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Monday, May 29, 2017

Akseli Gallen-Kallela

The First Snow, Korpilahti, 1928, Akseli Gallen-Kallela
There was a time, up until about ten years ago, that I was only interested in American art. Having taught some art history I was, of course, aware of the big names in European art from several different eras, but as has always been the case, what I didn't know about art far outweighed that which I did know. I have the feeling that's largely the case with most artists, and definitely applicable to virtually everyone else. Even when people go in search of art to cover their own walls, they choose only what they like without much regard for who they might like, or learning to like art with which they're not familiar. There's the old quotation from an art buyer: "I don't now much about art but I know what I like." The retort to that is: "No, you don't know what you like, you only like what you know."
 
An important reason I like Akseli Gallen-Kallela's work
Until about a week ago I didn't know the work of the Finnish painter, Akseli (sometimes called, Axel) Gallen-Kallela. So, of course, there was no way I could "like" his work. Having traveled the Baltic area, I've gained a good deal of appreciation for the art from that region(including Finnish art). Though most of the countries are relatively small, taken as a whole, it's still a HUGE area. Add to that the fact that each country has it's own distinctive culture, history, customs, styles, and tastes in art stretching over four or five centuries in some case. And even though all the factors mentioned above tend to overlap some, there are still a tremendous number of highly skilled artists from each country, both living and dead, to come to know and like (or possibly dislike).
 
From nineteen to
Akseli Gallen-Kallela was born Axel Waldemar Gallén in 1865 near Pori, (southeastern) Finland. Even though his family were Finns, they spoke only Swedish. His father, Peter Gallén, served as the town's police chief and lawyer. As a young child, the boy showed exceptional promise in drawing. At the age of eleven, Axel Gallen was sent to by his father to a grammar school in Helsinki to, essentially, unlearn art. He opposed his son's ambition to become a painter. However when Akseli's father died in 1879, though Axel was only fourteen at the time, he took the opportunity to switch majors--to art.
 
The land of Finland
Madonna (Mary and Marjatta),
Akseli Gallen-Kallela
With all the rugged beauty to be found in virtually every Scandinavian county, an artist could hardly grow up in Finland and not become a landscape painter (above). Yet Akseli Gallen-Kallela was primarily a painter of Finnish history, myths, and folklore. After attending drawing classes at the Finnish Art Society during the early 1880s, in 1884 Gallen-Kallela moved to Paris, to study at the Académie Julian. There he married Mary Slöör in 1890 to become the father of three children. The couple spent their honeymoon in East (Russian) Karelia where the artist began sketching and painting preliminary work to be used in romantic paintings of the Kalevala, such as the Aino Myth triptychs, the first of which was completed in 1889, and a second version in 1891 (both seen below).
 
Aino Myth (triptychs), 1889 and 1891, Akseli Gallen-Kallela
Joukahainen's Revenge, 1897,
Akseli Gallen-Kallela
In March, 1895, Akseli receiv-ed a telegram telling him his daughter, Impi Marjatta, had died from diphtheria. Her death proved to be a turning point in his career. Until then, his works which had always been romantic, became more aggressive as seen in paint-ings such as The Defense of the Sampo (below), Joukah-ainen's Revenge, (left), Kuller-vo Cursing and Lemminkäin-en's Mother (both below). I should note that the paintings seen below are relatively mild as compared to others from this period having downright suicidal themes.

Compare these with those of his Romantic period.
(The triptychs and those above them.)
the Paris World Fair of 1900 secured Gallen-Kallela's stature as the leading Finnish artist. Gallen-Kallela officially changed his name to the more Finnish-sounding Akseli Gallen-Kallela in 1907. In 1909, Gallen-Kallela briefly moved with his family to Nairobi, Kenya, where he painted over 150 expressionist oil paintings. However, after two years he returned to Finland realizing Finland was the source of his main inspiration. Between 1911 and 1913 Gallen-Kallela designed and built a home studio in Tarvaspää, about 10 km northwest of Helsinki. However he spent three years in the early-1920s in the United States, where an exhibition of his work toured several cities. He also visited New Mexico's Taos art-colony to study indigenous American art. Back in Finland, in 1925, Gallen-Kallela began the illustrations for his Great Kalevala. Unfortunately, the were unfinished when he died of pneumonia in Stockholm on in March of 1931. Today, Gallen-Kallela's studio and home at Tarvaspää have become the Gallen-Kallela Museum (below), which houses some of his works and research facilities.

