Tuesday, August 12, 2014


We are now staying in Malibu at the Malibu Beach RV Park which is very expensive but right across the street from the ocean.  We can see why it is so expensive as everything in Malibu is costly from the gasoline to the groceries and of course eating out is a bit pricey too.  But we had decided early on that this last week was to be our treat and so here we are, and having a good time too.  
We are parked up on a bluff and our neighbors are mostly foreign in rented RVs.  As a matter of fact, almost everywhere we have been on this trip, we have been surrounded by foreign visitors in RVs.    When you are an artist, you are always prepared for the beach.  Notice Allan sitting underneath the plein air umbrellas.  This photo is taken right across the street from where we are staying.  
Because it was a week day, we had the beach to ourselves for a couple of hours but the drawback was there were no dogs allowed on any L.A County Beach.  So we had to drive north about 10 miles to cross the county line into Ventura County to take the dogs on another day.  Elsie especially loves the beach and she dug a huge hole in the sand, heading for China and then got down into the hole and laid on her back with her legs sticking up.  By the time Allan got the camera out and stood up to get her photo, she was out of her hole and ready for a walk.
On Saturday we went to LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) to their special exhibition of EXPRESSIONISM:  VAN GOGH TO KADINSKY.
Restaurant of the Siren at Asnieres, 1887    Vincent Van Gogh
 It was exceptional, and we did not think that any exhibit would top the Norton Simon museum, but we were wrong.  There were 70 paintings and almost as many prints or sketches.  They had been borrowed from museums around the world and also from private collections.  Some of the paintings we were allowed to photograph and others not.  It was held in the Kessler Hall which was huge and arranged by art movements, beginning with Van Gogh, then into the post impressionists such as Gaugin, then into the Fauvists...like Matisse, and so on until we reached cubism.  

The House of Pan-Du, 1890    Paul Gauguin
There were many paintings by German artists, many of whom we had never heard of and the exhibition was arranged to show the effects of post impressionism upon the art of Germany at that time. 
There were many artists who were trying to find an alternative to impressionism with its emphasis on accidental natural impressions of light.
Paul Signac - Color Lithograph of the Chromatic Circle  1888
 Neo Impressionism was a next step which is based on the scientific theory of juxtaposing separate dots or patches of colors to the paintings surface, usually following the new chromatic theory of allowing the viewers eye to mix the colors.   Charles Henry created a chromatic circle in 1888 to explain his theory and Paul Signac did a color lithograph using the chromatic circle as his inspiration.  

Although Van Gogh was dead for 15 years when his paintings were in a show in Germany, his vivacious brushstrokes were instrumental in sending the German artists in search of a new way to express their art.  
Henri Matisse, Studio Interior, 1904
They also found it in Matisse, who was quoted in an essay called "Notes of a Painter", that "What I am after, above all, is expression".  Matisse was considered to be a Fauvist, mainly because his new way of painting was considered "wild" at the time.  Although Impressionism was esteemed because it had liberated art from the Academy, the Fauves wanted to create pictures that reflected their own emotions not just to break up objects in light.  They wanted to free themselves of common conventions of color and form.  They wanted to EXPRESS something, not just depict something.  Hence the word, Expressionism.  

Murvau, Burggrabenstrasse 1, 1908    Wassily Kadinsky
Flat or highly simplified forms and symbolic colors were appealing to the German artists who did not take naturally to the inspirational daubing of light, but were more mathematical in mindset and could use expressionism to arrange flat spaces and forms.  Wassily Kadinsky was one artist who took naturally to the new direction and spent several summers in Murvau village where he underwent the evolution towards abstraction with more flattened forms.
Still Life with Apples, 1894   Paul Cezanne
And, of course, Paul Cezanne was well represented with many paintings in this exhibition as he had begun experimenting with abstraction in the early 1890's.  He was painting still lifes from different angles and experimenting with vision, by setting up curves and countercurves which can be seen in this painting of the green jar with the opening enlarged.  This greatly appealed to the Expressionists and also the Cubists later on. 
Although we have been reading about art for years and knowing the artists we favored, it was a real revelation to see this exhibit which closely examines the transition from Impressionism to Cubism.  As I said earlier, it was exceptional.  Many of the paintings that I would have liked to photograph for you to see here in the blog, had the No Photograph Symbol next to the painting.  But if you are interested in seeing all of the paintings in the exhibit and cannot get to Los Angeles, they have printed a book of the exhibition called Expressionism in Germany and France.   This book has colorplates of all the paintings and prints in the exhibit, plus other smaller color plates which are used as examples of their thesis.  

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