Art as a cure

Sacré Coeur, by Maurice Utrillo. Mid-30’s. Musée Montmartre. Utrillo (1883-1955) was Susanne Valadon’s son (see a previous “virtual museum” post). Montmartre, where he lived all his life, was his main source of inspiration. The church in the foreground would be the small Église Saint-Pierre, one of the oldest churches in Paris. Built in 1147, a rare example of Romanesque architecture in Paris.

The Botero museum, Bogotá, Colombia. How Moorish architecture made its way to the Andes passing through Andalusía.

“Chez Ginette”. At a café on Rue Caulaincourt, just outside the Métro. Go up the stairs, cross the Square to your right and walk along Avenue Junot towards Montmartre. This is a typical Paris “brasserie”, or café-restaurant. Good, simple food, and reasonably good-mannered waiters by Paris standards. The élégante in this “croûte” is dressed in a typical 30’s bathing suit. She met the requirements of the “Beach Po-leece.” Not an inch above the knee.

Madeleine facing Jesus. By Juan Correa (1646-1716). Franz Mayer Museum, Mexico city. A precious little museum dedicated to Colonial art in Mexico. Pay attention to the frame. I’ve never seen one like that. See detail below.

A frame of angels or a “framed” angel?

Today’s Musée Montmartre, by Susanne Valadon, as seen from the window of her workshop. The house and wokshop are still there. A very nice little museum, in the heart of Montmartre.

Nun, by Fernando Botero. Botero Museum, Bogotá. I remember the nuns in France, early sixties, with their dark dress and the huge white starched “cornette”. Shortly before Vatican II.

Let’s have a small dosis of Gauguin (1848-1903). La route montante. The road uphill. (1884) Bührle collection at the Maillol museum. Until 1882, Gauguin was a small stockbroker. He went to Pont-Aven in 1888, spent a brief time with Van Gogh in Arles, learning the light of the South of France, then left France for Tahiti in 1891.

“Retrospective portrait of a woman.” Salvador Dali, Botero museum, Bogotá. The scene above the baguette is inspired by Millet’s “Angelus”: peasants who stop harvesting to pray in the fields after hearing the bells of the nearby church. “Retrospective”(!) LOL. Dali was a magnificent crook.

Two “variants” of Maillol. Above, a classic example of Maillol’s sculpture. Maillol museum, 2019. Look closely at the contrast of the work below:

Dina au foulard. Dina with scarf. Aristide Maillol. 1941. Maillol museum. Paris. Dina Vierny (1919-2009) was born in Bessarabia, Romania. She was 15 when she met Maillol (1861-1944) to pose as a model. She inspired him a great many works, sculptures and paintings until Maillol’s death in 1944 in a car accident. When Maillol died, she was out of a job and became a gallerist. in 1972, Maillol’s last direct heir named her as sole heir to the estate. She struggled the rest of her life to set up a unique museum to the memory of Maillol. Don’t miss it on your next trip to Paris. (2025?)

Fashion photography by Dora Maar. c. 1932. Maar has been featured here often. A talented photographer in the Paris of the 30’s, she became Picasso’s mistress, who slowly dedicated himself to… “destroy” her. The only woman to have survived Picasso unscathed was Françoise Gilot. She dumped him. Still alive incidentally. Born in 1921. Best wishes to Madame Gillot.

Untitled. 1969. By Marta Palau, b. 1934. She was born roughly at the time Dora Maar took the photograph above. MUAC, Mexico city, 2018.

Japanese woodblock by Hiroshige (1797-1858), Guimet museum, Paris. We should really call him Utagawa, since the last name in Japanese precedes the “first” name. The opening of Japan in the Meiji era allowed those woodblocks to reach Europe and “blow” the mindframes of the likes of the Impressionists, Gauguin, Van Gogh and others. Thus opening the way to Western modern art.

Speaking of Dora Maar: Man with pipe, 1969, by Picasso. Botero museum, Bogotá. I’ve said it many times. (Repetition is one of the keys to communication) I love to see what works great artists buy. What other talent draws their eyes?

Banksy’s “NO future”. Paris, 2019. At the risk of sounding naïve, I do believe those trying times may turn into a big opportunity. Should we decide to take it. Art is a cure, remember?

Cupid by Cazenave. c.1794. In the midst of revolutionary Terror, those two young women welcome Cupid in their boudoir. The second of two French engravings my parents bought in Holland in the sixties. Lost, Alas.

Irene Phillips Olmedo, by Diego Rivera, 1955. Dolores Olmedo museum, Mexico city, 2018. Irene was the daughter of Dolores Olmedo, a Mexican entrepreneur(ess) and patron of the arts. Her former house turned museum now holds one of the largest if not the largest collection of Rivera and Frida Kahlo’s works.

No Art therapy could be complete without a dose of Van Gogh. Three portraits of “unknown” gentlemen. Atelier des lumières, Paris, 2018.