Gallen-Kallela Museum, Tarvaspää Finland






























 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Fede Galizia

Cherries in a Silver Compote, 1610, Fede Galizia
I try never to pass up a chance to write about an outstanding woman artist, especially those of the distant pass. Women artist now, and especially then, are highly underrepresented in the annuls of art history set down by predominantly male writers (now and then). I know from my own biographical pieces on artists written over the past eight years how easy it is to automatically think of past artists in the masculine gender, even though I'm quite aware of the feminine gender's important contributions to the arts. Likewise, when I do write about women artists, I come across like a broken records in that, while their art my differ substantially, their struggles to gain acceptance in the male dominated art world are all quite similar.
 
Still-life, Fede Galizia. The scale, complexity and variety of produce and producers almost defy the definition of a still-life.
Almost without fail, women artists have suffered from poor art educational opportunities, gender prejudice, sexual assault, the impositions of motherhood, domineering husbands, and dozens of forms of adverse stereotyping. It's rare indeed to read about a woman artist who has not encountered all or most of these struggles in managing to gain some degree of recognition and success.
 
Noli Me Tangere, 1616, Fede Galizia
And then there's the Italian painter, Fede Galizia, born around 1574 (but no later than 1578). Somewhat strangely, perhaps, she encountered virtually none of the negative factors mentioned above during a career of some thirty years. It would likely have been much longer and more illustrious had she not succumbed to the Black Plague pandemic which struck her hometown of Milan (and indeed, most of Italy) in 1630. She died at the age of fifty-six.
 
A modern-day miniature painter. In the past, many
miniature painters had their careers cut short with

Nunzio Galizia, Fede Galizia,
portrait of her father

Fede was the daughter and pupil of Nunzio Galizia (right), a miniature painter who worked from about 1573-95. Like many other female artists of that era, it is presumed that she learned her artistic skills from her father. If so, this very early training in the art of painting miniatures, and the level of detail the genre requires, provided the basis for Fede Galizia’s career as an artist. She first came to notice at the age of twelve. By 1596 she was well known for her portraits and religious works. The style of her portraits derived from the naturalism of the Italian Renaissance, as seen in the work of such artists as Moretto da Brescia, Giovanni Battista Moroni and Lorenzo Lotto. However, the most important part of her oeuvre, for which she earned her place in art history, are her still-lifes which are among the earliest examples of this genre.
 
Judith with the Head of Holophernes, 1596, Fede Galizia.
 
Galizia's Judith with the Head of Holophernes (above) is a rather tame, and notably bloodless scene, especially as compared to that of Artemisia Gentileschi (below), or Caravaggio (bottom). She was not an artist well suited to paint such a brutal scene. As might be expected from an a portrait artist, Galizia's emphasis is on Judith's rich, highly detailed dress and jewelry rather than the anger and gore of a coldblooded murder. (Note the pristine knife blade.) Galizia's Judith is said to be a self-portrait.
Judith Beheading Holofernes, 1611-12, Artemisia Gentileschi
During much of her lifetime, Fede Galizia was recognized and praised mostly for her portraits such as that of Paolo Morigia (below), from 1596, and several religious works. However, she is now mainly remembered as a still-life painter as seen in her gorgeous (and delectable) Cherries in a Silver Compote, (top) from 1610. She worked on a small scale and her paintings are executed with exquisite finesse on wood panels. Her naturalism was an inspiration to subsequent Italian still-life painters, most notably Panfilo Nuvolone, also from Milan. Little is known about Galizia’s personal life despite her enduring importance as a pioneer of Italian still-lifes. She never married, had no children, and had successful career as an artist in Milan. Unlike so many other women artist of her time and talent, except for her untimely death, I'd be tempted to say she "lived happily ever after."


Portrait of Paolo Morigia, 1596, Fede Galizia.
Notice the precise attention to details.
(Yes, they had spectacles in 1596, but in
a style only Harry Potter could love.)



