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Paintings with a Wow Factor

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What paintings "get inside of your head". One of my favourites is this by Dorothea Tanning.

 

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There were two famous painters in ancient Greece, Zeuxis and Parrhasios. Each was at the pinnacle of his abilities, no one knew how to choose between them. They, however, decided to resolve the issue for once and for all, with a “painting duel” held under strictly controlled conditions. They assigned themselves two areas of a wall, each invisible from the other so that they might work in private. Each artist was to paint a mural, a fresco of pigment in wet plaster. A carefully assembled audience-jury was to view both paintings and award one the prize, ending forever the tedious and insoluble rivalry.

 

Zeuxis was actually thought to have the edge in this contest. While his paintings were not ultimately judged better than Parrhasios's, they always had a strong initial effect. They could “knock your eyes out,” as they say, by using the tricks of trompe-l'oeil, or super-realism. Parrhasios knew the same tricks but was more subtle. You got to like his paintings because of their time-release effects, which sometimes made them less likable in the beginning. Parrhasios, subtler and probably more talented because his works took time and endured, was ironically less likely to win out over Zeuxis, who was a master of initial surprise. The contest was really about Parrhasios's ability to think his way through this dilemma.

 

When it came time to judge the freshly completed paintings, the audience of select critics assembled, and, behind them, a large crowd of onlookers. Zeuxis was outwardly calm and confident. He had produced, he seemed to think, his best work for this crucial occasion. Behind the curtain (it was important to reveal the work all at once) was his life's masterpiece.

 

The spokesman for the jury asked Zeuxis to draw the curtain. When he did, the crowd and jury gasped to see a bowl of fruit, plaintive and simple. How could a great painter be content, in a situation such as this, to paint a bowl of fruit? It was admittedly a finely painted still-life. The glint of light off the pale green surface of the pears made them seem moist and firm. You could practically taste the pomegranates.

 

After a long period of silence, a bird flew down from its vantage point on the top of the wall, straight into the painted bowl of fruit, from which it had hoped to steal a grape. Hitting the wall with a smack, the bird fell to the ground, a victim of illusion.

Without a doubt, this proved what the jury and audience could scarcely conclude: that the realism of the painting had made it escape its limits, as artificial; the real judge had been the bird, whom no one could accuse of favoritism. When the gasps of the crowd died away, Zeuxis was sure he had won, no matter what Parrhasios's entry. For what better demonstration could he have hoped? Zeuxis's confidence now caused him to straighten up, breathe deeply, and radiate a newfound humanity, which he turned on to Parrhasios who was standing at the edge of the open circle of onlookers. “Now, let's take a look at the undoubtedly excellent work of Parrhasios. “Now, let's take a look at the undoubtedly excellent work of my esteemed colleague” he suggested, with a tone that suggested he would be magnanimous in his victory, always sending a bit of work Parrhasios's way if his own studio got too busy.

 

Parrhasios feigned or honestly exhibited (one could not say which) a meek but genial tone. Slightly bowed, he did not speak but turned slightly towards the area where his mural was to be revealed. The crowd shuffled and murmured. Zeuxis by now had become their leader.

 

Now standing around Parrhasios's wall, the crowd grew impatient. Even the curtain began to look a bit dowdy. Zeuxis, not wishing to over-embarrass his rival, came forward after a longish interval and directly addressed the painter. “I think,” he said, “it is time to see what you may have done. Would you honor us by drawing the curtain?”“

 

Can't be done,” Parrhasios replied. The jury, audience, and Zeuxis thought that Parrhasios was at the breaking point, that he was emotionally crushed by the nearness of defeat. “Surely,” Zeuxis put in, trying to soften the blow of the inevitable, “we would be very happy to see your work, but we're getting a bit impatient standing in the hot sun. Just show us the painting.”

 

After a pause, Parrhasios replied, “You're looking at it.” The onlookers focused more carefully on the wall, realizing at last that they were looking at a painting of a curtain.

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1 hour ago, moment said:

C-Curve - Anish Kapoor | © Dominic Alves/Flickr

I had to post that old tale in response to this one :) 

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46 minutes ago, joeblast said:

I had to post that old tale in response to this one :) 

 

Brilliant tale, Joe, and clearly Parrhasios won.

Zeuxis's painting only fooled a bird. (-:

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47 minutes ago, rene said:

 

Brilliant tale, Joe, and clearly Parrhasios won.

Zeuxis's painting only fooled a bird. (-:

In the original I recall reading, it was just the two of them with Zeuxis conceding and mentioning just that :)

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9 minutes ago, rocala said:

Waterhouse_Hylas_and_the_Nymphs_Manchest

 

Another favourite, by John William Waterhouse.

"ok, ok....just as long as yall dont try to drown me..." :lol:

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7 minutes ago, joeblast said:

"ok, ok....just as long as yall dont try to drown me..." :lol:

That thought would never have entered my mind.

 

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Marblehead said:

That thought would never have entered my mind.

 

7 beautiful naked females trying to entice you into a lily pond, and you wouldnt have thought something's GOTTA be wrong here? :lol:

 

 

 

 

--------------

entirely different context, lol

 

(pretty sure her paintings arent like that :blush:)

I wish I had access to some of my niece's paintings.  I never thought when I gave her that "How to draw realistic portraits" book all those years ago that she'd be churning out top notch professional looking work by the time she was 17! 

Edited by joeblast
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1 minute ago, joeblast said:

7 beautiful naked females trying to entice you into a lily pond, and you wouldnt have thought something's GOTTA be wrong here? :lol:

 

 

Nope.  Not in the least.  I read a lot of Greek mythology when I was in my teen years.  Things like that happened in Greek mythology.

 

 

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3 minutes ago, Marblehead said:

Nope.  Not in the least.  I read a lot of Greek mythology when I was in my teen years.  Things like that happened in Greek mythology.

 

 

Sirens were what I had in mind :D

 

Impossible to tell....that sometimes....

CZEjII3R_400x400.jpg

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What's that saying?  Women always look better through the bottom of a glass?

 

 

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40 minutes ago, Marblehead said:

What's that saying?  Women always look better through the bottom of a glass?

 

 

I couldnt find an Admiral Ackbar painting that also included "Its a Trap!!!"  :lol:

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Posted (edited)
On 7/17/2018 at 2:54 PM, rocala said:

Waterhouse_Hylas_and_the_Nymphs_Manchest

 

Dayum!  Sign me up!    :wub:   :wub:   :wub:

 

Dayum is shorthand for wow.

Edited by Starjumper
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7 hours ago, rocala said:

 

 

Martin_Johnson_Heade-Cattleya_Orchid_and

 

An absolute treasure.

 

Oh!, would I love to have that painting hanging on some wall in my house.  Buuful.

 

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8 hours ago, rocala said:

 

 

Martin_Johnson_Heade-Cattleya_Orchid_and

 

An absolute treasure.

 

This deserves a WOW!

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The humming birds above was painted by Martin Johnson Heade. This is by Frederick Edwin Church. Both were painters of the Hudson River School.

 

El_Rio_de_Luz_(The_River_of_Light)_Frederic_Edwin_Church.thumb.jpg.73b81bd452b6d54c882d5c3aa177e013.jpg

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