An Essay on Art from the De Young Museum

Art from the De Young

The De Young Museum is a fine arts museum located in San Francisco. The De Young is an incredible museum, which offers a look at the different art forms of many artists, cultures, and periods. The De Young displays a spectacular array of art forms such as Christian Dior dresses, Native American artifacts, Georgia O’Keefe’s flower paintings and much more. I will mention a few that captivated me and compare them to ones we have studied in class.

The De Young Museum is very well organized. On the bottom floor near the entrance is Art of the Americas, Native American Art and 20th Century and Contemporary Art. On the second floor are Art of America to the 20th century, African art, Oceania art and textiles. I think that the arrangement of the art is very suiting, and easy to follow.

In the 20th Century and Contemporary Art section I was mystified by the glass sculpture room. There were beautiful, unique, and amazing artworks everywhere I looked, including a glass ladder. What really caught my attention was “Fruit Still Life” by Flora C. Mace. “Fruit Still Life” is several pieces of glass blown to look like an orange, apples, pear, and peach. They are proportionate to each other, but their proportion to an actual orange is probably 100 times or so, since the orange was about 2 feet tall. The “Fruit Still Life” was created in 1997, but it’s a contemporary way of looking at the still lifes that were popular in 17th century Rococo art. An example of a Rococo still life is Rachel Ruysch’s “Still Life with Flowers.” “Still Life with Flowers” shows many different beautiful flowers and some fruits that are proportionate to life size even on canvas, and bursting with life and realistic details. “Fruit Still Life” is simple, with only seven pieces of fruit on a simple alder plate. However the realistic details are in both of the pieces. “Still life with flowers” shows each petal and leaf in careful realistic detail. “Fruit Still Life” also clearly shows the realistic details of the pieces of fruit. The enormous orange has a rough dimpled look like an actual orange. The apples are smooth and shiny, and the coloring suggests a fiji and red delicious apple displayed. I don’t think this feat of an artwork could have been accomplished 100 years ago, and I think it’s a great way to mix the old subject with the new medium, while being dramatic and simple at the same time.
The American Painting collection in the De Young was quite impressive. I was awestruck by Frederic Edwin Church’s “Rainy Season in the Tropics” which was completed in 1866. It is an oil on canvas that measures 56 ¼” x 84 ¼”. It shows an amazing beautiful landscape of a waterfall with a double rainbow going across the painting, in great condition. The painting is asymmetrically balanced with the palm trees balancing the waterfall. A comparable painting to this is Thomas Cole’s “The Oxbow (View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, After a Thunderstorm.)” Both of these paintings fall in the romanticism period. “The Oxbow” and “Rainy Season in the Tropics” both arrange the paintings asymmetrically, both scenes are done around the subject of a storm. “Rainy Season in the Tropics” looks more like a paradise scene with the rainbow, while “The Oxbow” the storm has more emphasis. Both are stunning paintings of mountain storms, which easily attract your attention.

Monet has done some of the best water landscapes in my opinion. I was excited to see some of them on display at De Young. I was very fascinated by “Sailboats on the Seine” by Claude Monet created in 1874 and is a European Impressionist painting in great condition. It’s an oil on canvas painting that is 21 ¼” x 25 ¾.” Shown in the painting are sailboats in asymmetrical balance on water that looks alive and rippling and still catching the reflections of the sailboats. The painting isn’t realistic; it’s slightly distorted or blurred. You don’t notice the distortion in the water, it appears alive and rippling. It’s almost like the ripple of the water, rippled through the rest of the canvas ever so slightly creating the blurring. I’m going to compare “Sailboats on the Seine” to another of Monet’s works “Impressionism Sunrise.” “Impressionism Sunrise” is even more abstract, and has eliminated all details, but the subject matter is similar and the water seems alive and moving. Both of the paintings are asymmetrically balanced with a complementary color scheme. Monet was definitely a master when it came to being able to capture the movement of the water.
The 20th century and contemporary art section had many unusual works of art. One that attracted me was the "Meena" by Sono Osato. It’s an unusual piece that was made of mixed media of oil, beeswax, asphalt and reclaimed objects on canvas mounted on wood panel. “Meena” is 87” x 73” American Neo-Dada created in 2005 and is in good condition overall, however some of the mixed media included isn’t in good condition. From a distance, the entire artwork looks the same, on closer examination you realize there’s small objects mixed in, some you can completely see, some partly hidden and others you can’t make out. I found a key and belt buckle in the mix. It reminded me that the general view doesn’t give you the whole picture, sometimes you have to look closer, which we sometimes fail to do. “Meena” is similar to “Collection” by Robert Rauschenberg. “Collection” shows almost pure hues of oil paint mixed with paper, fabric and metal, while “Meena” is neutral toned. In both cases the artwork is mixed media, asymmetrical with no clear subject, and keeps your eyes constantly searching the canvas.

In conclusion, I have listed four works that moved me, and compared them against fine art examples from our readings. The De Young houses an incredible amount of different art forms from around the world, in a vast assortment of mediums from glass sculptures to installations to architectural church models made out of bullets and gun parts. I thought It was a memorable experience to view all of the exhibits and I learned a lot from them.