Mary Ann Caws recounts the story of how she fulfilled her dream of owning a Vuillard, having to part with another cherished painting, Robert Vonnoh, to do so.
The Vuillard painting that caught her eye "was of a woman, turned slightly away — leaning over a table? A piano? (Was it Misia?) And toward the right, as if the entire painting were suggesting more than it could ever say, as if she were leaning toward something else not in view. Suggest, not spell it out, Mallarmé always said: 'Peindre non la chose, mais l’effet qu’elle produit.' Just so, I felt that lean, not knowing toward what or whom it might have been directed. I felt myself leaning toward that lean…Of course, I completely share Julius Meier-Graffe’s view about the mysteriousness of Vuillard: 'there is always something in the background with [Vuillard]. It is possible to have one of his interiors in the house for a month, and one fine day to discover a figure in the corner, and not only a figure, but a whole story.' I had not the entire story, of course, and only a half of the figuration, as I was subsequently to learn, but that half spoke to me far more than the whole would have."
Schjeldahl writes: "Yuskavage’s analysis of Vuillard's art, and of her own, amounted to a clinic in painting for painting’s sake.... Painters naturally assume the importance of their subjects, she said. Meaning emerges by way of stroke-by-stroke discovery and invention: 'making painting happen. The assumption plays out.' For herself, she said, her signature flagrant female is 'a personification of painting itself.' That leaves out a lot of blatant, gamy sexual and psychological content - or leaves it, rather, to viewers, to interpret, or not. Her shock-and-awe imagery is surely willful; but it is grounding for the blooms of her deepest passion - to paint - in ever-surprising, delicate nuances. You end up not sure what you’re looking at, but only that it is canny and beautiful."
Balzer writes that in the exhibition "one sees not only a fabulously talented painter at work, but also rich context, and multiple stories being told. One of these stories is of the prestigious Jewish patronage cycle in late-19th-century France... Another story is, both specifically and allegorically, of a painter's intimate relationship with his patrons... Yet another narrative is of an artist''s odd psychosexual attachments to three women, including his mother, who became muses always slightly beyond his reach. And were all of these stories unknown to viewers, there would still be the high literariness of the paintings themselves: scenarios examining the nature of time and memory, and the consciousness' reflection in the built and natural environments, with resounding echoes of writers of the era such as Marcel Proust (an acquaintance of Vuillard's), Henry James and Virginia Woolf."
Naves writes: "Vuillard wasn't inspired by hearth and home so much as haunted by them. In the best paintings, familial complexity is distilled into images of daunting psychological nuance. (Not for nothing is Proust's name bandied about when speaking of Vuillard's art.) A blunt emphasis on pattern and architecture reinforces a signature strain of emotional pressurization."
Nathan writes: "while the two mediums have their parallels -- Bonnard's nude photos of his model and future wife Marthe are clearly echoed in many of his painted compositions, for instance -- the show suggests that the influence of photography on these artists’ painting was “diffuse and multifaceted” rather than obvious and direct."
The curatorial statement notes that "none of the artists thought of themselves as photographers. These were private objects, often made for the same reason people use cameras to this day: to commemorate events or capture precious moments with friends or loved ones. The artists sometimes translated their photographic images directly into their work in other media, and when viewed alongside these paintings, prints, and drawings, the snapshots reveal fascinating parallels in foreshortening, cropping, lighting, silhouettes, and vantage point."
At the end of the podcast Green also interviews painter Anne Appleby, whose work is on view at Danese Gallery, New York through March 10, 2012.
Painter Philip Koch blogs his thoughts on Vuillard's paintings of interiors: "Landscape painting might at first glance seem unrelated to Vuillard's interiors, but actually they're close cousins. Vuillard created what might be called "interior jungles" ... Anyone who's looked at the overwhelming complexity of a forest interior like those painted by a Barbizon School artist or an American like Worthington Witteredge has sensed this affinity."
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.