First Station

Barnett Newman, First Station, 1958


I chose to thank you with this painting because I know it’s something that you’d hate at first. I can hear you now, “There is no way that could mean anything. That’s a line. Seriously.” And you’d be right, as always. It is a line. But it’s not just any line, because it’s one of Barnett Newman’s emblematic zip paintings and it happens to be titled, First Station

After years of you teaching me, it’s my turn to teach you a little something. 

Newman created a series of fourteen paintings that represented the Fourteen Stations of the Cross. The Stations of the Cross outline the horrific events of Jesus’ last day on Earth. Historically, artistic depictions of the stations were meant to reanimate the trauma of His crucifixion so that they become newly raw and searingly real regardless of the viewer’s familiarity with art or even the church. 

As we’ve grown together, I’ve seen you step away from your Southern Baptist roots in favor of a faith still traditional in its beliefs yet more modern in its applications. I think that’s exactly what Newman was trying to get at with these paintings. Newman himself said, “We do not need the obsolete props of an outmoded and antiquated legend.” Instead he insisted that modern artists and believers ought to make cathedrals “out of ourselves, out of our own feelings.” 

Newman’s abstract development of the Stations of the Cross recognizes the evils of idolatry. It was never his intention for his viewers to see a literal representation of Christ that could then be worshiped. He encouraged his viewers to draw their own conclusions and make their own emotional connections unhindered by the blatant portrayals of violence or sorrow so often seen in renderings of the crucifixion.

Newman’s work resisted idle religious generalization in favor of the visceral and instinctual. The austerity of Newman’s series accomplishes just that. The violent zips on the canvas reflected the woundedness and brokenness of Jesus’ physical body. His work reminds me of the way we can know something is there without fully being able to describe it. To me, that’s what faith is. That’s what you’ve taught me faith is. 

So. I hope that after that explanation, you understand why I love this painting. I hope you love it too. I encourage you to look at all of these painting in succession. I encourage you to momentarily trade your world of logic and rationality for a world of the vague and emotional. 

Thank you for your faith in Christ and your faith in me. I love you.


Editor's Note: Students were asked to give a painting to someone they cared for. These are their moving responses.
  • 7:00 AM

Anthony of Padua

Kehinde Wiley, Anthony of Padua, 2013



I gift you, Anthony of Padua.

We only met three years ago, but I treat you as if you were my long-lost brother. I have never been able to relate to anyone other than you and the fact that both of our views on any subject matter are the same is freakin' absurd. The advice you gave me during our last talk has given me the strength to deal with the pressures of my life, and I want to thank you for that. I felt like I was going to be slumptfor an eternity if you wouldn't have talked some sense into me. I value your honesty with me, and I have kept your advice in my mind as I transition into a young adult.

I chose to gift you a Kehinde Wiley painting cause we both have a passion for fashion and music with a heavy urban influence. You try your hardest to understand other cultures and that's exactly why I mess with you. The paintings of Kehinde Wiley contain people from the city who remain in elegant poses with vibrant backgrounds filled with flowers. The fancy yet empowering poses remind me of how we both like to showcase our style. We keep it classy but flex at the same time. The paintings remind me exactly of how you photograph your models for Instagram. (Floral Patterns + Designer Clothes = Good Vibes)

It's been a long time since we've hung out,  but I hope that we can stay in touch for as long as possible. I'm thinking about visiting your place this summer before college takes over our lives. Just keep grinding in your art, and I'll kill it in music. We definitely need to collab in the future.
(Tyler x A$AP Rocky Visionary Movement)


  • 7:00 AM

Sunset at Sea

Pierre-Auguste Renoir,  Sunset at Sea, 1879



For Thanksgiving this year, I am going to get you this painting. It’s called Sunset at Sea. I know what you’re thinking, “Why get me a painting, why not clothes, or money, something besides art.” Sit down, relax, and let me explain.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir was a French Impressionist painter in the mid to late 1800s who started with Impressionism and moved to Renaissance in the middle of his career. Sounds boring right? Wrong. Renoir’s eye for beauty was what made him one of the most well-known artists of his time. To find his inspiration, he frequently traveled to Paris to visit the Louvre to study artist during the Rococo period. Artists such as Watteau and Boucher. Most of his paintings are focused on leisure. In the 1860s, Renoir worked alongside Claude Monet, therefore providing essentiality to the development of Impressionistic art.

I chose this painting for you because, in my eyes, you are the perfect representation of beauty and elegance. In addition, it reminds me of the trip we took over the summer for your 18th birthday. We went to the ocean every day, watched the sunset, went crabbing, and almost made it a drama free trip. That trip, was so much fun because I was with you, my sister, who means the world to me and who I would do anything for. Also, it's a picture of the ocean, our favorite place to be. I hope that in the future we can live our dream of owning a beach house and traveling the world together. I love you more than words can say. 

Thank you for all of the fun times we've had, and I hope there are more to come. 

Happy Holidays,

  • 7:00 AM


Nicolás Paris, Astronaut, 2011

Dear 2018 classmates,

At last, the end of our senior year is just around the corner. Where all of us would soon split apart to live the life as an independent beings. We grew up in this school like siblings, caring and supporting each other. We shared generous amount of memes, hatred, laughter, and creating unforgettable memories that will forever last. There will be a feeling of emptiness after the ceremonies, but that  feeling exists so that you can make more new memories with the people you love in the near future.

