Christ of Saint John of the Cross, by Salvador Dalí 1951, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow
At the start of May this year (2017) I visited the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgowm, there are many great works of art there, including a full collection of works by the Glasgow boys group of artists, I will share some of their paintings very soon.
One of the most famous works of art in the Gallery is “Christ of Saint John of the Cross, by Salvador Dalí painted in 1951”, the painting has its own viewing room with subdued lighting and a set of seats, so you can spend sometime viewing this amazing work of art by Dali. It was while in this room that I captured the above image of the painting.
There is something deep and spiritually moving about this painting even if your not a believer in its subject matter.
Here are some details :
Christ of Saint John of the Cross is a painting by Salvador Dalí made in 1951. It depicts Jesus Christ on the cross in a darkened sky floating over a body of water complete with a boat and fishermen. Although it is a depiction of the crucifixion, it is devoid of nails, blood, and a crown of thorns, because, according to Dalí, he was convinced by a dream that these features would mar his depiction of Christ. Also in a dream, the importance of depicting Christ in the extreme angle evident in the painting was revealed to him.
The painting is known as the Christ of Saint John of the Cross, because its design is based on a drawing by the 16th-century Spanish friar John of the Cross. The composition of Christ is also based on a triangle and circle (the triangle is formed by Christ’s arms; the circle is formed by Christ’s head). The triangle, since it has three sides, can be seen as a reference to the Trinity, and the circle may be an allusion to Platonic thought. The circle represents Unity: all things do exist in the “three” but in the four, merry they be.
On the bottom of his studies for the painting, Dalí explained its inspiration: “In the first place, in 1950, I had a ‘cosmic dream’ in which I saw this image in colour and which in my dream represented the ‘nucleus of the atom.’ This nucleus later took on a metaphysical sense; I considered it ‘the very unity of the universe,’ the Christ!”
In order to create the figure of Christ, Dalí had Hollywood stuntman Russell Saunders suspended from an overhead gantry, so he could see how the body would appear from the desired angle  and also envisage the pull of gravity on the human body. The depicted body of water is the bay of Port Lligat, Dalí’s residence at the time of the painting.
The painting and intellectual property rights were acquired for Glasgow Corporation in the early 1950s by Tom Honeyman, then the Director of Glasgow Museums. Honeyman bought the painting for £8,200, a price considered high at the time although it was less than the £12,000 catalogue price, and included the copyright, which has earned Glasgow Museums back the original cost many times over.
The purchase was controversial and a petition against it, arguing that the money should be spent on exhibition space for local artists, was presented to the City Council by students at Glasgow School of Art. The controversy caused Honeyman and Dalí to become friends, corresponding with each other for many years after the original acquisition.
The painting first went on display at the city’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum on 23 June 1952. In 1961 a visitor attacked the painting with a stone and tore the canvas with his hands. It was successfully restored over several months by conservators at Kelvingrove and returned to public display. In 1993, the painting was moved to the city’s St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art, but returned to Kelvingrove for its reopening in July 2006. It won a poll to decide Scotland’s favourite painting in 2006, with 29% of the vote.
It is said that the Spanish government offered £80 million ($127 million USD) for the painting.
This painting has continued to generate controversy. At the time of its purchase by Honeyman, the verdict by Modern Art critics was that producing such a traditional painting was a stunt by an artist already famous for his surrealist art. In 2009 The Guardian art critic, Jonathan Jones, described it as “kitsch and lurid,” but noted that the painting was “for better or worse, probably the most enduring vision of the crucifixion painted in the 20th century.”
In May 2013, in BBC Radio 4’s Great Lives, British poet John Cooper Clarke described this image as being utterly different from any other image of the crucifixion, as the angle of view conveys the hanging pain of this method of execution, whilst hiding the ordinarily clichéd facial expressions normally seen in such depictions.
I have posted a couple of times since the new year, relating to the Manchester Born artists Laurence Stephen Lowry (1887–1976) he was born in Old Trafford, Salford and studied in the evening at Manchester Municipal College of Art. He was a man who rarely left the North West, finding his inspiration in the landscape of North Wales and Lancashire, and in the streets of Manchester and around Salford.
