DC/NYC 1011: Return to the National Gallery

Eugène Boudin (French, 1824-1898) The Beach at Villerville, 1864 (above, detail).

It is always with great pleasure that I get back to DC and catch the latest in the great freebie museums. I got to resee the Chester Dale Collection with a lot less people.

I have read tons of artbooks and have read a lot of reviews, does anyone ever make the connection as to what might have happened had Boudin not befriended a young, aspiring caricaturist by the name of Claude Monet? I love seeing his paintings as much as those of Sisley’s, or Bazille’s for that matter. His smaller scale paintings along the beach, have wonderful beauty especially the skies. This one is no exception. There is so much freedom, it reminds me of the wonderful Constable sketches in the Fitzwilliam at Cambridge.

It is quite an amazing collection and this time, I saw even more than expected. They grouped paintings in two of the rooms to types almost, so you had many landscapes and portraits in one great room and another smaller room with the like of still lifes,

Georges Braque’s Still Life: The Table

maybe never to be seen again, like that. It reminded me of that wonderful year, that there was a Picasso and Matisse show by the Modern in Queens and you saw still lifes you had never seen, side by side.

Gauguin’s Brittany Landscape is like a beautiful tapestry

The amazing work of the great master Monet, Rouen Cathedral long before Warhol.

Modigliani’s Portrait of Madame Amádée painting and detail

Modigliani’s engaging Nude on a Blue Cushion

There is still the Matisse Cutouts which I had shown and recently updated

I was going to leave, and I remember it is the last day for the show Publishing Modernism: The Bauhaus in Print. As Pratt foundation was largely a figment of the Bauhaus, and since so much of design of the late 60s and early 70s were driven by the aesthetic, I would have a certain fondness for the Bauhaus.  In the mid-90s I began to get more engrossed in the politics, which is fascinating. As politics fueled the Bauhaus, as well as design.

But the work was absolutely incredible. And there in the midst of all this wonderful design (no photos, please, something unusual for the National Gallery), is a cover of the book by Theo van Doesburg which I lifted off the internet (see left). It looks just like a Mondrian, considering van Doesburg work, while following some the same formula (except for not the diagonal). Anyway it was wonderful to see the printed work in person. They envisioned some of the things we do easily on the computer, in hand set type. Much looks still fresh enough and modern in concept.

How could it be that a school that lasted, at best, 14 years would have such a profound effect on design? For more see: http://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/bauhausprintinfo.shtm

There was a wonderful retrospective Harry Callahan at 100, I am always interested when they go from one type to another. I loved his line graphic statements he did with telephone wires, etc. No photography in this place though for that show. My shot in NJ (left) is a hommage to his work.

And the Warhol Headlines, which I was not originally going to go into. I did not think another show about Warhol was enough to hold me. Then, I did and was happy, as there is also a show at the Hirshhorn, which I will cover in a later blog. The show covers the earlier work of Warhol, when he was using things like Daily News covers to create artwork. This show was still another, no photo deal. It was a shame, as the Princess Meg “headline” is side by side with a painting/sketch, which shows another dimension of Warhol. We often identify Warhol marginally. This is a shame. Warhol, while somewhat aesthetically not pleasing, is more complex and interesting in parts of work in progress.

The prints in progress, may often be more of interest than the outcome. And sideshows of how Warhol developed imagery can be more satisfying, than the final outcome of the image. Her yet another Marilyn. This, the Green Marilyn, 1962, is displayed right next to the entrance of the Matisse collages. I was very interested in how people approach Warhol, as he is still a cultural wildcard.

There are also the wonderful, again no photo (and this time for a good reason, flash and light) for the beautiful restored tapestries. These are on loan from the Spanish government and you just stand kind of gaga, at the craft of these pieces. Hundreds of years old, it is amazing to see The Invention of Glory: Afonso V and the Pastrana Tapestries.

Among gems in the permanent collection you can also find George Segal’s Wendy with chin on hand, 1982 (top and left). It is rare for Segal to evoke feeling, but this piece is absolutely beautiful, and the first time Segal evokes emotion. Beautiful use of form and space.

There are always Calders if you get tired of two dimensional work. You can walk around in the East Wing and it is just great architecture and light.Over in the West Wing, there was a show of Italian drawings and a great Wyeth watercolor there, which the Fartsworth should have.


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One Response to “DC/NYC 1011: Return to the National Gallery”

  1. mac Says:

    Gosh, there are so many great posts and pictures here!

    Need some time to browse through it all – but great job!

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