I wish spent my time more wisely at this moment because as time goes by I feel more emotional to leave this place... I remember telling my 14-year=old self how time should go faster just because school was just a daily burden and a place to kill time. When really I shouldn't have complained and just treasured each moments of spending time with you all.

There will be tears and broken hearts on the last day of our high school year; but like an astronaut, we will float and wonder about what's ahead of us as we unfold our future little by little. I thank you for these precious memories that I will treasure and probably will laugh about before going to bed. I thank you for all the warm and fuzzy feelings of happiness you guys have given me. I thank you for  the grade dramas, chitchat sessions, and just pure confusion. Finally, I thank you all for all the numerous hugs for the past years and making me feel special for being myself. Since we have few more months left together (or more), I hope to build more unforgettable memories with you all.


P.S. Happy Thanksgiving, love ya guys.

Editor's Note: Students were asked to give a painting to someone they cared for. These are their moving responses.
  • 7:00 AM

Impression, Sunrise

Claude Monet, Impression Sunrise, 1872


Dear Jenny Zhu,

Congratulations, you have passed Barstow's junior year! Now you are here to finish the last year of high school in Barstow with me :)

I remember when you first came to Barstow, I didn't have a positive feeling about you. But time has proved I was wrong. We got together pretty well. Maybe it was because we wanted to get into the same major. I feel thankful about that as you are a good friend to work with.

Here is a picture of Monet's Impression Sunrise painting. It reminds me our hometown - Shanghai. Shanghai used to be a fishing village but now the harbor expanded and became a International Trading Port. I wish you to have a bright future like Shanghai. This painting also gives me a misty feeling which I have now during this application season. I know you have the same feeling as me but I believe everything will go well because I know you have great passion in art. Hope this painting will limit your homesick.

Thank you for pushing me forward when I don't know what to do. Also thank you for coming to Barstow. We all enjoyed being with you.


Linda Xu

Editor's Note: Students were asked to give a painting to someone they cared for. These are their moving responses.
  • 7:00 AM

Tigers and Cubs


Dear Daphne,

Most people seem to think that cats hate people but I think you prove them wrong. Sure you have your moments of grumpiness, but who doesn't? I give you the painting Tiger and Cubs because I know deep down inside this is what you think you are. A loving mother that takes care of her children, in this case, me, my sister and parents. You make sure we are clean by licking us. You even protect us by chasing away all the dangerous squirrels and birds in the backyard.

Now, you are a bit of a pain sometimes, meowing whenever you want out, scratching furniture when you want food, and of course, waking us up at 5:00 a.m. to let you out every morning. However, with every annoyance comes something good. You love to be petted and have your chin scratched. You are even (occasionally) happy to see one of your humans when we come home. You will always listen to anyone if they want to complain or just talk about something, although you aren't all that good at giving feedback, but, eh, you're a cat.

Lots of pets,
Miles K

Editor's Note: Students were asked to give a painting to someone they cared for. These are their moving responses.
  • 7:00 AM

Knowledge That Books Give

Oscar Romero, Knowledge That Books Give, 1995


Dear Harrison,

I gift you this beautiful mural to begin this holiday season. Your drive and determination to pursue scholarship has always remained a great inspiration to me. From a young age you have instilled in me a desire to learn and follow my passions. This piece, like you, shows an enthusiasm towards learning by illustrating many disciplines of study. Knowledge That Books Give illustrates scientific studies (through the use of a fossils), english and literature (through the scribe unfurling a scroll of text) and historical analysis ( by means of the Egyptian statues).

While I was watching you go through your years of schooling, you have always have been a role model for me. You have shown me the value of a strong work ethic and of dedication. Conversely, you have shown me the importance of being well rounded, that academic success is not everything. I wanted to thank you for your encouraging comments regarding my school work and my pursuit to follow my passions.

Upon first glance at this piece, one is overwhelmed by the deep blue hues in background. I view this as a metaphor for your future endeavors -- that the sky's the limit for you. The open hands over the book are symbols that with knowledge anything can be attained, another value you were instrumental in teaching me.

Thank you again for everything you have done for me during the past several years. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

Your loving sister,

Editor's Note: Students were asked to give a painting to someone they cared for. These are their moving responses.

  • 7:00 AM

Girls Picking Flowers in a Meadow

Pierre Auguste Renoir, Girls Picking Flowers in a Meadow, 1890


Dear Sophie,

I know you find art museums boring, but I know you will appreciate this piece. Instead of focusing on analyzing politics or religion, this painting aesthetically comforts and satisfies viewers. Girls Picking Flower in a Meadow focuses on the beauty of nature and people. The layers of thin and twirly brushstrokes gives the painting a light-hearted and playful energy. The vibrant colors overwhelm the campus with light. The curvy field outlines the girls and their body movement. Overall, the energy remains vibrant with color yet displays relaxing movments.

Renoir highlights the comfort of human relationships. Renoir's girls resemble our sisterly relationship. The elaborate floral hats remind me of the hats mom made us wear many years ago. The rosy cheeks displays innocent yet vulnerable emotion. The girls in the painting appreciate nature. You resemble Renoir's girls by always finding new ways to explore and absorb the beauty of nature. In Greek mythology, Sophie means wisdom. Your knowledge and love for animals and nature always amazes me.

The peacefulness of the girls display reminds me of our relationship. We never fight, and I always view you as the peace keeper in our family. The girls display youthful innocence. As a 13-year-old, you still need growth and development. Even I lack growth and maturity. I advise you to keep your innocence and optimistic view of the world. I urge you to picture this world with fields full of flowers ready to be picked.

