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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

More Awe, Giggles, Snorts and Wine at the Museum

Can anyone tell me the name of the artist and the painting’s title, at left? Though I stood in front of her, transfixed and uninterrupted, I didn’t read the tag. If I thought at all, beyond my awe and wonder, it was that she was painted by John Singer Sargent — one of my all time favs. Sì o no?

I had, at first, one hell of a time finding this piece, Nude Study of Thomas E. McKeller (MUCH better image at the link) at right, on line but success was mine. I’d similar but ultimately no joy-joy struggle locating Wyeth’s Nureyev in the all together on the intertoobes. Hmmm, why’zat ya think?

A 2001 Art News column which spoke of the Seattle Art Museum show, John Singer Sargent: The Sensualist, asked “Was he homosexual?”
Also exhibited for the first time (at the Seattle show) as a group was an album from Harvard’s Fogg Art Museum of 30 charcoal drawings of well-built men. Together with a large nude study of a strikingly good-looking African American model, these intimate drawings form the backbone of Fairbrother’s argument that Sargent’s sphinxlike public facade successfully deflected attention from his passionate homosexual sensibility. Never exhibited publicly during the artist’s lifetime, these images, in Fairbrother’s view, illustrate the extent to which Sargent compartmentalized his life. It’s important, Fairbrother says, to “keep one’s eye on the differences between the things Sargent presented to the public and those he anxiously kept from scrutiny.”

I def want to know more about Sargent, his motivations and passions as an artist and human bean.  Every new painting and sketch of his that I come across makes me fall that much more deeply in love with his work.

And, now that I’ve come across it, I think I NEED this book: John Singer Sargent: The Sensualist by Fairbrother. My birthday’s next week — I think I’ll splurge!
Arp Arp!
In the museum’s big, sunny, beautiful restaurant, this Dale Chihuly tower stands threateningly. OK maybe that’s just me perceiving big menace. Next to all that spiky glass, I can only imagine the horrifically bloody scene should those moorings slip. I don’t like being in the same room as this piece. Creeps me out too damn much and YES I know that I’m in the minority on this.

This Aristide Maillol sculpture, at right, always and forever makes me smile. The roundness, beautiful curves and posture — who could resist!? On Sunday’s visit I looked around back — checked out her ass don’cha know. You’re shocked, I expect — you’ve loved this work of art for how long and only just now looked at the rear view? Yup and, gotta say, DISAPPOINTMENT CITY! He made her butt flat as a crepe with a vaguely eggplant-ish shape. Now I understand why she stands in a corner — best features forward ya know.

And then I found Alberto Giacometti and Jean Arp. They bring senior year art history finals to mind. Kevin and I, while studying in Sprowls Hall’s tiny student lounge, would hold up images for each other to identify. Giddy from lack of sleep, we’d bark Arp’s name at each other, pronounce Giacometti’s in exaggerated cartoon Italian accents and you just don’t wanna know what we did to Brâncuși.

Laughed our asses off — yes we did — but we aced that final.


  1. It's "Isabella and the Pot of Basil," by John White Alexander. While I knew the painting off the top of my head, I knew nothing about the artist until I looked it up. He was originally from Pittsburgh!

    1. THANK YOU Charity — I just knew that you would know. A Pittsburgher? Interesting.