Apr 102014
 

A few months ago, the Beav and I went to Toronto and saw The Great Upheaval, a show of works from the Guggenheim that was packed with kids on field trips. The exhibit was focused, coherent, and dense. Every work was major.  We spent a few hours and walked through it twice.

For me, the revelation was watching Mondrian transform himself into an abstract-expressionist. The three early works that caught my attention all showed an artist, who was essentially a very late post-impressionist, discovering the beauty of painted lines on a flat surface. In chronological order, the paintings were (images from the Guggenheim):

Summer, Dune in Zeeland

Summer, Dune in Zeeland

 

Still Life with Gingerpot I

Still Life with Gingerpot I

 

Still Life with Gingerpot II

Still Life with Gingerpot II

The first and last are just gorgeous, but the middle one, which is less beautiful, fascinates me. It’s so obviously operating in Cézanne’s shadow, yet it’s also attempting to create a complex matrix of lines which are not merely outlines. I look at it and I see something struggling–actually struggling–to become something new. And that makes Still Life with Gingerpot II feel like a triumph. 

(The painting of the dune–with it’s roughly horizontal lines and it’s solid blocks of layered colour–looks like it wants to become a Rothko.)

The Beav’s favourite was a painting by Chagall. He explained why, and I looked and stared–and the painting’s amazing! really it is–but I remain mystified. And, yes, I like the mystery. If our tastes were the same, I’m not sure museums would be so much fun.

Paris Through Window

Paris Through Window

We both agreed that this painting by a Russian we’d never heard of was one of the gems of the show:

Morning in the Village after Snowstorm

Morning in the Village after Snowstorm

 

 

 April 10, 2014  Exhibition Logs

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