Today I went to Seattle Art Museum to see the Modernism In the Pacific Northwest. Absolutely go, more thoughts on that soon.
However as a sidebar I nearly swooned when I walked into a separate exhibit room unexpectedly containing a Edouard Vuillard. Here is SAM’s inventory page of Dining Room, Rue De Naples, Paris (1935). I’m have been obsessed with Vuillard (second only to Pierre Bonnard in my brain) as of the painters I return to again and again. You don’t expect to see Vuillard in Seattle. I did a quick swivel of the room but realized there was no Bonnard welcoming me as well. I was content to stand and look at the Vuillard for a bit.
Loping along, I discovered in another part of the museum a Lisa Yuskavage painting that’s also part of the permanent collection, called Big Blonde in the Weeds . I immediately wished that Big Blonde and Dining Room could be paired together, perhaps left alone in that big long hall way that is currently empty and en route to the Jacob Lawrence gallery. Alas, Yuskavage is relegated to the Pop Art Girl exhibit which I think is being explained as Mechanical Bride (no dedicated exhibit page) and Dining Room will stay up there with the rest of the French paintings as they are being touted.
A couple of years ago Yuskavage gave a lecture at the Jewish Museum (during a Vuillard exhibit that I wish I’d seen) about how she has been obsessed with Vuillard forever. Peter Schjeldahl was in attendance and feigned shock and horror that Ms. Yuskavage would be be remotely interested in such stuffy painting. His lead in sentence is actually a work unto it’s self as he describers her as “the notorious painter of preposterously pulchritudinous young women”. She confirms, “I’ve spent hundreds of hours looking at Vuillard”.
Odd Twins: Lisa Yuskavage and Edouard Vuillard by Peter Schjeldahl (The New Yorker, 6.4.12)
Here is the video of Lisa’s lecture/interview on the topic.
Probably best for those OCD fans of hers but I always find it compelling to see artists talk about their own work, especially when said artist has been put in one box and quietly sits quite well in another place altogether. I think the pairing makes perfect sense, as I am interested in both artists as much for how they deal with light and color as perhaps as their subject matter.
Her interlocutor, the museum’s chief curator, Norman Kleeblatt, flashed slides of somewhat apposite works by Howard Hodgkin, David Park, Alex Katz, Peter Doig, Kai Althoff, and others; he should have added Fairfield Porter, the late superb painter and critic who argued that modern art had taken a wrong turn when it hewed to Cezanne rather than to Vuillard.
I agree. Finally I should give a small sigh of thanks that SAM’s new website is such a glorious improvement over the one that was there just a while ago.