Love you lots,

Editor's Note: Students were asked to give a painting to someone they cared for. These are their moving responses.
  • 7:00 AM

Smoke of a .45

Charles Marion Russell, Smoke of a .45, 1908

Dear Farmboy,

I gift you Smoke of a .45.

Charles Marion Russell is an artist of the Old American West. He loves cowboys and the country. Needless to say, you two would get along.

When I first thought of what painting to pick, I wanted to choose something different than what I've written about so far. I started searching around and landed on Smoke of a .45. I immediately thought of you and your love of Westerns.

What's going on in the painting? Did one cowboy run his horse into the other, resulting in a gunfire showdown? Was the man outside the Palace sleeping with the cowboy's wife? Maybe the Palace man is innocent and the cowboy is just looking to start some trouble. Who knows? The interpretation is up to you. Frankly, I'd go with the third's more exciting.

The painting reminds me of you because you grew up watching this action. You know the cowboys, the accents, and the brawls. You also know every cowboy versus Indian movie there is. I thank you for introducing me to this different world of film. Although I have seen few Westerns, my love of them grows each time we get to watch together. You name the different characters as if they're family friends of yours, and you explain what's going on when I think two characters are the same person. Through these films, I get a peek into your childhood. It's like with each movie, I learn a little more about you.

The piece is chaotic, fun, overwhelming. The point isn't to question the work's brushstrokes or use of lighting. You don't have to look for a meaning. I look at his work and feel an urge to be apart of the excitement, to be that cowboy. In another life, you would be that cowboy.

And so, I gift you this piece. Take it. Enjoy it.


  • 7:00 AM

Portrait of a Woman with a Dog

Portrait of a Woman with a Dog, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, 1769

To Grammy: 

This Thanksgiving, I gift you Portrait of a Woman with a Dog by Jean-Honoré Fragonard. Like this exquisitely-dressed woman and her little white pooch, you and Eliza are the perfect pair. She's your prized possession, and you hold her up, display her for all the world to see, just like the woman in this painting. 

In this painting, both the woman and her dog sport luxurious fabrics in opulent jewel tones. The two figures play off of one another. The woman's collar, striped sleeves, pearl necklaces, and drooping double chins form parallel diagonal lines pointing to her tiny white dog. The dog directs a facial expression somewhere between adoration and disdain towards the woman's face. She shoots the viewer a cheeky "side eye," with a mischievous smile nestled between two rosy cheeks.

Like this little white dog, Eliza is always looking to you for when to eat her dinner scraps, when to ascend onto the dining room table, when to stop her relentless circle running. And while you're always there to hold her, you also look to us, your family. With Eliza by your side, you regale us with a plethora stories, though they often repeat. Your days as a secretary, your "Fluffy the bunny" Sunday dinner, your road trip through Mexico. You've told us the good, the bad, the sad, and the ugly. 

I remember sitting on the edge of your bed rifling through your costume jewelry drawer with you and Eliza. You pulled out a string of pearls just like those in the painting and began to tell me exactly where they came from and offered them to me. So in exchange for everything you've given me, all the stories (no matter how often they're repeated), jewelry and shoes to serve as fodder for my dress-up, and all the love, I give you this painting. 


Editor's Note: Students were asked to give a painting to someone they cared for. These are their moving responses.
  • 7:00 AM

The Weeping Woman

Pablo Picasso, The Weeping Woman, 1937

Dear Owen,

I admire your curiosity, especially of art. Every time I begin the process of a new painting, you question the techniques and concepts even once completed. You always offer your help whether it be with ideas, painting, or cleaning. You, a seven year old, make me see my own art and others' differently. 

You will not only like this piece for less mature reasons such as the vibrant colors and abnormal depiction, but also for how it makes you feel. You empathize and have an insatiable desire to help others and to keep everyone happy. When I see this picture with you in mind, I see the subject as myself, feeling anxious and upset. I know that I can depend on you to always give me a hug and ask about my day because you genuinely care about my feelings. You have the ability to change any bad day into a better one and manage to end it on a happy note. I felt that you would appreciate this painting because of all of the techniques and abnormality in order to express movement and emotion. You inspire me. 


Editor's Note: Students were asked to give a painting to someone they cared for. These are their moving responses.
  • 7:00 AM

The Break Up: The Lovers, The Great Wall of China Walk

Marina Abramović, The Break Up: The Lovers, The Great Wall of China Walk, 1988

To Tao

I know it's weird to write a love letter using an example of once great lovers breaking up with each other. I remember looking at her performing art works for the first time with you. I felt something within. I knew at the instance that I would never want that to happen to you and I, but the future is way too long and unpredictable for us to know for sure.

Marina Abramović, the grandmother of performing art, once said that "an artist should avoid falling in love with another artist," and I think that's what happened to Marina and Ulay, her ex. To complete their breakup, the former couples started from the opposite sides of the Great Wall of China wearing complementary colors, red and blue, in an extend of 90 days, and met in the middle to make the final farewell. I keep wondering what they were thinking about when they were walking alone on those walls. What led them to that position? Why did they breakup? After all, it seemed quite peaceful between the two? Did they just decide they were not the one for each other? During the course of walking, did they ever regret the decision of splitting apart? I keep thinking, but I don't think I can ever get near what they were thinking unless I walk those walls.

