Monday, July 27, 2009

In the Dining Room...with a Paintbrush

Being a bit of an art historian, I've long since surpassed the juvenile infatuation I once had with French Impressionists, preferring for the more obscure Dadaists, color theorists, and pop artists. But as I've been prepping for a shiny new power-point version of my previously antiquated methods of teaching art history (we only got a projector last year in the art room), I was reintroduced to a few lesser seen images by secondary characters among the motley crew from Paris.
One is this painting called "In the Dining Room" by Berthe Morisot. I've always liked her, but first believed her to be a somber, melancholy woman who was isolated in a world of men, as depicted by the image of her sister in "The Cradle." I now see that she was strong in her femininely directed subject matter and was greatly accepted for her honest depictions and for painting what she saw, just like all the other impressionists did.

I love the color, which is not too soft, but still a bit ethereal, the pink, glowy skin, and the halo around every edge. There's also something about those impressionists who, while influence by Japanese woodcuts, found other ways to emphasize edge without outlining it. And the inclusion of a bit of black in this color palette ensures she is not washed out, instead is anchored in her surroundings, her home. She may be only in the dining room, but she belongs there, and fits there.

I also recently read a fictional novel (that took some broad liberties in her relationship with her colleague and husband's brother, Edouard Manet) in which I fell in love with Morisot as a real person. Sometimes women in art are either ignored, or falsely elevated, due to their being a woman, but it was nice to see this little story, however fictional, told from her perspective at the turn of the century in France.

(On a side note, I am selling this book on Amazon, a recent habit I've gotten into as I've had much time to read this summer and the used books are piling up. I'd be glad to send it your way, just go here.)

And did you know that Morisot was the great neice of Jean Baptiste Camille Corot? Goodness this girl painted in some high society company! I'm not crazy about Corot and his landscapes, but the man was a genius, after all.

Another artist I've had my eye on is Childe Hassam. Stay tuned, maybe I'll blog about him a bit later.

Do you get excited about art? Old or new? What have you seen lately that excites you?


lori vliegen said...

this morisot painting is beautiful. i could spend a long, long time getting lost in those brush strokes and gorgeous colors! i would have loved to have had an art teacher like you when i was in school...i could have learned SO much more than i did! :)

Bethany said...

Lindsey. I'm very disappointed that you called French impressionism a juvenile infatuation. I may not be as educated in art as you are, but I'm fairly well educated in the music despite that I haven't been through a formal class yet. Impressionism in music is one of my favorite musical ideas! And it's not juvenile in the least. It takes a very mature mind to appreciate the organized chaos of romantic and impressionist music. Just because the masses think they understand Monet and tend to like it best doesn't mean it's mainstream. Something that is popular in the public can also be appreciated by those who know all about it. Shakespeare, Lindsey, Shakespeare!

Ok, hahahaha I was totally in the mood to debate and thought I'd put up random crap and give you a hard time :) I wish I was in California to take your art class! You'd be my favorite teacher :D

Love, Beaner

Kotori said...

I love this piece of art - its so the style I like.

Dionne said...

I like how there's a lot going on in the picture. The dog under the table, the food on the table, the house outside - all stuff that you might not notice at first glance. The busy brush strokes draw me into the painting, wanting to look closer.

Lindsey said...

Beaner, don't go giving the impression that I have hecklers out there. And Impressionism in music is very different for the average Jane than is Impressionism in painting...everyone knows who Monet is and he has become an unfortunate cliche. However (!) I was only referring to my taste for the Impressionists stemming from a sheer ignorance of all other art. I liked them because they were easy to like and I didn't know anything else. Once I grew, so did my tastes. But while you mention it, Romanticism isn't really my forte either, but it is very fun to teach! And your debate is always allowed, welcomed in fact! And you can take my class any day; we'll trade for music history.

Anonymous said...

I too love the impressionists. Mostly as an expression of what was happening at the time in the world. If you ever get to Paris Lindsey, go to the Musee Marmottan and you will see quite a few works by Berthe. I think you would like this museum as it was an old home and the paintings are hung on the walls as if you were visiting. Aunt Laurel

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