Recently I went to visit LACMA, and the GETTY MUSEUM. In my background, art has been played a great role; in Italy the education differs from the American one, indeed we have different type of high school: the one oriented on science, the one on languages, the one on humanistic studies, such as dead languages and literature, and finally the on art. I’ve completed my teenage studies in the last one, where art and architecture had a huge presence.
I always loose myself in museums, and who knows me, is aware of the time it will be passing from the start to the end. During this cultural afternoon walk, three paintings particularly caught my interest. Here the reasons.
The first one is titled Ahimelech Giving the Sword of Goliath to David by the Dutch artist Aert de Gelder (1645 - 1727). I choose this painting looking at the frame composition and lighting. From the exhibition: “The painting's subject comes from the Old Testament […]. The priest Ahimelech gives the sword of Goliath to the young David, who won it in battle. When King Saul learned that this symbol of power had been given to David, he had Ahimelech murdered. The sleeve and headdress of the priest Ahimelech reveal scratches and uneven working of the pigment so it catches the light in vivid contrasting highlights. Aert de Gelder made these scratches with a paint knife or the end of a brush, which he often used to highlight the paint surface. De Gelder was a pupil of Rembrandt, and the influence of Rembrandt's late style is evident in his choice of half-length, life-size figures, muted colors, and expressive brushstrokes.” The painting has an extreme defined light that catches the action of the moment; I perceive the opera as the single frame of a film. The shadows in the background amazingly bring to life the subjects portrayed in the front, and give prospective and depth of field. Moreover, the way bright and dark spot are balance reminds me the accuracy of a cinematographer in his work.
The second painting catching my attention has been Portrait of Jeanne Kèfer by the Belgian painter Fernand Khnopff (1858 - 1921), chosen for the poetry of the subject and the color palette. From the exhibition: “Jeanne Kèfer, daughter of the artist’s friend Gustave kèfer, stands on a porch with her back against a closed door. Khnopff used his academic training to create elegant, modern images suggesting subjective states of mind. The adult-size door frames the girl’s small figure, and the edge of the floor tilts down to the right, evoking a child’s perceptions of a world scaled for grown-ups.” I’ve liked this piece of art because, over the color palette, the subject reminded me a movie that I’ve recently re-watched, Shindler’s list; especially few scenes in the movie that points the lights on kid’s perceptions “of a world scaled for grown-ups”. This painting has a strongly impact at my eyes, without words it wonderfully conveys the right insight. If I’ll ever shoot a story in which a kid is a key character for the evolution of the actions, I will surely use this painting as inspiration.
The third one is The Milliners by the French artist Edgar Degas (1834 - 1917). This painting got me for the emotion it evolved in me. From the exhibition: “Fascinated by the millinery trade, Degas made numerous images of female hat makers and buyers. This strikingly austere late work was continuously rethought and repainted over the course of twenty-five years, what began as an image of shoppers was transformed into a complex, poignant double portrait of workers. The figures are intentionally rendered with varying levels of finish – the woman at left is more fully realized than her shadowy counterpart. Degas’s process here was to continually reduce anecdotal details down to the looming hat stands and vibrant ribbons. The final product is thoroughly modern in sensibility, composition, and technique.” The reasons why I choose this painting are actually unclear to me, I mean that the impressions I got, and the feelings I perceived where purely of stupefaction. There is something coming out from the opera that amazes me. It’s not a realistic painting, but the subject portrayed is blury(ish) – the way the brushes have been used – , and in addition the protagonists of the scene are “hidden” behind fade objects, these elements make me feel spying the moment. The color palette is extremely warm and it invites me more to look at the scene and ‘spy’ the women in their business more than I suppose.