And Tao, I think we are on our own walls right now, but we are side by side walking together. I'm a senior, and like most of the high school couples, we are about to face the first biggest step of our lives, college. Things will change. Maybe one day one of us will turn around and walk the opposite directions, Even though we might not be able to walk together much longer, for the time left, I wanna make the best out of it. I have so many things planned out for us to do.

By the spirit of Thanksgiving, I wanna thank you for everything you've done, especially the late night phone calls when I'm feeling down. Sometimes we just have a special connection where simple eye contact alone is enough for all I have to say. You get me like no one else does. Nothing can express how grateful I am to have you.


Editor's Note: Students were asked to give a painting to someone they cared for. These are their moving responses.
  • 7:00 AM

Diana Leaving Her Bath

Francois Boucher, Diana Leaving Her Bath, 1742

In Diana Leaving Her Bath, Boucher demonstrates his expert manipulation of color, lighting, and form to create an idyllic and erotic portrayal of the innocent goddess, Diana. His subject matter is mythical in nature, but also takes on a sensual connotation. Boucher intentionally contrasts the dark blues and greens around the periphery of the painting with the bright golden tones in the center to emphasis his subject matter. In regards to perspective, the manipulation of color also brings the center of the painting forward, while pushing away elements such as the hunting dogs and forest. The lighting works in conjunction with this structure. The pseudo-natural lighting, possibly a beam of sunlight through the trees, emphasizes Diana and her hand maiden. 

A series of lines run through the painting, creating structure and visual focus. The main linear structure runs from the arms of the assistant, through Diana's legs and up through the infamously reoccurring blue curtain. The painting is very well balanced along this diagonal line and provides an untraditional sense of symmetry. Again, Boucher sticks with his trademark circular composition. In regards to form, the bodies of Diana and her aid are very proportional and anatomically accurate. They are crafted in a delicate and sensual manner that is aided by the texture of the brushstrokes. The soft, feathery, and well blended strokes around the skin add to the ethereal effect of the painting. 

Beyond the formal elements of the painting, Boucher has crafted a very specific narrative. Diana is identified by her signature attributes: the golden crescent settled in her hair and the bow and game lying next to her. However, most prominent here are the traits in fashion under the reign of Louis XV. Her the milky complexion, small full face, and curvaceous figure are emblematic of beauty standards at the time. 

Her virginal state distances her from any ill intent and she reveals her nudity only out of the necessity of her bath. She does so with total frankness and lack of prudery, like a novice to the world of romance. Diana is presented as a ravishingly pretty and demure girl. Many critics describe Diana as having “a voluptuous vacancy on her face” and argue that the lack of animation in her expression increases her charm. Her features reveal nothing of the hard-hearted goddess of the hunt. Though Diana is so desirable, she seems without desires, in a state of innocence that borders on ignorance. She is almost aloof in her routine. 

Boucher is above all interested in the relationship between the body and nature. The intense blue of the drapery is offset by the rosy freshness of skin and the subtle green of the landscape. The treatment of the nude female body is particularly delicate here and the modeling of the body is sensual, yet realistic. Boucher’s depiction of Diana reflects a totally human woman. His idealizing touches are restricted to the refining of the ankles and wrists, the arc of the brows, and the deeper red tinting of the lips. 

The most famous story relating to a bath of Diana is that in which the hunter Actaeon, coming across the bathing goddess, spies on her. Diana in her anger at Actaeon, who once boasted that he was her equal in hunting, causes her to turn the man into a stag. His own hunting hounds devour him. Is this painting a recreation of the pose of a goddess only recently having dealt with an affront to her glory? A goddess who calmly returns to her routine as her servants serve and her subjects reel in terror? 

  • 7:00 AM

Marriage à-la-mode: The Tête à Tête

William Hogarth, Marriage à-la-mode: The Tête à Tête, 1743

William Hogarth's satirical artwork criticizing the 18th century's societal and political flaws became a precursor to today's political cartoons. Magazines like The New Yorker take the same stance of wry humor that Hogarth used to critique social practices and events in his time.

Among Hogarth's most famous works is his six-painting series entitled Marriage à-la-mode. The chronological series follows a marriage based on economic gain rather than love. Hogarth illustrates the scandal and tragedy that can result from this skewed concept of matrimony.

A tête à tête is a private conversation or occurence between two people. However, this scene hardly seems private. The couple sits exposed, with a glowing light illuminating their debauchery in all its glory. Two figures detract from the privacy of this moment as well. On the left, the couple's accountant stands, bills in hand, behind a toppled chair with a face that portrays equal parts shock, disgust, and resignation. A startled butler stands further back, jaw-dropped.

The  saints and cupids hanging on the walls seem to look down judgmentally at the couple, and with good reason. The young woman, reclined on a chair with her bodice noticeably loosened, boasts a smug expression. She holds a mirror in her outstretched hand, perhaps signaling at her lover. Though this lover does not appear in the painting, his implied existence detracts from the intimacy of this "husband-wife" scene. The husband, meanwhile, also boasts several signs of infidelity. A large black syphilis patch on his neck contrasts with his pale skin. The young man also displays a slightly more insidious sign of debauchery dangling from his pocket. A small dog sniffs the woman's bonnet that the husband seems to have hastily stowed in his pocket to hide any evidence of his extramarital activities.

