Tuesday, April 18, 2017

"Monet: The Early Years" at San Francisco Legion of Honor Fine Arts Museum

The forever popular French impressionist painter Claude Monet made his somewhat unusual appearance in San Francisco Legion of Honor Fine Arts Museum, in an exhibition titled Monet: The Early Years (February 25, 2017 through May 29, 2017), featuring his mostly engaging early paintings, some of them were already in the realm of later famed impressionism.

The first piece or pieces to greet the audience amazed us by the unusual shape of the wok(s). The ensemble had two framed pieces of different sizes, cut from the same and much larger painting. The square one on the right side, centering on two seated people at a picnic, was collected by Musée d'Orsay in Paris, titled 'Luncheon on the Grass, Central Panel' (1865–66), while the slender and tall panel on the left side, featuring back view of three people at the perimeter of the picnic, hailed from a private collection. What a fascinating family reunion. I also wondered where the "right" panel might be.

DSCN8536 _ Monet - The Early Years, Legion of Honor

The rest of the exhibition was organized in chronological order, well suited to demonstrate the development of Monet as an artist. Here, I will largely follow this arrangement, with some re-grouping according to subject matters.

In the first room, we saw some landscapes, and one can see their affinity to the works by early French greats such as Corot, and Courbet. These landscape were much weightier and earthier than his more celebrated later pieces.

DSCN8489 _ Monet - The Early Years, Legion of Honor
The Pointe de La Hève at Low Tide, 1865. Oil on canvas, Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas

DSCN8513 _ Monet - The Early Years, Legion
 of Honor

Next were some winter scenes, a genre quite different from typical impressionism works closely associated with often colorful domains under joyous and sunshine. However, even in winter, the shifting lights were clearly a main contributing factor to the sense of drama, though somewhat subdued.

DSCN8491 _ Monet - The Early Years, Legion of Honor
A Cart on the Snowy Road at Honfleur (1865), Musée d’Orsay

DSCN8496 _ Monet - The Early Years, Legion of Honor

DSCN8497 _ Monet - The Early Years, Legion of Honor - The Magpie
The Magpie (1869), Musée d’Orsay

There were some paintings depicting scenes in cities, painted while Monet visited the Netherlands and UK, and those works had similar characteristics of his early landscapes.

DSCN8520 _ Monet - The Early Years, Legion of Honor

But, some of the brushstrokes Monet employed had become noticeably looser and more fluid.

DSCN8522 _ Monet - The Early Years, Legion
 of Honor
Hyde Park, 1871, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence

DSCN8532 _ Monet - The Early Years, Legion of Honor

DSCN8519 _ Monet - The Early Years, Legion of Honor
The Pont Neuf in Paris (1871), Dallas Museum of Art

With water, Monet had his most solid footing, and the results were dynamic and engrossing. Immersed in a room full of such paintings, one felt the strong need to hold breath, in case the splashing water entered one's lungs.

DSCN8502 _ Monet - The Early Years, Legion of Honor

DSCN8499 _ Monet - The Early Years, Legion of Honor
The Green Wave. (1886) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

DSCN8500 _ Monet - The Early Years, Legion of Honor

DSCN8503 _ Monet - The Early Years, Legion of Honor

One of my favorite pieces in this show was the "Fishing Boat" below, which was rich in texture and subtle in tonal variances, and almost reached the state of abstract, which caused its rejection by an exhibiting salon, yet a virtue in the later era.

DSCN8501 _ Monet - The Early Years, Legion of Honor - Fishing Boats
Fishing Boats

Monet's water scenes with people was always very interesting, especially the way he portrayed the slight melancholy, and the endlessly shifting patterns of water. His ability to depict still or slightly rippled water bodies was astounding, despite the fact that such way of painting had inevitably lost its novelty.

