Wednesday, October 08, 2014
The CLARK - Williamstown, Massachusetts
A gray morning, our calendars were clear, Michael and I started off to see some art. I am in high spirits and the fall foliage matches my intensity. We can't wait to see the re-opened permanent collection after years of extensive planning and construction. It is incredible! The Clark owns some superior pieces and their new home is a real beauty. Explore it here.
Exhibitions? Yes, we strolled through Make It New: Abstract Painting from the National Gallery of Art, 1950-1975. A nice overview of the period and I was happy to pick out several by women painters from across the huge gallery...Helen Frankenthaler, Joan Mitchell, Yayoi Kusama and Lynda Benglis....maybe more. I did not take notes. I want to go back and actually read and learn. That time period coincides with mine...and one thing I learned was there were few or no women in abstract shows. As you know I have been counting girls and boys in the exhibits I attend for too many decades now. I say things are getting better, slowly, in some galleries. There is still room for improvement when a historical review is put up. Look harder...find those female artists.
We did not spend enough time reading Radical Words; from the Magna Carta to the Constitution. Thumbs up for including: The Emancipation Proclamation, The Declaration of Rights of the Women of the United States as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and others. This is important. Go there first, not last. It is small and immensely enlightening.
The new galleries housing the permanent collection was what we really came to see and we looked through all rooms...a quiet, low light, un-crowded, intimate viewing of some of our favorite works by John Singer Sargent, Edgar Degas, The French Impressionists, George Inness, Winslow Homer.
I discovered a new favorite oil painting, Friends or Foes? Late in his career, Frederic Remington painted some nocturnes of exquisite beauty. I think there were some things that worried him about the 'winning of the west'. This one features a single figure, a Blackfoot scout mounted on a small black horse, in a vast western landscape of snow and stars. Far in the distance shine a few lights from a small settlement? trading post? encampment? saloon? The scout seems to be asking himself the title question.
For me this is a perfect picture, drawn by a master. It pulls the viewer into the blue shades of the night and miles of snow. The simplicity of the work speaks worlds to me...about the Native American perspective...the quiet of a snowy night under the stars...how big and lonely some parts of the west were...the seductive pull of the bright lights...and the vulnerability of the single figure alone in the dark...thick with mystery.
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