Hogarth's work is filled with snarky and subtle commentary on "modern marriage." He suggests that a marriage based on financial gain cannot lead to a pure, happy life. Alongside several portraits of saints, a mostly covered canvas displays a single nude foot. This suggestion of a distasteful nude portrait, added to the array of tacky figurines on the mantle, imply that the marriage as a whole may be in bad taste and doomed. Additionally, a broken sword in the bottom right corner suggests impotence. Hogarth's inclusion of hidden symbols and details helps his series of moral paintings to convey their purpose.
  • 7:00 AM

The Love Letter

Jean-Honoré Fragonard, The Lover Letter, 1770


The Love Letter, by Jean-Honore Fragonard, was painted in 1770, is oil on canvas, it's 2 feet x 1 foot, and is on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

This piece is very aesthetically pleasing in that the use of all of the different shades of gold and brown helps to bring the focus on the woman in the center. In addition, the flowers, ribbon, and dress also help to bring the piece together. The blue dress she wears is one of the main components of the painting because all of the ruffles, highlights, and shadows make it as realistic as possible. There are several aspects of this painting that help bring it together. This includes line(s), lighting, and subject matter.

With respect to the lines and hidden shapes in the painting, there are several curves, diagonals, triangles, and squares. At first glance, it is hard to see. However, if you take the time to really study and admire the work you'll be able to see the curvature with the drapes, windows, and desk. The harsh straight lines are on the chair, the top of the desk, and the bottom half of the chair.  Within the woman alone there are triangles, diagonal lines, and a circle. All of this gives you a different way to view this rather than just seeing a painting.

The lighting in this is another key component. As you can see, the upper half is significantly darker than the lower half. This is for two reasons. One, to help keep the focus and importance on the woman, by illuminating her face, the letter, and the flowers. Two, because of the position and placement of the window.

Next, the subject matter. The woman in the painting is noticeably wealthy, literate, and classy. We can see her wealth through the dress and bonnet, and her literacy through the letter and desk. It seems as though she has just received a letter from a letter and is preparing to write back. In addition, note the smirk on her face as if the letter has something inappropriate written in it or she is writing something inappropriate back.
  • 7:00 AM

The Lover Crowned

Jean-Honoré Fragonard, The Lover Crowned, 1771-72


In The Progress of Love series, Fragonard painted this piece The Lover Crowned. In this piece, the light comes from the left bottom corner and directly illuminates the lovers, who are the main focus in this painting. The woman is crowning the young man with a garland. However, the woman is looking away when crowning, which makes the viewers think she was not willing to do so. Take a closer look and viewers can find she is smiling. The woman's left hand is holding the man's hand. Their hands are either facing up or down which symbolize receiving and giving in relationship. The man shows his love as he is looking at the woman instead of looking up at the garland. It is also shown as he was sitting on the floor begging the woman while the woman is sitting on the bench tricking him.

In the background, the trees are doing the same pose as the lovers. The big tree in the middle is like the woman crowning the weak tree on the left. Before the trees, there is an angel statue looking down at the lovers, wishing them good luck. On the right bottom corner of the painting, an artist is sketching the lovers on his sketch book. By lining up the lovers, viewers can see the angel statue and the artist are symmetrical. The painter used complementary colors such as green and red to highlight the red in the painting which emphasize the theme love. Also, elements like flowers, music, and angel all symbolize the beauty of love in this painting. The hue in this painting is thick but because of the use of nature and warm light in this painting makes the painting looks comfortable.
  • 7:00 PM

The Fountain of Love

Jean-Honoré Fragonard, The Fountain of Love, 1785

Painted in 1785 by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, The Fountain of Love depicts a young pair of lovers leaning toward a fountain preparing to drink water from it. The water will make the young couple fall in love. The "Fountain of Love" was a popular theme in Rococo era paintings and art. Fragonard's paintings often had sexual undertones and played with the feeling of falling in love. Generally, Fragonard painted portraits of wealthy noble people, but this particuarly painting was right before the French Revolution and political tensions were high.

There are two versions of The Fountain of Love, the one pictured above was the original. Fragonard also painted a second, more refined version later the same year. This version actually has two layers, the first layer has the man looking at the woman. Fragonard changed his mind and repainted the two lovers heads giving an interesting look at his artistic process.

Despite the painting being about love, the colors used are quite dark and dull, which is in contrast since most of Fragonard's paintings are quite colorful. The only light is on the lovers and cupids, which brings the focus to them and also creates a contrast between love and hate. The lover's bodies create strong parallel lines giving them swift movement to the left. A line starting at the cupids in the bottom left and running through the woman's right arm gives the painting visual balance.
  • 7:00 AM

The Triumph of Venus

Francois Boucher, The Triumph of Venus, 1740


When I first absorbed Francois Boucher's Triumph of Venus, I was originally bombarded with chaos. However, Boucher uses overwhelming motions of nymphs, dolphins, and baby cupids to convey the intense praise that Venus receives. Movements of the different subjects overwhelms Venus. After I processed the abundance of naked bodies, I then began to appreciate Boucher’s complexity. 

The multiple subjects convey an abundance of emotions, with each character’s eyes wandering somewhere different. Despite the surplus amount of humans, Venus acts as the main subject. Venus is the god of love, sex, beauty, and fertility. Although Venus is the same shape and size of the other women, she stands out to me. Her position is higher above the other humans, which portrays status. Boucher also plays with light by illuminating Venus. Dolphins, nymphs, and cupids bombard and honor Venus. According to Greek mythology, Venus was born in the sea out of a clam. In the painting, Venus receives pearls inside of a clam, which alludes to her birth. Boucher honors and pays tribute to Venus’s beauty and love. The notions of love and nature perfectly contribute to the Rococo movement.