Can Art be a cure? The ancient Greeks (who set the foundations for Western civilization) believed in three major “dimensions”: Beauty, Truth and Good. One leading to the other. Try combining only two at a time excluding the third. Ain’t workin’. Beauty without Truth cannot be Good. Greek Art was a celebration of Beauty. And one of the paths towards Good. In those troubled days… Beauty can be a cure. Stay safe. 🙏🏻

110 thoughts on “Art as a cure

  1. A resounding yes, Brian. Thanks for the interesting tour that felt almost as relaxing as strolling through a museum. 🙂 Love your choices, especially Dora, Banksy and Botero’s Nun.

    • Thank you Jane. I think many of us do miss such magic moments one experiences in any given museum. Botero in Bogotá was a nice surprise, I don’t like his art too much, but, seeing so much of his work displayed helped understand his art. And the works by others from his private collection were fab. I remember a Léger, that Picasso, the Dali. Helps understand the artist better.
      Hope all is well?

  2. This is a beautiful collection. I totaly understand the awe of the European artist when being confrontied with the clean lines of Japanese art. I think I remember Rembrandt owned a collection of etches by Albrecht Dürer. He certainly knew what to look at!

      • I’m good Brian. I finished my novel and now I have vacation! 🙂 So reading books. Just finished re-reading Redmond O’Hanlon’s Congo, a book on, well, Congo, the country, the people, the jungle, fetishes, ghosts, sorcerers, religion, and ultimately: the inner self. We are all Africans, O’Hanlon says, surrounded by objects of the past that define our lives. In my case: books, music, photographs, numerous words I once wrote, silently biding their time. 🙂 (I’m emptying my book shelfs, but I now realize I need to be careful.)

      • Finished your novel? Congrats. What’s it called?
        Ah. Reading. The King of pleasures.
        A book on Congo must be interesting. I was raised in Africa. I’m a mzungu (in Swahili) or a mindele in Lingala. A special realtionship. (Have you been to Africa?)
        Making a selection on your bookshelves is a good thing I do regularly. I donate to the French Lycée. But you must think twice… 😉 📚

      • My novel is called: De winter van het plan or in English: The winter of the plan. It’s about a colony of artists and intellectuals on a bucolic mediterranean island where a young local presents a plan to uplift the village into modern, touristic times, threatning to demolish the colonies paradise. So the colony stands up to resistance. I have never been to Africa. Yet. I would love to go and have a look. When we can travel again I’m going to do some planning. 🙂

      • De winter van het plan, I understand perfectly. I do wish I’d learnt proper Dutch in “Amsterrrdom”. I just grabbed a few words here and there.
        The story sounds nice. But since it is probably all in Dutch I will have to wait for the English translation. 😉
        When you can, try Africa. Select places. Kenya, Namibia, Botswana.

      • Death by a thousand cuts, pretty much. If you could perhaps explain that if one puts data into a computer, one should be able to get the data out? Barring that, I’ll take more art and a good story or two.

      • Death by a thousand (paper?) cuts? Must be quite painful. Computers are increasingly unpredictable. Yes you should be able to. What happened? Maybe I can help? (Or not)

      • Death by a thousand cuts of whatever metaphorical weapon is to hand. As is typical in higher ed, whoever set up the system did it for immediate expedience without taking into account the needs of the end users.

      • A good expression.
        Immediate expedience seems the name of every game now, doesn’t it? End users are ignored.
        As for higher ed, I was very sad to hear the “Dean” of my Business school in Lyon just died. He arrived a few months before my generation did. He transformed the school to a top rank modern affair. We worked together on a coupla things. Me as a “vocal” student rep, he as a strategist. A great loss.

      • Well, he actually was “the Boss”. I was a student, but still, I developed a few projects as a student rep, which meant we had to go through (or around) him. We also had our disagreements, but he was a fine gentleman.

  3. I think art can inform and tell the truth. Art matters and is the voice of the people, today. At least most of the time. Another great post. The frames are amazing, I like some of them better than the artwork and I don’t like Picasso at all.

    • Like I said, Beauty and Truth were closely linked for the Greeks. The real Greeks. Not the Frat boys. 😉
      And yes, some of those frames are amazing. (I know you don’t like Pablito Picasso. A wicked man maybe. But his art has some interest.)
      All well? Are you getting your shots soon?

  4. I love every bit of this! Especially, “The Botero museum, Bogotá, Colombia. How Moorish architecture made its way to the Andes passing through Andalusía.”
    It is such a wonderful wonder!

    • Well, glad it reached you Cindy. Thing is when you’ve been around Latin America as I have, it’s the same architecture everywhere. Basically an Arab desert style adopted by the Spaniards who brought it here. All is done to avoid harsh light inside, preserve the rooms form the scorching sun of Arabia. Problem is in Bogotá or Mexico which are cities high up, it makes for cold houses.
      Take care.

  5. Thank you for taking us to your gallery. It’s all here: the aesthetics, philosophy, humour, and challenge of art.
    It’s pleasure, but Art can help us work through so much emotion. Even if we cannot draw, paint, sculpt, we are drawn in as a part of the creative process.

