Saturday, June 07, 2008

Day at the Museum

Sato Suiseki

The Art Institute is more closed than open
these days,
as the museum is just marking time
until the great re-invention
that will come next Spring
with the opening of the Modern Wing.

But, like clockwork,
there's always something new
in the Buckingham Print Gallery,
this time,
a show of prints that relate to flower arrangement.

I really liked the above design by Sato Suiseki (early 19th C.)
but I fear that his output was small.

And then there's Hokusai,
always crackling with energy
(and what better place for pinwheels
than in a garden)

But the star of the show,
as always,
for me,
is Utamaro.

I can just never get enough of him.
His designs seem to come from someplace
that none of the rest of us
get to visit.

And they really made the rest of the show
look pretty tired.

The display notes
speculated that the artist
had playfully super-imposed a planter
shaped like a ship
upon a screen depicting an ocean.

Ya think?

I don't know why the imagined lives of courtesans
held so much fascination for the Japanese and Chinese
men of that period.

It's almost as if they'd rather imagine their presence
than physically share it.

(me too)

Moving forward a hundred years,
we have Kenzo Okada (1902-1982)
who made it to the big time
when he moved to NYC in 1950
and began making abstract paintings.

Before then,
he had practiced 19th C. styles
of European figure painting,
and done some illustration.

In this interview from 1968, he tells how he got
bored and tired in postwar Japan,
so he came to New York for a change of scene,
and while there,
discovered that he was Japanese.

Unfortunately, I can't find any of his earlier,
figurative work on the internet.

But, yes, this painting from 1955
certainly feels very Japanese.

There seems to be such a love for balance, delicacy, mystery

-- as with ceramicists like this one

It may not be as radiantly beautiful as a really good screen
from earlier centuries,

but it compares well
the American abstract painters
living in NY at that time.

... like Michael Goldberg who gave this interview
about that time and place,

expressing his profound admiration for:

Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964)

"The depth of aestheticism in his paintings is unequaled."

I wouldn't go that far,
but considering the attention he gives to
designing with subtle differences of texture,
yes, he is quite an aesthete,

and it was a nice coincidence that I stumbled onto
this painting today.


Blogger Robert said...

All this stuff by other people is all very well but I am looking forward to some new works by Chris Miller,anything to show in 2007/8?

June 11, 2008  
Anonymous Bill said...

Great post! Thank you, Chris. About 3/5ths of the way through Okada really grabbed the reins and took control of that interview. Maybe he had become "bored and tired" of the way it was going. And of the Goldberg chat, I'm left wondering just how much twenty grand IS in todays dollars.

June 14, 2008  
Blogger Robert said...

'Fortnight at the museum' would be more accurate Chris! I’ll send you two more Ledas soon.

June 20, 2008  
Blogger GEM said...

I'd love to see some Morandis, first hand. There is something so magical about them - their austerity is breathtaking. G and GEM

June 21, 2008  

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