The touring exhibition of art works from Ukraine 1900-1930s is on show in Brussels at the Royal Museums of fine art Brussels in November December 2023. Before Ukraine became swallowed up in the Sowjetunion there was a very active independent artist world that had close links to all capitals in Western Europe. All art disciplines were covered. The paintings of Vadym Meller from 1919 (Aquarell on carton) show designs for a dance performance to the music of Chopin. The modern designs and vivid colors reflect the conscious reference to art movements across Europe. The inspiration from dance to painting is a recurrent theme in impressionistic paintings, abstract paintings and into our own time period. Ukrainian art from early on in the 20th century had a broad scope beyond the narrow focus on art controlled by the soviets. Well worth enlarging our vision to take into account these creative masterpieces from Eastern Europe as independent voices.
Kunstschaffende brauchen Jahre, oft auch Jahrzehnte, um ihren eigenen Stil zu finden. Das ist durchaus ein schwieriges Unterfangen. Frühes Ausprobieren verschiedener Kunstrichtungen ist dabei so etwas wie ein Experimentieren mit unterschiedlichen Werkzeugen. Da hilft es enorm, wenn schon einmal ein reichlich bestückter Werkzeugkasten im Elternhaus vorhanden ist. Das war in der Künstlerfamilie der Giacomettis der Fall. Der kleine Alberto hat mit Vater Giovannis Tinten, Federn, Ölfarben und Pinseln früh angefangen, sich auszuprobieren. Eltern, der kleine Bruder, Landschaften, Posen vieler Verwandten und Bekannten sowie jegliche Gegenstände wurden zu Objekten des Skizzierens für den Jugendlichen. Schule war nicht wirklich interessant, selbst die École des beaux arts in Paris erweiterte zwar sein Repertoire an Techniken und Sichtweisen, aber auf dem Weg der Selbstfindung scheint es nur eine Passage gewesen zu sein. Auf dem Weg der Abstraktion hat Paris allerdings die Kreativität stimuliert. Seine Skulpturen von Köpfen der Familie haben sich verallgemeinert, hin zum Universellen. Weit über seine Heimat hinaus sagen die Skulpturen des späteren Albertos uns etwas über Menschheit und Menschheitsgeschichte. Den Weg zu verstehen, den der „L‘homme qui marche“ bis zu seiner Verwirklichung beschritten hat, ist in der Ausstellung im Bündner Kunsthaus nachvollziehbar. Vielleicht mehr ein Lehrstück in Pädagogik und Kunstpädagogik, als in grandiosen Werken der Giacomettis. Welch ein Glück, dass sich Alberto von den Stilrichtungen anderer abgesetzt hat und einfach sein eigenes Ding gemacht hat. Beruf und Berufung können nahe beieinander liegen. Das ist die gute pädagogische Message.
Working at the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF.fr), just like visiting, allows you to benefit from the many temporary exhibitions based primarily on their own collections and donations to the BnF. For those who like “dessins, estampes, photographies”, there is a small exhibition as of June 2023 which features on these three techniques in the work of a single artist Edgar Degas from the impressionist movement. Walking through the exhibition or slowly scrolling the press documentation allows you to follow the artistic life course of Edgar Degas. He started with the pencil dessin and evolved to the printing of a single or sequences of “estampes” (up to 20) to impress us beyond black and white with multiples of 50 shades of grey. Degas seems like continuously searching for the uniqueness of the moment to present strong emotions or to summarise interpersonal relationships immersed in a specific spatial setting. Having demonstrated the richness of dessins and estampes as artistic, but a bit laborious technique, he devotes his last few years to a more intensive work taking photographs and proceeding to their development or tirage as printed versions. No matter which technique he applies, he has a special artistic view that allows to capture emotions and immortalise them. The painter’s eye, as well as later on in his artistic career the photographer’s eye, keep scrutinising himself in various forms of “auto-portraits”. Beyond youth, the pervasive obsession with selfies nowadays had its artistic precursor Edgar Degas for example. Whereas most photographers would classify a double exposure as a “raté”, Degas experimented with this almost like a cubist, Picasso-like techniques in photography. Actually, the last few images in the exhibition show the artistic reference Picasso made in his work to images, impressions and techniques that inspired him throughout his artistic work. There are amazing links in and across the history of art or arts. (BnF expo Edgar Degas 2023).
Gustave Caillebotte has done it again. Son of a great beneficiary of war efforts himself. He started with support from his father’s fortune on a painting career. Soon after his father’s death, he joined the group of “alternative artists”, later called the impressionists in France. On the 1.2.2023 the Musée d’Orsay acquired a key painting of Caillebotte for 43 Million € with the help of a donation by LVMH. Where does the hype come from? A catalogue of the exhibition of the painter “Gustave Caillebotte, The painter’s eye” from the National Gallery of Art in Washington from 2015 established Caillebotte again as a key person of the impressionist movement. Rich in diversity of motifs, the painter and supporter of the impressionists (Philantropist) has foreseen the challenge photography could bring to painting. The painter’s eye is well explained by Michael Marrinan (pp.22) in the catalogue. In fact, the spatial depth of the views of the streets of Paris is a precursor to many photographers and movies of several decades later. Caillebotte’s images of Paris depict well the mixed feelings about a daunting city size and the isolation of people captured in their own little inner circles with little communication despite or because of the noisy surroundings. Misty atmospheres allow to focus on impressions. Almost meditative walking in the city is his modern topic. Reflecting on painting as profession versus painting as artist is somehow an impressionist’s sociology of professions. Gustave Caillebotte did not have to paint for money and he was aware of social class differences as son of a factory owner. It did not spoil his artistic view with social facts, but rather tried to reveal the intrinsic beauty not only of landscapes, but ordinary working people. Other impressionists painted beautiful ballerinas, Caillebotte painted workers and sometimes more challenging parts of Paris in his early years. With climate change near Caillebotte’s home in full swing, we shall “adore” the rainy days in Paris even more. And in the countryside, too. The painter’s eye reveals a visionary view of the modern and post-modern world.