The Impressionist exhibit at the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio is on loan from the National Gallery in Washington DC. It is arguably one of the finest and most deeply personal collections of Impressionist and Post Impressionist art in the world. Ailsa Mellon and her brother Paul (pictured above) spent many years crafting a selection of smaller paintings meant to convey a more intimate glimpse into the life and times of a generation of artists that changed the way we see and hear the world. These pretty pictures cannot capture the feeling and the character of the paintings. We will all experience them differently and feel drawn to the vision of each artist in our own way. For example, I would not have expected Lautrec’s small painting of Carmen Gaudin to be so compelling, so imbued with her presence. To feel inexplicably moved or to step into a moment when time stands still – this is the felt experience of art.
It is so inspiring to resonate with a vision that changes the way you see the world. I highly recommend seeing the show for yourself, but make haste. This exhibit ends on January 4th.
The Matisse: Life in Color exhibit at the San Antonio Museum of Art, on loan from the Baltimore Museum of Art features more than 80 drawings, paintings and sculptures. The extensive Cone Sisters collection contributes the bulk of these phenomenal works and will only be in San Antonio until September 7, 2014. A pop up cafe (The Wild Beast) and Matisse themed treats are offered around town, in the spirit of the man whose exquisite sense of color started a movement all its own.
Fauvism was a short lived but potent bridge between the impressionist and later avant-garde movements of the early 20th Century. Henri Matisse was the acknowledged leader and the yin to Pablo Picasso’s Cubist yang. Wild beasts were loosed into Europe, through the advent of psychoanalysis, World War I and the Jazz Age. Vibrant, living, emotive color flowed from the Impressionists into the palettes of these passionate, unruly artists. In 1906, the 20th Century was full of promise, psychology having just lifted the lid off the unconscious mind. Wild beasts fighting the repression of the Victorian era found a welcome home in Paris, which later became an international haven for writers, artists and African American jazz musicians in the 1920’s. I’ve separated the photos I took at the exhibit into 2 parts. The gallery below focuses on the undulating rhythms of color and form, the beasts. The second post will focus on the emergence of the dark feminine, the liberated erotic woman of the new era. Asian and Africa design themes influenced European culture in ways never imagined by colonialists who kept Queen and country sacrosanct.
Paris was the crucible of art, literature, philosophy and fashion in the early 1900s. France and Spain were always more open to the exotic influences of the Orient and of Africa than the English and Dutch colonialists. Artists began to see the world in ways that could be considered prescient, given the perspectives science and technology afford us today. Light, form and color were transformed to capture the life of the mind, the spirit and speak directly to the flesh. It’s that experience of color splashing into the body, senses undulating with the rhythm of the paintings, the secret language of artistic seduction that a live viewing of these works convey. Energizing the body, mind and spirit and lifting us out of the doldrums that being human imposes – this is the gift of art. Go and see for yourself.
I would like to recapture that freshness of vision which is characteristic of extreme youth when all the world is new to it.