Last week I went to the Seattle Art Museum and saw the current show, Inspiring Impressionism. I almost missed it. I used to work right next to the museum, so I would go four or five times a week, but my schedule is a little bit different now. I’m glad I remembered in time.
This show gathered together the work of the Impressionists and displayed it alongside the works that had directly inspired their art. Everyone knows that artists do not work in a vacuum, but I learned a lot by seeing the side-to-side comparisons. I’d love to see a literary anthology that did the same thing. Writers are also inspired by the masters, although we do not copy directly as some visual artists do. Many of the Impressionists copied works in the Louvre to learn their craft, and when I saw the show in Seattle many art students were copying it. The tradition continues. I love it.
I enjoyed the art, too. Although I cannot say that this was my favorite show, certain works really stood out. El Greco had a stunning portrait of a woman there, and I loved all the paintings of people reading or drawing. The Impressionists wanted to show real life in action. I was also fascinated by a still life done by Francisco de Goya. Most works of this type show vases of flowers, bowls of fruit. I’m just not that excited by them. This one showed a pile of four sea bream on a dark background. These red and orange fish looked a bit like carp, and were stunning in their beauty and simplicity. It was sad to see them piled there, no longer swimming. I spent a lot of time looking at that picture, and was sad that there was no reproduction available.
As I left the museum I also noticed that some new works were on display in other areas. I shall have to return soon. I love that the museum rotates its art—I can always find something new to examine. I’m also very excited about their upcoming show—apparently later this fall the museum is hosting an exhibition of Edward Hopper’s paintings of women. I can hardly wait. I adore Hopper. Next time I’ll even bring my sketch pad. Long live art!
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
185. When was the last time you went to your local art museum? Plan a visit today, and bring along some paper and a few pencils. Isn’t it time you joined the long line of artists copy masterpieces?