    • You got it. Plus a certain recent renewal of Art. It may help us “wheather” the current times. If we look hard enough. And remind us that the creative process is not limited to… painting, or whatever art form one might think of. We need to be creative to tell the new story of the world.
      Au revoir.

  6. What a beautiful collection of wonderful art pieces. I strongly believe that viewing others’ art, can be used to help people explore emotions, develop self-awareness, cope with stress, boost self-esteem, and work on social skills. Cheers for sharing and have a good day. Aiva 🙂

      • Ireland’s strict Level Five lockdown is finally set to be eased this month. Travel restrictions will be relaxed to enable travel within own county, how exciting is that! Just got my first dose of Covid vaccine, hopefully the end is in sight. Cheers

  7. I love the Nun and the Man with Pipe. What a nice batch of interesting art. I feel so lucky to have been to Montmartre. It all makes so much more sense when I see and hear about it. What a lot of art and interesting people who came out of such a small little part of France.

  8. Can art be a cure? I’d say yes. Whenever I visit this site, it’s like taking a breath of fresh air. Must be doing something for my health, at least mentally speaking. Another, wonderful collection. So sorry that your family’s engraving was lost.

    • Much obliged. You made my day. 🙏🏻
      The engraving? Well, there are – much – worse things. At any rate, I still have most of the paintings my parents bought in Holland. Can’t complain.
      (Now, you’ve set the standard very high. I need to work on more fresh air!) Au revoir.

  9. Mon cher Brieuc,
    Oh que oui! What a wonderful post. I think art is so important…As a matter of fact, they should give it a bit more attention in schools, too.

    • True. Hadn’t thought of that. “Art history” is like a “career for rich dames who have nothing to do”. (Joke of course) I don’t remember any Art class in my curriculum. Just drawing and painting, which my mother really is the one who taught me. It’s only in History that you see a bit of art via illustrations or historic paintings… hmmm.

      • I’m always impressed by those with a huge knowledge of art both past and present. Art? Elementary school and the first two years of secondary school. That’s it. I love that your mother taught you. My father was a natural. He just picked up the paint brush and spatula and did it. Then he stopped. He was good at moving on to other stuff.

      • En France c’est pas enseigné. Dommage.
        My mother was a very good artist. Pencil, ink, watercolours, oil. Un peu tous les sujets. Sur la fin, elle bcp produit. J’ai un placard plein de ses “oeuvres”. Bcp accrochés aux murs, mais on a plus de place. As-tu pu garder des peintures de ton père?

      • Vraiment dommage. Lovely that your mother was.
        I have one of his paintings he did for me. Mes soeurs en ont chacun un, ma tante et le reste… il les a vendus.

  10. Thank you for the nice trip! We’ve just been away over the long weekend and instead of visiting a monestary, we could look at a photo of it … Fun times?!?

  11. Banksy and Cazenave stand out. Dali may also have something there. The rest are… nice frames. Picasso, as always, is worth nothing to me – I was drawing much better when I was twelve.

    The entire world should take after the Ancient Greeks. A lot of potentially good artists are stuck in some stupid cubicals nine-to-five doing utterly useless shit while dreaming of producing artistic wonders and never really getting the time to do it. Others may literally starve to death taking their unique talents to the grave before even being discovered. Over the years I’ve seen at least a few amateur footages of homeless people performing in the street, either vocally, playing an instrument or exhibiting various forms of art produces by themselves. People should produce art and admire art instead of wasting time in useless activities. And everyone should be allowed to live at least decently, and have access to tools and locations that could support their talent. Why don’t we Great-Reset the world in this direction while we’re at it?!

    • LOL. I have been thinking of a global world reset for a while. Problem is everything would “freeze” completely for at least a few minutes. Including light, heat, gravity, oxygen. Not sure I can hold my breath long enough. 🤣

      • You could ask Klaus Schwab for directions, he seems to know very well how to perform this Great Reset. Or so he thinks…
        We could always hope for a return to “normality” but I wouldn’t hold my breath on that. 😉

    • Well, you know me. I’m an art freak… And when I say “Art as a cure”, I believe Art might help cure us. I’m sure you know what I mean. 😉
      And as an aside, I just started 3 new sketches. (Soothing) Don’t know why I tend to do several a the same time. Must be my dilettante side. Stay safe, my kawan. 🐰

  12. Ah mais le voici, ton musée à toi ! Je ne comprenais pas pourquoi je ne recevais jamais de notification de tes publications, maintenant je sais (je clic, déclic, reclic et je ne sais plus si je suis ou pas, là je crois que c’est ok!). Art as a cure, oui. On parle de plus en plus d’art thérapie, l’art a ce pouvoir de cicatriser des blessures, de panser des plaies, de calmer des esprits… Merci pour cette promenade dans un nouveau musée…

    • Chacun son musée, n’est-ce pas? Je fais souvent des posts comme ça. Les artistes que j’aime et que j’ai vu ici ou là.
      Clic et reclic… Faut pas chercher à comprendre. Ça m’arrive souvent de “Re-follow”. Je ne sais pas pourquoi WP nous “débranche”. Pas grave.
      Et bienvenue chère amie dans mon musée imaginaire. A +

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