... Andy is off for another bike ride, and I'm on the screened porch, one of everybody's favorite spots, air on three sides lake in front, glassy this morning with no boats yet, a hot day in the offing. Yesterday we went to the North County, up through Pittsfield (where we had our main meal of the day, lunch at Pancho's in Pittsfield, not bad proletarian American Mexican) then, via the hardware store for a lake house project, to the Clark in Wiliamstown which presently has a big Van Gogh and nature exhibit, a lot in the last year of his life, stunning stuff, but I sometimes close myself off from Van Gogh probably because he was my first real artist, read his story as a teen, found it all highly romantic and made me swell with emotion.
All of which is to say I usually pass the paintings in the Metropolitan Museum without looking, but these nature images were wonderful and most I hadn't seen (another aha moment for me at the Clark were the landscapes by Klimt a few years back). Landscape and nature seem right for the Clark because of the incredible fields around them and the hills above-- Berkshire County and Vermont.
So after a nice tour with Williams interns, we hiked up the hill to the annex (I never remember what it's called) which I also expected to be only mildly interested in because it was Whistler's freaking mother, that old chestnut so over used in popular culture and advertising.
But, again, their curators did themselves proud: the painting itself but also the etching (lithograph??) that is on the wall behind Mrs. W., plus a lot of other Whistler prints of the Thames river and small print portraits, and then a room about the history of the painting and its incredible popularity especially in the 1930's and how Whistler insisted it was about harmony and color and Alfred Barr insisted was about blocks of color and a predecessor of abstract art. And then--the advertisements and New Yorker Covers. Just delightful. My favorite-- art but breaks for social background.
And the picture itself, all blocks of grays and whites except for her old pink face.