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Life Arts    H4'ed 6/29/19

OEN Editors Catch Some Culture: Phila Museum of Art

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Editor-in-Chief Rob Kall, Managing Editor, Meryl Ann Butler, and Senior Editor, Marta Steele enjoyed an immersion in art and beauty at the Philadelphia Museum of Art recently. (Part 2 is here.)

The stairs at the Phila Museum of Art are famous in movie culture  due to the role it played in the Rocky (1976) film and five of its six sequels. Visitors to the museum are often seen mimicking Rocky Balboa's (Sylvester Stallone) famous run up the stairs
The stairs at the Phila Museum of Art are famous in movie culture due to the role it played in the Rocky (1976) film and five of its six sequels. Visitors to the museum are often seen mimicking Rocky Balboa's (Sylvester Stallone) famous run up the stairs
(Image by wiki)
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OEN Editor's Favorites

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The special exhibit, "The Impressionist's Eye" is on view through August 18.

Rob and Marta in front of Japanese Bridge and Water Lilies, by Claude Monet, 1899.

Rob and Marta in front of Japanese Bridge and Water Lilies, by Claude Monet, 1899.
Rob and Marta in front of Japanese Bridge and Water Lilies, by Claude Monet, 1899.
(Image by Meryl Ann Butler)
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Marta's favorite was La Pointe de la Galere (1891-92) by Henri Edmond Cross (1856-1910), oil. The museum's descriptive info noted: "Cross wrote to his friend Paul Signac in 1892 of his recent work on the Mediterranean Coast, 'I think I have taken a step towards the charms of pure light.' Silhouetting the region's distinctive pine trees against sea and sky, Cross focuses our eye on the color gradations created by a setting sun."

La Pointe de la Galere (1891-92) by Henri Edmond Cross (1856-1910), oil.
La Pointe de la Galere (1891-92) by Henri Edmond Cross (1856-1910), oil.
(Image by Meryl Ann Butler)
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My favorite was Mary Cassatt's (1844-1926) Woman with a Pearl Necklace in a Loge, oil, 1879) one of my favorite paintings in any museum. The spectacular luminescence of the skin can be seen much better in person than in a photo, but it is one of the stunning hallmarks of this piece of art.

Mary's sister Lydia, is the likely model, sitting in a box seat in the Paris Opera House, in front of a mirror that reflects the rows of loges in front of her. This painting is also a symbol of the times - Lydia's face is mostly in shadow, and during this time period, women were just starting to come out of the shadows toward enjoying a more public life than they had been previously allowed.

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Detail Mary Cassatt's (1844-1926) Woman with a Pearl Necklace in a Loge oil, 1879, with full image shown in insert.
Detail Mary Cassatt's (1844-1926) Woman with a Pearl Necklace in a Loge oil, 1879, with full image shown in insert.
(Image by Meryl Ann Butler)
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Note the reflection of Lydia's back and shoulder in the mirror as well as the reflection of the back of the loge seat.

Cassatt lived most of her life in Paris and was the only American to exhibit with the French Impressionists, several of whom were captivated by similar light circumstances in artificially-lit, city night scenes.

Born near Pittsburgh, PA, Cassatt began studying at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts at age 15, as it admitted women. However, women were not allowed to attend life drawing classes, which are considered imperative for any artist learning anatomy. After studying there during the Civil War years, she was frustrated with the quality of the education available to her, so she went to Paris in 1865. France's famous state-run academy, the École des Beaux-Arts, actively excluded women, so female students typically studied in private academies, which often included a sliding price scale with higher fees for women.

Cassatt was accepted into the atelier of Jean-Leon Gerome, one of the most highly regarded teachers and artists of the time, known for his realism and exotic subject matter. His "Pygmalion and Galatea" is below, masterfully illustration the moment in the myth in which the sculptor, Pygmalion's ivory statue comes to life.

Gerome's other students included Thomas Eakins (who returned to the Pennsylvania Academy to become its controversial president), American Impressionists Abbott Thayer and J. Alden Weir, NYC Art Students League's longtime instructor and author, George Bridgman, and others.

Pygmalion and Galatea, by Gerome. 1890. Collection Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
Pygmalion and Galatea, by Gerome. 1890. Collection Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
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Rob's favorite was in another special exhibit, Yoshitoshi: Spirit and Spectacle on display through August 18.

The intriguing title of this color woodcut is, The Heian Poet Yasumasa Playing the Flute by Moonlight, Subduing the Bandit Yasusuke with His Music. (1883.)

villain Hakamadare Yasusuke [Kidomaru] crouching in the grasses
villain Hakamadare Yasusuke [Kidomaru] crouching in the grasses
(Image by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi)
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The museum's commentary notes, "The realistic detail and expressive individuality of the figures, combined with a sense of abstract design, and the psychological tension of the scene, are all hallmarks of Yoshitoshi's mature style, Here, the viewer is left to ponder whether the bandit, poised to strike, will in fact be seduced by the flute player's masterful tune."

Yoshitoshi (1839 1892) was the last great master of the traditional Japanese woodblock print. This exhibition showcases some seventy works from the museum's extraordinary collection of Yoshitoshi prints, the largest repository of his work outside Japan. The exhibition also included prints from Yoshitoshi's series, One Hundred Aspects of the Moon.

A portion of the prints in 'One Hundred Aspects of the Moon' with detail of 'Chang'e flees to the moon': elixir of immortality. When Chang'e drank the elixir of immortality she became the spirit of the moon
A portion of the prints in 'One Hundred Aspects of the Moon' with detail of 'Chang'e flees to the moon': elixir of immortality. When Chang'e drank the elixir of immortality she became the spirit of the moon
(Image by Meryl Ann Butler)
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Below: OEN Managing Editor Meryl Ann Butler with Charles Willson Peale's famous trompe l'oeil painting, Staircase Group. Stay tuned for Part Two of the visit to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, with more on Peale, Colonial America's unsung Leonardo and the father of an American art dynasty.

OEN Managing Ed Meryl Ann Butler with Staircase Group by Charles Willson Peale.
OEN Managing Ed Meryl Ann Butler with Staircase Group by Charles Willson Peale.
(Image by Meryl Ann Butler)
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Philadelphia Museum of Art

2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway

Philadelphia, PA 19130

The museum is closed on Mondays, and offers "Pay What You Wish" admission on the first Sunday of the month and every Wednesday night.

Watch Rocky Balboa's famous run up the stairs: here.

 

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Meryl Ann Butler is an artist, author, educator and OpedNews Managing Editor who has been actively engaged in utilizing the arts as stepping-stones toward joy-filled wellbeing since she was a hippie. She began writing for OpEdNews in Feb, 2004. She became a Senior Editor in August 2012 and Managing Editor in January, (more...)
 

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