Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Reacting to Art - National Gallery The Sunflowers and Sainsbury Wing

Yesterday having something of a reaction to the discussions around Schopenhauer (more in the next post) I felt somewhat obliged to visit The nearby National Gallery both as an antidote (Schopenhauer on Art “Treat a work of art like a prince: let it speak to you first.” ) and a confirmation of his central thesis that  'Life is Suffering'

On arrival I was at first somewhat concerned at the numbers but once inside found that there was sufficient space and activity to mean that this was far from a problem.

Having seen in the press that there was a rare  opportunity to see two of Van Gogh's  Sunflowers side by side I  chose to join  the necessary queues to enable me to see this - it's interesting how The National Gallery was able to ration this viewing to make it a practicality, the nature of 'free' things (of which this was one) is that demand is likely to reach unfathomable heights this was easily managed by the Gallery by simply making it mildly inconvenient.
What I drew from the two images was how similar they were, what we tend to see here  is two paintings by one of the World's greatest artists but it is worth considering the context of Van Gogh who worked  for an Art dealer and tried to join the church before he became an artist. And as an Artist he sold only one painting during his lifetime, he was not aware that he was producing iconic works and that his life as a tortured artist would be celebrated. Here's a review of the works together.

Looking around at the undoubted riches I was (again) taken with Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando by Edgar Degas (it's a great title too).

I am  intrigued and enjoy the works of the 'Pointilist' Seurat and was taken with another artisits's Pointilist painting Washerwomen by Signac (1886)

It is striking how influential the 30 years or so of artistic development between 1884 and 1914 is I was also drawn to  George Bellows Men of the Docks  (1912)  A painting of New York activity (amazing to see the cost of this was around £15m and was funded from the largess of the late JP Getty II).


Klimt's  Hermine Gallia 1904 showing a rare and haunting but distanced beauty..

Religiosity at the Gallery
Sainsbury's Local at National Gallery

 I am not sure if I've before appreciated how much of the National Gallery is given over to what could be broadly defined as devotional Christian works certainly the 20 year old Sainsbury Wing has an amazing selection largely European created and reflecting a European perspective and evocation of the characters, for this reason :

Adoration of the Kings by Vincenzo Foppa  (painted around 1500) stood out and I liked too 

The Supper at Emmaus by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio  who lived from  1571 to only 1610,
what I like about this is the way the arms of Christ and one of the other diners seem to  show life beyond the frame of the picture as opposed to the missing glance from Christ's apparently closed eyes .

I am much taken too by Christ in the House of Martha and Mary (Velázquez) partly I think because of an explanation of the parable given to me recently but also because of the experimental nature of the painting within a painting delivery of the story.

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