DSCN8509 _ Monet - The Early Years, Legion of Honor

DSCN8515 _ Monet - The Early Years, Legion of Honor
On the Bank of the Seine, Bennecourt (1868)

DSCN8517 _ Monet - The Early Years, Legion
 of Honor

DSCN8511 _ Monet - The Early Years, Legion of Honor - On the Beach at Trouville
On the Beach in Trouville

DSCN8512 _ Monet - The Early Years, Legion of Honor

Monet didn't frequently paint people as pure portraits — most of his people were immersed in outdoor or indoor settings, and became part of the fabrics — a few such pure portraits from his early period were included in the show, and I was very taken in by a portrait of Camille Monet, who stood in snow, in her bright red shawl, turned her upper torso slightly, and timidly or inquisitively peered into the closed French door. An intriguing scene, worthy of Chekhov or Ibsen.

DSCN8490 _ Monet - The Early Years, Legion of Honor
The Red Kerchief: Portrait of Camille Monet (ca. 1868-1873), Cleveland Museum of Art 

DSCN8492 _ Monet - The Early Years, Legion of Honor
The Cradle—Camille with the Artist’s Son Jean (1867, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC)

DSCN8493 _ Monet - The Early Years, Legion of Honor
Jean Monet Sleeping (1867–1868, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen)

DSCN8524 _ Monet - The Early Years, Legion
 of Honor

There were also some still life paintings in the exhibit, probably as answers to friendly challenges lobbed from some accomplished painters. Or rainy day consolations for the sun-obsessed Monet.

DSCN8506 _ Monet - The Early Years, Legion of Honor

DSCN8533 _ Monet - The Early Years, Legion of Honor
Still Life with Melon (1872, Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon)


Other Related posts on Art · 文化 · Kunst:
- My Favorite Paintings at Musée Marmottan Monet
- My Favorite Paintings at Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris
- My Favorite Paintings from Musée d'Orsay, Paris
- My Favorite Paintings from Musée Picasso, Paris
- My Favorite Artworks at Musée National Eugène Delacroix, Paris
- Impressionism from National Gallery of Art (DC) in San Francisco
- Last Call - "The Girl With A Pearl Earring" in De Young Museum, San Francisco
- Modernism from the National Gallery of Art in De Young Museum, San Francisco

Thursday, April 13, 2017

My Featured Painting "Arabesque"

The medium or media we choose to convey our deepest feelings and expressions, etc., however competent, can never fully convey the whole complicated concepts our brain formed mysteriously, thus the endless striving to meet the challenge, to do a better job still in the next given opportunity, thus the hunger to develop and grow as an artist, be it visual, musical compositional or a writing kind.

It also occurs often enough that one form of artistic creation, spurs on the re-interpretation with another media of either the whole story or a fleeting moment, not necessarily to prove a better job can be done; rather, to add another dimension to the engaging concept while hoping to complement the original.

I have been stimulated, on multiple occasions, by novels I read, sometimes the whole atmosphere of the book, such as Blindness by José Saramago, or sometimes, just a specific passage which may not even be pivotal in the whole scheme, such as my newly completed oil painting, Arabesque, inspired by a passage from The Known World by Edward P. Jones: "... looked over at the open chiffarobe [sic], whose door was broken and so would never close properly, looked at the black dress hanging there. It seemed to have its own life, so much life that it could have come down and walked over and placed itself over her body. Fastened itself."

Arabesque / 阿拉伯風 / Arabeske, Oil on Canvas, 28" x 22", Completed in 2013
Arabesque / 阿拉伯風 / Arabeske
Oil on Canvas
28" x 22"
Completed in 2013

I actually was quite stirred by the passage and the image just flooded into my mind. Incidentally, this painting also fell into a painting scheme of mine - I have been working on a series of "White Dresses", which I saw as both liberated and restricted, at once individual and impersonal, simultaneously beautiful and sinister. Now it started the companion series "Black Dress".


9 Paintings and 3 Installations Completed in 2013 (part 1 of 2)



Originally posted on matthewfelixsun.com

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