Sometimes you forget just how much you love a painting. After looking at so many, those that are most beautiful can easily slip from your mind. The other day I was wandering the MFA in Boston with a friend, when this gorgeous woman appeared in my vision.

A Capriote, John Singer Sargent

A Capriote, John Singer Sargent

 

I have seen this painting many times and make a point to visit her when I am in Boston, but my mind’s eye had forgotten her. I love the way she is draped across the branch, as if she were a dress hung while the woman was taking a dip in the river. She becomes part of the landscape; she appears to be a part of the tree with the stump becoming a limb to her.

The palate and painterly application create this dreamscape. The lack of saturation in the palate creates a hazy space, a dreamy space. The expression on the young woman’s face is that of a day dreamer. Because she is at a distance from us, she eludes us. She is out of reach. Does she see us? Is she smirking at us or at a thought of her own? Is she even real? She is the gatekeeper of the dreamworld. The flowers in the foreground are the doorway. Will you enter?

To zoom in on this image visit her on Google Art Project.

Look. Listen. Respond.

-Megan

 

Advertisements
Eve After the Original Sin, Eugene Delaplanche

Eve After the Original Sin, Eugene Delaplanche

I stumbled upon an image of this beautiful sculpture on Google’s Art Project and fell in love with her. I wish I was in Paris, so I could see her up close for more fine details. Her body language is what pulled me in. She does not come across as mournful due to the knowledge of good and evil. She seems pensive, but there is also something light about her expression. In many paintings of Adam and Eve after “The Fall”, they are sobbing and embarrassed of their bodies; they cover and hide themselves from the viewer.

If she were horizontal, her body would appear to be in a fetal position- seeking comfort of some kind. The parts she hides from us our her nether regions and her lips, but it doesn’t seem to be out of shame. She seems to be soaking in the memory of her actions. Maybe it gave some pleasure to fall from grace. The way her body curves is almost mimicking the shape of the snake beside her; she is curling into herself for comfort. Maybe she is thinking about what she has done. She reminds me of child who has been caught doing something she shouldn’t have but doesn’t quite feel bad about it. Maybe she is even hopeful for the new possibilities added to her life.

In these images is it difficult to see her true expression. I recommend visiting the professional photo here. She appears as though she is thinking, “How do I get myself out of this mess?” or maybe “What am I do to with this knowledge I now have?” As an observer with “insider information” and life experiences, one brings that to the artwork one views. How does she appear to you?

Look. Listen. Respond.

-Megan

Seductive Selfie

February 27, 2014

With the rise of social media the “selfie” is an ever popular way to show yourself to the world. Cameras on our phones make it possible to share images of ourselves at any moment, in the light that we choose or simply have available, naked or clothed, with an option of camera style. The opportunity for selfies is endless. Self portraits are fascinating to me because we decide how we want the world to see us. We are saying, “Here, this is what I really look like”. Even with all the available technology, people are still painting or sculpting portraits of themselves. They are still using film or wet plate processes with the help of timers or remote shutter releases to capture an image of themselves. Are we all narcissists because we love to share our faces with the world? Maybe we are simply trying to preserve something of ourselves or find a way to let it go.

Ellen Day Hale, Self Portrait, 1885

Ellen Day Hale, Self Portrait, 1885

Munch, Self Portrait with Skeleton Arm, 1895

Munch, Self Portrait with Skeleton Arm, 1895

Patricia Schappler, Self Portrait

Patricia Schappler, Self Portrait

Andre Derain, Self Portrait with a Cap, 1905

Andre Derain, Self Portrait with a Cap, 1905

Lucian Freud, Self Portrait: Reflection, 1996

Lucian Freud, Self Portrait: Reflection, 1996

Some artists are almost solely known because of the numerous self portraits they produced. What if Frida Kahlo had a smart phone? How many more images of her would exist? Would Rembrandt’s eyes appear as glassy as the sea? Would Matisse use Instagram to make everything the color it should be?

