The Human Experience

If art represents the time when and place where the artist lived, then art may also represent the common life routine of the majority. Georges Seuratís Bathers at Asnieres, 1883-4, is an accurate transcription of guys cooling off on a Sunday afternoon in a park outside of Paris. The temperature is warm, and they have taken off their clothes to bask in the sun. Their clothes, hats, and the red dog represent life as lived. The figuresí bodies are abstracted (simplified) as are other objects, such as the trees and boats. While Seurat had visited this and other parks many times and made hundreds of sketches on the spot, he preferred that his final painting look simple in its shades and pure in its colors. Nonetheless, this scene was just as true to the artistís Geist as the political or religious realities, maybe even more so.



Thomas Eakinsí The Biglin Brothers Racing, 1873-4, depicts two world-class double skull racers practicing on the river in Philadelphia. The design of the boat, their clothing, arm and leg positions, river setting and boats beyond perfectly echo the human experience - life as lived. While Seuratís composition is abstracted with bodies and other objects reduced into simple shapes, Eakinsí is purely disegno esterno in its inclusion of details to document a moment in time. Eakins often took photographs of these sites around Philadelphia and later create the painting working directly from the photos.