Saturday, February 09, 2008

Well Met

Visited the reopened European galleries again today, and this time, Monet's The Path through the Irises caught my attention.

The Path through the Irises, 1914–17
Claude Monet (French, 1840–1926)
Oil on canvas; 78 7/8 x 70 7/8 in. (200.3 x 180 cm)

The painting is big, a size that suggests its importance for Monet. The slight turn in the path, so easily overlooked in real life, composes the painting. Gary Tinterow, in his note on the Met website, suggests that "like those he made of water lilies, his paintings of irises were meant to rise from the particular to the universal. In this work, the most highly finished of the series, the flowers are offered not as botanical specimens but as archetypes." I thought I detected all the seven colors of the rainbow in the painting. Tinterow saw "the unusual harmony of ocher, violet, blue green, and yellow green." A poignant biographical detail he noted was that "although the artist was already experiencing great difficulties with his eyesight, any grower of irises will recognize that he knowingly found the reddish purple tint that hides within every blue iris."

I also visited the Jasper Johns: Gray exhibition the second time, and got more out of it. I did not enjoy the iconic flag of America paintings, but like the paintings inspired by poets like Ted Berrigan, and Frank O' Hara, especially the haunting drawing on paper Diver, inspired by Hart Crane's suicide.

Periscope (Hart Crane), 1963, Oil on canvas; 67 x 48 in. (170.2 x 121.9 cm)

Diver, Jasper Johns


Patricia Markert Aakre said...

How funny that you were at the Met the same day as I was visiting the European 19th century galleries. I went with my friend who was visiting from Vermont in search of the Van Goghs and we were both startled at the painter's use of the colors pink and mint green.

I wonder if we even passed each other but didn't notice each other because we were so dedicated to a different set of paintings. We were too exhausted by the 19th century to dream of going to anything else.

I love your poem on the new year and your blog is an inspiration.

Patty Markert (Aakre)

Jee Leong Koh said...

Hi Patty,
How funny that we should miss each other like that! We should go Met together some time. Thanks for reading the blog.

Jee Leong