I just love the guy so darned much, I couldn't help but make a thread after someone told me they never heard of him...
So in case you never heard of him, now you have.
Nobody could do Marble surfaces like Tadema
Yeah, he's awesome with the marble surfaces... He's got a funny mustache too...
This is the very first painting of him I saw and was mesmerized:
LONG LIVE YOKO KANNO!!!
The Tadema books I have are among my favourites to just grab and flip through.
I must say... That marble is rather... Delicious... Mmm.
Woah. Thanks Justin.
Have you taken a look at Van Dyck? Velasquez? Rembrandt?
I don't fully understand the love of French academic art. Perhaps it makes sense as a reaction to the total lack of drawing and painting skills that is embraced by a large part of the fine art world today. That could make admirable skill levels appealing. I certainly can admire what some of these artists do, but most of Tadema's work seems dead to me. I don't feel any personalities or consciousness residing inside those heads and bodies. Could that be why he hasn't remained well known?
Technical skill gives us the means to express ourselves, and is important to go after, but it is the means, not the end. It just isn't enough. In fact, in some cases work with real feeling that isn't quite as perfect has more life to it.
Norman Rockwell will remain well known because as an illustrator he reaches us on a human level. He had a vision of America, and he expressed it beautifully. He married his technical skill to his vision. His painting of the little girl walking with federal marshals is a masterpiece. Nothing about it could be changed. It holds together on every level.
In the fine art realm, Vermeer is a highly skilled "realist" painter who painted many great paintings. Again, His approach suited his vision. His work is not simply a technical tour de force. His work is filled with feeling, vision and life force. Rembrandt, on the other hand, grew away from academic style and found in texture, in thin areas contrasted with opaque areas, in visible brush strokes contrasted with smoothly painted areas, a great expressive means.
All I can remember about the Tadema paintings is skill, beautiful marble and vacant faces.
On another note, perhaps it would be interesting to discuss the differences between representational fine art and illustration. Some artists (Daumier, for example) do or have done work that exists as both.
Last edited by Maxine Schacker; December 30th, 2007 at 12:37 PM.
I do love Van Dyck, velasquez (although I must admit my appreciation of Rembrandt isn't quite as high, but I haven't looked into him much at all).
(In my Opinion) To a point I think that Deadness and life in any given painting becomes subjective. I'm not denying that there is a lack of life in Tadema's work, but when I look at it I see interaction and thought. The first example I posted is a pretty good example. The 'slaves' are not all facing the same direction or reacting the same to their task... one looks burdened, as you might expect a slave to be (but perhaps not express it), one has a scolding, thoughtful glance into oblivion, one stares out onto the water- and the two fan holders- one looks up perhaps gazing more at the queen that at his fan, while the other (closer to us) looks to be deeply concentrated on his task.
There is also the female 'musician' (for lack of more knowledgable term), who while playing mindlessly is glancing off the side, perhaps at a bird or butterfly, etc. The right side of the image, with the 2 slaves in front, seem dead- quite literally as they are painted, faceless. They don't even appear to hold the weight on their shoulders- and much like the 2 women holding Moses, it doesn't feel like they have any spirit in them, any personality.
The other images below it I would agree seem woefully stale with minor exceptions- but again, to me it's mostly speculation or opinion as to what is lively and what isn't. I don't at all disagree with anything you've said, really.
This post was mainly just an 'Art History heads up', because I really do love Tadema's work, and he's been on my mind (and desktop) alot recently.
On the topic of Representational Fine Art v. Illustration- I haven't really had much time or experience to make this call, but from what I know, Fine art is meant to make a statement- it could be irony, or just of a strange observation- where illustration depicts a visual narrative. It isn't to say they can't intersect- if a still life is of muddy sneakers on a kitchen floor with a baseball next to it- It's a still life- but it also tells a story.
Last edited by Justin.; December 30th, 2007 at 01:51 PM.
I don't know patdzon, these are amazingly "reallistic" paintings, but I look at them and all I can think is 'wow, that guy had skills'. It's a bit like the beowulf movie, they are not real people but they are closer to look like real people than a disney movie, but the disney movie is so much more "alive".
