I’m such a busy beaver!
I feel badly that I still haven’t posted any pictures from my trip to Toronto last week, so here’s Wendy and the view from her bed .
The anecdotes relating to that visit are so sordid as to be unsuitable for a respectable blog like this. Suffice to say, the weekend was full of booze, food, and transexuals!. ‘Nuff said.
Yesterday I drove down to Ottawa and had brunch with Suki, after which we went to the Gustav Klimt exhibit at the National Gallery. (Viennese painter, 1862-1918.) Unfortunately, there’s a strike on at the Gallery, but we were able to cross the picket line with a clear concience by chatting up one of the strikers and getting the skinny on the issue. Also, after nabbing the tickets inside, stating clearly “we support the strikers and their cause!”
I’ve never been much of a Klimt fan (it seemed like endless pasty-faced red-headed women with their heads tilted), but we had the luxury of attending a lecture by the curator of the show, Colin Bailey. Being well-informed makes all the difference.
In fact, Klimt spent much of his career as a decorative painter, outfitting various Viennese institutions with neo-classical paintings reminiscent of Michaelangelo. He even did some photo-realistic portraiture. His neo-classical and formal work is really quite beautiful, but as Bailey points out, “utterly unoriginal“.
After the 20th century turned, Klimt got a knock on the head (my theory) and turned to modernism. According to Bailey, “His modernity was of a different order–he did not break completely from classicism.”
A few things in particular stand out. First, the exhibit includes an unfinished portrait that was still on the easel when Klimt died in 1918. The face is entirely blue. When I saw this, I realized how Klimt achieves the ghostly and translucent flesh tones of his modernist portraits–he paints the face blue and then builds up color (whites, reds, and flesh tones) over it. The blue shows through in the shadows. Having realized this, it was glaringly obvious when I looked at finished portraits–I can’t believe I didn’t notice it before.
Second, there is a portrait of a nine-year-old girl, Mäda Primavesi, painted a few years before Klimt’s death. In the accompanying notes, I read that Mäda moved to Montreal in the 1940s, and she died just last year (May, 2000). She was the oldest living Klimt model, and there she was, right under my nose!
Afterwards, I high-tailed it back to Montreal, as I had tickets for the final show of the Silophone. (A group of artists have greated a “sonic experience” around the abandoned Grain Elevator #5 on the edge of Old Montreal.)
To make a long story short, we got there about 10:00pm but the show was postponed until tonight, due to the lightening that had rolled over the city earlier in the evening. Frighteningly, I found out this morning that the same lightening had killed a girl outside of town, and had zapped 15 people just up the hill from me in Cote-des-Neiges. Yikes!