 Judith Beheading Holofernes,
1599, Caravaggio










































 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Agnolo Gaddi

Chancel Chapels seen from west, 1385-87,
Frescoes, Santa Croce, Florence, Agnolo Gaddi
If I were to ask about the top painters of the 14th-century, most people, including those who presumably know something about art, would probably only shrug and reply, Leonardo maybe...Michelangelo perhaps? You'd be wrong in both cases. Leonardo was born in 1452 but was only active from roughly around 1480 until his death in 1519 at the age of sixty-seven. Michelangelo wasn't even born yet in the 14th-century and would have been a mere child during much of the 15th-century, coming of age as a sculptor around 1500, before painting and carving his way into and beyond the Italian Renaissance until his death in 1564 at the age of eighty-nine. Thus, both of these landmark artists were predominantly of the 16th-century art world, not that of the 14th-century, and almost missing out the 15th-century.
 
The Three Gaddi family painters, Taddeo, the father,
Giovanni, and Agnolo or Angelo, his sons.
If we are to give credence to Giorgio Vasari, the first and best art historian of his time, and his authoritative tome, Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, Agnolo Gaddi was an influential and prolific artist, also the last major Florentine painter descending from Giotto, his father's painting master. Agnolo Gaddi studied under his father, Taddeo Gaddi, as did his less talented older brother, Giovanni, working at various times as his brother's assistant. After the death of Giotto in 1337 Taddeo Gaddi and somewhat later, his sons, became the most prominent artists in Florence.
 
Madonna Enthroned with Saints and Angels, 1380-90,
Agnolo Gaddi.
The Crucifixion, 1390, Agnolo Gaddi.
Agnolo Gaddi was born in 1350. I think, one of the reasons so many artists fail to recognize the name of such a prominent family of important artist may well be that they take one quick look at what is, in fact, medieval art, perhaps briefly admiring its elegance and delicate beauty, but also noting its apparent crudity as to style (paint-ing as well as draughtsmanship) then get on to the good stuff coming down the road a hundred years later. The reaction would be that, "They couldn't draw very well, or paint much better." Al-though that may tend to be true at times, such as Gaddi's Crucifixion (right), little note is taken that some painters from this era (the Gaddi family among them) were surprisingly good at both. Agnolo Gaddi's Madonna Enthroned with Saints and Angels (above, center), is obviously medieval, but crude it's not.
 
Discovery of the True Cross, 1380s, Agnolo Gaddi
Agnolo Gaddi's Discovery of the True Cross (above) dating from the 1380s, is an even more complex depiction of not just a single event, but a sequence involving the finding of the true cross, all skillfully blended into a single painted image. This technique was common in later years with Christian narrative paintings such as Masaccio's The Tribute Money from 1426-27. Gaddi's work could easily be considered a precursor to that of Masaccio and may have influenced his narrative composition. Agnolo Gaddi died in 1396 at the age of forty-six.
 
Madonna col Bambino, 1374, Agnolo Gaddi
Like father, like son. Portraits from this
period were nearly always in profile.










































Friday, May 26, 2017

Fence Art

The tromp l'oeil neighbor.

"Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.' I could say 'Elves' to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."

                                                      -- MENDING WALL, Robert Frost

Making fences look "friendly"
If the best that can be said of fences is that they make "good neighbors" then they must not be all that good, and quite possibly in need of an artist's touch. Moreover, if the Mexicans are any indication, even the best fence President Trump could build (regardless of who pays for it) would likely make us rather bad neighbors. Notwithstanding Robert Frost's dissertation on the subject, the whole concept may be flawed.

Think of a fence as a blank canvas.
Sometime ago I wrote on the subject of walls. At the time, we were having a retaining wall I'd designed built in our front yard in order to mitigate a steep area in which we'd been unable to grow presentable landscaping. There is a world of difference between walls and fences. Walls today are mostly used to tame topography for a more attractive appearance and to accommodate extreme difference in elevations for all sorts of practical reasons. Fences, on the other hand, as Frost suggests, are designed to keep living beings in their place. With few exceptions, fences are ugly both figuratively and in fact. I suppose they do have their place and a valid purpose, but seldom are they attractive, much less artistic.
 
The key to a "good" fence is ingenuity.
Unlike the item I wrote on walls, this is now a "how to" discourse on building fences. Instead, this is about taking something that is often inherently unsightly, and using an artist's creative impulses to make it less so...perhaps even a thing of beauty. Such an effort has two approaches. The first is the most difficult, designing the fence itself to be a work of art while still serving its purpose. The second approach is to simply decorate, as with live plants and/or recycled items (above) aiming to somewhat mitigate the inherently unappealing fence in an attempt to mitigate its natural repulsiveness.
 
