Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Impressionism, mon amour.

The centre ‘Quote of the Week’ panel in the 11 April 2008 issue (Volume 4, Number 2) of The Playgroup News tells us what happened in Ms Christa’s class. I quote from her report verbatim (including the number of dots):

Ms. Christa: What was so important about Monet’s paintings?

Class … pondering ……

Anika: Light, light was important to Monet.

Ms. Christa: That’s right. You are on it today, Anika.

I don’t know if Ms Christa listed for Anika’s class the distinguishing characteristics of “Impressionism”. This 19th-century art movement got its name serendipitously from the word coined by Louis Leroy in the course of his satiric comments in a leading art journal on Claude Monet’s Impression, Sunrise (Impression, soleil levant, 1874). Apart from brushstrokes discernible to the naked eye, open composition, everyday subjects, the inclusion of movement as a crucial element of human perception and experience as well as unusual visual angles, perhaps the most important is the emphasis on light in its changing qualities – often accentuating the effects of the passage of time. “He pretended that he did all his work outside and on the spot, when actually he sketched rapidly in paint, then carefully finished his canvases in his studio. He even used photographs on occasion, furtively, and was furious when he was caught in the act in London while adding details to his series of pictures of the Houses of Parliament,” writes Christopher Benfey (‘Still Waters’) Having no safety net in the shape of aristocratic patronage as did Degas, Manet, and Berthe Morisot, he was a cautious crowd pleaser. That doesn’t in any way degrade his work. It was first class all the way. A beacon light, shall we say?

Now, a Degas-Money-Van Gogh joke (‘Stealing the paintings') with Anika’s permission. Actually she ought not to mind living and growing up as she does in the land of the automobile.

Recently a guy in Paris nearly got away with stealing several paintings from the Louvre. However, after planning the crime, getting in and out past security, he was captured only 2 blocks away when his Econoline ran out of gas. When asked how he could mastermind such a crime and then make such an obvious error, he replied: "I had no Monet to buy Degas to make the Van Gogh."

P.S.: Here’s what I wrote to Avantika in the e-mail sending her the pdf of The Playgroup News:

Hi, Avantika. This is most amusing. Please download it and show it to Ashu and tell him we remember him talking like this as a child when he was about Armaan's age and we took him and Abhi to Jacob's house. (Jacob was an Art Director working with me in Clarion-McCann and had a ceramic studio in the same building where Yash has her office. In fact, I used to see her in the neighbouring studio of Dayaram Chawda one of whose pictures she has hung in her drawing room.)