Petersburg, State Museum Oil on canvas, cm. A seascape devoted painter, Aivazovsky reaches in this painting an absolute technical perfection, representing a group of unlucky castaways trying to survive to the merciless oceanic waves. Nevertheless, the centre of the composition is the powerful -almost mystical- and diffuse representation of the sun, which illuminates the scene with a strange, oneiric range of green and pink shades.
Contrary to the glorious calm of the work by Lane or the dramatic exuberance of Aivazovsky's masterwork, here we face a much more difficult work. The notorious horizontality of the picture and the evident contrast in the scale of the monk, almost insignificant when compared to the magnificence of the sea, fill the picture with a quite uncertain romantic message.
Is the sea a neutral background behind the monk's deliberations, or perhaps are we looking at a strange dialogue between the man and the neverending ocean, a mystical mirror of the monk's thoughts? The icy death. Beautiful and exuberant at first glance, this masterwork by Frederic Edwin Church is nevertheless a sinister and terrible romantic document, showing the remains of a shipwreck, where it really does not matter if the sailors have survived or not: the merciless icebergs will soon kill them if the violence of the accident has not done it before.
The brutal beauty of this canvas makes the Titanic story looks like a bad joke. Diebenkorn's urban seascapes present a unique and contemporary vision of the ocean: domesticated, friendly, desirable. Contrary to his abstract and more complex Ocean Parks , the Ocean Horizon presents a very simple composition with three evident levels for the land, the sea and the sky; all of them framed in a rectangular window.
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Following the crooked line marked by the electric lines, the ocean looks as accessible as the little cup of coffee we can see in the close-up. This glorious painting presents an evident parallelism with Diebenkorn's canvas representing the sea here the Atlantic Ocean as friendly, accessible, even as a recreational area to the relaxed society. Again, the composition is divided in three levels -sky, sea and land- and it is vertically organized by the two large flags fluttered by the ocean breeze. The painting is so delightful that we are immediately tempted to sit on one of the empty chairs to enjoy this sunny Sunday afternoon.
Apart from this kind seascape, Monet also depicted the sea full of fierceness and fury in paintings such as " La Manneporte".
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Sea Star: Sean Scully at the National Gallery
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