Friday, July 14, 2017

Alphonse Muncha and a little Paul Cezanne

I've just returned from a three week vacation traveling around the united kingdom (England & Scotland), and a week in Switzerland. This blog posting features a couple of art exhibitions I visited while on my travels.

 Photos of England & Scotland travels

While in the North of England, I spent a day in Liverpool and visited for the my first time the Walker Art museum. The highlight for me was a room of post war British artists (Freud, Hockney, Glasgow boys, Gilman & others). This period (around 1940s-late 1960s), I feel produced some really exciting growth and exploration within British art. It's a period that holds many of my favorite British artists who produced some wonderful art.


 The gallery also had a nice Vuillard, that was tantalizingly hung under a blind. It was quite exciting to pull the blind cords and slowly reveal the painting underneath.

The museum had a nice exhibition on Alphonse Mucha. I took this phone photo before I realized they discouraged photography, so there's few photos of the actual exhibition.

 Muchas design/composition was always so powerful. His influence and style of treatment, is often imitated today, in illustration, graphic arts & other mediums. I was glad to see a major exhibition of his work, since I have long felt his importance is underrated within art history.  But he was without doubt a powerful draftsman, with a singular style and voice. Surely no one can think of the 'art nouveau' movement without picturing his work?

 The man himself



 Near the end of the exhibition there we're a number of photos from his studio. Here's Gauguin playing the piano without any trousers?

*     *     *
 
On my travels I saw a number of Churches and Cathedrals. Always great and impressive buildings.

 I really enjoyed the stained glass windows in St. Nicolaus, Freiburg, Switzerland.

*     *     *
 Photos from our Swiss travels.

 The Foundation Pierre Gianadda in Martigny, is a surprise. It's a strange building & exhibition space, but they pull together some impressive shows. The museum also has a nice sculpture garden, vintage cars and some roman artifacts.

The Cezanne show was impressive in terms of size. I don't think I've ever seen so many Cezanne's in one place.
.

 The museum also has an impressive collection of vintage cars, there must have been at least 30!




 This was my favorite still life painting in the exhibition. 

How I feel about Cezannes paintings is an enigma to me. He's not an artist who I greatly enjoy or admire. I don't dislike his works, but in many cases they don't overly move me. However I do see great synergy between his work and my own. I think there's great commonality between how we both choose to approach still life paintings. We follow similar rules or conventions for the placement of subjects within the painting.  Many has been the time, when I have been struck by this common approach, and the overlap between our works is often visible.

 Additionally to this, I enjoy the tonal relationships he employs. Many of his paintings have near perfect harmony and value shifts within them. To my mind it's the consistency of his brush work and tonal choices, that makes his work so recognizable. Just look at the colors and tones within this Still life painting above, and appreciate his masterful execution. For me his strongest work, is within still lifes such as this.

 It is his perfectly chosen tones that I appreciate; they contrasts so dramatically the color based drama I invoke within my work. For me today, the pull to Cezannes work isn't there, but part of me wonders if one day I may find myself feeling differently. Perhaps many years from now, I'll catch myself studying his art,  his treatments, and tonal choices?