Monday, September 27, 2004

Absorbing Zorach in Portland Maine

Beverly and I visited the Portland Museum of Art on Saturday to see their exhibit, “Monet to Matisse, Homer to Hartley: American Masters and Their European Muses.” It was an intriguing display of American art alongside its European inspirations. With each paired set of works, there was also an absorbing mini-essay explaining the particular works themselves as well as some historical biography and perspective: Homer and Courbet; Eakins and Bazille; Hassam and Monet; Cassat and Degas; etc.

Among the many comparisons there, the one that attracted my eye the most was actually a comparison of three: Hartley, Cezanne, and Marguerite Zorach. I was familiar of course with the first two, but Zorach was new to me. I’ve been a particular fan of Hartley and his audacious New England landscapes ever since an exhibit at the Wardsworth in Hartford a couple of years ago; Cezanne is Cezanne; but Zorach’s painting of the mills of Maine set within a landscape of river, rocks, and waterfall was a remarkable study of form and color as well as structure and landscape.

For some reason this Post-impressionistic work speaks to me. There is something especially in the landscapes that I find appealing, these bold translations of organic shapes and shadows into metaphorical form and color. I may not have been listening well in the past, but now after these recent run-ins with the likes of Rockwell Kent, Marsden Hartley, and now, Marguerite Zorach, I will need to train my eyes to listen better.

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