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Water in visual art : an investigative study of selected paintings by Joseph Mallord William Turner, Oscar Claude Monet and Pat Steir.

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This research examines the significance of water as it has been used as a subject in the visual arts, with particular concentration on the use of geometry as a means of accessing pictorial possibilities. The study focuses specifically on selected paintings by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851), Oscar Claude Monet (1840-1926) and Pat Steir (1940-) including some of Steir's etchings, to further demonstrate her thought processes and techniques. It is argued that the paintings of all three artists, although widely divergent yet include threads of commonality and convergence. All explore the fundamental structure of nature (in this case water) through geometry. In addition, spatial concepts through the use of light and colour are closely intertwined and give rise to metaphysical implications. Turner and Monet broke the bonds of the existing academic composition and style of painting. Their paintings pointed the way for artists of the twentieth century, like Steir to further explore the close relationship between the motif and abstract painting. References to paintings, other than the selected paintings, by these artists will be made in order to illustrate their different approaches yet similar objectives. Finally the relevance of the study to the candidate's own work will be correlated. The dissertation intends to offer a new interpretation of water as a subject in painting, by illuminating and illustrating aspects of the selected paintings by Turner, Monet and Steir. In conclusion, it is anticipated that this discourse will enrich and complement previous interpretations of water, when used as a subject in visual art. It is also envisaged that the study will suggest further research on the subject.


Thesis (M.A.)-University of Kwazulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2004.


Turner, Joseph Mallord William, 1775-1851--Criticism and interpretation., Monet, Claude, 1840-1926--Criticism and interpretation., Steir, Pat, 1940- --Criticism and interpretation., Theses--Fine art., Water in art.