Thursday, March 3, 2016

Swamp Triptych

Last year I was commissioned to paint a triptych for a collector in Louisiana.  When autumn arrived, I had to slow things WAY down due to the arrival of my daughter, Ivy, my teaching schedule and my MFA work at Texas State University.  I've finally finished the commission and continue to work on other commissions for other (very patient) collectors.

I had never attempted a triptych before, but was always fascinated by their narrative potential—like large comic book panels created in oil paints.  They tell a story and/or aesthetically work together.  Sometimes the "panels" have a particular hierarchy, with the middle panel dwarfing the other two.  This is evident in work produced by many painters during the northern Renaissance:  

The Crucifixion Triptych by Rogier van der Weyden

The triptych became a great vehicle for Biblical narrative (sometimes paired with extra-Biblical narrative).  Triptychs were so large they had a permanent position in churches or were created as portable reminders of Christ's sacrifice.  Hinges could be added between the panels and the paintings could sit on flat surfaces, much like modern-day picture frames.

Hieronymus Bosch's famous The Garden of Earthly Delights shows a highly fantastical interpretation of the human story including an account of Creation, human thriving and damnation.

Several centuries later, Max Beckmann took a more theatrical approach to the triptych format:

 by Max Beckmann

Francis Bacon used the triptych to create iterations of his nightmarish portraits:

Three Studies of Lucien Freud by Francis Bacon

Someday, I hope to experiment more with this style of visual storytelling ...maybe when I finish my thesis.

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