The Wounded Deer, Frida Kahlo

The Wounded Deer, Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo Self Portrait 1922

Frida Kahlo, Self Portrait, 1922

Van Gogh, Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat, 1887

Van Gogh, Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat, 1887

van Gogh, Self Portrait with Grey Felt Hat, 1886-87

van Gogh, Self Portrait with Grey Felt Hat, 1886-87

van Gogh, Self Portrait, 1887

van Gogh, Self Portrait, 1887

Rembrandt, Self Portrait, 1661

Rembrandt, Self Portrait, 1661

Degas, Self Portrait

Degas, Self Portrait

Maybe we think we are making ourselves everlasting by leaving images of ourselves behind. Maybe we are being bold by allowing ourselves to be vulnerable. We are happy to say, “This is me”. We use self portraits to show the world how we want to be seen in that moment. Whether it is vanity, sheer pleasure, or simply impulse that drives the creation of the “self image”, they are an enjoyable part of history.

Look. Listen. Respond.

-Megan

With Valentine’s Day approaching once again, I began sifting through numerous passionate nudes. For some, several of these images may be straddling the line of pornographic vs. erotic. These images are meant to show the aroused side of the subjects they depict. They show the visceral side of our humanity, the sensuality that fills us.

As humans, we are made up of all sorts of emotions, desires and passions; the lust or love for another is one of those. These are portraits of human desire. Maybe some repel us, while others spark a flame in our belly that we will never be rid of.

May the softness of the flesh shown remind you of beauty and passion as we approach the Day of Love. May these images be a reminder of how desirable your lover is. May they remind you how beautiful you can be alone. May art always be a reminder of how wonderful it is to be human.

Look. Listen. Respond.

-Megan

Some links worth checking out:

Rebecca Guay, Francesco Tortorella, Zak Smith

With the cold weather setting in, I’m finding it important to focus on the (few) sunny days that we are given and focus on filling the house with fresh flowers. This collection of images contrasts the last set. It draws us inside; it reminds us of spring.

Some of these paintings are bold and full of color. They speak about the bright fulfilling patterns that flowers can bestow on us. Others are softer, reminding us of how precious life can be. They display the cycle of life from bud to full bloom, a display of how quickly time passes. The rest are the in-between- the pauses we take, the things we let go, our storms, our peace.

Because flowers are innately beautiful, it can be difficult to collect or create images of them. They hold such power; they can mean so much in a painting. We display flowers at weddings and funerals; we give and receive them as anniversary or get well gifts. They fill in the blanks for apologies or displays of affection.

Do you ever stop and look at them? Do you consider their power and meaning? The next time you’re at a museum and see a painting of flowers or you’re passing by the wild flowers that grow by fences, I hope you take the opportunity to consider them, to appreciate them for all they can add to your life. Until then, I hope this small collection has added to your life.

Look. Listen. Respond.

-Megan

Whitewash

January 7, 2014

Happy 2014! My goal for this year is to grace the web with 2 posts a month, so I hope you all are ready!

Looking out the window at the snow reminds me winter in New England can be tough. The days are cold, the sun hides often, and the snow is (normally) plentiful. Despite how dreary it may seem, the winter is beautiful. I have collected some comforting images of the snow, so I hope you are snuggled up under a blanket with some hot cocoa for viewing…

Just like art, snow is a powerful force. Snow can trap us. It can blind us. But when we view it at a perfectly still moment, its beauty unfolds for us. The silence that it brings envelops us with peace. May this winter be full of beauty and peace.

Look. Listen. Respond.

-Megan

Portrait Scavenger Hunt

December 28, 2013

The human figure is such a powerful vessel. It is the “stuff” that contains our beings. There have been several occasions that I have sat down to share a collection of portraits, but I stop myself. Which ones do I show? How many do I share? Everything I chose seems inadequate; even a few examples may be overwhelming. In the spirit of the new year being upon us, I decided to begin sifting through the Google Art Project to find some new works I had never seen before. I had my own little portrait scavenger hunt and have picked some of my favorites.

This first one is my favorite of the grouping. The girl is so cool, so innocent, except for that red flower protruding from her mouth. This painting captures her youthful beauty, but it also tells us there is something more there. Some hardship, some knowledge beyond her years.

