Monday, 15 June 2015

The latest books I've read and film I've seen ...

The latest books I have read are both Art related and so is the film I have seen. Though different in their approach to the artists they focused on, Lucian Freud and Marc Chagall, I must admit both books provided me with quite a thorough insight as to a few aspects of their personal lives I hadn't been made aware of before.

Breakfast with Lucian came as a shock to me, because the truth is I ended up realising I had no idea who really was behind those nude realistic and almost rough  paintings I was mysteriously drawn to. Similarly to the biographer I was also fuelled by the impact his paintings had had on me.

"My object in painting pictures is to try to move the senses by giving an intensification of reality, whether this can be achieved depends on how intensely the painter understands and feels for the person or object of his choice".
At one point in the reading of the book I got confused as to the sequence of women and lovers in his life, which were by the hundreds, not to mention the three children he had with different women all in the same year. He must have undoubtedly been a rather interesting character but I honestly don't know what to feel about some of his personality traits and his total absence of "boundaries".

I'd very much agree with what a critic wrote in the Spectator Magazine " Does being an important artist absolve Freud? While his stature as a painter is not, of course, affected by his private affairs, in the end this aspect of his life diminishes him and the myth of himself he took such pains to construct. The enchantment, the wit, the mystery, even the brooding and hawk-like physical beauty lose their allure." 

As far as the second Art book is concerned, Marc Chagall, early works from Russian Collections, it is a slightly different story. I have always felt a kind of artistic fascination for Marc Chagall's faux naïve domestic-like style embedded in Jewish and Slavic folklore, having a few years back gone almost exclusively to Paris to see a major exhibition of his works of Art, but I knew very little about the years he spent in Vitsbek and the early works of Art created in Russia, which according to most Art critics are among his best.

The book was in fact a very well organised catalogue published in conjunction with a landmark exhibition at The Jewish Museum in New York gathering a marvellous group of his works that had never been exhibited in the West. I was able to get into his formative years in Russia and the influence his teacher, the painter Yehuda Pen had in his artistic pursuit.

The film Woman in Gold was also Art oriented once it revolves around the incredible yet succesful attempt carried out by the charismatic Marie Altmann, a Jewish refugee living in the USA with the precious help of a young lawyer, whose origins were also Jewish, to be reunited with a painting by Gustave Klimt which not only depicted her aunt Adèle but which had belonged to her family before having been seized by the Nazis during War World II.

The film, whose main role is brilliantly interpreted by Helen Mirren, often evokes  that  epoch and in particular Mari Altmann's personal experience throughout that period in the form of flashbacks.

Not having been to any exhibition recently has been well balanced by these three recent "experiences".


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