Modern Art Preview II

This is part of a series of plates for the upcoming release of Modern Art that I’m showcasing here with generous permission of the publisher. To read more about this publication, my notes on the cards’ design and the game’s release date, follow this link. Again, the type pictured on the card above is placeholder type.

Previewed here is an artist I call the “Letterform Artist.” The primary shapes of letterforms carve each canvas into interesting simple geometric patterns. Layers of paint reveal interesting color combinations and textures as different levels show through. This particular piece has the arresting power that Xs and crosses offer. Xs tend to be more dynamic than crosses as diagonal sweeps are more dramatic than horizontal and vertical sweeps. Indeed, many classical paintings make use of strong diagonal compositions to heighten drama. The effect of lining elements up in X forms is something of a bulls eye, as the eye travels to a down the path to a point of central interest. By arranging elements in the painting along the X, hierarchical relationships can be established. The area in the cross hairs or bulls eye is the most important point of the story while supplemental storytelling elements continue along these linear directions. Some examples of the X in paintings can be found in Eugene Delacroix’s The Death of Sardanapalus and Edward Munch’s The Scream. In both paintings, the eye travels along the diagonal lines to the center point of the X. In the case of Delacroix’s piece, the woman with spread arms out on the bed literally forms the crosshair. In The Scream, the focal is the head which is at the cross hairs. The fence forms one line of the X and the river and the man’s body forms the other line as indicated below.

While it is easy to scoff at modern art as the execution can often seem simplistic or childish, it is important to reflect that there is often more than meets the eye at first glance. Just as the subtle executions and interplays of game mechanics are often missed on non gamers, so too, modern art’s appeal often requires a prerequisite time spent around art. The more I play games, the more things I find to like and appreciate in them, particularly those created by experienced designers like Knizia. In the same way, the more I look at paintings and art pieces, the more satisfaction I get from them as I can see the purposefulness and thoughtfulness behind the pieces.

I hope you enjoy.

- Mike