The first exhibit I attended in Chicago was a retrospective of Claude Monet. I wasn’t big on Impressionism at the time, but it sounded good. It was the first time I went on a trip by myself, and the first large exhibit I attended after graduating from college.
The line to go in to the Art Institute of Chicago had to be a half mile long. I don’t think tickets were available in advance back then. But I was there, and this was my main reason to come to Chicago. As I stood in line, a woman walked up to me and asked if I was by myself. I told her yes, and she handed me a free ticket to the exhibit!
And the happiness just kept coming. Of course, I was knocked over with Monet. I had no idea his series of Grainstacks and Rouen Cathedral was so extensive, portraying different light through the day. This was my first exposure to light, and what it can do. Just amazing. It wasn’t the Impressionists’ color palette, it was the gradations, the subtlety, evoking place and time.
From there, I experienced the wonder of light through Cezanne, Vermeer, Goya, and Caravaggio. Though I admired their light very much, and they still give me great joy to see, I did not fall into this glory in my own work. My work is not subtle.
The idea of series and use of studies comes and goes with me. This I saw in another trip to Chicago, for Chicago’s prime possession, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.
The studies that Georges Seurat made, in numbers and sizes could take a lifetime. Importance and planning became a necessary component to making a painting. Much work is done, even before a painting is started, in idea, color, and composition.
If light isn’t a big ingredient in my work, then how does the work of these artists hold value for me?
To see the wonders of art, the possibilities, offering ideas in creating art and suggesting more uses of ideas and expression. To see the world through the eyes of another person, place and time.