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Jude's avatar

What artists are known for their lighting?

Asked by Jude (32112points) April 25th, 2010

Maxfield Parrish (illustrator), his work is wonderful and I love the lighting.

Parrish’s work.

My girlfriend is a lover of Parrish and has a few. I’ve seen a few that I want, as well.

Arabian Nights: Fisherman and the Genie is cool, but, his rather odd pose is what attracts me the most, I think (I tend to love things that are a bit off and see beauty in the oddest of things).

Anyhow, I’m looking for works of art with beautiful lighting.

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59 Answers

anartist's avatar

Caravaggio and his chiaroscuro
Monet and his observations of light same subject 24 hrs [Notre Dame]
Georges de la Tour and his candlelight
Whistler, Turner

Parrish is famous for his “Maxfield Parrish blue” of his skies not necessarily for his lighting. You might also enjoy N.C. Wyeth.

wundayatta's avatar

Tintoretto? Vermeer? Van Gogh?

gailcalled's avatar

Vermeer, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Bronzino, Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa

DeanV's avatar

Pink Floyd?

dpworkin's avatar

Maxfield Parrish was an illustrator, not an artist. It is a travesty to compare him to Caravaggio or Bronzino.

gailcalled's avatar

Forget the first phrase of the question.

reconsuelo's avatar

Try Bill Henson (Aussie photographer).

Jude's avatar

@dpworkin I went ahead and edited my question. :)

dpworkin's avatar

Eduard Manet and Claude Monet knew a great deal about light, among the Modernists. So did Seurat. That’s pretty much all they thought about. The greatest Renaissance chiaroscuro painters have already been enumerated above. A post-Modern artist very interested in light is Jim Terrel.

gailcalled's avatar

Are there any successful traditional painters who do not think about light? It is Art 101.How to make a three-dimensional object appear that way on a flat canvas? The five shadows only know.

Jude's avatar

Thanks, jellies. I’m just learning here. :)

squidcake's avatar

Rembrandt was revolutionary in the lighting of his portraits, most of them are very dark and lit dramatically from the side.
I remember going to art museums with my dad and he would stop and stare at a Rembrandt piece for at least half an hour. He would tell my little miniature self: “Now, look at the lighting of that! That man was a genius!”
And my dad is nowhere near being an artist, lol.

SeventhSense's avatar

As mentioned Caravaggio, Giovanni Baglione and El Greco, Goya, and Rembrandt all used dramatic light. Many of the Renaissance artists like Da Vinci. All the Impressionists, especially Monet, many landscape painters among the Hudson Valley School in America. Almost every landscape artist uses light as a major component of their work.

Draconess25's avatar

@dpworkin Illustrating is an art.

dpworkin's avatar

I disambiguate illustration from fine art as a result of my education as an art historian. I consider it a technical distinction.

Draconess25's avatar

@dpworkin Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Les's avatar

Thomas Kinkade is the __Painter of Light__. I hate him. I’m being facetious.

How about Hopper?

dpworkin's avatar

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but 200 years of formalized, critical art history has some lessons for us about beauty also.

anartist's avatar

Lumia by Thomas Wilfred

@Les glad i saw that qualifying statement about Kinkaid. I almost barfed.

dpworkin's avatar

I once installed an entire Wilfred show at the Corcoran Gallery in the early ‘70s. I think he is vastly underrated.

Jude's avatar

These are wonderful, guys. Thanks for posting!

jazmina88's avatar

my friend norton wisdom at

he paints on stage during live music on plastic with a light behind. Takes a photo, washes it down and goes on.

He is amazing.

Factotum's avatar

Renoir. Kinda. Not so much lighting as luminosity though. And I would like to take this moment to say big ups to all my anti-Kinkade friends.

susanc's avatar

Giorgio di Chirico, odd lighting, haunting, dramatic.

Arisztid's avatar

S’cuse me HR Giger fan coming through… s’cuse me…(well, there is some light in there but not what you mean)

aprilsimnel's avatar

People don’t usually think of him, but I’m going to say Eric Fischl. He uses light as a way to emphasize what I feel are the empty lives of his subjects. They seem to search for they know not what and the way he uses lighting is a major, yet unspoken part of how he shows this.

kenmc's avatar

Lots of people here have mentioned Impressionists, so I won’t.

The art I’m most familiar with is photography, which is exclusively about light and how it works. So here are some awesome photographers that focus on use of light.

Ansel Adams
Edward Weston (a personal favorite)
Steve McCurry (another personal fav)
Albert Watson
Gavin Bond
Josef Hoflehner
Nick Brandt

Some of the names above are taken from this link to The Young Gallery.

SeventhSense's avatar

Low art/high art, illustration/fine art are simply terms that we assign which are endlessly reinterpreted with the passage of time. Remember that Van Gogh was never successful in his lifetime and the majority of the French Impressionists we esteem today were considered brutes by the Salon in the 19th century. Parrish is very impressive whatever tag you assign him. I think the tendency is to dismiss artists whose technique is a very strong component of their expression until the community embraces that same style as impressive and they are moved up a rung. Edward Hopper also an illustrator can be found in the Museum of Modern Art. Norman Rockwell was never esteemed as a fine artist during his lifetime as skilled as he was as a painter. In 2002 a Rockwell retrospective toured the country ending in the Guggenheim in NY(one of the most important museums for modern art in the country for those unfamiliar). The NY Times was quoted as saying ”“What’s odd is the show’s enthusiastic reception by the art world, which in a lather of revisionism is falling all over itself to embrace what it once reviled”. Art like history is always in a dialectic with the current age and is quite fickle in her mercurial nature.

