Influences: Part 1




Giovanni Bellini


Instead of going downhill as he got older, Bellini kept getting better and better til he was ninety-something.






Giorgione's pictures have a soft and lyrical quality that's occasionally distinctly mysterious. These aesthetic qualities are the reason why he was famous during his brief life, and obviously they're intentional. But the mystery isn't; it's just that some of the subjects and conventions of the time have been utterly forgotten. For several hundred years people have been speculating about the identity of the woman in The Tempest, who the man with the stick is, and how the painting is connected to other paintings of the time with similar but not identical elements. After all this time, to find out once and for all exactly what is going on would be slightly anticlimactic.

The other thing about Giorgione is that he spawned what seems to have been a whole industry in Venice, of painting Giorgionesque landscapes for decorating furniture and paneling and things. They were often made by anonymous painters, but Titian appears to have made some, too.


Whenever I paint ostensible landscapes, it's never with the same intentions that landscape painters have had for the last three or four hundred years. It's never for the sake of nature itself, and they're never meant to be realistic; my sensibilities have been conditioned largely by these really pretty and totally fake looking little 16th century paintings. Their effect is not usually sinister, exactly, but they do have a strange portentous feeling. For one reason or another, one often has a dim awareness of something lurking beneath the calm and pretty surface. For some reason, this distant, aesthetic treatment - especially of tragic or unpleasant subjects - has a bizarrely soothing effect on me, and always makes me feel sleepy.







Titian was unquestionably one of the very few, very greatest painters in all of history. By chance it happens that he's probably my favourite painter as well, which is a different thing entirely.

Unlike everone else, though, I'm not thrilled by most of his late paintings.




Part 2





Copyright © 2010 by Harry Steen