Saturday was the opening for The Whipping Man, so I spent most of the day in Fort Worth.
The Impressionist show at the Kimbell Art Museum was, um, impressive.
Its great strength was in Renoir's work. Some very beautiful paintings. Probably my favorite was his Portrait of Madame Monet. She was reading, her arms and the paperback book she read making an angular frame for her pale face and dark hair, while the blue and cream-floral-embroidered Turkish kaftan she wore seemed to merge with the blue wall and cream-floral-and-bird patterned sofa...
Her pose, with the stiff angularity of the kaftan and her central placement, reminded me of icon paintings, M. Monet as a little blue Madonna; while the similarity of color and pattern between costume and setting simultaneously melted her figure into the background as in Whistler's Symphony in White or Klimt's Adele Bloch portraits. (In the actual painting face, hands, and book appear whiter, hair darker, so that they pop out more than in REVISION they do in e-versions.)
Truth is... I'm not really a big Renoir fan. There's something about his soft-focus and the pastel-like fluffiness of his brushwork that drives me nuts. I think it's just that I can't see the world like that: for me it's crisp edged and defined, not... mushy. Personal taste. Plus I prefer the bolder colors of the Post-Impressionists, really, or the Expressionists, or even the Fauves.
One of the fascinations of this particular show is how the collectors who gathered these paintings for the Clark Art Institute could have such a refined taste that, even in choosing works by other painters of the period, could choose those individual paintings that most closely matched the aesthetics of the Renoirs... and not just any Renoirs either, those from his "middle" period, rather than most of his late work. Very refined sensibilities. But I do agree with Mr. Clark in loving his favorite canvas, Renoir's painting of onions:
Highlights of this show, for me, were Renoir's Sleeping Girl, Berthe Morisot's The Bath, and a gorgeous light-dissolving pointallist landscape by Pisarro titled Saint-Charles, Eagny.
Afterwards, the enchilada dinner on Joe T. Garcia's patio and the opening of The Whipping Man. More on that later...