Two adventurous friends and I made the trek on Sunday morning to see the John Singer Sargent watercolors exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum. You can get to Montana quicker than you can get to Brooklyn from Manhattan, unless of course you take the subway which we didn’t. However you get there, it’s worth it.
Going with ceramicist Clare Potter, an extraordinary artist in her own right (see here) and ridiculously talented designer Richard Keith Langham (here), made the experience all the more rich. And fun. It occurs to me that when you’re about to see or do something that you know is going to blow your skirt slam up over your head, you don’t want to go with someone who’s going to tie rocks to your hem.
Keith did allow rather emphatically that the exhibit’s wall color of dull pumpkin did not work to optimal visual advantage. That is not exactly how he put it, but I had to agree, and I will leave it at that.
Otherwise, there is so much to say about Sargent and this show, and better people than I to say it. Do read the excellent New York Times piece by Judith Dobrzynski and also Ken Johnson’s review here. The whole story about the paintings themselves, how they were first shown and then sold, what Sargent thought about them–it’s all interesting.
In his 40s Sargent was already a rock star as a society portraitist and a painter, despite the fact that the French snubbed him. Or perhaps because the French snubbed him. The English (and some Americans) would support that just on principle. Just sayin’. Anyway Sargent’s turning to watercolors was his version of a mid-life crisis. Thank goodness for us they did not make Corvettes then.
Talk about finding “beauty in everyday living” (this blog’s raison d’être), here is a man who turns gourds, laundry, and guys sitting on the sidewalk into something transcendent.
This is what great artists do. They grab us by the collar and say look at this. Look. And we see something we may not have seen before, and there is something divine in that.
I’ll be quiet now, except to say it runs through July 28 and will open again in Boston in October.
Oh, one more thing. I was so exhilarated by the beauty and virtuosity of this work – 93 of Sargent’s best watercolors from 1902-12 shown together for the first time – that it just about knocked me out. I had to lie down when I got home, and revel in it.
There are scenes of Venice, the Italian countryside, and the Alps.
This (below) is supposedly the one he did the fastest. It’s one of my favorites. Apologies for my less than museum-quality photography and the reflections in some of the images.
Look at the pink bow on this bonnet. I know I said I’d be quiet but I can’t help myself.
And on to the Middle East.
The famous Bedouins.
So we’ll end with portraits, which are even more his thing than everything else that is his thing, which is everything.
Do I sound delirious?
I have to lie down again.
Two days to go to win a rocking chair…
Just a reminder you have until Wednesday, May 1, at midnight EDT, to enter to Win a Rocking Chair by clicking here and leaving a comment. It’s a beautiful wicker piece by Lloyd-Flanders. Details here.