Sunday, January 06, 2008

Dennis Miller Bunker

I was looking for something else
in the American Wing at the Art Institute yesterday,

when it was this gentle French townscape
by the young
Dennis Miller Bunker (1861-1890)
that caught my eye

with that magical quality
that conflates reality with illusion.


I felt like I was in that field,
one cloudy morning in Brittany.

My shoes were wet with dew
and I could smell the country air

maybe it's that feeling
of slow movement at the edge of stillness.

and the thrill of
just being alive

Here's a portrait of the artist himself,
as painted by his talented new friend,
John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) in 1888.

So Bunker would have been 27,
and Sargent would have been 32.

What fine young painters they both were !

And how tragic
that Bunker would die
2 years later from heart failure.

(Note: this painting is on loan to the Art Institute
from the Daniel Terra Museum Collection
which played a role
in the revival of interest in American Impressionism
before Terra's widow
rather shamefully
destroyed the museum her husband had built
in her bid to take the collection with her
to Washington D.C.)


Anonymous Kay said...

It's the mark of a good painting that it sucks you into being there, absorbed by the ambiance, frozen in a moment of desirable time. All the senses are on the alert, the warm wet grass brushing against your legs, the roofs tops shimmering from the sudden summer rain that has moved on to rinse down the neighbouring community, the earth releasing its dark, rich scent into your nostrils, triggering all your back-to-the-land yearnings.The wind rustles the tall grasses with a faint swishing sound that seems to be the only sound on earth, so quiet everything else is.
It's time for a baguette, fresh out of the boulanger's oven, dipped in a large white bowl of cafe au lait.
Good morning!

January 07, 2008  
Blogger chris miller said...

Yes !

(and I wish I could have written that)

Apparently -- though born and raised in the vicinity of New York City -- Bunker expressed the feeling of being "homesick" when he returned to America after a few years in France.

January 07, 2008  
Blogger Lori Witzel said...

What an eye he had for mass and volume! And what delicacy -- that little tiny bit of blue and red near the figure.


January 13, 2008  
Blogger Gawain said...

it's the fois gras, mon ami, does it every time. good painting, nice painter. i like him more than Sargent. :)

January 14, 2008  
Anonymous marly said...

Ah, now, that is lambent and lovely and has that sense of things that last: some precious bit of life stirring within.

January 19, 2008  
Blogger chris miller said...

Lambent ? What a wonderful word for a painting !(and I confess I had to look it up)

January 19, 2008  

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