Joan Mitchell painted sunflowers, over and over, which always makes me think of Van Gogh (as she did, too, although her colors are softer, her strokes open and layered lightly)—the intense yellows and burning oranges, the ground a mysterious combination of blue and green. My father’s Aunt Lil often talked about that undefinable intermixture of hues, which also glowed behind her favorite painting of almond blossoms.
Aunt Lil taught my brothers and me to play poker, ignoring my mother’s silent Protestant disapproval. She was a champion bridge player, a potter (I still have a vase), a judge’s secretary, a woman who became far larger that the life that had been mapped out for her in the early 20th century. She was the daughter who lived at home and took care of her mother until her mother died. They watched the Saturday Night Fights every weekend on TV.
She called my father Chickie, and came to Sunday dinner often when we lived in Baltimore.
They say her fiancée died before they could marry.
Your laugh infectious,
opening like a flower–
I smile in return.
I’m not sure this answers the Day 10 NaPoWriMo prompt for multiple things happening at the same time…but certainly the mind rambles and holds many images and thoughts at the same time, even if we can only write it out in sequence afterwards.
Yesterday I took the train to Baltimore to see the Matisse/Diebenkorn exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Wow! but no photos allowed, so I’ll talk a bit about it at the end of the post. But…the Cone Collection! I had totally forgotten it was there too. The Gauguin cellist, above, stopped me in my tracks.
The Cone sisters amassed an amazing collection of early 20th century art. Plenty of Matisse, like the figures and dancer above.
I loved this tiny Renoir landscape.
And I had never seen this Van Gogh landscape either. The brush strokes are almost like stitching.
The museum also has many other rooms of modern art, and the painted wood relief sculptures above, by Gertrude Greene and Burgoyne Diller, reminded me of something Nina would do.
I’m keeping in mind this portrait by Max Beckmann for my self-portrait series.
There are also smaller collections of European and African and Asian art. I thought this mask from Angola complemented Raphael’s luminous and also enigmatic painting.
But my very favorite item outside the Matisse/Diebenkorn exhibit was this cabinet decorated with reverse painted glass by Richard Lee.
I was introduced to Richard Diebenkorn by Nina in 1976 when he had a retrospective at the Whitney (she was working there at the time). You can see a selection of the work on view now in Baltimore on the website, here, but as is true with any artist that works large scale, a reproduction can’t even begin to give the experience of the actual work. Matisse was an inspiration to Diebenkorn throughout his painting life, and the juxtapositions of the works makes that clear. Both artists: just wow.
There are plenty of figural drawings, too, and one common element was the reworking of the page in a way that layered all the different lines of the different attempts. An example of Matisse’s work is below, a reminder that even great artists do not achieve satisfaction or perfection even after many lines have been drawn. They just keep working to get there.
Late again: Jane Dougherty’s microfiction challenge conjured some interesting stories last week.
Hard to resist Van Gogh as a prompt.
I’ve been waiting to find irises at the flower stands: finally! although they didn’t last very long, unfortunately. My 1989 version, on the left, is I think the better one. I like the more linear quality, and the pale wash in the background is nice too.
So why not try again? I like the rice paper version on the right, but for some reason the paper really shrunk in where it was painted. I’ll have to try and find some sturdier rice paper to paint on.
Once again I think the 1989 collage, on the left, is better, although to be fair, the irises were curled up and just about dead when I did my collage last week. Also I had this really beautiful paper to work with in 1989. It might be somewhere in that storage room…
And, for future inspiration, the master of irises…Van Gogh, hanging in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
More irises to come, in pencil and pen and ink.