Saturday, November 19, 2011
Today we look at one of the most important paintings of Picasso’s blue period (why do painters never have a black and tan period?). The Old Guitarist (Pablo Picasso, 1903, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago). This painting was painted in Barcelona several months before Picasso began his halcyon life in Paris and it is in the blue style that he adopted in 1901 after the suicide of one of his good friends. The painting is also influenced by the work of the 16th century Spanish artist El Greco, particularly the angularity of the guitarist’s head. The painting has such a sad and desolate feel to it that I think the guitarist could benefit substantially from the addition of a commiserating Hound. See how much better the guitarist looks resting his head gently on top of a magnificently blue Hound! And see how the Hound is resting his head on the arm of the guitarist and staring intently at his fingers. He clearly wants the guitarist to stop playing his sad song and give him a scratch. The Hound may be blue, but he is still a Hound. Wimsey and the Old Guitarist.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Woman Seated on a Bench (Claude Monet, 1874, Tate Museum, London). While it is always refreshing to see a Monet painting that does not involve water lilies, I must confess that this painting has always struck me as odd. The woman in question looks so immobile and static. Also there is so much unoccupied room on the bench considering it is such a nice day (notice how strongly the loose, imprecise brush strokes convey the lushness of a summer’s day and the dappling of sunlight on the bench). But with the insertion of a magnificent (if somewhat rude) Hound, all is explained! The woman is not immobile by choice. She cannot move with the heavy burden of a Hound on her legs. We sense that at any moment the Hound will sprawl across her lap and settle in for a satisfying chew on her parasol, an element which adds drama to this otherwise rather placid scene. Wimsey Seated on A Woman Seated on a Bench.
Girl With An Ermine (Leonardo da Vinci, 1489, Czartoryski Museum, Krakow, Poland). Now this a very beautiful painting of an extraordinary young woman (she was 17 when this was painted), Cecilia Gallerani, the mistress of the Duke of Milan. She was highly educated, spoke Latin, wrote poetry played music and hosted one of the first salons in Europe. And Leonardo infuses the painting with a dynamic quality as evidenced by the fact that he seems to catch the sitter just in the act of turning--perhaps to listen to what someone is saying. Although the title of the painting would lead one to believe that the woman is holding an ermine, it is really a white ferret, which to me somehow lacks the same cachet. But in any case, as a beautiful and refined woman she should really be holding a beautiful and refined Hound! See how much better she looks cuddling this diminutive, yet somehow haughty Hound. And the presence of the Hound also makes the painting more clear as she is probably turning to acknowledge someone who is greatly admiring him. Girl With A Wimsey.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Two Dancers on A Stage (Edgar Degas, 1874, Courtauld Institute of Art, London). French impressionist Edgar Degas was justifiably famous for his “through the keyhole” paintings of the arduous life of Parisian ballerinas. However, beautiful and poignant these paintings may be, Degas missed a major opportunity to enhance them with the addition of a gorgeous, graceful dancing Hound. As you can see the insertion of the Hound adds new interest to a scene so familiar to admirers of Degas (although I must say, I think the tutu makes me look fat). Anyway we can fully admire the grace and beauty of the Hound with his swan like neck in full extension, his delicate feet positioned en avant and his manly attributes boldly displayed.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
American Gothic (Grant Wood, 1930, Art Institute of Chicago): Now this is one of the most iconic of all American paintings. It depicts the artist’s sister and his dentist, in a formal, stiff pose reminiscent of the style of northern renaissance paintings. It has always been unclear whether the painting is glorifying or mocking Midwestern culture. However, in either case, I have always felt that this painting is seriously lacking the one iconic element that would make it complete. The front porch looks disturbingly empty, a situation which I was able to rectify with a simple addition. Wimsey Gothic