Wednesday, September 17, 2014


I recently spent some time in Madison, Wisconsin, and in Chicago. I took some photos but I don't think any will end up here. During an afternoon in Chicago's Art Institute I wandered in the galleries of modern American art looking for and failing to find paintings by artists whose lives I've been researching. I wandered also in the great, bright wing of contemporary art and there found two good Mardens.

By far my favorite painting in AIC collections is the one shown above. It's Vuillard's "Foliage-Oak Tree and Fruit Seller" of 1918. It's large—over 9 feet wide and 6 high—and it rewards an observer who's willing to give it close attention. The medium is distemper on canvas. In making it Vuillard mixed powdered pigments in water and a hot-glue binder. He had to act quickly as the pigments became unworkable as they cooled. The result is pleasingly free and expressive.

This image shows us all how difficult, near impossible, it is to render a painting like Vuillard's on computer screen. It's disheartening. In general, the media—painting and digital photography—do not seem to be so very incompatible. In this case they are.

I write all this largely because the museum as not shown "Foliage" on my last two visits. It's collections are excellent and the time I spend in its galleries nourish my soul, but I'd so like to have ten minutes or so before this one painting once again.


Deniz said...

Vuillard - by far - is my favorite Impressionist. And this one painting looks like it's worth seeing in person - how wonderful that you did! :-)

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