ART is not a four-letter word

Favorite of the Emir, 1879 by Jean Joseph Benjamin Constant, French (1845-1902)

Favorite of the Emir, 1879 by Jean Joseph Benjamin Constant, French (1845-1902)

One of the best things about living in Washington, DC is the art & culture that is so accessible and it’s free.

(Brief aside, when crossing the Cumberland Gap and stopping by the visitors center I asked an 8 year-old boy if it was worth going in, and the charming imp answered with a thick southwest Virginia drawl, “Oh yes. They got a thee-ater inside.” And with a flourish of his arm he gestured : “And it’s fureee!” Hence, a new favorite phrase was born, but you must say it with an exuberant flourish of your arm.)

One of my favorite things to do is to go down the National Gallery of Art and cruise through the modernism in the I.M. Pei designed East Building before heading to the classical galleries of the West Building. I am not ashamed to admit that I love representational painting and doric and ionic columns. It’s even more exciting when one gets an assignment to play tourist in Washington as I recently did and had the opportunity to find a couple of new delights at the National Gallery.

I have to admit, I am much more inspired by painting than I am by photography. Travesty, though it may be. I find myself feeling too comparative when I look at other people’s photography. This is not to say that I don’t enjoy other people’s photography, because I do, very much. But I am more inspired by a painted color palette or landscape than that of the photoshop, and I love the textural quality of oils on canvas. And if one is going to be conceptual about a scene, I have to admit, I much more enjoy the “concept” of the painted canvas, than the wizardy of a well-lighted set.

Odalisque, 1870, Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)

Odalisque, 1870, Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)

How great are these ladies? Is Odalisque not the original Bohemian? And she’s not afraid to look confident with a little meat on her gams. (Or perhaps it’s just her baggy clothing.) At any rate, she doesn’t need to feel sexy by giving it all away, if you know what I mean. I really admire her.

Todays Book Club Book: The Painted Word by Tom Wolfe

Wolfe’s small treatise on the NYC art scene in the 70’s brings to mind one of the best artist statements I’ve ever read. I saw it on the fantastic New Orleans photographer William Greiner‘s website: “It doesn’t matter what I say, all that matters is what you see.” Here, here William Greiner!!! A hearty Huzzah to you.

(Sorry for the turn-of-the-last-century slang, but I’ve become obnoxiously affected by P.G. Wodehouse‘s The Misadventures of Charlie. Fantastic light reading.)

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