Such an image might be framed and hung on a fence,
or perhaps better still, painted on the fence itself.
Often such goals can be accomplished with a simple bit of sophisticated humor as in the nosy, tromp l'oeil bovine (top), or a mural akin to Pere Borrel del Caso's 1874 street urchin Escaping Criticism (above). Modernizing the boy might be fun, or if the artist can pull it off, perhaps painting a portrait of a particularly obnoxious neighbor (of any age). Artists today can even purchase indoor-outdoor stretched canvases (below) designed to resist weather conditions. Just be sure they're firmly attached to the wall making theft less likely. Such items are available with or without images and range upward from $200 in price.
 
The upper-left image is a painting, the one at lower-right
is a photograph.
The paintings above are Giclee prints on canvas, from high-resolution photographic images, gallery-wrapped over poly vinyl stretchers. The canvas images are said to withstand sun, wind, and rain. They also have a special UV coating to protect against fading. Giclee artworks are created using fade-resistant "archival" inks. Such artwork is scanned or digitally photographed, then printed individually using a high resolution printer. Canvases may be cleaned with any non-abrasive wiping material. These two and others are featured at www.touchofclass.com.

The effect is both fascinating and disconcerting...
not to mention dangerous when intoxicated.
Another new development in the art of fencing is the work of Brooklyn, NY artist Alyson Shotz (above). With her mirror surfaces, Shotz attempts to make her picket fences virtually disappear. Simple in its execution and an interesting as a work of art, (though far from inexpensive), the concept of the mirror fence would be useful in any situation where there is need for a separation of space, but with a conflicting desire for subtlety from a visitor’s perspective. Whether disguising, decorating, or mitigating a fence, artists such as Strotz have a distinct advantage over the ordinary DIY homeowner. Perhaps not every artist could handle a tromp l'oeil mural on a board fence, but most could draw and paint a scene involving cartoon cats and dogs (below).

Another advantage artists have--vivid imaginations.
If you own a swimming pool you need a fence, for the sake of safety, if not privacy. Walls are difficult top enhance. Fences around a pool are near impossible to disguise. Moreover, anyone who can afford the money pit of a swimming pool, is going to be hard pressed to afford much more than butt-ugly chain link fencing. One answer to such a dilemma might be sturdy wooden or masonry posts flanking plywood screens as seen below. They might not afford much privacy but they would serve the purpose of keeping out unaccompanied neighborhood munchkins.

This pool screen includes a wall but treated wooden
posts (4"x4") could also serve as supports.



Fence supports as functional as they are attractive.

I know, it's not a fence, but it would make
any fence or wall it might decorate much
more attractive. And it absolutely screams
a creative art genius lives here.



































































 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Water on the Rocks

The icebergs, 1861, Frederic Edwin Church.
(Rocks on the water?)
I tease my wife when we go out to eat. She's so predictable. She tends to find two or three items on a restaurant chain's menu and order one or the other of them every time we eat there. She drinks only ice water. Last night, a waitress asked for our drink order. I ordered a diet soft drink for myself and then added "water on the rocks" for my wife. She gave me a dirty look and the waitress laughed. I think I may have just invented a new name for an old drink. In any case, the un-mixed drink gave me the idea for a piece here dealing with paintings in which an irresistible force (water) meets unmovable objects (rocks).
 
Isles of Shoals, Broad Cove, 1911, Childe Hassam.
When time and tides team up, rocks don't stand a chance.
Though seemingly gentle as
it embraces the hardhearted
rocks, water can, given enough
time, completely destroy rocks.
Initially one might see water as being something less than an irresistible force as compared to "unmovable" rocks. However both are, in es-sence, eternal, which means that the element of time has a part in the equation. And, as any geologist will affirm, over time, rocks are no match for the hydraulic forces attacking them century after century, mil-lennium after millennium. However, insofar as art and artists are con-cerned, it's not the outcome of this eternal conflict that matters but the clash itself--what we might call the "splish-splash."
 
How do you create a seascape? Just paint some
rocks, then add water, and stir vigorously.
Garnish with a mermaid.
Almost five years ago, I discussed the more common name applied to such art--seascapes. Actually what I wrote dealt mainly with artists' depictions of man's attempts to subdue the sea and use the sea in the face of two of nature's mightiest forces--wind and water. And as treacherous as these two elements might be, rocks are the teeth of the sea with a voracious appetite for unwary ships and those who sail them; just ask the captain of the Costa Concordia (below).
 
