"When in Paris I asked Picasso what was it that made him paint, how did he get started, and he said at once: 'Henry, don't think about it, just do it!'" --Henry Miller "Art washes away from the soul the debris of everyday life" - Pablo Picasso "When one is an artist, all mediums open up. For no one medium is sufficient to express the wealth of feeling which burdens the sould of an artist" - Henry Miller "I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else." - Pablo Picasso "Art teaches nothing, except the significance of life." - Henry Miller "There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into sun." - Pablo Picasso "The great majority of artists are throwing themselves in with life-preservers around their necks, and more often than not it is the life-preserver which sinks them." - Henry Miller "Good taste is the enemy of creativity." - Pablo Picasso "Paint as you like and die happy." - Henry Miller "Youth has no age" - Pablo Picasso
We went to the UCLA Hammer Museum in Westwood on Friday and what a treat it was. The museum was free because all of the changing exhibitions were being replaced, but that was OK because we came for the permanent collection, and to be more specific, for the two excellent paintings by Gustave Moreau. Sure, they have a couple real nice Van Gogh's, some good Degas, a nice Toulouse-Lautrec, some Bonnard and Bernard, and a beautiful still life by my man James Ensor, but the real attractions are Moreau's masterpieces "King David" and "Salome Dancing Before Herod."
The "King David" (above, not a very good image but all I could find on the web) is about 15 feet tall, and filled with subtle light and kalidiscopic draughtsmanship. The amazing detail of the figures, their clothing, and the throne is contrasted with the almost abstract landscape in the background and the vast white and blue sky. King David, visited by the lord, looks melancholic and yet resigned, a picture of someone who's best work is behind him but who's memories keep him going. The picture is slightly unfinished, like much of Moreau's work. He was independently wealthy and therefore didn't have to sell any of his paintings until he was sure they were done. Consequently his pictures would stay in his studio for years, constantly being re-touched and added to. Here you can see through to some of his original perspective lines in the lower right, so that you can see raw canvas in some places and oil paint a centimeter thick in the dark landscape. For painters, this is a chance to see the stages of a painting, from blank ground to unimaginably complex detail.
Moreau painted the scene of "Salome Dancing before Herod" many times, and this is an excellent and very finished example. It's about 6 feet tall, large enough for the viewer to get lost in. It's one point perspective draws you in, past Salome and the stoic Herod, to the vast palace and the light you can see through the columns. Moreau renders the incense smoke and the jeweled robes of Herod with mind boggling detail that no other artist can compare to. Every surface has a unique texture, and the architectural details are rendered with meticulous attention to the imaginary mosaics and arabesques. In his own time, Moreau was revered as a master with a style so individualized that it was almost beyond style: no one else painted like that. Other's were influenced by his level of detail, and his themes were consistent with the Symbolist movement, but Moreau stood out and created a unique place for himself in 19th century art history. He pushed the envelope in every way and even experimented with pure abstraction in some of his smaller studies. These paintings are hung near a Corot landscape with nymphs in the Hammer gallery, and after contemplating the Moreau pictures it was hard to look at the Corot and not laugh. Same era, but no comparison.
The Hammer collection is small, but the highlights make it worth the trip. Really, the two Moreau's are enough. I stood for twenty minutes looking at them was still discovering new stuff. I only know of one other Moreau in Los Angeles, a small "Salome with the head of John the Baptist" at the Norton Simon museum, so these big pieces are rare treats.
I love LA. Last night we went to the Comedy and Magic Club in Hermosa Beach to celebrate my mom's birthday, and were treated to a great show featuring Jay Leno and suprise guest Arsenio Hall. Jay performs there every Sunday night, and at the end of the set he tries out jokes for that week's Tonight Show, reading them from 3x5 cards and throwing out the ones that don't work. In case you couldn't tell from TV, Jay is funny looking. Arsenio Hall was the funniest though, happy to be able to do his "blue" material away from the TV cameras. We laughed and laughed.
posted by Greg 1:21 PM
I've put up new pictures! They are from New Year's Eve (as described earlier by excellent guest blogger M,) and also the Griffith Observatory on it's second to last day, Saturday the 5th. Plus a couple of Pete and Lisa
posted by Greg 6:22 PM
Hello from me, Molli, the wifey of this excellent blogateer. I wanted to get in some thanks for a wonderful New Year’s Eve dinnah party before we got too far along in this new year of 2002. It was a great feast and an evening to remember… one of my many favorite parts our old friend and special guest, Jason Pontius Pilate and GV rocking out Auld Lang Syne and having us all sing it in Welsh or whatever. “We twa hae sported I’ the burn” somehow seemed appropriate. I don’tcare what the neighbors said; we sounded FANTASTIC!
Big props for Miss Heather for her excellent Chipino and merry-making and what fun we had (in her BRAND NEW CAR) searching every market in the greater LA area for crab. All along it was just waiting for us at the new, pretty Vons on Sunset.
Big kisses for our resident attorney, Kim Thigpen for her magnificent Caeser Salad and New Year’s Day ‘traditional southern’ meal of black-eyed peas, collard greens, grits, and country ham. It will surely bring us all health, wealth and happiness. Also thanks to Kenji Bastard for backing us all up and turning the living room into a cave the next day so we would not be bothered by the sun as we watched “The Godfather”. All of the above I highly recommend for hangovers.
Brother Johnny gave people Tarot readings and Father Tony shared his delectable poems which are a BIG treat because he is genius!.
What about this gorgeous and wonderful couple? Ali supplied the champagne and sorbet….
Speaking of which, I think we finally got Jeanine drunk! Thankfully she made her delicious sausage stuffing before she got to our house….
Ben and Marketa were there, and Erin J showed up with the Chivas! Always a delight to see them.
Kendra and Andy were there too, hmmm, but I think they might have snuck off before midnight. Kendra brought amazing antepasta…
And finally a 'whole lotta love' for my one and only for loving me even when I was thousands and thousands of miles away getting tan on the beaches of Thailand...
BTW last night Os, Ali, GV and I said our farewells to the Griffith Observatory before it goes under the knife for THREE years. We sat in the hundred year old seats and tweaked our necks while tripping out to the Led Zepellin laserium show. Good stuff. Os and I decided it was better and far more entertaining NOT knowing how one guy, the laserist, makes all those crazy lights work. But for those of you who need to know
Thanks to everyone and to all who could not make it we missed you terribly and hope to see your lovely and smiling faces very soon!