Boucher paints his well-known circular motions in Triumph of Venus. The circular motions are displayed in the fabrics held by the cupids. Boucher includes both wind and wave circular motion. The waves creates drama with circular motion. The motion continues towards the top of the canvas up the sharp cliff. The circular brushstroke make Venus the center of the movement. Furthermore, Boucher’s circular brush stroke movements pays tribute to Venus. 

Boucher plays with light and dark. The dark waters complement and place a glowing effect on Venus and the other naked humans. The lighter complexion of the human’s skin makes them stand out from the darker waters. The light and dark clouds distinguishably set a horizontal separation of the painting. The light and dark blue colors create a distinct composition of the landscape. The delicate blues in the waters and clouds set a satisfying and lighthearted tone. The light blues contribute to the playful Rococo qualities. Boucher plays with fantasy and imagination. Boucher perfectly combines traditional mythology with a twist of playfulness and sexual elements.
  • 7:00 AM

Blind Man's Bluff

Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Blind Man's Bluff, 1751


Fragonard's Blind Man's Bluff, captures a scene where two lovers share a sensual, yet humorous moment. The flowers and greenery flourishing around the couple are reminiscent of Boucher's nature-filled compositions. The movement in the piece keeps the lovers in a carefree mood, almost as if they are playing a game. The relationship isn't specified, but it can be assumed that they are in a period of courtship, due to the blindfold being loose on the females face. She can slightly see from under the fabric, which implies a more carefree feel between the two lovers. The act of not being completely blinded shows that the female isn't being seduced blindly, but she is aware of her relationship status with the man.

The piece contains all elements of Rococo art. The French affinity for sensual experience and rural yet, fancy clothes blend together to form a piece that caters specifically towards aristocratic viewers of the 18th Century. The ornamental flowers and trees move the piece towards a more passionate relationship rather than a lustful one. Overall, Fragonard's ability to blend both sensual elements with nature showcase the recurrent themes in Rococo pieces in the 18th Century.
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Rinaldo and Armida

François Boucher, Rinaldo and Armida, 1734

Boucher's Rinaldo and Armida elevates the classic figures from the 16th century epic poem. Rinaldo and Armida are the two central characters in "Gerusalamme Liberata"( Jerusalem Delivered) written by Torquato Tasso. Gerusalamme Liberata takes place during the first crusade. An army captain, Rinaldo, was spotted by the king's sorceress, Armida, she in turn kidnaps him and takes him into the Garden of Pleasure. In the Garden of Pleasure, Armida places Rinaldo under a spell to fall in love with her. Rinaldo's General and his brother decided to save Renaldo by finding a hermit to break the spell. The hermit gave them a diamond mirror that was percieved to cure Rinaldo's infatuation. The two soldiers found the hidden garden and broke the spell, leaving Armida heartbroken for eternity. 

Boucher places the two subjects in the Garden just as the two soldiers are about the break Armida's spell. The artists places the lower and the cherubs in a circular composition. The red fabric engulfing the two lowers shows their infatuation with one another. The piece is lit by a singular white cloud, while the rest of the background's grays are meant to symbolize the impending doom for Armida. Boucher splits his work by using many diagonals. These diagonals give focus to the two main subjects by creating staging for the piece. 

The realistic fabrics are true characteristics of Boucher's works and the Rococo movement. The Rocco movement showcased the life of the aristocracy. The incredibly wealthy were often well read and this portrait portraying classic literature and architecture are other example of the movement. Boucher's masterful portrayal of "Gerusalamme Liberata"showed the best of Boucher and the Rococo time period.
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The Secret Message

The Secret Message, Francois Boucher, 1767

Francois Boucher was a French painter that worked with the Rococo style of art. Most of his painting have similar structures with a small opening for the sky on the left hand side with the subject normally in the middle. Boucher also chooses to incorporate animals and a blue tarp, which is seen on the left under the woman's straw hat. The painting depicts a dove bringing a woman a message in the woods most likely from a lover of hers. With the title, the action in the painting becomes more clear. It adds an actual substance or meaning to the paper the woman is holding. The way the woman is staring at the dove, it forces the feeling of love upon the viewer.

In the painting, Boucher seems to have intentionally made the background get darker the further you look from the subject. The woman's body is well lit and you are able to see every single one of her features, which is the point. But, as you looks around the edges of the canvas, it gets harder and harder to make out what is around her. The blue tarp is so poorly shown it almost looks like it is just a part of the woods. The balance between the light and dark sides of the canvas make for an easy to look at picture. The balance allows your eyes to easily glide across the different colors and shades from the foreground, all the way to the subject.
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Watteau, Pierrot, 1719

Watteau painted this life-size portrait, which he originally titled Gilles, using oil paints. A museum later changed the name to Pierrot, meaning actor or buffoon, to help others relate to the work. Many critics appoint Watteau as the pioneer of Rococo painting,  and his work ischaracterized with faded colors and details, soft lines, and common themes of youth, love, and nature. Despite the cool tones and depressing expression on the subject's face, the painting leaves me feeling content despite the obvious story.

The subject is assumed to be the artist, sad because his lover left him for another man. The natural lighting in the scene directly shines primarily on the subject and then on the other people. The bright white draws the eye to the centered subject surrounded by the circular composition which the subject and some trees intercept. 

