An Art Philistine Wonders


My wife used to called me a food Philistine because of my very narrow pallet.  She has since educated me quite well on the merits of expanding my pallet and that has worked out quite well.  But I still consider myself a Philistine in one respect, art.  Most art I just do not get.  Things they call art which looks like paint splatters leaves me at a loss.  I get, although do not particular care for, the art works of Chagall and Picasso.  The art piece above, however, is the form I most love.  That piece was done by Childe Hassam and is called Boston Common at Twilight.  I am very familiar with the scene having walked it thousands of times albeit 125 years later.  But it also speaks to me.  It tells me the story of a Boston long past.  I speaks of childhood and motherhood, of a cold winter’s eve, and of more peaceful times.  But this case, for me, is an exception rather than the rule.


The picture above is by Renoir.  It is an 1875 piece called “Woman in a Garden With a Parasol.”  I believe, although I lack the proof, that Renoir had some akin to an obsession over the female form.

renoir 2

He was no stranger to the nude, as shown above.  Curiously, I would call his subject as being rather “Reubenesque.”  But I cannot help wonder what Renoir was thinking when he painted these and all the other paintings he did.  I think, as with the first painting, that each is a story unto itself but a story untold by the painting itself.  I understand that artists like us to make of their painting what we will, but I find it more interesting to know what was on their mind at the time.


The painting above is one of Monet’s many water lilies paintings.  Having visited the Museum of Fine Art in Boston, I have be privilege to see many of his water lilies paintings and have marveled at the subtle differences between them.  It seems to me that Monet too had a bit of an obsession going as well.  But was he trying to perfect his water lilies setting or just obsessed with the changing character of the pond upon which they sat?  I have not a clue but would love to know.


The painting above is by Manet, not to be confused with Monet although I seem to confuse them with great regularity.  How could two men, a single letter removed in family name, become such giants in the art world.  Manet was Monet’s elder by a mere 8 years and both lived in France their whole lives.  It is difficult to believe they did not know each other and exchange ideas.  Manet seems to have shared Monet’s obsession with the female form but he does not seem to have the same proclivity towards landscapes.  Still, what was his motivation with his subjects and what was he thinking?


Norman Rockwell’s art work graced the covers of the magazine The Saturday Evening Post for the greater part of the 20th Century.  His artwork spoke to us on a level we could usually understand.  The above piece is of F. Scott Fitzgerald and is one of his earlier pieces.  I am sure he has his detractors who claim he was just an illustrator and not a true artist.


The piece above, “Saying Grace,” last sold at auction for $46 million.  Hard to believe an illustration would sell for such a price.  His is a special sort of art many pieces of which are displayed in the Normal Rockwell Art Museum in Stockbridge MA.  When you visit this museum and view the many pieces there, you are taken aback by the man’s absolute genius in capturing “everyday” scenes.  Because Rockwell was so accessible,  we are not left to wonder what was on his mind.  He told us exactly what he was thinking although his pictures speak volumes all by themselves.






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