Adolfo Guiard, The Little Village Girl with Red Carnation 1903

Adolfo Guiard, The Little Village Girl with Red Carnation 1903

Some artists may labor to hide the true character of the model, but the inside always finds a way of showing itself.

Klimt, Blind Man 1896

Klimt, Blind Man 1896

Agda Holst, Self-Portrait 1925

Agda Holst, Self-Portrait 1925

Sometimes what we don’t see tells us the most,

Toulouse-Latrec, The Model Resting 1889

Toulouse-Latrec, The Model Resting 1889

or maybe we are only shown a particular side of someone.

Guillermo Kahlo, Self-portrait

Guillermo Kahlo, Self-portrait

Maybe it is pain or vulnerability or joy despite these things.

Nickolas Muray, Frida Kahlo Lying Down 1946

Nickolas Muray, Frida Kahlo Lying Down 1946

Alexej Jawlensky, Portrait of a Girl 1909

Alexej Jawlensky, Portrait of a Girl 1909

Portraits have the ability to shape our view of the subject. They may persuade us to love or dislike the person we see reflected on the canvas. They connect us to the existence of others; we see parts of ourselves drawn in someone else’s face. What a pleasure to share such beauty with all people, past and present.

Look. Listen. Respond.

-Megan

Spiral Woman

September 4, 2013

 

Louise Bourgeois, Spiral Woman

Louise Bourgeois, Spiral Woman

I’ve been thinking on this post for a long time. Louise Bourgeois is a phenomenal sculptor, and I highly recommend the documentary The Spider, the Mistress, and the Tangerine. (It is available on Hulu!) There is a great view of the Spiral Woman in motion.
For me, this piece represents what it can be like to be a human. She spins, looking for a place to rest. She is holding on; she isn’t struggling. The “twist” blinds her, supports her, controls her. We have to assume that she is not bothered.
The twist makes me think of a towel. The Spiral Woman is bathing. She is being taken from the water. She is not bothered. She just spins and spins, sucked up in the twist. She doesn’t call out to us. We cannot even see her face. Is she beautiful? Would she talk to us if she could? Does she wish the twist would just suck her up completely? Or is the spinning caused by her resistance?
I love the questions that Louise’s work brings up. I love the tension and the challenge. She makes you think.

Look. Listen. Respond.
-Megan

Oh, Valentine’s Day, you bring us flowers, chocolates, and lots of love. I would like to add some art to this day of love. While pin-up girls may be the first or only thing that comes to mind when erotic art is brought up, erotic art was being made even before the Greeks started painting on walls and pots. (Next time you go to an art museum, look more closely at the Greek art.) While the Greeks saw their erotic art as a representation of dominance and social superiority, there have been artists that were and are condemned for work deemed as “inappropriate.” Regardless, I have collected some images for your enjoyment (or discomfort, whichever the case may be).

These images are purposely erotic, but there is also the argument that all art is erotic. Art reaches into the depths of who we are and tries to get something out of us. It works to stimulate us and connect us to something bigger than ourselves. I suppose, in that sense, all art is erotic.

Look. Listen. Respond.

-Megan

The Beautiful Belly

February 4, 2013

(This is my belated New Year post.) When a new year begins, it seems that people are pushed into a “reshaping” and “new beginning” gear. We make resolutions to be a better person. We pledge to blog more consistently, or we sign up for the gym or promise ourselves we will use our membership. Not that toned arms and a flat belly are bad things, but I refuse to believe that super skinny is the only way to be beautiful. I’ve collected some images of beautiful bellies, contemporary and classic.

The inspiration for the grouping was Rembrandt’s Bathsheba. The first time I saw this image in a magazine, I became lost in Bathsheba’s soft, sumptuous stomach. Rembrandt’s painting made me long for more paintings of woman with full bodies.

While the slender body is a coveted thing in our society, these paintings are an example of how something classified as less than perfect can be a source of great beauty. This year I hope to find beauty in other hidden places.

Look. Listen. Respond.

-Megan