The background is lighted much darker than the rest except the sky. The people in the foreground show movement with the wind and their actions. On the left, another clown rides a donkey while the boss, on the right, instructs them. The two lovers watch the secondary clown and the subject appears ignored. I initially looked at the subject's uniform, and then at the secondary people, adding to the concept of people ignoring the subject through his face and expression. Overall, I enjoy this painting because despite its sad story, it remains an aesthetically appealing painting that leaves me feeling carefree as opposed to stressed.
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A Portrait of Madame Pompadour

François Boucher, A Portrait of Madame Pompadour, 1756


For someone who knows nothing about the French Rococo style might think that A Portrait of Madame Pompadour is another portrait of some rich lady painted long ago. However, the portrait represents more than money and fame. It celebrates the success of an unlikely woman and incorporates the beauty of Boucher's artistic methods. 

The woman in the painting is Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, the chief mistress of Louis XV. Known modernly as an undesirable title, Madame de Pompadour took the name and made it her own. She commissioned François Boucher to paint a number of her portraits, and her fame grew within French royalty.

Boucher uses blue and pink, both popular colors of the Rococo style, to catch the attention of the viewer and direct it to the most important part of the portrait, the dress. They contrast with the gold curtains positioned next to the woman, creating this center focus on her. Boucher uses light to further focus the attention on the woman by shining the light from the window to focus on the woman's chest and face. Her pale skin shines. She sits in a relaxed position, looking away from the viewer, creating an air of importance about herself. The dog beneath her represents a symbol of loyalty, fidelity, yet its use seems ironic considering it's featured in a portrait of a mistress.

I was attracted to the slightly curved lines. The lines create the intricate ruffles of the dress, a beautiful way to bring its elegance to life. My eyes follow the ruffles of the dress and notice that they form a triangle at the bottom of the dress. Each line directs your attention to a different part of the woman's body. After looking at the portrait so many times, I realized that the background is actually a mirror, yet it does not picture the artist. The exclusion of the artist from the painting further proves the point that the mistress is the only focus. 

Although the portrait focuses on the importance of the woman, Boucher's famous use of a blue tarp in most of his paintings serves as a signature of his and informs the viewer that this work is his own.
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The Glorification of the Barbaro Family

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, The Glorification of the Barbaro Family, 1398–1454

Soft, smooth pastel-like textures and majestic poses of mythological creatures are one of Tiepolo's specialties. The Glorification of the Barbaro Family was originally a mere decoration for one of the rooms in Palazzo Barbaro owned by a patrician family of Venice. The family was wealthy and influential within the city, and the members include church leaders, diplomats, patrons of the arts, philosophers, scholars, and scientists. Within the painting, the elements that represent the Barbaro family can easily be spotted. In the center, we can see the Valor, which shows the triumph of power and courage, beside the lion, Fame blows trumpet as she holds the olive branch.  In he left right bottom corner we see Prudence holding a snake, and Nobility holding a statue of Minerva. Tieopolo's The Glorification of the Barbaro Family captures and introduces intelligence and hierarchy of those who are educated. 

Tiepolo an Italian painter has been labeled as the best decorative painter of the Rococo era and is well known for his innovative techniques for luminous finish. The painting above consists of many triangle compositions (for the focal figures), but also 3 out of 4 values of major composition: frieze, Convex and float. When seeing this painting in person at the Met, it impressed me how Tiepolo incorporated so many different color values using only seven different primaries. Although the colors aren't as bold or crisp as other artists, Tiepolo captures the attention of the viewers by using complimentary colors and smoothening the lines so that the whole painting becomes harmonious. 
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Embarkment to Cythera

Jean-Antoine Watteau, Embarkment to Cythera, 1717

The painting Embarkment to Cythera was Watteau's masterpiece, one of the most well-known paintings during the Rococo era. The painting tells a wondrous story about love and the lifestyle of young aristocracies.

Cythera is a beautiful Greek island of love that is believed to be the birth place of Aphrodite. One of the most frequent questions asked about this painting is whether the young couples are heading or returning to the island of Cythera. We see the a vague outline of a city lurking in the very back, which could suggest maybe that is Cythera. But we also see a statue of Aphrodite on the top right corner saying that maybe this is indeed the island of love.

I believe that they are already at Cythera because we see this progression of love throughout the painting. The lighting of the painting makes the couple under the tree the focus point, and then further the to the left the more blurred the couples are. Let's name the couple under the tree couple 1, and then the one next to them couple 2 and then 3, etc.. We see the girl in couple 1 a lot less engaging than let's say couple 6 where the girl is grabbing on the guy's arm. Girl 1 is looking downwards looking even a little irritated, while the guy is clearly lingering on to her. By the end of it, we see pid's hovering above the boat which might be a symbolization of the love finally being complete.
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Memphis, William Eggleston, 1969


William Eggleston was a well known photographer who took ordinary objects and made them seem a bit creepier than they should. Most of his works include ordinary household objects, children's toys, cars, and the like. Eggleston will then take these objects and take a photo of them from an odd angle or with a certain type of light hitting the object. This method Eggleston uses for his photos makes it easier to identify his works when being compared to other photographer of his time.

