ozenfant, still life with glass of red wine, 1921

 

Still Life With Glass of Red Wine is a work by French Artist Amedee Ozenfant completed in 1920.  The painting is a depiction of still life, and was a painting on canvas. This painting exemplifies many ideas of the Purist movement such as parallels to mathematics, psychology of lines, palate choice, and choice of objects depicted.

This work, like many of its genre, is very Purist in appearance. In terms of mathematics, there is a particular geometry of horizontal lines that gives a feeling of balance to the work. These lines form inanimate objects popular in Ozenfant’s works including various containers, bottles, vases, squares, and, of course, a guitar. There appears to be different levels of height in the painting, separated by various objects or colors.

The lines making up these objects and other items on the canvas point to another aspect of Purism, the psychology of lines.   Ozenfant noted that viewers grow tired of following vertical lines, and horizontal lines create feelings of “ease and pleasure”1. While there are several vertical lines in this painting such as those making up parts of the upright guitar, vase, and other containers, the majority of lines are either curved or horizontal. Again, these horizontal lines contribute to the levels that create the various geometric shapes, even blended together with an object that is vertical or round such as a guitar or vase.

Another aspect of the painting contributing to the promotion of feelings of ease and pleasure is the palette. The colors are quite dull, consisting of brown, tan, blue, white, various off- whites, a dull green, black, and khaki. There are no vibrant colors in this work. This is consistent with Ozenfant’s guidelines for “assuaging reality” in that the choice of objects as well their depiction in terms of palette “respect the profound and innate sense in us of nature’s fundamental reactions, and not too much outrage them: for then we are led to compare the work with its subject, which brings us back to the literal reality (as a monster reminds us of the normal creature)”1. Ozenfant assuages reality in that he depicts objects that are real, and that are common in existence. For example, the objects depicted in this painting are things one would see in everyday life, and Ozenfant does not depict them as outrageous or something that they are not. While the objects are not completely realistic, they remain recognizable.

In this same manner Ozenfant chooses objects that are not at all outlandish. In fact, many of the same objects are repeated in many of Ozenfant’s works. Ozenfant chose everyday objects, then painted them using a flat palate to signify a return to order not only from the First World War, But from cubism as well. It is this quest to promote order that Ozenfant utilizes the ideas of the Purist movement, including references to mathematics, psychology of lines, palette choice, and choice of objects depicted.

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

Harrison, Wood, Charles, Paul. Art In Theory, 1900-2000. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing,     1992.  Amedee Ozenfant, From Foundations of modern art.

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