Mark Stone reflects on the ever-present possibility to see and form anew through the act of painting.
Stone points to the self contained worlds in a late work by Picasso and a pastel by Degas. In the Degas, he writes, "everything feels close, contained. The surfaces are filled with crosshatches and heavy pastels. The beautiful bathers emerge through the lens and then find a thicker reality in Degas’ line, the flesh formed with each stroke of color, the line tracing the reality in front of us. These visions are not mine, and I’m not supposed to fill in the blanks, there are none to choose. I am supposed to look, to see something that’s not me. I am there with Degas, experiencing an entropic moment, understanding that this drawing is both image and being at once, a hybrid of visual existence."
Naves writes "As a study in contrasts, the Met exhibition has its uses. Degas' exercises in self-portraiture are heady and pitiless, their rigor is risky, pointed and sure. Psychological insight wasn’t alien to Degas' vision, but neither was it a driving force. Rembrandt, on the other hand, couldn’t make a mark without embodying a distinctive and inquisitive generosity of spirit."
Gregory Scheckler reviews the exhibition Rembrandt and Degas: Two Young Artists at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, on view through February 5, 2012.
Scheckler writes: "This new show reveals a young Degas at a time of transition between traditions (French Academic versus Dutch Realist), revealing much about how Degas navigated the two." He continues: "The show is worth a visit if for no other reason than to see four small self-portrait paintings that are astonishingly beautiful, precise, reserved in their use of color and radical in their use of light."
Painter Altoon Sultan blogs her thoughts a wide range of portraits seen on her recent trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, beginning with Fayum funerary portraits and ending with Degas' Portrait of the Artist Tissot. Musing on "Netherlandish" portrait painters she writes: "[they] have magic in their art. How they are able to paint with such precision and so much realism every fold of skin and cloth, and still have an essence of living being emerge is a mystery..."
Edited by artist Brett Baker, Painters' Table highlights writing from the painting blogosphere as it is published and serves as a platform for exploring blogs that focus primarily on the subject of painting.