Category: People and Art

  • “To Shoot or Not to Shoot” or “How I Learned to Stop Judging and Love the Camera”

    “To Shoot or Not to Shoot” or “How I Learned to Stop Judging and Love the Camera”

    Yesterday I returned to the Musée d’Orsay.  The first thing I did was to take the five floors up to the Post-Impressionist collection to Douanier Rousseau’s painting War.  Last year I regretted not having taken a picture of it to use in the classes I teach at the Lab School because there is no reproduction…

  • Don’t just stand there! Eat it!

    Don’t just stand there! Eat it!

    So, call it a midlife crisis:  I recently got out my old guitar, its case covered with political slogans and names of punk bands, and tried my hand at a couple songs by Georges Brassens and Nick Drake. The crooning is okay, but the strumming is halting and clumsy, after years of not playing.  It…

  • A great day at the Musée d’Orsay!

    n Tomorrow I’m going to the Louvre, so please indulge me the cheap rhyme in the title of this post:  April is, after all, National Poetry Month and rest assured, nothing rhymes with “Louvre” in English (it’s now 2:42 a.m. and I’ve been lying in bed trying to think of something). n Today was the…

  • Baudelaire, portraits, and crowds

    n I recently finished a book by Michel Butor called Histoire Extraordinaire; an essay on a dream of Baudelaire. It begins with a dream that Baudelaire recorded at five o’clock in the morning, when it was nice and warm, for his friend Charles Asselineau. (I love the idea of calling a dream nice and warm;…

  • Can’t touch this!

    n A few months ago, I interviewed a person who touched this painting. That’s right. He put his finger right on it in order to point something out to me. More about this transgressive act later. n Today I watched as the painting handlers (those hardy young men who drill holes in museum walls, pick…

  • Here’s looking at you

    There’s no question about it – I’m a “people person”. How else could I spend my days in a museum approaching total strangers and engaging them in conversation? So, when I walk through a gallery I’m most often struck by paintings that look back at me, that is to say, by portraits. n What makes…

  • The best day ever

    n Okay, I’m going to do something I’ve never done before and would like your indulgence: I’m going to journal. I won’t burden you with what I’m eating or knitting or wearing, but I will tell you all about my day at the ‘stute because it was uplifting, stimulating, and just plain ol’ fun. n…

  • Emotion, or lack thereof

    n …”arguably the least love-struck woman in all Western painting.” – Michael Fried n In his book Pictures and Tears James Elkins explores the act of crying in front of painting, an act that if one is to believe him (and I do) strikes most academics to be as shameful as farting during an inopportune…

  • Gabrielle, part one

    n One of my favorite paintings at the Art Institute is Rêverie (portrait de Gabrielle Borreau). (This painting is mentioned in an earlier post about asymmetric faces – see Putting your best face forward.) The painting is in gallery 222 in a corner, right next to a hydrothermograph. Unfortunately, most visitors spend more time watching…

  • Will the real Mona Lisa please stand up!

    n First, Erin of Los Angeles talked to me about her. The very next day, Isabel from Colombia. Then, Gerhard Richter, one of my favorite artists, said in an interview yesterday about the corrected (depressed) art market that, in his opinion, only paintings by Da Vinci and Raphael should ever sell for more than a…