Possible this painting “Industrial City” is one of my favorite cityscapes that Lowry produced, I say possibly because he was prolific in this area of his portfolio and I love so much of his inner city works.
I grow up in Altrincham, a town only a few miles away from city center Manchester and while I missed this core era that Lowry was working in, I have lots of memories of the city looking like it does in these paintings.
During my early years I can remember these streets and factories being slowly torn down and replaced with office blocks along with new more modern houses. Its hard to imagine these days what life was like for a lot of the people captures in Lowry’s drawings and painting, living and working within the same mile, most people hardly traveling very far outside their surroundings.
Lowry restricted his palette to black, vermillion, Prussian blue, yellow ochre and flake white. Whilst there is a naivety in his rendition, he deftly caught the hustle and bustle of men, women and dogs on the move against a background of terraced houses, mills and factories.
The things I love most about this painting , well firstly its angle of view, Lowry paints as if he was standing on top a hill overlooking the homes and industry below. I also like very much the distance in this painting, a distance that few of the people captured in it could experience themselves at street level. To me this distance captures the expanse of the city, each small area making up the whole, yet enclosing people within their own spaces of home and work and life.
City life itself is captured here, every element of the community (Home, work, shops, play, chat, church and industrial dirt – so much of it!).
In the distance through the city smog you can just make out the hills and moors, fresh air and spaces that so clearly is just out of reach.
I feel this painting is LS Lowry at his very best, some artists go in very close with life in order to capture and reflect on it , Lowry pulls back in his view and adds in so many elements that you have to spend time exploring his work, in order for you to see the full message and story he want you to see.
This was life in a Northern English town, lowry painted it and also lived it with the people he captured!!!!
Painting Skys – MyPaint
Earlier this week I posted about MyPaint a Windows and Linux application used to produce ( Art work , digital Paintings and Graphic Designs)
Since then I have been able to spend a little time using this application to paint some sky’s using some photographs as source material. I feel that its always a good idea to practice areas of a painting and sky’s are great fun to work on by themselves.
MyPaint has a full selection of artists brushes available that are capable of reproducing such painting styles as (oil, Acrilic and watercolour), I have found the watercolour brushes and tools such as the sponge very flexible, especially when you want to blend areas of a painting together and produce some soft area.
Another area I have worked with is the colour palettes, there are many great palettes available as standard in MyPaint, I am however more use to working with artist colours from a tube and wanted to recreate some of these colours digitally.
So by downloading the Winsor & Newton Artists colours palette as a tiff file and then creating my own palette by using the colour eye proper selection tool and the tiff file I have now produced a palette that matches the one I am a little more use to working with. This palette is only a starting point and I can ether edit or added to it as needed.
As for mixing colours using this palette as a starting point, I am experimenting with the available scratch pad window along with the palette knife and smudge tools to see just how well colours can be mixed.
In my earlier post I posted some of my own images of the Bog of Allen, Just one of the Irish Bogs I love visiting. Last year I went to see an Art exhibition that included some painting by, county Kerry based painter Noel Browne.
Some of his paintings I share here.
I feel he has captures the wonderful feel of the Irish Bogs including the vast Landscape they produce, when they have been cut by mechanicall harvesters for Peat production. His painting capture the almost monotone landscapes with deep flooded pits created by these machines.
About Peoples Art
At least once a year I try to visit the Peoples art exhibition and sale at St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin , this is a great day for an art lover as its one of the biggest open air art displays in Europe.
The images posted here are all taken on a very warm summers afternoon and I got lots of great images of the artists and their work along with getting to see some great painting and drawings from Landscapes to portraits.
People’s Art Dublin is a voluntary, part time, non profit making group, brought together by Dublin City Council to promote the visual arts to the public of Dublin. Each year after expenses are paid, donations are made to various charities.
The co-operation and assistance of Dublin City Council and The Office of Public Works ( OPW ) , which makes these events possible, is gratefully acknowledged by all the artists involved.
Any artist can apply to exhibit but there are some rules that apply, it costs each artist just €25.