Kalamazoo Institute of Arts Tour

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Kalamazoo Institute of Arts Tour

The trip to Kalamazoo Institute of Arts was one of a kind that will remain memorable, considering that it was my first time to be at the fantastic place. The visit significantly changed my perspective toward the artwork as it was to a further more extent to what was in my mind. The quality and variety were astonishing as well as the historical context that the artwork portrayed and the information passed to the world. Kalamazoo Institute of Arts is a fantastic place to be that gives a new experience as well as beautiful art that attract person’s site and significantly stimulates the willingness to know more about the traditional cultural ways.

There at Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, the first artwork that caught my attention was egg tempera on linen mounted on board that contained a man looking at the sunshine leaning on bricks. “Looking at the Sunshine” by John Stockton De Martelly is a lithograph artwork that was created in 1938. John Stockton De Martelly was a famous lithographer born in Philadelphia in the year 1903 and studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts as well as in the Royal College of Art in London w, here he gained his skills in the artwork. John De Martelly offered back his skills to the society through his career as a teacher at the Kansas City Art Institute where he taught printmaking. The same students he taught in Kansas City studied printing art from the famous Thomas Hart Benton at the same institute.

Securing the same career with Hart Benton made the two close friend and Stockton De Martelly get influenced by his colleague’s regionalist style. Stockton De Martelly was promoted to be the head of the painting department after the act of institution’s Governor of boards firing Hart Benton who was the former holder of the position. However, Stockton De Martelly was not pleased by the board of governors’ action leading to his quit from the institution and later secured a job as a printmaking tutor at the Michigan State University (Berardi et al. page 7). During his early 1950s, Stockton De Martelly has adopted abstractionist life after abandoning the regionalistic subject that he had learned from Hart Benton. Stockton De Martelly produced lots of lithographs that are influential, and they were enormously being marketed through the Associated American Artists Galleries based in New York.

In “Looking at the Sunshine” Stockton De Martelly make use of contrast to portray the difference between the man’s body uncovered a body, the light blue clothing, and bright shoes. He had merely painted the image using appropriate contrast that makes it attracting and decorative. Stockton De Martelly significantly applies a variety of primary and secondary colors to paint the picture in dull ways to signify the advancement of industry during the era when the work was done as well as satisfying the cultural perspective. The building at the front side has been painted by use of analogous color to make it distinct from other objects, and its traditional shape postulates the decade when the painting was done. Stockton De Martelly significantly use opposite colors on the sky enhancing the subject’s focalization (Weed et al. page 23).

Initially, the reaction towards the canvas was conventional thinking that it was apparent to come across people’s painting around their homesteads and such. However, the perspective changed after a clear understanding of the historical context portrayed by the Stockton De Martelly’s art regarding the traditional customs and cultural beliefs. It was surprising to realize the advancement in the modern way of living compared to the conventional techniques regarding clothing as well as the building structures. From the class work, I would distinguish the Stockton De Martelly’s work with “Mona Lisa” by Leonardo da Vinci. Both of these canvas to a profound extent signifies traditional customs as well as the historical context of the affected communities. Considering the use primary and secondary colors makes the subjects parts distinct and decorative.

“Dog on a Balcony, Paris”

The other artwork of interest that attracted my attention while at Kalamazoo Institute of Arts was the canvas of “Dog on a Balcony, Paris” by Joseph Stella ca. 1929. The image is part of Joseph Stella’s collection work who was an American painter born in 1877 in Muro Lucano, Italy and later died in 1946 in Queens, NY. In his life, Joseph Stella was popularly known as an Italian Futurism, Early American Modernism as well as Precisionism. After his completion of studies in New York, Joseph Stella abandoned his intentions to be a doctor in the profession and shifted to the artwork. During his schooling, he had undertaken a course on antiques at the Art Students League which gave him an inspiration for transferring to the New York School of Art. In 1905, later after completion of his studies, he worked as a magazine illustrator who was mainly based on realist drawing. Stella’s representations of New York’s cityscapes and built-up architecture made him turn out to be a major figure in the Precisionist movement. He is best known for his artwork depicting Coney Island and the Brooklyn Bridge among other urban scenes (Artwork et al. page 12). “Dog on a Balcony, Paris” significantly the precisionist perspective with decorative scrollwork on the balcony railing and on further distances a focus that enables the viewer to have an intrusion of the natural world which is represented by the artist in the form of a dog.

Joseph Stella significantly makes use of linear perspective that is created by the edges of the metal grids on the balcony to differentiate it with the adjacent building. The complementary color used for painting the sky makes it distinct and as well as being decorative to the canvas. Stella in this artwork makes use of portrait overview that appropriately fits it well. Furthermore, similar colors are used to paint the buildings giving them a clear focus and making them different from other objects such as the metallic grids. The primary color used in decorating the dog makes it distinct and represents the simplicity of nature.

On viewing the Joseph Stella’s “Dog on a Balcony, Paris” artwork, it was surprising as I seen it as an awkward deed to develop an art with such subjects. On further elaboration, I got to understand that it was symbolic of world’s nature where the author uses a dog. The work is interesting as the dog signifies simplicity and appreciation of nature. I would compare Stella’s work with the “American Gothic” by Grant Wood considering that both works are in portrait and the subjects are figured halfway. Also, both the buildings in both the artworks are painted in similar colors enhancing contrast among other themes found in the canvas.

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts is an excellent place to be where one cannot hesitate to have a visit again and again. The interesting artworks by different artists worldwide make the location fantastic and the experience memorable. I was accompanied by fellow students to Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, and they also had an enjoyable experience as they moved from one artwork to another selecting the best to write about. Furthermore, I would like to have a visit to other famous museums discussed in the class to see more as a way of appreciating nature, appreciating the work of the favorite legends and gaining more skills as well as experience in the artwork.



Berardi, Marianne, and Henry Adams. Under the Influence: The Students of Thomas Hart Benton. Albrecht Art Museum, 1993.

Weed, Stanley E., ed. Art in an Age of Transition: Northern European Prints from the Collection of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. Alfred Berkowitz Gallery/Published by the Regents of the University of Michigan-Dearborn, 2017.