Throughout art history, paintings of interiors have not
been frequently used as a theme due to the fact that the people that finance art
wanted religious or portrait paintings.
One artist that did paint interiors is Edward Hopper. He was born in 1882
in Nyack, New York in a town near Hudson River. From 1900-1906, Hopper studied
illustration at New York School of Art and then later changed to fine art.
During the time Hopper was completing his degree, he worked as an illustrator
for a short period of time and then travelled to Paris which influenced his
work later in is life. During the 20th century, Edward Hopper was considered as the most important
realistic painter in America. In
Hopper’s paintings he does not show the whole story, only a part, so the
audience plays a main role in understanding the artwork where there are no
exact answers on what is happening in the paintings, just clues. He also said
that “Nothing really influenced me. I don’t think anything of the sort. Every
artist has a core of total originality. An identity all his own,” Stremmel
2004. Most of his empty cityscape and landscape paintings depict an isolated
feeling in the environment and reflect his temperament and character.
Similarly, it is reminiscent of Janet Ternoff’s work where her paintings are
also empty and generate an atmosphere which challenges the audience.
society allows broader themes to be addressed in art so there are quite a few contemporary
artists that paint interiors such as Edward Gordon and Matteo Massagrande.
Edward Gordon was born in 1940 at Ocean City, New Jersey and he studied at
Rutgers University for his bachelor degree.
Not only did he receive many awards from publications such as The Arist’s
Magazine, Yankee Magazine, The Artist’s Illustrated Encyclopedia and Spotlight
Magazine but also his work was featured in books. Gordon started publishing his
own giclée prints during 1977, presently he has published approximately 30
editions and 13 of them are sold out. Moreover, his works are exhibited in both
public and private collections throughout North America and Europe. Gordon is
expert in including intricate details and effort in rendering the textures,
colours and forms. For example, in photography, Gordon manages to soften the
strong contrast without blurring the forms in the image. He stated in his
artist statement on maine-art.com that “My goal is to make paintings so realistic, that viewers are drawn into the
imaginary space and share in the peaceful feeling that I try and incorporate into each work. I relish the subtleties of light
reflection combined with architectural details that falls somewhere between
realism and surrealism. There is something
mystical yet serene in the quiet light found in the interior spaces presented,
in harmony with the luminescent effect in the sky.” Although Gordon paints in a
highly accurate style similar to Janet Ternoff and both of their paintings are
empty and lack life, but he approaches the theme differently. Gordon’s
paintings include lighter colours that give off a peaceful and holiday feeling,
he often includes the scenes of the ocean. Whereas, Ternoff’s paintings use
more dark colours that give of a lonely feeling.
Matteo Massagrande was born in
1959 in Padua, Italy. He used to work as an assistant for a restorer of 15th
to 19th century artworks while studying the Renaissance masterworks
which influenced his work later on in life. Massagrande’s paintings are a mix
of late 19th-century Italian Realism with contemporary Photorealism
and a touch of Renaissance. Most of his interior paintings depict interiors in
various stages of deterioration. The eerie lighting reflects the past lives of
the inhabitants. Moreover, his interior paintings have a pleasing view through
to the exterior which sometimes are skeletal trees. In the past, he met the
artist Giorgio de Chirico who had inspired him to develop his own style of
work. Since 1973, his artworks have been exhibited around the world in both
public and private collections. Massagrande’s artworks remind me of Janet Ternoff’s
artworks because both artists evoke similar feelings of loneliness and
emptiness, but Massagrande’s works evoke more of a creepy and mysterious
Janet Ternoff, Edward Hopper, Edward
Gordon and Matteo Massagrande paintings of interiors all give off different
atmospheres. Firstly, it is the use of lighting; in Ternoff’s paintings natural
daylight streams in from the outside on only one side of her paintings and the
other side are mainly shadows. Secondly, the use of space; the larger the space
the greater the feeling of loneliness its evoke, especially in public spaces
where there should be a lot of people such as pubs, bars, and parks.
Furthermore, the use of props are used to add to the atmosphere, in one of
Janet Ternoff’s paintings called “One and One” there is a half-drunk pint of
beer which gives the impression that someone was drinking alone and suddenly
left the scene. Additionally, including scenes of the world outside where there
is an absence of life due to an empty city makes the audience feel isolated and
abandoned. Depicting the weather outside as dreary and poor where it is cloudy
or raining heightens this feeling.
Also, the walls of the interiors in Ternoff’s
work add to the atmosphere by showing the paint are peeling and cracking
showing a lack of décor in her paintings. Ternoff’s paintings of interiors
involves mostly chairs and tables which are really simple props. Finally, the tertiary
colours that Ternoff chooses to use such as browns, blues, greys and blacks makes
the overall look of the painting more realistic and attracts the audience’s
attention, inviting an emotional response.