What does tadema want to tell us in the first picture besides: well they are carrying this princess or whoever and all that. He does not make a personal statement at all. He is not saying that it's unfair for the slaves carrying them, or that it's not unfair because the princess deserves it, he is just saying that this situation of slaves carrying her 'happens'. Even David said something else in his paintings, and those already lacked something (at least to my eyes).
For example Velázquez in the Surrender of Breda is not only saying that those people surrendered to the spanish forces that were finally able to retake the site. No, he's telling just how great were those enemies defending breda and how the spanish acknowledged their greatness and didn't let them be humilliated with the kneeling and all that. He's saying: they were noble as defenders, and we, by admitting this, are as noble as them.
And that's the kind of things this paintings lack to my eyes
I can't imagine why there is a vacancy to these faces...he has painted them with expressions on them to be sure but something is amiss. I wonder if he gave it alot of thought or perhaps he painted the emotions on abitrarily.
Another idea is that there are no blemishes on the faces. They are as perfect as porcelain dolls. I doubt that will hold up as the keystone but his works makes me think of Fragonard whose work is decorative. There is emotion but it doesn't come in as reality. Rather a polished form of it?
The Meeting, Fragonard. I don't know if he's french but the style is Rococo which for me, is when realism oversteps itself.
 DRAW EVERYDAY >
believe me, he thought about those faces more than you could possibly imagine, the french academics where crazy perfectionists, and it shows in these utterly beautiful paintings!
also, for those who could not find any emotion in the ones above (which in my opinion are filled with atmosphere and emotion) need only look further into his gallery on ARC
you cant tell me that these to not hold the same level of emotion than Velasquez, Rembrandt or whatever, if that is what you are looking for
it is clearly a matter of taste and opinion though...
for example, Maxine Schacker, everything you said about Rockwell and Vermeer I can say about Alma-Tadema or any of the other french academics.
just my 2c.
It's an interesting discussion.
I do have some serious affection for the French Academics, but their work often feels too staged -- too theatrical.
Other artists and illustrators, like Rembrandt and Rockwell, plan and compose just as much as the academics, but their work most often feels like captured moments.
To me, it's the difference between walking out of a movie theatre saying "Wow, what great special effects" or "Wow, what a great film".
Looking at many of the academics' works, one is first struck by their technical skill, looking at a Rockwell, Rembrandt or Frazetta painting; its narrative, its life, and its energy strikes you before you can even consider how technically accomplished they are.
He's a great craftsman and his work is worth admiring because of that. It's easy to poo-poo him and a lot of the other French academic painters because there are so many others who take it beyond pure craftsmanship. But the fact that his work doesn't go much beyond craftsmanship doesn't change the fact that it is really, really good craftsmanship that's worth appreciating simply because of that fact.
It's good to appreciate in the way you'd appreciate a well-made table or dresser by a master carpenter. I don't necessarily like the way Victorian-age furniture looks, but I do appreciate how much time, effort, and precision it took to design and create something with all those goopy details, and it really was quite an achievement.
David and Velazquez weren't right before abstraction, they were at least a good thirty years previous. Courbet and Goya were before/during the beginnings of abstraction - right around the time Daguerre made his invention - making realism obsolete, from the mass public point of view. I also thought Tadema was classified as a pre-raphaelite, no? He came much later than David, and other neo-classicals. hmm, I'll have to check.
The argument against Tadema here is hit-and-miss. When I look at the paintings of just two figures together, I see expression. On the other hand, the first two works posted feel unreal. The figures have expressions - in the case of the reclining ladies, too much so. But it's not a believable scene, and I don't think Tadema intended it to be. He was going for idealism, in much the same vein as Poussin and Raffaello, going back to the Greeks - that pretty marble isn't all he borrowed from them. It's a bit ridiculous and very theatrical, but I think that, in itself, is an achievement. Just ask yourself, have you ever seen anything else like it? With that same feeling of perfection and absurdity?
