Archive for December, 2013

PISSARRO in Detroit……for now.

The Path, 1889 Camille Pissarro, PDR 871 Detroit Institute of Art

The Path, 1889
Camille Pissarro, PDR 871
Detroit Institute of Art

This beautiful pointillist painting by Pissarro at Detroit Institute of Art is one of those owned by the City of Detroit and may be caught in the middle of the city’s bankruptcy.

According to an article in the Washington Post (December 16, 2013) “Christie’s, which has been poring over the collection for months, said it will include recommendations for how Detroit might make money while maintaining ownership of some of its most valuable pieces — including Degas’ ”Dancers in the Green Room,” Pissarro’s “The Path” and Renoir’s “Graziella.” But the city may have to sell off works many consider integral to the cultural soul of the city in order to help repay creditors, including retired public workers whose pensions could take a huge hit.”  

It is ironic that Pissarro himself was in a terrible financial crunch during the time that he painted this picture. In May of 1889, he wrote, “Business (since it always comes down to that) is catastrophic.”  The following year, he became disenchanted with pointillism, and abandoned Neo-Impressionism.

This painting is not one of Pissarro’s more familiar paintings. It has been included in only four exhibitions, the most recent one in Japan in 1990. But it demonstrates his amazing technical ability which literally pours the rigidity of pointillism into sheer poetry.

Pissarro cleverly uses pointilism’s dot to convey the multicolored autumn trees. But it is the overall composition which grabs our attention. The entire right side of the canvas is virtually “in our face,” filling the foreground with the windowless side of a house and a massive tree whose branches fill the canvas top. While we cling to the green embankment, we see the path extending around a curve to more houses and hills in the distance. The variegated sky adds a sense of uncertainty.

Clearly, this is not a painting we absorb in one glance–there is much to examine and ponder. Let’s hope that the City of Detroit will have time to reconsider “The Path” and that it will be included in future exhibitions shown around the world.

Information on Pissarro’s life and this painting is from Pissarro:Critical Catalogue by Joachim Pissarro and Claire Durand-Ruel Snollaerts (2005).

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The Camille Pissarro Rose

Camille Pissarro Rose

Camille Pissarro Rose

There is a rose named for Camille Pissarro.  It was bred by G. Delbard in France in 1996. It is a glorious flower with yellow, pink, and cream stripes.  The one in the picture was part of a small bouquet given to me a few years ago.

Info from: http://nixpixmix.blogspot.com/2012/04/camille-pissaro-rose.html

Roses of Nice — PISSARRO in Barcelona

Image

Roses of Nice, 1902

Private Collection  PDR 1426

Camille Pissarro did not paint bouquets of flowers very often, but those he created are masterful. This one, featured in the PISSARRO exhibition in Barcelona, is a real treasure. Six pale pink roses, stand in a crystal vase, fully open and almost ready to drop their petals. The pale pink is highlighted with a creamy white that gives the flowers an inner glow. The vase sits on the lower level of a highly-polished chest. In the background, two paintings hang on the wall, but it is unclear whether they are Pissarro’s work. The one on the left hangs a little crooked and appears to include mountains. Could it be a Cezanne?

Pissarro must have made this painting in the spring of 1902, because in May he donated it to a sale at the Drouot auction house benefiting the widow of an artist friend.  Since he was always very specific in the names of paintings, we wonder about this one which clearly indicates that the pink roses are from Nice. At that time, Pissarro and his family were living in Paris on the Ile-de-la-Cité in an apartment facing Pont Neuf. The flowers may have come from Le Marché aux Fleurs, the flower market that has supplied flowers to the neighborhood since 1808.  While the market probably had roses in early spring (there are always roses in flower shops in Paris), would Pissarro have known where they were from?  Would he have bought them or would Julie have picked them up during her shopping trip?

When I saw this painting with Robert Froh, an American artist living in Barcelona, he suggested a more interesting idea.  Perhaps they were brought to the Pissarro family from Nice by Henri Matisse, who was living in Nice in 1902. Pissarro met Matisse at Durand-Ruel’s gallery in Paris in 1897.  According to Pissarro; Critical Catalogue (2005), “Though he never worked with Pissarro, Matisse benefited from his advice, found in him an attentive teacher and came under his influence for awhile.” Matisse visited Pissarro at his apartment on  Rue de Rivoli and watched him create his paintings of the Tuileries gardens (Pissarro: His Life and Work, 1980). So it is entirely possible that he came to Paris to visit Pissarro, bringing roses from Nice as a gift.  And it obviously pleased Pissarro to remember those roses in this lovely painting.

Robert Froh is from MIlwaukee, Wisconsin and has lived in Barcelona for a number of years. Take a look at his work: http://robertfroh.com/

The PISSARRO exhibition will be on view at the CaixaForum in Barcelona until mid-January. PISSARRO’S PLACES is available at the CaixaForum and also at the Excellence bookstore during the exhibition.



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