Art is Everywhere

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On my way to the Louvre yesterday, I saw this stunning work of modern abstract art. It reminds me of something second generation  abstract expressionist. Like Pierre Soulages. Big and gestural. My incompetent cropping probably gave it away, long ago.

016050d1491ce47316edeffc6f704eba9f906ec81e Yes, they’re changing the advertizing at our metro stop. I still think it’s fabulous. The more I look at it, the more I like it. The limited colour palette, The strong black forms that radiate out from the centre. The green slashes that create a strong diagonal from the bottom left. The five bright yellow ovals of metro seating also contribute to  the effect of the whole. Did the workman – who I saw on my way into the station, rolling up his torn paper and stuffing it into a garbage bag – did he see what he had done? Does he know how visually pleasing it is? Does it matter if it has no meaning to him, as long as it does to me, or someone?

I continued on my journey, and on the way out of the Metro, saw this pleasing thing. Much like a Jean Cocteau.

013082c71c4745b2b6b3042a1bd6b4d0aaba55d1ad An arabesque of lines on the wall. A kiss. Sweet! What is that written there – grogue? Drogue?

I wanted to visit the European Painting wing in the Richelieu Pavillion. You go straight up two long banks of elevators and you enter galleries where there is much inspiration but moins de monde, particularly once you get to the paintings of Netherlands/Holland. Here are some things I particularly liked:01472e9f906c0206b01ed03cb4da9f00cf65858c5d I’m just discovering this French painter from the Baroque period. I particularly liked a roomful of works by him,  Simon Vouet, who was painting in Paris in the first half of the 17th century. His clear, bright colours and particularly his use of gold and pink stood out. Here’s a closeup of that gold foulard.

01646df6b4c654037b79584f9ba5f9de62166e59b6 Beautiful. This is the sort of work that

those clustered around the Mona Lisa miss out on. Vouet’s Saint Guillaume of Aquitaine is very compelling and very much deserves the attention lavished on works that  folks have been told they should appreciate.

019a806eb2d44df53fca2804a71949edc4e0562377 Anthonis Mor van Dashort. Who has  heard of him? And yet, here is the work of  a master. It is entitled Portriat of a Widow of Forty Years and a Child. Here is a close up:01d7ce6ac9812b13ee33ddfd999fc28617814e6914 She is a widow. No longer beautiful, she has the tired look of middle age.  There is a thin shell of reserve that covers her grief like a carapace. She encounters our gaze without wishing to know us. Her gently resting hand tells us that her daughter is her one joy.

016c77da6d4826d4a8bc510bbd0f6e1697f431accb So deftly rendered, the daughter resembles the mother, except that she has the freshness of childhood. Everything about her is touching: her ear , the fold of her eye, the little details of her cap and collar. It is so beautiful that the artist has given the rosiness of her cheek to the lower portion of her face, at mouth level, as we sometimes see on childish faces, particularly in Winter.

This next work is really killer. We should go out and shout from the rooftops about this work, it is so masterly.            01db141bef3f77c55f0bb4f0db1a84117a4d59fd65

Dwarf of Cardinal Gravel Holding a Large Dog by Antonis Mor Van Dashort, 1575.

He’s a dwarf, one who, like many others at this time, has been picked up to add fun and interest to a court, in this case that of a French Cardinal. The subject seems to say, “Hey, here are a couple of the cardinal’s pets. Check it out: the dog’s as big as the man! lol.” But look more closely at the man.

01c4aca675cd651b83125c8c20310e2eabde968631 What dignity he has. He meets our gaze with a direct seriousness that insists on his humanity, that shows his resentment, that dares us to laugh. And we do not want to.

And the dog. This may be the most beautiful dog in Western art.016bf7ee3851880ed79cd50b68203f1f80254c16a1

The old master painters can create a hyper-real effect that is not dead-looking like the super-real portraits of today. Is it because they weren’t painting from photographs?

Let’s resolve to look with fresh eyes (finding art that is unintentional, like the ripped subway poster, for example). Let’s discover those forgotten masterworks, not letting received wisdom or convention be our guide in what we should consider best in art. Do you know of any forgotten masterworks out there? Share!

After my morning in the galleries, I went outside to picnic in the Tuilleries. There I saw a Jackson Pollock.

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