Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lunch break

Finishing up here at Yale, I spent a nice leisurely lunch strolling through the two art museums. There's something so arresting about those Turner and Constable landscapes, that tension between the canvas's subject matter and abstraction, swamped entirely by color and light, the warmth even in those turbulent cloud scenes. And there were two exhibits, one of Dalou's women sculptures, and one of conservation. The latter was more interesting in theory than practice. It raises a number of usually hidden choices museums make—how to display something, how to treat functional objects as nonfunctional, how varnish affects a painting (especially interesting in the case of the Hopper painting, to which Hopper took the unusual step of varnishing the work himself), but there was too many words, to much vagueness about what it really meant, and worst of all, no real basis for the viewer to sort of have an opinion based on what was there. It read more like just a case for the defense. The former, a small exhibit centers 5 sculptures, beautiful, intimate scenes of women absorbed in quiet activities (books and babies), with some drawings from other French artists in England and contemporaries. The problem with it is that these bookended rooms with the sketches were difficult to reconcile with such a specific collection of works; they seldom had the same subject matter or expressive style, which may have been the point, that Dalou was radical in a certain way, but it seemed more disorganized. Still, I could marvel at those all day, but unfortunately Ives's handwriting needed some more deciphering.


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