Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Vancouver Art Gallery/Vancouver Public Library Book Club

Matisse-"Large Reclining Nude" 1935 oil on canvas, The Baltimore Museum of Art: The Cone Collection
image from ArtMapTV

The painting above is the size of a wall. The colors are flat so right away you focus on line and what a magician he is with line! The head is small, and I interpreted it as being all about the flesh...
Being in the body as opposed to being in the mind.. Her larger than life, perfect curves. He controls the speed of the eye movement through the painting to such an extent that I had a tactile experience. It felt like my hand was caressing the sensual lines. 

The gallery was crowded and noisy. I'll have to go back again. At one point I was communing with a VanGogh when a bald head butted in front. I've discovered I'm fussy about my viewing experience. *Sigh* art snob written all over that...but the privacy of the experience is meditative for me. Viewing art is said to have the same effect as being in nature. 

The art gallery's book club has 20 regular attenders, and in June we met to talk about "Missing Matisse" by Jan Rehner. The group has literary preferences, is well read and had many interesting comments. The Vancouver Art Gallery's librarian was on hand and gave a historian's viewpoint, which was a treat. At one point a heated conversation broke out about the selfish lifestyle of artists.

There was a lot of anger directed to the idea that an artist may have some fame based on their charisma or performance instead of just their technical skill. Anger again whenever money or sex was mentioned. 

The art historian agreed that artists are sometimes selfish, neglecting to update their cv's and provide accurate documentation. I can see how if your passion is the history of art  that this would be a source of agitation. I used to work in a museum and the most exciting objects had stories to go with them that told us more about the owners so I did appreciate the reminder to document and date my work.

 While I don't agree that it's selfish to have the focus it takes to make art, nor do I agree that charisma shouldn't be part of a successful art career (isn't charisma an art in itself and important in most careers?), I had great fun listening to the roller coaster of opinions and got a 'fly on the wall' view of some frustrations/misconceptions the public may have about artists. 

Right now I'm reading The Way to Paradise  about the life of Gauguin (fiction) and it's much more scandalous than Matisse's life. Our meeting in July should be an interesting night!


Leanna said...

I liked your interpretation as to why the head was smaller than the rest of the body. I agree that your gut and heart know things that your mind often gets confused about.

birds sing artblog said...

hi, have you read james elkins pictures and tears? he talks a lot about responses to artwork.
v interested in your info on affects of chemicals in art, i painted with oilbars and my hands with sudocrem as a barrier cream for years (turps allergy)and always felt acrylics might have problems, sending sympathy!
due to fibromyalgia i'm no longer strong enough to paint, but putter on with collage and textile work.
dee @ birds sing artblog

Anonymous said...

Hi, so glad you are enjoying the book club that the Vancouver Public Library and the Vancouver Art Gallery are co-sponsoring. The books, registration, book lists and movies are all provided by the library. Look forward to seeing you in July and stay tuned for more titles in the fall.
P. Mills Vancouver Public Library

Tracy said...

VERY exciting, Shayla! And fun with the book club! Much in agreement to your responses, though. And, I too, am very sensitive about I'm about my gallery/viewing experiences. Not to sound super-judgmental, but all too often there are people at galleries and museums that really are not interested in art or being at these place and display rude behavior and mouth off about the art...they're just there doing the gallery visit as part of one stop on the way to something else... What such folks don't realize is that their behavior spoils the atmosphere around them. I could say more, but will behave! ;o) LOL... LOVE the Matisse, this one is especially wonderful. I love the proportions/space and pure sensuality heightened!