Marvelous

I want to relax after a day of moving out of Our Savior. A presentation will put some space between me and the events of the last 24 hours.

I have opted to attend another presentation, entitled “Becoming Truly Marvelous: Artists’ Later Years” with Minneapolis Institute of Arts Director Kaywin Feldman.

These events seem very well attended.

Kaywin Feldman is the director of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Kaywin Feldman is discussing the impact of aging on artists. Here is a brief excerpt of her discussing the stairs of aging.

She is focusing on six artists. She begins with Michaelangelo. She is discussing The Rondanini Pieta which was completed six days before Michaelangelo’s death. The work is a sculpture of Jesus and the Madonna. She contrasts the work with earlier works and it is clear that the later work is much more disturbing in its imagery. She asks whether the work is a the product of a tortured soul or a product of turbulent times.

The next artist under discussion is Titian. Kaywin speaks with animation about the beauty of Titian’s colorful early works. Titian’s final painting is “Pieta”. The final work is dramatically darker. For Kaywin, the work presents a host of questions. She draws attention to the image of the pelican within the painting, a symbol of sacrifice. Apparently, the pelican would feed its young the blood of its own self-inflicted wounds. There is some speculation that Titian had difficulty painting in his later years. She raises speculation about whether or not Titian was physically capable of painting toward the end of his life.

Frans Hals is the next featured artist. According to Kaywin, Frans Hals gained a reputation as a wild man, by sometimes being confused as with a different Frans Hals in his vicinity. Apparently, Frans Hals was very poor during this time and occasionally applied for aid. There is a rumor was that he lived at the almshouse, but this is apparently not true. The first piece of discussion is the painting entitled The Governor of the Old Men’s Almouse at Haarlem. Kaywin emphasizes Hals attempts to make the viewer a part of the scene. It appears that the attention of the painted subjects is on them. The Lady-Governors of the Old Men’s Almsouse at Haarlem is the next painting for consideration. Kaywin considers the painting a masterpiece. Kaywin observes that in his later years, Hals’ paintings became gradually darker and emphasized status and dignity. Kaywin finds his later work poetic, grand, and startling.

Claude Monet is the next focus. Kaywin places much emphasis on the impact of a cataract on Claude Monet. The first painting is Grainstack. Sun in the Mist. Kaywin proudly notes the piece is at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. She then shifts to his later work, like Water Lilies. The Water Lilies paintings are painted over a fifteen year period, but are undated. The Japanese Bridge, is attributed from 1923-1925 and is a painting of a bridge. According to Kaywin, there is considerable discussion about the impact of cataracts on these paintings. Kaywin utilizes slide pictures (attributed to another source) which simulate the effects of cataracts on the subject Monet painted and it brings home the idea that his paitings could have been a product of his disability. Monet did eventually undergo cataract surgery which was considered quite successful in one of his eyes. According to Kaywin, while many questions about Claude Monet remain about his Water Lilies paintings, they are considered radical and revolutionary.

Kaywin gives a small speech about Marcel Duchamp. According to Kaywin Marcel Duchamp was committed to the belief that art should be about ideas. She shows us slides of Nude Descending a Staircase. The work was considered controversial at the time. Duchamp apparently retired, but continued to work in secret on a piece known as the Etant donnes- 1. The Waterfall 2 The Illuminating Gas. The work depicts his nude girlfriend and is NSFW. Apparently, Duchamp worked on the art for 20 years in secret.

Louisine Bourgeois is the final subject. This artist has the benefit of being alive. Nevertheless, Bourgeios is reaching an advanced age. According to Kaywin, her work is considered psychotraumatic owing to her own painful childhood. The audience is shown a slide of Maman, a sculpture of a 30 foot spider. Although the appearance of Maman is quite disturbing, Kaywin explains that the structure is intended to have positive effects. Kaywin states that Maman was a way for Bourgeois to express admiration for her mothers positive qualities of spinning, weaving, nurturing, and protecting. According to Kaywin, Bourgeois felt that the spider is helpful and protective, like her mother.

As dark as the subject may have seemed, Kaywin is able to end the speech on a bright note about the power of artists to reinvent themselves at all points in their life.

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