Form and Content in the Modern Art of Paul Andreas Fischer and John Flaxman

Form and Content in the Modern Art of Paul Andreas Fischer and John Flaxman

Paul Andreas Fischer


Professor Libby Davidson

Form and Content in Modern Art

Style is the form which an artist gives to the content provided in their expression. My artistic expression can be seen in the form of an almost intentional stratification in complexity, as an illustrative quality is provided in the series of drawings which follow UVM campus through Shelburne Farms and the Ethan Allen Homestead to the Intervale and back to UVM. Silver Nickelback trees break the illustration’s contemplative power into a deft performance of nature in action and the community which encapsulates, protects, and preserves that natural bounty.

These are a combination of the fossils of nature, the trees, and water which have been dealt with in the collection. Figure 1, it can be seen that there is an expression of the elemental which is concentrated into work on leaves. These drawings have a similarity in style and presentation to the work of neoclassical artists such as John Flaxman, which is a connection that holds through the rest of the work. Simplicity in supporting lines and elimination through the curvature of interpretation, that is the complexity which lends drawing an intrinsic value of isolated value, in this neoclassical work creates a new utility in support of sculpture or graphic artistic representation shown as the artist declares to his young wife, “I am ruined for an Artist!” But in very little time, he finds that his sculptural talents are recognized after she travels to Rome with him and Banks, the greatest sculptor of the time once exclaimed, “The little man cuts us all out!” That was following some great investment in skill and labor by both the aspiring artist and those around him (Flaxman, 620-621).

In figure 2, a communication of art and style is found as nature finds itself in an almost text or storybook setting. With appropriate room for framework, it began a discovery of a style which helps to place nature in a setting with people that is communicated throughout the work. This is a simple tree by the road, and is finally one that is built appropriately.

Only describing a tree as a natural phenomenon in a setting which has been cared for by people is not the only opportunity for the style to emerge, but this artwork can also be seen to develop the conceptual ideals of charm in a familiar setting. The viewer can identify with the art in a classical sense. This is seen in a series of transformational drawings which come together as a projection of the emphasis on personal identification with the past, one of which can be seen in figure 3.

The historical connection can be seen with the accurate representation of the Charlotte Whale, found in the museum at UVM Perkins Geology Museum. A holographic T-Rex now looks over the display, which is among the earliest demonstrations of global climate shifts and the dramatic consequences for the Earth which have been impacted by them in the past and present. An error in the directionality of the head is extant and can be seen in figure 4. Due to the curvature of the spine, however, this may have been appropriate in nature to the actual position of the whale in motion in a sea once present here in Vermont.


Flaxman, John. (1853). Littell’s Living Age, 37, 620-621.


Figure 1 – Leaves by Paul Andreas Fischer

Figure 2 – Illustrated Tree by Paul Andreas Fischer 

   Figure 3 – Prehistoric Tree by Paul Andreas Fischer

Figure 4 – Charlotte Whale by Paul Andreas Fischer 

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