While working on my last painting I was wondering just how many references to the work of Hieronymus Bosch's art there must be in other artist's work - or how often other artists may have been inspired by a particular figure or composition based upon something Bosch painted, and set about to reinterpret it. It seems to me I have recognized the influence of Bosch, and or Bruegel, in several works of other artists I admire. In researching and studying works of a few contemporary artists, I've recognized identical images apparently lifted from one artist by another to be included in one of his own compositions. For instance, I've recognized some of Magritte's work repeated in Michael Sowa's work. Was it intentional? My intuition tells me yes. However, a painter may say it was unintended and any similarity accidental and quite unconscious. To me that is like people telling you they never watch TV but know exactly what all the shows are about. I may be wrong of course.
Anyway - I came across an interesting illustration of what I 'think' I'm talking about with the two photos in this post. Perhaps it was unconscious and simply coincidence, but the two artists seem to compliment one another in their compositions... in other words, was John Nava inspired by Norman Rockwell? I suppose I could find out if I inquired more deeply into his work, but I'd rather just speculate instead.
Sometimes painters and artists think they know something - be it intuitively or through education - and sometimes they think that other people's work actually 'speaks' to them... Although that is perhaps an exaggeration, rather, a painting can be 'read' - and there is a way to read a painting - the influences of art history studies aside. Copying or painting from an archetype, such as an icon, can teach a painter that.
Not long ago, a commenter on an earlier post said something about medieval piety and how the artists of those times - as well as inferring the ordinary people who sometimes populate their paintings - could not be as debased and disturbed as they say the modern abstract impressionist of the 20th -21st centuries are. Yet that is simply fallacious - for people were as corrupt and debased then as they are now. I think we delude ourselves believing otherwise. The Low Country artists pretty much prove that - as do the medieval penitents.
I may be wrong of course.
Top - Norman Rockwell
Bottom - Los Angeles Cathedral Tapestry, John Nava