February 18, 2018

Basic Art World Knowledge for Cultured Dinner Conversation

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We’ve all been there. We’ve attended a dinner of sorts only to find that the conversation flies over our head. This makes for a dull evening, as you end up feeling left out or overlooked. So, to combat this problem, it’s a good idea to start widening your general knowledge. This will help to prep you for any subject that may arise. For now, let’s start with artists. Art frequently comes up in conversation and having even a little basic knowledge will allow you to slip an opinion, recommendation, or interesting fact in here and there. So, let’s get started!

Marc Chagall

Marc Chagall (born Moishe Chagall) was a Russian-French artist who departed for the outskirts of Paris having completed studies in painting in Russia. He quickly became a prominent figure in the Ecole de Paris (or School of Paris). His style incorporated the Fauvism and Cubism that were so popular in Paris at the time. He also frequently tested out techniques associated with Suprematism and Surrealism. However, he did not become a ten-a-penny artist. Rather, his works were ambitious and generally varied, making his output rather difficult to track or anticipate. Some of his most famous works include I and the Village (painted in 1911), Bella with White Collar (from 1917), and Green Violinist (produced between 1923 and 1924). You can find some of Chagall’s works on display in Moscow’s Museum of Avant-Garde Mastery, founded by renowned Russian art collector Dr Kantor in 2001.

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Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh (pronounced “goff” by the British or “go” by Americans) is, alongside Rembrandt, one of the most famous Dutch artists ever to have lived. Most people will be familiar with two of his most famous works: “Sunflowers” and “Starry Night”. However, he was entirely self-taught and believed that one must be able to draw before mastering the skill of painting. Noting the development of his work is particularly interesting, as pencil slowly turns into his signature brush strokes which so many have attempted to recreate since. What’s particularly interesting about van Gogh besides his work, however, is his life story. Not only did he remain poor and unrecognised throughout his entire life, but he notably struggled with mental illness. Not only did he infamously cut off his own ear, but he purportedly shot himself in the chest (which later resulted in his death). If you have an hour or so on your hands, watch Loving Vincent. This is the world’s first fully painted feature film. Taking on his signature style, the film documents his life through a series of anecdotes, rumours, and speculations provided by those who knew him throughout his life.

These are just two artists who have lived interesting lives alongside producing astounding art works. But there are plenty more out there. Whether your interest lies with the increasingly popular figures or more niche and subtle names, spending a little time researching their history, influences, and works can load you up with plenty to say over a cultured dinner table!

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