Zippidy Doo Da

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Impressionists and Post Impressionists at the MFAH


Over spring break, Jokahontas and I got to see the “Impressionists and Post Impressionists” show at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, fifty paintings on loan from the National Gallery of Art in Washington. I love these shows; over the years I’ve seen hundreds of these pictures without leaving Texas. Cezanne’s Boy in a Red Waistcoat, Degas’ dancers, Monet’s Woman with a Parasol, Toulouse-Lautrec’s Carmen Gaudin; it’s always a thrill to see familiar images up close and in person. Sometimes the paint looks still wet, sometimes the scale is astounding, as when I saw The Luncheon of the Boating Party and discovered that it’s four feet tall and six feet wide, or that The Persistence of Memory is the size of a paperback. Ever seen Henri Rousseau’s The Dream? It’s as big as a wall!

This wasn’t a real ‘blockbuster’ show, but our schedule was tight anyways. There was a room full of Mary Cassatt children and I spent like five minutes in there. Sad. Being spring break and all, we spent some time standing in line. That’s OK, it’s a good time to remember that more Americans visit art galleries than attend major league football games.

The ‘show-stopper’ was probably the self-portrait by Van Gogh from 1889. Gaunt, staring out from a swirling blue background, he painted this in an asylum in the last year of his life. On the opposite wall, his earlier Farmhouse in Provence looks representational in comparison. My favorite was his Roses from 1890. I read that the colors faded quickly on this canvas, but I enjoyed its difference, like he ran out of yellow paint that day. It looked to me like a pattern Grandma would use to cover the davenport.

I heard some folks in line comment that the $20 tickets were probably a fundraiser for the museum. Hardly. I bet the gate doesn’t cover the cost of insurance for these priceless paintings, on view through May 23rd.

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