Blog # 89…January 2019
Claude Monet 1872
It’s good to find something comforting at this time of year and in this sort of world. I love the Impressionists; it always seems to comfort me to look at people enjoying picnics by the river, harbours bathed in light at different times of day, even lovers sitting glumly at a café table.
But sometimes, I also like to mix it up a bit and look at art that upsets my equilibrium, makes me wonder or think or just be uncomfortable.
It seemed to start with William Hogarth, the first artist I know about who used his lively perceptions of the world around him to paint the vitality and despair of ordinary people on the streets of London in the early 18th century. Berthe Morisot, a century later observed the personal world of women, tending babies, hanging out laundry. And our own Mary Pratt took us into the ordinary, sometimes lonely world of women. Maybe it reflects the more egalitarian lives of the cave dwellers that their artists portrayed mostly animals and abstract designs…simpler times.
I met John Waters on the walls of the Baltimore Museum of Art last year. His work is a cheeky, in your face series of comments on our society as it’s unfolded over the past half century. And although it speaks to Baltimore, where he was born and lives, it applies widely…kind of like The Wire. I enjoyed the show and might have thought he was just an amusing iconoclast if I hadn’t seen Kiddie Flamingo, a table reading of his best known film Pink Flamingo by a group of young child actors with Waters providing direction off stage. It combined two things kids love – dressing up and swearing and was handled with great sensitivity so, although the kids were obviously enjoying it, there was nothing that could frighten or harm them.
Kent Monkman jiggles our sensibilities too with his paintings of Canadian historical events and people, poking gentle fun at the Daddies of Confederation and bringing tears to our eyes with the children being captured in the Sixties Scoop.
Curious to think that the Impressionists were considered wicked and disruptive in their day, wonder if today’s disrupters will turn into providers of comfort in the future???
A very happy and healthy New Year to you all.