Dave and I were in Cleveland for a wedding this past weekend. It was pretty stormy so rather than take a walk, we went to the Cleveland Museum of Art. I had heard about the art collection there, but living in Washington DC with all of its fine art collections, I was skeptical that it would be much of anything. Talk about my stupid East Coast attitude! Well, the Museum is a stunner, and there were a few pieces that were etched in my mind. I could not take my eyes off them. In addition, the curator's notes were the very best that I have ever seen. I learned a lot more than the typical description of who the artist was and what the media was. I learned about the context written in a style that I found was very accessible.
Before we knew it, we had been there three hours and had to rush back to the wedding. Here are the three pieces that took my breathe away. I could have easily added another dozen favorites that would include one of Monet's Lily Ponds, Juan Gris, some fabulous pieces from Matisse that I have never seen before, and a wonderful torso by Brancusi. I have included the curatorial notes so you can enjoy.
The Houses of Parliament from Westminster Bridge by Andre Derain.
This painting is one of several views Derain painted of London between 1905 and 1906. Among Derain’s finest works, these paintings are classic statements of mature Fauvism, a style of intense, arbitrary color and violent brushwork, first developed around 1904 by Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck, and Henri Matisse. The Fauves (wild beasts) aimed for the complete liberation of color from natural appearances, using it instead for purely compositional and expressive purposes.
Jacques Lipchitz's Detachable Dancer:
Lipchitz began making Cubist sculptures in 1915, the year he produced this rare assemblage of oak and ebony blocks. The interlocking blocks suggest abstract patterns of light and shadow, while multiple views of a single figure appear at the top. One face is delicately carved into a block near the raised arm, while two ebony blocks on the adjacent side suggest an abstract face with the elongated features of an African mask.
Fan, Salt Box, Melon
One of Picasso’s earliest Cubist paintings, this still life depicts a group of objects on a table. A lady’s green fan is opened and propped against the wall, where it dissolves into faceted, geometric planes. A wooden salt box, a sliced melon in a crystal bowl, and a rumpled cloth also rest on the table. While some objects are depicted from a frontal view, the table is tilted upright, as if seen from the ceiling.