Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Full Day

Yesterday included an hour-long bike ride along the Hudson River; another hour of walking from the Upper West Side of Manhattan to Chelsea; visits to two art galleries in Chelsea; viewing a short, documentary-type play at 59 E 59 street about the perils of immigrating from Guatemala to LA; taking in the exhibit at the New York Public Library on the history of mapping New York's coastline; eating a delightful outdoor meal in Bryant Park, behind the Library; and enjoying a live Retro production of an old Tracy and Hepburn movie called "The Desk Set." Each part of this day was terrific fun on a day where the sun shone brightly and the temperature never exceeded 70. I am choosing to focus on just one small part of it - one of the Chelsea art galleries.

The Gagosian Art Galleries are among the largest and most prosperous galleries in New York. Their exhibit spaces are enormous and the works they display tend to be very distinguished. Yesterday we enjoyed the privilege of seeing some late works of Monet at one of these galleries, from 1907-1926, that focused on one subject matter - the lily pond in his backyard. These are large, overwhelmingly beautiful works that show Monet's genius as a colorist, his ongoing experiments with how the time of day and season affect the play of light, and his inexorable yet very logical movement toward nearly complete abstraction. His Japanese bridge pictures that were completed between 1918-1924 particularly show this progression. At their most abstract, they are only faintly representational and reminded me of some of the works of the abstract expressionists of the 1940s. Really amazing. I think we all have painters we are especially drawn to. For me, one of these painters is, in fact, Claude Monet.

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