The Hunters in the Snow

7:00 AM

Peter Bruegel, Hunters in the Snow, 1565

My two years in Barstow's Art Hitstory class has exposed me to artists and paintings that have redefined how I look at art. From Modern Art History, we looked at Rothko and the Suprematism movement, which are unlike anything I have ever seen. Truly a "My kid could paint that" moment. Those random lines and shapes placed on the canvas in a disordered fashion, this couldn't really be art?  But it is. Those lines and shapes were not random. The paintings played with space and feelings, attempting to produce emotions from you. The freedom of Modern Art allowed artist to express ideas in ways that pushed the medium to new levels. It taught me how to extract meaning from the ordinary and the extraordinary.

Kasimir Malevich, Supremus No. 58, 1916
Modern Art History took place in my Junior year at Barstow. Heading into my Senior year, Renaissance Art History did not seem all that appealing with the more religious influences and more rigid system of painting. Wrong. Renaissance art is the foundation for all modern art. This is where the classical masters lived. Every chapter was another step, evolving with experience. We could visually see the progress from each period as artist developed concepts of depth, composition, and perspective. The beauty in the classical paintings was analyzing the formal aspects of a painting. It built an understanding for what the artist was up to as he or she applied the paint to the canvas. By practicing this I view all art work differently, formally.

This painting by Peter Bruegel is quite famous, depicting hunters, their dogs, and their town as they make their way over the hills. Hunters in the Snow was the turning point for me in Renaissance Art History. While I already respect art, this painting did something more. The detail found in the depths of this painting are transfixing. Someone can actually get lost in this painting, as in not knowing where you are because of how far you're zoomed in. Not only does he accomplish a landscape that stretches back further than expected, but Bruegel also captures the sensations of this moment. The tones and colors allow you to feel the chilling temperature, the overwhelming amount of white weighing down on you. You feel the struggle to make it over the hill in the way the hunters trudge through. This painting found a special place in my heart. Through my eyes it has no faults. You could take a detailed image on any part of the painting, and it would arguably be strong enough to stand as its own work.

Place all of them together and you get Hunters in the Snow, a masterpiece. Compositionally, Bruegel mastered space, perspective, color, and the canvas itself. He created an image that leaves you wishing it wasn't confined to its two dimensional prison.

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