Monday, August 7, 2017

In which I am satisfied and then unsatisfied

After a wonderfully long night of sleep and a rather heavy lunch, I spent quite some time in the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square.  I visited with some old friends, such as Van Gogh's autobiographical Chair, which never fails to speak to me,

Click an image to see a larger version.  

and Monet's stunning The Water-Lily Pond, which is so much more magnificent than my awkward photo can convey.

By the way, the odd angles in many of these photos come from having to fight the crowds for a moment in which I could take the pictures.

I also finally got to see the museum's two Da Vinci pieces, The Virgin of the Rocks 

and the drawing (also known as a "cartoon"), The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne and Saint John the Baptist,

which was incredible, detailed, and moving.

On the way to the Da Vinci's, I was privileged to be able to enjoy two Durer pieces that were on two sides of a board.  This one, A Heavenly Body, is quite possibly about the end of the world, which made me like the irony of the way my face and hands appear in this photo.

Sorry, though for obscuring your view of the painting.

After admiring and studying quite a few lovely pieces by one of my favorites, Botticelli, the museum was nearing closing time and my eyes were nearing the melting point, so I headed outside.  From the entrance balcony at first and from ground level later, I enjoyed a street show.

The performers showed a bunch of dance and gymnastic moves, as well as sculpted bodies, to the admiring crowd.  With good patter and a charming presence, they kept everyone entertained and, I hope, made enough money to make the show worth doing.

Evening took me to The Old Vic for one of the season's hot shows, Girl from the North Country.

Conor McPherson wrote and directed the play, which centered on a boarding house of intriguing characters in Duluth, Minnesota in 1934 and which featured nearly two dozen Bob Dylan songs.

I entered the theatre with high expectations and left it unsatisfied.  The songs were good, of course, and they worked well with the story.  The actors delivered impeccable performances one and all, each inhabiting their role fully.  The story painted a vivid picture of a desperate America dealing with both extreme poverty and racial strife.  Every element I expected from the play was there...except that all it did was show the darkness and suffering, it did not illuminate it or add any new insights or, to its detriment, offer more than the smallest shred of hope.  Mind you, I don't need every piece of art to offer hope, but if a play is to wallow in human darkness, I'd like it to show me that darkness in a new way, or perhaps point a path out of the darkness--even if it never walks that path.  Maybe we need more art that forces us to confront the dire situations of those less privileged; I am inclined to believe we do.  I just wish this play had done more than show all that pain.


old aggie said...

Mark, did you know that there's a fountain pen that's based on Van Gogh's "Chair"? It just came out last month - here's a link:

I am a budding fountain pen geek - a new level alongside my usual geekdom - and it's been interesting to see how the writing process transmogrifies just because of liquid ink and a nib.

Mark said...

I have seen that pen, which is lovely. I own only a few fountain pens, but over a hundred Retro 51 rollerballs. I can't safely take fountain pens on planes, but I do love writing with them.

Andy Finkel said...

The Water-Lily Pond is one of my favorites. Years ago, I was touring with some friends; they had to just leave me there for awhile while they continued, I just didn't want to move on until I'd had enough.

Mark said...

Andy, I completely get that. I have sat for long periods of time in front of many different paintings. When you want to take the time to study a piece, it's always great to get to do so.


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