I was sharing an article from the NYTimes by Holland Cotter with my sister Peggy during a summer visit. The article, A Lifetime of Looking, Magically Recovered” (8/5/2014) details his desire to create a museum collection based on his memories of “the traces of art encounters from over the years.” The line that caught my attention was,
The only art I’m truly an expert on is art I’ve experienced firsthand.
So, I posed the question to Peggy. What art have that you experienced firsthand would go into your own memory museum collection?
We talked paintings:
She-“Guernica by Picasso.”
“There’s an Ingres painting of a woman in a blue dress that is stunning,” she admitted as if apologizing to her favorite, Van Gogh. “I have always been a Van Gogh person. I’m all about those brush strokes…The Starry Night at MOMA.”
The brush strokes are what makes the difference between seeing the painting The Starry Night reproduced digitally and seeing the painting firsthand. For example, Google Art offers an opportunity to view the details of The Starry Night for those who do not have the opportunity to see the painting live.
The firsthand experience, however, is very different. The size of the painting on the wall of the Museum of Modern Art (29″ x 36 1/4″) belies the mesmerizing power created by the furrows of oil paint on canvas. Here is Van Gogh’s hand at work, intimate and fierce.
As always happens during our conversations, we were interrupted before I could share the Anne Sexton poem “The Starry Night”, an ekphrasis on this Van Gogh painting:
An ekphrasis is “a literary description of or commentary on a visual work of art” (Merriam-Webster).
The Starry Night
That does not keep me from having a terrible need of—shall I say the word—religion. Then I go out at night to paint the stars.Vincent Van Gogh in a letter to his brotherThe town does not existexcept where one black-haired tree slipsup like a drowned woman into the hot sky.The town is silent. The night boils with eleven stars.Oh starry starry night! This is howI want to die. (continued)
Starry, starry nightPaint your palette blue and grayLook out on a summer’s day
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul (continued)
“It’s part of an art and creative writing lesson plan for the patients at Mississippi State Hospital at Whitfield. Compiled by artist Anthony DiFatta, who also suffers from mental illness and teaches art to other adults with mental illness.”
This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by the oh!-so-supportive Mary Lee at A Year of Reading. Be sure to visit her blog and leave a comment…she always has something wonderful to say!