Good evening, and welcome to the Tolkien Art Gallery. Please, let me take your coat.
As one who appreciates the subtleties and fine nuance of the esteemed Professor and his works, you of all people will appreciate the inspiration his works have given to a distinguished variety of artisans throughout the years. Here for the first time, the works of these masters in their individual tributes to Tolkien have been collected together. Please feel free to examine these works at your leisure. To those of you who are visiting via Microsoft Windows 3.1-based browsers, we do so hope you have your system set up to display two hundred fifty-six colours or else the images shall surely look like mud.
Please help yourself to the champagne. Do take your time; doubtless the downloading of all those image-files will also.
The simple beauty of the stars contrasts strikingly with the dark shape of Orthanc in Vincent Van Gogh's Gandalf at Isengard. The slashing brushstrokes of the Tower provide a harsh contrast with the serenity of the village below, painted in muted browns which echo Van Gogh's earlier paintings. In a letter to his brother Theo, Van Gogh wrote "I have just finished Council of Elrond and read of G's imprisonment by the evil Saruman. How like it is to my own imprisonment of loneliness here in Arles!"
The timeless portrait Beren and Huan by Marc Chagall demonstrates the artist's cubist style as well as the geometric forms typical of his work. Following the same motif, Paul Klee's moving portrait Aragorn makes use of form and line, truly capturing on canvas the face where "the grace of his youth, and the valour of his manhood, and the wisdom of his age were blended together" (Return of the King, p. 344).
Edouardo Manet's Eowyn depicts the "sister-daughter" of Theoden at Edoras; the shieldmaiden's dismay at being left out of the muster of Rohan is depicted vividly in her face. Eomer consults with Aragorn in the right background. By contrast, Henri de Toulouse-Latrec captures the gaiety and joy of Luthien's dance before Beren in Night in Doriath. Tolouse-Latrec's fanciful depiction of the trees and stars show an uncharacteristic departure from his usually-realistic work.
J. W. Waterhouse's famous work Frodo in the Dead Marshes depicts brilliantly the perilous passage of the marshes. Here Frodo almost succumbs to the faces in the water. "I have seen them too," he says to Sam and Gollum in Two Towers, p. 235. "Many faces proud and fair, and weeds in their silver hair." Sam and Gollum's difficulties in pulling Frodo away from the foul visions can here be clearly understood.
The peace and serenity of Rene Magritte's deeply lyrical The Stars of
Varda contrasts sharply with Salvadore Dali's Sauron Rises From The
Dark Tower After The Destruction Of The Ring Only To Be Swept Away By The
Winds Of Heaven; thus the two artists show the contrasts between Good
and Evil while still depicting the fundamental power
and majesty of their subjects. Their use of blank space to depict the
fundamental nature of Arda combines the works thematically, bringing their
diverse subjects into sharp artistic relief. The fundamental dichotomies of
line and form seek to transcend the limitations of the medium,
bridging the gap between the expressed and the Real into a real fundamental
expression of the dichotomy of form and the expression of the Real with the
medium of the fundamental theme. Thus the fundamental form of the real
dichotomy is subtly expressed as a transcendant fundamental in a dichotomy
of the medium with the subtlety of the limitations of the natural
artistic nature of the transcendent fundamental theme.
There! I used the word "fundamental" eight times in four sentences. If you understood that paragraph, please e-mail me and tell me what it meant.
Many people are surprised to learn of Tolkien's influence on M. C. Escher, though his influence can be clearly seen in such works as The Riders of Rohan (left) and Kirith Ungol (right). At left, the precision military ranks of the Riders and their mounts can be clearly seen; this contrasts with the chaos of Kirith Ungol, where Sam's disorientation as he climbs endless stairways past numerous Orcs to rescue his master truly becomes clear. Escher once said of the Lord of the Rings that "I read it over and over and over and over and over".
Another modern artist influenced by Tolkien is the noted post-abstract expressionist Jasper Johns. His work Two Towers, left, depicts both the book and the modern merchandizing of it; the word "Ballantine", the name of Tolkien's paperback publisher, can be clearly read on the towers. As well, Johns' famous work Three Rings (right) shows the strength and majesty of the Three Rings of the Elves. When asked if the lone black digit was meant to symbolize the dark influence of Sauron on the Rings, Johns replied characteristically, "I painted it black because it's black. I didn't want my work to be an exposure of my feelings."
Wassily Kandinsky's realistic epic Before the Gates of Minas
Tirith shows the sweep of battle in the siege of the Pellenor. The
Witch-king's challenge to Gandalf commands the central theme of this
painting, while the ride of the Rohirrim and the deranged Denethor bearing
Faramir's body to Rath Dinen take place on the left margins. The
palantir can clearly be seen in Denethor's pocket.
In the upper right the sails of the ships from Pelargir are unmistakable,
and Sauron's malevolent gaze can clearly be seen in the lower right.
In the painting on the left, however, Norman Rockwell makes a surprisingly abstract statement in his Council of Elrond. Here, Aragorn and Gandalf express their concerns for the well-being of Frodo.
Lastly, the sea-longing expressed by the Elves in Tolkien's work finds its expression in this final pair of paintings. Legolas and Gimli (left) is Thomas Eakins' tribute to the fast friends who, according to Appendix A, leave together for the blessed shores of Aman. Meanwhile, Paul Klee's The Last Ship (right) shows a lone Elf bidding a final adieu to the problems of Middle-earth as he sets foot on the shores of the Uttermost West. The image is at once longing and yet fundamentally peaceful, giving the viewer the desire to be in that same idyllic situation as well.
Thank you for visiting the Tolkien Art Gallery! As a true connoisseur of the arts, the pleasure of your presence here is always welcome. If you would like to join our many other extremely rich patrons in making a small cash contribution - no more than ten or twenty thousand dollars would be required, for now - we would be honored to put you on our mailing list and offer you this free tray of cucumber sandwiches and tea. Remember, it's your generous contributions that make exhibits like these possible.
By the way, we'll be happy to give you back your coat just as soon as you've finished signing that check.