What Artists See
I've been enamoured with The Met's Artist Project since it began. If you're friends with me on Facebook, you've probably seen me share a few of the videos. So, when the book came out based on the project, What Artists See When They Look at Art, I snapped it up. The project entails contemporary artists talking about a work of art they connect with for various reasons, and which is at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Pretty simple, pretty deep.
If you've followed me for a while, you probably know that my partner is a visual artist, Robert Lemay. When we go on vacation, and it's been over a couple of years now since we have, we love to go to a city with museums. We've been to New York twice with Chloe, and Rob also visited there in his pre-marriage days a couple of times. After reading this book, I have a huge desire to go back, let me tell you! But also, this book is a consolation for not being able to.
I love this book and this project because it combines a lot of my favourite things – learning about new artists, thinking about how artists see, how we all see, and spending time with a work of art, especially one that isn't necessarily well-known or reproduced to a high degree. It's the kind of book that takes me back to google, to see more work by the contemporary artist who is presenting the work of art with which they connect, and then to look at other paintings by the artist they talk about.
Some of my favourite moments in life have been wandering through a museum with Rob and Chloe and talking about the art, pointing out various things, and sometimes crying in front of a painting. Oh, yes. That's me.
I had just started to day dream about a trip off into the future, who knows when, when the strike in Ontario happened. This was 6 weeks ago, and has affected our daughter, as she goes to school in Oakville. We're on the side of the teachers, for sure, but also, wow, talk about stressful for all of us. She's been in no-school-limbo for the past 6 weeks, and occupied her time well, but really ready to return on Tuesday. What all of this means, in part, is that we only get her home for one week at Christmas, and because we couldn't book her ticket until recently (because of the re-structuring of the term), it's costing an arm and a leg.
Anyway, all that aside, now I can get back to dreaming about going back to The Met.
Instead of quoting from the book, I'm going to simply encourage you to seek it out, check it out from the library, look at the project online etc. Also, I've asked Rob to talk about a painting I know he connects with and which we saw at The Met in 2014. It's by Georges de La Tour and it's called, The Fortune-Teller.
“Some people find the characters are too theatrical, but I like the play of hands, the exchange of glances, the power dynamic between the man surrounded by women, him thinking he's in control when in fact he's being robbed. All of this unfolds in a soft, raking light from the left of the painting. The characters are all dressed in richly coloured clothing. The play of red, pink, cream and tan works with the simplification of the forms. The details are wonderful in the clothing. The faces are really very subtly modelled, very individualistic.
The painting does seem to reference the theatre and literature of the time. De La Tour is provincial in the best sense of the word. He took the lessons of Caravaggio from fifty years earlier and painted his own distinctive paintings in a war torn province, far from major artistic centres.
I've always loved de La Tour, and Caravaggio. Since I've come to paint the figure and the human face only within the last few years, the subtlety and directness of de La Tour has taught me so much.”