Rachel Cohen

Impressionism

Group Portraits

At Nadar's (but he was already gone)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Possibly it was somewhere in two decades of reading and rereading Susan Sontag’s On Photography that I absorbed a small but suggestive misimpression.  In the midst of a passage on the relationship between photography and painting, she devotes a long footnote to Impressionism.  This footnote begins, unexceptionably, “the large influence that photography exercised upon the Impressionists is a commonplace of art history.” [i] Rereading the rest of the footnote I see, as is often the case with Sontag, that I have been thinking about what it contains for a long time without even remembering that she wrote it, [...] read more

Shopping in Style

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Impressionists were my first painters, as I think they were many peoples'.  They required no explanation.  I liked them.  I came early to painting and at twelve was fervently memorizing schools, dates, palettes, styles, as other children at that age remember scores, teams, clothes, lyrics.  The works of each painter moved in my mind like small rushing galaxies; at museums, I knew a Degas or a Monet across a room.   As one grows older one comes to like bitter tastes.  The first sweet passions of youth, even if still felt now and again in private, seem [...] read more

Trying to be Taught

Friday, September 13, 2013

Reading about the early years in the lives of the Impressionists – the period in the late 1850s and early 1860s when they began to arrive and to meet one another in Paris – I have been thinking about the necessity and difficulty of finding teachers.  Unlike writing, the craft of painting has always been passed on in ateliers and schools.  Sometimes it seems like every painter in the mid-17 th century in the Netherlands spent a productive period in Rembrandt’s studio.  Painting is an apprentice trade.  You watch the hand of a master and your hand becomes [...] read more