Behind the Canvas #art #portraits

Lautrec. Fragonard, Cassat, Modigliani, Picasso

 

As an art student, I always steered clear of The Portrait. One of my teachers told me early on “it’s not the mechanics of the drawing that makes it difficult, it’s catching the life of the person. To do that the artist needs to infuse feeling onto the canvas.”

On one of my jaunts to the National Gallery I sat and looked at two artists  that were opposite each other: Modigliani and Toulouse-Lautrec. I was not familiar with Modigliani and at first glance thought “I could paint portraiture like that.” Then I swiveled around looking a Lautrec in the eyes and wondered why I had never understood this particular Impressionist.

First the Italian artist Modigliani: Look at the  boy’s face. What do you see? I see a rather bored (probably spoiled youth). In this day and age, he was might have been thinking “I have someplace better I can be.” As I was sitting taking notes, I watched a boy (probably 8-10 years of age). Something about the Modigliani caught his attention. While his family moved about the gallery, he looked intently at this boy (from every angle.) Modigliani got it. It captured the essence of feeling in the “boyish”posturing and facial expression of “Chaim Soutine.”

“Madam Amedee” also a Modigliani must have been a joy to paint. Modigliani manages to portray the prudish arrogance of the this woman. Her lips seem to hold back the words “Can we be done?”Again, I believe he captured this woman’s essence par excellence!

An interesting contrast is just across the room tucked away in a quiet corner. The drawing of “Olga Picasso” is fresh and filled with an unobtrusive beauty. Not what one expects from Picasso who as a general rule used his portraits to make a statement about the inner workings of man.

Okay, I’ll swivel once more to Henri de Toulouse- Lautrec:

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was known for his looking behind the curtain of life. He knew the girls at the Moulin; they weren’t just subjects. I wonder if the masks he paints on these ladies is a means of protecting them. One one of his paintings,  (in the gallery) he actually has a masks on the dancers. Yet, the audience he gives a fairly accurate likeness and even uses the names of the “patron” as the title of several paintings.

I was captivated by the first painting I have shown here. The woman looks like a painted clown. The man is stoic and refined. I’m going to chance a guess that the real “clown” was the man who made airs of himself.  One clue is that a man in that era always took his hat off in the presence of a lady. “Yes, Toulouse men through the ages have used women but respected them very little.” Does Toulouse-Lautrec capture the spirit of the people? I would say “yes,he does.” The girls are lively whereas the voyeurs are stiff and have everything in practical order. I can’t say I understand Lautrec completely but I have a greater appreciate  for the statement he makes about spirit in each human being.

Jean Honore Fragonard. I had to throw in this beautiful portrait (that was painted about 100 years before the others) to show a contrast. Fragonard, I am assuming like all artists, had to make money on occasion. Commissioned portraits were the way artists have paid their bills for centuries. What feeling you gain from this painting is what the painter has to contain. The family just wants a picture of their daughter who is told to sit very still. What the artist would love is to see her dress and hair flutter in the wind to capture (and set free) the spirit that is the captive of a chair.

Cassatt continues to be one of my favorites. This portrait of a mother with her young child is a staged sitting and yet the artist takes license and allows the child to squirm. The impish glance in the mirror lets the viewer know that the artist has seen this child run about the manor. The mother is composed but Cassatt knows the will she is exerting to have her child be seated for more than a moment. The mirror was probably the artist’s idea as a way to keep the child distracted. (Today photographers use their hands or a stuffed animals to keep small children from running off or crying.)

I threw in the collage of Picasso’s portraits as a contrast to his earlier drawing. I fought the urge to credit the drawing of the young woman to Picasso; it was so much more like a Degas. I looked through every portrait Degas painted. “Then it must be Cezanne, because it can’t be a Picasso!” I guess I have a new love for Picasso (at least his earlier work.)

 

I hope this gives you a look behind the canvas at the artist dabbing on pigment, forming shapes, and adding life in the Portrait.

 

Photography: Moondustwriter 2014

Picasso Collage: Suturno Diario 

Lost Art #art #poetry #writingchallenge

It was lost

perhaps misplaced

for all of time

was it hidden under an Inca temple

had it ridden off on the back of a camel

 clasped in the falcon’s talons

maybe it was just forgotten

taken so for granted

that it vanished

in the bright of day

while people looked on

and then it seeped into the sands

carried away by the waves

to a place of treasures

an island off in the haze

piled high with forgotten things

row your dingy to the shore

hear with your ears

tunes of the Sirens

composed over the ages

performed on stage and in pits

capture with your eyes

another chapter of existence

artifacts of every kind

words artfully written on parchment

each loop personal

paints mixed by hand

artfully and personally applied to canvas

telling a story

capturing existence

paper made from trees

mixed and slurried

beauty in blemish

inks carefully screened onto hand-woven silks

tapestries elegantly fashioned with swollen fingers

forms fashioned from marble

some frown at your discovery

some with a smile of recognition

welcoming you

for you friend might  be the next artifact

******

All photographed art from National Museum of Art in Washington D.C. (Carpeaux, Rousseau, Rosenquist,  Picasso, Duchamp, )

The writing prompt for this week’s DP challenge is Lost Art. What art do you think has been lost?

Other enjoyable writing reflections:

The Lost Art of the Handoff: Where will our Memories and Stories Go?

http://thinking-languages.com/2014/06/03/the-lost-art-of-the-encyclopaedia/

http://meaningfulmommy.wordpress.com/2014/06/03/listening-learning-from-our-elders-a-lost-art/

http://beautyalongtheroad.wordpress.com/2014/06/02/canyon-memories-the-lost-art-of-storytelling/

http://focalbreeze.wordpress.com/2014/06/03/lost-art/

Awash in Art #poetry #photography #art

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Pablo Picasso

august 2013 207

Behold art

through artist’s eyes

hold your breath

there’s no disguise

*

imagination

will you see

at  water’s edge

you’ll be set free

*

A fanciful place

to lose oneself

catch a wave

you’ll need no help

*

dust away mundane

look deep inside

a hidden world

rides on the tide

*

lost you art?

you sorry soul

without it’s depth

you won’t be whole

*

grasp its tail

come with me

ride a notion

in the artist’s sea

≈  ≈

Whether a connoisseur of art, a dabbler, a master, you might agree that to “lose art” would result in a mundane and less colorful existence.

Today’s assignment at Verse First:

Consider loss, losing, art, and their meanings for you. Then write a 6- stanza poem that contains at least two rhyme schemes. Lost? Read the poem again, identify the rhymes and give it a try.

Photograph: “Spent Wave 2 – Oil by Clare circa 1982”

Someone Fell into Me (an ode to Picasso’s ripped painting)

I was minding my own business

hanging on a wall

an observer

casually took a fall

I don’t know if she saw me

or if she simply slipped

Pablo surely

would have thrown a fit

I am the acrobat

an artist

I keep my feet and wits

this stumbling into art

certainly a new twist

She must really love me

this student who

becomes one with a painting

or else just missed her cue

Painting: “The Artist” Pablo Picasso (1904-05)_