Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Re: the influence of Frederic Bazille on Norman Rockwell

If art interests you, you are going to hear about this new computer program that can discover influences among artists. The program has discovered some well-known influences, and it has also discovered some previously unremarked influences, such as the link the algorithm makes between Frederic Bazille’s Studio 9 Rue de la Condamine (1870) and Norman Rockwell’sShuffleton’s Barber Shop (1950). See this page at Medium.com.

I would like to add an observation about this claim of influence:

Bullshit.

Both pictures have an angled line setting off a subset in the lower left. I'm sure that is unbelievably rare in paintings, oh sure. Both pictures have an old-fashioned heating stove (and they are quite different.) I never imagined that people would want to keep warm in paintings, these must be the only such examples.

Bazille has a violinist playing with a pianist in the main room. They are remarkably far apart. Rockwell has a few musicians playing in the back room. They are acting more naturally, with the clarinettist(?) and the cellist sitting down while the violin stands, and they are all close together.

The computer program also found that both pictures use a wall-corner to divide up the picture, and both have a low "front" area that is not—as in many paintings—loaded with tchotchkes. Otherwise, one can see tons of differences in the pictures. I'l say it again? Did the Bazille painting influence Rockwell? Bullshit.
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