Every artist uses light. Just as vision depends on light, artistic vision demands its mastery. As early as elementary school, art teachers talk of perspective, shadow, and “light sources.” Some students see these intuitively and win accolades. The rest struggle, shrug, and count the minutes until recess. Yet the vision needed to capture light on canvas took centuries, and perhaps a few tricks, to learn.
Every artist uses light, but only a handful in the long history of art have been its acknowledged masters. Their names — Caravaggio, Vermeer, Rembrandt, Turner, Monet — stand out from the rest as if backlit by a brilliant sun. Here are some of their masterpieces, works that took the Light Artistic to a new level.
Caravaggio, “Supper at Emmaus” (1599-1600)
Vermeer, “Woman Weighing Pearls” (1662-1664)
Rembrandt, “The Jewish Bride” (1665)
J.M.W. Turner, “Sunrise with Seamonsters (1845)
Claude Monet, “Houses of Parliament: Sun Breaking Through the Fog” (1904)
James Turrell, “Afrum (White)” (1966)