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.
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.
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: 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.
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.
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: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.