9 November 2016

Art and Books as a Balm

Like so many others I went to bed last night thinking today would be filled with the excitement of seeing a woman as the next President of the United States.  Turning over at three in the morning I reached for my iPod to check the headlines.  I couldn't fall back to sleep so I've been taking in the opinions and analysis of those more in the know.  This will go on for days, and probably much longer than that.  In the meantime I need a distraction from all of the breathless reporting.

Art and books are a balm at moments like this so I'll share a few details about the wonderful day I had last Sunday.  The AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) is running a wonderful exhibit called Mystical Landscapes featuring works by Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, Emily Carr, Paul Nash, Félix Vallotton, and more.  There is no question that turning into a darkened room to see...


Starry Night Over the Rhône by Vincent van Gogh
1888

...is the moment that took my breath away and kept me in one place the longest.  This is a painting that feels alive and is quite simply, stunning.  November is a somber month but well-timed to exhibit paintings by World War One artists.  My favourite from the exhibit is by an artist I wasn't aware of but will definitely learn more about....


Void by Paul Nash
1918

I spent hours visiting some of my favourite paintings from the gallery's regular collection but one caught my eye that I hadn't noticed before.  And who wouldn't be taken with these cherubs...


Portrait of the Artist's Children, the twins John and Sylvia by Edmund Wyly Grier
around 1909

The AGO was also hosting The Antiquarian Book Show making the day feel a bit like my idea of heaven.  Although, it was a bit worrying that the show seems to have shrunk a bit from the year before.  You will see the a few people running up their credit card but most people, I think, are like me - enjoying the books as something to be admired...and then put down very carefully.



A vendor from Montreal displayed a few books that caught my eye.  They belonged to a University of Toronto professor who specialized in the Bloomsbury Group.  The professor had died and his wife sold his collection of books - something we dread to think about.  So for the affordable price of twenty dollars I brought home a hardcover copy of...


My afternoon at the AGO ended with a very happy hour spent indulging a whim or three in the gift shop followed by a relaxing trip home on the train.  Now back to the news of the day...*sigh*. 

16 comments:

  1. Thank you for the lovely diversion. And I noticed on your sidebar that you are currently reading "The Long View" by EJH, which I just purchased this summer. I hope you'll have time to post your thoughts, I'm very curious as I adored the Cazalet Chronicles.

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    1. Morning, Karen! You're going to love the book. I listened to Artemis Cooper while she was being interviewed about the biography she wrote on EJH. She said that if you only read one book it should be 'The Long View'...so we chose well. It's slow going with Kip to play with but watch this space!

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  2. I agree ... a perfect balm! I found a facsimile version of what looks the same illustrated version of Kew Gardens at the library last year - I'm so drawn to that aesthetic! and I've loved reading VW's letters. You made a great find!

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    1. Oh Audrey, and you're right in the thick of it! Safe to say there's no shortage when it comes to topics of conversation lately.
      To be honest, I don't know all that much about Vita's life but as a social commentary on artsy twentieth century England, the book is a must-read!

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  3. I was all prepared for books as comfort, but hadn't thought of art too. Great idea, Darlene.

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    1. Just the thing for lowering blood pressure, Simon!

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  4. What a lovely day. There is a Nash exhibition on at the Tate at the moment - I'm hoping to go maybe next week.

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    1. Take me along in spirit, Mary...you lucky woman!

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  5. Sounds like the perfect distraction! The landscapes exhibition at the AGO looks so good.

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    1. And you have quite the distraction in your new Slightly Foxed editions, Claire! So far I've admired their books from afar but 'Terms and Conditions' sounds right up my street.

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  6. That book was a real bargain!

    You might like to look at the female WW1 artists at this site:

    http://www.iwm.org.uk/history/6-stunning-first-world-war-artworks-by-women-war-artists

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    1. Thank you for that, Toffeeapple...I really enjoyed browsing the site! I've visited the museum three times and pick up postcards to decorate my locker door at work.

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  7. I have a copy of the book you bought. Great choice!

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  8. You just can't leave a book like that behind, can you! I'm not surprised you own a copy, Sunday. I bought an art book yesterday and thought of you as I walked to the car....stay tuned.

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  9. Finally got to the show yesterday. And yes, I just gazed and gazed at Starry Night Over the Rhône. My friend with me (who is no slouch when it comes to art; she's been to galleries all over the world) said, "I never noticed the Big Dipper before."

    And didn't you also love the Swedish painter, Eugène Jansson?

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    1. I'm so glad you had a lovely time at the exhibit, Susan! Just rooted through my purse for a snippet I wrote on a scrap of paper about one of Jansson's paintings. Do you think I can read my writing...such a mess. And you made me laugh about the Big Dipper. I suppose we can chalk it up to being in awe of the painting as a whole so it's easy to miss a detail that's obvious once pointed out. You've made me want to go back!

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