Memphis by William Eggleston was possibly one of the most popular photographs to have been taken during the era of colored photography. Recently, he sold this print, along with 35 others, at an auction for $5.9 million. Now, to understand why this photograph is so valuable, the viewer has to look past the fact that this is just a picture of a tricycle in from of a few houses. The questions that come along with the picture are what make it so revolutionary. People wonder "Who's riding the tricycle?" "Where's the kid?" "Why was this picture taken from the ground?" "How has the bike become so rusted?".These question raise suspicion in the mind of the viewer which creates holes that can be filled with imagination. Filling those holes with imagination freely gives you the right to assume or think whatever you want about the picture and that is what makes this photo so sinister.
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Art History Hotties: Auto-portrait dans des draps

Egon Schiele, Auto-portrait dans des draps, 1909


As an enthusiast of the nude, Egon Schiele isn't afraid to show us his valuables. By valuables, I mean what artistic styles he values the most...duh. Looking at auto-portrait dans des draps, I notice the smolder Schiele gives me as I gaze upon his distorted body and the clothes that barely dress him. I feel his unwavering confidence in the piercing stare that follows his clothes as they drape over his shoulder, bringing attention to the patterns. After being in a mentor-mentee relationship with artist Gustav Klimt, Schiele's artistic development was heavily based upon Klimt's influence. I see that influence make its way into the thin, circling lines that meekly cover the artist's modesty. 

With purity out the window, I'm left looking at an figural distortion of what's supposed to be a sexually suggestive stance. Even if it's a 2D painting, I feel uncomfortable, as if I'm intruding upon the artist's privacy. Things get even more personal as I make my way down the painting, where I really get to know the artist. Exposing his nudity and therefore vulnerability, I can see that Schiele defies conventional beauty norms. Not only does he accomplish this by baring all, but also in the way his stomach looks deformed.

There is a level of emotional and sexual directness in this self-portrait, and I don't know how to feel about it. I understand Schiele's desire to create revealing and unsettling images, but I still feel like it's one of those things that you know you should look away from, but you can't. Schiele may not be considered a conventional Art History Hottie, but I think with his unique style and sexy mustache, he should make the list.
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Art History Hotties: Reclining Man

Konstantin Somov, Reclining Man, 1936


Dang...just look at those sexy yet innocent eyes.

The vivid colors and sensual positioning of this Russian beauty gives viewers a man who isn't afraid to show a more sensitive side. The unbuttoned shirt of this Chris Evans (Captain America) look-alike gives off a confident look as well.

I just wish his arm would move a little so I could completely enjoy his abs. I want the whole meal, not a sneak peak. Somov was a Russian painter who certainly had  an affinity for the man above. I wouldn't judge because those lips are juicy. There are other portraits with this sexy beast with less clothing, but I will leave some room for the imagination.
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Art History Hotties: Ignudo

Michelangelo, Ignudo from Genesis Fresco, 1509


This kind of work is what Michelangelo was known for. This piece, in particular, is located on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, Italy. The pope at the time thought this to be offensive and said that a sacred place like the Sistine Chapel is not the appropriate place for art like that. So he decided to have it removed from the Chapel. 

Michelangelo's subjects during this time were thick, nude, and ripped men. Not only does the guy have the bod, he also has the hair. This guy isn't half bad. He definitely knows what he's got and knows how to flaunt it. Be careful ladies, just because he's aesthetically pleasing, doesn't mean he has a good heart or good intentions. On the other hand, he could also be a perfectly nice person. We just don't know. Besides all of that, he's still visually pleasing. 
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Art History Hotties: Self Portrait with Rita

Thomas Hart Benton, Self Portrait with Rita, 1924

The old lady finally shut her mouth. I'm thirty-three, and my old lady was worried about my marriage. "You have to find a person to take care of you," she said. I didn't believe so until I met Rita, my wife.

My wife and I were on our honeymoon at the beach. It was different from the Midwest. It was all about sunshine and hotties. When I say hotties, I mean Rita especially. She was in her sexy dress-like swimming suit that makes her beautiful legs longer and smoother. Rita was not feeling well because of the hot wea
ther. She was holding her pink handkerchief to wipe her good-smelling sweat all the time. I guess she was pretty sick, even my groovy body with six beautiful abdominal muscles and the curly mustache she loved couldn't make her look happy. I looked at her with my dark brown eyes. She was shy to look at my beautiful face and turned away.
On the beach, there was this weird family. The mom in red was fixing her long red hair while the father and son were measuring her body with a tailor's cloth ruler. They were talking about something like "this dress is too loose," "modify the waist," "don't move," "taking picture" "ins gallery." I guess the mom is a galler (a made-up word similar to blogger) in the Instagram Gallery who hangs a picture of herself to gain fame. It is a new form of art which I don't understand. All I know is future generations will remember me for my magnificent paintings but maybe not their work.
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Art History Hotties: Portrait of Miss Denison

Miss Denison of Stonington, Connecticut, Joseph Steward, 1790 

Matilda Denison, as depicted, was most definitely an Art History hottie. Her dainty appearance and pale skin should dictate her time period. In the late 1700's and early 1800's this look was quite common. Normally, the paler skin and corset indicated a wealthier family, but her outfit says otherwise. 

The dead look on her face almost give off a creepy vibe that would make anyone else uncomfortable, but the deeper I stare into the eyes of this woman, the more I fall in love with this painting. Miss Denison's companion, the squirrel to the left of her, looks like he's up to no good. The cardinal in her hand looks slightly frightened. The animals add a more uncomfortable feeling to the portrait, but the woman's face already makes me feel like I'm being chastised by my middle-aged neighbor for letting my ball roll into her yard. 

The colors used Miss Denison's were carefully chosen by the artist to contrast with the background. The green and pink in her dress contrast well with the darker border around her body. 
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