Regardless, there are countless master artists out there who don't share our own vision. Always ask yourself, "What can I learn from this?"
Last edited by TASmith; January 1st, 2008 at 07:11 PM.
Tadema, of course....I never mention him because I thought everyone knew about him....
I have 12-13 of his pieces in my extra large scan folder....
You guys are just jealous, gtfo....lol
I mean seriously, does anyone think they can even achieve this kind of finish? You won't even try, because you can't if you have time to post here on CA about the "dead 19th century"
Opinions like that, cut and dry and lacking in sympathy for the etheric vision of beauty here is just boorish and outdated itself...often our words reflect a flaw in our own matrix - it's the world of hypocritical assholes who are on the decline - not love for classical realism, that's on a rise due to so much raw precision executed in works from that area.
And you can build on it.
There's some historical innaccuracy in suggesting the Rococco period was a response to realism. On the contrary, the massive restructuring of the french academic art system was a response to the horrors of Rococco, the poor copies of poor copies and stylized works that met a dead end.
The academy returned to basics of drawing and painting from life, Gerome and Bargue realized the series of master copy drawings for use in schools and there was a rennaissance of proper academic training which resulted in many lifelike paintings and drawings.
Say what you like, but the fact of the matter is you're wrong about Academic art being outdated.
We push hard towards realism so we can fall back into abstraction with a grasp of precise light and form.
Another thing - keep Velasquez and Rembrandt for their play with light, and keep Tadema for his thematic and theatrical value, each artist has his or own strengths to draw from, one should not focus on just one or two but strive to incorporate what works
and Tadema works....for many many people....learn from that and if you can't respect it then you should at least keep your mouth shut.
I might as well start ranting about how Picasso can't draw worth shit by now but had a firm grasp of marketing....
sehertu mannu narāṭu ina pānāt šagapīru ningishzidda
Interesting thread. Personally I love Alma Tadema but from a technical point of view. I find his paintings don't move me on an emotional level, but I appreciate his aesthetic and imagery. It feels like I'm looking at a play or set piece rather than glimpsing a moment of actuality. But there's an orientalist and romantic sensibility to his work which is wonderful, and he was close with the Pre-Raphaelites as well.
On a side note, he's not French. He was a naturalised British resident who came here from The Netherlands where he was born and started his academic career.
Some of his work can be less representational though. There's a real impressionistic vibe to this pic:
He compares poorly with Velasquez, Vermeer or Rembrandt but then so do most artists so I won't hold that against him.
I kinda like the overblown technically obsessed fluffiness of them.
For me, it's just the same as (some) abstract art, it can be pretty but there's much more to art than being pretty. I'm not saying that anyone could match tadema's skill (as happens with abstract art).
Last edited by Favila; January 1st, 2008 at 08:38 PM.
I really can't make honest assessments on his works as I've not seen any of them in person. I live in the Philippines so most of the stuff I see here are post modern crap, and mediocre realism. I just think that any painting deserves to be seen in person and I can't say what my reaction would be like if I'd see any of his work. I do believe that the golden age of illustrators took something from the works of these academics. And you can definitely see their influence on their work. The works of the illustrators also have that theatrical quality to it and one of the important things they learned from the academics is the story-telling aspect of picture making. Alma-Tadema definitely has that. And when I look at these images that's one of the things I notice regardless if it affects me in an emotional way or not.
Last edited by Dizon; January 2nd, 2008 at 01:50 AM.
He also painted in the middle 19th century so he was before the impresionists and abstraction.
as far as my opinion i have never been a huge fan of his work. His compositions are very well thought out and aranged but i do get that dead feeling from his pieces that Maxine mentioned. It feels like he cared more about the composition and rendering then he did about what he was capturing. Richard Schmid says in Alla Prima that me must allways keep that emotional reason for why we wanted to depict a particular image in our mind so we dont lose the magic. I agree alot with this statement.
I also get anoyed at the fact that every one of his backgrounds is on some kind of veranda or porch and they are all in 1 point perspective. I have seen maybe 2 pieces where he decided to do 2 point. variation is the spice of life and he just didnt do it.