Saturday, April 21, 2012

Artist Date

One of the important pieces of advice that I gleaned from Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way is the importance of making artist dates with myself.  And yesterday I did just that.

My husband gives me a membership every year to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Over the past few years I've taken advantage of that to spend some time immersing myself in various collections.  Sometimes I have company, but more often I go by myself, so that I can wander without worrying that someone is waiting for me or has something else they want to do.

A few months ago I read Claire and Mr. Tiffany, a novel based on some historical facts.  Louis Comfort Tiffany's was the only art glass house that used women for more than secretarial services in that era - he gave them positions in design, cutting, and assembling, something that wasn't always appreciated by the men who worked for him.  The book's descriptions of the processes were so intriguing that I promised myself I'd go look at some examples the next time I could get to the museum.  What a treat that was.  Before, I would have just breezed by thinking,  "Oh, isn't that pretty?" - but I wouldn't have stopped to examine how they were able to achieve the look.  The purposeful distortion of glass fragments for petals and textures, the building of layers to achieve depth and color took such forethought.

The other thing I wanted to look at was the Steins' collections which have been brought together from the various museums around the world.  In the early 20th century Gertrude Stein, her brothers Leo and Michael, and her sister in law, Sarah, hosted salons in Paris and used whatever discretionary monies they had to buy art from new artists.  As their pieces grew in value, their needs and tastes changed, they bought, sold, traded until they probably had the largest private collections that were available for viewing anywhere.  The curation of this show is phenomenal - how the Met tracked down the amount of work that they did and managed to get museums to loan them these paintings is probaby a story in itself.  Matisse and Picasso were represented the most frequently, but there were many pieces by Mary Cassatt, Juan Gris, Renoir, Toulouse leTrec, and  others.

I came home feeling emotionally energized - as though I'd been away on an exotic vacation.