Costa Concordia, 2017,  Nino Taravella
Apart from the frozen variety as painted by Edwin Church in his The Icebergs (top), dating from 1861, and The Sea of Ice (below), from around 1823-24, by German artist, Caspar David Friedrich, (also found in restaurants), water on the rocks only occurs when water flows over them on land, or crashes into them where the sea meets the land. The former is usually soothing and meditative; the latter, in their dramatic conflict with the rocky shoreline, is usually neither.

The Sea of Ice, 1823-24, Caspar David Friedrich.
Rock Creek Canyon,
David Drummond
It's hard to say which water-on-the-rocks encounter artists prefer. My instincts tell me they like both. Perhaps nowhere is the water over rocks more dramatic than at Niagara Falls where Samuel Morse and any number of other American artists of the eastern part of the country have tried their hand at capturing the adrenalin rush of that much water suddenly falling that far, while over the years laying waste to the bedrock now at the foot of the falls. At the same time, on the other side of the continent, rocks and water now seem to coexist in peace where once they did battle, as seen in the watercolor, Rock Creek Canyon (left), by David Drummond.

Niagara Falls from Table Rock, 1835, Samuel Finley Breese Morse
From a personal standpoint, I can admire and enjoy babbling brooks on the rocks such as those (below) by John Singer Sargent and Ernie Verdine (bartender, give me a "babbling brook on the rocks"); but my preference is the excitement and drama of crashing waves on the rocks. (Now that sounds like a pretty potent drink--a "crashing wave on the rocks.")

As seen in the Sargent's watercolor, and especially
in that of Verdine (directly above), water on the rocks
need not always toe the stringent line of realism.
However, when it comes to water on the rocks with a strongly salty flavor, no one does it better than Ran Ortner with his near-mural size canvases in which he seems inclined to try painting his powerful waves of water life-size and "straight-up" (no rocks). His work leaves me wondering if the gallery hands out life vests at the door.

The turbulent waters of Ran Ortner.
Who says seascapes have to be blue? Ortner's
work leaves me a little seasick.




















Glass of Water, Nihost-d5rxvre
Ahh, Dramamine on the rocks.




































 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Copyrights

John Adams, after 1783, John Singleton Copley
About a week ago I received an e-mail from a reader named Aleksey regarding a portrait of the U.S. President John Adams, which I'd used in an article in my "Presidential Portraits" series. He was inquiring about the copyright having to do with a Portrait of John Adams painted by John Singleton Copley sometime after 1783 (well before Adams became President). I wrote back:

Aleksey--
"Have no fear, the portraits you spoke of are about two-hundred years old and thus well into the public domain. Wikipedia, by the way, has a good deal of information on copyrights. The standard copyright term [in the U.S.] is the life of the artist plus seventy years. Copley died in 1815, thus the portrait of Adams has been in the public domain since 1885."


Wikipedia does, indeed, have quite a bit of good information on copyrights (from which I've gleaned some essentials). However it also has what we Americans (and perhaps others too) term TMI (too much information), quite densely packed. Moreover, in that copyrights are a legal matter, much of it seems to have likely been written by and for our proverbial "Philadelphia lawyers." Adding to the complexity of copyright laws is the fact they are territorial while infringement and enforcement have become international. Worse still, many nations, such a France and Russia, have written into their copyrights statutes all sorts of exceptions having to do with military veterans. And on top of that, copyrights, even within a single nation, may have numerous variations having to do with different media.
 
As a general rule, most copyright laws are aimed at books, recorded music, and motion pictures. As to art, in practice, they most often involve logos, story-book illustrations, and comic books. Copyright laws tend to follow a money trail. To a lesser extent, the same applies to paintings. Unless the artist is highly popular, and thus rich and famous, deriving substantial in-come from the sale of prints, artists' copyright laws bear, at most, a moral imperative (as in stealing candy from a baby). With few exceptions, copyright infringement is a civil matter, requiring the copyright holder to bear the legal cost of enforcement. That means most infringement suits are settled out of court, if indeed, they ever get that far. With today's high cost of litigation, even the threat of a lawsuit bears little weight beyond perhaps the removal of the protected material from public exhibition. I've been writing about art now for roughly eight years (almost 2500 posts) and to date, I've had only one artist ask that I cease using his work. On the other side of the coin, I've had several thank me for doing so. In art, there's no such thing as bad publicity, especially if it's free.

