The website, Art-Finder, used to encourage its subscribers to save images of their favourite artworks featured on its pages. Following a redesign, it doesn’t anymore. Here are a few I saved at the time.

20130203-090925.jpgImpression: Sunrise
Claude Monet

The origin of the term Impressionism though not the origin of the style, art being derivative. It’s difficult now to understand why it was considered so objectionable; the style has many virtues. It’s immediate, it’s informative, it’s evocative. The sun rises on a chilly blue-grey morning, its redness suggests a lack of potency, poor visibility and a portent of bad weather. Yet the sunrise brings reassurance and calm. For the moment it’s very peaceful.

20130203-091114.jpgLe Grand Dejeuner
Fernand Léger

These three women couldn’t be more contrasting to Millet’s rustic Gleaners, though they could still be “working” women, taking their mid-day break. The lunch doesn’t appear to be big so maybe the title is ironic or euphemistic; they could be “sirens”, I suppose. They certainly don’t look like just nude life studies, there is a sense of eroticism in the repetitious placement of curves of buttocks and thighs in and amongst the classy furnishings.

20130203-094712.jpgSudden Shower Over Shin-Ohashi Bridge
and Atake
(Ohashi Atake no Yudachi)

Andō Hiroshige

“Stair rods”, that’s how my family would describe such rain, full on and straight down. The inclined shoreline is quite disturbing; it’s as if the composition is anticipating a modern photographic style.

Japanese art always seems to present an idyll, apart
from when nature intervenes. But even then there is
still the sense of reassuring orderliness.

Hiroshige must have had a thing for hard rain, and
arched bridges. There are several similar scenes
amongst his works.

Edward Hopper

A familiar work, its subject is unsettling. It’s late, the hour of dreams, but even so, there’s also something surreal about it. No parked car, no street furniture. The shop opposite doesn’t appear to be selling anything. The diner’s windows are disturbingly large. Inside it looks as barren as the street outside. Surely, he’d need more paraphernalia than he’s showing. The painting is wonderful though. The geometry of the lines, the pleasing thirds, but mostly the green playing against the red, a contrast giving vibrancy to an inert scene.

20130203-094831.jpgJOB Cigarette Papers
Alphonse Mucha

At the age when lads put up posters of rock stars and football teams on their bedroom wall, I had a wartime poster of Lord Kitchener and a couple of art-nouveau adverts (well, I did have the Arsenal team of the day too, a nod to my Dad. He was the fan, not me).

Though I don’t smoke, I’ve been fascinated by the culture of smoking ever since I watched my Grandad roll his own, Golden Virginia, ready-rubbed, in a Rizzla, and I’d get to lick the edge sometimes.

It killed him in the end but even that probably unconsciously increased my fascination with the thing.

20130203-094855.jpgPortrait of Françoise Gilot
Pablo Picasso

This is a lithograph, okay, but it obviously began with a sketch and one which was likely completed in the amount of time it’d take a waiter to bring two cups of coffee. And yet he hasn’t just drawn a likeness, he has described her entirely.
Can you doubt Picasso’s genius?

Previously, I’d found another similar sketch of her by Picasso which I used as an exercise in making a two plate linocut. While there is something quite undeniably Gallic about Picasso’s drawing of Françoise, mine came out more Anglo-Saxon. I was very pleased with the result.

20130203-174437.jpgMuch Marcle
Paul Powis

I’m not taken by his penguins, the eco paintings, the portraiture or the crowds. The landscapes, however, are eye-catching.

Their overall simplicity and economy of form, forthright blocks of vibrant acrylic colour, just the right amount of highlight and shadow and a satisfying composition.

There is some similarity in sensibility with Hockney’s recent landscapes though different in method and conclusion. Are these actually British scenes? I’m torn between three pieces here; Evergreen, Twilight and Much Marcle. I chose this as it’s close to an idea I had for painting a view from my house.

20130203-091145.jpgSeated Nude
Amedeo Modigliani

I find some of Modigliani’s figures and portraiture a bit flat and uninteresting. Those beady, black, soulless eyes and mean, small mouths.

This painting, however, struck me as something different.

The body has a convincing solidity and weightiness about it, an impression of the presence of gravity which I think is essential for a life study. There’s also an appealing roundness of form.

I like her pose; it’s natural but an awkward one to hold for any length of time, I imagine, but it makes a good composition.

20130203-192458.jpgAutumn Landscape, Murnau
Wassily Kandinsky

I’m loving landscapes more. Kandinsky’s palette here is striking and so delightfully vibrant.

I like the composition, the geometry and the play of light and shadow. It’s brimming with life. I could happily hang this above the mantlepiece and never need to light a fire.

20130214-175534.jpgWoman at her Toilet
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Women were forever at their toilet, if the artists of the period are to be believed. If true, what the hell were the artists doing there?

I am captivated by the hues here. Pastel/chalks, though it seems possibly over another medium.

Again, as with Hopper’s Corn Hill, a strong suggestion of a three primaries challenge, predominately blue and yellow set off with the gorgeous red in the subject’s hair. Some white allowed, naturally.