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Caitlin Siciliano<br />Professor de Beaufort<br />ARH 1000 H<br />01 November, 2010<br />Art Critique<br />Title: Florida Scene<br />Artist: Thomas Moran (American, b. England, 1837-1926)<br />Medium: Oil on canvas <br />Dimensions: n/a<br />Date: 1878<br />Description<br /> Thomas Moran creates a work of art directly influenced by nature. His, Florida Scene, predominately utilizes organic shapes. The southern landscape has irregular, often curving or rounded forms as seen in the vegetation, ocean, and sky. The few trees seen bear long, curving branches. Beneath the trees lie numerous green, round shrubs and wild flowers. The untamed aquatic weeds surrounding the seemingly shallow, natural pond in the right appear to grow in every direction. The irregular, almost threatening appearing, bayonet shaped leaves of the palm fronds flutter in the breeze coming from the ocean. Above the tidal waves of the ocean is the clear sky. The clouds are ambiguous, constantly morphing into new shapes. Moran’s piece is an example of the technique, atmospheric perspective, a nonlinear means for indicating an illusion of depth. He subtlety changes color, value, and detail to provide a real sense of being present in the tropical climate of the Sunshine State. Tones of pale yellow unite the sandy beach and sky evoking a humid, hazy atmosphere Florida is notorious for. The dominant subject, or figure of the composition is the curving palm tree in the center, jutting from the side of a sandy hill towards the direction of the ocean. In the background, lies the ocean, a large ship, and passengers descending from the boat, these figures diminish in size giving a feeling of increased distance between them and the viewer. These faraway objects are seen beyond an increased quantity of air, moisture, and sandy wind causing them to appear much bluer and less distinct then the foreground weather-worn palm tree. The ship and her passengers lack detail in comparison to the palm tree. The palm tree is complete with strokes defining each individual leave of the palm fronds and intricate rings decorating the bark of the trunk. The ship lacks such adornment, each plank of wood making up the boat cannot be distinguished and the people in the picture do not have faces or fingers. The colors used in Moran’s art are mostly comprised of cool colors, green vegetation and blue ocean and sky. The color scheme is analogous as the piece includes variations in color between hues adjacent to one another on the color wheel, for example yellow-green, green, and blue-green. The clouds are neutral tinted a white, adding to the like-like quality of the work. The components in the background of Moran’s artwork lack the color intensity of the figures in front, there is less of a contrast between light and dark. Moran creates an implied illusion of motion in his, Florida Scene. The center palm tree alludes to be growing towards the water, the ocean. The figures leaving the boat are blurred seeming to be walking towards the viewer as they explore the foreign land. With no dock present, the boat appears to be bobbing along the rough ocean.<br />Analysis<br /> In, Florida Scene, there is a balance between unity and variety. The components such as the trees, ocean, and sky belong to one another. These natural elements combined embody nature, they form a harmonious whole. If Moran were to subtract the trees, ocean, or cloudy sky the piece would diminish in quality, the title would no longer be appropriate as these elements truly define the landscape of Florida. The placement of dark green, low-lying shrubs are repeated throughout, sprouting all the way from the left hand side to the right. Variety is displayed by the many diverse species of vegetation, there are palm trees, an oak tree, shrubs, weeds, and flowers in the piece. The people from the boat are uniquely individual, each walking their own path and wearing different outfits. <br />Moran creates asymmetrical balance in his art, the left and right sides are not the same. Various elements are balanced by size, shape, or placement to establish a visual equilibrium. On the left, there is much activity going on, there sails an old ship and her passengers are roaming around on shore. On the right of the piece is an enormous sand hill with palm trees planted atop it. The great size of this landscape feature is heavy and attention getting which helps to balance the smaller in size, interesting liveliness of the people on the left. Immediately, the primary focus of attention goes to the palm tree in the center, the focal point of the work. The tree is visually positioned as the tallest as well as has the most detail compared to other aspects in the work. The green treetop of the palm highly contrasts with the white clouds surrounding it. The clouds are an area of lesser interest, lacking intense color and detail, subordinate to the emphasis of the piece. There is a repetition of visual elements, round organic shapes appear throughout the work. The round, green shrubs and curving clouds are repeated, these repeated curves provide flow. The shrubs build a movement toward the ultimate peak in the right of the picture, atop the hill is repetition and rhythm, in the form of five erect palm trees.<br />Interpretation<br />Thomas Moran was born in England; however is regarded as one of America’s most important Hudson River School artists. His biggest competitors flourished from Hudson as well, they include Frederick Edwin Church and Martin Johnson Heade. Moran had a personal desire to explore and paint exotic, uncultivated places, he is renowned for his panoramic scenes of the American West. Moran embarked on his first journey to Florida in 1877, he visited Fort George Island which is located at the mouth of St. Johns River near Jacksonville. This trip was funded by Scribner’s Monthly magazine in order to promote tourism to the unknown southern state. Moran’s work illustrates the landscape of Florida, yet he might have romanticized the location based upon his bias of love for uncultivated nature and to attract transplants. In Moran’s, Florida Scene, there is a ship and people in the background. The ship is in process of letting off several people who appear to be grateful for standing on solid ground, they are conveyed joyfully strolling. The people depicted have dark brown skin and brightly colored clothes, perhaps they arrived from the nearby Caribbean Islands to seek jobs. The individuals featured likely convey workers returning to find employment at Fort George’s free labor orange grove. The orange grove had replaced the island’s pre-Civil War cotton and sugar-cane fields. The humans in the work help to convince those skeptical of visiting Fort George; the island is not desolate there are people, transportation, and work. The environmental reality of Florida is harsh and unforgiving. The climate in northern Florida can be more pleasant than the merciless humidity and heat in the south of the state. As revealed in the piece, Florida has sandy soil which is not the best for growing vegetable gardens in. However, during the winter the Sunshine State is paradise and draws crowds of people to its warm, tropical beaches. During 1877, many inhabitants of Florida were misfits, for example criminals fleeing from the north, foreigners arriving for work, or the few trying to prosper in the rough frontier. As a result, a major religious practice or firm cultural values were not established; the residents were too scarce and diverse. <br />Evaluation <br />Thomas Moran’s work has value, it epitomizes the natural landscape one would discover in Florida. Moran’s art is worth considering because it captures the unique features of the hazy atmosphere. Unlike his contemporaries, Moran, has the ability to depict the notorious climate; he communicates the raw essence of the humidity found on the beach. I am convinced when viewing this work of art that I am squinting and sweating from the sun while watching people come ashore. Personally, I value this skillfully crafted, extraordinary piece because it triggers memories in me. Being raised in Florida all my life I have come to appreciate the gorgeous landscape that surrounds me. The piece exudes the feeling of being lost in a tropical, exotic oasis. Moran’s, Florida Scene, has value nationally. Originally sent to foster tourism in Florida, Moran created a masterpiece which highlights nature in all her shining glory. He succeeds in catching a moment of historic permanence during a time when America was rapidly changing. His work envisions the ideal, rural locations a young America was known for. Moran can be regarded for uncovering the natural beauty America, especially Florida, has to offer. Thomas Moran was acclaimed for his expertise in bringing to life idyllic places, manifesting almost an escape as one would gaze into his works and feel as though they were there.<br />