Used under "fair use" provisions of copyright law.
Mickey protected by visual "static" (left), and cleaned up (right).
That's not to say artists are totally defenseless in protecting their work. Most such tactics involve Websites. Common practices in this regard involve posting only low-resolution images on websites, placing watermarks on internet images, posting copyright notices prominently and frequently, even to the point of threatening legal action. None of these are foolproof. All are easy to ignore or (with a little photo-editing skill) circumvent (above). Perhaps the best defense is a simple, polite request that anyone wanting to use a copyrighted image contact you seeking permission. Otherwise, even the most flagrant infringement will, in all likelihood, simply go unnoticed.

Two boys, two dogs, one with fleas, one without.
Coming from the other side of the street (so to speak), don't Infringe upon obviously copyright photo images. If you wish to paint from an outstanding photo while contemplating few (if any) changes, ask permission from the photographer and pay for the privilege if necessary. Quite apart from any legal ramifications (except in dealing with large corporations) infringement lawsuits are rare. However, as an artist (who likely also has work under copyright) seeking permission is simply the right and moral thing to do. But, having said that, the courts have long ruled that if the artist makes "substantial" transformative changes from the original source," then the work is considered new, and thus becomes the artist's own property. Combining two or more photos (especially the work of different photographers) would easily fulfill the definition of "substantial." On the other hand, cropping a photo and painting only a portion of it, does not. When it comes to changing art media (photo to a painting) the predominant color is gray. For all practical purposes, images shot by photographers who died before this date in 1947 (seventy years ago, though in some countries as little as fifty years ago) are now in the public domain (no longer under copyright).
 

Badge with a character resembling
Mickey Mouse is a visual pun on
Mickey as a symbol of the intellectual
property industry's attitude
towards copyright infringement.
Copyrights apply to a wide range of creative, intellectual, and artistic works. These include poems, theses, fictional characters, motion pictures, choreography, musical compositions, sound recordings, paintings, draw-ings, sculptures, photographs, com-puter software, radio and television broadcasts, industrial designs, plays and other literary works. Copyright laws do not cover ideas and infor-mation themselves, only the form or manner in which they are expressed. For example, the copyright to a Mickey Mouse cartoon restricts others from making copies of the cartoon or creating any derivative works based on Disney's particular anthropomorphic mouse. They do not, however, prohibit the creation of other works about anthropomorphic mice in general, so long as they are different enough to not be judged copies of Disney's. Strangely, Mickey Mouse is not copyrighted. Cartoon characters cannot be copyrighted. However, Steamboat Willie (Mickey's film debut) is copyrighted, and Mickey Mouse, as a character in that copyrighted work, is likewise protected (below).

Used under Fair Use provisions of U.S. copyright laws.
Fair use is a doctrine in the copyright law that permits limited use of copyrighted material without having to first acquire permission from the copyright holder. The composite image above is an example. Other examples of fair use include commentary, search engines, criticism, parody, news reporting, research, and scholarship (as seen above). It's a complicated copyright limitation, but it's basically governed by four factors.

      (1). Purpose and character of it's usage.
      (2). Nature of the copyrighted work.
      (3). Amount of material used.
      (4). Effect upon the original work's value.

Inasmuch as I deal with art history and images which long ago have been deemed public domain, what I do would be far more difficult or impossible without fair use. For example, Willem de Kooning died in 1997. His work will not be in the public domain until 2067. In the meantime, the de Kooning heirs guard his copyrights very strictly. Wikipedia lists the fair use rational for de Kooning's Woman III below:
  1. This is a historically significant work that could not be conveyed in words.
  2. There is no alternative, public domain or free-copyrighted replacement available.
  3. Inclusion is for information, education and analysis only.
  4. Its inclusion adds significantly to the article because it shows the work as related to the article.
  5. For Woman III the usage is for illustration in the context of commentary about the artwork.
  6. For Willem de Kooning the usage is as an example of the series of paintings by artists regarding deliberate vulgarity, without which it would be impossible to convey the artistic qualities of the works.
  7. The image is a low resolution copy of the original work of such low quality (72 dpi) that it would be unlikely to impact sales of prints or be usable as a desktop backdrop.
           (Obviously written by a lawyer.)
Fair use
Woman III, 1951-53, Willem de Kooning.
(A photo of a work of art cannot be
copyrighted except by the artist.)