TexasDude's avatar

Edward Hopper.

Definitely Edward Hopper…

anartist's avatar

@dpworkin i worked there when you installed it. Hal Glicksman curated it. Walter Hopps was director. That was the job that made me go back to school for a degree in art history/museology.
Small world 101.

frdelrosario's avatar

Kelly Freas’ science fiction art made great use of light.

dpworkin's avatar

Hal Glicksman and I are still friends. He has a home outside of Paris now. It was actually Donna’s show. Chico Hopps gave me my first job, when he was the director at Pasadena.

@SeventhSense we disagree.

janbb's avatar

Coming to this late so I’m just catching up with the discussion. I believe Monet’s study of the light on a cathedral was of Rouen Cathedral, unless he did another series of Notre Dame? I have a book on my reading shelf called Painting Light about the techniques of the Impressionists that looks fascinating; haven’t gotten to it yet.

janbb's avatar

@dpworkin I’d like to hear more about why you draw such a distinction between artists and illustrators when you have the time. I’m assuming it’s not based upon the perceived quality of the work or public reception at the time. Is it that the illustrator is assumed to be mainly working for the money while the artist, by your previous definition, is compelled to make art? Where would you put someone like Rockwell Kent who moved back and forth between graphics, illustration and art? Outsider muralists in NYC would presumably be artists? Knowing you, I am sure you are not just considering members of a formal cannon artists.

dpworkin's avatar

Illustrators have a narrow-band function of illuminating someone else’s work. They may do it artistically, and they may go back and forth between illustration and artwork. Norman Rockwell was illustrating when he did Saturday Evening Post covers, Parrish was always an illustrator. The greatest fashion photographers (think Penn) drew their own distinction between what they produced for Vogue, and what they made for artistic reasons of their own. “Illustrator” is not a pejorative term, I just don’t happen to think Parrish made art.

gailcalled's avatar

Attempt to paint a naked egg. You cannot do it without taking the light source into consideration.

Norman Rockwell museum is nearby. It is fun to see the originals and then to go to Tanglewood and hear music.

Jude's avatar

We came across these on the weekend.

Fun finds.

janbb's avatar

@dpworkin Thanks; that’s clear.

SeventhSense's avatar

Illustrators have a narrow-band function of illuminating someone else’s work.
Sometimes but also create and expand upon that work to where the art itself becomes more indelible in the mind then any back story. Parrish is a perfect example. No one today remembers the story but the works have surpassed them and remain.
Artists throughout history from the first commissioned work for nobility painted to make a living and do what they love. But making a living first and foremost allowed them to do what they loved. Van Gogh himself probably would have abandoned his craft had he not thought that his brother was selling his works. These are antiquated notions.
And weren’t you the one who argued for comic books as literature?

dpworkin's avatar

As I said, it’s merely a technical distinction, and not pejorative. You are free to disagree. A lot of people thought Thomas Wilfred and Joseph Cornell made toys, and not art. It all comes out in the wash.

gailcalled's avatar

And Judy Chicago set a nice table, I hear.

dpworkin's avatar

I knew Judy when her last name was Gerowitz.

SeventhSense's avatar

I suppose so….until we can actually agree as to what this means exactly it’s all subjective.

art 1 (ärt)
1. Human effort to imitate, supplement, alter, or counteract the work of nature.
a. The conscious production or arrangement of sounds, colors, forms, movements, or other elements in a manner that affects the sense of beauty, specifically the production of the beautiful in a graphic or plastic medium.
b. The study of these activities.
c. The product of these activities; human works of beauty considered as a group.
3. High quality of conception or execution, as found in works of beauty; aesthetic value.

dpworkin's avatar

Number three is where I think Parrish fails, but I agree, it is entirely subjective. However, that’s what art criticism is all about, and I am an art critic. Ruskin and I disagree on certain issues. Alfred Barr hated Dan Flavin’s work.

SeventhSense's avatar

Well you know what they say…“There’s never been a statue built of a critic.” :)

gailcalled's avatar

@dpworkin: You and I clearly used to travel in the same circles. The story about Freddi is funny.

dpworkin's avatar

I lived down the hall from Penelope Tree in that same building on East 72nd, and so I knew Francis Fitzgerald, and their mom, the ambassador. When we were awakened by the smoke, we grabbed our cat and ran downstairs, and Freddi stopped us by the door and apologized and invited us in for a drink. We sat on her sofa in our PJ’s and bathrobes, and sipped cocktails while the firemen dragged hoses up that circular staircase.

gailcalled's avatar

@dpworkin: And look at us now. My claim to fame is Ellsworth Kelly down the road, and he’s about 106.

dpworkin's avatar

(I told a good Richard Raskind story in the other thread. It was one of the highlights of my innocent years.)

anartist's avatar

@dpworkin You & Ruskin about Whistler??

dpworkin's avatar

I think Whistler made some great portraits.

anartist's avatar

Yes he did—he also was not bad with night and fog lighting

SeventhSense's avatar

I do agree though that the majority of what Parrish did was certainly illustration for publication.
Whistler was outstanding and I always loved the painterly style of Sargent. Talk about subtle and brilliant plays of light.

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