The Beauty of Life

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As Monet’s Woman with a Parasol, (facing right) comes into view, I see a moment in time. I see a moment of glowing harmony. I see a moment of exhilarating motion. I see life.

The atmosphere of the painting is one composed of tranquility. There is a calming swirl of energy in the artwork, as the fluffy clouds in the blue sky shimmer in the invisible breeze, serenely encircling the woman with a parasol in the center. The long, continuous brushstrokes merge the ethereal, sparkling clouds together—the light (seemingly transparent), whitened hues twirling in a dance with the hues of peach.

The atmosphere of the painting is one composed of movement. The woman with a parasol stands on a sprouting ground of multicolored animation. The grasses and blossoms of the land effloresce in the same invisible breeze. With rapid, shortened brushstrokes moving in different directions, with the colors of orange, green, pink, purple, and more mixing together in a conglomeration of flourishing vivacity, there is such breathtaking motion to the terrain.

The atmosphere of the painting is one composed of life. The forces of tranquility and movement unite in a relationship that breathes, that radiates, that lives—the clouds of the azure and the blossoms of the land blend together, erasing any lined boundary between sky and earth.

The woman with a parasol stands in this moment, in the dazzling rays of the sun. As her lightweight scarf flows amongst the clouds, as her dress mingles with the colors of nature’s terrain, she becomes one with this living atmosphere. And with a blurred, unidentifiable face, it is as if you, the viewer, are invited to become this woman with a parasol. You are invited to identify as her. You are invited to enter and experience the beauty of life.

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A Love that is Intertwined

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A pair of long-lost lovers individually enter a room. No distractions of the outside world are present. No problems or anxieties are near. There is no one else but them. They walk up to one another slowly until they are face to face. As their eyes meet, a breathtaking sense of warmth and remembrance courses through them. Love is awakened once more. A hand tenderly grasps a waist. A hand tenderly grasps a shoulder. And a pair of hands unite. 

Woodwinds, horns, and stringed instruments begin to sound. The waltz of the lovers commences. They glide, they twirl, they are connected with a poignant touch. 

Camille Claudel’s sculpture, “The Waltz,” inspires me to imagine the story behind the two carved figures and their dance with one another. There is such beauty in the admirable artwork, as it conveys an eternal embracement of form and spirit . The smoothly sculpted arms embrace. The hands grasp onto one another in loving harmony. The heads lightly rest in the crevice of the other’s neck…

And a gown lightly blows in the motion of the waltz, slowly disintegrating, as the curving forms of movement merge as one.

As the waltz comes to an end, the lovers gaze into the eyes of the other once more and smile.

Image Credits: Musée Rodin

Another Time, Another World

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When I look at Edward Steichen’s photograph, entitled “The Pond–Moonrise,” I am looking at nature in all its glory, in all its magical splendor. The wooded scene is aglow with a sparkling enchantment, as the parts of nature gather together in harmony and joy. Through this photographic rendering, nature’s ability to make you dream, imagine, and wonder is beautifully apparent.

It is as if you are alone in this forested realm, with no human presence near, with no signs of human life or interference–there is a purity to the scene, a shimmering tranquility. It is as if you are present in another time, another world, another dimension, in a painting or in a mythological work; all revealing the exquisiteness of nature.

The shining moon in a colored sky blossoms over the scene, exuding a bright radiance which brings light to the environment’s spirit of growth. The hazily defined pond of elongated reflection declares that what grows above in such magnificence, grows below just the same–the trees, the life of land above…the plants, the life of water below.

The fascinating photograph reveals that life is everywhere and that it is full of such enchanting beauty.

Image Credits: Metropolitan Museum of Art 

Into the Depths of Modernity

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As my favorite painting, Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe (Luncheon on the Grass) has appeared on my blog on multiple occasions. There is just so much to say about this daring artwork by Manet. When I look at this memorable creation, I can’t help but admire its breathtaking evocation of modernity, its mesmerizing rendering of the truths of the contemporary mid-19th C. city. Echoing the writings of Baudelaire, the French poet and art critic, Manet paints a work that delves into the concept of beauty being of the present. Manet renders the world and the people of his day.

This becomes evident when one gazes at the figure of Victorine Meurent. Victorine Meurent, an artist’s model and an artist in her own right, is painted in the nude, surrounded by men fully clothed. Rather than be covered up, her blue hued garments are cast off to the side, as her naked light skin glistens in the glow of an invisible light source. Rather than be portrayed uncomfortable, her posture indicates a sense of freedom and relaxation, with her elbow leaning against her knee and her hand cupping her chin in thought. Rather than be timid and fearful, she is bold and not ashamed. She is shown as a modern woman of the city, someone who does not abide by the gender norms of the past.

Manet does not depict a scene that conforms to academic traditionality, but chooses to depict a scene of authenticity, of everyday 19th C. life.

With a thick usage of paint, the dark, powerful eyes of Meurent look at you, the viewer, directly. Heightened by a slight upturn of the lips, her countenance evokes this sense of confidence and knowledge about the world and the people who reside within in it. Her gaze is a gaze of art’s future, of modernity, of a rejection of the conservative, of the truth. She does not look down. She looks up.