Tuesday, July 20, 2010


The only thing I thought I wanted to see at the Art Institute of Chicago were the Impressionists. Of course, I'm very glad I stumbled on the American Art Gallery, too :)

There were things I missed - we were tired, my feet hurt, and although I was amazed an in awe of the works I was seeing, I was also dreading the walk back - another 40 minutes on sore, blistered feet :( so I didn't visit the gift shop and I totally missed the Winslow Homer paintings. So...another time!

Here are some of my favorites of this trip in the Impressionist galleries, beginning with the Renoir's.

And then the Monet's. Ah, that green, that blue, that sea!!! And, of course, the water lilies...

Another master of painting light is Joaquin Sorolla y Baptista - this painting of the Two Sisters pulled me across the room to view it more closely. I'd get close and then stand back and then move across the room to see it from a distance. Beautiful! If I could do this, I'd die happy. So sad you have to go to Madrid to see his work - such a long way. My friend, Teresa, got to see his exhibit at the Madrid Museum of Art recently - so many paintings and each one a stunning piece of light and shadow and warmth.

I really enjoyed seeing the people interact with the paintings. There would be crowds around certain paintings or certain areas. One young woman stood in front of Monet's lillies for a very long time. And, of course, there were larger numbers around the Van Goghs. I had never seen this painting of fruit by Van Gogh. It was a treat to see the painting of his bedroom - something I've seen reproduced in many books.

But this was the stunner:

The movement of the leaves and tree trunks in this and the variety of greens and, of course, his brushstrokes, just took my breath away. This one was titled The Poet's Garden. I wanted to step into that painting and be taken to a cool, spring day and touch those weeping willow strands of leaves. The brushstrokes rolled and moved and swirled and twirled and were so beautiful in themselves. It was as if you could see his hand moving on the canvas in this one and the movement was slow, serene, calming.

And then there was the small painting on the wall as you exited the room. So very small and yet so demanding that you stop and look. Walk up slowly, quietly. Look closely at the brushstrokes, the use of the complements to make it all vibrate with color (the green in that red beard!). See the sadness in the blue eyes.
I wasn't the only one who shed a tear while standing so closely to this one and looking...looking. We must have been thinking of his life, his unhappiness, his illness, and thinking about his immense talent and the wonderous beauty inside that had to come out of this gaunt, ugly, strange man who never felt he had accomplished anything or succeeded in art or life.
So long ago and yet his story and his art still move us. What would he think if he could know how couples would stand in front of this one, their hands slowly entwining, not speaking, hardly breathing. Almost a reverential feeling would come over you as you viewed this one. And your eyes would cloud with tears...perhaps art is meant to touch us in just this way.
And so we leave you, Vincent, and return to the real world knowing you are right where you belong, among the greatest artists of the time...
I hope you've enjoyed the visit and the paintings shared. If you get a chance to visit the Art Institute of Chicago, please do so. You will not regret it, no matter how far you have to walk!
Now let's all return to our lives and our art/work...and try to create something of beauty that may move someone sometime in the future. Wouldn't that be something?


Teresa Palomar Lois said...

I'm ridiculously excited to hear you liked the Sorolla! you're welcome to visit anytime and we'll go together to his house/museum :D

debwardart said...

What a touching post. You sure do have a way with words! I would die happy knowing that someone loved my work that much (so guess I'll die sad - LOL) Hope your tootsies are all better - and now you know you can never trust those Chicagoans!!! Always take a taxi - and hold on tight!!!

Cathy Gatland said...

Thanks so much for sharing your gallery visit with us Rhonda - beautiful, beautiful paintings.

RHCarpenter said...

Oh, how could you NOT love them, Teresa. I've only seen ones online except for two locally. I would love to see his seaside bathers...the warm light on the skin and the whites and shadows are perfect. This one looks like that white curl of wave is touching her head but I think it was the angle I was shooting from down below - it was a large vertical painting.

Thanks, Deb. I will always be grateful to Van Gogh's sister-in-law, who didn't let his work gather dust in an attic but pushed people to see it.

You're welcome, Cathy :) Glad you enjoyed them.

Nick said...

One of the best museums in the world! I saw that big Sargent retrospective they had in '87. Great post, rhonda!

RHCarpenter said...

Hey, Nick. I was definitely impressed, sore feet and all! We'll be going back again to spend more time there.