The proportion of the first tree in the painting is the highest than any other objects in the painting which effects how we see the picture starting from the tree.

            The use of lines, geometric shape, organic shape and mass attracted me to appreciate this painting in the first place. I got the sense of valley in the picture with the visual elements - overlapping objects and atmospheric perspective. I sensed the time and motion by the movement of objects in the picture, even the birds flying. I can feel the roughness of the trees and the cold weather. The picture is not boring, simply because, it has many contrasting characteristics that the painter used in its design. I followed the hunters and the four trees consequently one after another. It gave me the direction, down the valley. Then, I sense the people playing, working, and the distant mountains. After that, I sense the birds and the infinite sky.

            Basically, when I observed all the forms in the painting by Bruegel, I felt the winter season with snow all over the painting. Even though, the weather is challenging, the people on the painting are moving and adapting to the change by engaging themselves in the fun activities as hunting and playing games. Therefore, I made a meaning out of this painting which is very positive. We keep on working; we keep on burning fires, so that, we won't feel the cold or the pain. It's not only us who keep on moving; even the birds and the dogs do the same. Hence, the painting Hunters in the Snow connects nature with living beings and sends us a positive message of how we should look at our life, and enjoy every moment, despite of the obstacles we are facing, or, we would be facing. 

Works Cited:
Frank, Patrick. Prebles' Artforms. Tenth ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2011. Web. 4 June 2011

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